noren update 12/21
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Christmas arrives in Cameroon on the 25th of December just like everywhere else! Each Christmas we have spent here has been a little different. How we celebrate and who is with us has changes from year to year depending on where we are and what we are able to do. This year we will be celebrating with Karl's parents, Paul and Sheryl Noren, who are using our home as a base from which to visit a few projects in Cameroon and the Central African Republic. Our kids are excited to have grandparents around for Christmas, and we are enjoying having family close once again.  We were blessed to be able to celebrate the completion of a semester by taking a 3 day vacation with some RFIS teacher friends. There was a swimming pool and rocks to explore - and Michael was happy to see a Nkuludu (dinosaur-bird)!

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Our previous udpate described some sustainable agriculture projects started by Karl's STEM (7th grade) and AP Environmental Science classes at Rain Forest International School (RFIS). The students' gardens are growing well and some vegetables and green beans have already been harvested. The corn, tomatoes and squash that are growing out of the compost piles seem to be out-pacing everying else! Below are some comparison pictures of how the barren area from years ago has grown.

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Mary's middle school choir class finished the semester with a "Christmas Arts Celebration" where student art included music, hand crafted pottery, paintings, pastels, and edible ecosystem dioramas! Mary and Karl were also part of a community choir that performed some traditional numbers and a special Cameroonian Christmas arrangement. 

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Students took semester final exams during the last three days of the semeter and the student council planned a fun talent-show and gift exchange Christmas party as the last activity of the day. The student leaders did a great job of creating a joyful event to close out the school semester and they sent everyone off with a prayer for a Christ-filled holiday break.

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How does RFIS integrate a biblical worldview?
Although the teachers at Rain Forest International School must affirm a set of core Christian beliefs, belief is not mandatory for students.  They do need to take Bible class, be respectful during chapel, and they are encouraged to grow in their faith.  One of the things that unifies the various endeavors at RFIS is a conscious consideration of how we can glorify God through what we do: choir, chapel, science, and sports.  In music, for example, the Bible instructs us to "sing to the Lord a new song" and to praise him together.  Studying the intricate details of a biome or cell in science can prompt a heart of gratitude and awe toward the Creator.  As the student worship team practices and leads the school in praise songs or hymns, Mary reminds them of two truths:
Strive for excellence as we plan and prepare.
There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

So we do our best with the time/knowledge/skills we have, out of our appreciation for God's love for us, while we also rest content knowing that our salvation/righteousness has been completely bought through Jesus' sacrifice.

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We praise God for
- endurance for this last busy semester
- a safe drive to/from another town for a few days' vacation
- resolution of some interpersonal conflict
- RFIS students willing to serve through worship team
- successful completion of the Christmas Arts Celebration
- Karl was able to write a small book on biblical financial management geared toward central Africans.  After publishing a draft edition, the bookseller invited him to speak at a Young Entrepreneurs' seminar downtown.  It was good for him to hear about some of the businesses being developed here and to share a bit about integrity.

We continue to ask God for

- providing a school director and the needed teachers for the 2022-2023 school year - there are some leads in this area

- peaceful resolution to conflicts within the country

- wisdom in teaching and in cross-cultural relationships
- good discernment in choosing how to divide our time between responsibilities at home, RFIS, and in partnership development
- finding a good, used vehicle that seats at least 7.  Although our younger kids can often share rides to their co-op-style school, the rides don't always line up.  Recently, the mission vehicle we use has become undependable and needed repairs.  Praise God that the several times it broke down, it was not far from a safe parking spot.  So far, the two vehicles that fit our price range are not any better of a mechanical risk than what we've been using.
- funding so that we can continue ministry here.  Our ministry is completely reliant on one-time and recurring donations by individuals and groups.  Discipling and impacting youth while promoting Bible translation - this is what God has called us to and what we consider a great cause to support.

Thank you, friends, for your prayers and support this last year.  To God be the glory for what he has done through us together.

 

With our mailchimp update, we try to update every few months.  For those of you interested in more frequent news, I update my facebook page with regular pictures for our folks.  (Mary Samuelson Noren).  God bless you all.