Somehow this Christmas felt a bit different than
Christmas’ past. Perhaps it was the 80 degrees
instead of 20; or the dust swirling in our barren back
yard rather than snow; maybe the scarcity of Christmas
lights; or absence of Salvation Army bell ringers.
Not to say that any of this is bad, just different.
We spent a nice quiet Christmas together as a family.
We had a Charlie Brown Christmas tree covered in
homemade ornaments (made from Hershey’s kiss
wrappers). We hung stockings, made from old scrubs,
off a shelf of medical books (so it’s not quite a
mantle over the fireplace…) One of the nicest things
about Christmas Day was that we didn’t have to work,
so we got to spend the whole day as a family –
It was almost exactly one year ago that we found out
we were coming to Cameroun, Africa. As you may
remember, we had hoped to be in the field by January
2005, but this was not to be. We left Audrey’s
parents in CT after Christmas and still didn’t know
where we were going. We had been praying long and hard
and were very frustrated. The day after we reached
Greg’s parent’s house in WV for New Years we found out
that we were chosen to come to Cameroun. After
figuring out where Cameroun was, we realized that this
is where God had called us. We met with the GC
(General Conference) representative Jan 16; received
the official call to Cameroun the next week; sold our
house the following week –in the snow (after it had
been on the market for 8 months); packed up our
belongings and send them to a warehouse in MD; closed
on our house March 3; and moved to Montreal Canada the
following week. When God moves, HE moves quickly and
you’d better be ready!!!
We spent 3 months in Montreal attempting to learn
French. We had hoped to bypass this step, but our GC
rep forced us into it. Boy am I glad now that he did.
Thank you so much Pastor Sabot for your insistence!!!
I cannot imagine coming here without a French
language base. After 9 weeks of language school
Audrey found out that her mom had lung cancer. She
left the school to be with her mom for surgery and
recovery. We thank everyone for his or her prayers
during this very difficult time. It was a very tough
decision to make to continue our plans to leave for
Africa knowing all that she would go through. Thank
our Lord, and her physicians, she is finishing up
chemotherapy Feb 1 and has handled it well. We are
all relieved that with God’s grace, this chapter will
be finished.
From Montreal we “moved” to Andrews University in
Michigan for 3 weeks of Mission Institute. While
there we made some wonderful friends and learned a lot
about other cultures, our own culture and most
importantly ourselves and families. We will forever
cherish those intense three weeks. After Mission
Institute we spent three glorious weeks in WV
water-skiing and hanging out with Greg’s family. Then
we spent another wonderful three weeks in CT and at
the beach with Aud’s family.
July 17th we left the US for parts unknown. Our
flight was 4 hours late and we missed our connecting
flight to Yaounde, Cameroun. “Unfortunately” we had
to spend a day in Paris:} When we finally got to
Cameroun it was the wrong city and we missed the
flight from Douala to Yaounde again. After finally
making it to Yaounde (and confusing everyone as to
where we were) we spent three weeks trying to complete
paperwork for work permit’s etc. Finally on August
10, 2005, after 20 hours on a train, 10 hours in a
bush taxi, and 2 hours by car we arrived in Koza,
Cameroun – HOME. It’s hard to believe that we have
lived in Koza for 5 months now, and out of the US for
almost six. This past six months has been wild. By
now, the bizarre is almost commonplace. We have been
busy, bored, hungry, sick, healthy, lonely, exhausted,
comforted, frustrated, content, angry, and
exhilarated. Mostly though we have been able to
experience the hand of God himself guiding us through
each day. Sometimes HE is obvious, sometimes we have
to look harder, and listen better, but HE is here with
us every day. Many days, Our Lord is the only thing
that keeps us going, the only strength we have. Many
of our stories can be read and pictures seen on the
website: (Thank you Warren for
keeping this up for us!!! You are a Godsend!)
Throughout the past 5 months we have had several
visitors. Some were shocked at what they saw while
others just dove right in. I think that one has to be
“called” by the Master to come and survive
(physically, emotionally and spiritually) in a place
like Koza. In November, Greg’s parents came to visit,
bringing good cheer, lots of medical supplies, tons of
food, an Ultrasound (with money donated by Sunbelt
Health Systems and many other wonderful people), and
of course chocolate!!! Greg’s mom made a fabulous
Thanksgiving dinner, complete with mock turkey,
stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin
pie. I will never again take Thanksgiving dinner for
Sarah is finally adjusting to the life here.
Although she still has a hard time with the language,
and misses her friends and family terribly, she is
starting to make friends and has been playing games
with some of our neighbors. Last week we had 35 kids
in our front yard, playing ball. Hectic but fun.
Right now (Jan 11) we are still waiting for our
container to come. It reached the port of Douala 2
months ago but has had trouble clearing customs. In
the container, besides our personal items and our
truck, are many much needed donated medical items from
all around the US. We were extremely blessed by the
medical equipment we received from Boone Memorial
Hospital WV, Summersville Memorial Hospital WV, Robert
Packer Hospital PA, and Parkview Adventist Hospital
ME. We hope you all will be richly blessed as well in
this New Year.
Last month Greg had to travel (again by motorcycle,
bush taxi, and train) to Yaounde for the end of year
Union meetings. Aside from the very busy week I had
without him, the most exciting news that came out of
the meetings was the fact that we are being “forced”
to come home for 6 weeks every year. Six weeks of
vacation with 2 weeks of educational leave allows us
two months in the States. We are requesting leave
around the end of June 2006, to return here at the end
of August. Unfortunately we won’t be able to see
everyone, but we are going to try each year to visit a
different part of the US to visit friends and family.
This year I think we will try to visit our old
stomping grounds of Upstate New York and PA (as well
as our parents in CT and WV or course). When the GC
has cleared our plans and we know dates, we will let
everyone know so we can see as many people as
possible. Although it is too short to visit everyone
and too long to be away from the hospital, we are
actually very blessed to be able to take 2 months a
year for vacation.
Never Forget:
Car Dieu a tant aimé le monde qi’il a donné son Fils
unique, afin que quiconque croit en lui ne périsse
point, mais qu’il ait la vie éternelle. Jean 3:16

Gar haha Zhiklè a woy herkeda a ndav na, a mva ta kra
nenga’a, kra nenga’a stadgenè, aman ko wawa man a nco
nenga’a a ndav na, a zi azbai, a n’ngotso nshèffè a
mèdèp. John 3:16 (Mofa: local tribal language)

Allah yidi duniyaaru masin, Ngam maajum o hokki Biddo
maako bajjo. Koomoy nuddini Biddo oo, halkataa ammaa
o heban ngeendam nduumiidam. Yuhanna 3:16 (Fufulde:
widespread language of Sahel region)

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only
begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not
perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

This Bible verse has changed lives throughout the
world. Let it be life changing for you as well. May
you all be richly blessed throughout 2006.

The Shanks

Merry Christmas 2005

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