Tuesday, April 7, 2015

New Direction

We welcomed baby Irene to the world February 20th.  She is big, little girl weighing in at 9 lbs, but I think their scale may have been off (there is no way she is bigger than her brother was).  Honora, Clare and Patrick are thrilled with their baby sister. Ryan and I seldom get to hold her when the older siblings are around.  Patrick has a "Big Brother" shirt and he has taken to wearing it all the time.  He is quite proud of his new title.

We spent two months in Tucson, AZ with Ryan's parents and sister and her family.  We had planned to have Irene there, and it was quite a blessing being together after the unexpected loss of Ryan's brother in January.  Children and grandparents have such a special relationship, and there was much healing and laughter in their time together.

Since the loss of Ryan's brother and the birth of our newest joy, we have been in a process of discernment.  We have felt the need to be present to family here, and we have recognized our own need for healing.  Through much prayer and struggle we have found God calling us to rest in His love.  There has been a great struggle to surrender our need to "do for God", and allow ourselves to just surrender to His loving presence.  Ultimately we recognize that we cannot share the Good News of His love, if we are not allowing ourselves to feel it.  This decision has been very painful for we no longer just consider one continent home, and there are so many people in Cameroon that we will miss.

Thank you so much for all your loving support and prayers over the last two years.  Despite the geographical distance, we always felt held by our family and friends here.  We are so grateful for all of you and we couldn't have done it without you.  This link will allow you to see images of the work you helped us do and the people you sent us to love: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nSxUK-ef0Y&feature=youtu.be  (copy and paste)

Thank you!

The Martin Family
Ryan, Maura, Honora, Clare, Patrick and Irene

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Vacation Time

Since we have been in Cameroon (and way before) we have not taken a family vacation.  We were really starting to feel the need for some down time away so we finally made the sacrifice last week and got away. 

The time away waswonderful.  We left on Wednesday afternoon and spent two nights at a
missionary rest house in the mountains.  After a few days there we went to visit the Burket-Thoenes, the doctor missionaries from Mission Doctors Association, for three days and came home on Sunday. 

Having time to just be with the kids and enjoy each others company was precious.  We played games, went for a hike, ate, watch movies and relaxed.  The rest house is in the mountains and has a beautiful view (we felt like we were in a cabin in Colorado). 

The highlight of the days in the mountains was a hike we went on.  We started to head up the mountain and quickly found ourselves in a very small village.  Several of the people greeted us and were excited to see us.  We decided it was time to turn around when a young man came running after us.  He said one of the elderly women wanted to give the children some sugar cane. 

Out of the jungle came a "typical" looking bent over older woman with her traditional clothes and head dress on.  She gave us a huge toothless smile and greeted us.  Then she took her machete out, chopped down a 6 foot sugar cane and handed it to the kids.  She did not communicate in English very well but all of us got the point, we were all grateful to encounter one another. 

After saying thank you all three kids picked up the sugar cane and marched it back to the guest house.  We forgot the camera so we don't have a picture of the "old Ma" but she is forever imprinted on my mind.  Needless to say, the kids loved sucking on the sugar cane.
On Friday afternoon we drove to the Burket-Thoene's.  The guest house was about 30 minutes from their house so it was nice to have such a short trip. On the way we picked up Georgia, the young English girl that is here teaching for 3 months.  She is living in the village and we figured she would like a break, hot shower, electricity and internet.  She was delighted to join us.  The hospital where the doctors live and work has a large nice guest house with a beautiful view.  This is our fifth time to visit.

Another doctor, Earl, and his wife, Rosemary, from Mission Doctors Association are here for a 6 week mission trip.  Earl is a plastic surgeon and has been doing short term mission trip since the 1980's.  All of us stayed in the guest house together and we had a really nice time visiting with them. 

We also really enjoyed our time with the Burket-Thoenes.  Their four children and our kids have a blast together.  One of the highlights for me was a hike we went on Sunday morning.  There were 5 of us and 3 guides that went on a 5 hour hike to the highest peak in the area.  We went through all kinds of terrain to reach the summit.  Our time at the top was pleasant but we spent too much time there so as we started to descend a huge rain storm rolled in.  Once the rain started we slid down the mountain.  I must have fallen at least 10 times.  All 8 of us were drenched by the time we got home but it was well worth it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Surprise Birthday Party

Maura’s birthday (Sept. 4) was a huge success.  The night before her actual birthday it occurred to me that we could throw her a surprise party.  Waiting to the night before to plan the party fits in very well with the culture here, everything happens at the last minute.  I talked with two of the sons from next door, Paul and Michael, and they said it was no problem to make it happen and that they must sacrifice because we are family. 

To make it happen their family would have to shop for food and cook it.  I also gave them the task of getting the drinks (drinks are the most important part of Cameroonian life).  Paul and I created the menu, estimated the cost and in the morning I gave him the money to shop.  His brother, Anthony, was in charge of drinks - pop, beer and wine.  I ran up to the Newburn's on the birthday eve to discuss with Joy and she agreed to make a salad and cake.  Diane, our house helper, prepared food too.  The plans fell into place very nicely. 

The plan was for our family to be invited to a birthday dinner at the Newburn's at 6:15pm and Maura’s boss, Sr. Sheila, to call her to the office for a meeting at 5:45.  I asked for all the food to be prepared by 5:30 so when she left we rearranged our house and filled it with food, drinks, and about 25 people.  I figured she would return to our house around 6:15pm. 

Cameroonians are not timely (not that anything is wrong with that but it is critical for a surprise party) so I was a bit worried when only our family and the Newburn's were in the house at 6:15pm.  Finally people trickled in so I made the call to Maura that we left the food at our house that we were to bring to the Newburns and for her to get it, of course it was raining. 

We had everyone in our living room sitting in the dark and silent waiting for her to come.  Sr. Sheila drove her to our front door so our wait was finally over, so we thought.  They continued their conversation for another 10 minutes outside our door as we all squirmed inside.  Then we heard the keys go into the door, the door open and we yelled “SURPRISE.”  Maura had a look of horror on her face as she thought we were getting robbed.  She was stunned for awhile and didn’t know what to do so I suggested she say hello to everyone.  For the Cameroonians in the room this was the first time they had been to a surprise party.  They loved the idea and were so excited about it all day.

My favorite memory of the day was around 4 pm just before the party.  Maura was tired so she laid down to rest and finally fell asleep.  While she slept the neighbors had 6 people frantically cooking in their outdoor kitchen over the fire and Diane was in our house cooking away.  I called the Newburn's and they were baking the cake.  So all these people were diligently working and Maura had no idea while she slept. 

She would not have permitted any of that work to be done for her so the surprise was the only way it would happen.  Loveleen, the mother next door, is one of Maura’s favorite people here and she was so excited to prepare endola, a special dish for Maura.  We did not plan to have this particular dish because it is difficult to prepare but Loveleen knew it was Maura’s favorite so she surprised all of us with it.  I could tell how excited Loveleen was by her huge beautiful smile as she told me she made endola for the party. 

I am grateful the party was such a success.  The pictures are of Paul cooking the chicken and plantains; Loveleen, Michael and Joseph preparing food while Maura napped; and Anthony with the drinks.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Down Time

Having some down time has been really nice to be able to be more present to life around us.  One of my favorite moments of the past week was the kids and I went on a walk and upon our return the boys from the neighborhood were so excited to see the kids.  They were all so happy and saying they had something for the kids. 

One of the boys, Joel, we had not seen in awhile.  He is one of the sweetest boys.  He handed Patrick a sword he had made out of bamboo.  For the girls he built a race car for them.  Each of the gifts were personalized with their names and a message written on them.  Patrick’s sword said “Sword for Joy.”  Joel must be thinking Patrick will use the sword to bring joy, we are not sure that will be the case. 

Regardless, I was touched by his thoughtfulness.  I found out he had been on vacation to the village and while there he created these gifts.  It is remarkable the generosity people have here for us.  It is embarrassing at how little we give compared to how much is given to us here. 

Friday we drove to Kumbo, about 2 hours away, to visit the Horne’s (another family from Lay Mission-Helpers).  We lived with the Horne’s during our training in Los Angeles so we have gotten to know them well.  They have 5 kids the same ages as our kids so all 8 of them had a blast.  We had a nice visit Friday evening with them and the highlight was the fish tacos with homemade tortillas they made us. 

Saturday morning we drove about 45 minutes to Tatum to go to the wedding of Debbie, another Lay Mission-Helper who just finished her 3 years here.  Her fiancĂ© is from the US and came to have the wedding here.  Debbie’s parents were the only family members that were able to come (they had never been out of the US). 

Three out of the four of the Lay Mission-Helper families were able to attend the wedding so it was special for us to be there to support her.  It was our first church wedding in Cameroon so it was a neat experience for us too.  The bishop was the celebrant of the wedding along with 11 other priests.  The bishop said in his 27 years of being a priest he had never celebrated a white person’s wedding so it was special for him. 

It was a true missionary moment for Debbie and James to share their wedding with the people she had been living with for the past 3 years.  They were very appreciative and excited for them.