Monday, 21 September 2015

First Two Weeks of School

One of our primary focuses here in Cameroon is our school, Faith Builders Educational Ministry. This ministry provides quality education with a focus on character and Christian values to the children of Cameroon. Today we started our third week of school! It has been a crazy busy time, but so exciting to be back to school! Check out these pictures! 

Every morning we have our opening program. We sing the national anthem, pledge to the Bible, play "Mr. H. says." have a Bible lesson, practice memory work and sing "This is the Day!" On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the kids wear the blue sports wear for P.E. Last year we had 7 students... this year we have 16 if you count Carys (and she definitely thinks she is one of the students). It's fun to have more kids to do things with, while still having a manageable number. 

First day of school!
After opening, the kids separate into their classes. Brittney has the largest class, teaching 7 kids how to read. They range from 4 and 1/2 to 9 years old. 

Extra prayers for Brittney as she is potty training Carys and teaching her class at the same time. :)
Melanie is one of Brittney's students, here working hard on her phonetics lessons. 
 Jonathan is also learning how to read this year! It is amazing to see him growing and learning!
Mrs. Takem has the next class with 5 students (one didn't come the first day). She is teaching them kindergarten, learning their numbers, letters, shapes and so forth. She is a good teacher and the children really do seem to enjoy their class. 

Mine is the smallest class, with just three students right now, but they are moving very quickly through their schoolwork and do keep me pretty busy. Hannah is almost finished with 4th Grade, while Joshua is in 2nd and Emmanuel is almost done with 1st. Each student works at their own pace and masters material before passing to the next level. 
It has been good to be back in the Learning Center. The hammer is to nail up a blackboard. Carys is a de facto student. :D 

Hannah's first test of the year- she got a 100% on a fairly hard test (covering division, long multiplication and more). 

At 10:00 it is break time! The kids are excited to get outside for a little bit and be able burn some energy. 
Our playground equipment is in a shoddy state... we have 2 balls, a busted wagon and a slide that is falling apart. We hope to get some stuff welded soon, but in the meantime... 

The kids find ways to entertain themselves :D 

After break, it is time to get back to school. We try and use many different tools to help the kids, whether it is having them practice their math drills on a tablet, or using a math kit. 

Each day, the two older classes have their French classes with Mrs. Takem. Cameroon is a bilingual nation, where much of the population speaks French, so it is a vital skill for them to be able to speak and use French. 
Gaelle, Thelma and Nyallum, three of Brittney's students, enjoying their French classes.  

Mr. Takem teaching the older kids how to use computers. Our computer lab/library has grown from 1 computer to 4! The kids really really enjoy this class. 

Our friend Neville, who will be an assistant professor at the University of Buea this year, comes and teaches the kids' Art class on Fridays! Seems like they enjoy this class as well...  lots of smiles! 

Ngu, our "office assistant." Ngu is a university student who used to work with his mom in a small secretarial business. He has been a huge help this year getting things photocopied, laminated, put in plastic and otherwise taking care of much of the office busy work that we need done. He even tore down and repaired our lamination machine! 
George comes each day to either teach the music class or... 

PE! The kids really like both classes! Mondays and Wednesday, they learn new songs and sing with all their hearts, and Tuesdays and Thursdays, George helps them with PE. George is a big help wherever there is a need.

PE comes at the end of a busy day of school, and the kids are always full of energy to burn, after sitting still for quite a while. They are a good group and it has been a tremendously blessed day of school.
Brother Wilson, with his rebuilt taxi (Brittney's old two door Toyota Yaris) comes to bring the kids to school and then returns at 1:00 to drop them off each day. It is a busy but great day of school, and we pray God continues to provide the energy and finances throughout the school year! We greatly appreciate all of your involvement and especially being able to use Brian and Jael Harris' home for this! Thanking God for a great start to a great year! 

Sunday, 6 September 2015

2 Weeks Before School Picture Update!

Tomorrow starts our first day of school and we've been busy with school and non-school related things since we got back home from Bamenda 2 weeks ago! We want to take a moment so we can catch you all up with the latest news! Praise the Lord for His strength!

Solange is a neighbor who attends our Sunday night home Bible studies. We helped her start a small sewing business and through writing my expert mother in-law we have been giving her tips on how to sew aprons. These are the second batch of  aprons she recently made. Praying her business is successful so she can help make ends meet. Jeremiah met her husband at the gym and had Bible studies with him and they have little boy that is Carys' age!
Visiting friends is a big deal in Cameroon and we have people come to our home several times a week! Sometimes it's for a short visit and sometimes for a long period of time. Culturally, you are to drop what you are doing to host your visitors. Sometimes I have them join me in the kitchen! Here is Kate and her husband with her mom. ;)
Ashley's parents wanted to say thank you for helping her. They brought food items from their farm. Coco yam, corn, yam, plantain and bananas! What an encouragement it is to know that with your help, God has used us to make a difference in the life of this family. 
We were pleasantly surprised to have some overnight visitors come the week after the Bamenda program. First Brother Paul Kee, a Church of Christ missionary, in Banso in the North West, came to spend the night. Jeremiah always enjoys talking to Bro. Paul who has been here many years and who also was a missionary kid. He is an encouragement to us and full of insight and wisdom from his experiences.
Next, it was a lot of fun having the Friesen family over, minus 1 daughter who is in university. The lady on the right is a tutor for their son. They work doing Bible translation in a village near Kumba. The roads were bad due to rainy season so their journey took longer than expected. Coming to our house for the night was a great way to break up their travels before continuing!
This is John the tour guide. He takes people to hike Mount Cameroon and other places during the dry season. He heard we were back from traveling and wanted to visit. 
Last week, Jeremiah had to go to Yaounde to pick up Jonathan's passport so Jeremiah took him along for some guy time! Here they are with a view overlooking the capital of Cameroon. Great bonding time for my boys! 
They took a train because it is safer than taking a bus and cheaper than taking our vehicle for just 2 people. Unfortunately, they didn't save much money on this trip because Jeremiah was robbed. As he was holding Jonthan's hand in the city, a thief came and grabbed Jeremiah's wallet out of his hand. (He was holding it because pickpockets are notorious in Cameroon, and many have had things stolen out of bags and pockets... guess that didn't deter them). Jeremiah chased him a little ways but didn't want to leave Jonathan behind. The wallet had all his money, train tickets, debit card, resident cards (which you can't travel without), and drivers license. Due to the money that was stolen, signed police papers to travel, money sent to him for getting back home, etc we lost around $750! But praise God no one was harmed (that includes the thief whom I believe Jeremiah could have seriously injured if he would have caught him- my hubby is a big guy) and thank God Jeremiah still had their passports and his phone, so he could get money that I wired to him and get home safely.
Jonathan still enjoyed his first train ride and quality time with Daddy! He has become an "expert" on trains now. :D 

We met this lovely family, the only other missionary family we know in Buea, recently so we took them to Douala with us to show them some of the shops available. It was nice getting to spend time with them and Hannah and their daughter Arial really hit it off. 

We were excited to find jump ropes for our gym! It seems we go through jump ropes pretty often. 

This is a cute picture of Carys, just because. :)
Another exciting part of the ministry took place a few days ago! Jeremiah went to France at the beginning of the year to be trained to used the Lets Start Talking Program, which uses the Bible to help people improve their English. Last week, he was able to set up a time to use it with a Francophone police officer he met in the gym named Roger. It was really encouraging, and we hope to have more of these types of Bible studies. 

I got a Pidgin Bible in Bamenda and have been taking a little bit of time to read. Here's a verse for you:
 "So no bi na mi A bi agein, bot na Christ weh e dei fo insaid mi. As hau weh A di stei jos nau, ma hat e dei na fo God yi pikin, weh e bin laik mi an e giv yo sef fo mi." Galations 2:20

George and Ngu, a young man in the Church, were helping us with office work when Ngu saw a black cobra on our back porch! He used a stick to hit it on its head and then Jeremiah smashed it again with a shovel. The kids also saw a snake in the yard a few days ago. Please pray for the kids' protection against these snakes!

In one of our blog posts I asked for prayers to sell our car quickly so a brother in the Church could buy a taxi... well God answered your prayers in an unexpected way. No one was offering the price we wanted so, brother Wilson had the idea to sell his broken down car and use the money to change my 2 door Yaris into a 4 door taxi! PTL, this was a cheaper and quicker way to do what needed to be done. This is the before picture and...
The after! I'm amazed at the creativity of the Cameroon people. It looks great!

A lot of work had to be done on the school such as plumbing (fixing toilets, sinks, and broken pipes), electrical work (adding light bulbs and fixing outlits), gardening, carpentry (getting more offices and desks made), cleaning up mold, buying school chairs, plastic folders, and other supplies.  Thanks for your continued support for this great project! 
 We are not charging school fees this year, but we do want the parents to invest in their childrens' education and spiritual welfare. The parents came to give school forms, pay taxi fare (at a discount), pay for uniforms, have bought textbooks and notebooks, etc... However, we have 4 children in the school whose moms are widows. We are completely sponsoring the kids whose moms can't afford it. 
I am super excited about school starting tomorrow. Please pray we will have the strength and wisdom we need to educate and to train up these children in the way of the Lord as well as have the strength and wisdom to continue working in the other aspects of the ministry. We look forward to our coworkers (Brian, Jael and baby Zeal) who are coming next month to help lighten the load a bit. Prayers for their last days in the states and travels to Cameroon are appreciated!