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Do No Harm

Posted by nuruyamapendo on December 3, 2013 at 3:10 AM Comments comments (0)

If you love someone, you will never do them wrong; to love, then, is to obey the whole Law.-Romans 13:9-10

 

I’ve been in Lubumbashi now 2 weeks, waiting for my container and truck to clear the border and move to the Kasenga District of the DRC. Because of the financial hardship caused by SAA in Johannesburg 6 weeks ago, I am obligated to stay with a host family during this time rather than pay for the Methodist Guest House.

 

A meal in Africa takes 3 hours to prepare and is eaten once a day. In most cases, the meal will consist of sadza/bukari (the staple of the diet made with finely ground corn meal), a cooked vegetable (cabbage, cassava leaves, pumpkin leaves, or amaranth leaves, etc), sometimes a thin sauce flavored with tomatoes and onions, and if you are extremely lucky- a little meat.

 

Why does meal preparation take so long? There are many reasons: a) usually there is no electricity and so a charcoal fire has to be prepared, b) water has to be hauled and heated in order to cook, c) the common cookstove (similar to a hibachi grill) is small and only accommodates one pan at a time and d) this is considered “women’s work” and so you will never see anyone other than young girls assisting their mother with the meal preparation.

 

I am grateful for this former GBGM African family (who speaks English) willing to take in a stranger from the U.S., however I have struggled with the extra work that I am causing in their home. It’s true that they would have to prepare a meal for the family “anyway”, however my son told them that I don’t care much for bukari, and so they prepare rice “special” for me each day as an act of hospitality. How did my preference add to their daily workload?

 

Americans (especially women!) use a lot of toilet paper, and all paper products in the DRC are very expensive because they are imported. Fortunately I had carried a few rolls in my spare bag, and I offer “every other roll” as they are replaced until my supply is gone.

 

The water supply is difficult in Lubumbashi because of the electricity problem. This adds the requirement to boil water for safe drinking! Every time I brush my teeth, use the toilet, take an African “splash bath”, wash out my 3 outfits of clothing or require a refill in my water bottle I am causing someone else to haul and replace water. How my consumption adds to their daily workload!

 

I am humbled at their willingness to serve me. Out of respect for my age, I am called “Mom” and “Grandma”, and not allowed to clean or work in the kitchen. The furthest I have progressed is to be able to wash a few clothes and haul a few buckets of water. My African daughters-in-law, Carine and Dorcas, daily indicate their joy in being able to cook and clean for me. I am reminded of what I have known since my first visit in 2006- that Africans know and give great love. I am also reminded of how much we Americans have to learn about selfless love. While I learn to love more generously, I pray each day that I will do no harm to those who love so much- and that God will forgive me if I do!

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving in the DRC

Posted by nuruyamapendo on November 28, 2013 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Stores are open in Lubumbashi for business, and commuters have flooded the taxis as usual for their morning commute. There is nothing remarkable about this day here. It is going to be hot- the usual cool and soft breeze was missing this morning and no rain last night; it will probably be in the 90s this afternoon. No family, no special dinner being prepared, and no football games will be on TV (even “football” here, which is soccer). So what do I have to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day?

 

I was promised to see the truck today, however it was not driven from the border; that promise will fall through yet again. I actually dreamed last night of the praise that I would give to God if it arrived on Thanksgiving Day (does that count??) I am told now that the container and the truck will clear together on Saturday. We will see…

 

I am thankful for my family at home and my church family who have been so loving and supportive during this time of agonized waiting. I am thankful for my God who through His grace has given me the strength to endure all the trials, corruption, and lies in the waiting- the God who says in Isaiah 26 that He will “keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in Him.”

 

I am thankful for the team that God has formed to run Nuru Ya Mapendo. He is working in us as we wait for the container, growing us in Christ, and growing us in love and respect for each other. Each of us realizes that NYM will not succeed without each of the team members. I would never be successful in the DRC without locals to assist me, as I will never be “African” no matter how much I love the African people! Their counsel and advice is indispensible to me. Likewise, we would not succeed without the connection of the District Superintendent to the church network and pastors. Same is true related to the experience and training of the local Operations Manager in African (local) agricultural practices. Just like the church Body, God has gifted each of us uniquely to contribute and serve Him. None of us had ever planned or visioned this partnership. But God planned it from the beginning. Together we marvel at His wisdom and give him praise each day.

 

Every day should be Thanksgiving! We have a God who loves us- so much that he sacrificed his own son so that we would not have to pay the price for our own sin. How can we dare go a day without thanking Him for this unspeakable gift?? I may not be able to enjoy a turkey dinner, but I have the promise of turkey for 2014 (the gift of a pair of turkeys for NYM soon) . I may not be with my family on this holiday, but I have the promise of eternal life with the family of God!

 

Thank you Father for so many blessings…

 

The Art of "Dodging"

Posted by nuruyamapendo on November 22, 2013 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Living in Africa requires some special skills when navigating the metropolis of Lubumbashi, a city of 1.2 million. As with many metropolitan areas, infrastructure has not kept up with growth, particularly in the areas of traffic, electricity and water. The number of cars has increased dramatically, but so has the number of pedestrians!

 

Without proper pathways and traffic signals, pedestrians must navigate between partial sidewalks, bridges across open sewers, and narrow dirt pathways along the side of the paved streets. There becomes a constant “up and down” and “side to side” rhythm to this navigation. Cars and taxis back out suddenly from parking spaces. Car doors open from parallel-parked cars. Several people approach from the opposite direction, and one must make an immediate decision whether to move or hold ground. At the same time, you are climbing up and down steps, hopping across broken pavement or potholes, and trying to cross the road.

 

Crossing the streets is entirely different adventure. Large intersections have cars approaching from 4 directions without traffic signals or stop signs. I have seen a few red stoplights, however they seem to be ignored; cars approach the intersection slowly and proceed on their way! With drivers watching the approaching cars, pedestrians are on their own, and there appears to be no rule that they have any right-of-way- and certainly no assistance with traffic signals. One can easily find themselves straddling the middle of the street after passing behind a moving vehicle, only to find that approaching traffic from the other direction is moving quickly and without pause! This calls for a mad dash to the other side as soon as the line of cars slows or comes to a stop. Once you have reached the opposite side of the street, the “up and down” and “side to side” rhythm resumes.

 

One cannot leave this subject without also discussing the use of the car horn. Horns seem to have replaced the need for traffic and warning signs. Horns are used to notify pedestrians that they are too close to the road or are crossing in the way. They are used prod backing cars to move, and to rush taxis which are pulling over to the side. Cars use horns to notify motorcycles that they are approaching from behind, while the motorcycles weave in and out of the traffic lanes. And even on occasion, the horn is used to move a stray animal rom the roadway.

 

Can you envision the symphony? “Up and down” and “side to side”, dodge- honk, honk. Dash agin, up and down, side to side, honk, honk. Look both ways, in and out, honk, honk, honk. Yes this is also a rhythm of Africa.

 

I have not yet mastered the symphony, but after a few days in the city, I have become acquainted with the rhythm.

 

First Night in Kasenga

Posted by nuruyamapendo on November 11, 2013 at 3:20 AM Comments comments (1)

The sun began to lower in the horizon, ushering in the silver-gray cast that falls on Africa before the black night. I commented to Sylvain how this was one of my favorite times of day. It was calm and soothing, a foreshadowing of the evening rest to come. The dim grays faded to black around 6:30, and yet we were only about 90km from the city.

 I was unable to see down the road due to the headrest in front of me, but the rain began beating the car roof again. I could hear by the loud splashes that it had been raining here for quite some time, and the familiar gulley-washes and ruts jarred the car from time to time. My mind raced back to the frequent night-time journeys in Zimbabwe from campus to LaRochelle. Overhead thunder rumbled and lightning shook the ground at the same time it was visible. It was a close one!

 My mind wandered to seeing the pastors and church members again. I thought about my deliverance from Johannesburg and all of the hundreds of details in that process. I thought about seeing my new home for the first time. I thought about everything that had been done for the ministry in Africa since I was there 16 months ago. I didn’t know when I would see the pastors or church members, but the questions kept popping in my head “Mon Dieu, q’uest ce qu’il a fait?” (My God, what is he doing?) and “Mon Dieu, q’uest ce que vous avait fait?” (My God, what have you done?)

 On our way again once again, the pastor struggled to speak English and I struggled to speak French. Sylvain and I decided on a new name for my adopted language- “baby French”- or “francais bebe”. I indicated to Sylvain that he would be the one to notify me when I had graduated. The pastor in front laughed and said “I speak baby English!”. I said “We are equals then!” and we all had a good laugh. The pastor said that he was very happy.

 Sylvain continued to receive calls. Dorcas, the district pastors, and lay leaders were all asking “Where are you?” and “When are you coming?” He explained that the rain had slowed us, never mentioning all of the unscheduled stops we had made along the way. It was now just after 7pm, and some had been waiting since 2:30pm.

 The rain continued in the blackness, and we arrived at Sylvain’s house just before 8pm. The bags were pulled off the top of the Land Rover and our hosts departed. I was shown to my room (which I’m sure was Sylvain and Dorcas’ room) and they explained because of the rain and the time of night that they wanted to have me in their house that night. Just as we returned to the front room, the pastors of the District began to file in! All of the parishioners who had waited so long were now headed home. Sylvain told me that the pastor of Jerusalem parish had prepared a short prayer service for us. He opened with “It is Well With My Soul”, one of David’s favorite hymns, and I could barely keep back the tears. Even in this dark night he was with me. The pastors offered prayers of praise for safe arrival. They informed me that they (and all of their churches) had been praying for me unceasingly since I had “gone missing” in Johannesburg. They asked me to tell the story of what happened there and I obliged, ending the narrative with Psalm 62 which sustained me during that time. One pastor said for the group “we are grateful that God gave you such peace during this trying time”. We sang two more hymns, prayed together in unison, and we parted for the evening.

 After the prayer session I was offered a “splash bath” with warm water, and a small meal of rice, chicken and cooked cabbage. While the heat in the bedroom was suffocating, I was grateful to be using my own pillow for the first time in 2 weeks and to be clean! The power had been out most of the evening due to the rain, so even my fan purchased in Lubumbashi could not be a comfort. I lay inside my mosquito net, listening to Sylvain and the children going up and down the hall getting ready for bed. I listened to a new sound of an African frog species in a puddle in the yard, the chickens settling in for the night, and the dog barking. And finally, the last candle in the hallway was extinguished and it was quiet. I was in Kasenga. I was now “home”.

 God’s grace is the gift of “home”, wherever that may be…

 

 

First Day in the DR Congo

Posted by nuruyamapendo on October 25, 2013 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I want to thank you all so much for praying for me this past week. It has been an incredible testimony to the power of prayer. I breezed through Johannesburg airport this morning and had no problem with my temporary visa.

I have an absolutely AWESOME team here in DRC. Each is uniquely and especially gifted. When they come together as a team, it is a sight to behold!

As I walked off the plane, there were 3 members of the Bishop's team there to welcome in addition to Sylvain (2 more sons, Eric and Franck joined us inside). Before even hitting customs, I was handed an original copy of the visa. I was processed in just a few minutes to obtain a new visa, picked up my carry-on bag and we were on our way!

Before leaving the airport, I was able to see the Wings of the Morning plane in the hanger. It is really pretty amazing.

Outside the airport, we proceeded to a government building where I filled out numerous forms, provided passport photos, and was fingerprinted not once- but twice! (At Sylvain's notation, I was now "African-colored"!) After a 48 hour wait period, the courier will be heading to Kinshasa to obtain the missionary resident visa. We all need to pray that it is processed as quickly as possible in order to process the container through customs. (Good news is that today I was notified that the container is delayed another 3 days, so both ends of the process are working.)

After fingerprints, I was taken to the guest house where we filled out several more forms that were needed for the visa that will be picked up tomorrow morning. The team working with me have such clout that the vice-chancellor told one of the team today that if there are any problems that we should give him a call! I truly cannot believe some days what God has done in my midst; I am so blessed!

I was informed that yesterday the government "changed hands" (whatever that means) and many who work for the government fear loss of their jobs. I have to say, no one at the airport looked very happy today. Banks and businesses were shut down as a result, but I am told that they should re-open tomorrow. We exchanged money the "usual" Congolese way- in the street! (I send my sons...)

I closed the day with my African family, we viewed photos of my new home in Kasenga, shared a meal as communion, and offered many prayers of thanksgiving for His mercy and grace.

As I close encased in my mosquito netting for the night, I thank you again for your prayers. My daughters and I testify to you that IT WORKS and IT DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE! My blessing for tonight is that I located 2 fans in the guest house and have a lovely breeze, and hopefully a wonderful night's sleep.

 

Saying Goodbye/The Richness of Friendship

Posted by nuruyamapendo on October 16, 2013 at 1:10 PM

I found it no coincidence this fall when planning some retreat weekends for women that God led me to the topic of friendship. I was thinking about all of the people that I would be saying “good-bye” to- church friends, special groups, customers, co-workers and family. (This was going to be a lengthy and difficult process, and emotionally painful.) While I was not leaving “forever”, the reality is that absence affects and changes relationships with those we love.

 

During the retreats we talked about the richness that friendships give to our lives, and how those friendships are deepened and enriched further when God is at the center. In 2 Samuel, the Bible tells the story of Jonathan and David, whose souls were bonded so closely that “they were knit together”. They trusted and respected each other to the level that they were always willing to confront each other with the truth- and do so with love. This type of friendship is something that God wants for us. We are given the opportunity to experience God’s love for us through others. This does not “just happen”- it must be an intentional part of our Christian growth.

 

Following the retreats, I gave my notice at work. My heart was touched deeply as I watched several co-workers’ faces reflect sadness for my leaving, but also tears of joy that my dream of serving in Africa was really coming true. The company announced the staff changes to our customers and auditors, and messages started to flood my in-box. Throughout this process, I asked the question of several co-workers, “Why do we wait until someone is leaving to let them know that they are special to us and how much we appreciate them?”

 

I have been given the rare privilege to develop new and lasting relationships on both sides of the globe. Wherever we are planted, let’s not ever take them for granted! They are a precious gift from the Lord.

 

Working for the Kingdom

Posted by nuruyamapendo on June 24, 2013 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (0)

As I continue speaking to churches about Nuru Ya Mapendo, I continue to challenge and think about the picture of the Kingdom of God that I have in my mind. I receive questions about why someone would leave a good job, a home, a family and all the conveniences that being an American affords me. My answer is usually “because I answer to a high power. Because I am called.”

 

Why Africa? I can’t explain that either, it just “is”. A relative over the weekend listened to the challenges I would be facing during my first few months in Kasenga, and asked “Do you really have peace about this decision? You’re talking about things most people can’t even imagine and you are so calm about it!”

 

I breathed a sigh and I replied “I have more peace about this than anything I have ever done in my entire life. ..and that is how I know it is true.”

 

God through His Spirit gave me a tiny vision about His Kingdom during my first visit to Africa in 2006. Because the realization of His Kingdom is important to God, it has become very important to me. My words are very simplistic and I boldly make the disclaimer that I am not omniscient!

 

The Church is part of the Kingdom, but it is not the whole. I believe that the Kingdom is the most challenging place of the deepest human need. The Kingdom requires a network- a family if you will- to partner, to work, to realize and meet that deepest need. The unique and wonderful gifts that God has given to us are used to perfection, yieldng the fruits of the Spirit to the giver, and a unique sense of wholeness to the recipient. There are no barriers to belong to this family- not color, not gender, not tribe, not social standing, not border, not country.

 

The way to meet that need is experimental and flexible, often changing as participants move in and out of the network. It is also unlimited in its scope of outreach, based on the commitment and the passion of its servants. Meeting this deepest need is not dependent upon the recipient’s response, nor is it dependent upon a verbal presentation of the Gospel. Jesus is able to sort out the truth according to the love that is given, according to those who are willing to lay all of their life down so that others may live.

This is the wonderful mystery known as mission- how God can use His family to send, to give, to support, to encourage, to pray, to work, to network, to communicate, to love- all to reach and meet the deepest human need. Whenever we humans get it all “right”, there will no longer by any need for mission. His Kingdom will have been realized, and we will all rejoice in the greatness of God. How I long for that day, to rejoice that LOVE has won! I give God the rest of my life to bring it sooner.

 

New Friends, New Futures

Posted by nuruyamapendo on April 14, 2013 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Just completed an intense 4 days in United Methodist Volunteer Missionary Training conducted by GBGM (General Board of Global Ministries) at Garrett Seminary in Envanston, IL. Some material was familiar, but learned a lot of new things and continue to "process" all of the cultural differences that will be coming my way in the next few years. It's so diffcult to force ourselves to think outside our little "box" that we have created in our individualistic society. I'm sure it's easier for the younger generation, as the world has become so much smaller with heightened technology. I enjoy learning from them, my attempt to keep life "fresh" and "new".

Best part of the week was the bonding of our class, the variety of backgrounds, the diversity of cultures represented, and the understanding which comes from sharing the deepest part of ourselves. These are Kingdom-Growers, and a smile comes to my face each time I think about them. I fill with anticipation for what God will do with each life, because like me they are passionate to make a difference. And we know that if we have even made a difference in the life of just one, it will have been worth the journey. God is smiling, and He is pleased. I can't wait to follow each one and learn how their lives are shaped, are grown, and are used to touch others!

So here's to you, Mama Bear Go Team- fill yourselves with the One who sent you, and release the love and power of he risen Jesus Christ out into a lonely and hurting world. May He protect you physically, spiritually and emotionally as He leads you into greater things than you ever dreamed possible. Mungu amibariki (May God bless you), Jane


A Miracle!

Posted by nuruyamapendo on January 30, 2013 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (0)

As busy as Bishop Katembo's office is, his formal request for a missionary was sent today to GBGM; praise the Lord! At the same time, I was informed that I can enroll for Volunteer Missionary training in Chicago in April 2013. I am excited for what God will teach me, and happy to meet others who will be sent around the world to serve the Lord. May everything be used to His glory.

The Perfect Gift

Posted by nuruyamapendo on January 19, 2013 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (0)

What a perfect gift I received for my birthday- an English-French-Swahili dictionary! Did you know that Swahili is spoken by over 50 million people? And of that group, the most common second language is French.

May I share with you a Swahili proverb from the book?

"La kunvunda halina ubani". This means "There is no incense for something rotten."

Do you know what this means? I'm not sure I do, but at least I can pronounce it! :lol:


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