Voices from the Field Jeff & Sonya Kilmartin Get to know Jeff & Sonya

Sannu (Hello) from dusty Ndu

Published on February 15, 2018

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Dear Family and Friends,

Sannu (Hello) from dusty Ndu. Hard to believe this is only our second ‘official’ newsletter from Cameroon!! We are finally heavy into language learning here, trying to put in a few hours per day with Suleymanu, our language helper. He is living with us now, so the process is much better. The time we spent in Colorado learning how to learn is now paying dividends. The thing about language learning is, of course, there is so much of it. Kai! Still, we are enjoying it, and if we are to have true impact here we will need to have munyal (patience/perseverance) when the going gets a little bit tough.

Near the start of this new year, we were in Bamenda for several days at the annual Cameroon Missions Fellowship (CMF) retreat. There we met most of our fellow NAB missionaries (except those on furlough), plus many of the other ex-pats here in the country working with the CBC. The theme of the retreat was faith – always a good thing to reflect on and seek to grow in. We stocked up on favorite food stuffs and other materials in Bamenda that we can’t get in Ndu, and thereafter Sonya was also able to join some World Team and Converge missionaries also working with F*lbe in Mbingo for meetings (and squeezed in a bonus ride!).

We have taken a couple excursions up north now, to visit some of our F*lbe friends and get to know them better. Each time we go, we learn some more of the history of these people and the communities in which they live – all very useful stuff when it comes to tackling the project of teaching and effectively ministering among them. On our last trip, Suley and I managed to connect one young woman (suffering from a psychotic disorder) with a psychiatric doctor in Banso, who was able to diagnose her condition over the phone (he asked me a question; I asked Suley; Suley asked the family; then reversed the process to get the answers). Before we left the region we managed to get her medication to her, and she is now – finally – receiving the treatment she needs.

This little episode represents a huge gift of hope not only for this young woman – who will have her life restored to her through it – but to many others in the communities who are suffering from this kind of malady. It shows the love of God in a very tangible way to the folks here and is a powerful testimony to what He is able to do through the prayers and ministrations of His people. On our next trip (during our seminary’s Spring Break) we are planning to take the doctor back with us so he can meet the woman and check on her progress thus far.

Meanwhile, life down in Ndu goes on apace. Sonya has been under the weather this last little while, suffering in the epic Ndu dust with repeated colds, infections, and allergy issues, but has sufficiently recovered to launch the children’s library a week ago Tuesday. This has existed here in the past, but had been mothballed a long time. After two months of preparation, with marvelous support from the head CBTS librarian, 13 children came to the first session, and over 20 to the second, where they looked through and read on their own or with volunteers, listened to some stories, and, if their parents had duly registered them, signed out a book to take home for the week. She expects that number to grow and is happy to see children reading, which does not happen enough here, and the children enjoy having adults to read with and to them.

Sonya is also teaching the two classes she taught last semester in the seminary women’s department and was eager to start her remedial reading group at the primary school, with 17 children from grades 3–5 who are unable to read. She is two weeks in and is thoroughly enjoying it. This allows her an opportunity to work, in a Cameroonian context, with the reading/writing program she introduced with Elsie Lewandowski in the summer teacher program and to see if further changes should be made, based on these experiences. For all her teacher friends reading this, she says she forgot how both exhausting and exhilarating it is to work every day with a group of children and to hold a regular teaching schedule, even if it’s not full time. Basically, she is up to her neck in teaching-related projects, and loving (most of) the challenges. Oh yes… she’s still trying to get some badminton going somehow…stay tuned.

I am quite enjoying teaching my Baptist History and Distinctives classes each week. I never cease to be impressed with our particular heritage and am glad for the opportunity to pass on some of that fervor and passion to these young (and some not-so-young) students here. I was supposed to be teaching a course on the Old Testament, but due to the vagaries of enrollment, this has been downgraded to an Independent Study course.

Another thing we hope to see happen soon is a strategy meeting here in Ndu with some of our F*lbe friends from Nigeria. We hope to be able to ‘map out’ a kind of yearly schedule for Sonya and I, in our ministry in general. We definitely appreciate and covet your prayers, because it is a huge part of our intended ministry and the continued, and somewhat increased, political instability in the region – both here in Cameroon and in Nigeria – can make travel more hazardous than it already normally is. God bless you all for your prayer and support.

Jeff and Sonya