“There’s so much to be thankful for.”
I wrote the line from the song in my journal last year. It was true then. Even more true now.
I never would have guessed last Thanksgiving as I breathed in the clear high country air and tried to write brave words in my journal where I would be today. Here I am in a steamy jungle, with my husband of two months.
Thanksgiving morning started long before dawn as I studied Revelation by head lamp in preparation for the morning’s class. When I was informed a week and a half ago that I would be teaching a “Last Day Events” class for the evangelism school, I wished for a moment that the earth would open and drop me off in Oklahoma (where last minute requests are not quite so daunting). Luke was asked to teach a week long class as well, and in Luke fashion took it in stride and did a great job. I spent a week reviewing final events (and wishing I could talk to Uncle Merwin :), then commenced teaching.
Oh what a blessing it has been! Preparing for a class without a thorough Bible concordance has been a special challenge. Many are the moments Luke and I have spent
hunting for verses with cross references. Finding the verse at the end of the treasure hunt
is a special joy. :)
Pouring over the Bible for hours each day and teaching receptive Congolese evangelism
students has made this week unforgettable. It’s hard to capture the experience with words… Looking into the faces of the students as we read Matthew 24 together. “Ye shall
hear of wars and rumors of wars”. They nodded their heads in quiet assent as I said, “All of
you have already experienced war…” Their faces revealed concern as they talked during the
break of the latest developments in the east. What does tomorrow hold? It has provided a
compelling backdrop for the teachings.
After talking about the seven last plagues, the three frog-like spirits, the new earth and
other such topics this morning, I joined the kitchen crew at the Mosiers in preparing dinner.
We’ve had a lovely day together! It may be different than any thanksgiving I’ve ever had
before, but it has been wonderful and I’ll never forget it.
P.S. A quick Thankgiving list:
My faithful heavenly Father
Luke, my wonderful husband and best friend :)
A delightfully happy marriage
The blessing of being in the Congo
Safety (while being in the Congo ;)
A good meeting with the ministry of health today (looks like we’ll have freedom to do dental care in the vicinity)
And so much more.
Dried apple pie (compliments of Luke's backpacking heritage :).
Preparing final exams for Last Day Events class while watching a football game.
The football game
Luke and I purchased a motorcycle last week and have already had fun with the freedom of wheels. :) All three couples went on a ride to a river a number of kilometers away from the CFM campus. At least, that was the original plan. We stopped to visit a churchplanter along the way, forged some knee deep temporary streams covering the road, and eventually reached a section of road that proved to be impassible to our brave bikes. The pictures tell the story...
The church planter's children plus friends. Sweet kids. :)
Shiloh making friends. They were not sure what to think!
Knee deep water turned to chest deep water... So we took a raft ride the rest of the way.
The bamboo raft liked to float a couple of inches under the surface of the water. I can't blame it for all the weight it was carrying.
The barge owners (note the noble craft in the background) with their grateful cargo. We payed them more than they expected. We got a great price. Goodwill all around.
The cool of the cement floor feels good on my feet this warm and humid Congo afternoon. Our internet was just restored after being down for a week. A lightening strike blew the generator, internet, and sundry computers and chargers a week ago. I might also mention that it nearly frightened the senses out of me in the middle of the night. :) Too close and too loud for an EMT who has responded to a fatal lightening strike victim.
I could write a book out of our every day adventures of the past week, but perhaps will stick to today's news for this post. Luke and I headed into Kisangani this morning on our motorbike to shop for Thanksgiving dinner supplies and access the internet. As we were getting into town, people were stopping to attach green branches to the hoods of their vehicles and to the handle bars of their motorbikes. We were following a local staff member from the school into town, and he suggested that we attach branches to the front of our bikes too. We learned that it was to "show solidarity" so that our motorbike wouldn't be seized by protesters. As we approached the University we stopped again to assess the situation ahead and our guide shook his head. The streets were filling with restless crowds. "Students... problems. Big problems. Turn back."
And so we did.
(Didn't even stop to investigate the folk that shouted at us as we drove by). We paused just out of town long enough to buy a hand of bananas so our trip would not be completely fruitless:)
We arrived back on campus (5 k out of town) to the profound relief of our missionary friends. In the meantime, student rioters burned a government building and UN vehicles and created general chaos as they protested the fall of Goma to rebel hands this morning.
Hard to believe we were in that city 10 days ago.
The rioting over here has apparently settled down now but all eyes are on the easten regions to see what happens next. Our itinerary says we're flying into Goma in a month on our way back home. We'll see how things are then but needless to say we're considering alternate routes...
Otherwise, life continues as usual. :) We are safe and enjoying our time here. Thanks for your prayers and emails! Will post more with pictures soon.
After three weeks of road/plane trip through Africa, we made our last leg of the journey to our final destination: The Democratic Republic of the Congo.
I still remember the look on the nurse's face who gave me my Yellow Fever Vaccination back in the States in preparation for my visa application to the DRC Embassy. "Going to the Congo for your honeymoon? In all my years of tropical nursing, this is a first!"
Yes, perhaps it is. But I have a one-of-a-kind husband, and it is wonderful to be here.
Our journey to Kisangani was not without challenges. We were waylayed at the border while our host dealt with visa issues. Four hours of baking on the sidewalk in front of the office later, we had secured the much coveted stamp. We had watched our plane to Kisangani glide overhead without us a couple of hours before, so we spent an unplanned afternoon and night in Goma. Not the safest place in the world, but the Lord was watching over us and we had fine hospitality from the Union office. I hear the rebels camping out in the mountains north of town have no particular desire to take over the city for the time being.
The volcano on the edge of town steamed and puffed smoke all day and night, per usual. It was quite the sight. Goma has beautiful surroundings, but years of war, refugees, and volcanic eruption have transformed the streets into dusty showcases of poverty and need.
Everywhere we stopped, beggars of every age and appearance surrounded our vehicle. One eloquent english speaking boy preached us a sermon on giving to the poor, ending every paragraph with the words, "If you give to me, God will bless you full full!" (emphasizing the fulness by pounding one small fist into his other hand). Other less conversant children crowded around to see the result of his appeals (and hopefully share in them). Our magnanimous driver handed them some francs which created a near stampede as others tried to present their needs. What does one do when dozens of hands are pounding on your window saying, "Mama, I am hungry! Food, money, please!"?
We did what we could. How I wish I could take them all into my arms and feed and clothe them, then tell them the sweetest story ever told that will satisfy more than physical hunger and thirst.
I talked to a couple of street children a little later. We visited about various things and ended up talking about the Bible and the Sabbath. They were bright and responsive kids. Near the end I asked about their parents and the 10 year old said with a calm resignation, "Our mother is dead. Our father drinks much much. We live with our grandmother and when there is no school we work (beg)." I told the boy I was proud of him for being a little man and caring for his sister (he had been patting her head and pulling her close to his side during our entire conversation). He smiled and stood a little taller as I shook his hand. We left them with some bread and francs. I will never forget the grateful look on their little faces...
The Goma airport was utter chaos. I've never experienced such confusion in a public building in my life. We made it past half a dozen counters with officials scrutinizing our papers (plus a trip to a side room for extra questioning and negotiating), and boarded our plane an hour late. It was so good to feel the plane take off just a couple of seconds before we reached the end of the usable runway. A very relieveing moment. :)
So now we are in Kisangani, in the heart of the Congo River Basin. Pray for us as we seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these precious people.
Friends from the South Sudan field. Met them at division meetings in Nairobi just before we left for the Congo.
Spent a night on the Rwandan side of th border before crossing into the Congo. Right next door... a different world.
Kivu volcano over Goma housetops
He took me to Kenya for our "second honeymoon"... and I had the time of my life :) A few pics from that beautiful country.
Smooth section of road between Nairobi and the Mara.
I had a real taste of travel in Africa. We tried just about every mode in 12 hours… it was an adventure, to put it mildly!
We awakened in a canvas tent along a river in the Masai Mara game reserve. We had a good night’s rest interspersed with the sounds of lions roaring, zebra’s barking (in alarm), and a leopard grunting as it meandered through our camp. Pretty amazing to wake up to. :)
Jared Busl gave us (and our motorbike) a ride across the Mara until we reached the edge of the park (the National Geographic folk who dwell in this part of the world are very adverse to motor bikes and all things unnatural in general—hence the need to get a land cruiser ride out of the park boundaries).
Driving across the green Kenyan countryside with wind blowing through the hair and zebras/impala all around was a real thrill. It was SO beautiful. We followed a dirt track around the north boundary of the park and shouted greetings across fields to colorfully dressed Masai herdsman who were leading their cows and sheep to early morning pastures.
Crossing the Mara River
The lovely ride ended in a classic way—flat tire. We graduated to walking and pushing the bike until we were rescued.
Next phase of travel: Land Cruiser ride (almost) to Nairobi. That stretch was comfortable. Especially after we left the three hours of dirt road section. We were dropped off at a curio shop an hour from Nairobi and there the real adventure began. We first caught a
ride with a stranger (with a comfortable vehicle) who happened to be eating lunch at the restaurant and amiably agreed to give us a lift. An hour or so later, we were dropped off in the middle of the city. I left half my clothes (the favorite half) back at the safari camp. We made arrangements for the clothes to make it back to the States and I did emergency shopping for minimum essentials. I’ve learned we both have the knack of losing/forgetting/leaving things behind. ;) Quite the team we make in this regard! So far we’ve kept track of our money and passports.
By the time we hailed a mutatu (minibus) traffic was
clogging every thoroughfare. But no worries, the mutatu drivers are legendary for their ability to make headway in spite of traffic, using all manner of
creative driving maneuvers. We were packed in like sardines and the ride progressed as planned until the bottom fell out of the vehicle. Let’s just say that we came to a grinding halt (quite literally). Perhaps an axle broke. We didn’t take time to find out for sure in our haste to join the crowd packing into the already full bus that someone waved down. We were a sight I’m sure, toting our great 50 lb backpacks and various camelbacks and handbags in with us.
Once we were pinched in between people, the bus ride was a little more benign than our previous transportation. It was apparently in no hurry to get anywhere really fast and we wound around blocks and stopped every minute or so to let people off and on. Darkness had fallen by the time we were dropped at another busy crossing. It was all we could do to keep the taxi drivers from hauling off with our luggage as they shouted for our business.
Pretty soon we were jammed into yet another mutatu (this one kept its axles intact). After more minutes of careening through traffic, we were dropped off in another dark and busy town center. It only took only a few minutes to catch a taxi and find our way to Maxwell Adventist Academy.
I don’t know that I was ever so grateful to see a bed. It was a great day, but one I would aspire to live through once in a while… not all the time. :) A couple hundred miles and 12 hours of travel later, it was good to rest.
In case anyone is wondering, I’m loving this adventure!
Our little friends at Newstart Children's Home
Hello friends. This is Luke. Have brief internet access while doing some shopping in Nairobi. Since our last (belated) post, we have spent time in Zambia and are now in Kenya. We will post more pictures in the coming days.
Shingoma Mountain near Riverside
A day in the villages with new friends