Tuesday, 22 January 2019

New Year, New Plans!

Greetings Brethren!

We know it has been quite a while since we have updated you all here. I (Jeremiah) do hope you have seen some of our emailed updates. If not, please drop me an email to make sure you are on that list. One reason we didn't share some of that info here was for safety's sake, as I was going to make a trip to Cameroon. Well, I have gone and now I am back, and excited to share with you about that trip as well as about some of the insight and plans that are coming out of this trip! Read to the end for more about our plans coming up!

My trip to Cameroon went exceptionally well. I left on December 31st, and even had some empty seats beside me so I could rest. When I got there all my bags were ready. I could tell already people were praying for me. 

It was good to see old friends again. The Schilinskis picked me up from the airport when I got there, as they were in Douala already. I thank God for the chance to talk with them and some other missionaries who happened to be staying at the same guest house, as they could give me their insight on the situation on the ground and somewhat confirm some of what we had been thinking as far as whether or not we could go back to Buea as a family. 

Brother Wilson came and got me the 3rd of January. I had planned to go to Buea on the 2nd, but due to security issues, I had to stay in Douala an extra day to wait for the roads to be safe. I really appreciate Bro Wilson for his friendship and faithfulness. He was of great help throughout my time there. 
On the way to Buea, we passed through some villages that had seen fighting. This building was one of many with bullet holes all over. 

More signs of destruction. The security situation in Anglophone Cameroon remains very poor. Outbreaks of fighting are common, especially along the highways, and kidnapping is rampant. It was quite clear that going back to Anglophone Cameroon would not be possible for the foreseeable future. 

While I was quite sad to think we could not go back as a family, I tried to stay busy and focus on the good I could do while there, such as getting school supplies for the school kids... 

... and seeing dear friends and saints such as Auntie Kate. We dearly missed our Cameroon family. Reunion was bittersweet, coming back to what had been our home for 7 years. I shed many many tears seeing our dear friends and our beloved home, but thank God for His protection of our loved ones. 

I could also rejoice to see many of the ministries we started still carrying on, such as the gym ministry. 

Thank you to all who helped with funds for this trip. There were many needs and ways to help out while there, and I am grateful to all who have continued to support us and the saints in Cameroon. 

The kids were so excited to receive notebooks and pens and pencil bags and such... we miss our FBEM school kids so very much. 

Teachers received care packages as well. We really do appreciate them keeping things going in our absence, in spite of the risks involved. 

Faith Builders Educational Ministry. It touched my heart to see the kids again. 

I really enjoyed getting to see my gym guys again as well. Abel continues to do a great job with running and coaching at the gym. 

I had planned to go to Mile 16 and preach on Sunday while there, but was advised not too, as it is a high-risk area and I might be kidnapped for ransom. I visited instead with brethren in Buea in a safer neighborhood. 

Sunday evening we had a New Years party with those who come for the Sunday evening assemblies. 

It was a time of great joy and fellowship. 

Kate's son Emmanuel, one of Jonathan's special friends and one of the first kids in our school. 

Julius with baby Brittney and William. William is a source of tremendous encouragement to me. I thank God for him and his sincere, genuine faith. 

Abel and some of the guys from the gym that come for studies. Relationship building through bodybuilding that leads to faith building. 

We will miss this beautiful view. Cameroon is such a beautiful country. We thank God for the time we did have in Buea and will never cease praying for it to have peace once more. 

Elizabeth is an amazing young lady. Our ministry in Cameroon could not continue without her help. She keeps things moving forward with school, has taken care of our house in our absence, and just serves as an administrator for so many things there. 

Kids continue to learn in FBEM. In spite of all the challenges and dangers, they continue to memorize Scripture, learn to read, do their math, and are taught Bible stories every day. The seed we planted continues to grow and bear fruit. My heart was so full to see this. 

The school was an encouragement to me. Our prayer is that, even though we are not able to be in Buea, children could continue to receive Godly, character building Christian education in our absence. Thank you for partnering with us financially to help make this possible!

As it was clear that Anglophone Cameroon is a closed door for our family, at least for the foreseeable future, we wanted to check out some possible other avenues of ministry. One of those was the city of Edea in the Francophone part of the country where we might be able to relocate to and continue ministering in Cameroon in the future. It's a town of about 100,000 within 1 hour of the largest city in the country. We will continue to seek God's guidance for the future as to whether this or another location in Cameroon may be a good avenue for ministry.  One major barrier to us being able to relocate to Francophone Cameroon is French. While I speak conversational French at an intermediate level, Brittney and the kids speak very very little. So if we were to relocate to Francophone Cameroon, beforehand, we'd need to learn French. 

The best place to learn French? France of course! And if we could be involved in meaningful ministry, being of use to the Kingdom of God while also being immersed in French? This is something we are very interested in... 

And so on my way back from Cameroon I stopped in Marseille, in Southern France, to meet with Brethren there who are reaching out to what is now a post-Christian country. 

I encountered a city that was a melting pot. 35% of the population originates from North Africa (Tunisia, Algeria, etc...). There are 250,000 Muslims in this city. In some ways, this city represents perhaps the best way to reach Muslim North Africa, as open mission work in those countries is very difficult and dangerous. 

Scenes in Marseilles reminded me of Cameroon, with open air markets, small shops such as found in Cameroon, and even architectural styles. Cameroon being a former French colony, and in turn the large immigrant community means this makes sense. 

Marseilles is the oldest city in France, founded in 600 B.C. because of its excellent natural harbor. There are almost 2,000,000 people in the metropolitan area. It is one of the poorest cities in France and has some of the highest crime rates, but also can serve as a launching pad to reach the Mediterranean world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

I was shown tremendous hospitality by the Youngs and their brethren in France, such as Khaled, whose family is from Algeria, and who has spent much time in Africa. His hospitality reminded me of home, as I dare not pass by the door without joining them for a meal. 
The congregation in Marseille is small... but this is the situation of the church in France. There are only 6 churches of Christ in a country of over 60 million people. Christianity is dying out in France... most church-goers are in their 60s, and represent less than 4% of the population. There is absolutely a need here for missions.  
I was so encouraged to see the way that the ministry in Marseille reached out to young people. They, like us in Africa, recognized the need to reach youths if the church is to have a future and if there is to be life and energy in the church. I saw also many ways in which our family could be useful and fruitful during our time there, not only learning French, but also helping with teaching English classes, being part of kids' Bible club, working with the Christians in Missions program, doing Bible studies with the Let's Start Talking program, and even meeting people in the local gym. We are very excited about the possibility, and are prayerfully, hopefully looking to spend a year there starting in June. We will shortly update all of you with details of those plans. 

THANK YOU for your prayers and the finances to make this trip possible. It was a great trip, a very hard emotional trip, but gave me great insight to plan for the future. I could really see that people were praying for me, in terms of how things worked out, in terms of safety, and in terms of wisdom from on high. Thank you all! Merci beaucoup! 

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Hostetter's Summer Update!

Hey All!

It has been quite a summer! There have been challenges and victories, tears and laughter, and many things happening both in the US of A and back home in Cameroon. We wanted to (finally) take some time and update you all about some of the things we've been up to the last few months!

We had a chance to get more A.C.E. Training for our school. Brittney did the Supervisor's training down in Springfield and I did the Administrator's training out in Tennessee. It was a great opportunity and really helped refresh our knowledge on running an ACE School. We pray God gives us many opportunities to be involved in shaping kids' character and leading them in the ways of the Lord. 

 We also have had the opportunity to travel as a family to visit some dear friends and family and to share with brethren in Oklahoma, Illinois, Virginia, and North Carolina.

We really cherish the time with our family. Being in Cameroon means we so rarely get the chance to be with them. We had a great time with the Thomas' family in Virginia. 

We also had a wonderful time being present for my grandparents 60th anniversary. Here they are with their great-grandkids! A great example of love and devotion.  

Brittney's Grandpa Lacy was a hit with our kids, and it was so good to have an impromptu lunch with our good friends the Reijgers as we traveled! 

We even got to enjoy a few days at the beach with some of the kids cousins! 
We really enjoyed visiting Brian and Jael Harris and family as well in Illinois! We sure miss doing ministry with them. 

As we traveled, we also had many opportunities to share about the situation back home in Cameroon and the things God has helped us to do there. It is encouraging to see the concern and encouragement that people offer us. We are blessed with so many who love us and care about the work in Cameroon! 

An example of the great generosity of the brethren in America. Our school's back up water supply (very important as we often have no flowing water for weeks at a time), was in a dire state. The wooden tower had collapsed ruining the piping and tank. We mentioned this need on Facebook and within minutes, had been promised the funds to get a metal tower and replacement tank set up!!! 

Another great project that we were able to help with back in Cameroon... hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by the violence in Cameroon. Many brethren in the churches there have been hard hit, even loosing their homes. We were able to partner with a donor organization here in the United States and with a non-profit organization run by a sister in Christ in Cameroon to offer relief to almost 100 families! It was a huge blessing to them, not only the physical relief and help, but also to know that they matter to people outside of the country and that brethren in the United States care about them and are praying for them. 

After finishing out the school year,  an excellent awards ceremony, and summer school to end the school year last year, school in Cameroon resumed this week! We have some new teachers, many new students and new challenges. There are a number of needs, one of the biggest of which is a school bus, but we know God can supply in the proper time. We also desperately ask for prayers for peace in Cameroon and for the safety of our dear teachers and students. Things are still very very dangerous there. 

Our initial plan had been to go back to Cameroon this past month and be there for the resumption of the school year. Unfortunately, due to the violence and insecurity in Cameroon, we have been unable to return at this time. Things in Cameroon continue to deteriorate. Our plan for now is to remain in the United States for some time as we hope for a resolution to the crisis. Jeremiah will be doing some schooling to help with the running of our school (a Masters in Education) while working at a gym and also keeping things going in Cameroon with our school, gym and home Bible studies. If you would like to know more details about our plans, what we are doing and why, please drop us a line and we'd love to talk! God bless you all!