Pictures from past weeks
Happy Birthday to a Special Someone
He turns 30 today.
And I'm so thankful that I now share his life.
I thought when I married him that he fulfilled all my hopes and dreams. After only three months, I've discovered that he is more than I ever could have asked for or dreamed of! My
heart is full of thanksgiving to the Lord Who led us together in His perfect time and way. I look forward to many more years by his side.
I love you, Luke.
Out and About
Four dug-out canoes and a few salvaged bridge planks.
We took an overnight trip last week, driving along the dirt road that follows the Congo River downstream. We followed the track until it ended: at least for vehicles with a wheel-base wider than a motor-bike. Our purpose was to visit and encourage the new churches in that area as well as to pick up some equipment that had been used in several evangelistic efforts. It was quite a trip. We had to cross several rivers with ferries. The first one was a nice antiquated metal barge ferry. The second was much more local... The bridge had gone out and several canoe operators were making the most of their fortune. $30.00 USD each way for vehicle passage.
The whole Mosier famiy came along, including 2 year old Shiloh and Caleb at 10 months. It was both of their first time camping and they had a grand time. They also made quite a scene. Most rural Congolese have never seen Wazungu (white/foreign) babies. And the Mosier kids are about as blonde-haired and blued-eyed as they come. Excited crowds gathered at every stop, pointing and shouting about the watoto wazungus that had appeared among them!
We arrived, after dark, unannounced at the village where we had hoped to spend the night. Within a literal minute of arrival, the local church members (and all their friends, and every child in the village?) had gathered into a swarming welcome party and were singing(shouting) a welcome anthem. We slogged our vehicle off of the road in attempt to enter the church-yard and promptly settled very deeply into the road ditch. A bit of shoveling, many hands pushing, and a hundred more shouting encouragement, we crawled our way out of the ditch and on to our resting place. Upon arrival, Chantee entertained the crowds for while, taking lessons in Swahili and French and teaching the kids words in Engish as a distraction so that the rest of us could unpack and Shiloh could go potty in peace.
The ride home was harder and faster than the ride out. It was a race to make the last ferry before it closed for the night. We made it with minutes to spare. While waiting for the ferry to chug over to our side of the river, I bought an ear of boiled maize from a road-side market lady. I was hungry, but the corn didn't taste quite right. I had eaten 3/4ths of the ear before I decided that it was spoiled. I stopped the eating there and washed it down with a banana to get the taste out of my mouth and 6 tablets of charcoal for intestenal prophylaxis. No ill effects noted.
We got home on Thurday night, did some laundry and bread-baking on Friday, and then took an all day trip on Sabbath, dropping an itenerant missionary preacher and his wife at 36 bumpy kilometers out of town. The remaining group continued another 10 to small village church where I preached. Sermon topic was on lessons from the life of Gideon. I noted a lady in congregation that had a towel over her foot. After the service I went over to investigate. Findings and their aftermath to posted on a seperate blog entry :)
Life in the Congo
The days here are suddenly flying by. Each packed with unique experiences. Loading the motor bike with a dental table and supplies and people. Making new friends. Preaching. Teaching. Gardening in the tropics. Cooking and baking with a new set of ingredients. Smiling. Loving. Living for God.
The policemen here in the Congo are a special sort. The other day we ventured again into Kisangani on our motor bike (the first trip since the day of the riots). We were stopped right off by the policemen at the roundabout in town. The CFM driver was ahead of us on his bike and facilitated a smooth interaction which included document inspection but no fines. For the next few hours, they would wave and smile at us as we drove by.
After looking all over town for cheaper mushrooms, I asked Luke if we could go back to the original store to purchase what we should have procured the first time around. As we approached the roundabout from a different angle, an officer who was apparently unaware of our friendly terms with his comrades waved us down. As it turned out, he didn't need to see our documents. Only needed a five dollar donation. As Luke used his limited french vocabulary to reason with the man, the helmet he had removed (to be polite) took the opportunity to drop off the motor bike and roll away... right into the open sewer that lines every street.
For a moment the five dollars was forgotten as helpful hands reached down and pulled the helmet out of the offensive canal. Luke attempted to wring out the foul smelling liquid from the padding while the officer stood by and a little crowd gathered. The effort was rather futile. Riding home without it would give our friend a real reason to fine us five dollars. With a half smile, half grimace, my husband put the smelly article back on his head. The police apparently felt badly that he had caused such misfortune and promptly let us go with all our pennies intact.
Yesterday we were not quite so fortunate. We ran into town to buy flour and were stopped at a main intersection. The police ran out and surrounded us, all speaking rapid fire french at once. A traffic violation, they said. (Without going into the nuts and bolts of it, they were very creative in their description of exactly what our violation was). The bottom line? A $50 fine (discounted from the $100 we would pay if we went to the station).
Luke protested good naturedly that we had only come to buy flour, and such a fine was not in our budget for the day. They dropped their price to $20 and encouraged us to pay quickly and be on our way. "We know you very busy", they said helpfully. Luke shot that argument in the foot by saying, "No, we have some hours. It is okay. We wait til you give us a fine we can pay." And we leaned against our bike to demonstrate our lack of deadlines.
That incentive foiled, they had another pow wow and came back with the question, "How much money you have?" Luke's eyes twinkled as he pulled out a great wad of cash from his pocket. 10 dollars of local money, all in increments of 100 franc bills (worth about 10 cents a piece). It was an impressive stack, but as he fanned it out and waived it around, even the official police could not keep their faces straight. The joined us in laughing at the hilarity of the situation and quickly scuttled us off to a tiny restaurant where they could do their dealings out of sight. We agreed to split the money half and half. They would have some to satisfy the traffic violation, we would have some to buy flour. Luke counted out fifty 10 cent bills and we were on our way.
And thus continues life in the Congo. :)
I never expected to love looking into people's mouths so much. Ever since Luke began teaching a dental class here at CFM, I have been an eager student. A portion of nearly every day of the past three weeks has been spent learning, practicing, and actually filling cavities. Last week was a marathon as we filled (or extracted) the students' teeth. Their gratefulness is touching. What a joy it is to serve...
We're starting mobile clinics now, which is even more enjoyable! I'll post pictures of that later.
“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.
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 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.