Something Big!

This narrow-angle color image of the Earth, dubbed 'Pale Blue Dot', is a part of the first ever 'portrait' of the solar system taken by NASA's Voyager 1.

“The pale blue dot”

Dear friends and family,

A few days ago, something big happened. I had a really amazing quite time with God – God being anything but quite! He has given me some directions to follow, and the best way I can tell you about it, is by sharing my journal entry from that night. Please have a read!

May 11, 2018

The pale blue dot . . .

This evening I NEED to remember what God has so gently, graciously, yet powerfully reminded me of; I am so small, and He is so BIG!

This evening I was feeling overcome, over-whelmed with thoughts like, “you’re selfish, you’re not making a difference, you can not help everyone and fix their problems, you cannot fix yourself, you are not worth the money your supporters are sending you, you are doing nothing!” I sent a whats app message out to Mom, Dad, Anna, Lennette, and O-beth, asking for their prayer support.

When I finished eating supper, I decided to watch a teaching by Louie Giglio called Indescribable. It was all about how GREAT God is, how the heavens proclaim His praise, and Louie showed many images from space. That’s when I saw the picture of “the pale blue dot” (you should look it up online!!)

Psalm 8:3,4

When I consider Your heavens,

the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars,

which You have ordained,

what is man that You are mindful of him,

human beings that you care for them?”

The whole reminder that it is NOT ALL ABOUT ME, and how God created us for a purpose and came to live among us . . . in all of space we are just a spec, the Earth is just a spec in the milky way galaxy and that’s just a tiny part of space still!

I am so foolish to think that it is up to me to do, to get stuff done – even in “my own life”. Who’s life is it really?! Yes, its mine in a way, He gave me the gift, but as soon as I decided to follow Jesus, it became His completely. I have been so distracted lately.

As Louie showed different images of different solar systems, stars, and nebula’s, we were “traveling” farther and farther out in space. Then he said he was going to take us far out and show us something no one can really truly describe or explain. And there on the screen was an image, a painting, of Jesus on the cross (no longer space pictures) . . . the maker of heaven and earth.

This evening I feel God is making things new in me. I just read through Revelation 21:1-8. I felt compelled to read it, remembering the verses about how God will dwell with the people, and they will be his people. How marvelous, how wonderful!

I know what God is asking me to do. I need to go and live in Gomena for while. I need to do this. I need to learn Fulfulde and be immersed in it, fully a midst the Fulbe people. In the past, its always been my fear of the rats (the living conditions) that has stopped me from doing immersion. But by God’s strength, it will not continue to be so! O Lord! Replace my cowardice with boldness, and my fear with your sweet peace.

I feel like I have failed over and over again in getting the language. I really feel God is saying “this is the time!” It may be the hard way, but all His ways are Good.

I know I can lean on you Father. I know it will probably be the hardest thing I have yet to do. But, I trust you. Thank you for the powerful reminders that this is ALL ABOUT YOU. Your love O Lord, is infinite. Its not going to be easy, but its going to be good. With God as my Shepherd. Psalm 23.”

Please pray for me these coming months. As June and July are pretty booked/busy already, I plan to go out in August. This specific village is about a 3-4 hour drive away, and I have been able to get to know the people there over the years. Their children are the ones who have and/will come to the week long camps in the summer! Some teammates have recently built a little guest house out in this village, so that’s where I hope to stay. There are MANY details and logistics to sort out, and I ask for your prayers that I would not shy away, but become more courageous and at peace with it as the time draws closer! I look forward to these coming months, and how God will continue to lead and direct, enabling me to learn Fulfulde!!

Lots of love, Lisa

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Dirty hands

A few days ago, I got back from a trip from visiting Fulbe villges as well as fellow missionaries/friends! It was a pretty packed 10 days with lots of motion, activity and people!

 

The first half of the trip we were visiting Fulbe communities. In one of the newer communities (to me, I had only been there once before), I was astounded by the number of children there! As a teammate and I wandered through the village to go visit a certain compound, children – at first cautiously but then more rambunctiously – began to join us. At first I was really excited to see the children and be able to engage with them, but after we had visited a number of compounds I began to feel somewhat tired and overwhelmed… at a certain point in the day I actual felt like I might be swallowed up by all of their reaching and grabbing hands!

Later on I was able to take time to process and ask God (and myself) some questions. How would/could I be used in this community? Are there any family’s here that are even open to the Bible and Jesus? Where do you start? There are SO many children and people – how can I love ALL of them? The answer to my last question came pretty quickly. I can’t.

BUT GOD, can. I was reminded that I can’t rely on my own strength and capacity to love people. But if I allow God to have control and full rule in my life, He can/will continue inviting me to share His love with all people.

The following day in the same community, after I had gotten back to the house again after being out and visiting the kids – I realized how grimy and dirty my hands were. As I took time to wash up, God brought to mind the reality of sin. For example, the children themselves aren’t dirty, but the filth surrounding them makes them dirty too. Sometimes sin is obvious in tangible ways, but a lot of times its not so easy for us to identify, especially in our own lives and cultures. There are probably many things in my own culture that I have not recognized as sin because its been so apart of every day life.

God intended for purity, wholeness and beauty for our lives – but sin is like filth that covers our hands, feet… hearts. Oh how Christ desires to draw all people to himself! We were not created to be slaves to sin and death, but sons and daughters of the King! I have a new appreciation for how we are cleansed by the blood of The Lamb… Jesus, the perfect Son – God himself, came into the thickest parts of sin.

I read a quote by Billy Graham recently that said, “I have read the last page of the Bible, and I know how it ends!” I was so encouraged by that and was reminded of the true source of our hope. I truly believe that God will keep ALL of his promises, and indeed make all things new. Until that day comes, all we can do is live in the love and light of Christ and choose to believe what He says over what the world says. For these kids, my desire if that they would have the change to know what He says, so that they can choose for themselves where they will place their hope.

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Pilot me

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“Pilot Me” by Josh Garrels

I will arise and follow you over
Savior please, pilot me

Over the waves and through every sorrow
Savior please, pilot me

When I have no more strength left to follow
Fall on my knees, pilot me

May your sun rise and lead me on
Over the sea’s, savior pilot me

O’ Lord

This song has been on my mind these last days, as I have made the final transition back to the village. Even though I’ve been back in Cameroon for almost 2 weeks, I just reached Banyo a few days ago.
Shortly after Christmas, my mom and brother dropped off dad and I at the airport. It was incredibly hard to say goodbyes (again). Dad was generous is giving me his pack on Kleenex when I ran out of my own as we sat in the Saskatoon airport waiting for our first plane. Although its a long trip, I do appreciate that it gives me time to process and prepare for the changes of… well, everything!

I was incredibly thankful to start our time off in Cameroon at an annual missions conference, where I got to see the majority of my “missionary family”/friends/co-workers. Being able to spend a few days with them really soothed my soul and eased the pain of being separated form loved ones. I am incredibly thankful for the missionary community God has placed me in. Soon however, as it always is, we were saying goodbye to each other (classic), as everyone headed back out to their fields & areas. Following a few more days of team building meetings (specifically among Fulbe ministry workers), we then made out way back to Banyo.

Without the business and fullness of being with a crowd of people, back to a slower pace, I have been given the time and space to think… and consider what is going on. I am really back. Yes, indeed! And I am not really sure how I feel about it. A lot of things really – grateful, homesick, joyful, sorrowful, full of anticipation, dreading the changes. There’s a lot going on in my head and my heart these days, but as the song lyrics above share, the overall truth I am leaning on is that He is able, and I am depending on Him.

It has been such a gift being reunited with loved ones here, and quite the adventure introducing Dad to everyone and everything! He is very much enjoying interacting with the people and culture. Please continue to pray as go from here! In a few days, construction will hopefully start for the addition of my little house! Thank you to all who gave financial gifts to make that possible! Will keep you posted!
Love and prayers, Lisa ❤

More than walls and doors

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Right now I am sitting in my little house – everything is halfway packed and the walls are looking rather bare.
How have 2 years passed? I am so looking forward to going back to Canada. 😀 It will be pretty intense with all the travel, visiting and sharing (as well as preparing for another term), but I trust God in helping and guiding my steps each day. I know if I try to push myself to doing what I think I’m suppose to do and how I’m suppose to do it – I will be opening myself up to the bondage of fear, anxiety and become overwhelmed. But God always has better plans for me, for us, than that. I know allowing Him to take the lead, these next 5 months can instead be a time of being refreshed, encouraged and strengthening in faith, relationships, and God’s purpose in my life. I want to choose anticipation for what is to come over anxiety.
“Do not be anxious about anything…” (Phil. 4:6)
This little house for example; its not much to look at, it doesn’t stand out (aside from the hand prints). But if I give God the room to change my vision and help me focus on him, its the coziest little spot in the world. But when I focus on the problems like the gaps in the door frames or the constant dust, I become antsy and want “more” or “better”. I am thankful for this place that I’ve been able to call home these past few years. A place of refuge, a place for rest after a long journey, a place full of good memories with friends and neighbors. But I am not hesitant to leave this house (for a time), as it was/is the presence of God and the people who graced it that made this a true home.
I am looking forward to being back in my Outlook home soon! In some ways everything will be different, but it would also be strange if nothing had changed. Everything changes! I pray for God’s mercy and guidance as each of our family’s change and grow, that God would move us forward but also that he would bind us together – stronger than ever before.
“Jesus, please make me humble today and everyday as I prepare to go back to Canada. I feel like I have too much of an opinion of myself… maybe because I feel like I’ve “proved” myself in surviving in Africa for 2 years. But that/this has been ALL YOU (the good fruit for sure). Please remind my heart and mind daily of my incredible need for you. This is just the beginning and I have no idea what is coming next and what I may or may not survive through. But you do. And though I may not always feel this way – that’s more than good enough (YOU are more than enough) for me.”

A checker piece

With my return to Canada drawing ever closer I find myself almost floating… like a checker piece in mid-air before being placed on its next location, as I begin the transition in my heart and mind, processing and preparing for the changes that are soon to come – its more than a little unnerving.
This will be my first ‘home assignment” following the completion of my first term in early August.
Sometimes I become overwhelmed with all these is left to do in these next two months, and then all I need to accomplish in Canada before I come back. And I know it will be hard to come back… I am so looking forward to spending 5 months with family and friends. I have been richly and truly blessed by God with the circle of people he has placed in my life, and he just keeps adding to to it too!
But there is so much involved… so many emotions… its not all going to be easy. But then, when is it ever? I think I would be very suspicious if everything was easy all the time. As a friend said to me recently, “Adult-ing is hard!” Add on everything else that comes with living in Africa and its quite a full plate!

But praise Jesus, I am not just a checker piece, at the mercy or whim of some large hand belonging to an unknown entity. I am in the very capable, loving and ALL- KNOWING hands of my Heavenly Father! There is no possible way I could do anything without his love and care. Without him I am sure I would have resorted to melting into a puddle long ago. Life is still messy, and its a daily battle of surrendering hurts and fears, confessing sins, and choosing to believe his truth over the world’s lies. But I am his mess. He is at work in me, molding and loving me despite all my shortcomings and downfalls. If I were to be left to my own devices, I would be a very different person today. But He has his hand on me, and because of that, the load is not too heavy (well it is, but He traded his light load for my heavy one).

Because of my friend and Savior Jesus, I am able to take it a day at a time. And there’s lots to look forward to, amidst the work and getting organized, there is abundant joy in living a life for Christ. And one day, heaven! Heaven will be a true homecoming, no move moving from this place to the next, but really being able to hunker down and know that I will never have to leave. To always be able to stay with the One who loves me most, in the company of the great host of witnesses!
As Simon Peter stated, “Where else could be go? You have the words of eternal life!” (John 6:68)
Its all totally worth it, and I choose His Joy this day, over the despair of sin. Hallelujah!

A glance over your shoulder.

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Have you ever glanced over your shoulder and remembered how things were, maybe a month or two ago, and then looked around and saw how things are today? I experienced that very thing this morning when I was briefly looking back on a journal entry from mid-February. February 16 to be exact. I was plagued with questions that I had no answers for. This is a part of that journal entry…

“… ‘What am I going to do with my life? Will I come back for another term or stay in Canada? Will people be disappointed with my decision (no matter what I choose)? Where am I going in my ministry here? Why can’t I speak the language yet? Who is going to take care of me? What if I fail or can’t finish what I start? I am so uncertain of what the future holds’…While I was sitting and washing clothes thinking about all these things and more, I realized something. I must have restrictions on God in what I think/believer He is capable of accomplishing in my life! Why else would all these questions be falling on my head and causing me to be anxious and worry… Jesus teaches us in his Word to ask. Not to give way to doubt and fear, but to talk to Him and trust that he knows whats best…”

As I read through this particular entry, I was reminded of the battle waging inside of me that day. It was very gut wrenching at the time, and some of that discomfort lingered to a certain extent – but mainly, I was/am amazed with what God has done in me since then.

“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Phil. 1:6

As I look around me this day, I can see how he has already shed some light of the beginnings of answers and has granted me peace in the things I am not yet to know of. What am I going to do with my life? Glorify has name and love the people he places in my path (the Fulbe, specifically the children).

Will I come back another term or go back to Canada? Well, in the last month or so, I have been taking steps of transition. Transitioning from mid-term missionary to long-term. 🙂 In taking these steps, I feel confident that God will continue to walk with me, guide and direct, just as he always has.

Where am I going in my ministry here? After just one try-out of what a kids camp could look like here, it seems to be a VERY good place to start.

Who is going to take care of me? God has never left me to fend for myself. He has never forsaken me and has always been very purposeful in placing kind and loving teammates (expats and nationals), around me. The fear of remaining single my whole life rises up in my now and again, but mostly I just take it one day at a time and try to be thankful for all the people who ARE in my life and have remained so.

Again, I am just starting to see some of my questions being answered, and I am satisfied with little pieces at a time. We seem to trick ourselves into believing we want to have all the answers to all our life’s questions… but how overwhelming, scary and paralyzing that would be?! An overload, intake on the most extreme level! It is probably simple of me to say, but I am satisfied with tiny morsels. What He deems fit for me to know and understand at the time He knows is right, I am all for that. I am not always satisfied with that set-up, but I choose to trust Him and I hope and pray that he will give me the strength to continue to do that.

How do you put restrictions on what you believe God can accomplish in your own life? He is faithful, and will fulfill all of His promises. Of this I am sure. When I glance over my shoulder and look back on the past 26 years, He is more than able and all is possible through Him. He has placed me on this earth and has sustained me, so I know he is not done with me yet! Its only the beginning. 🙂

Like a prey-mantis.

IMG_2009IMG_2014One of the many bugs that I usually find hanging out at my house (more-so, hanging on) is the prey-mantis. I never could have imagined how many different kinds there could possibly be! Some are a vibrant bright green and some are disguised and you think its a stick-bug before you get up real close. Some are tiny like your pinky nail, and some can be shockingly large! But there is a common denominator in all of them which I have found in my up-close inspections.
They quite intensively STARE YOU DOWN. They don’t blink (can they even?), they don’t turn around and ignore you, and they don’t get intimidated and run/fly away. They look right at you and won’t back down.
I have been thinking about this in and how I pray. With this first attempt of a day-camp I have coming up (April 13 & 14), I have been praying a lot that God would help me in the details, that He would prepare the hearts of the leaders and kids, and for the time we all share together would be a success – for His Glory. But there are many factors of discouragements looming around me as well. I know that the weakness of my flesh, my sin nature, and the lies of Satan could all very well work together in causing everything to erupt into chaos when the time comes!
But I am learning/re-learning a lesson (a very crucial one) from the prey-mantis. I need to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, I need to stare Him down and not turn my eyes to the left or to the right. My soul longs to seek and find Him and to keep moving forward in that posture.
I realize this probably sounds like a strange comparison. That’s probably because it is! Some might find these little critters quite creepy. But it’s interesting how God can use the smallest or strangest of things to remind us of himself and how He is constantly with us. He is constantly watching out for us. And even though we will fail, over and over again, and look away from, He will never turn his face from us. This knowledge, this truth is one of the many things that keep me going!
With Easter fast approaching, I think of Peter and how He fell away and denied Christ three times. But not even this could cause Jesus to turn away from Peter. When Peter cried out in agony for what he had done, he was heard. When our eyes are not fixed on Christ, we tend to do things we painfully regret. But when our eyes are fixed on Him, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, He is faithful in guiding us in the way we should go. Praise be to the most High, for his tender mercy and compassion on us, sinners. For He sees us as His Beloved.

They call me “Aunty Lizard!”

Often times, while I am making my way through the village (to go visit someone, or buy something at the corner shop), a chorus of voices tend to rise up, aimed in my direction. “Aunty Lizad! Aunty Lizard! Aunty Lizza” They are trying. 🙂
The majority of the children in my village know some English to a certain extent, and come from a range of 3 or 4 different people groups.
A number of weeks ago, I took it upon myself to encourage the kids to start calling me Lisa or Aunty Lisa. I was growing weary of their former chides of greetings, “MA, MA, MA” which they would call out at the top of their lungs! I guess when the first white missionary came here, she was an older lady, and the people in the village took to calling her Ma because they could see she was older, old enough to be their mother. Now, every white woman they see is Ma.
I’ve let it slide and have taken the nickname on as it’s been given (I guess I look old enough to be their mother? Haha!), but I have decided yet again, I think this is my 3rd attempt, to teach them my name. Especially the children. I would rather be called my own name!
Anyways, I had stopped to talk with this certain pack of little ones and explained to them, “no, I am not your ma, but you can call me Lisa or Aunty Lisa.” At first they just kind of starred blankly at me, but then one at a time they all started practicing. “Aunty Liz-ad!” Because of their Cameroonian accents, more often than not it sounds a lot like Lizard. As if we don’t have enough of those creepy crawlies around here! Haha, anyways, they call me Aunty Lizard. And I call them my friends. I am still working on getting all their names down too! So it’s a give and take kind of learning curve, with lots of patience and practice from both sides. 🙂

Back on the Blog

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I was recently re-inspired to get back to blogging (thanks Hares)! So, here is goes! May it be a helpful tool to keep you, dear reader, updated in knowing how to pray and to share in what the Father is teaching me in living life here in Cameroon among the Fulbe.

In looking back to this day, 3 years ago, I was getting on a plane to make my first journey across the ocean to Cameroon for a 4 month internship/vision trip. I cannot express how God used that time to draw me closer to himself and open my eyes a little wider to see His heart for the people who have never heard the truth of the Gospel. People who are not living in the light of his Love, but in darkness.

Early in the morning, the first thing I do is open wide my back door to allow the light of the day to flood my house. Though the sun is still rising, the light is indeed present and invigorating (and admittedly, a tad hard on the eyes at first). As I look out at the view, the valley is still and the dust of dry season hangs in the air. A new day. Hope fills me with strength to face it. The hope of Jesus in me, that he will not leave me as I am but will continue to teach and guide me.

 But what about them?

What must it be like, waking up to a new day to the complete darkness that reigns in the hearts and souls of those who have never seen or heard of Jesus? I cannot begin to fathom it, as I don’t remember ever living through a time where I did not know. But it is the reality in the lives of the majority of people around me. In the towns, all throughout the bush, on every mountain and in every valley. Not only is it dark, but they also hunger to be filled. To be filled by something they haven’t been able to get their hands on no matter how hard they work or how desperate their situation.

Today, the winds are blowing hard and strong, a sign of transitioning into rainy season. After nearly 5 months of no rain, people are anticipating and waiting expectantly for its coming; to water the soil to they can plant their gardens and farms, to bring new life. I can’t help but think about the wind as the Holy Spirit and the rain as Christ. Pray that the Spirit of the Lord would indeed blow through the hearts and minds of the Fulbe, that they would have the opportunity to hear the Gospel and believe in! Be it through dreams, visions, missionaries… Jesus so longs to bring new life to this dry and weary land. What are any of us without Christ?

Closer to Easter time, I look forward to running (with the help of a small team) a 2-day kids camp for a group of Fulbe children in the area. The majority of these specific children have heard the Gospel. My desire for this camp is that the truth of the message will sink deeper into their hearts as their understanding widens. It will also be a good ‘practice run’ for a larger camp I hope will take place in June for a bunch of Fulbe children in a bush village. This village has been learning a little bit at a time about Jesus and have been wanting teaching for their children as well. Again, some of these children will have heard pieces, but some haven’t heard at all. The hope is that this type of teaching for the children can happen again and again in different villages that are open to it. The overall expectation and desire of my heart, is that through the power of God, His light will spread! Through every village, in every heart that hears…

But what about you?

What do you hear God saying to your heart when you hear of this dire need for the Gospel light to be brought far and wide? Are you available and open to what God might direct or where He might lead you? Are you terrified at the prospect? (keep in mind, it may not necessary be Africa 😉 )
I know I sure was. At first. But over time and with one step here and one step there, God has ignited in me a flame, bring me nearer to him and farther from fear. A flame with the desire to share the light I have been given with those who haven’t had the chance. And the Fulbe are just one of those people groups. We need more workers, more harvesters in the field. Do you hear Christ inviting you into the work? Because He is. He asks and invites all of his children to get involved in what he is doing. And what he is doing is Always Good. He fills our cup, that we may overflow to those who are empty and thirsty. He shines his light onto us, that we may reflect him into the darkness of those who have no hope. So let your light shine! That all who see will praise your Father in heaven. (Matt. 5:16)

Those are some thoughts and questions for today anyways. 🙂 My blogs won’t be like this all the time! But, yes, thanks for meeting me where I’m at and taking time to read this!

Lots of Love, Lisa

Back to Banyo

Dear Team 🙂

I arrived back in Cameroon safely on Aug. 8, along with my two teammates (and all our luggage)! 😀 Thank you so very much for all your loving thoughts and prayers as we travelled. I was super relaxed and full of peace throughout the whole process… leaving Alberta and arriving in Africa.

Since then, we have been through an intense week of orientation in the city of Bamenda. The timing worked out in such a way that we were able to be among all of the World Team missionaries in Cameroon due to the homeschooling convention. I am so thankful to have been able to reconnect with good friends. It has helped the transition process by seeing familiar faces right off the bat (or plane). 🙂

Tomorrow morning, we journey to our area – Banyo. It will be a 9 hour drive! I am so looking forward to being with the Fulbe people again, but also very nervous. Its not a few months this time, but years! At the same time I am full of hopeful anticipation and really looking forward to it… laying down roots and really being able to invest in (and be invested into) my neighbours and teammates. Why should I be nervous? God is at work, and I am trusting He will show me where to jump in. One day at a time.

All my love to you dear reader, in Canada or wherever you may be! I will be sure to write again once things have been set up a bit at “home”.

  Please be praying for safe travels to Banyo, for unity and encouragement among the team as we are all going through a lot of transition, and for the Spirit of God to flow freely in my own heart and life.

Lots of love and prayers, Lisa ❤

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