Kinda like a REALLY big shoe box…

Well, November is past, so this marks the second year I have not packeocc-logo-120x101d an Operation Christmas Child shoe box. I had been doing it ever since the first year they started it in Canada, doing it with my family, as a church, and in the community. It has been a  wonderful sharing tradition, and while it has its detractors, I believe God has used the generosity of many to reach many children and their parents with the Gospel. I loved the fun of finding good deals and cool items that would be appropriate for kids of various cultures, or organizing the most efficient way to pack a whole bunch of boxes. I loved praying for the boxes as we sent them off, knowing that receiving an unexpected gift from an unknown donor can open a heart to the unexpected, undeserved love of God.

image001The same holds true for humanitarian aid in the medical field, and I have been proud to be involved in White Cross for as long as I have been involved with the North American Baptists. White Cross is a Christian humanitarian organization that provides medical supplies and relief goods to hospitals, health centres and rest houses in West Recipients-Central_PharmacyAfrica, with a primary focus on Cameroon. After moving back to Alberta where the Canadian headquarters are, I got more involved with this arm of the NAB medical ministry, and it seems that I have just changed the size of the boxes I want to fill!! These supplies are an important facet of CBC hospitals, health centres and ministry where we now serve in Cameroon, and I am proud to be a part of it. (You can click the link above for more info).

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This year wFriendsoftheFulbeSociety1e have a very special packing project on our radar screens. We are helping launch a Fulbe medical team in Nigeria. We’ve been involved, through FFS (Friends of the F*lbe) in helping train a doctor, nurse, and practical nurse over the last number of years and are excited to be on the cusp of launching them into medical ministry. Since NAB is unable to ship White Cross to Nigeria at this time, FFS is partnering with GECHAAN, another Baptist mission agency in Nigeria, to facilitate shipping a container of medical and other humanitarian items thru Lagos and up to the plateau. It is our goal to ship this container of supplies in January, and we could use your help. If you live in Alberta or have a way to get items to Edmonton by early or mid January, (like online ordering?)here is what we would like to add to our REALLY BIG (SHOE) BOX!  If you have something to bring, please reach out to Bernie or Bert, whose numbers are included on the lists.

  • We have a list of medical items we have not been able to source affordably. Alberta has changed the way it deals with its surplus medical items, and it has been more difficult than we hoped. If you have connections to the medical field, perhaps you could click on this medical list and see if you see any items you can help us locate.
  • There are a large number of practical non-medical items we would like to add to the container such as lockable totes, small whiteboards/bulletin boards, lockHD toteers, etc. that would be helpful for either the mobile clinic or for the inpatient facility being planned. If you can look over the non-medical wishlist, you might have some quality used items to donate, or perhaps you would like to purchase some of these things new for us to send. There’s a few education related things on that list, too, if you wonder at some of the items…
  • pliersWe are sponsoring some apprentices in things like carpentry, masonry and sewing, and nd quality tools are hard to get. A basic hardware store hammer, hand saw, or pliers are often better than anything they can get here. A half-decent multi-tool is a lifesaver, and very few tradespeople has a suitable bag or box for their tools. Decent sewing scissors are hard to find, and seam rippers, pins and extra bobbins are a luxury for the starting tailor or seamstress. Start up packages for an apprentice would be fun mini-boxes to include in the container.
  • (If we get too many for our own use, GECHAAN, our mission partner can use them for their AIDS orphan apprentices.) We’ve included some details on that same non-medical list.
  •  If you are aren’t close enough to donate items, and/or are interested in supporting this ministry with a cash donation, please see the medical ministry brochure for details as to how you can give.Thanks for reading this and for considering helping out with our REALLY BIG SHOE BOX!!  I know you are all inundated with end of the year appeals, so I apologize for adding to the list. But this container is a one-time shipment, and January is coming up quick so I had to at least ask.
    Whatever you do, have a very Merry Christmas, and enjoy sharing all your boxes, whatever size they may be.
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The Value of Visitation

A week or so ago we had the pleasure of helping host several young people who were on something they called a “Vision Trip.” To call it a “Vision” trip is a foolish thing, of course, because they were advised not to expect any great vision, but we’ll let that go for now. The young people themselves are the main thing.

Turns out, one of them, Zac, is a engineer of sorts, having training in all kinds of mechanical things. We had been problems with our water heater (which is a nice way of saying, we could not get the water to work at all), so I suggested to Sonya she ask this young man if he might try his hand at it. So, he came over one afternoon and peered and poked at it, taking things apart, turning knobs, twisting all around to figure out its inner workings (why do they never put these things in convenient angles?). I helped by holding the torch (i.e. flashlight).

Long story short – Zac got it working, which is a real help to us in a lot of ways.

Then I suggested to Sonya she see if he can also fix the stove (can you see a pattern here?). So, once more, he came over on an afternoon and peered and poked, and this time it took him very little time at all to get it going. Can anyone say “Christmas cookies”? 😊

Finally, we remembered that the horn on the truck was not working (a very big problem in Africa, trust me), so Sonya suggested – yes, you guessed it. So, Zac peered and poked, and eventually got the horn going again also. This young man is going to go places – hopefully Cameroon!

But all those things were not the best thing. During their time here I drove three of them, along with Suleymanu, to a friend’s home out in the bush, so they could experience ‘real’ ministry among the F*lbe. Thirty minutes out of town, we came to U’s compound, where his extended family lived. He and his wife are the only believers there; they have been ostracized by the rest of the surrounding community, including their own family. So it is hard for them, as you can imagine.Umaru and Suleymanu

While we were there we trekked over to U’s father’s compound to greet and say hello. This Alhaji had heard that U had been reading the Bible to his children, and had called them all to himself to warn them against listening to such a dangerous thing. He is, however, a very charming and likeable man; an inveterate M*slim, to be sure, but a real sweetheart, you might say.

While we were in his suudu (single room house) he was busy finishing his prayers. When he came in I told him I was glad to see that he put such a high value upon prayer, because that was then something we both had in common. He was very happy to hear this (one thing about M*slims – because they never see Christians pray, they often have the idea that we never pray, and do not value it).

Then he asked why these young people had come to visit him, and this gave me the opportunity to share the love of God with him in a very good way. I explained what the nature of their mission was, how God had sent His Son to save us from our sins, and now these young people were committed to spreading that message to others. I was not preaching, so much as just answering his question.

This, in turn, was an answer to a request of my own, stemming from Col 4.3, that God would open a door for our message. At the end of it all, I had many reasons to thank God for the value of visitation.