Thursday, August 24, 2017

Two Differences (guest post by Macy)

I want to talk about the big differences that there are between the United States and Congo. I like to be in Congo because I go to a very nice school that I’ve been in for 5 years and I can speak French (although, this year I will be changing schools). I have lots of friends at my school. I have a best friend and her name is Jessica. But, I also have another best friend, who does homeschool, and her name is Grace. Sometimes, I like to go shopping with my Mom or Dad at the grocery store and little markets where we buy fruits and vegetables. In both places, I play with my brother Connor, although in Congo, I don’t have to share a room with him (thankfully).

My cousin who lives in Oklahoma
I like to go and eat at Panda Express while we’re in the United States. I also like to go to Mexican food restaurants and eat enchiladas, chips and salsa, and warm tortillas (flour, not corn). While in Congo, we mostly eat sandwiches, chicken, rice and fresh vegetables. I enjoy getting to see my grandparents and cousins. People notice me less and I can fade into the background easier in the States, too. However, I do not like the automatic toilets, because it flushes on you and I can’t get away fast enough.
Helping our Dad with a service in the US
When we’re visiting the United States, I enjoy that church isn’t as long as it is in Congo (it’s usually 3 hours long). I enjoy going to Children’s Church and that it’s in English, my first language. In Lubumbashi, it’s mostly in Swahili or sometimes French. But, one thing I like about church in Congo is that choirs of girls, women or boys sing and dance up front.

What I also like about living in Congo is that we have four dogs, two males and two females. We have two German Shepherds, a Great Dane and a dog that is a mix of some kind. Their names are Nala, Bowser, Jupiter and Samson. We’ve also had different sets of puppies that we like to play with.

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you found it educational and funny.

Que Dieu vous bénisse,

Time at the Beach in Mississippi
My cousins who live in Louisiana
Church friends in Lubumbashi
Friends in Lubumbashi

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Why General Assembly?

I’m going to get real honest.  I’ve been a Nazarene for nearly all my life and I’ve never quite understood all the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the General Assembly and Conventions.  I grew up in a small Nazarene Church that seemed to always be in the shadow of the larger churches around it.  I could tell that they were there, but never really saw them.  I would occasionally hear about quizzing, district events, camp and assemblies, but my little church almost never participated.  I was in college before I realized that most Nazarene Churches thrived on their district community.

Seeing as I didn’t understand the need for district events, you can be sure that I didn’t understand the hullabaloo that surrounded an event such as General Assembly.  There was particular excitement expressed by a small few in our church about the fact that General Assembly would take place in my hometown of San Antonio, in 1997.  Although I enjoyed myself, our youth leader (yes, our youth group had four people and thus needed a leader) had to practically drag me to the NYI convention.  At this moment, I got a small picture of how truly large the Church of the Nazarene was. 

My perspective was broadened and enriched throughout the years and even more profoundly so when we were sent as missionaries to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  I saw how the individual churches, districts, and countries within the Africa Region truly depended on one another. General Assembly was finally starting to make sense.  The entire event is a commitment to being a global church community.  It is a chance for us to see the strengths and weaknesses of our brothers and sisters in Christ so that we may know how to better serve one another.  Yes, it is about the boring business stuff too; the kind of stuff that my teenage mind dreaded so intently.  But I see now just how much it means to be able to do the business of running our church together.
Members of a district assembly in the DRC 

In the DRC, there are more than 22,000 active members in the Church of the Nazarene.  However, finding the funds to send more than a handful of delegates is quite difficult.  In addition, visas are not often granted to Congolese applicants.  This year, we will have only seven delegates, yet they are thrilled and honored to carry the voice of the Congolese Nazarenes to the General Assembly. 

Let’s continue to bring the General Assembly and Conventions before the Lord in prayer; that they would be a means of fellowship for our global community and an avenue to more effectively make Christlike disciples in the nations.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Getting Our Farm On

As a child growing up in suburban San Antonio, TX, I never found agriculture interesting.   My dad was a good gardener and often won our neighborhoods prestigious “Yard of the Month” award several months in a row.  There was even a time when they changed the rules in the neighborhood so that the same house couldn’t win the award multiple months in a row.  In the spirit of full disclosure, the award was just a sign proclaiming that the yard which contained it was indeed the yard of the month, but nevertheless, from this point on, we could only host the sign every other month. Ok, maybe the “award” wasn’t that prestigious, but even at a young age, I could see that the recognition of my father’s hard work meant something to him.  For me at the time, all this meant was that I often had to pick up hedge trimmings, sweep the sidewalk, and help spread mulch.  As I said, I never found agriculture interesting.
I would have never guessed that growing plants and keeping a nice yard (if you notice, I’m doing everything I can to not call this gardening) would become something that I truly loved doing.  While living in the desert terrain of El Paso, TX, my neighbors would jokingly ask what my water bill was or ask what secrets that I was keeping from them.  The truth was that I never spent a lot of money, but could install and maintain sprinklers, usually had the greenest, fullest yard in our neighborhood, and had a variety of nice plants blooming throughout the year.  Somewhere between weed eating and spreading fertilizer, my dad’s skills must have rubbed off on me.  Soon, I was collecting seeds and taking clippings of plants wherever I went.  This has continued up to today, where at my home in Southern DRC, I have plants from all over the Congo, Zambia, Kenya, Togo, South Africa, Jamaica, and the USA. 
I suppose that it could be said that I do today find agriculture interesting, but to be fair, it snuck up on me.  The great climate and otherwise wonderful conditions here in Congo first led me to be interested in bananas and pineapples.  Did you know that if you plant a banana tree, it will sprout new plants and your harvest will grow exponentially?  Did you know that if you twist off the leafy “crown” of your pineapple and haphazardly plant it in the ground, it will grow into a pineapple plant?  These were things that we discovered upon first arriving in Congo over four years ago.  Today, these interests have expanded into raising chickens, pigs, rabbits, goats, guinea pigs, and others.  Together with the local church leaders all around Congo we are also harvesting honey, milk, eggs, and vegetables.  We are farming multiple acres of corn and raising fish in ponds.  We are supplying cane sugar, bananas, and a variety of fruits.  Indeed, we are very interested in agriculture. 
Leafy vegetables sprout near the village of Kiwanja.

A rabbit heads to market from the village of Samba.

Strawberries growing beside watermelon in Lubumbashi.

Peanuts freshly planted in Brazzaville.

50 young trees planted in rows near Lubumbashi.

Here in the DRC, as we struggle to be the church and reach holistic needs of those around us, we discovered that many of our pastors were unable to feed themselves.  So we have encouraged farming and livestock as a way for our pastors and their families to improve their lives.  But we are also partnering with them all over Congo so that their agricultural efforts will feed their neighbors and raise money for building the Church in Central Africa. Please pray with us that the DRC will be able to sustain its growing population of around 80 million people from local resources.  Pray for our agricultural initiatives taking off all across the country.  And pray for the hearts and lives of those who will be touched through these outreach efforts.