Sunday, 15 December 2013

From Dust to Dust

In Cameroon, we are constantly reminded of our mortality. Life expectancy, due lack of medical facilities, abundance of tropical diseases, AIDS, and highly stressful lives, is in the early 50s. When one reaches 70 years old, they are quite old here. Yesterday, I was invited to preach at the funeral of a brother in Christ, a preacher from Nigeria who has been in Cameroon for over 50 years.

The Road to the village of Kongwe was a pretty bad- and we mistakenly took the worse one. Thankful for a 4x4 with good clearance. We did have the license plate come off because of the force of the water and the mud dragged it off, but got there. I was kind of afraid of flooding the engine, as this was one of the small puddles, but thank God we made it through- I was carrying along a couple of the Cameroon brethren. When they get worried, well you know it's a bad road. 
Preaching about living a life of profit. What are we going to care about on the day of our death? Our profit will not come from our possessions, our academic achievements, our prestige... they will come from the spiritual things in which we invest. What will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Carrying the Casket to the grave behind the church building. Just like that, our life can be carried away. This should not, for the Christian be a day of mourning, but a time of celebration.

Final words uttered by Brother Vincent. I thank God for the opportunity to be part of this... it provokes much thought and reflection and reminds us that this life is but a fleeting shadow, here today and tomorrow we are gone. 
Lowering the casket into the grave Cameroon-style. 
For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.” After a few close friends and relatives said their final goodbyes, the casket was quickly buried. Thank God that, for those in Christ, this is not the end... we shall rise again and be with our God. Maranatha Lord Jesus!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A Terrific Time in Tombel

Since coming to Cameroon, we have been encouraged to be able to work with the Church of Christ here, to help to strengthen and build faith, and be part of their efforts as well. Last week, I (Jeremiah) had the opportunity to go to the town of Tombel, about 3 1/2 hours away, for the Annual Gospel Lecturship, a convention/camp for Brethren from all over Cameroon.

There were over 300 people who came. It was a time of good lessons, fellowship, prayer and encouragement, largely organized and funded by Cameroonians themselves. In the evening, there was outdoor preaching, in the afternoons, door to door evangelism. I was able to help meet 5 people who gave their names and phone numbers for the local brethren to follow up with Bible studies.

Two good friends- Andy Leroy on the left translating into French, and Christopher Omam on the right preaching about Hypocrisy. It has been a blessing getting to know and work with these gentlemen.

I was blessed to be able to help with Bible reading and say a few prayers, but what I enjoyed the most was the time I had for great discussions and to meet new people from all over the country. Sitting with 3 men I admire and enjoy- Christopher, Brother Tabe Moses, and Andy Leroy.

Some of the Buea Brethren (and Sister) who went for the lecturship. These are members of the Buea College of Biblical Studies. I really appreciate their faith and zeal for the Word of God and count them all as friends. 

One of the main reasons I went was to get to know these dear folks... Janet and Paul Kee. They have been in Cameroon for over 30 years. I was able to meet them at the camp, and it so happened that they were on their way to Buea the next day and so we had them over for diner. What a treat getting to talk to them, to glean from their experience and insight and to share with those who have raised their children in Africa, and sacrificed much to see the Lost become the Found.

I was extremely encouraged by the Lectureship.  We are planning next year to go as a family. While the church here has much growing still to do and much maturing, it is encouraging to see the efforts they are making and to be able to come alongside and help Equip, Empower, Educate and Evangelize; building faith and seeing God's transformational power do it's mighty work. 

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Work to do in the Village of Maumu!

It is so nice to be back into the swing of things and working with different congregations in and near Buea. This blog is about the village of Maumu...

I love teaching Sunday School! It takes work but is lots of fun being able to help build a Bible foundation for these kids.
They enjoy listening to Bible stories, singing songs, and doing crafts. So thankful for the folks who send funds and/or supplies to be able to do this.

Aren't they precious? 

I'm excited that they put up an all natural bathroom recently (on the left behind Jonathan). Now we don't have to hold it until we get home.

I must say Jeremiah is my favorite teacher and preacher. He follows the Bible, keeps the crowd's interest, and helps build faith.

Here is an illustration on what happens when we try to do things on our own. 

But we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We have Power behind us. Here Jeremiah is helping the young boy have victory.

The crowd is captivated. :)

A wonderful lady in the Church of Christ in Maumu brought these bananas from the farm to give to us.

I am sometimes humbled by the people here. This bucket is cracked in half but they sowed it up and keep using it. On the right is a Cameroonian broom.
A beautiful woman in the Church.

On our way home...yes, we get to cross a river as we come and go! SO thankful for a 4 wheel drive vehicle to be able to do so.
This is a note Hannah wrote today after coming back from the village. 

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

From Kumasi to Buea--- the Long Way.

Hi, I'm George Owusu Ansah. I'm excited to be in Cameroon and would like to share about my trip and how God protected me through those times.
Me at the bus terminal in Accra, getting ready for the adventure of a life-time.... The trip from Ghana to Cameroon. Thinking about taking the world on for Christ and spreading the Gospel.
Let the adventure begin. This is Accra, the Capital of Ghana, the sign of stepping out of my comfort zone and heading to the promised land.
Appreciating the wonders of God and His creation. First time seeing the Volta River in Ghana- it was the biggest I had ever seen.... God is indeed great and His Greatness is expressed in the things He made.
I'm now in the Republic of Togo, a French speaking county and this is their Capital Lome. Their topography is generally flat and sandy. I could have a view of the ocean as well as the land.
Now in the Republic of Benin, in their capital Cotonou, where the road was still under construction. The most common and  cheapest means of transport was motor bikes which was so different from Ghana.

Lake Nokoue near the city of Cotonou in Benin. 

Spent the night at a bus terminal in Lagos. Lagos is one of the busiest states in Nigeria with over 20 million people:  about the population of Ghana. Rickshaws as a means of transport is very common in Lagos.
This place in Lagos is called MAZAMAZA, meaning hurry up. It is where I took a bus to Calabar, which is a 14 hour journey with few stops.
I'm here at the Calabar sea port and about to check in for my ticket. I spent the night here and intended to board the ship early in the morning. God surely did protect me at the port and I saw some amazing things.
When we were preparing to set sail, this ship came in at the port.
After sailing for about 8 hours, I saw the beautiful sight of Mount Cameroon and then I knew that I was near my final destination. I left Kumasi Friday afternoon, and finally reached the Hostetters' house in  Buea on Tuesday night. God kept me safe, and took me through any difficulties, thanks to the prayers of the saints. I'm excited be here and to help reach Cameroon For Christ.

Our first volunteer- George Owusu Ansah!

Our first 6 weeks back in Cameroon have been extremely busy- so much has happened.... we have gotten settled back into a routine, had my parents visit from Ghana, made a decision to move, reconnected with many of the congregations that we have been working with... and this past week, had one more exciting new development- the arrival of our first long-term volunteer. 

George Owusu Ansah is a young man and graduate of the christian school in Ghana where I graduated, and where Brittney and I taught for several years. He was one of my students, as well as one of my basketball players, and one of the young men I helped disciple and study the Word of God with. In Ghana, he was a student of the same university that I attended. George, since before we left Ghana, expressed a desire to come to Cameroon and help us in our ministry... to assist in our youth outreaches, help with the Gym, take some of the load of daily tasks that I have, and in other ways, help us improve and expand our ministry. As he was a student in Ghana, our thought was that he would be able to come and study here, as this would grant him a status in the country, and during his off hours, he would help out with the ministry. 

In Ghana, as he prepared for this work, George was very active in the work of the Lord. Though a full-time student, he also found time to teach a weekly Sunday School class, lead singing, help with youth programs, work a part-time job as a tutor, help with VBS and Youth Camps, help coach and arrange basketball games, and do more. He is a real go-getter and has, often with no support from his family, grown and achieved great things spiritually, educationally, athletically and in the development of his character. 

Two weeks ago, George made the daunting trip from Ghana to Cameroon overland. He was on a bus for over 30 hours, and on a ferry for another 8. He slept in bus terminals, and braved the dangers of travelling in Nigeria. He came without his Visa being processed, on the promise from his school- Pan African Institute of Development- which is also a diplomatic institution, that they will take care of his paperwork. It was really a monumental day to have him here. 

While here, he will be doing all the ministry work that we mentioned above, while pursuing his graduation from PAID with a degree in Development in Social Work. He is committed to being here for the next two years, and if God wills it, longer. As a Ghanaian, he is making the transition of cultures, diets, climates, and challenges quite smoothly. We are excited to find more and more ways for him to make a difference here. 

George needs your prayers- he is still waiting on his paperwork to be processed, he has to catch up on a number of classes, he is still going to experience homesickness, he is going to have a lot to learn and grow and do. He also needs your support. His school fees are about $2500 a year- monthly living costs will be about $100 a month. Right now we are paying for this out of our pocket, because we feel his help is more than worth it, but if you or someone you know would like to get involved in helping him specially we feel that it would be a blessing to know that you are equipping such a dynamic and God-driven young man. 

George will be sharing with you all intermittently about his impressions here in Cameroon. If you'd like to get involved in helping him out, you can contribute via paypal, or could send help through Hostetter Ministries to 506 N. Linn St. Fayette, MO 65248. God bless you all for your prayers and we hope you join us in thanking Him for all He continues to do in opening up ministry here in Cameroon! 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Hostetter's Visit part II

It was such a blessing to have the Hostetter Seniors here. Here are some pics to show you some of the many ways they were an encouragement to us during their stay.

More tag team! Dad teaching at Bolifamba Mile 16 Church of Christ.

Then Jeremiah doing the preaching time!

I love hosting people and we had an opportunity to prepare a meal for the Omame and Tabe families.

Fun fellowship!

And mom happily washed the mountain of dishes afterwards. :)

Mom and Dad helped physically and spiritually. Here dad is fetching water from a broken pipe down the road. 

Who wore who out? It's nice that the kids have such wonderful grandparents.

Cameroon is a beautiful country and it was fun getting to show mom and dad the beach.

Mom doing a Bible study with Kate about using the Bible to build your faith and not just what man says. 

Kate and her family. They presented a lovely house decoration for mom and dad. 
We also had an early Thanksgiving celebration while they were here. Hannah and Jonathan are showing their thankful trees.

Yummy food!

And this is just to make you smile. So thankful for Carys Faith.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Hot Water for a Hero Wife

This evening, while performing a simple action, heating up water for a bath, I was struck with gratitude and appreciation for my amazing wife. I grew up in Africa from my earliest childhood. The hardships and challenges of living in an undeveloped place such as this, while still difficult, are as familiar to me as the back of my hand. Brittney did not. While she did not always live in the best of neighborhoods and did face many hardships as a child, still, she could turn on the faucet and hot, clean, even drinkable water would flow out.

Now, if she wants water, she has to hope that either the water is flowing, or that our tank still has some water left. It just ran out today since water hasn't flowed for a week, but we had a little left in a bucket. She needed to do dishes, and then to get a bath. So, she asked me if I could get some heating for her. Here's how we do it.

As I went and filled up the bucket and then put the little heater in it, it struck me... if she hadn't married me, and devoted her life to serving the Lord in foreign lands, she would not have known these daily inconveniences and challenges. Her life would be so much more convenient and comfortable. She would have time for hobbies and socializing. She could throw dishes in a dishwasher, clothes in an always-working washing machine, and get a nice hot shower or bath while those machines took care of things.

So, faced with these and many many more burdens both great and small, does she complain, have a bad attitude, or just not get things done? No. She continues to be an amazing wife, and a devoted mother, bearing under these loads both small and great, being an amazing teacher to our kids, a hostess, an example to others, keeping our family clothed, fed and well taken care of... she provides a haven of love and encouragement even on the rough days.

I share this with you not to complain or show you how hard we have it, but so that you can join me in thanking God for this amazing woman, Christian and wife. Next time you turn on the hot water faucet, whether to wash your hands, do your dishes, get a shower or anything else... please take a minute to think of my wife, and to say a prayer for her, that even though she can't take a hot shower, she might have showers of blessings from God. I know I'm blessed to have her.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Time flies when your having fun...and get'n stuff done!

Time flies when your having fun...and get'n stuff done! It's hard to believe Mom and Dad Hostetter have been here for over a week already. They arrived 10 days after we got back to Cameroon and it has been such a blessing having them here. They have participated in preaching, encouraging the Saints, helping reach out to gym members, cleaning up mold, doing laundry (which is a big ordeal here when the water doesn't come on everyday), cooking, playing with the grand-kids, helping the kids with morning devotions and school, etc. We also appreciate their advice on how to "excel still more" with the ministry as they have been on the mission field for over 30 years.

Tag team! The first Sunday Jeremiah's parents were here we drove to Douala to assemble with the Saints. Jeremiah did the Sunday School class about freedom in Christ (Romans 6, 7, & 8 are some of my favorite chapters in the Bible!) while Jeremiah's dad preached about being disciples of Jesus. Great team work men of faith!

This may look like Jeremiah in the picture of above but this is Jeremiah's dad preaching. Jeremiah likes to say "like in the Bible, if you've seen the son you've seen the father." :)

Jonathan and Hannah with some of the children in the congregation. I encourage Hannah and Jonathan to overcome being too shy and to be friendly to the new people we meet because we are bright lights for Jesus.

We've had several Cameroonians visit us and sometimes they bring meals for our family. This is one of my favorite Cameroonian foods, ekwa. It's made with ground coco yams wrapped in casava leaves and boiled in a sauce that consists of red pepper, ginger, garlic, onions, palm oil and fish.
We have put Mom H to work! She got us all caught up on laundry which is a big ordeal since the water is on sporadically and we had lots of clothes and sheets to wash due to mold. She has also been cooking us delicious meals so I can work on other things.

Grandpa and Jonathan after taking an adventure and finding some arrows for his homemade bow. It seems like some of the funnest things for kids are also the cheapest! :)
Grandpa and Hannah with the beautiful bouquet they made. 
Carys is such a happy baby and she has been enjoying extra attention from Grandma H.  
Mom H found a snail and Hannah wanted to keep it as a pet. She is responsible for feeding it, giving it water and cleaning out its "cage." She takes it out several times a day to play with it and named him Mordecai. Who knew a snail would make such a good pet? Teaching a kid how to care for a pet is one of many ways to teach them how to be responsible.

It's been hard on the kids not having a routine in the States as we traveled around (though we had a super encouraging time there!) so it is good getting them back into somewhat of a routine. I have to be patient with myself and the kids as everything takes time and work. We also appreciate Mom and Dad H's advice about training up kids in the Lord. We really take their advice to heart as they have 3 of their own and many "adopted" grown up children who love the Lord with all their hearts.

This is a picture Jeremiah took of Mount Cameroon on which we live. " The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands." Psalms 19:1

More about how God uses Mom and Dad Hostetter's visit to help encourage us and others in the next blog!