Friday, September 28, 2007

Amber's wedding pics

Here are some more pics on Facebook...

Amber's Wedding

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Urgent: cheap digital cameras needed

Hi! Yes, I'm due for a real blog post, but first I have a question...

Anybody out there got a used digital camera to sell? I'm looking for 2 cameras at about $40 each to purchase on behalf of 2 Congolese colleagues. Let me know asap if you do 'cause I leave in just 2 weeks!


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Living and loving the African life

People ask me all the time if living in Africa is hard. It does have its downsides, most notably the fact that it’s located thousands of miles from my family. The public restrooms are atrocious, and I’m not free to express myself in my mother tongue. Other than that, it’s really not too hard to live there. In fact, I feel that living in Africa facilitates a lot of good things in my life. Here are a few that come to mind:

1) I have easier access to solitude. Because I have a limited network of relationships and because not much happens after 9pm there and because I have my own place and because I don’t have a television, I seem to find more evenings to spend in prayer or doing a creative endeavor or just reading.

2) I am more generous. The Congolese obligate generosity. There are just so many needs and they tell you about them and ask for your help. To be a real friend you have to be giving.

3) I am less of a consumer/garbage generator. There’s just not a whole lot to buy. Things don’t come with as much packaging. I don’t get junk mail. I can give stuff away that I don’t need anymore, including empty jars or plastic bottles.

4) I am constantly improving myself. You just can’t get away with a lot of junk in your life; it comes out ugly under the stress. I am always surrounded by seasoned missionaries who voluntarily mentor me and help me grow. The challenges that I face force me to become a better person.

So yeah, it can be hard. But I wouldn’t trade the benefits for anything. I’m happy to be going back in 4 weeks. In spite of the distance. And the toilets.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Saturday, September 01, 2007

My Congolese Self in America: #2 Church

OK, it must be time to talk about Congo some more. Unfortunately my biggest disappointment in coming back to the States has been church. I just haven’t found the fellowship and worship I was looking forward to. The first Wednesday I was home I went to the evening service at my home church and didn’t know anyone! I went back to the youth group and didn’t know anyone there either! So I ended up leaving early simply because I didn’t have anyone to sit next to. So where does Congo enter in? Well, I’ve been shocked at how many services and different churches I can go to without ever being introduced! (Although there have been exceptions!) I was so used to Congo where when a person comes back from a trip or when a minister visits from out of town, they get a minute to give a report or they are at least greeted from the pulpit. It’s a really big deal for Congolese and I’m used to getting acknowledged quite a bit in church over there. On the other hand, there’s something nice about being able to go to church here and NOT be noticed! :o)

It’s also odd going to church here because it doesn’t feel natural to me anymore. I’ve been to a lot of different churches this summer, but everywhere I see all the cultural traditions we have, rather than just joining in like I used to. I feel like more of an observer than a participant in our huge concert-like services. I notice how nice our buildings are and what elaborate sound systems we have. This is disappointing because I was looking forward to being back home where I wouldn’t have to be distracted by cultural issues in church!

I hesitate to write this entry because I really love a lot of churches here and believe they are doing just what God has called them to. I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing the American church. I’m not, I’m just saying how I see it through my Congolese eyes. I think this is a pretty common experience for missionaries who come home.

I guess if I were really Congolese I’d have a few other things to say—like “People! Get up and move when you sing!” :o) The Congolese would love to hear our beautiful worship songs, but ultimately I think they’d prefer their own music. If I were Congolese I think I’d be very jealous of all the wealth that the church here enjoys and I’d probably ask if they could spare something for the church in Africa! All of the churches I’ve visited are VERY giving, yet I don’t think a Congolese would see that when it’s obvious that those churches still enjoy a great amount of money for themselves. Our wealth and living standards are just so foreign to them.

So I’m left with knowing that even if no single service or church building is going to completely make me feel at home, I’m on the road to my heavenly home and I can get a taste of it no matter where I am when I’m in Jesus’ presence and with His people.