And So It Begins…

Eila may only be 11 years old, but she is already starting to be all private and moody. She likes to have headphones in pretty much all the time, even if she isn’t listening to anything. Eila is getting taller and taller, soon she will catch me. She wants to spend time with friends and ride the bus to be with the other kids rather than get a ride to school with her parents.

The tween years are upon us. I don’t think I’m ready.

She still likes hugs and cuddles though, so all hope is not yet lost. Thankfully!

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Summer of Family Fun

I try to be intentional to spend quality time with family and friends. It is important to me that our immediate, nuclear family spend time together. It is also important that we enjoy time with extended family. That becomes more difficult as we all spread out around the country (and soon – the world. Yikes!)

This summer we have had one family fun time after another and it has been really wonderful.

We started off with a wedding for one of my cousins (actually his daughter) in Minneapolis. Then we had a family vacation, tent camping and hiking, exploring and laughing in Michigan’s U.P. We saw the Porcupine Mountains (no Michigan does not really have mountains, but there are a lot of forests!) and Pictured Rocks. We climbed a lighthouse and went on a boat cruise. We swam and skipped rocks in Lake Superior and swatted millions of mosquitos. We spent a few days with friends in Traverse City (so much fun!!) and then made it home in time for the kids to have their own adventures.

After time apart, we were so glad to be reunited and had our annual trips with the Janes’ side and the Yee side. For as long as the kids can remember, we’ve spent a very long weekend at Aunt TeeTee’s, enjoying time with cousins and on the lake. There are official games and lots of snacks and always an ice cream trip too. Then, we went the following weekend to Kalahari with the other side cousins, aunt, uncle and Grandma Karen. They had so much fun at the water park and the arcade and the zip line and the hi-ropes course and even just being in the hotel room. These trips are the highlight for all of us over the summer.

The big trips aren’t the only fun we’ve had this summer. We also enjoyed several trips to the library, the zoo, the village, swim clubs, air shows, and shopping. Our regular routine included plenty of gym time and some church time as well as a few playdates. We didn’t have quite enough trips to the farm (at Miss Barb’s or Walls Nuts Woods), but it’s not too late yet!

We are starting our fall bucket list though as Labor Day and the return to school in quickly approaching… cider mills, hikes through the woods with fall colors, and football games are at the top.

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Timeline

Our missions journey to date has been full of lots of waiting and unknowns. That is sure to continue.

We started to have a clearer picture of what the future might hold in November 2015 when we became members of Wycliffe Bible Translators. December marked the official invitation for us to go to Cameroon. And so, we ended the year with a lot more answers than we started with.

In January 2016, we attended the orientation course, Equip, in Orlando. We learned a lot. Among the lessons we learned that we can plan, but God has the ultimate plan, which may not match ours exactly. Then in February, our Partnership Development (PD) began. We sent out our very first newsletter and began to tell people about what we planned to do (because we finally knew some of those answers!)

Early in March, it became clear that we would have to go to France for language study and so we began researching and learning about that.

As we began to try to learn more in preparation for our move, we were connected with a family in Cameroon and got our buddies in April. (We really do wish this had happened much earlier, maybe if a full year earlier!)

We sent out another newsletter in May and reached the halfway point in our monthly financial partnership promises. This cleared the way for us to attend a required training in NC in the fall.

In June, we decided to attend language school in a small village in the French Alps. From the CCEF, we learned that our classes will start on January 3, 2017.

Now it is July and we are the missionaries of the month at our home church. That means that we are talking in front of the church one Sunday, doing a presentation with some families from our church and that we are being prayed for specifically each Wednesday at prayer.

August and September will be more PD work for us and hopefully our Wycliffe ministry will have a full partnership team. We will send out information to our prayer partners about a specific day to pray for each other each month. We’ve already been praying for each of our partners and this will help us to be more orderly about it. This is also when we will have a garage sale and possibly put our house on the market.

The Intercultural Communication Course (ICC) is another training for Brian and I. So, we will be going to JAARS in NC for the month of October (and one week of November) to study and learn as much as possible to help us in our transition. The plan for the kids is to stay in school and live with their grandparents while we are gone. Brian will likely leave his current job in October as we will be working full-time as missionaries (in training).

We will all need to go to Chicago for a visa interview in November. If all goes according to our plan, we will have our visas in time to leave for France at the end of December 2016. I am also going to try to make a last trip to LA to visit my sister and her new baby girl that should be born at the end of November!

So, January-June 2017, we will be studying French in France and then if everything works according to my plan, we will be fluent and ready to return to the US for a quick visit with family and friends in July 2017. Then we will move to Cameroon by August 2017 so that the kids can start the new school year in our new home.

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Out on the Town

I sometimes feel stuck in a rut. While I know that there are lots of fun, different, new things that could be done, in the moment, I struggle to come up with anything other than what we did the last time. So, to help myself, and maybe the other person or two who reads this blog: some date night ideas – at home or out – fun things B & I have done…

Obviously dinner at a local restaurant is a standard option. Living in the metro-Detroit area, we have tried and like:
Antietam
Bacco
Barrio
Cellar 849
Forest Grill (we haven’t been back since new chef…)
Lucy & the Wolf
Marais
Mastuchan
Revolver
Roast
Seldon Standard
Tofu House
Zingerman’s Roadhouse

I know there are those who do not love the fine dining experience or are trying not to spend all the money in one meal. Most of our dates, we try to be a little more frugal. Here are some free (or without extra expense, at least) dates that we’ve enjoyed:
Bike riding
Walk in woods
Library visit
Play games – like Agricola
Watch home videos (or movies we own)
Cook dinner together at home
Rollerblading around the neighborhood
Walk along riverfront
Stroll through quaint downtown areas and watch people
Art museum visit
Summer outdoor concert series
Progressive dinner with friends (at each other’s homes)
Relax on deck
Read books
Flying (Brian has his private pilot’s license!)
Clean out basement/garage/bedroom/____ (productive, but not as fun)

Finally, a few ideas we should try:
Segway rental on Hines
Canoeing – just us, no kids!
Dance class
Hot air balloon ride
Hi-ropes course
Lazer tag
Concerts in the park
Ice skating

What ideas do you have?

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Dinner Help

Lately, Josiah has not been eating as much, which I’m sure will change again, but for now he basically says that he doesn’t want to eat. He claimed to not like the dinners prepared for him. After several days of this, we offered him a new option: make the dinners that he would like. He jumped at the chance and has made dinner so that he can get more of what he wants.

So far from Chef Joe, we’ve enjoyed Mandarin Chicken, cereal, pizza, macaroni and cheese (from the box), Swedish meatballs, sausage, biscuits & gravy (homemade), spaghetti and sauce (from jar) and breakfast casserole (Mrs. Meagher’s recipe – from my wedding shower cookbook!).

These choices may not all be the healthiest or most nutritious, but Josiah seems pretty happy. He is learning some valuable skills in the process too.

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Revelations

I am a girl with many questions. I am also a girl who likes to have all the answers. Unfortunately, I am in a really uncomfortable place for me… a place with many unknowns and therefore lots of potential for growth or failure. Failure is my biggest fear. My husband and I have known for a while that God was calling us to go, to serve full-time in ministry. We have been following God’s lead, one step at a time. Last September, when I began the Revelation study with Bible Study Fellowship International (BSF), I was praying for a revelation of my own, where God would answer all my questions about the future. Well, God has made many things clear in this study of Revelation. For me, the biggest revelation has been Jesus! This study has been a Revelation of Jesus first and foremost.

If I have all the answers, I will rely on myself, but God has opened a huge door and called me, my husband and our three kids to go to Yaoundé, Cameroon – francophone Africa. That was one question answered, but it led to so many more questions with so much potential to fail. Every moment, I have to make a choice: will I freak out because the circumstances around me are far beyond my abilities or will I look at Jesus and trust Him.

Revelation has made me focus on Jesus. Each week at BSF, I’ve learned lessons about God’s sovereignty and power to control everything. Jesus is worthy of praise and complete trust too, even in the midst of seeming chaos. Jesus is victorious, king, lamb, lion, sacrifice, worthy, faithful, true, mighty, perfect, bright morning star, holy, above all, reigning, powerful, just, merciful, living, gracious, beckoning… and so much more. As a children’s leader, each week we ask the kids questions after the story. The kids know that the answer is Jesus. We ask: Who is perfect? Jesus. Who judges rightly? Jesus. Who reigns in heaven? Jesus. Who is coming again? Jesus. This is what I needed to be able to understand the book of Revelation. It isn’t about all the symbols and judgement, though that is in there; it is about Jesus.

The very first week from lecture, I wrote down: “Follow God’s dreams, not mine. Don’t focus on what ‘seems’ to be, but on Jesus.” What seems to be is not always what is… It seems like I am in this awful place where I feel so lost and out of control. I am full of fear. I am overwhelmed and failing as a mother, wife, friend, missionary, children’s leader. I see how I am not measuring up and it seems so hopeless.

I am working hard at developing a partnership team and obeying God’s call, and I am tired, but in my weakest moments and when I keep messing it all up, God keeps picking me up and calling me back to Him. God wants me not to focus on me, but on Jesus. I dream of being perfect and having everything just so. God’s dreams will get me there one day, but His dreams are taking me a different way than I’m inclined to go.

So, the biggest lesson I’ve learned was stating succinctly in the intro to this study, and then repeated each week. “Keep your eyes on the Lamb!” When I have my Jesus in sight, my doubts and questions lead me to worship, not worry. With Jesus in His rightful, central place (Rev. 5:6), I say “Yes, Lord” no matter the cost and am able to take the next step forward in faith, not fear. I can see that the wild place (Rev. 12:6) may really be the safest place because that is where Jesus is.

It seems so hard at times. But then, I look at Jesus and I see all that He has done, eternally, for me and I see Him at work, here and now in the little details. My kids are sharing their deep thoughts openly and asking for prayer. My husband is talking to strangers and friends alike, confidently – if you know him, you understand that this is a huge God-act.

Our financially partnership team for our Wycliffe ministry is at over 60% and that is God’s work. I am humbled to be part of what He is doing. God has brought me from not knowing where or what He was asking me to do last September – to clearly calling me and my family to Cameroon in December, to providing what I need, at exactly the right moment for His glory now. I am often full of tears and fears, but God is so gracious and I’m learning to trust Him each moment and to focus on Jesus, following His dreams not mine.

I don’t like being in this uncomfortable place, not knowing all the answers with great risks, but I know Jesus and with Him, I can take the next baby step. I can be bold and look at Jesus. As I confess my self-focus and repent, my focus changes to Jesus. Jesus is the answer for life and for all my questions too!

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Step 2: Make a Friend

As part of step 1 and learning lots of stuff, we began asking a lot of questions from the director at our new assignment locale. She said “It sounds like you are ready for a buddy.” And so we have been connected with some folks who are already in Cameroon and have some kids, so can relate to us in several ways and help us as we prepare to move. Our new friends have a series of videos that they’ve made with some of their friends: Bama Meets Britain.

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Step 1: Learn Stuff

As we get ready to go to Cameroon, we are trying to learn as much as we can about what will be are new home. One of the ways that we’ve done that is by watching this video:

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Where to Next?

Drumroll, please….

    Where to Next? Cameroon

Yaoundé

We have accepted an invitation to go to Yaoundé, Cameroon (part of Francophone West Africa)!

Brian will continue to program computers as he does now, but with a focus on helping to meet the needs and support the work of Bible translation in Cameroon. I will do something completely different than I’ve been doing by helping with training of national, local translators in linguistics basics. I will travel to villages a couple of times a year for these training workshops. I am really excited about working to support Bible translation in Africa. I will, of course, continue in my many other roles of wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, Bible study leader/teacher, etc. However, these will all look very different as my location changes from typical American suburb to African capital city.

There are still a lot of unknowns, which can sometimes cause me to fall into a spiral of fear and panic. There are some knowns too, which also can sometimes cause me to fall into a spiral of fear and panic. Most of the time though, I’m able to remember what I know to be true and not freak out completely. The truth is that God is in control. He has called me and my family to this adventure in Cameroon and He will see us through. He has never failed – ever. I’m not going to break God and suddenly change His record. That doesn’t mean that things will necessarily go in a predictable and happy way (not even close!), but it does mean that my head and my heart can be calm, peaceful, joyful even, in the face of moving over 6,000 miles away and leaving all that I know and am comfortable with behind.

The only guarantee we have is that it won’t be exactly the same as where we are now. Things are going to be different. But, that is true for all of us as we go forward into each day. The world around us is constantly changing. I hope you will want to be part of this adventure with us. If you do, please visit our personal missionary page at wycliffe.org/partner/yee.

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The Next Step

While in some ways the waiting to figure out what we are doing is over. In many others, it has just begun. As of November 1, Brian and I became official employees and members of Wycliffe Bible Translators. We are currently in training. We are taking several weeks of online classes and then our family will head to Orlando, FL for two weeks where we will enjoy the warmth and sunshine. Oh, and also attend more classes and training sessions to prepare us for the next step in our adventure.

The immediate next step is to gather a team of people who will partner with us in obeying God’s call for us to go. We need prayer partners and financial partners and those who will encourage us no matter where we go or what we do. We need people to come alongside of us, to lift us up and encourage us, especially when our close family and friends won’t be alongside us physically.

Our first assignment: advocates for the Bibleless peoples of the world and team building. This part will probably be the most uncomfortable for my introverted husband, as we’ll be talking to lots of people and answering questions about the world, and also about our lives and how and why we are doing what we are doing. Which begs the questions: What are we going to be doing?

Well, the short answer we are going to be working with minority language groups to further the cause of Bible translation. Brian will be doing much of the same work that he has done for the past 15+ years. He will be working as a computer programmer, coding and developing tools for others to use. The difference for Brian will be the end result, instead of lining the pockets of Coca-Cola and the like, he’ll be working on programs for linguistics and others involved in Bible (and health, education) translation to use in their work.

For me, after many years of using my linguistics degree to teach ESL, I will be moving in a different (and very welcome) direction. I will be working with a team of linguists to train locals in linguistic fundamentals so that they can work on their own translation projects. I may work in developing dictionaries, writing systems, and/or grammar and text analysis. I am excited about the possibilities as well as doing hands-on linguistics research and language development.

Our kids will be working on all the same things they are now (and hopefully making great progress, especially in responsibility and kindness!) They will be continuing their education at school and playing hard in their free time.

Now, you might be wondering where we will be doing all of this… well, so are we. God is working it all out (we are trusting and praying for that!) and hopefully, we’ll know that by the end of this year. We won’t be going to our next assignment (in that yet undecided location) until we have a great team partnering with us and all the other details are in place – probably at the beginning of 2017.

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