Sunday, July 10, 2005

Holy Fatigue

Late Friday night, we put seven people on a plane to return to their homes in Alabama, West Florida, and New York City. Then last night, we put Rachel on a plane bound for Dallas to spend the summer with her grandparents.

And then we went home and crashed!

Over the last ten months, I have never worked so hard in my life, but it has been extremely rewarding. It is a true “holy fatigue,” that comes from living out a vocation, not merely performing a job. I am truly thankful that I have so much fun work to do!

During the last week and a half, we have been hosting a team led by Bishop Larry Goodpaster of Alabama-West Florida Conference. Things didn’t get off to a great start – the team made the flight to Yaounde, but their luggage didn’t! And because we were touring the country, they didn’t finally receive their bags until the day before they left. But they were extremely good-natured about it all – Rev. Neal McDavid kept reminding us that mission work is all about flexibility!

Besides Bishop Goodpaster, his wife Deborah, and Rev. McDavid, the team also included Meredyth Earnest (conference communications director), Rev. Larry Mosley, Curtis Henderson, and Shirley Wu from the General Board of Global Ministries.

Let me try to recap their week in Cameroon:

… Their first event was a special worship service at the prison, where the Bishop preached. After the service, the Protestant Community served us a buffet of chicken and plantain.

… On Sunday morning, the Bishop preached at John Wesley UMC in Yaounde. Then the team was welcomed at the home of the U.S. Ambassador for a Fourth of July picnic with other American expatraites. After that, we had to hurry off to Obala for a rollicking evening service at Sion UMC, where Pastor Nomo preached.

… Early Monday morning, the team drove to Douala and made the rounds of each one of our four churches, getting to know pastors and members of the congregation.

… We visited several churches and pastors in the Southwest Province, then wrapped up our tour with a stop in Bafoussam to meet the King, where we were treated to a tour of the royal palace, traditional dancing, and a meal.

The team fared well, even with the difficult conditions. Besides not having their luggage, they had to put up with unusually wet weather, making the roads difficult and mind-numbingly brutal in places. And the front passenger seat in one of our two vehicles became unhinged just before we left – the seat flew front to back continuously, up and over every slight incline!

But the team is over and out … and hopefully already safely at home. As they were preparing to leave, they learned that another hurricane was headed their direction on the Gulf Coast. Our prayers go with them as they return to face an uncertain week.

And we thank them for their willingness to share their time and spirit with us!