Celebrating Independence Day in Cameroon was fantastic! My favorite Redcoat, Holly, made amazing red, white and blue cupcakes with homemade frosting. My favorite Texan, Jake, grilled amazing meat purchased from our own meat market: burgers, bratwursts and ribs! Around 60 of our American, Canadian, British, German, and Cameroonian friends shared mounds of delicious food and fellowship.
Being here challenges me to recognize my identity as an American and as a Christian. As an American, I came to appreciate standard protocol for obtaining documents. Officials in Yaounde told us it was “too difficult” and “not possible” to extend my visa. They also told me I need to leave the country and return before they renew it. Our rebuttal was a lot like theirs but we left with a two month extension.
The other purpose for visiting Yaounde was to visit a potential child at HHCH. Miss Ornella is 13. She has cerebral palsy. Cameroon is not a disability-friendly country. We did not know her condition or true need so we met with her and others helping her seek refuge. Ornella has a smile that lights up a room! You would never know the brutality she faced by looking at her. Despite her physical scars, she has a vibrant spirit God has a purpose for. Since many were involved in her adoption, she spent the last two weeks with a neighborhood family. They have a daughter Ornella’s age – Blanche. Since Ornella’s speech is slightly impaired from CP, Blanche translated until we became accustomed to hearing her. Blanche and her were a precious pair of pals!
Watching the girls say goodbye before we returned to Bamenda was gut-wrenching. As we left, Ornella was strong choking down emotions, masking them with a smile. Minutes later, she burst into tears. Can you imagine what she was feeling? She had been passed from one place to the next enduring neglect, abuse and extreme circumstances. Now she’s in a car with two white people headed to a new part of the country to live with 31 brothers and sisters: fear, anxiety, relief, sadness, the list goes on! I got into the back seat and held her. We talked through her concern briefly and simply told her it is okay to be afraid but if she could trust us, things were going to be better from here on out! I asked her if she knew Jesus and she said yes. We prayed for a safe trip home with no delays which is exactly what we got. By Bamenda we had stuffed her full of coconut, peanuts, chicken, cookies (I am my mother’s daughter), carrots, soda and roasted corn. We had a great time and somehow no car-sickness befell us! It was topped off by a warm welcome from her new family at HHCH!
As Christians we have freedom in trials, not from trials. We have a blessed assurance of freedom in Christ! In trials I have a choice to live in despair and anger at God for allowing things to happen to me or to live in joy and peace in the knowledge and understanding of Him. Every trial we face is custom-made for us. God has identified an opportunity for improvement while Satan has identified an opportunity for attack in an effective way. When God allows Satan to attack us with various trials He knows our limitations and the desired outcome, 1 Peter 4:12 and 1 Cor 10:13. We can conclude Ornella is a strong child of God whose steps have been numbered by Him because of that which she has endured and is now free from in our family! Second Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” That is great news for all of us, not just Ornella. I am not who I was yesterday or a year ago. Praise God! Nobody has to remain the same!
In John 8:32 Jesus is talking to Jews who believe Him. He tells them “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” In John 8:36 “…if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” The freedom I am speaking of as an American and as a Christian have this in common – neither were free and neither are deserved. By the grace of God I was born in the United States of America giving me the opportunity to exercise freedom and protection by my great nation. By the grace of God I was offered the free gift of eternal life beginning the moment I believed Jesus offered himself as a payment for my sins, establishing reconciliation with God, rescuing me from a just punishment of Hell and granting me eternity in Heaven! The past week or so have really made me grateful for the sacrifice of our U.S. Armed Forces and Jesus Christ. I am so proud to be an American and a child of God.
I am free indeed.For more about Ornella see: