Monday, December 17, 2018

Here at Shiloh we get to do all sorts of things that are not, strictly speaking, in the job description.  Like right now for example.  Friends in the U.S. are considering coming out here to Yaounde and spending two and a half months exploring ministry opportunities.  They have called upon us to help they find some housing options.  Since Papa Jim and Mama Alice will never, ever forget being in that exact same situation back in 2002, we are more than happy to help others out.  We kind of had to discover things on our own.  It was a real challenge, but God was faithful as He always is.  We are eager to help others have an easier time of it than we had.

And of course there are the calls for Papa Jim's considerable Jack-of-All-Trades expertise. Unless he is out of town, he is most happy to drop everything and rush to aid or all sorts of people.  It could be a plumbing crisis, or an electrical crisis, or the need for a GOOD small or large appliance repair man, or maybe just someone needing a hair cut.  Make a note of this.  You may need his help someday.  Papa Jim is the man!

Currently we are helping a bride-to-be get a lovely wedding gown re-made to her size and shape. And we are also helping fellow missionaries who are living in exile right now due to the civil unrest, by letting them use our P.O. Box. They have one of their own, but it is in the heart of the war zone.  And of course there are the endless opportunities to counsel and encourage people of every size and shape, every walk of life, every color of skin, male, female, young, old, single, married, widowed.  Our door is always open to those in need of a listening ear, a hug, a word of encouragement, and someone to pray with and for them.

Well the list could go on and on, but you get the idea.  We have the high honor of doing all sorts of things here at Shiloh that are not, strictly speaking, in the job description.  And we are blessed beyond measure.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

What a fun, fun day!  And what a rare treat.  I have been a bit under the weather all week long.  Plodding along but not up to snuff.  They call it "change of season sickness" around here.  Most everyone is reacting to the start of the long dry season and the very beginnings of Harmattan.  The air is thick with dust.  Lots of coughing and respiratory illnesses.  A big increase in the number of malaria cases.  Lots of people dragging through the day.  That's me.  I fit nicely into that last category.

So I didn't make it downstairs today until 11:30 a.m.  And then I only made it to the couch.  I spent the next six hours laying down and visiting with various and sundry people who dropped in.  Some Sundays are bigger days for visitors than others. This was one of the big ones.  About half way through my six hour vigil on the couch, to my complete and utter surprise, in walks Stephanie with little 1 1/2 year old Faithful prancing along at her side.  At that precise moment there were three others visiting with me.  We all know and love little Faithful, but none of us had seen her since she started walking.  

Wish you could have been here!  You would have loved this delightful, happy-go-lucky child.  She sings.  She "talks" a lot.  She dances.  She walks.  No make that runs.  She smiles continuously.  She's not afraid of strangers.  She is happy all the time.  Well they did admit that she has learned to cry...but only when she is hungry or wants her diapers changed.  She's nearly perfect in every way.  And in addition she is downright adorable.

I know, I know.  We sound like all those other bragging grandparents.  But in this case, you would have agreed with us.  Sorry you weren't able to get in on the fun.  Maybe next time.

Friday, December 14, 2018

There is a pastor who is staying at Shiloh even as we speak.  He comes up from Daoula every year around this time and spend either two or three nights with us.  He seems to be a true man of God, from all that we can tell.  But we don't really know him all that well, even though this is the fourth year he has come to us.  

You see, this pastor, like a number of other people just like him, is here to spend time with his Lord.  He wisely makes a reservation in advance.  Not everyone does, and those who just "show up" run the risk of being turned away at the gate.  Shiloh is a very popular place.  

But I digress.  This pastor registers in the office and is then taken to his room (whichever room has been reserved for him) where he disappears.  We do not see him again until his spiritual retreat is over with.  We can hear his room door open and close and the bathroom door open and close, but that is all.  We never see him in the library.  He never searches us out to interact with us.  He does not eat while he is here at Shiloh.  He is here fasting and praying and seeking God's face.  And typically, when we let him out at the gate at the end, he will have spent a wonderful time in the presence of his Lord and Master.

Shiloh exists for pastors just like this man, for church leaders, and for ordinary Christians who want to spend time with the Most High God.  And since we are not allergic to missionaries, they are welcome, too on a space available basis.  What a high honor to provide this place of spiritual retreat for pastors like this dear man who traveled all the way up here from Daoula.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

We have had a lot of fun watching the Miracle Worker in action today.  

Here in Cameroon when a young man wants to marry a young lady, he knows it is going to be pretty costly.  He has to pay the bride price which is set by her father and uncles and other members of the family.  They can basically ask for anything they want.  All young men are trembling while they wait for the "Dreaded List" to arrive (as it is affectionately called). 

But in our friend Donald's case things were different.  The lovely young lady he has fallen madly in love with turns out to be an orphan.  She is the youngest of seven children.  Her mother died when she was just a tiny tot.  A few years ago her father also died.  So Donald and his family members went before her five older brothers to ask for their little sister's hand in marriage.  They were very sympathetic as they are all young men who have not been married that long themselves.  They have no desire to be hard on Donald.  So they have (quite amazingly) told him that there will be no bride price.  A handful of years from now, when Donald is established in marriage, they will expect him to contribute to any and all future family crisis.  This is do-able.  Donald had no problem accepting their condition.  What a blessing.  He does not have to struggle to come up with lots of money before he can marry his beloved.  

We have known and loved Donald for over seven years. During that time he gave his heart and life to the Lord.  And now God is blessing him with a godly young lady to be his wife.  In a giant step of faith, Donald selected Saturday, December 29th for his wedding day.  (It's the Groom's wedding out here...the exact opposite of weddings in America.)  Little by little they are watching God provide all the things they will need for their wedding.  

For example, last week he brought his young lady to Shiloh for us to meet her.  (I would tell you her name, but it is quite unpronounceable and I'm struggling mightily to learn how to say it.  Besides which, if I could pronounce it, it is a guarantee that I would not be able to spell it and you surely would not know what to do with her name!!)  We asked the bride-to-be if she had a wedding gown, which she does not.  So we told her that we have two here at Shiloh if she is interested in borrowing one of them.  Today she came back to have some fun girl time with we the ladies of Shiloh.  She was immediately taken with one of the gowns.  But the bodice is too small for her.  Well, Mama Alice has all sorts of ideas so we went looking in my supply of fabric and guess what?  We found a large piece of satin that matches the wedding gown color exactly.  And that's not all...we also found a large piece of very fancy lace this is the same shade of off white.  It's like God had these things tucked away here at Shiloh for just this occasion.  We are sending her to a godly widowed pastor's wife friend of ours who will do the make over for the wedding gown.  She is an excellent seamstress.  When Donald's future wife left Shiloh, she was floating on air.  Never in her entire life has she ever imagined that she would one day wear a very expensive looking wedding gown from America!  A poor orphan girl such as herself does not entertain such dreams, though even they, like all girls all over the world, begin dreaming of their wedding day when they are quite young.  

What a joy and delight for we, the ladies of Shiloh, to have a small part in blessing this lovely, godly orphan girl on her wedding day.  We serve an Amazing God Who can do all things.  Nothing is too hard for Him.


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

We've had an exciting day.  Too much excitement.  Way too much excitement for these elderly people.  (We know that we are elderly now because we recently heard an American newscaster refer to someone who is 72 years old as "elderly" that is our new classification!)  But I digress.

 The day started out here on our side of the Big Pond with the discovery that our U.S. debit card had been skimmed at an ATM machine that we sometimes use.  It's located just down the road from Shiloh, and because of its proximity to us, is the most convenient to use.  Not any more!!  We've used it for the last time.  

Fast forwarding past all that excitement...way too much excitement for these elderly people...the day is ending on a grateful note.   We're grateful for electricity.  Without electricity we could not be in contact with  the outside world.  We've had electricity from the time we woke up this morning and we still have electricity even now as we are headed off to bed.  We're grateful for Internet connection.  Without access to the Internet communicating with the outside world becomes much more complicated and much more costly.  We woke up today with good, strong Internet and are  going to bed with the same luxury.  We are grateful for our son who co-signs on our bank account.  Without him, resolving this particular problem becomes extremely complicated from this side of the Big Pond.  We are grateful for our American bank who quickly replaced all the funds that the skimmer got away with.  At days end we are going to bed resting in the All Sufficient One Who faithfully takes care of us in ways seen and unseen.  How grateful we are to be in His forever family.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

A dear Cameroonian lady sat in our living room today and poured out her heart to Mama Alice.  What an honor to be entrusted with her story.  She was born into a large family in a remote part of Cameroon.  She got pregnant and delivered her first child when she was sixteen years old.  In shame she dropped out of school and raised her baby with the help of her father and mother.  Six years later she again got pregnant.  By this time she was active in her church.  Nobody could believe that SHE would do such a thing.  As with the first pregnancy, the father of this child vanished into thin air.  About a year later she came into contact with a family who were strong Christians.  The wife began leading her step by step into a deep walk with our Lord.  In addition to experiencing the mercies of God which are new every morning, she began basking in His everlasting love for her.  Today you would never guess that she is a lady with a "past".  She is full of the joy of our Lord.  She invests all her strength and all her energies in sharing Jesus with everyone around her.  She does not want anyone to have to go through what she has gone through.  Her passion is school children.  More than anything she wants to spare them the pitfalls that are just around the corner, as they enter adolescence.  What a trophy to the Grace of God.  What an honor to know her.  What a blessing to see a life becoming more and more like Jesus. 

Friday, December 7, 2018

Are things crazy busy on your side of the Big Pond, too?  Christmas has us running this year, even more than other years.  We started the end of November with four days of non-stop decorating.  As more and more missionaries leave Cameroon for good, we are GIVEN more and more decorations.  And occasionally we break down and pay real money for something they are selling that we simply can't live without.  Like our third (and final, I might add) Christmas tree which we bought from dear friends as they were leaving a short blur ago.  Not only did we know of the perfect place for it, but we knew it would be a lovely reminder of all those good times we shared together.  They would be prayed for more often during the season, we rationalized.  So we have installed our first and largest tree in the dining room.  And our second tree in the Library.  And now we have debuted our third tree in the living room.  (The prayer reminder tree.)  It is truly our prettiest time of the year here at Shiloh.

And then there are all the people who come to Shiloh on spiritual retreats during this season.  We're busy most any old day of the year, but even more so as the year winds down to a close.  Many like to get alone with God during this season.  Sadly, we have to turn several away. 

Romeo wants to lead the Friday night Bible study in Eyene this month.  We promised him we would all go to the village with him when Guy is on Christmas break from seminary.  Romeo is coming tonight to do a trial run with us.  Papa Jim, Mama Alice, and Dorothy will all sit down and listen to his Bible study.  Maybe Theirry will be back home from university by that time and can be part of the audience, too.  Romeo is scheduled to lead the Bible study on the 21st.  So we will be going out to the village for that eagerly anticipated time.

But first we will have our annual Shiloh Family Christmas Party on the 20th.  A lot of planning and preparation goes into this event.  We have a program, eat a Christmas feast, and give a gift to each one who comes. We send each family back to their homes with a shopping bag full of all the fix-ins for a Christmas dinner at their house.  This enables them to put on a feast at their place.  And each year our team comes back to Shiloh after Christmas full of stories of how they were able to share the true meaning of Christmas with their friends and family members.  

To make this Christmas season extra special, one of our many Cameroonian children is getting married on the 29th.  We are giving he and his soon to be bride the gift of a three day honeymoon here at Shiloh.  We have known and loved this young man for over seven years.  To say that we are overjoyed with his choice of a wife is to put it mildly.  She is lovely in every way and a perfect match for him.  Cameroon needs more godly couples like them.  We are rejoicing in the goodness of the Lord.