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Greetings in the strong name of Jesus Christ from Banyo, Cameroon. We are in the midst of rainy season here; it rained all last night and is overcast today. This is the season when the farmers are quite busy; next month, when they begin to harvest in earnest, they will be even busier.
We are not doing too much farming here, although when we settled into our ‘new to us’ house in March, we inherited a yard and garden with a fantastic array for plants that Sonya is enjoying and/or learning about. Mango season is pretty much done, with a few still in market occasionally, and there is a shelf full of a variety of mango preserves, and a bit of mulberry jelly, to be saved for the time of year when one’s fruit choices are much more limited (along with a small stash of raspberry from Canada!). There’s a lot of work to do around the house and yard. I’ve taken up some lawn mowing again with the unexpected bonus(?!) of a manual push mower, but we hire out of lot of the work. Sonya is also kept hopping as the missionary rep on a management committee for the larger CBC property. We were not able to connect much with the NAB virtual Triennial because of poor internet and the eight-hour time difference, but we did make a couple of virtual tour video segments if you’d like to see a bit of our place.
At the moment, we are hosting two young F*lɓe teenagers who want to learn the Bible better and improve their English. We have been enjoying them a lot, and when they go back home in a week or so I am sure we will miss them. I think in any culture it would be quite an honour to have parents entrust their children to you, but in this culture it seems especially so. The young woman is a good cook, so she is cooking at least once a week and usually cooks nyiiri (fuufuu) and one of our two or three preferred vegetable sauces, since while we are quite fine with eating it we don’t care for it enough to actually cook it. She has adapted to using a gas stove much better than Sonya says she could adapt to cook over a fire, although there have been a few scorched pots and reminders to turn the flame down. There’s a lot more dishes and laundry to do, but they really pitch in. (At least we have a useful washing machine again.) After a week or two, however, we could pick up on some squabbling about who has to wash, though, so clearly they are pretty normal siblings.
Over in Nigeria, the Medical Health Clinic started last year, with the help of many generous Canadians. When the ‘official’ launch occurred this year, many people in Nigeria were not happy, and our friends were subjected to a great amount of persecution. They endured the storm with great patience, however, and while some wavered in their faith, and a good amount of fear was felt in the community, the young men saw how their parents reacted to the pressure brought to bear on them and decided they needed to check out why. The result was that many of these young men began to attend the morning devotions, Wednesday services, and Friday evening events and have also decided to become followers of Jesus. At the last report (just yesterday), they are all doing very well and are living proof that our God is able to bring about very good things even in the midst of great trial.
Those who were not happy with the clinic declared a boycott against it, and up until a few days ago people had practically ceased to come. Recently, however, they began to patronize the clinic once more, so we pray that will continue.
We are praying that the Health Clinic will be given a government-appointed short-term doctor. The doctor serving there now does not yet have the qualifications necessary for the licenses they wish to have. Eventually, we hope to host visiting doctors from North America there, but for now, in the nature of the case, we do not wish to have the clinic look like a mission clinic. (Though I will say that all of the white, NA doctors and nurses I know are loved and highly valued by the people they serve.)
While travel to Nigeria has not been feasible for us yet, we praise God that we have been able to cross the border in terms of special project funding there. We have been working with our ministry partners, Walter Grob, and our bosses, Cal Hohn and Kerry Bender, to establish a direct partnership between the NAB and our indigenous partners, whose lives and ministry cross between Cameroon AND Nigeria. We are grateful for the assistance that the Canadian group For We Care has given us regarding Canadian donations the past few years, but with the new arrangement, donations from BOTH American and Canadian donors to the Least Reached People Group special projects can be directed to BOTH Nigerian and Cameroon projects, to be used in the areas of education, evangelism and community development. And while we are proud to be involved in their work, we are delighted that this will also result in direction, ownership, and accountability on the part of the local leadership. It is donations from generous supporters like many of you that have made it possible to help our African brothers and sisters with basic, post-secondary, and vocational training; build the clinic; support medical staff and evangelist/pastors; provide relief for widows, orphans, and refugees; assist with houses and guest houses; train local leaders; build water projects; and so much more that shows the love of God to those who believe and those who do not.
Here on the Cameroon side, teaching continues to be one of our main ministries. These days, besides teaching our teens, I lead a Bible study at the mission hospital, work one-on-one with the chaplain, and sometimes preach in our small church. We got a Land Cruiser full of our stuff from our house in Ndu finally, including almost all of my books, so that has been a great joy, as well as being useful for study. Prayer has become a bigger part of the ministry, as we have seen many issues arising that cannot be solved by human instrumentality.
Sonya has been doing a lot of ‘this and that.’ She caught an impromptu ride to Yaounde and was able to spend some time with Elsie before the latter’s final departure from the Cameroon field.
She has been leading a time of study and singing with the few youth on Saturdays, taking various scripture songs she knows and seeing if they work when in the Ful*ulde translation. One of the girls actually came up with her own song for one of the verses (2 Cor 5:17) and, with a bit of polishing, it’s become one of the favorites. She is planning to be actively involved in the primary school here this school year and would value your prayers for that.
Sonya also found a place to play some decent adult badminton (outdoors) and has set up a really basic court in the compound as well and is coaching about seven kids (including our two visitors) during the school break. Her bike is one of the things she got from Ndu(!), and after finally finding the tools, parts, and time to get a tube changed out, is hoping to ride again. The hills here make it challenging to just take a quick spin! Back in May, we had a week or so in one of the villages, and she reported her first African sunburn as a result of taking kids to the local lake for five consecutive days. Doing the recreational activities she loves makes her a happier and healthier person overall, albeit a bit more tired.
Jeff & Sonya Kilmartin
Box 50, Banyo.Adamawa State, Cameroon, West africa
Canadian address: 13233 60 Street NW Edmonton, AB T5A 0S4