One of our family rituals has become sharing lunch around the table after the kids come home from school. We share a meal and talk about our day. Many times the kids talk about school, about friends, about serious or funny events that have taken place that morning and we love this time in our day together. About two months ago, I noticed our children would frequently talk between English and French. When they would tell us about a conversation or something someone said, they would tell us in French. This change really hit me…we are not the same. When we arrived in the DR Congo 3 ½ years ago, we were babies when it came to speaking French and most of our church services were in Swahili, of which we didn’t know any. Everything was new. Everything was different. A lot of times we felt uncomfortable. We didn’t understand certain cultural nuances. We didn’t know anyone. Life was complicated and a big adjustment for our family. It was hard!
But, 3 ½ years later, we can look back and see how these things, every frustration; every uncomfortable interaction; every loss of money to traffic police, and every period of loneliness has made us different people. Today, we feel comfortable. We understand (mostly) how life flows here. We try hard to think with a “we” mentality. We have friends. We can think on our feet and not become as anxious about annoying everyday commodities that should work, but don’t. We can function well in French. And, we know enough Swahili to make people laugh when we say words or small phrases (which could be a good thing and a bad thing).
This month ends our second term in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We leave for the United States for 2 ½ months before coming back to DR Congo for another 2 years. We’ve been told and have experienced that it takes time to enter a new culture, a new ministry, to understand differences and newness. Language takes even longer. Even now, there are things I know I will never understand about Congolese culture, even though I try. I could hit my head on a wall with frustration or try and see if from a Congolese perspective. These are things we’ve had to learn.
We know we haven’t learned all there is to know. There is still a long road ahead. But, as we come back in September, the Lord has been laying on our hearts new ministries and goals. Through our time in the U.S., we hope to share about God’s faithfulness, about standing firm and being patient, but mostly about obeying God’s call. This is our desire and this is our prayer.
|Macy playing with friends at a District event|
|Jill teaching one of our English classes|
|Connor at a carnival with his best friends, Agneau and Vasil|
|Gavin leading the South Katanga District Assembly|