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A letter from Jeff and Christi Boyd in Cameroon

December 31, 2009

Dear friends and family,

While many of you are facing the cold of winter, I bring you warm greetings from Cameroon! Anticipating what lies ahead for us in 2010, we’d like to first share some important happenings of 2009. The biggest change in our lives has been to see another one of our children leave the nest. Salome has made her transition from high school student living at home in Yaoundé to college student on her own in The Netherlands. This has not been an easy transition for anyone in our family, but we’re glad to see how she and her brother Matthias have been able to support each other. He lives about an hour away.

The RELUFA community granary program continues to grow in both stock sizes and the number of villages with a grain bank. Communities successfully running their program for several years can now look for assistance to build more durable storage facilities. Impressed with this program, the Japanese embassy is considering financial support for the construction of simple, durable storage buildings. RELUFA continues the very successful short-term loans to help families pay schools fees until the harvest is in. Many girls, who likely could not attend school, are now able to do so. The fair-trade dried fruit produced with RELUFA has experienced growing interest and local consumption of the high quality packaged fruit. Meanwhile our network partners help the farmers rebuild their livelihood that was destroyed when their land was usurped by a transnational company. RELUFA has also stepped up its efforts to reduce poverty and civil strife on the African continent by fighting widespread corruption, the Presbyterian Hunger Program is rallying support for new U.S. legislation that will increase transparency in the management of natural resources such as oil, mines and gas. You can expect to read more about these in future newsletters, but you can also learn more from the Cameroon page of the Joining Hands newsletter.

The new Education Secretary of the Cameroonian Presbyterian Church (EPC) is trying to breathe fresh life into the struggling schools of the church. With funds made available with the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries debt relief program some schools are being repaired. The Education Secretary, an accountant, and I are trying to provide financial management support to the 60 schools managed by the church. In the Congo particularly, Presbyterian World Mission has been exploring more deeply ways to support our partners as they respond to needs of orphans and vulnerable children. We struggle to find a balance of fulfilling the Biblical imperative to care for the vulnerable and nurturing local solutions in order to avoid ependency.

As we look ahead to 2010, our regularly scheduled interpretation assignment in the United States is a highlight. To avoid disrupting Naomi’s last years of high school we’ve asked to concentrate our church visits between early July and September 26 (until about August 25 for Christi). We hope that by letting you know six months in advance we’ll be able to set up a full program of visits. We welcome invitations from churches, presbyteries, church camps, schools, universities, mission conferences or other venues where we can share about Presbyterian World Mission, the ministries of our partners in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea, and our involvement in those. Christi will be able to share about the Joining Hands work in Cameroon and the community grain banks, fair trade dried fruit, microloan and advocacy programs led by the Joining Hands partner network (Network Fighting hunger in Cameroon). Jeff can share about a variety of ministries of our ecclesiastic partners, such as education, development, health, vulnerable children, etc. After these months of church visits we’ll return to our work and life in Cameroon. If you would like for us to visit, please contact us at jcmsnboyd@yahoo.com or cboyd@relufa.org.

We are grateful that God has kept us safe and that we end the year in good health. We thank God for our supportive family, friends and colleagues and ask that you pray with us:

  • In thanksgiving for new colleagues Bob and Kristi Rice, who are preparing to move to Kananga, Congo, where they will share in the evangelism and Christian Education work of the Presbyterian Community of Congo.
  • In thanksgiving for a wonderful attendance at the Mission Celebration conference which brought people from the breadth of our church to share their passion for missions.
  • For Naomi who is the lone child at home. She is also seeing nearly all of her school friends leave this year.
  • For efforts underway to increase the management and reporting capacities of our partners in the Congo.
  • For the family of the late Rev. Josephe Zombo. Josephe is highlighted on February 11 in the 2010 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study. He has modeled dedication to the church over the 10 years I have known him. During his illness he trained two of his children to help carry on the record-keeping work for a centralized salary support system he organized within his presbytery.
  • For the care of orphans and other vulnerable children in Africa. Presbyterians in the Congo and the Unites States extend loving support to children who have suffered abuse from adults, accusations of being a sorcerer or witch, the death or serious illness of a parent, disfavor and neglect from stepparents or dire economic conditions at home so that children are not provided for.

Whether you’re facing white snow, gray fog or red dust these days, we can all celebrate the joy of the birth of Jesus Christ and the hope we can draw from that as we enter a new year. May you experience the peace of Christ this year!

Jeff (and Christi)

The 2010 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 43

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