White Cross Projects!

Guess what Mom and I did this week? We made 17 receiving blankets and 10 baby jackets for White Cross! I often keep an eye out for good sales on flannel, and was thrilled to see it on sale at JoAnn Fabrics when I stopped in last week. So . . . I bought a bunch  We had a lot of fun and were surprised how quickly it all came together.

White Cross:
Remember those ladies in WWI and Civil War movies that get together to cut and roll bandages for the war effort? Did you realize that concept is NOT unique to history or times of war? One of the key ways our Cameroonian Baptist Convention hospitals are supplied is through the shipments they receive from our White Cross shipments. Sadly fewer and fewer of our churches are making and collecting White Cross supplies, but the need is still huge! This is a great way to contribute in a ‘hands-on’ way to the work of the Cameroonian Baptist Convention’s Health Services. Bandages can be torn and rolled by individuals and groups of all ages and skill levels, baby jackets and receiving blankets require sewing, but really aren’t very complex, and there are a whole mess of things that require only very basic sewing skills or can be purchased premade here in the US.

Want to learn more about what is needed? You should totally check out the NAB website for White Cross at http://www.nabconference.org/missions/white-cross. Download the “WC handbook 2016 edition” for details.

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December 2016 Newsletter

Oops . . . forgot to post this. Here is the newsletter I sent out in December.
November 2016

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Reflections on “Up North” – How cool is that?!

I know I haven’t posted anything in a LONG time. Several times during that gap I sat down to write, each time never really completing the thoughts that originally sent me to the keyboard. I decided it was WELL past time to get a few of those posted, so here is the first and hopefully I will get some others posted in the coming days.

Reflections on my family and our time “Up North”
It is not new for me to realize how neat and out-of-the-ordinary my extended family is. Listing the many ways this is true would create quite a document, but for the moment let me just provide a little context. Many years ago (like when my mom was 2!), part of the family began an annual fishing trip “Up North” to the first of 4 lakes we would eventually ‘invade’ in the 60+ years since then. By the time I was born, a couple decades later, we had moved on to lake #2 and had expanded to all the descendants of my Great Grandpa Hoogeveen. My grandfather was the oldest of 5 kids, so we are talking about Great Grandma and Grandpa, my grandfather and his siblings (and their spouses), their kids, and grandkids, and now another generation past that. I don’t know what our total number would be if we were all here, but it has been over 100 for quite a few years and the VAST majority of them still come.

When I was little, we piled into our cars and caravanned over to a small local church which we totally overwhelmed for that one Sunday each year. They knew when we were coming each year, and many years even asked my dad to sing for special music. That little church was more of a ‘church home’ than many in this world will ever know. With moves to different resorts in other areas and how big we have grown, we now generally have our own family-led church service right at the resort. This is what got me thinking . . . How amazing is it, to sit in a circle of people who choose to spend their vacation time like this? How awesome is it to live in a country, where we have the freedom to do this? How blessed am I to have a family like this?
Sometimes I think it is easy for us to focus on our frustrations, disappointments, difficulties, and how our country is falling apart in this way or that way. But the fatalism that results can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. We are blessed! Even in a country where faith and families are increasingly under attack and even in a society that seems more and more ‘taken’ by the lie that tolerance means we need to agree, we are blessed!

We finally did the math for this week. Over the course of this week, there will be 133 of us up here, and there are another 39 who will not join us this year for a total of 172 if everyone was here – pretty cool, huh?!
Up North 2016

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August 2016 Newsletter

Here is my latest newsletter. August 2016-TenClay


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May Newsletter

Here is my latest newsletter . . . the last one from the field this term! Excited to be returning to the US for a bit Smilie: :)May 2016-revised

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RFIS Drama

So, the most time consuming part of my life right now is our Drama Department’s production. Each year we do one play at RFIS, and our performance is generally about a week before our equivalent of Spring Break. The technical aspects of RFIS theatre productions in the past have been . . . well . . . let’s say a few decades behind. They have done well with what they had, but since they have never had someone specifically working with the technical side of the production, very little had been invested in that over the years RFIS has existed.

In the past year and a half we have made great strides towards modernizing and expanding our program! Starting with one financial gift specifically aimed at expanding in this direction, and continuing from multiple other sources, we have purchased some LED lighting fixtures and a system to control them, collected a variety of tools necessary to build scenery, and even started a ‘Drama Tech’ class as an elective! We still have a ways to go, but I have been having a BLAST!

With the additional equipment and a class to train students in some basic technical theatre knowledge, we have gone all out on this year’s production! The lighting is going to be a bit more of a fluid process as I experiment with the new software and equipment to figure out what options I have, but I designed the costumes and the set and my crew and I have been making everything from lightning bolts to capes and from masks to wooden boxes. Combine full technical support (have I mentioned that I have an AWESOME CREW?) with a great cast, and a REALLY FUN script that is totally ‘outside the box’ from what has been done here in the past , and this year’s show is going to be awesome!

If anyone is going to be in or near Yaoundé, Cameroon on the 11th or 12th of March, let me know and I can get you more details on when and where. . .

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Newsletter – Feb 2016

Here is my latest newsletter. . .Feb 2016

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Thoughts on the state of things . . .

Yes, the violence we have seen from Radical Islam is terrible. Yes, the attacks in Paris and elsewhere around the world are absolutely tragic. Something needs to be done. There is no doubt about it, and in no way am I trying to lessen the tremendous losses that many have experienced. However, just as the days and weeks following the 9/11 attacks on the US in 2001, we seem to be in dire need of stepping back, taking a deep breath, looking at the big picture, and reconsidering how we want to define ourselves.

I have seen so much anger and hatred in the past week that my heart is breaking . Are we/they justified in being angry? Most certainly! Would it be ‘just’ to hate? Maybe. However, as Christians, and even simply as members of humanity, we MUST resist that urge! Hate will destroy us from the inside out. We can hate the evil things that have been done and the many heartbreaking situations surrounding those events, but it is NOT ok to hate individuals because of their country of origin or the religion they profess. Disagree with them? Yes! Condemn such horrible acts? Yes! Take action against them? Quite possibly. Now, I am NOT trying to get into the argument of whether Islam is inherently violent or if it is a peaceful religion that has been hijacked by extremists That is beside the point. My point is that when our response is hatred and violence, we are guilty of exactly what we are criticizing in their religion.

Should we bomb Syria? Maybe. I am not dismissing the idea that this might be part of the solution (and I am quite happy to defer to those with the training to assess that side of the situation). However, if we are completely honest with ourselves, we know that the issue is much bigger than that. In fact, we also need to consider how our actions also have the potential to make matters worse in the process.

Will closing our borders to refugees stop ISIS? Nope, sorry. They will find a way to get in whether or not we restrict immigration. Will it at least help to protect us? Maybe to some small degree, but it is problematic on so many levels at the same time. Punishing the very people who are fleeing these same oppressive regimes simply doesn’t make sense. I understand that the fear here relates to the terrorists who might slip over the border in their midst, but how can we possibly justify punishing so many who are in such dire circumstances because of that chance? Aren’t there better ways to ensure security than fear? I’m not saying we should just throw the borders open without regard for who is coming in. Even without security concerns there economic considerations, but a nation of our size and with our resources could handle that influx much better than many others. Do we need a process to screen those seeking entry? Of course, but even that should not be dictated by fear and hatred. The issue is much deeper than stopping immigration, and this will NOT solve it.

To my American friends – We are a nation of immigrants, so many of whom came in flight from various forms of religious and political persecution. What does the inscription on the Statue of Liberty say? “Give me your tired, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tossed to me” Isn’t the freedom, the chance to start a new life, the hope that so many of these men and women seek exactly what men and women in uniform have been giving their lives to protect for generations now? What are we teaching our children? I’m not claiming to have the answer, but it must be an answer that includes compassion.

To my Christian friends – Yes, I know the balance we must walk in this world is tough, especially when we are angry, and even more-so when the anger is just. But we can’t forget, we can’t let go of, and we can’t lose sight of Grace. Love MUST overcome hate, and light MUST overcome darkness, or where are we?

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August Newsletter

I haven’t posted much in a REALLY long time, but here is my latest newsletter. If you are on my mailing list it should be coming soon. My internet and email have been SO slow and problematic lately that I have asked my Dad to send it out again.
August 2015-TenClay

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As is American tradition on Thanksgiving Day, it is fun to sit back and reflect on the many things for which I am thankful. Obviously some of the first things that come to mind include my awesome family, the many church families who graciously claim me, my wonderful upstairs neighbors, and the opportunity to work at such a great school with great kids (yes, even the ones who drive me crazy some days!).

But as I was walking up to campus this morning, it occurred to me that you probably don’t know about some of the ways we have been blessed here in the past year, so here are a few of the things that we are thankful for here at RFIS that are tangible ways we are blessed by supporters around the world and members of our local national and missionary community.

I am thankful for our BEAUTIFUL campus, but it is a little too far away from where most of our teachers and students live to be convenient at times. The school was able to purchase a used van a couple of years ago to carry teachers back and forth. A group of parents have set up a van/carpool schedule to get kids here and back for school and athletic practices, and those who have vehicles work together to make sure others get out here. I am so thankful for how people have worked together to make transport possible. (And quite honestly, I am even more thankful that I live out here now and don’t have to get carsick on the way to and from school every day!)

Parent van, dropping off their crew this morning and visiting with some other parents and drivers before heading back into town.

A weight room – in the past few years our PE teacher set out to raise funds to pave and cover this area and purchase some weight equipment. This is used daily by various members of our student body and/or staff members – even on the weekends!

These kids were out using the weightroom when I got to school this morning – I asked them to pose for a quick picture.

I am thankful for Evert, our new secretary/receptionist. She is GREAT! I always know she is going to go the extra mile to make sure things get done and take the initiative to ask what she can help with if she has extra time. When I was in the US we used to joke that the schools would cease to function without the secretaries and custodians, and she would fit in well there!

Mrs. Bafon – our wonderful Secretary

Even though we all know sports are NOT something I generally enjoy, I am thankful for the athletic facilities we have at RFIS and the many opportunities they create for our students and community. Our soccer field is one of the best 2 or 3 in the country (quite honestly that doesn’t take much other than it being covered in grass and mowed regularly) which brought the women’s national team out to visit and allows us to host many athletic games and tournaments. Our current courts (used for basketball, volleyball, pickleball, etc) is great – as long as it isn’t raining and the sun isn’t too intense . . . . hmmmmm…. We live in a tropical rainforest – good luck with that one! I am so thankful that we will hopefully be breaking ground on a covered athletic facility within the next year. Sure, it won’t be much more than a cement pad and roof initially, but it will be such an amazing improvement!

This is looking from up beside the prayer chapel down towards the current basketball courts.

This is where the covered BBall courts and what will eventually develop into a sports complex is supposed to go. If you look closely, you can see the stakes marking one of the ideas (though we have already decided to change it)

I am thankful for the background I have in theatre. Our ‘auditorium’ is really just a big room with folding chairs, and our ‘stage lighting’ is a bit of a joke, but I am thankful of the progress we are making in this department! We have some actual stage lighting fixtures coming on the SIL container that could be here any day, and we are trying to start designing a possible auditorium. Building it is still a ways off, but if we can figure out how to design something practical for this climate and our situation, we might be able to tackle the rehearsal space part of it in a couple of years.

This is what we are trying to call theatre lights at the moment . . . I’m so excited to be able to replace them with something a bit more ‘theatre’

This is our ‘light board’ at the moment – it works (to some degree), but I’m excited to get my hands on the new stuff we have coming that will give us SO many more options!

This is the area where the auditorium/theatre/performing arts center (whatever you want to call it) will eventually go.

The list could go on and on, but I should probably get back to the work I HAVE to get done . . . Happy Thanksgiving

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