‘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.
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.)
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.
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.
December marks the beginning of dry season. We captured a few photos of the kids in one of our last good rains.
November also marked the end of soccer for our kids.
And we were able to host many families, teenagers, and new friends in our home.
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.
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
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.
Here are a few of our favorite photos from the last few months, and the lyrics to a chorus that we have been singing over and over this week. It is such a good reminder. Thank you for keeping up with our family.
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace”
Today, July 13, 2015, marks nineteen years since Jesus rescued me from the bondage of death and sin. I truly experienced 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.“ (NLT)
By the grace of God, nineteen years later I’m still proclaiming and showing others the goodness of God which is Jesus Christ. Even with ALL my sin before Christ and the sin since July 13, 1996 nothing shall separate me from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:35-39).
So today I want to thank God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) for rescuing me from the eternal damnation I deserved, justifying me through His perfect Righteousness and adopting me into His eternal and glorious family. I would also like to thank God for all the men and women who have encouraged me along the way. I was a total mess (huge understatement) before I was rescued and needed a lot of teaching, training, correction, love, grace and mercy…..etc. Even today, I know I can’t do this by myself and God has not left me without faithful brothers and sisters in Christ to disciple me along this journey.
With the Lord’s help I hope to continue to point people to Jesus and share with them the greatness of His goodness.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 ESV)
Last week we had the opportunity to take 10 students from RFIS (Rain Forest International School) to a city in the Northwest Region of Cameroon called Bamenda. During the week our kids worked at a Children’s Home by doing one-on-one tutoring, afternoon VBS, and moving large amounts of dirt at the home’s new construction site. The family that hosted our team also runs the children’s home and has chosen not to call it an orphanage or refer to the children as orphans. It makes since because the ‘Home’ has Ma’s and Pa’s, Aunties and Uncles and a lot of children who have been rescued from terrible situations. It looked like a home and it felt like a home and we were so blessed to serve there. We were also proud of our students and the way they worked and persevered through some long days. The VBS was led by our students and involved the regular lesson, games, music, crafts, scripture memory. They also tutored the children 2 mornings and worked really hard at the children’s home new construction site. We moved at least 2 truck loads of dirt using shovels, picks, 10 buckets and 2 wheel-barrels. It is so cool to watch MKs (missionary kids) serve and be missional (sans parents!) They were so open to serving and building relationships with the kids at the home. We did have some free time and were able to go hiking! Wow, the scenery was breathtaking. I am so happy that our whole family got to go. The Mayo kids were able to see first hand the aspects of the children’s home and the way that our students jumped in and worked. This, of course, made it a little more busy for me but I am so thankful to God that He provided the means for all of us to go. Jake and Holly Schilinski are the founders of the Helping Hands Children’s Home. They are making a huge impact on the lives of the 31 children at the home (and generations to come.) They also impacted and encouraged our family. We left with some new friends and hopes to return soon to visit the Schilinski’s and the children at Helping Hands. Below is some information about the Helping Hands Children’s Home.
Win Our Nation’s Helping Hands Orphanage was established in Cameroon in April 2009. It’s located in the beautiful town of Bamenda. In a country with many orphans that are neglected and overlooked, there is a huge need for a compassionate, safe, and Christian environment for them. Of the thousands of orphans in Cameroon, many live in extreme poverty, never having a hope of going to school or to be cared for. Many are forced into child labor and with no hope or a future. Helping Hands Children’s Home is a loving place where orphans are raised with the knowledge of Jesus. Our goal is to equip them with all they need to become a successful adult and a contributing member of the society and the Body of Christ. This is done through schooling, Bible classes, hygiene and nutritional classes, tutoring, sports, an unlimited amount of love and allowing them to just “be a kid”.You can see pictures and updates on their Facebook page Helping Hands Page…or go to http://www.winournations.com to learn more.