Maher News – Fall 2009
Wow! What a summer and what a September. Sit back, fasten your seat belt, grab a good “cupa” and we will bring you up to date.
After experiencing an incredibly hot Boot Camp training time we loaded up our North American team of 17 teens and 2 assistant leaders and headed to Cameroon. It was great to have Tom with me this year through the Florida Boot Camp. He had been flying ahead of us for the last three years. He kept saying to me, “Is Boot Camp always this busy? No wonder you arrive in Africa tired.” The project for the summer was to assist in running the national Boot Camp and then to head to two of the Orphan Rescue Units to wash the feet of orphans and give them a new pair of shoes. We had 95 Cameroonians participate in the national Boot Camp; the numbers were lower than we would have liked, but we took it as God’s provision for the summer and poured our hearts and lives into those who attended. Our crew taught drama, puppets, music and phonics. Teaching phonics was a wonderful opportunity to help not only those attending the Boot Camp but also the orphans.
One of the prerequisites for going on a foot washing team is that all your personal belongings fit into a TMI-issued carryon bag and the rest of the luggage space is for socks and shoes. Teens soon discover that they can survive with two or three outfits and a minimal amount of things when they come face to face with the poverty the orphans experience on a daily basis. Each of the Units is a three to four hour drive from the base on roads that are more like bumpy, muddy pathways than an actual roadway—the trip itself is always an adventure.
The first Unit we visited was the Lynn Harnage Unit in Mbambe. The Unit is in the midst of 19 villages and has become the only source of medicine for 40,000 villagers. People walk eight hours in this mountainous region to get a malaria treatment. For four days we washed the feet of orphans and gave them shoes, did presentations, taught phonics, played soccer and various other children’s games (they loved Red Rover) and held medical clinics. The last day in this area we hiked five miles (each way) to the main village to do a presentation on market day. We headed back to the base, repacked and headed to the Shiloh Christian Church Unit located in Impalim. We were able to hire a bus to the village of Fundong and then had to travel the last 15 km in the back of pickup trucks. At this Unit we put the tents close together under a tarp as the rains and winds are heavy in this area. We spent three days washing feet, playing, singing and teaching phonics. In all we were able to give out 200 pairs of shoes. The orphans were so happy and many of them walked home barefoot so that they would not spoil their new shoes. We were blessed as we saw the work of the Lord in the lives of the team members and trust their time in Cameroon will long remain in their hearts.
REMAINDER OF TIME IN CAMEROON
After the North American team went home, we began the preparations for the national Debrief, the graduation of Bible, Missionary & Work Training Center (BMW) students and a Refresher for the Unit facilitators. I also spent hours doing the base finances. It is always a blessing for us to hear the reports the national teams give at Debrief. Tom and I were in tears as they shared how God had worked in their lives over the summer. For fun this year we had a fear factor eating relay and it was hysterical to see them shutter when trying some American foods. They especially had difficulty with peanut butter, Spam and pickles. In total 2,800 accepted Christ as their Savior through the evangelistic outreaches the teams held. We had the entire Debrief and over 130 guests come for the BMW graduation. It was my first and I was so blessed to be present. We had eight students who had completed their two years of school and one year of internship, and we commissioned three students to begin their internship. As a national staff team we wondered what would become of the Units with only three students beginning an internship when we needed six people to run the work at the three Units. Praise the Lord all, but one facilitator made the commitment to stay. We were also facing the possibility of a school with only three students. We prayed and trusted the Lord to make provision. On September 7th we were all so blessed when 13 new students arrived, 10 boys and 3 girls. Seven of the new students are orphans from our Units. The four from our newest Unit in Benakuma came with only the clothes on their backs. We bought them the necessities (one boy had never used a toothbrush his entire life – he had used a stick) and gave them clothes that our North American team had left behind and a Bible. I also left Tom’s shirts for the boys. Tom was quite tickled to see his shirts being worn all over the base.
Following our Refresher which was a time for going over policies, finances, brainstorming new ideas and teaching, we headed out to our newest Unit in Benakuma. We planned an orphan day so that Tom and I could take photos of the children so that they can be sponsored. We were greeted by 130 children. This area is so needy. The orphans are incredibly malnourished and were in rags. Some of the children had gotten up at midnight to walk ten hours to the Unit with the promise of sleeping in a tent, seeing Papa Tom and Mama Linda and eating not one, but three meals. The majority of these children have one coco yam a day, which is about the size of a small potato. We prepared them rice and beans for supper that night, bread and tea for breakfast and then rice and groundnut soup (peanut) for lunch. I can still see their smiling faces. The orphans are divided into teams and each month a different group comes to the Unit for camp. We loved hearing them sing praises to God. Isn’t it amazing that a child who has no parents and no promise of food for tomorrow can sing, clap and be joyful.
On the way home we stayed in a quaint little English village for three days with Tom’s brother, Jim, and our nephew, James. We had so much fun. Tom and I explored a church built in 1066, walked Bronson (an English bulldog) and went to visit the seaside. It was an enjoyable time of rest and at no cost because we were flying through London. Anyway Tom’s brother, Jim, was so excited to have family at his place.
We landed late Sunday night the 20th and hit the ground running in preparation for Tommy and Deena’s wedding. Kalah had bought my dress so all that was left for me to do, personally. was to get my hair done and to buy shoes. I also shopped for and cooked the rehearsal dinner. The week of and wedding itself was a precious time. In my memory forever: a date with Tommy, to sit and talk for two hours; time with both our own extended family, and our new in-laws; the prayer Deena’s mother and I prayed over Deena in the dressing room; the look on my son’s face when he saw his bride; the tears and look on Deena’s face as she said her vows; the peace and joy of the day. I shed tears, but they were tears of joy!!!
Tom is working on the many computer items that break down over the course of the summer as well as programming. I am writing, teaching, doing year- end finances for two ministries and working in my department. Daniel is still homeschooling with me as well. We need to have some time to travel and raise our support level. Pray with us for timing and open doors. Yes, the current recession has hit even in our home. Pray we will have faith, wisdom with what we have and open doors for an increase in support.
PRAYER AND PRAISES
* Praise the Lord for good health—Yeah, no malaria this year!
* Praise the Lord for a wonderful wedding and a beautiful new daughter!
* Praise the Lord for the work He has done and will continue to do in the lives of our team members around the world!
* Praise God for those who accepted Christ as Savior this summer!
* Pray for the orphans at our three Units.
* Pray for the facilitators who are on duty 24/7
* Pray for our new student body—-that they will be diligent in their studies and live holy lives.
* Pray for our staff in Cameroon; Richard, Mercy, Vitalis & Emmanuel.
* Pray for continued wisdom for Tom and I.
“Think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.” Philippians 4:8
“Change the thoughts, and you change the person. If today’s thoughts are tomorrow’s actions, what happens when we fill our minds with thoughts of God’s love? Will standing beneath the downpour of His grace change the way we feel about others? Paul says absolutely! It’s not enough to keep the bad stuff out. We’ve got to let the good stuff in. It’s not enough to keep no list of wrongs. We have to cultivate a list of blessings. Rather than store up the sour, store up the sweet.” from A LOVE WORTH GIVING – Max Lucado
Because He Lives,
Tom, Linda and Daniel