Voices from the Field Elsie Lewandowski Get to know Elsie

Endings and Beginnings

Published on June 13, 2018

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Dear Family and Friends,

“Aren’t you retiring soon?” my “age-mate” friend asked.

“Nope, I’m just changing jobs for a new challenge,” I answered. I’ll be teaching teachers instead of children at the Ndop Baptist Teacher Training College (BTTC) starting in Sept 2018. So I’m saying farewell to teaching missionary children and their families. Twenty-two years have passed very quickly. Our last group session with the missionary kids was so much fun. We studied “shoes” – the importance of shoes, the history and how to choose good shoes. We read about Jan Matzilger, who made it possible for everyone to afford shoes and how kids in refugee camps share shoes. We laughed at fashions, old and new, and were sobered by the “shoe monument” in Budapest. We even made shoes out of duct tape and performed two plays – “The Lost Shoe” and “The Elves and the Shoemaker”.

I was honored twice by these wonderful people. The first time was a party doing my favorite thing – playing board games. There was a cake deocrated like a “Settlers of Catan” game, farewell and thank you posters featuring the game theme, lots of singing, noise and people. The second was at our final program where I received a book with pictures and messages from many, many former students and a brass trivet/wall plague. I am overwhelmed. So much love and gratitude. Not many other hard-working missionaires or teachers receive that.

Lovice is my heroine. This 22 year old suffers with sickle cell disease which causes excruciating pain and now has caused her hip bones to “be out”, (She seriously needs surgery) but every Sunday afternoon she runs a children’s club with 40 children attending. Once a month she makes the journey to the Baptist radio station to do a children’s presentation, sometimes bringing her pupils along. They adore her and often come throughout the week to visit. She attends “night school” to try and get her high school diploma and remains cheerful and loving. Her faith, commitment and gentleness humble me. Continue to pray for faithful children’s workers like Lovice.

It’s a loaded question. “How is Cameroon?” People expect a trite answer. The problems in Cameroon are not trite. The first strike occurred in Nov 2017. Since then the children in the anglophone section have missed an entire school year and many are missing their second school year. Some schools are open but parents question the safety of sending their children. Mondays and government holidays continue to be a strike day where nothing moves, but every other day is normal. Curfews are enforced in major towns and cities on the anglophone side. Pockets of violence have occurred but most people feel safe. An independent anglophone region has been declared but nothing has been resolved. The confusion is starting to create economic hardship. Please continue to pray for Cameroon.

Thank you for your continued support of me even as my role in Cameroon is changing. I pray that my experience here will be an asset as I train others. During this transition I am taking a leave of absence for the month of May and June to meet the needs of my family, but I hope to see you ALL at the NAB Triannual in Edmonton, July 25 – 29, 2018. See you there!! May God continue to grant you grace, mercy and peace.

In Him, Elsie