Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Happy Anniversary

One year ago this week, we stepped foot on Cameroon soil for the first time. I’m reminded of that day, because it’s wet and muggy now, the beginning of the rainy season. All that I remember of those early days is the overwhelming feeling that we were in the right place, at the right time, for the right reason.

One year later, I haven’t changed my mind.

While we were in missionary training school, we were each asked to write a personal learning plan, with specific goals for the end of the first year. I revisited that document, and discovered that I had managed – mostly -- to achieve them.

We were told to list our goals into two separate categories – “being” and “doing.”

The “being” goals have to do with where we hope to “be” spiritually and mentally at the end of our first term of service as missionaries (three years). My list included:

  • Know whether or not missionary service is a “career thing”: I can honestly say that I don’t know yet, but it's not up to me. I'll ask God about it later.
  • Refuse to allow myself to fix blame or project frustrations upon GBGM/New York staff: So far, the Board has been extremely supportive and I have not had any reason to struggle with this one
  • Go out of my way to listen to, and be with, the “least of these”: The demands of running the Mission have made this difficult, but one of the reasons I am committed to the prison ministry is because of this goal
  • To have mentored new pastors into leadership: I have begun doing this already
  • To have overseen the creation of new congregations throughout Cameroon: The seeds have been planted, and I feel confident that I will see many new churches by 2007
  • To have created some sort of awareness/consciousness in America of the Cameroon mission, via writing and video work: If you’re reading this blog, then I am already achieving this goal!

Now, let’s take a look at my “doing” goals. These were the things I hoped to accomplish by the end of one year’s time.

  • Have visited all of the churches and met all of the pastors in Cameroon: check!
  • Be able to communicate somewhat fluently in French: Hmm, depends on how you define the word “fluently” … or “somewhat.” Je ne sais pas.
  • Maintain a daily time for spiritual disciplines: There’s always room for improvement, but I have managed to keep some kind of daily practice of reading, praying and writing.
  • Be comfortable with the budget-making process: Nope. Not yet.
  • Have identified goals and activities for VIM teams: I certainly have a clearer sense of this than I did one year ago, but the recent problems with our registration have complicated the picture a bit. We can’t build buildings just yet.
  • To have a mental timeline and idea of the process that the Cameroon mission will take towards conference status: Yes, I understand better now the process.
  • To have an idea of some social outreach programs that GBGM can be involved in over the coming years: Yes, and the wonderful thing is that we have already been involved in some of these programs, including the cholera prevention project and the AIDS team.

Though I feel pretty good about the last year, I decided to update my learning plan, complete with new goals for the next year. These include items such as: having a Charge Conference in each church; hosting a conference of all the pastors in a central location; writing two more Bible studies for use in the churches; ordaining our first group of pastors; becoming familiar with the printing process in Cameroon; and involving more Cameroonians in decision-making and discernment processes.

You can follow my progress in these areas, right here on this blog …