noren update 12/20
Merry Christmas! I have enjoyed the pictures you have shared of snow and of Kansas sunsets. Meanwhile, we have nice, warm days here as dry season and harmattan have arrived.
After a first hybrid quarter at RFIS, the school came back together for in-person classes (with masks, social distancing, and daily temperature-taking). What a relief for some of the teachers! Even so, the previous online learning (or lack thereof) has required quite a bit of extra tutoring and class preparation for Karl and other teachers. We thank God that COVID has not disturbed the community yet.
Having the student body together as a community again has allowed for daily assemblies and weekly chapel times. We've been meeting in the open-air covered gym, with masks (except for the worship team); it's pretty low-tech. I have two other adults who volunteer to help, but as the supervisor, I head up to RFIS with Ezra and Samuel in tow 5 days a week to help set up and put away the keyboard, guitar, music stands, and the student songbooks that I typed up with easy guitar chords. Then one day a week, the worship team meets for small group time and then for practice. Here is the whole group together:
Usually, however, they are divided into two groups who lead either the assemblies or the chapel each week. In this last quarter, they have already led RFIS in singing 101 worship songs (some repeated)! This year's goal:
Consistent growth and service in three areas: spiritually, musically, and in leadership.
Starting in the second semester, I will also be teaching a fine arts course for the middle school students. I'm still formulating what to teach, but I know it will include some basic chords on guitar, piano, bells, voice, and paper.
Finally, here are a few pictures from our Thanksgiving feast that we offered to the employees in our area (around 12-15). It was a lot of work for us and for Bernadette, who cooked most of the traditional Cameroonian dishes! We thanked God together that he made it possible for us to return. Thank you to all of you who, through your generosity and prayers, have been part of sending us here.
The political situation remains as it was, making it risky to travel to some parts of the country. Our neighboring country to the east has another swell of instability as well. The instability, added to work restrictions resulting from COVID have left many families hard-pressed financially and isolated from family. We know that God is the hope for the world. I have heard stories. One person said, "In our part of the country, it has become that if someone leaves, we do not know if they will come back." Lord, have mercy! And another who testified of a family history of abuse, divorce, polygamy and bullying; when overcome with recurrent nightmares, between worship music tapes and crying out to God, truly God's power overcame the power of the evil spirits and the darkness. There is hope in God.
Finally, please join us in praying for the work here.
Thank you, God, for carrying us and providing for us to bring us to this place in this time. Please give us energy and a heart to do the good works you put in front of us each day. There are many needs. There is much sorrow. We pray for peace in Cameroon and in the surrounding countries, that people would be able to live peaceful lives and to serve you. Give us discernment to navigate generosity and relationships in this place. We pray for those who work and teach at RFIS, that they would have all they need for love and godliness. We pray that you would provide more teachers to invest their lives in this work. Protect us from the spiritual forces of evil and enable us to cry out to you, the God who Saves. We pray for those on the worship team, that they would continue to grow and serve RFIS, spiritually, musically, and in leadership. Thank you for their service. Thank you for the changes you are working in the hearts of all the students at RFIS. May we be a blessing to those around us. Amen!
With our mailchimp update, we try to update every few months. For those of you interested in more frequent news, I do update my facebook page with regular pictures for our folks. (Mary Samuelson Noren). God bless you all.