Sunday, June 03, 2007


I'm off today for a branch conference. We'll be out at a retreat center until Monday the 11th, so I will be without Internet access until then. I didn't get around to sending out a prayer update, but if you think of me, please be in prayer for this week of important business meetings and for the 3 days of spiritual retreat at the end. I am in charge of planning and coordinating the fun activities for the week, so you can pray that what I have worked on will truly be fun, helping a lot of stressed people to relax and bringing us closer together as a group.

When I return I will have just a week left in Congo to pack up my stuff, tie up all the loose ends, and say my goodbyes before I arrive in Portland on the 18th.

What Congo Has Taught Me #3

People are not interruptions. If you’re working away and someone comes along to talk to you, how to you respond? For an African, this person is more important than the work they were doing. Moreover, the fact that this person crossed your path means that they are God’s will for you in that moment!

I am learning that my relationships with people are actually my most important work here. Even more importantly, I’m realizing that my interactions with people are almost the only thing that counts in God’s eyes. Without those same people who “interrupt” me, it’s impossible to practice love, which is the most important commandment and the only way of making God real amongst us.

In the West we isolate ourselves. We build castles and put hedges around those castles and we close ourselves up inside. If we want to see someone, we let down the drawbridge and extend an invitation. This is known as hospitality.

In Congo you don’t close your door. Anyone could walk through at any moment. A surprise visitor will be offered whatever is available; if you have enough for one, you have enough for two. There’s always time or food or a bed. This is African hospitality.

I have a long way to go before I will value people the way they should be valued.

Friday, June 01, 2007

What Congo Has Taught Me #2

There’s no need to be self-conscious about expressing yourself. I love the way Africans seem able to just sing and dance at just about any old time, whether or not anyone else is participating. You can walk down the street singing at the top of your voice. If you’re talking to someone and a song comes to mind, just sing it out! If you are happy, why not do a little dance?

I think I’m making some progress in this area, mostly because I’ve been persistent in pushing past my comfort zone and have continued to get involved in music here. It’s no longer very difficult to sing for people who want to just hear what my voice sounds like, or to try out a solo part in front of a group of outstanding vocalists. But I’ve still got a long way to go before I’ll be the kind of performer they are! They do everything with their whole heart, no self-consciousness at all.