Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Greetings from Bamenda!

It wasn’t until I reached the New York airport that it really hit me that I was going back. During the past couple months I have only been able to look at the task right in front of me and pray for the grace to accomplish it. So to screech to a mental halt, look around, and see that the task in front of me that day was to get on the next plane to Cameroon was slightly disorienting.

But I’m here! By the grace of God and the prayers and support of many, I made it—with all my luggage! In so many ways it feels completely normal, like I never left. The air still smells like spices, the birds still sing through the night, the cockroaches are still the size of my fist, and the taxi drivers are still two inches away from a crash. The “Jackson Village” seems so close to normal, too. We eat our lunch on the veranda, Karissa and I are roommates, we laugh until we cry at the dinner table, Katelyn and I sing at the top of our lungs as we wash dishes. There are still many people coming through the gate each day. Each night we have to re-count to see how many plates to set out for dinner.

But despite the normalcy, there is still a significant gap without “Mommy Karissa” here. Her laughter, her hugs, her listening ear, and her welcoming and kind presence are absent. How wonderful it is for her to be rejoicing in perfect peace with the Lord, but she is certainly missed down here. However, her legacy carries on. Her handwriting still covers the quote wall, her organizational systems in the kitchen are still used, and the meals still get planned. Even more than that, the Sunday School curriculum is still being written, guests still feel welcomed in the house, and the kids in the house and the neighborhood know that God loves them and that they are called to love each other.

I have been so encouraged to see how God has given each of the people in the Jackson household the grace and strength to get through each day, to keep persevering, and to keep faith in our good, sovereign, loving God. I’ve also seen what an encouragement it is to them when people keep coming through their gate, when there is noise and laughter in the house, and when we have to re-count how many plates to set for dinner. I feel so blessed to be here and be a part of helping keep that normalcy.

The plans for this month’s “formal ministry” have altered. The organization that runs the family camp at the school for the children with disabilities scheduled the camp for mid-August. The people in the village who wanted us to come lead a teacher training postponed the dates for that. I’m disappointed—I miss the kids at the school, and I was excited to help with a teacher training. But as I am confident that God brought me here for reasons of which I might not even be aware, I am looking to be intentional with each day I am here. The main reason I came has not changed: I came to be with the Jacksons and encourage them in any way I can, whether that be heart-to-heart talks on the veranda, helping prepare for Friday pizza and movie night, washing dishes, or frolicking through the mountains of the North West. Also, I already have had a couple of opportunities to help them more directly with ministries, as I was able to help clean up some details of the Sunday School curriculum Chris is so close to completing.

It looks like much of our ministry will be continuing to build relationships with Cameroonians, particularly with the Fulani the Jacksons have known for years. We will be visiting a couple of Fulani villages this month to reconnect and deepen our friendships there.

Please pray for continued strength and healing for the Jacksons as they continue to mourn the loss of Karen. Pray for stronger relationships and clear communication with our Muslim Fulani friends. Pray that during this time of Ramadan they would truly see God and accept his grace. Pray that I would be an encouragement to the Jacksons and to each person I encounter on this trip.

God is good, all the time! And all the time, God is good!

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