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Dear family and friends,
Wow! We cannot believe it is already August again! It seems like only a few weeks ago we were writing to you from our Mission Training Institute at Palmer Lake, Colorado, but a lot of time and ground has been traversed since then.
One of the illustrations we would like to share, that the MTI staff used with both children and adults, was to use the Pair-a-ducks to be able to freely communicate both the great and exciting things in our lives (YAY ducks) and also those things that are sad, difficult, or stressful (YUCK-ducks). Often, when we share about the bad things going on in our lives, there is a tendency for people around us to try to ‘help’ by countering with statements like “Well, at least…” This has the negative effect of minimizing or dismissing an issue and can discourage us from sharing the emotions we need to express. We were encouraged to allow each other to express our yuck-ducks and yay-ducks and to live in the pair-a-ducks (i.e., paradox) that life is full of.
An example of a ‘yay-duck’ has been including visits with friends and family along the way this summer, but it was a real ‘yuck-duck’ when it came time to say goodbye to Jeff’s family members, knowing we might not see them for a very long time, some maybe not at all.
After MTI, we spent a few days with our friends and colleagues at the NAB IO (North American Baptist International Office), since we had crossed the 50% support threshold and had meetings and paperwork to attend to. After that, we travelled to numerous areas to visit pastors, staff, mission committee members, and churches interested in learning about our ministry. Jeff did much travel alone this time to Manitoba, Ontario, eastern New York state, and Michigan, while Sonya was able to be on the trip to British Columbia. While travelling can get a bit ‘yucky’ after a while, a great ‘yay-duck’ was being able take advantage of the last few months of flying benefits we have (with our daughter’s employment until she goes to school) to do all this travel economically, with the help of pastors, friends, and family able to put us up (and put up with us!) We have really enjoyed the larger body of Christ, NAB and otherwise, who are encouraging us along the way. We have many new supporters and are beginning to feel our goal of being in Cameroon by mid-October might be within reach!! We are at 69% of our financial support, and are able to get ready to leave when we have 80% pledged, so if you are not yet supporting us, please do so! (If you would like to ask your church to support us, we can send you a link to an introductory video where we talk about what we will be doing in Cameroon and Nigeria.) Jeff has just received his assignment of what classes the seminary in Ndu wants him to teach, so he is raring to go…even more so than before, if that is possible!
A second MTI illustration we would love for all of you to appreciate was the transition bridge, representing five stages along the way into mission work: settled, un-settling, chaos, re-settling, and newly settled. A team, made up of a few singles and a ‘family,’ had to cross this mess of wobbly chairs and exercise balls roped together and steadied by their supporters. We are now well into the ‘unsettled’ stage (calling ourselves the missionary homeless), no longer in a ‘normal’ job and life but not quite ready to go to the field; and the closer we get to going, the more chaotic things get. Many of you have supported us in practical ways—housing us, driving us, hosting us, providing financial support, etc. We have 220 people (!) who receive our prayer updates, and we strongly covet those prayers as we deal with the ‘yays and yucks’ in each of these phases, such as looking forward with excitement to going to Cameroon but dreading leaving our family and children behind; being able to travel and meet so many new and old friends but lacking routine or structure in our schedules, etc. The image above of the bridge—hands held out to steady the people crossing the bridge—should help you understand how we need all of you to literally be our supporters in this time.
The travel will continue for a while yet, so please pray for us as we visit a few Edmonton area churches, including my parents’ church, travel to Northern Alberta for my niece’s wedding and preach in my sister’s church, and head to Manitoba for the last part of August and into early September. I will wind up my job at the Leduc Boat Club (and am currently training my replacement). After that we really hope to be gearing up to leave for Cameroon!
Please pray for our F*lbe partners, especially in Nigeria, where there has been much tribal violence on the Mambilla plateau, where we lived in 2008/9. There are not a lot of ‘yay-ducks’ about what is happening there, except that there are great opportunities for our friends to share Jesus with the Muslim refugees that have come to their village. You can catch up on some of the news on that crisis on our blog, and if you drop us a line, we can add you to our prayer update email list.
Hopefully by the time our November newsletter is due, we will be writing you from Cameroon. It’s possible!!
Jeff & Sonya