Friday, August 26, 2011

Lassin Stories from April

Blog stories

I just wanted to write down a few more stories from the Adventist Primary School of Lassin before I forget. Our two years in Lassin are so memorable. We miss our true friends there. We are looking forward to being together in heaven!
At the beginning of this past school year (2010-2011), we opened the school to Grades 1-5. This was possible due to Gregory and Steve’s hard work pushing ahead on the rebuilding of the classrooms to make them fit for use. Naphtali also visited many people during the holiday months of June, July, and August ’10 and registered many students. There was general community interest in the school because of the success of the first year’s students. Rumors were circulating that one of our Class 1 students could read better than a Class 4 government school student. As such, we had no problem with having enough students for all five classes.

Most of our previous year’s Class 1 students had passed on to Class 2, a few were repeating Class 1, and a few had been promoted to Class 3. Unfortunately two of our previous students: Lesly and Rodrick did not return. Rodrick moved to the Southwest Region to live with his mother, but Lesly was still in Lassin. In fact, Lesly lived right on the road to the school. Lesly had joined the school in January of the first year. He was quite feisty at first, but within a few weeks he settled into the routine with the students and was a quick learner.
When school opened, we saw Lesly and asked him to return. He seemed interested and happy to see us, but for some reason Lesly never came back. The rest of the year we passed him almost every day as he walked to the government school and as we were walking to our school. Although he never came back, it was always a highlight to see Lesly as he would always greet us with an enormous smile and bright eyes. Please pray for Lesly and his family.

“I Love Jesus”
Near the end of the first year, we invited three of the leaders of the Muslim community to eat with us at our house. Steve had been friends with them and we enjoyed their company.
Of the 76 students we had at the school this past year about 15 were Muslim. This was up from only one the previous year. At the beginning of the year, when we showed a short segment of the Jesus Film, the Muslim children were obviously disturbed. Often they would want to leave the room or sometimes they would hide their faces. One day, they pointed to the Jesus character and called him “Satan.” We teachers prayed for these students and were happy to see a change slowly take place as day after day we had Bible devotions every morning in assembly, Bible stories about Jesus illustrated with felt pictures (thank you, Becky!), and sang songs about Jesus.
Near the end of April while I was working with Class 3 and 4 students, one of our Muslim girls was working with a board with magnetic letters. She was enjoying making words on the board. She came to me, showed me her board with some attempted words, and asked me: “How do you spell: I love Jesus?” I was very surprised, happily surprised! I helped her re-arrange her letters until they spelled out her sentence. Two or three other days after that she practiced making those same words. The last time I remember her making these words, she showed me the board triumphantly displaying her words: “I love Jesus”! Praise God for the change in attitude!

We passed out the Little Friend, Primary Treasure, and Junior Guide papers every Sabbath after church. The children eagerly took the papers. Often we would see adults reading them too. One day as I entered Naphtali’s father’s compound, I saw Lawrence, Naphtali’s son, reading the stories from one of the papers to several children there. Lawrence attended our school this past year and was one of the few students who could read well.

One day about the middle of the school year, I stopped by the Pinneapple Man’s compound on the way home to buy my usual two or three pineapples. This day Kenedy, Julius, and Matthew had accompanied me to see if I would buy sugarcane for them. I usually did. (Hey, a foot-long stick of sugarcane was only 25 francs—about five cents US-- and chewing on the sugarcane actually helps clean their teeth. These kids ate so little candy that the sugarcane was probably not detrimental to their health. Also, it takes so much energy to chew the hard stick, they probably used all the energy just eating it!)
As I was looking in my coin purse for change to buy the 40-50 cent pineapples, Kenedy spotted my US coins. He wanted to see. So, on a whim I showed him some pennies and then gave each of the boys one to keep. They were excited to have US money! This gave me an idea. Maybe I could give each of the kids at school a penny from America; it would be a neat keepsake from us. I emailed my friends at Sierra View Jr. Academy, and asked Brenda if anyone there could send me 100 pennies. Sure enough the pennies came before we left. The last time it was my turn for morning assembly worship, I told them about the four special words that are written on the US penny and how we cannot trust in money or anything or anybody besides God. Money can be stolen or lost, and other people can fail us, but God will never fail us. So I was able to give them each a penny to keep with the words: “In God we trust.” (Thank you, Brenda! You’re an angel!)

Our Last School Day
The last day that we attended school before we left was very special. Steve and I had planned a special unveiling ceremony of a sign honoring Gregory for digging the school well. He had given his labor in digging the well (7 meters deep). We also wanted to officially thank each teacher. What we didn’t know was that Elebert and Merlissa and the other teachers wanted to give a very special thank you to us.
We gathered all the students and some visiting adults near the well house. Then Steve unveiled the sign “Gregory’s Well” for Gregory and told how Gregory had given his labor to dig the well. Then Steve honored/thanked each teacher for their hard work and dedication. Juliana, my assistant, led a student choir singing a goodbye song that she had composed. Then each teacher thanked us. For a grand finale, the ladies (Merlissa, Juliana, and Vivian) served a wonderful feast of rice and beans. (I was wondering why Merlissa wanted a gallon or so of rice.) That dinner was really a labor of love because it takes a good hour to sort out about two cups of rice! We didn’t know it, but the ladies had lovingly picked that rice clean over the last few days.
It was hard to leave the school and the students. Some students were crying. Some students came to our house that afternoon to watch us make our final preparations to leave. On Sabbath afternoon Jacenta and her brother Rene came along with Naphtali’s children. They asked us for paper and pencils; then they wrote notes asking us to stay. Talk about heartbreak!
Christian education really works! Time after time we saw students make better choices and learn to trust in God. We are so happy the project will continue. We are looking forward to seeing these precious people in heaven.

Elebert & Merlissa’s New Blog Page
We were so thrilled that Elebert and Merlissa came to take over the school project. They are true-hearted Christian workers. In June they had to go back to Canada to take care of immigration issues, but they are planning to return to Lassin in September to start school again. They have started their own blog. Please join us in following the school project under their leadership and in praying for them and the children. They are currently raising money so they can return to Lassin.
Their new blog is: (sic).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dear family & friends,
Carol and I are back in California, I'm back at work and Carol is looking for a job teaching. We've seen our family here and prayed for our 'family' back in Lassin.
Jessica is working at Indian Creek Camp in TN, and doing well.

The couple that took the Lassin project is Elebert and Merlissa of Canada. They joined us for a month, stayed another month and a half, then had to return temporarily to Canada for visa issues (they both immigrated to Canada). So, after their return trip to Canada, they sent us this note to post for you.

Thank you for keeping this project in your prayers.
Steve & Carol Rose

From: Elebert and Merlissa
June 19, 2011

After hearing so many testimonies from David Gates about how wonderful
God is and how he comes through for his children in the crunch. We
have now experienced it ourselves. As we were getting ready to leave
Cameroon, things just simple weren't coming together. First my friend
who sent us transport money to reach Douala forgot the correct
spelling of my name, and we had to hustle to get that sorted out. And
if that was not enough, the money we had to get to pay the teachers
just couldn't get cleared. because of a wrong code. Thank God
everything worked out by Friday morning. Our flight was Sunday the
12th @ mid-day.

As if all these troubles weren't enough, a small quantity of deet
squeezed out into the bag which had our passports. And in our haste to
correct the situation we cleared everything except ... the passports
and dumped the bag in water. Half an hour later I was impressed to
look at my passport and that is when we discovered they were all in
water. Merlisa's passport got the heavier damage her photo was
somewhat distorted. Then began the job of air drying the
passports.Needs lots of patience.

Sunday morning, Charles car was having troubles and We were thinking
now we are going to miss our flight but God always answers when we
call. So by 10:30 the car was ready and off we went to the airport.
You guessed it more trouble. First one of our bags was checked in
under some-one elses name on a different flight, it was good we caught
it before they check all our bags under the wrong name and we had to
wait a while for them to retrieve the bag.

Then as we were paying the exit stamp we found that we had to pay the
10 000 CFA for Estellah too. So we used up the dollars we had for
transport from the Buffalo Airport. Now we were out of Cameroon but
were sure going to be stranded in Buffalo. The money we needed for the
grey hound to get to Toronto would be sitting somewhere at moneygram
and we couldn't get to it.

In Washington, one of our bags was missing and it wasn't the one that
had been checked wrong. Could things get worse or would it turn out to
be a blessing? When we arrived in Buffalo, all our bags were missing.
We filed our claim with the airline and started walking out of the
airport. Halfway through the parking lot, we stopped and prayed " Our
Father in Heaven, send some-one to show us kindness in Jesus name
Amen" Isaiah 65:24 - And it shall come to pass, that before they call,
I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

As we ventured out of the parking lot the first person we asked
directions was not that helpful and so we walked up to the garage
that's by the airport. And we were told the place was a mile away.
After walking a while we did not see any sign of the place so we
headed back to the garage just to make sure. God allowed that so we
could connect with his answer to our prayer. It was not nice having to
walk back the way that we had just been through without thinking , if
only we had continued we'd almost be there by now ...

After we rounded the corner, about a five minute walk. There was a
lady there waiting in her car, and she asked us where we were going
and said "hop on, i know where that is". It turned out that was not
the location of moneygram. And she knew where there was one and took
us there. And not only that she fed us, bought Estellah a toy and took
us to the grey hound station, where we bought the last two seats for
the bus that was ready to leave.

God knows how to take care of his children, and his helpers are not
limited to Adventists. I ask that we all pray for this precious lady
who answered the call when God said to her "show my servants some
kindness" Her name is Dia

And Oh, we got the bags the following night.(that long walk would have
been extra terrible with the bags)

Food for thought:Scripture is sweeter when its practical

Friday, May 6, 2011

Four days on the move... Our second school year in Lassin is complete.

Dear family & friends,

Our trip from Lassin to Douala Cameroon, then Addis Ababa Ethiopia, Washington D.C., Chicago, then Wichita went well; 4 full days. We're enjoying Kansas with our son Eric and his friends. So good to share hugs with him on a frequent basis! The trip went well. The day-long break in Ethiopia was really nice and gave us a chance to stretch our legs and enjoy the cool, high altitude of Addis Ababa.

Now, we're enjoying the cool, low altitude of Wichita. Our bodies are gradually adapting to a stable timezone again. It is amazing to have such long daylight though; the sun remains up until 8:30, 2 hours longer than we're used to. It makes it hard to get to bed early, but even 7 hours of sleep is better than cat napping in airline chairs.

The last evangelism related news from Lassin is that we were able to leave 8 DVD sets of the It Is Written, New Beginnings bible studies in Noone, to be distributed to the 7 or 8 villages of the Noni sub-division. We also left 4 sets of these studies in Cameroonian 'Pidgin'. This represented a pretty focused effort on my part, and so much support on Carol and Jessica's part. Naphtali and Divine will be responsible for distribution within Noni, and Charles (in Douala) will be involved in the Pidgin project. Charles already has a evangelistic series lined up that will use these DVD's to present the message.

Keep Elebert, Merlisa, and 9 month old Estellah in your prayers as they continue to complete the school year in Lassin. We'll let you know how to read about their 2 year stay in Lassin later.

Thank you for your prayers and support. After our trip down the mountains from Lassin to Douala, we handed Charles the remainder of 'our' funds - 250 franks, about 55 cents. We had purchased equipment to support Elebert and Merlisa, supplies to improve the Lassin public water system, pay rent for the two houses, and make April school staff payroll. There was enough to cover every necessary expense, but no more. Again, God covers every need; amazing, just like last year.

About the Lassin public water system: there are 3 shallow wells that catch water that is piped to a storage tank system, then piped to town in a 2 inch pipe. The water that is flowing at the end of dry season is the equivalent of the flow from a half gallon milk carton into a glass. This quantity is supposed to support 1/4 of the town; it falls far short. My initial approach was designed to stop all waste from dripping faucets and leaky tanks. Perhaps Elebert will choose to add a 4th well to the system. We'll see. This is such a support to the health of the town; lower the risk of Cholera outbreak through cleanliness and adequate clean hydration.

Still depending on God,
Steve & Carol

Monday, May 2, 2011

Leaving Lassin

Okay, so it only took one day for Carol, Steve, and Jessica to cram our junk into a taxi, cruise over some of the most beautiful roads in northwest Cameroon, continue by bus in Bamenda, then arrive in Douala by sunset. We're tired as usual, but really happy to be on the move.
We sure left some great friends behind; promised to stay in touch by email.

Our plane should leave for Ethiopia Monday noon. We'll spend the night there in Adis Ababa, then head to Washington D.C. Tuesday.
We'll send more news about this later.

We left a cool, relatively arid mountainous region for a really warm, nearly totally humid sauna; oh what a difference. But the pineapple is incredible!

our love to you all,

Steve & Carol

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dear ‘family’, (Steve here)

A few years ago I wanted to be a missionary so that I could ‘watch God work’. Well, I am watching and He is busy! The landlord of our little church room is a retired teacher from the Catholic school system in Kumbo. He has a good friend, also a teacher, who teaches in N’Kor every other Saturday. We have seen him occasionally, but only became acquainted some weeks ago. He visited our regular Sabbath afternoon ‘Amazing Facts’ Most Amazing Prophesies presentation. I invited him to see the initial showing of the latest New Beginnings ‘film’ in the Noone language. Since this man speaks about 6+ languages including Noone, English, Greek and Latin (probably Banso ‘Bandsaw’ the language of Kumbo), and French he could enjoy the film.
He expressed such an interest in the Most Amazing Prophesies series that I decided to make an effort to copy it for him. I was able to grind out the 10 DVDs (had not learned about compression yet) and give them to him. I prayed that he would view them objectively and that God would bless his understanding; he is employed by the largest religious denomination in the country. Two weeks later, we met again and he thanked me heartily for the gift. I asked him how many he had watched. He said that he had been watching one sermon per night after his family went to bed. He had seen the series once and was about half way through the second viewing. He had been particularly interested and amazed by pastor Doug’s report of Jesus’ comment to the repentant thief on the cross, “Verily I say unto thee today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Doug had said that in the original Greek record of this story, that there was no punctuation. That to understand Jesus’ comment correctly you had to look to Jesus’ conversation with Mary recorded at the end of Luke 23 and beginning of chapter 24. Well, this scholar rushed to his library and pulled his Greek new testament. Turning to Luke, he discovered that Doug had told the story correctly. “All these years”, he said, “I have been incorrectly teaching the story to my students. Now, I can tell them correctly.” I was amazed. Only this man, who understands and owns a Greek new testament could fully realize this. He went on to say, “I was a bit disappointed with the lesson on Antichrist.” I’m sure he was, but that was all that he said on the topic. “Now, I can share these DVDs with my students who complete exams early and need something to do.” Do you realize which school this is taking place at? Do you have any idea of the long string of providential events that led up to this man watching this series? God is Amazing! (and I get to watch)

Gregory should complete the school well today (20 April, ’11). He has mixed concrete and formed blocks with my rugged but difficult wooden form. He has worked deep in that pit, risking more than we realized.
A couple of weeks ago, he was working at the bottom of the 13 meter
(43 ft) deep hole when a stone weighing about 2 pounds (1kg:) was silently drug by the rope to the edge of the well. The man at the top had not noticed the stone as he lowered and raised a bucket hour after hour. Suddenly, Gregory heard the soft thud of the stone as it bounced off the walls above him. In the blackness of the well, not knowing where to move to avoid the stone, he simply stood up straight.
The stone touched the hair at the back of his head before splatting harmlessly into the soft mud at his feet. Gregory told me that he looked up and said, “My God. Thank you for sparing my life.” A week later, he showed me a small scrape on his left upper cheek where a block had grazed his face in its haste to get to the bottom of the well. I’m glad to have him about out of there. He says that the water coming in now is really clear. What a blessing to have clean water for the children to wash their hands in and to drink as soon as we perform an initial chlorination of the well.

Last night Gregory came to our house to watch lesson 26 of the New Beginnings Bible lessons in Noone. It was on Heaven. I asked if he ‘wanted to go.’ He said, ‘No, I want to stay here.’ I should have asked if he wanted to go to Heaven, because he wanted to stay and eat dinner with us. Over dinner, his face beaming, he said, ‘I have a mansion in Heaven.’ After dinner we carried the last sack of cement out to his motor bike, he secured it with 3 yards of rubber cord, and rode off into the star lit night (headlight must not be working this week either).

A couple days ago, Carol and Jess took Elebert and Merlisa to Kumbo by taxi. While they were away, Divine came to the house complaining to me (he had blown a small fuse) about a teacher that frequently arrives late and how that teacher’s problem needs to be addressed. Well, this morning Dee came to our house for water (our faucets continue to be dry) and we shared breakfast with him. After Jess and Carol hoofed off to school, Dee told me how he did not teach in school yesterday.
Words like ‘hypocrite’ began to drift through my mind, then he began to tell his story. A little girl that attends our school became sick early in the morning, possibly just after school began. Dee investigated into her situation and decided to take her home. She had been vomiting and required rest, medicine, and the care of her family. So, because of her weakened condition, Dee began to carry her the three miles to her home. On the way, the watering system began to deliver the much needed water to the newly planted corn, bean, and vegetable crops all over the hills of Lassin. The little girl in his arms was beginning to become soaked in the torrential rain. Dee took off his shirt and covered the girl. When they arrived at the girl’s compound, the place was vacant. The whole family was out planting in their farm. He carried her to a neighbor’s place, finding someone to care for her he left for the health center, picked up some ‘meksin’ and returned to the girl. By this time it was too late for him to trek the hour back to the school so he just went home. Well, I never mentioned the ‘hypocrite’ thing.

Divine also told me how he plans to be ‘more busy during summer vacation than I am now.’ He is adding to the list of people interested in seeing the New Beginnings Bible study in Noone. He plans to carry the laptop to their homes all through rainy season. You know, God also plans on visiting with people in their homes this summer, do you know anybody on His list? I love these stories. I’m going to miss this people; they have become my family too.

This brings us to Elebert and Merlisa. They left Canada with their 9 month old daughter to arrive in Lassin in early April. They are sweet and love Jesus. I immediately dumped the Sabbath sermon responsibility on Elebert who picked it up happily. They are sharing a house with Jess, but plan to move into this sumptuous pad upon our departure. They have begun to trek out to the school daily. They’re toughening up just fine. I feel for them as I sit here in my Bible study production room warm and dry listening to the rain pound on the roof as they are held hostage at the school by weather. They’ll make it.

Our staff are quickly developing friendships with them. Elebert seems to be taking the 5th grade and Merlisa wants the 3rd / 4th grade room.
We still need our local teachers for a myriad of social and language reasons, but it looks like the school will be in willing hands too.

The other blog entry, I made a big mistake, saying that we did not need any more boxes of Primary Treasures, Young Disciples, or Adult Sabbath School lessons (as if every person in English speaking Cameroon already had a library full). We need them! Last Sabbath, Divine told me that Carol has been using incorrect terminology (in an amazingly polite way). He explained that there is nothing such as a ‘children’s Bible lesson’. He said that we all start learning the lessons at the simple beginning and work up. Apparently, adults around town are enjoying the Primary Treasures too. They will find someone to read it to them and they are loving them.

A pharmacist at the Lassin Baptist Health Center has been coming to get his cell phone charged at our place. One day I gave him an adult Sabbath school lesson on ‘Fruits of the Spirit’. He loved it, but a friend begged it, another friend begged it from the other, and Elvis has not seen it since. He explained that his Baptist Christians (I just learned that he is a lay pastor too) were missing the lessons that he was preaching to them from the book, and “can I have another copy?”. I gave him one of the last two copies. I gave him a hand full of Steps to Jesus for the group. He was delighted. His cell phone does not dent our power supply, his desire for the word of God is a big deal. We need to keep his church supplied every couple months or so.

Plans for school growth are limited to adding 6th grade next year and accepting only 1st graders. School finances should be about $250 per month plus repairs and expansion; what a relief after pouring funds into the place this year. The buildings look like a “university”
according to the Fon, and most anyone else you meet in town. Thank you so much for your donations! This summer, we’ll thank you individually.

School repairs are – new rafters for 3 of the rooms; some old American guy thought that saggy rafters are not cool. The well still needs a bit of concrete for the floor and plaster for the walls, and an ‘India II’ hand pump. This should do until dry season comes and Elebert will be considering where to build a 7th grade classroom for the next year; he will be expanding the school a classroom at a time until there is a secondary school.

I’m working on lesson 13 of 26 It Is Written, New Beginnings Bible lessons in Pidgin. I promised our pastor and Charles that I would be done before we leave on May 2 (yes, May 2). It seems that Pidgin “English” is the connecting language between these ever-so-many local dialects. Our pastor has a group of English speakers in Kumbo that are waiting for a series in Pidgin in his house; that thick Southern Californian accent is too difficult for them. He also has a group of Noone speakers that will meet to hear the lessons in their ‘mada tongue’; nothing sounds so sweet as Noone (to a Noni person).

Okay, I’ve been writing this too long and need to get back to work.
However, this is a happening place and you should get to hear the stories. There are more… got your visa application filled out?
Passport still valid for two years? You could… Think I’m kidding? Not!

Fresh mango and pineapple stains on our throats we press on in really Good Hands,

Steve & Carol Rose

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bvuale = Good Morning!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Maxceline (in Class 4) is a flamboyant young lady who loves to lead the singing at school. We know her mother and father. Her father is one of Sister Elizabeth’s brothers. About a month ago I saw the father in a bar, drinking. He motioned to me that I should join him. I explained that I did not drink alcohol and that it was not good for his body either. He was obviously under the influence that day.
About that time we heard that Maxceline’s mother moved back to her family’s compound, separating from her husband. I have seen and talked to both the father and the mother a few times after that. We often see the father walking out the “bush” near our school to tap the raffia trees to make raffia wine.

Maxceline came to our house today and helped me “select” rice. As we sat in the backyard picking out the hulls, she told me that she had recently taken home a colored memory verse paper from school. She read the verse she had written on the page to her father, and her father was highly impressed. He was glad that she was learning in our school! Also Maxceline gave her uncle a note we had sent home from school today asking the parents to feed their children more protein food like beans, peanuts, etc. Maxceline’s uncle said, “Those Adventists have sense.”

Please keep praying for these young people and their families.
Tonight we are showing the film “Fireproof.” We have invited many families / couples to attend, hoping that they will see that submitting to Jesus is the only way to know how to serve each other in love. Maxceline’s family is not at all unusual to have struggles, partly due to alcohol abuse.


30 March 2011

Yesterday (Tuesday) was a day full of blessings from God. The story begins Monday. We had been planning for a couple weeks to travel to Kumbo on Monday to purchase various supplies for the school and for the house including fresh market food. The Kumbo market seems to have a wider variety of vegetables that we enjoy, like green beans, lettuce, bell peppers, and beets—things we rarely see in Lassin. We thought Monday would make an excellent day for the trip since it would be the first day of our spring holiday and it would also be Kumbo Market Day, meaning there would be more vendors and a larger variety of products. Ok, so we were all set to go.

Monday morning we ate breakfast early and packed our bags. Our plans quickly changed when we discovered that there was not enough to make payroll and to do our shopping trip both. We had expected some funds to be wired Friday, but we had not received confirmation of that via email, soooo at the last minute we rescheduled our trip, hoping that Tuesday we would be able to go. We were all disappointed including the two other people who were planning to go with us.

Monday night we received notice of fund transfer. So, Tuesday was the day! We were just about ready to leave Tuesday morning when some people asked Steve if a mother and her child could accompany us to Kumbo to the hospital as the child was in critical condition and on an IV. Steve readily agreed, and we rushed to push-start the car and pile in! Jessica and I sat in the back of the station wagon and bounced around as Steve goaded the car over the rough, winding roads.
We made it to Kumbo in just about two hours, about half an hour faster than usual. Another blessing that helped speed the trip was that the last 7-10 km of road has been graded, smoothing out an especially rough area. The tiny, sick baby actually cried a little bit just before we reached the hospital. It was a relief to hear the little waif cry. We felt very blessed to have been able to be traveling on Tuesday when the baby needed the help!

Next blessing--in Kumbo, the power was on and the internet connection was working, albeit ever so slowly! Yeah! We have been there several times hoping to use the internet, but not able to because the power was off or the connection down. We picked up the funds and were able to do all of our shopping and internet use. Then we headed back to Lassin about 5 pm. We even stopped in Mbinon and bought several hands of bananas; Mbinon bananas are the best!

When we arrived home, we had a short discussion of who had the house key. I didn’t have it; neither did Steve. ?? Jessica ran to the house; the door was open, and the key was in the lock on the outside of the door! We went inside; nothing had been touched; a couple computers were out in the living room, a walkman also was sitting out. What a blessing! In our haste to leave, we forgot to lock the door!
The wind must have pushed it open.

God is merciful to us forgetful humans. Even when we forget more important things like being thankful for His generous forgiveness and salvation! God is good!

Another tremendous blessing that we may not have posted on the blog
yet: A family is arriving in Cameroon next week. They are coming to Lassin to replace us. We are very thankful and happy that God is taking care of this special project!


Monday, March 7, 2011

10 Sacks of Cement....

Dear family & friends (again the line seems blurry),

News since Feb 27…

Sunday, Carol and I did a week and a half worth of laundry in our ‘bio-powered eco-green’ washer; okay, by hand, as usual. The normal tasks of the day were still in full swing at 6PM when Gregory showed up for a Bible study with me. The house was filling with teachers wanting to play flute-like ‘recorders’ before the weekly teacher supper and staff meeting. Gregory and I padded down the reddish brown road to the church. I produced our two Walkman players and connected the ear ‘buds’ to each. He just loves hearing the New Beginnings Bible studies that Naphtali and I produce in his own Noone language. He listened to lesson 18 while I, Noone impaired, listened to Desire of Ages being read. He would stop the player periodically to discuss some point of the lesson. Twice he told stories of his childhood that I had never heard. Apparently, his parents died during his early childhood. None of his relatives took him in their homes to the extent that meals were regular. He told of being so hungry that he stole the lunch of ladies working a farm. He jumped into a stream to escape identification, but was beaten badly by his school master when he was finally identified as the ‘thief’. He asked me how he should make this wrong right. How can I answer that? After a quick but sincere prayer, I reminded him of the really good feeling that one has after confessing a wrong. He stated that he planned to apologize to each of the people that he had stolen food from as a child.

After the Bible lesson, we walked together to our home where he had left his t’rusty’ motorcycle. Under a sea of stars, he began discussing ‘our’ school. He has worked so hard to expertly complete the concrete work; four large classroom floors, plastering inside and outside of all walls, and recently the large ‘veranda’ (porches). In doing so, he and his two faithful hard working helpers have heard the sounds from inside the classrooms. They have heard ‘much’. Gregory began saying how he was impressed by the abundance of school teaching supplies, “even more than the government schools have. Even more than the Catholics.” But then he said, “You know what the number one important part of the school is?” He explained how much he valued the Bible stories taught daily in all four classrooms. “My son Ignacius …” (in Jessica’s 2nd grade room) tells the daily Bible study to Gregory’s wife Caroline in the evening. If corrections are necessary, Zachariah (in Vivian’s 3rd / 4th grade room) will fill in the gaps. Although it was too dark to see Gregory’s face beam, his voice was ‘beaming’. He loves the effect of Christian education on his entire family.

With the school building project completed within the budget, the next project is the well shaft casing. We plan to accomplish this using concrete blocks. I called in an order to Home Depot for a truck to deliver 500 blocks this Thursday and charged it to my Discover Card. (Nothing could be more American, or less Cameroonian.) Again, Gregory’s helpers will spend a week or two digging and carrying sand from the nearby creek bed. I made plans to drive to Kumbo for more sacks of concrete. The blocks will be formed from a hand planed eucalyptus form that I made in Franklin’s carpentry shop last school year. My dad gave me the block dimensions via satellite text message exactly one year ago. Gregory will boil palm oil until it becomes greasy, then apply the orange slop to the inside of the form to keep the concrete from sticking.

This is the ‘lead-in’ to yesterday’s drive to Kumbo for 10 50kg sacks of concrete. Naphtali’s brother Alfred accompanied me. But before departing, I added half a quart of motor oil, a couple ounces of power steering fluid (ATF), topped off the radiator and reserve, glanced at the new tires (still beautiful), then recruited Alfred to help push start the car. It seems that the month old brand new battery has failed. No warranty here, of course, that’s an Amer… custom. After driving about 30km (18mi), my taxi driver buddy Gerald honked his horn furiously and informed me that I had a leak, then he leap-froged me for the 3rd time that morning. Sure enough, my engine was heating up and pushing water out from the reservoir. I had expected an overheat since it had happened on the last trip when we accompanied Jessica to Yaounde to extend her visa, but there was only time for my mechanic Njong to rebuild both hydraulic clutch cylinders before we returned home. Now, a little more than a liter of water was enough to make ‘Ruby’ happy to complete the trip to Kumbo. Three hours later, Njong (‘Jong’) had repaired the radiator and adjusted my clutch pedal so that the clutch would not slip on steep hills. Ruby and I headed down the dusty main drag of Kumbo toward the large market and Promise Enterprise. ‘Shey’ greeted me warmly with his massive hand and asked if I needed more cement. He knows the routine well, each Monday I buy another 10 sacks. I paid, the ‘boys’ (young men) were directed to help me, and Ruby bounced down to the warehouse. After these incredibly strong men climbed narrow hand-made wooden ladders to the top of a stack of cement, then climbed down with the 110-pound sack on their heads, and placed 10 sacks into Ruby’s payload, a new face asked me for a ‘book’. Nearly each time I pick up cement, I give out Young Disciple magazines and Sabbath School quarterlies to the warehouse workers. Today I had decided that the guys were probably still reading last week’s copy. Mistake. I explained that I was sorry and had no magazines, but asked how many people worked at ‘Promise’. “Thirteen.” “Okay, I’ll bring 20 books next time.”

Ruby and I lumbered back up the red dirt road, Njong gave his final blessing to the radiator repair and I left for BBH (Banso Baptist Hospital). While ‘collecting’ Alfred, a Lassin woman ‘begged’ a ride for her frail, elderly mother and her to Lassin, explaining that her money was ‘finish’. I had ‘carried’ them to BBH some weeks ago, but then there was room. Now, poor Ruby was bursting with dirty cement, the back seats folded forward to shift some of the weight onto the front tires. But you can’t say ‘no’ to these folks if there is any way to help. ‘Mom’ can sit in front with Alfred. “Would you mind sitting on the front edges of the back seats, just in front of the cement?” No problem. She climbed in and settled down on about 8 inches of space and no seat back except the end of a Chinese cement bag.

Ruby and I eased out onto the ‘Ring’ road leading out of Kumbo for Lassin. It was going to be a ‘first gear’, 3 hour ride home if all went well; after all, 1100 lbs of cement and 550 lbs of people require a gentle touch. All went well until we got to the only police check-point on the road. The officer who usually smiles, drops the rag laden rope across the road, and waves me on had other ideas this night. He walked out to the car. “You are moving with a badly overloaded car.” “Yes sir. But, my grandmother and sister begged a ride at BBH. I couldn’t say no, sir.” The officer studied the faces, the enormous load, then waved us on. “Thank you sir.”

The first half of the road home to Lassin is comparatively smooth; it would cripple an ordinary car. But the last half of the ‘road’ has sections that pound the daylights out of most every vehicle foolish enough to venture over it. For instance, I have had a right rear suspension bracket repaired once and replaced again; the left rear bracket just gave way and was repaired a month ago. The fuel line has been replaced twice now. About five tires have died on that road. My exhaust pipe has been crushed. You would think that to accomplish this disaster that I must drive like a nut or not pay attention to the road. Well, in a feeble gesture of self defense, Tobias, a highly skilled taxi driver was pulled off a car and given an old clunker (even clunkier) to drive because he went through two tires in one week.

The sun had set, the lights were on, but the road was littered with large stones and hard mud ruts. We had been creeping along in first gear, but the sudden sound of breaking metal told me that there was trouble. How much trouble? We’ll see. I found a place level enough for the parking brake to hold and got out to examine. The rear suspension brackets were intact. The muffler was still blowing exhaust and the pipe was in place, but blocking it with my hand did not affect the engine. The wheels were still on, upright, and pointing in the same direction. Try again, maybe the sound was imagined or just normal on these rough roads. The second and third inspections revealed nothing. The steering, braking, and 4WD power each seemed fine. Noticing that the noise nearly resolved when driving less than 10kmh (6mph), we pressed on. What else could I do? Staying overnight with 3 other adults in a cement filled car was not an option.

The 40km (24 mile) trip took 3 hours and 18 minutes; a record ‘long’. But God got us home. Carol, ‘sister’, and I walked ‘grandmother’ home. I ate dinner, washed off and hit the hay.

This morning Ruby carried the 10 sacks the last 5km to the school. On the way, we picked up two friends and carried them to their farms. They did not notice the grumbling coming from the front right wheel assembly. After Gregory and a helper deposited the cement in the school magazine Ruby stood a little taller. She hardly fussed as we went home. Next week Njong will have a wheel assembly to work on. It’s just as well, I told him about the Young Disciple magazines and he was really interested. Maybe only 8 sacks of cement; we’ll see, I hate to waste a trip.

Summary of other exciting stuff:
Naphtali and I begin recording New Beginnings lesson 24 of 26 tonight (Tuesday 3/1/11).

Half of the rented church roof (the part that covers the ‘kitchen / entry’) blew off in a recent rain storm. It landed over the part of the roof that covers the ‘main sanctuary’. Now the leak in that room is covered. Yes, we need a church of our own, but not this year.

Charles Ichu of Douala (our gracious and super helpful Cameroonian host) has agreed to stay with us for up to two weeks to record the sound tracks of all 26 New Beginnings lessons in ‘Pigeon’. The reason that Pigeon is such a big deal is that it is the ‘interface’ language between the scores of languages used in Western Cameroon and beyond (like Nigeria). Most people here do not ‘speak grammar’ (use formal English). New Beginnings in ‘Pigeon’ could be broadcast on radio or used in DVD format where power is available.

We are still planning to have an evangelistic series in April. Keep these families in your prayers. Divine takes the Fujitsu laptop to 5 homes each week, showing the studies in Noone. I take the Toshiba to Naphtali’s folks place Saturday nights. That’s 6 large compounds each week. Seeds are being planted, we’ll see what ‘comes up’.

Thanks to each of you for your prayers, Bible related literature, financial support, and boxed brownie mix! Unless the school well project becomes too big, I think you have given enough; we still have about $750. It should buy enough concrete and repair busted car parts to see us until May 1. If not, I’ll ‘beg’ for a bit more.

Weather: some of you have been complaining to us about the winter like conditions in California. Well, if it really gets to you, come join us. We have not worn our coats since January. We have not had to heat or cool the house. The rains that fell February 3 – 6, then late in the month took care of most of the dust and smoke in Lassin and Kumbo. Basically, it has been an endless Spring / Summer here.

Food: I think we have eaten a pineapple for breakfast on a daily basis since December. You have no idea how spoiled we are. We pay 100 – 300 FCFA each. (Okay, that’s 20 – 60 cents.) Jessica and Carol can hardly wait for mango season; should be here soon. We have seen full size green fruit, but nothing ripe yet. Avocado and oranges have remained plentiful. The other week I found rhubarb at the huge Kumbo market. Mom emailed us a pie recipe and Carol performed her wonders. I contributed by grinding wheat to fine flour for the crust. The pie did not last long.

Thanks for waiting for me to write this letter. Honest, we’ve been really busy, but have not forgotten you. Thanks for the Iridium SMS and emails to

Still looking forward to good news that someone is going to come to lead this project next year. Some good sounding rumors are coming from GMI.

Can I tell ‘one more story’? Just a thought really. Would you like to get into trouble for doing nothing at all? Me either. Daniel 12:1 says, “there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation…” Well, if we are going to get into trouble, then we might as well ‘deserve’ it. Are you ‘getting me’?

Love you guys,
Steve, Carol, Jessica, and Ruby

P.S. 3/3/11: We ran out of propane for cooking last evening so I had to go to Kumbo again today (Thursday). More stories came out of this trip too, but just wanted to report that the 1/2 inch thick spring in the front right wheel strut assembly had broken and was rubbing against the inner wall of the wheel well. Passed out 34 Young Disciple magazines today: 3 to the guys across the street from the house that usually help me push-start the car, 3 to the officers at the 'highway' check point, 7 to the worker 6 guys at the auto repair place, 20 to the 13 employees of Promise Enterprise (cement store, etc), and 1 to a fellow 'auto-needs-repair' customer. It was so fun to see folks in so many places reading these magazines. I realized that I need to carry a few 'Steps to Jesus' too. There were some adults that would have really enjoyed them; like one man who studied at a university in Cleveland, OH., and another who works for an NGO (Non-governmental organization) involved in improving elementary education. Bright men who needed more 'mature' reading material. Anyway, another long day, but we have propane, another 9 sacks of cement, 3 small bunches of carrots, and some laundry soap.

Thought you may be interested in what I spent and what for:
Auto repair: heavy spring $7, clutch repair kit $8, labor to rebuild both $10. Propane $16, soap $6. Cement $100. Auto fuel $20. These are 'high dollar' days. I'm glad that the school building project is nearly complete.