Tuesday, September 18, 2018

District Centers Becoming Reality

Since arriving in Central Africa, it was clear our districts could benefit from ministry centers. With our eight districts spread across vast distances and no real roads to connect them, we realized that our strategy would have to be a center in every district as opposed to one for the field that everyone came to.  The vision was for these centers to be used for a large meeting space, teaching pastors, gathering together for combined church services (Such as district assembly) and an all-purpose building. There would also be an added bonus of a local church congregation that would be a part of the community where the building was to be located. With eight districts on our Field, and only one with a center, we knew this was a big dream and one that would take prayer, time and partners to put together. 

Over the last 4 years, we’ve been able to purchase land for three district centers, making only two districts where no land or building currently exists.  We’ve also started construction on five centers through alabaster funds, Work and Witness teams, partners and local district fundraising.  These dreams are slowly becoming a reality. 

In August, the South Katanga District in DR Congo held their first celebration service in their new center. Construction started in 2015 with a W&W team from Lovington, NM and while construction is not complete, the building is at a point where it can be used. 
Photo by District Superintendent, Rev. Celestin Chishibanji. District Center DR Congo, South Katanga District
In September, the capitol city of DR Congo was able to use their new center for the first time. Thanks to partners from the United States, this building will be a great blessing to the DR Congo West District. 

Photo by Pastor Dieu Merci Nzola. District Center and Church DR Congo, West District
Photo by Pastor Dieu Merci Nzola. District Center and Church DR Congo, West District
We praise the Lord for all He is doing, for patience in seeing these dreams become reality and for the lives that will walk through these spaces and be changed. Glory be to God!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Life and Other Happenings

Church praying for our kids in Florida
Church welcoming our family in Michigan

A week ago, today, we arrived home in the Republic of Congo.  For the past six and a half weeks, we had been on Home Assignment in the U.S. and it went very well. We were able to share about Central Africa with many churches and individuals, spend time with our families and visit doctors for annual check-ups. Macy has had a heart murmur since she was born, that has always been deemed “innocent”. Our pediatrician recommended an echo-cardiogram, just to check on it since one hadn’t been done since Macy was born. We praise the Lord that although the small murmur still exists, it is something she can live with and won’t hinder her day to day living (especially living in Africa). We’re thankful for old friends we had the chance to catch up with and the new friends we’ll be keeping in touch with from this point on. And, while we’re reminded daily that our kids are just kids, we had some fun learning moments being with people so often. While meeting a family we’d be staying with in their home, the wife states that they have a cat. Connor immediately blurts out, “My mom hates cats.” While at another house, eating hot dogs and ribs for dinner, he says, “I ate hot dogs for lunch today, too, but my Mom told me not to tell you.” Our kids are kids. We’re learning as we go! 

View across Congo River to DR Congo
As we’ve arrived back in our apartment, we’re slowing getting settled in. Our complex has about 16 buildings with 10 apartments in each one. We’re beginning to realize that our lives will be very different in our new downtown home. It is surrounded by a gate with guards and has a small open area where cars cannot drive, so kids can run around and play. Every evening around 5pm, kids gather together in this area. We’ve been so thankful for this community, because already our kids have made friends. Also, we have no yard or green space to continue agricultural experiments as we used to.  Based on the success or failure of our home garden, we have been able to implement new ideas in our district gardening projects.  Here, we may be able to have some potted plants, but won’t really have much of a garden.  Church has even been a new experience for us.  For the most part, the Nazarenes in this capital city worship in French; a totally new experience for us. They start at 8:30am and get out by 10:30am, whereas church in Lubumbashi generally went from 9:30am until long after 1:00pm. This is a welcome difference in a city where the temperatures rise quickly before noon. While traffic police still pull people over and there are still potholes in the roads, traffic appears to flow more smoothly and there is a greater general respect for traffic laws. 

While there are differences in our new city, there are familiarities as well. We are still in Central Africa. People speak French and we’re working with the same District Superintendents and leaders across our Field. People are friendly and hospitable. Our job will more or less remain the same. We’re excited for the days, weeks and months ahead.  
Main road along the Congo River
City view from our apartment
Kids ready to play in the apartment courtyard

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Moving Between Congos

Moving and packing up all your earthly belongings can be quite the process. These plates we received at our wedding, that I love, but are too heavy…sell. The books we use for teaching or preaching…pack. This baby toy bought for Connor before he was born; but that he’s too old to play with anymore…try to sell what I think it’s worth in sentimental value, sold for pennies to a new kid. Clothes that are too warm for the tropical climate we’re moving to…give away. It is humbling and freeing and nerve-wracking, all at the same time. It’s a reminder that material things are just that…things.

            Tomorrow begins our process of moving from Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo to Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. Like many things in DR Congo, it’s going to be a bit more difficult. Last week, we started our move by putting 700lbs of our belongings on a cargo plane that went to the capitol city of Kinshasa in DR Congo. Tomorrow, our family flies with the rest of our things (260lbs) in suitcases to Kinshasa, where we will stay for 3 days applying for and obtaining visas to gain entry into the Republic of Congo. Our first set of belongings will meet us at the guesthouse where we are staying. Once we are granted visas to the Republic of Congo, we’ll collect all our tubs and suitcases and cross the Congo River (which resides between the two capitol cities of the Congo’s) by speedboat.   

            Please pray for us as we have a week of moving ahead. Pray for safe travels. Pray for our visas from the Republic of Congo to be granted and returned in good time. Finally, pray for our border crossing across the Congo River by boat, with all of our earthly belongings.

            Let the adventure of moving in Central Africa begin…