“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He s a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews ll:6
Friends and Ministry Partners,
We have been on what we are calling, “Quite the Adventure” these past few months. Before we begin our report to you, I want to pause and say a big THANK YOU! It is such a blessing that you hold us up in prayer, give so that we can minister and write to encourage us. What a treasure you all are, and we are both humbled and grateful for you!
I Corinthians 16:13-14 “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” This was the verse the Lord gave us during our time in Cameroon this summer and it became a verse we went to daily and desired to live out.
SUMMER TEAM TO MBANG – We had a small team this year and we fondly call them the super six pack. Our team ended up consisting of Brittney, Ami, Sarah, Braxton, William and Jon-Michael as team members. Josiah, Lisa, Taylor White, Tom and I were leaders and then we added Taylor’s wife Becca, their 10-month old son Malachi, national Bible students Stephen and Elvis and national staff man Vitalis. The first stop was Bamenda for the last four days of the national Boot Camp. The team taught phonics, music and children’s games. They ate national meals and performed each night at the rallies. Our travel to the Far East was long and at times challenging. The Baka chief was there to greet us and he jumped up and down when he saw Tom and me because he remembered us. He kept saying, “you returned, you returned.” The area was as beautiful as we remembered. We had our tents set up inside a building which was so nice. We had a good outhouse and we made a shower room out of wood and plastic. For projects, we completed three verandas, divided the clinic into four rooms, and painted the clinic. The team hauled a lot of cement in buckets. Each day began by walking 20 minutes each direction to carry water back for filtering. Then there were the trips for gravel, sand and river water to mix cement—thank God for the TMI truck we had with us. On the water runs we filled a huge old metal barrel and then had to lift it on and off the truck. The lucky ones selected to hold it down got soaked. We finished the day with a bonfire, devotions and songs of worship to the Lord. Since we had tried national food we decided to introduce our nationals to a few American foods. They hated mashed potatoes and coleslaw, but loved roasted marshmallows and pancakes. We had opportunities to do multiple presentations of the Gospel, as well as invite the Baka to our fire on Saturday nights to sing to each other. Tom preached one Sunday while out East. We saw wonderful growth in the kids, leaders and nationals and although it was not easy, we enjoyed it very much.
AUGUST ADVENTURE – After we put the team on the plane, Tom and I, along with the Whites, headed back to the base. We arrived the day the national debrief began. It is always a blessing to watch the presentations and hear the reports of how God changed lives. I taught several classes and both Tom and I spoke at the Bible school graduation held on the last day of Debrief, which by the way was three hours long. We had the largest attendance ever at a graduation, even the Fon of Nsongwa spoke. It was a great blessing to see the growth in these seven students and to see their joy as they graduated. That evening we had the final service and learned that 999 people had accepted Christ as Savior through the evangelism efforts of the national teens. Praise the Lord! After the Debrief ended, we held a three-day refresher with our facilitators of our Orphan Rescue Units. I was blessed to hear that we are helping nearly 600 children. We visited two of the three Units in the next week. I helped harvest corn at one while Tom helped fix the gutters. We made a three-day trip out to our newest and fourth Unit in the village of Gom. What a trip! This Unit is the farthest from the base—eight hours each way. The roads were terrible. I think I bounced off at least five pounds. We went out so that I could see the location and to work. We poured the floors of the Unit and finished putting up the mud blocks to the trusses to keep out thieves. The guys were so shocked that I could mix cement, shovel it and then fix meals. Frankly, I am shocked I could keep a schedule like that as well. I cooked over fire and since I was one of the only white ladies the kids had seen, they watched my every move. This Unit will be a great blessing to so many. The area is poor both physically and spiritually. The last morning after a breakfast of bread and tea, I noticed I had just enough bread to share with the children watching out the window. I took the bread out and they didn’t know what it was. I did not realize there was a place on Earth where children had never had bread. I explained what it was for and the joy on their faces as they ate it was unbelievable. The staple foods in this area are maize meal and yams. On the trip back to the base I spent time being thankful. In our choice to be obedient and follow the Lord we may be poor according to U.S. standards, but my children never sat in dirt, wearing rags, filled with wounds, scabies, sores, flies, malnourished and not even knowing a food called bread. I have been so blessed. It really humbled me that we have the opportunity to minister to such as these. The guys went out the last week of September to begin ministry and I cannot wait to hear stories of how these precious ones will receive the true Bread of Life.
SEPTEMBER ADVENTURE – The month began with the training program for (MSSM). Staff man Richard and I took the bike on a test run and visited the remaining Unit we had not seen. The Unit three hours away was on challenging roads in rainy season and I had a blast. It was so bad that our four wheel drive truck could have never made it and at times we had to push the bike through. I enjoyed it so much and Tom admits he spent the day praying I would return safely. It was a long day, but we were able to get back to the base just before dark and the next two days I felt the effects of the bouncing.
We then traveled to the location for the MSSM Circuit to set up. The Circuit is being placed in an area called the Mechum Division of the Northwest Province. The area is mountainous and a few of the roads are challenging. At one point we had to cross a moving river to continue on. The area is only 15K from the Nigeria border and in fact a dispute broke out last year over land between the two countries and hundreds of people were killed. There is a peace treaty now and all is at rest. However, there are hundreds displaced because homes were burned, and so we are seeing lots of these lean-two shelters made of branches and sticks all housing large families. We had never seen so many children. The majority are unschooled due to not being able to afford school fees. They are dressed in rags and most are under nourished. The village chiefs and headmen were so excited when we sat down to share the benefits of having MSSM come to these villages. At one location a headman donated his own humble compound area to hold the Sunday school. Spiritually the area is dark. Many worship a god called, Cuckoobury. He is a spirit who they say appears as a short evil looking man and gives them advice and warnings. They leave him offerings and they cut the cheeks of children so that the evil spirits will not stay in their bodies. There are two small evangelical churches in the area (there is a population of 20,000-30,000 in multiple villages) with pastors and multiple catholic churches and mosques. The two pastors are excited because no one teaches the children in this area. What a privilege it will be to share the Gospel! The Circuit officially started running the last week of September. The last part of our time in Cameroon was spent doing finances, preparing for another school year and meeting with our staff to plan out the next six months.
FLORIDA – We left Cameroon on September 12th and had an unplanned side trip to Paris. The airline cancelled the Tuesday flight to Miami and so put us in a hotel for the day. I had been to Paris with teams, but Tom had never been out of the airport. We went into the city for a bit to see a few of the sights which was a neat blessing. We landed late Wednesday and I flew to Evansville, IN on Saturday morning for the annual Youth Evangelism Associate convention for which I serve as secretary on the board of directors. I was actually quite sick and ended up at a clinic the next morning and diagnosed with acute bronchitis, Tom believes it was due to the schedule we kept this summer, I just think we live in a world with lots of germs and I caught a few. After a round of strong antibiotics, steroids and rest I was back to normal. The convention went well and Tom ended up joining us midweek in order to help drive the TMI bus back to Florida. All our Bible school students attended. We are now back in our offices and attempting to unburying our desks.
THE OFFSPRING – Tom and Deena moved to Troy, MI in June where Tom was hired at a large church as their tech guy. Deena has found a job as a secretary at an accounting firm. They are happy and enjoying the fall. Kalah is student teaching a second grade class at an area school and loves it. She is on target to graduate December 16th and then will look to be hired somewhere in January. Zachary changed jobs. He is now working at an area deli. He is able to maintain sugar levels much better at this job. Daniel is still working for Macy’s and will enter school in January.
SPECIAL PRAYER REQUEST – Right before the summer Tom saw a hearing specialist because he was having trouble with his ears. He has 50% hearing loss in both ears and has lost over 50% of the ability to understand words people are saying. He will need hearing aids. We tried various hearing aids at the office and it was neat to see how excited he got when he could hear. We were not able to get them before the summer because they cost $4000. Over the summer we have gotten enough one-time gifts to cover half of the cost. Pray with us that the remaining funds will come in and we can get him hearing. It has been difficult these past few months as Tom relies on me for understanding in nearly each conversation.
Thank you so much for your prayers!! We know God has kept us safe on the many roads and free of malaria due to your specific prayers. Thank you for those of you who support us. We are so humbled by your gifts to us especially during these tough economic times. We know that God is our provider so we look to Him.
Tom and Linda Maher Phil. 4:13