Going for Ride with Friends

Going for Ride with Friends

Monday, January 24, 2011

Some Thoughts in Summary

I doubt that any long attempt at summation of our recent trip would do better than short analysis. The short analysis begins with God's blessings and ends with God's blessings. We went to Cameroon knowing very little about the people and situation. We came back knowing just a little more. The little more that we know has caused us to leave a little of our hearts and to continue in praying blessings and strength on those that embody Mbingo. Those embodying Mbingo are a part of that strange reality, the body of Christ. This body is transformational, and I have been told of the transforming reality that exists when a foreigner follower of Jesus lives in a community. The transformation proceeds as much in the foreigner as in the community. For us, this transformation will be actualized in time and is currently a vague idea. Hadiah talks about returning to Cameroon as a long-term missionary. Rebecca and I revel in the joy of friendships gained and marriage deepened. As to the transformation of the community, this too is only a vague idea. I didn't go with any amazing skill or technique nor did I change any person, resident, or system drastically. Rebecca mainly was a mom, daughter and wife. She was able to teach some and work in a clinic some. We came where people had thorns pointed outward in protection and competition, and we left with many thorns sanded down into a soft blanket for protection and cooperation. The parties and goodbyes were good and deep. That is it. That is my analysis. God will have to do the story telling at Mbingo. Our experience has made us want to remain parts of His story wherever he wants participants.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

We have made it home

Thank you for your prayers and support. We have made it home to Middletown and are trying to settle into the "scene." We will write some summation blog at some point. Enjoy the winter more than I. dasen

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Eiffel Tower Sting Operation

Thursday morning brought us news of God’s unfailing love. Hannah was improving, though she still hadn’t eaten for a few day. After ho-humming around all morning trying to decide what to do, if we should all go out, or just a few, etc, we decided to make a family venture to the Eiffel Tower.

We took a bus, a train, then another subway train, a walk… then there it was… still surprisingly large to us, and rather grand. I thought it would be silver, Hadiah had pictured it green like Kings Island, but it was a lovely chocolate brown color. We had a little picnic lunch on a bench right next to it. About every 60 seconds we were asked by a vendor, walking around with trinkets, if we wanted to buy something. Hadiah said with a smile, she felt at home, like she was back in Africa. We decided to cross the street toward the river to ask about boat cruises/tours. As we had packed up our lunch, we saw 3 men in army fatigues and big guns walking past us under the tower. As we crossed the street we noticed the street had been blocked off about 200 yds down with police cars. Dasen wondered if the president or some government official was passing. We made our way across toward a carousel and the cruise stand, when suddenly we heard six very large, brown horses running behind us on the street. Turning around we saw the vendors running fast all different directions to get away from the police on horses. Most of the vendors looked African and we had been told from some missionary friends we met in England, that they had seen a police man run after vendors too. This however seemed to be quite a bigger deal. We didn’t know whether to stand still or move out of the way. We were standing about 50 ft back from the road, at a corner of the intersection, in the middle top of a flight of large, curved cement stairs leading down to the river and boats. Vendors kept running past us, helter-skelter, so fast that they were brushing us as they went by. They would run down the stairs, then back up, they’d start down the bridge road next to us, then come back running full force with all their wares. It was all rather confusing and alarming. I’d say there were 30 or 40 of them running, carrying their miniature Eiffel Towers and trinkets wrapped up in cloth, and having things fall.

We turned around to look at some vendors who seemed to be unsuccessfully trying to hide out on a landing of stairs, about 5 steps below us. Suddenly men in black descended on the scene and started tackling the vendors. They tripped them backwards and grabbed their clothes. At first I thought they were regular people trying to interfere and help the police. But Dasen quickly explained that they were plain clothed police men, wearing antennae, black clothes and had a band around their arms that said “police.” Some of the vendors then surrendered, others had been taken down and had no choice, while others still ran. One guy darted back to the bridge, chased by horses, saw that on the other end of the bridge there were police, and then ran back between the horses, only to be chased by a police man, tripped and caught. This all went on for about 20 to 30 minutes before it was all over. We then noticed how many people in the crowd had been police, some on foot, some on scooters.

We were all a bit in shock; Hannah being the most traumatized. A man close to us picked up a miniature Eiffel Tower that had fallen and tried to give it to the police who said “keep it.” So I picked one up off the corner too. That little momento will hold more memories that merely seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time. I had planned to go up in the tower, but after all that, we slowly made our way across the river, and up to a viewing point for a photo op. We made our way back toward the hotel on the train/subway and stopped at the Rain Forest CafĂ© for dinner. Hannah ate her first meal in 3 days, and we had a rather peaceful ending to a crazy day.

In Paris

We arrived in France January 10, 2011. After getting half of our 14 pieces of luggage which we had stored at a hotel, we made our way to our “Explorers” hotel about 1 hour east of Paris. It’s in the area of Disneyland Paris, but not owned by Disney. The hotel is kid-friendly however with a padded climbing play area and a pool with 3 slides.

We were pretty tired when we arrived, and after eating dinner we retired to bed. We found the sheets dirty on the top bunk bed, and previously we had found the room very cold with the window wide open and the TV on. We changed some sheets that night, I felt a little disgruntled, and we lay down for the night. Hannah got very sick that night, and actually got strep throat, pink eye, and had terrible body aches and chills. She looked miserable. The next night (for the first time ever) she went sleep walking and wandered down the hall of the hotel, not clothed well for an outing. I had heard her talk in her sleep, then get up quickly and head for the bathroom, which is the door right next to the hallway/exit door. The door slammed, and I thought that’s odd, but my back was turned and I still thought she was just in the bathroom. A couple minutes later I heard a faint knock on the door, got up to get it, and there was Hannah in her shirt and panties. She was still very groggy and mostly asleep, and I asked her questions, prayed with her and sent her back to bed. She vaguely remembered it in the morning. I’m just so thankful so knocked on the right door to come back to our room. The next few nights Dasen and I had terrible nightmares about the family. We’ve also struggled with temptations here that we didn’t experience in Cameroon or England.

God is working healing in Hannah. Thankfully we had some amoxicillin, which we pray God uses to bring His recovery. I think the family slept better last night, although I oddly awoke every 1 ½ hours and prayed to go back to sleep. I think we’re all looking forward to getting back home. Elle asks me almost every day when we’ll go back to America. Only 3 more days now, yet I’m still glad to be here for that time.


Our last full day in London was Sunday. The family was struggling with colds, so I caught the subway by myself and went to a worship service at West Minster Abbey. This turned out to be the highlight of my time in London.

I waited outside in the cold for about 15 min until the ushers let us in for the 11:15 service. We were directed to the inner most area, beyond the normal folded chairs that one doesn’t pass in cathedrals on tours. I sat in the inner most seat of wooden pews, the ones parallel to each other facing the aisle through which the reverends and worship leaders enter. The leaders then stand in a circular center area, which still has some folded chairs on either side in the alcoves. The male choir in red robes sang in the wooden section on my left, with 12 men on either side of the aisle. I sat next to a kindly, older, single gentleman who had been there before and was was kind at directing me where to go.
It was such a beautiful service- so regal, meaningful and sincere. I felt like my spiritual hunger was being fed and I could better realize in psalms why David would delight in worshipping God in a temple. The lovliness and grandeur of the place, with the polished, beautifully carved wood, the lofty ceilings, the colored light cast by the sunshine through the stained glass, seemed more fitting for God than any other place I’ve worshipped.

The sermon was finely crafted, being brief and yet richly profound. “And here lies one of the key differences between Islam and Chrisitianity. The word “Islam” means to submit; and in Islam, Judaism and Christianity we are all called to submit to God. Yet here in Christ’s baptism we find that God has submitted to man.” The baptism of Christ is the initiation of His ministry that culminated on the cross in ultimate submission to man. I never understood that raw act of humility when Christ was baptized. And this morning when I read Luke 12, Jesus speaks of His sacrifice (quite a while after His baptism, yet not long before His crucifiction) by saying “I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed.”

Humility, I mean raw submission to others, is absolutely counterintuitive to me, especially when being mistreated or taken advantage of. I find examples of genuine humility rare, especially in people who are successful. I can honestly say, however, that I am blessed to have my husband be one of those examples to me. Recently I witnessed this when I scrubbed in a case with him in Cameroon. He was repairing a huge hernia, and after we had scrubbed at the sink, we entered the OR to get gowned and gloved. The scrub assistant was really quite lost, had prepared the wrong things, didn’t know how to glove Dasen and seemed overall rather lazy and a bit too disinterested from my perspective. The other people in the room started to grumble and the other surgeon yelled from the neighboring partition where he was doing surgery. Dasen, however, slowly talked the scrub through what to do step-by-step, often repeating himself. When it came time for us to leave Cameroon, the OR department invited Dasen and the whole family into the OR. They gave him an African shirt of honor worn by chiefs, and several people spoke on how grateful they were for Dasen’s service, and especially his humility.

At West Minster Abbey I learned how Christ’s baptism exemplified His courageous submission to wayward and wicked mankind. I’d love to adequately share those insights with you and tell you about the beauty of the communion ceremony at West Minster Abbey. To share Christ’s cup is no easy matter.

May you be blessed by Christ’s humility today, and may you in turn bless another likewise.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

London- You win some; You lose some

We have one last day in London, after spending 13 days here during our lay-over. After surviving Africa for 6 months, our family came here ready for bonding and relaxation, only to face strained days and disunity at first. I thought it would be a great idea to do the double decker bus tour to begin with to get an overview of the city. Not such a great idea with kids who are fatigued and who have no idea of the significance they are viewing. We enjoy the public transportation here, but it involves lots of walking in the cold to and fro. So, to get the bus tour, the kids were walking about 2 mi to the subway station, then quite a while switching undergrounds, then a ways after that. We've since figured out short-cuts. Anyway, we were all fatigued from traveling 3 days from Cameroon to get here. We spent the 2nd and 3rd days here on tours (winter special- 2 dys for the price of 1 with a boat tour on the Thames thrown in.) Overall it was a good experience but not recommended in our situation. After a couple days of 4 kids kinda fussy, we decided to stay in for part of a day and make a new start of things. We've been studying Shakespeare and Medieval times, so I was excited to learn there was a New Year's wassail at the Shakespearean Globe Theatre. I bought us all tickets for Jan 1st, and after resting for a large part of the day, we set out for the show. Our public bus got diverted due to the parade, we ended up way far away, we took the underground to get back in the right direction, got on another bus going the wrong way, got off to take a foot bridge that was closed. The night was cold, windy and dark. We tried to catch a cab and couldn't. We finally reached the theater 1 and 1/2 hrs late. They were going to make an exception and let us in for the end. I turned around in the lobby to tell my family. They were gone and I couldn't find them. Turns out later they had gone to the bathroom of course, but by then it was too late. I was actually crying in the lobby and just wanted to go home.
The good news is that after losing some, we also win some. In our perspective, once again, God came to our rescue, even here in London. Things got much better from there and we've recovered from my tears to go on and have a wonderful visit in London- I can authentically say. We're staying in a Christian owned hostel in a nice suburb and have had nice accomodations, good breakfast, and have met some interesting and fun people. We spent a couple days with another family. We went to the science museum, visited Paddington Station where Miriam kissed the statue of the bear, toured St Paul's Cathedral and climbed over 500 stairs for a gorgeous view (Elle says it's just like climbing in the Alps. How would she know?) We went to the London Zoo (reminds me the Cinti Zoo is really top notch), went ice skating, enjoyed ice cream in the cold, ate fish and chips and lots of wonderful ethnic foods, toured Wellington Arch and the Royal Mews (the working stable of the queen at Buckingham Palace), watched the changing of the guards on a rainy day (after a 45 min wait in the cold rain they merely changed 3 guards' grey capes), went to King Henry v111 Hampton Court Palace (the most interesting thing for me), toured Tower of London where we saw the royal crowns, and tomorrow we hope to go to WestMinster Abbey and maybe after a rest play some video games at an arcade (we get free tokens with our London Pass.) We did almost everything with one ticket called a London Pass which turned out to be a pretty good deal.
Just last night we finally made plans for what will happen Monday- in 2 days. Our flight back to the USA is actually Jan 17, so after London we head back to Paris where our luggage is stored. After much effort and attempts to get the Alps, and taking into consideration the need to lessen travel instead of increasing it right now, we decided to find a family friendly place for 6 in Paris- no easy task as all hotels all over the world try to refuse 6 in a bedroom. Fair enough. Turns out on Expedia that we found a really good rate at an Explorers Disneyland Hotel. We hope to use it as a base to play in the pool and relax, and make a few days trips at a slower pace into Paris.
We feel so blessed to be here together, genuinely finding time and opportunities to bond, by God's grace. I've found that no matter how much or little one has or does, it's the relationships that matter most, and genuine peace comes when righteousness and peace kiss each other. Living rightly in Christ's perspective is a doorway to peace. Living rightly starts by hearing and obeying-Luke 8- like the waves, the demons, the dead child, and even the seed on good soil (all examples found in Lk 8 God showed me today.)
Thanks for reading this and caring about us. We're in for a lot of change in our lives over the next few months- Still quite unclear of what it all means. We'll try to keep you posted.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hello from London

The younger three girls are settling into their bunkbed with the bed squeaking and whispers after a full day on the town. I just wanted to share a few things hoping that you too were enjoying this New Years Banker Holiday (as it was called here). We met this neat family the Harrops at the daily breakfast time a couple days ago who are here on vacation from Germany. They are serving with TEAM as a pastor family at the boarding school in the Black Forest of southern Germany. Their two daughters ages 16 and 13 wanted to show our girls the Science Museum downtown with its interactive displays. We took them up on the offer. Rebecca left before breakfast to have some needed time alone at a bakery/coffee shop while the rest of us ate our hearty breakfast of cereal/eggs/bacon/hashbrowns/prunes/tangerines/juice/tea/coffee/toast. I then ran to to the closest Underground station to buy Hadiah her day pass while the girls finished getting ready. By the time that I had come back, the crew was ready. The day began as we went off to the bus stop, on to the Angel stop, walk to the Sainsbury grocery market (like Krogers), buy our food to put into the backpack for lunch where we met Rebecca, and then on the Tube through the closest Underground station towards the Piccadilly line where we caught the final train to South Kensington to walk the couple blocks to the huge science museum. Play and explore time --> lunch where Hadiah splits off with the other family to shop and enjoy a peer interaction. The rest of us are back into the Science museum for a while until the signs of fatigue are present. We decide to see Paddington Station kinda on our way home. Rebecca would like to stop at the ice cream shop that she saw on the walk to the museum (yes, it is around 0 deg Celsius). The shop is also a bakery and full. Two teenagers point out that there is a better ice cream shop down a couple blocks on the left. We find the Gelato place and have some "ice cream." We are in Kensington so on our way back to the Underground I make them take a picture in front of the Lamborghini store as I've never seen a Lamborghini showroom before. Walk there, walk up, walk down and we're back on the underground train where we exchange twice to get on the right train to Paddington station. We walk up and walk down and walk left and right until we see the station. Miriam notes that a Kiosk has Mountain Dew in the refrigerator. I note that it says Energy Mt Dew. I have to buy it as I haven't had Mt Dew for 6 months. It doesn't taste quite right, but hey, I had to try it out. We take some pictures, use the potty, shop at the small supermarket for our supper. We walk back into the Underground to find the train, exchange only once onto the Victoria line. We walk here and there to get out of the station and to the first bus stop. The bus will be 14 minutes so Hannah and I walk the way home but wait at the final bus stop for Rebecca, Miriam, and Elle to arrive on their bus. We get in to Highbury where we microwave the assortment of stuff for supper. We chat with the Harrops who have now arrived. Hadiah bought a scarf and some earrings. We clean up with Rebecca washing Miriam and Hannah's dolls as they are too dirty to be sleeping in the same bed with the girls, so says Mom. Bible reading and prayer when they are off to sleep. The room is now dark. Rebecca is off having quiet time, and here we are ready for tomorrow. May God bless you all as many of you start the first workday of your new year. dasen

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

Greetings this 2011. I am sitting in the lounge of Highbury Centre having been defeated for the first time this year before 7am. Elle, our morning girl, awoke as usual calling for help, and instead of the normal attempt at having her cuddle (or is it "torture through fidgeting") me in bed, we are now exploring the BBC Saturday morning cartoons.

The repetitive holiday, New Year, is always unique. For us the last year has been a unique, astounding blessing, and last night was a new cultural celebration. Rebecca and I noted the cultural difference as we sat on the couch trying to find a New Year's Celebration. We tried to find something about the New Year countdown or something and instead settled on watching "The 10 Most Dangerous Airports" until 1155pm when the tele changed to a quick picture of downtown and the crowds. The fireworks started on time and were quite spectacular. The regular programming was back on by1215am. There must be a lot less fuss here about such events. Americans like the hype a lot more.

I don't know how to describe this time between the "real" times of our lives, but we are so glad to have time where I can be a full-time daddy with Rebecca. It has been a rare thing to spend as much time with the girls as Rebecca. Three weeks is such a great chance to bond.