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Waiting

Posted by nuruyamapendo on July 27, 2021 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (1063)

     I don't do well at waiting- never have. 2020-2021 has been an incredible period of waiting. Waiting on DRC to open during COVID-19 so that I could return to the USA. Nervously waiting for traveling to become safer as my re-entry visa to the DRC expired. Waiting through times of sickness and death for family members and friends. Waiting through transitions and change as several close friends moved out-of-state. Waiting through times of great lonliness and isolation because of having to travel. Waiting for decisions of churches for speaking engagements. And now, the Delta variant of COVID threatens a period of waiting before being able to purchase a ticket and return to the DRC at the end of the year!

     My staff in Africa suffers with the pain of waiting, too. They want Mama Jane to return to them "now" rather than at the end of the year. When I call them for monthly staff meetings, my two dogs hear my voice on speakerphone and I hear their cries that they, too, are tired of waiting. My greetings were given to the leadership of the District, and people cheered to hear that I am well. But they also asked for my return.

     Although I still do poorly in waiting on "people" and "things", I have grown stronger in waiting on the Lord. Isaiah chapter 40 is titled "Comfort for God's People". If you can take the time, I encourage you to read it. We are probably most familiar with these verses (28-31):

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understnading no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, 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."

     Are you weary of waiting? Don't depend on your own strength. Turn to the everlasting God, and he will give you the strength you need.


9/19/2018 Smiles

Posted by nuruyamapendo on September 29, 2018 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (214)

Kasenga sits along the Luapula River and is known for its abundant supply of fish. The primary source of protein for Kasena residents is fish. Fish supplies from the river are really like crops; some years supplies are scarcer than others. There is also a wide variety of fish from the river- catfish, tiger fish, tilapia, Thompson and eels are the ones I’m able to name. There are also large prehistoric-looking fish I’ve seen, but I don’t know their name.

Men from the nearby village fish on Sundays. Their wives or family members carry the fish 2-2.5 miles to the market to sell them on Mondays. Our goal is to meet the women on the way to the market in order to have the best selection of fish. One of my staff members and I ride the motorcycle down a rural road (I use the word “road” loosely…), carrying a small red and white cooler chest to hold the fish, as well as a pocketful of money to buy our weekly supply. This day was different, however, because we drove the truck. The motorcycle was being used elsewhere.

Today (Monday) the supply of fish was exceptional! Kapakele was surrounded by eight or nine women, all excited to sell us their fish. The staff member’s job is to negotiate the best price for the fish in accordance with the number of people we must feed for the week. The seasons dictate the types of fish available; this week the bargain was shiny yellow and silver tilapia of all sizes. I asked Kapakele to negotiate for the larger fish because they contain more meat. The fish were grouped by price and we began our selections ($3 and $6 per group). Each woman was paid according to what we purchased from them.

Among the group we meet, there are two sisters who always sell fish together. For some reason this day, there were not happy. They seemed to think that others were getting more of their fair share of the fish money from Nuru Ya Mapendo. There wasn’t anything I could do to make them happy; we had paid fairly according to our purchases.

As we started to pull away, I verified with Kapakele that we would be passing by the place where the women wanted to sell their fish. “Why don’t we make them happy”, I asked him, “and drop them at the market so they don’t have to walk the next 1.5 miles in the sun?” He thought it was a good idea, walked around to the back of the truck and invited the ladies to climb in the back. With big smiles, plastic fish basins and nursing babies, they tumbled in and found a place to sit. Two other ladies shortly behind us ran to also have a ride to sell their goods. As we traveled down the road, we stopped to pick up two more ladies who had talked to use earlier. The back of our truck was now full with 13 happy ladies!

We stopped at the entrance to the market and everyone jumped out, excited that their energy could be spent selling their goods rather than walking in the hot sun. Perhaps this was a small thing, but it was important to me. Whenever we can change a frown into a smile, we give God’s hope to someone in need.

8/9/2018 What�??s the Buzz?

Posted by nuruyamapendo on August 9, 2018 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (39)

Things are really “buzzing” at Nuru Ya Mapendo. I mean that literally! As I write, the droan of buzzing circular saws are in the background as a team of carpenters is working on sixty desks for the Jane Wise Primary/Secondary School. This begins at 7:30 each morning and ends around 4:00 each afternoon. I’m not sure I’ll be able to tolerate all the noise six days a week for a month!…

December 2018 is the election, the time when the DRC will elect a new President and all the other political seats for the government. Just as in the USA, campaigning and posturing begin many months in advance. One is placed in the midst of the commotion whether it is welcomed or not. One day this week (along with the buzzing saws), there was a parade of political candidates going up and down our main road, led by a truck full of banging bass drums and horns, and followed by a large band of noisy and excited children. (If you’ve ever watched the cartoon version of “The Grinch” where the children twirl around the room playing their imaginative musical instruments, banging drums and tooting horns, you get the idea.) Our security dogs let me know in no uncertain terms that they hated the noise, and chased the procession from within our walls from one end of the property to another. The procession went up and down our road four times during the day!

The remaining buzz of activity at Nuru Ya Mapendo comes from Sylvain’s family. They are moving tomorrow, so our doors are busy with the family going in and out, drawing the last cans of water, washing the last loads of laundry, and taking a few necessary items for their packing.

The buzzing is a collage of living life in the Congo- the buzzing activity of God’s work and the buzzing activity that comes from change. Life is seldom quiet because life is lived outdoors rather than inside. It takes getting used to. I’m glad I can find peace in the solitude of our Lord, Jesus, in the midst of it all.

nuru ya mapendo (love's light)

August 3, 2018 Change

Posted by nuruyamapendo on August 7, 2018 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (23)

This is the first posting on our website for a few years. Many problems with infrastructure here prevented us from posting. For the present, all seems to be going well, so I’ll attempt to post updates a few times a month from Kasenga, DRC.

 

August will be a month of changes for Nuru Ya Mapendo- good changes, bad changes, and neutral changes. Rev. Sylvain, our District Superintendent, is being transferred to Lubumbashi next week. He is like family to me and we have been working together every day in this district for the last 4 ½ years. His children are my grandchildren; I will miss all of them very much!

 

The change for Sylvain will be good. He will finally have a stable and guaranteed salary. He has two boys starting university in October, so we can see God’s answer to his prayers for provision. I am happy for this change.

 

A new district superintendent will be arriving mid-August. He doesn’t speak English, and prefers speaking Swahili over French. He holds a 2-year seminary degree.  This changes the future uncertain for NYM. Will his vision for the district parallel God’s vision that we’ve been serving? Will he desire to work with me as his assistant (my previous role)? What are his expectations for NYM, the pastors and the churches? These are questions which will be answered over coming months. We know, however, that NYM will continue the work we have started.

 

Similarly, our bishop has been in office for a year and has not yet made efforts to fill the pastor vacancies in the churches of our district. Our vacancies hover around 50%. Attendance is dwindling in these churches. Groups are falling away from the church (women’s groups, even choirs) because there is no leader in place. We are praying that some of the eighteen graduates from the seminary last month will be assigned to help fill these positions. We pray for strong leaders who will be courageous in confronting the many challenges in this district of great poverty. Change is needed before churches fall away.

 

How do you react to change? Do you get angry? Withdraw? Run away? Get depressed? Accept change with grace? Change is something in life we cannot escape! Our mandate as Christians is to trust in the Living Lord. He can provide us with whatever we need to face change if we ask him- strength, courage, hope, acceptance, vision or grace. The day after I received news of these changes coming for NYM, God brought me a song which contains one of my favorite Bible verses, Philippians 1:6, “that being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will be faithful to carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” This is an amazing promise in the midst of change! Even if plans change direction, we can be assured that God is with us and will carry on His work until it is finished.

 

I look forward to seeing what amazing things God has planned for Nuru Ya Mapendo.   In His grace, Jane

 

Woman's Work??

Posted by nuruyamapendo on March 2, 2014 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (22)

Apparently I created quite a commotion in Kasenga on Friday and Saturday this week when I went outside the compound to paint our security gates. We had purchased paint in Lubumbashi last month, and it was on my “to-do” list since we didn’t have the funds to hire out the work. Wearing a long skirt to climb the ladder was not appropriate for this job, so I put on a “neutral” T-shirt and a pair of loose-fitting Capri pants and hoped that I could complete the exterior wall as quickly as possible so as not to be on display!

 

I was on the ladder by 6:30am both mornings. People walking by would comment and laugh between themselves. Others would stop and greet me in French and start a conversation. Children would watch for a few moments and then offer a greeting of “Jambo” or “Good morning” in English on their way to school. I replied, and they giggled and ran off. A motorcycle “taxi” even stopped with his passenger in the middle of the road and started up a conversation to find out what I was doing! The District Superintendent from Mpewto stopped by on his way to the boat dock and asked to assist me, stating that I shouldn’t be doing this work. I politely refused, because he was wearing dress clothes and I didn’t want to be responsible for ruining his clothing. A few minutes later, D.S. Sylvain stopped by to say hello.

 

“You are being talked about, all up and down the road”, he said.” I was just at the hospital, and a man I know there said to me “Did you see? Your missionary was outside painting the gates today!” Sylvain just laughed, and replied “Yes, she is an American. Women do men’s work there and sometimes men do women’s work. It’s the difference between the cultures.”

 

Sylvain proceeded to tell me that he had also run into the D.S. from Mpweto and had received the story about the missionary woman painting the security gates. Many who passed Sylvain on the way from the hospital to NYM had the same story to tell. I was just doing what needed to be done, and didn’t realize that my atypical work would create such a stir. My only desire is to help people realize that God has gifted and empowered them to do whatever He has planned for them, no matter what the job. Who knows? Maybe one day soon I will see a woman in Kasenga painting!

 

 

Hospitality

Posted by nuruyamapendo on March 1, 2014 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (18)

In Africa, hospitality is the context for relationships. It always involves food and/or drink and is done in the home. Even if there were restaurants to visit, to entertain someone in a restaurant would not be personal enough in Africa. To offer someone to come into your home to visit is to say “I offer to relate to you personally.”

 

Hospitality is not scheduled in Africa. Spontaneity is part of the hospitality; a special menu or cleaning the house first is not required. It could mean meeting the need for a meal when it is suddenly needed. When someone drops in to visit, it is acceptable to let your guest “blend into” whatever you were doing, and they become part of the activity. In this culture of “community”, the guest is most important and our personal desires come last.

 

In Kasenga I have already received visitors sweaty and covered with paint, dirty from pulling peanuts, and in the midst of cooking (or eating) several meals. It does not matter to the visitor; they know they are unexpected and so they are willing to fit in, as appropriate. I’m expected (as much as I am able) to converse with them in the language of their greeting (French, Swahili or Bemba).

 

How does this scenario compare as an American? If Jesus were to drop in, would we welcome him more hospitably as an African or as an American? Something to consider…As an American, I am learning to show hospitality more like an African. It’s not easy. It is a process.

 

Giving to the Lord

Posted by nuruyamapendo on February 9, 2014 at 8:35 AM Comments comments (24)

 

 

Dorcas lost both an aunt and an uncle this week, and she was preparing to leave for Lubumbashi to attend the funeral. Sylvain was to see her off and so they would not be going to church with me today. As I entered their house, I hugged Dorcas for a long time, which brought tears to her eyes. She was close to her uncle, and this was a difficult loss. As I sat down I looked at Sylvain, who also had tears in his eyes. This touched me deeply, because I saw the love that he had for Dorcas was the same that David and I had for each other. When one of us hurts, the other feels that same pain. It is the knowing that there is no definition between where one person ends and the other begins. How much I miss my husband!

 

During the offeratory the young men’s choir was singing. It was a joyful song about giving to the Lord and I enjoyed the smiles they had on their faces as they sang to the Lord. At some point during the music, a woman came up to give and was making beautiful gestures with her hands, from her heart and then gracefully raising them to the Lord. She had the most beautiful, joyful smile on her face. I said to Franck “This is how we all should look when we are giving to the Lord!” and he agreed with me, however he mentioned that she was said to have some mental problems. I thought about this and dismissed it, for I know that many with mental problems are the most genuine and honest in their feelings. I could not get the picture out of my mind of her joy in giving. I recalled the story of the widow’s mite and thought about how that woman must have had the same beautiful smile on her face as the woman at Galilee Church.

 

Whether I have 500 Congolese francs (55 cents) or 10,000 francs ($11) to give on any given Sunday, this is how my heart feels when I give it. My desire and my prayer is that my face would reflect it, too.

 

Saved

Posted by nuruyamapendo on February 2, 2014 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (22)

Nothing like a good healing to begin your Sunday morning…

 

As we pulled the truck in front of Sylvain’s house to take everyone to church, I heard Sylvain shouting but could not hear the words. The front door was closed (unusual) and I thought perhaps the children had been in trouble and were receiving a scolding.

 

I started to get out of the truck and Franck said, “No, they are praying. We must wait until they are finished.” Seconds later Dorcas came to the truck and said “You can come in. A boy is sick and they are praying. If you can wait for some time, we will go to church.”

 

Franck and I followed Dorcas into the house and were ushered into the back room to wait. As I passed through the front room, I glanced to my left and saw the boy’s father sitting in a chair, looking tired and concerned. To my right was the sick boy sitting on the floor and Sylvain crouched in front of him, praying. The four oldest boys stood near Sylvain, alternating between praying and singing.

I sat and listened to the prayers and singing. Although I could not understand most of the words, I recognized all the names of the Lord- Jina ya Jesu, Mungu, Bwana Jesu, and Baba Yetu. As Sylvain prayed, he shouted “Come out! Come out! Come out!” in English. In great understanding beyond their years, the boys would stop praying and begin a chorus appropriate to the tone of the prayer. As I closed my eyes to pray with them, heaven itself was coming near. The chorus, beautiful in 4 part harmony, sounded like angel songs. Sylvain’s voice praying in the background spoke with the authority of Jesus himself. I was humbled to be in this place at this time.

 

Sylvain spoke the boy’s name and he responded for the first time that morning but could not speak. Several more times Sylvain spoke the boy’s name; he was able to respond! Although not present in the room I could tell that Sylvain had placed his hands on the boy’s shoulders to reassure him that he was going to be OK, and directed him to give all praise to Jesus who had delivered him.

 

As the prayer was concluding, Dorcas approached Franck and me and explained that the father had come to the house just after 6am, asking whether the boy should be brought to their house. He was convulsing, but had no fever (ruling out malaria). His arms, shoulders and jaw were rigid and he could not speak. There was no remedy, no medicine that could help the boy- only prayer. For nearly 3 hours Sylvain and his sons prayed. At first unresponsive, the boy later vomited and urinated. At one point the boy stood up and seemed to have recovered from the convulsion, but still could not speak. They continued to pray.

 

Sylvain came from the front room where he was praying, drenched with sweat and hoarse from the battle. He apologized for making us late for church. I smiled and said that no apology was necessary; he was doing the work that God called him to do! My mind jumped to the Scripture where Jesus healed on the Sabbath (Matthew 12) and I smiled again.

 

As we drove to the church, I thought about how exhausted Sylvain must be. But I also knew that when the District Superintendent visits a church in Africa, he is asked to give the message and given the pulpit as a sign of respect. Sylvain’s message was on Romans 10:1-5, specifically the verse where Paul writes “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.” God had impressed on me all week His desire that all might acknowledge him as Lord. I discovered today that God had also been giving that message to Sylvain and his wife, Dorcas. Today God began with the boy.

 

 

Thank You!

Posted by nuruyamapendo on January 21, 2014 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (1)

Thank you to everyone who e-mailed birthday wishes and for the 2 birthday phone calls from my daughters. I had a wonderful birthday, with a cooling motorcycle ride to and from church, a hot meal waiting for me, and my African grandchildren singing "Happy Birthday" as I arrived and presenting me with a large bouquet of plumeria (my favorite flower). If you have ever smelled this tropical flower, you will understand that only God could have created such a wonderful fragrance- it filled my bedroom for several days! Although it was VERY strange to have a January birthday that was above freezing (actual temp was around 90 degrees), it was a wonderful day.

In Africa, birthdays for adults are barely mentioned and for children it is not much better. In the Kasenga District where everyone is very poor the mother may prepare a special food for the family meal, but a gift is rarely purchased or given. They do sing Happy Birthday here and the song has 3 verses. After one of the verses you have to state your age, however my African family omitted this verse for me out of respect. :)

Isn't it amazing how God's love can be felt all around the world? Sending love and hugs to everyone who reads this blog. -Jane







Answered Prayers

Posted by nuruyamapendo on January 12, 2014 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (23)

I had a wonderful night’s sleep in my OWN BED!. The day began like any other Sunday- rising early to wash and dress for church, some breakfast, and the ordeal of air-drying hair. As I bent upside down to brush my hair to catch the breeze, I heard footsteps. I looked up and saw Sylvain and Dorcas approaching the veranda.

 

“Odd” I thought to myself. “They’re not dressed for church and it’s too early anyway…”

 

We exchanged greetings and I invited them into the sitting room. Both Sylvain and Dorcas were interested in the work we had accomplished the day before, however Sylvain left the room to wake Franck and ask him to join us. Sylvain abruptly changed the subject and began talking about the necessary trip to Kinshasa in order to begin the process of getting a new passport and visa- the flight for at least two people, lodging, meals, cost of the paperwork, etc. I argued with him that the Church Conference office had to realize that because of all that had happened in the past 3 months that I couldn’t possibly afford such a venture at this time. I also did not understand the rush, because officials in Kasenga had assured me that with a letter I could travel easily within the DRC for a long period of time.

 

“Imagine what such a trip would cost”, Sylvain said. “I have some good news” he continued as he dug deeply into his pocket and pulled out my PASSPORT and my immunization card that had been stolen and missing since December 29! I hugged him and began to cry, thanking God over and over again.

 

“Where did you find it?” I asked in disbelief through the tears. Sylvain then told me that he had been praying that morning and as part of his prayers had asked God to help him find my missing passport. He felt a strong leading that he should go to my room. (Even though I hadn’t slept there the night before, I had left several suitcases that needed to be moved to Nuru Ya Mapendo.) As he walked through the doorway, he proceeded to a suitcase that was unzipped and laying down on the floor. He thought perhaps the passport had been filed in a folder containing my important papers.

 

“No”, I argued, “I always keep my passport in the same black travel wallet in the same clear pocket. That way I always know where it is, and it’s how I knew right away that it was missing. The thief left the wallet empty.”

 

Sylvain went on to explain that as he reached down to open the important folder, God directed his eyes to the large mesh pocket in the lid of the suitcase- and there right in front of him was my passport with the immunization card still tucked inside!

 

The story would not have been remarkable, except that all along we had been led to believe that the thief had jettisoned the passport on the ground near the property where he emptied the wallet. Many had searched without success. What happened instead was that the thief discarded the passport in my room while looking for money in the wallet- and when he dropped it, it fell into the mesh pocket in my suitcase that was upright and unzipped at the time. Because the suitcase was used infrequently (and we were sure the passport had been thrown outside), I did not even search my suitcases for the missing passport!

 

What IS remarkable is the night before I had been praying for my passport. “Lord, you are the one who knows where my passport is”, I pleaded. “Please show someone- ANYONE- where the passport is so it can be recovered!”

 

Do you believe that God answers your prayers? Sylvain and I testify that He does…Thank you Lord, for your love and grace that reach out to us when we call upon your name.

 


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