Some foreigners who live in Democratic Republic of Congo will tease that the slogan for the DRC is “Welcome to Congo, you lose.” This saying is based off of the day-to-day frustrations of corruption and injustices that take place.
This week was one of those weeks. Our week started off great. Gavin returned from a week away in West Africa, meeting leaders within the Nazarene Church, hearing their strategies and being encouraged. And on Wednesday, we headed into town for a lunch out as a family. We took a route we don’t usually drive and this is where the trouble started. In the DRC, we have traffic police. Some stand on corners or intersections assisting with traffic, hoping for a small amount of money. The intersections with one or two police usually aren’t trouble. When you have three to five in an intersection, you hope and pray they don’t jump out in front of your car and stop you. They check your license and all the documents of your car. Some will check your lights. One family we know was told you can’t drive in flip-flops, so they tried to fine the driver. Another family where the wife was driving was told she couldn’t be driving because she was pregnant. It all depends. This week, it seems, they are particularly checking licenses. Unfortunately, traffic police riding on a motorcycle stopped us. They insisted Gavin stopped at an intersection past the line you are supposed to stop at. In his defense, another traffic man who was directing traffic in the middle of the intersection signaled for his direction of traffic to stop. The motor police also insisted that Gavin’s license was fake. Pointing to places on the license trying to verify the inconsistencies. After a long discourse, negotiations and a fine payment we got Gavin’s license back and went on our way. Not 3 minutes later, we were stopped again by another group of traffic police. Their story was the same, “Your license is fake.” Now, we’ve had the licenses, which we obtained from the transportation office in the capitol city, for over a year and never had a problem before when we’ve asked to present it. After some discussion, negotiations and loss of money again, we were able to leave.
To make a long story short, Gavin went by the transportation office in Lubumbashi to find out what the issue seems to be. It appears whomever put our licenses together in Kinshasa assigned us an incorrect number and our fingerprints are not clear enough. We started the process to get the correct license; trying to always do good and have all the documents required of foreigners living in this country. However, we found out about another document we are supposed to have before they will grant us our new licenses, which we do not have. Although we have a religious visa and another visa, which we renew annually, we must also have a separate residence card. This will be another long process and more money.
This is one of those weeks where you feel defeated. You want to throw in the towel and say, “Lord, why? Why so many obstacles? Why so many documents? Why so much money?” This all takes so much time. What is happening?
In the midst of the struggle, no matter the size, we do find our peace and hope in Christ. We come before Him in prayer and lay it all down. He knows. He’s walking beside us. Maybe these things are happening now, because of something else that is going to take place in the future. The DRC is so volatile right now. The currency is diminueing terribly. A year ago, we could get half of what we get right now for $100. This is good for us, but very hard on the Congolese. There are riots that break out in different parts of the country because the President did not leave office last year when he was supposed to and new elections have not been promised.
We know in this life there will be trouble. But, we hold on tight to the promises of God.
“The Lord is my Rock, my fortress, my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And, the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
While we can get stuck on focusing on the frustrations, we can miss the good that is happening in the midst of it.
The man who showed up at our house yesterday asking to know more about the Church of the Nazarene. He was truly interested in knowing more about who we are, what we believe and why. It was a time of evangelism that the Lord brought to our doorstep.
Funds came in that allowed us to tile our entire house. It has made such a huge difference from the cement floor we had over the last year.
Our District Superintendent in Goma, DRC is recovering and healing after a serious medical problem.
It’s our hope and prayer that the difficult times will not distract us from the work we’ve been called to do or make us forget the ways God is blessing us at the same time. God is at work! And, we will put our hope and trust in Him through every situation.