Ministry Update- May 2016

Field Day 12

Several months back Blake was brainstorming an event idea that would attract as many students as possible.  The conclusion was to have an “Old School Field Day.” For some of our students it was their very first field day so there was nothing “Old-School” about it.  The pictures below will show you just how much fun the students had at this event.  The returning students are hoping this will be an annual event at RFIS.

 

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“Close eyes….catch water balloon.”
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“NO WAY!!!!”
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“I’m Awesome!”

 

Retreat, Yard Sales, and more…

Warm greetings from Cameroon!  We have just finished a fruitful two weeks of Branch Retreat / meetings.  This time each year, team members from all around the country come to Yaoundé for a time of refreshing and fellowship.  Each year we are able to host many families for meals and reconnect with friends.  This year we were blessed to have a Team from Wycliffe Bible Translators U.S.A come and provide a week long camp specifically for MK’s (Missionary Kids/ our kids). So while the adults had a time of spiritual refreshment and worship, the kids were also nurtured and encouraged.  The team really invested in our children and we thank God for providing for us in such a practical way.  There are pictures below from the camp “Refuge 139.”

Laura and I have been extremely busy sorting through our belongings as we prepare to transition back to Alabama in June.  Fortunately, we were able to sell some of our stuff last Saturday at our Branch Yard Sale.  It is very difficult to find things like children’s books, good quality shoes, tupperware, good socks,etc…in our area so this yard sale was more like a multi-cultural yard sale on steroids.  If only you could have been a mosquito on the wall and seen those 2 hours of chaos! It was a sight.

The last few months we’ve been focused on student ministry and opportunities to serve our mission community.  We are still mentoring students weekly (meeting one on one) and every Sunday evening we host students in our home. Sometimes we take the meeting outdoors to the soccer field! We’ve included some photos below of our awesome group during one of those Sunday evenings.

School starts back this Wednesday and things will shift back to a more normal schedule, but we are very aware of the upcoming transition.  Please join us in praying for God to provide us an affordable home to rent in the Gadsden area, and if you have any contacts or leads please let us know.  This would be an extremely practical and helpful way to serve our family.

Thank you for your prayers for Laura…she has fully recovered from the weird virus she had last month.  Oh….and yes the rains have come to Yaoundé and we are so grateful.

Thanking God for you,

Blake and Laura

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Ben making a shot while playing with some friends at a gathering.
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From the kids camp.  Ben is modeling his T-shirt.  The camp name is Refuge 139-  after Psalm 139.  The back of the shirt says “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. “Psalm 139:9-10
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MK’s (missionary kids) from all over Cameroon came to benefit from the camp.
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Lib with a friend
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Hannah makes a new friend
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some of our students after youth group
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Sunday hang-0ut with the students

 

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We have such a beautifully diverse group
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Some of the girls that Laura mentors
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Neighborhood buds
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At a friend’s 1st birthday party!
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Mango season has arrived
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These little guys show up all over our house!  Libby likes to catch them.
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Ben got to ride in a helicopter!
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fresh from our tree.

 

 

Transitions and Septic Tanks

Hello All.  This past month has been a whirl wind.  We moved out of our house and into a flat in the nearby mission community. We needed to move because the family that normally lived in the house returned to Cameroon.  It was quite a bit of work, but we are settling in here and beginning to sort through some things for the much bigger move (over the pond) in a few months.

In weather news, we are on day 99 without rain and it is HOT, HOT, HOT.  Last week we got a taste of a few days without running water and multiple, long power outages that always work wonders to show our true colors.  But God is faithful (regardless) and we are growing and learning with every step of this journey.  Jesus has been teaching us lately that the grass is always greener over the septic tank (see the photo below).  God can use the seemingly “poo- filled-things” in our life to spark growth, gratitude, and new vision.

Please pray for clear direction as we sift through options and ideas for the future.  We really don’t want to make decisions based on what makes sense to our brain….but rather based on complete and whole-hearted obedience.  Will you please continue to pray for us in this regard?

Also pray for Laura as she is not feeling well.  She has a full body rash and severe muscle and joint aches…with fever.  Based on our research and what other are telling us in the community…it is probably a mosquito born virus called chikungunya.  Pray for total healing from head to toe….Pray Isaiah 53:5 over her.

You guys mean so much to us.  We are so thankful for you.

Blake (Laura)

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The coconut tree in our yard.
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Ben turned 5 years old last month.
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The view from our front porch.  Notice the dusty banana tree leaves.  We need RAIN!
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Off to return some library books.
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A distant view of Yaoundé
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Before the girls’ school field trip to the U.S. Embassy.
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and here is the green grass….over the septic tank. Growth and poo sometimes go hand-in-hand.  This is a real object lesson that God taught me while playing ball with Ben. 

Happy New Year…

‘Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.’ Jeremiah 32:17

This portion of Jeremiah’s prayer is our family’s scripture-of-the-year.  Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of God’s mighty power. He is the Mighty Victorious Warrior!  Darkness shrinks back in fear at even the mention of his name.

It is awesome to serve a merciful and loving God, but it is also important to remember that HE IS AWESOME in POWER.

Happy New Year and may you experience the power and presence of God like never before in 2016.  Nothing is too hard for HIM.

And please know how grateful we are for your faithful and generous support throughout 2015. You are a vital part of the work here in Cameroon.

We are together!

Blake and Laura

 

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Happy New Year or Bonne Année as we say in French.
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No Snowman this Christmas, but we improvised!
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Beautiful Poinsettias that are growing in our yard
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Christmas morning expressions
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Surprised our neighbors with some presents!

Scripture Access Statistics and Photos

Please follow the link below if you are interested in reading about the recently released 2015 – Scripture Access Statistics.

Scripture Access Statistics

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Below are some recent pictures that will help explain what life is like for us around here.

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A creative way to add rear-view mirrors to your ride.
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Our friend, Drew, took this family picture for us before church last week.  The kids are growing so fast.  Hannah (9) Libby (7) and  Ben (almost 5)
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Blake and his good friend Simon. He was honored for 25 years of service with SIL Cameroon (partner of Wycliffe).

 

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Laura and her friend Heline at the Christmas Banquet.

 

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Blake and Siprone. Siprone was awarded a 25 year medal for his service with SIL Cameroon (partner of Wycliffe).

 

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Blake and Grace. Grace works in the Cafeteria (Cantene) at Rain Forest International School, where Blake spends most of his time. Grace was award a 25 year medal for her service SIL Cameroon (partner of Wycliffe).

 

November 2015 Update

Is it December already?

Yesterday we went in search for an overpriced fake Christmas tree in a musty supermarket, but for our kids it was a glorious adventure…with lights coming down from heaven (cue the Hallelujah chorus) on our chosen Christmas tree.  We (Mom and Dad) realize that our kids need to have a great Christmas experience no matter where we live.  Shouldn’t we all be excited as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Promised One!  Below is a picture of our beloved tree (and the helpers.)

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Thanksgiving was a good day for us as we celebrated with friends.  For Laura and I, it was kind of tough.  It is on Thanksgiving that we miss family and home the most.  Somehow this day just resonates FAMILY and all that we love about our home culture…crisp fall leaves, delicious food, football games on TV, and an attitude of thankfulness.  Our children don’t really understand why we miss home so much during Thanksgiving.  Maybe it is because they have spent the last four Thanksgivings overseas.  Next year, Lord willing, we will be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with our families and I’m certain our children will understand what we have been missing so much.

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A family shot from Thanksgiving Day. We were able to celebrate with several other families…which was fun. We sang, played games, ate (too much), and really focused on God’s faithfulness throughout the year.

 

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Libby is at the perfect age for soaking in all the Thanksgiving Festivities. She even had a Thanksgiving feast at school…can you tell that she enjoyed it?

Overall, November was a great month for our family.  For me personally, it was probably one of the most difficult months I (Blake) have ever experienced.  By God’s grace and the prayers and support of those here with us I’m doing much better.  It was like I lost my fire.  At one point I wanted to withdraw and hide but I knew that was not a safe place for me.  Through the encouragement of our family doctor, and our Branch Nurse and Counselor our family took an unplanned retreat to the beach.  It was not something we had budgeted or planned but I and our family needed it.  God met us there.  He reminded me of so many promises that had been hidden by the dark clouds (reality) of this world and the frailty my human body.  He re-filled me with His power, love and gave me sound-mind.  He delivered me from evil and reminded me of the holy fire that Jesus gives us by His Spirit.  I learned a lot through those couple of weeks that will help me and hopefully others in the future.  Why I had to go through this, I don’t have the answer.  What I do know is that God was with me the whole time.  Please know how grateful we are for your prayers.  We don’t say this because it sounds good.  We mean it.  There is no way we could do what God has called us to do here in Cameroon without your prayers, love and encouragement.  By God’s grace He is using you to be a blessing to us, so that we can be a blessing to those we serve here. Below are a few pictures from our trip.

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December marks the beginning of dry season.  We captured a few photos of the kids in one of our last good rains.

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November also marked the end of soccer for our kids.

 

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Hannah is the girl in the light blue shorts

 

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And we were able to host many families, teenagers, and new friends in our home.

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We loved having the girls basketball team over for dinner.

We were even able to help “pave” (with new dirt) the road in front of our home because it had become more like a creek-bed.  This is helpful to the whole community and we are grateful to many of you for making this possible. Here is a photo of the kids (on our road) on a Sunday afternoon after church.

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Thank you.  We can never say this enough.

Much love-

Blake (for all the Mayos)

October 2015 Update

This is Cameroon
This is Cameroon

 

Blake coaching during the girls basketball tournament.  They finished 2nd.
Blake coaching during the girls basketball tournament. They finished 2nd.

 

Mayo Kids!
Mayo Kids!

 

We enjoyed a break from school and work last week. These breaks are so valuable for families serving, as the norm can be very busy and exhausting. Libby and Ben returned back to school today (Monday) and Laura and Hannah started back with home school. On that note, home-school is going well so far. The first few weeks had some difficulties but now it seems like the new normal. Hannah is a bright kid who has experienced a lot of changes over the last few years and this has been difficult for her. We are grateful for God’s grace in her life as we see Him working in and through her. All the children are doing well and we are very proud of their efforts in school. We are grateful for your prayers for our children!

We (Blake and Laura) benefited greatly from a break from the norm. Blake finished his New Testament 2 course and basketball season is over. Laura enjoyed her break from teaching although she just began an online continuing education course that allows her to maintain her teaching certificate in the state of Alabama. Speaking of the Internet………Oh Wow!!!! We are now on 2 weeks without any Internet. Thankfully, some of our friends are letting us get online at their house so we can send this update! Please pray that our Internet comes back soon. We have missed Skype calls with family and Laura really needs the Internet for her class.

To close this brief update we would like to ask all of you to continue to pray for us for the following:

  • Spiritual growth and discernment
  • Perseverance.
  • Good health for our family (Ben has a mean cold)
  • More prayer partners and financial partners (more below)
  •  Wisdom regarding our future (more below)

One area of prayer is that God would continue to sustain us financially. For various reasons we have lost some financial partners and it has started to become a strain on our budget. Will you please pray that God will continue to provide all our needs for His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. By God’s grace, we were able to help 5 Cameroonian families send their children to school this September. We want to continue to be able to invest in impactful local ministries and know that God will provide for us. Thanks to all of you who faithfully and sacrificially give. If you have any questions regarding our finances or ministry needs, please ask.

 

We are asked a lot by our colleagues and friends about our future in Cameroon. At this point we don’t know. We are seeking the Lord about our next steps but are not anxious about it. We are resting in Him and believing that the answers will come. We know that we mentioned this in our newsletter, but please keep praying that we would be sensitive and obedient.

We are praying that the God of all peace will bless each one of you so that together we may see all peoples (nations) worship Jesus.

By His Grace,

Blake and Laura