Translation

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Changes

Our family has fit a lot into the last month. On December 12th we departed Lubumbashi and spent the next four weeks in South Africa. Our time began with the first ever Africa Nazarene Youth Conference held for youth all across Africa. Over 300 participants worshipped, learned and served together. The Spirit of God moved in mighty ways and we are excited to see this generation make a difference in their own countries.

We spent time with friends, ate delicious food, saw beautiful countryside, watched a couple movies at the theatre and purchased groceries we don’t often have in DR Congo (strawberries, blueberries, pasteurized milk and hard taco shells to name a few). Then, we ended our time with an amazing retreat for Nazarene missionaries serving all throughout Africa. It was wonderful to meet and spend time with colleagues and friends from South Africa, Zambia, Senegal, Ethiopia, Kenya, Swaziland and more. We worshipped together in English, French and Portuguese. We played games and laughed a lot. Testimonies were shared, good-byes were said to some who are moving and announcements were made for new positions being filled.

Along with these things, maybe the most unexpected thing we did was answer yes to a new role on our Field. Effective this month, Gavin is the Field Strategy Coordinator for our Field, Africa Central. It is bittersweet to say goodbye to St├ęphane and Sandra Tibi, who led our Field well these last 3 ½ years. They will be moving to the Eurasia Region and serving as the Regional Education Coordinator. While we will still live in Lubumbashi, Gavin’s responsibilities will be a bit different.  In much the same way we have been serving in DR Congo, we will serve in the Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Gabon. Some of the first things we are concentrating on is building a team of missionaries and leaders, as well as entering new places where the church has not been yet. We are humbled and excited and ready to be used by God in this way.


Would you join us in prayer as we take on this new responsibility? We pray for wisdom, discernment and God’s guidance.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Waiting and Expecting

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. Of course, until 4 years ago, I associated this time of year with cold, the possibility of snow, fires roasting, hot chocolate and snowmen or Santa decorations hitting you in every storefront you entered. Now, in Congo, we find ourselves in this season of hot, the possibility of rain, fans blowing, ice cold drinks and rarely a sighting of Christmas decorations to be found.

In all honesty, I miss a bit of the Christmas atmosphere. Lights glowing outside neighbors homes, families ringing bells together to raise money for the Salvation Army and even carolers harmonizing and reminding us of the joy-filled season. It takes a bit of adjusting, but for us it has been a good thing to step back and remember what this season is all about. Remembering what God did for us through sending His Son, Jesus Christ.  

We find ourselves in this time of Advent, leading up to Christmas. It’s a season of waiting and of expectation. I know the meaning of waiting. Waiting for people to arrive who said they would meet us 2 hours before. Waiting in line for a document because there is only one person who signs and verifies said documents and he happens to be out at the moment. I know the meaning of expectation. I expect my children to behave and obey (and, obviously, they fall short sometimes). I have expectations of pastors to return reports to me so I can do my job and return my reports in to the general Church. But, the season of Advent, where we wait in hopeful expectation of the beautiful gift God sent us, is something else entirely. This waiting is good and beneficial and prepares us for what’s to come. The expectation is set high and exceeds what our imaginations could even think it to be.

So, as we go about our December days in Congo, we focus our minds on what is to come; celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Yes, we decorate our house with the one box of Christmas decorations we stuffed into our crate 4 years ago. But, most importantly, we read scripture that points to the One who God sent. We spend time in prayer. We spend time talking about the birth of Christ and how this changed everything.


May we find time this season to step back and remind ourselves what this season is about. May we all find peace, love and joy through what God has done for us!

Friday, November 4, 2016

A Lesson In Humility

Sometimes, I feel like being a missionary is a lesson in humility.  We struggle to communicate, or to make sense in other cultures.  We don’t seem to know how to accomplish the most basic tasks in our new environments.  Essentially, we fail from time to time.  Luckily, the Lord’s grace allows us to continue.  This is one of those stories. 

In April of 2015, I bought a used Toyota Land Cruiser.  The lack of infrastructure in the DRC can make traveling into the interior quite a challenge.  The Land Cruiser is a no nonsense, off-road machine and was supposed to open up areas for church planting that were previously closed.  And it did.  This truck took us to places that I never thought we’d be able to go.  Or, at least it did for a time.  Used cars can be hit or miss here in Congo, and this one soon became a miss.  I was constantly pouring money into it and so we reluctantly decided to sell it.  After meeting a guy who said his boss was looking to buy our Cruiser, he asked to keep the car for the night and show it to his boss in the morning.  I know what you’re thinking.  It’s like watching a scary movie, and you’re shouting at the TV, “Don’t give him the keys!  What are you thinking?” 

Ok, but in my defense, I went into his office, met his coworkers and we have a mutual friend whom I trust.  He promised me that his boss would buy it the next day at a premium rate if I were to give him the car for the evening so that he could check it over.  I agreed.  From that moment on, my contact became difficult to reach.  To make a long story short, four months later I discovered that my car was four hours away at a garage.  I took a bus a few days later to go investigate.  After finding it and convincing the garage owner that the vehicle belonged to me, it would be another month before it could leave the shop.  The person whom I had left the car with had a small accident, sold pieces of the car, and driven it hard for a long distance.

So, when I got the call Friday evening that the car was ready, I wasted no time.  Saturday morning I woke up before the sun and headed off toward my Cruiser.  It seemed a bit strange but mostly ok to make the trip, except for the tires.  On Saturday afternoon, stores close early and the garage didn’t have any idea where I could purchase new ones.  They started patching the ones that I had and assured me that I would make it home.  After my third flat tire at 9:30 pm, it was clear that the truck was going no further.  It was hard enough changing the first two with no jack and there was nowhere to get it fixed anyway.  I left the truck on the side of the road and walked for 30 minutes before someone stopped to take me the rest of the way into town. 


Luckily, we were only about a 45-minute drive from the house.  In the morning we were able to take half a day and get the tires fixed so that we could bring the truck back to the house.   It had been five months since I had left the car with a guy for the evening.  What a difference one bad choice makes.  And yes, it is embarrassing.  I only share it with you for the purpose of sharing about God’s grace.  We have prayed for this vehicle a number of times, and I truly believe that the only reason we have laid eyes on it again is because the Lord was with us.  If anything, this experience has been a reminder that we are human; that we make mistakes; that we fail.  Thank you Lord for keeping me from becoming too proud!  And thank you Lord for the constant reminders of your provision and your loving care.