Dairy Farmer (??)

My kids like to joke with me that I have had so many different kinds of jobs (Mushroom farmer, security guard, golf course greens-keeper, talent agent for film and television, and so on). I have not added a new position yet, but I now have a very small bit of dairy farming experience, courtesy of some friends from our home church.

When Sonya and I returned from our training in Colorado, after our meetings in our head office in Roseville, we still had some work to do cleaning out the garage of the parsonage where we had been living. Our Dairy friends live close to there, so we have been staying with them since we got back to Alberta on Wednesday and –happily for me – they let me help out in the milking parlour.IMG_5530

They work in the parlour from 5-8 each morning, and then again from 5-8 each evening, milking over 100 cows . We did not do it the old fashioned way, sitting on a stool and aiming it into a bucket (not sure anyone does that anymore), but it is still a fascinating process.

The cows are called in from the pasture, and gathered together into the barn; then they are let into the parlour where their feed has been measured out for them (each cow has her own specific allotment of grain and barley given to her), and they are cleaned and prepped to be milked. Then the actual ‘milkers’ are attached, and they are able to hold on because there is a vacuum suction in them (simulating a calf’s sucking motion).

And so on. (I’m guessing you don’t need a blow-by-blow report).IMG_5564

The coolest thing was carrying buckets back and forth from one of the sheds there to the parlour. To me, nothing says “Farmer” more than some guy carrying a bucket or two across the yard. To the layman what is in the bucket is a total mystery – it could be milk, or feed for the chickens, or just-picked apples for a pie, anything! (in my case it was barley) – but you know it is important stuff.

Sonya and I are among the mission homeless right now; we do not have a home of our own anymore, but are counting on the kindness and grace of friends and family. So I am thankful for my dairy farmer friends – and now for my in-laws, whose home we will be in until we are able to leave for West Africa.

We are pretty much ready to depart I think. We have a good number of folks who have committed to praying for us; our training phase is finished; we have packed a whack-load of stuff and sent it over on a sea container with White Cross.

The main thing we are waiting on now is our financial funding. We are at 57%, which is very good, but of course we are still aiming for 100%. If you or your church are among those who have indicated your wish to support us, but have not yet filled out an Intent to Give form, you can log onto the “Give” link at the top of this webpage and go through the motions (BIG Thanks for that!).

We are so grateful for the many who are praying for us and who have already begun to give towards this mission. We know we are very blessed to be partnered with folks who are so generous with their time, energy, and resources. May God continue to bless.

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Quick Updates

There are a lot of times when it is difficult to reach people in Cameroon or Nigeria by phone. This is because they are outside the normal coverage areas, or because their server is down. This past week I had been trying to reach my friend Aminu, with no success until Saturday when he finally called me.

Pastor Aminu had been travelling on the Mambilla Plateau, visiting the Fulbe communities there and seeing how things stand with all of our brothers and sisters there. This will be a brief update of what is going on there – with the caveat that our line was very fuzzy and cut in and out at times, so while I am thinking I have all my facts straight, there have been times when things have gotten lost in translation.

Some people for whom I and others have been praying are feeling much better. This includes my friend Gogo (who is recovering from a stroke), and little Umayyatu (who is better after suffering from malaria). I found that another man, a Salihu, is now ill – but I must confess I am not quite sure who this Salihu is (I do know one Salihu, but this is a different person). Aminu tried to explain it, but without a picture my memory can be faulty at times. But I am praying for him anyway, because the Lord knows who he is.

The widows of the Alhaji Guni are now past the 40 day mourning period, so they are able to go outside their compound and resume a more normal life after his passing.

Aminu’s wife Bilkisu has finished writing her Law exams, and is now in Gembu doing her practicum. That means she is going to the court house every day to see how the lawyers and judges conduct themselves there. That really would be an education!

They are struggling at the moment, because they are supporting one of Aminu’s elder brothers and his family. They are part of the refugees whose homes were burned out last month. In a place where employment is at a premium, this will be a long-term struggle no doubt.

The major concern on the Plateau right now is the weather. They should be entering into the rainy season, but the rains have yet to come. The dryness is beginning to affect the cows, as at least four have died due to a lack of grass for them. This is turn will cause suffering for the people at large, plus possible conflict between herders and farmers, and the former will need to bring their cows down from the hills and closer to the sources of water, where the farms are.

Thanks for your prayers on behalf of our Christian brothers and sisters on the Plateau.