Monday, March 25, 2013

We're back.

Back from Congo.

It's hard to put into words our gratitude for all the Lord did  in such a short period of time.

Congo is a backward country.


Full of corruption.

Cursed because of its continued involvement in demonism and witchcraft, murder, and compromise.


This results in things taking much longer to get done.


Rise of the prince of the power of the air.



This is a way of life in the land.  It's a land of setbacks.

But God always wins.

In spite of the delays, primitive conditions, corruption, tribalism,  roadblocks. the rise of the prince of

the power of the air, and barriers.

These obstacles are nothing to Him.

We stand amazed because:

The team from America who came to repair Radio Glory couldn't have been better..

The repaired transmitter was installed only a day after Alan arrived.  Listeners were thrtilled.

The 300' tower was completely painted in just 4 days without incident or accident.

They were all easy to please and cook for, spiritual men who love God.

They worked long and hard hours going way above and beyond their duty.

Two weeks of service from all of them, who only asked that their expenses be paid and food and

accommodations be provided.    No charge for labor.  Godsends.

Wonderful blessings.

The Lord brought another missionary friend, Dan, from Kinshasa, who worked on our Wood-Mizer

Sawmill, vehicles, and other projects.  Another wonderful blessing.

We laughed at Congo's way of life for a time.

Radio Glory's mission was accomplished in record time.

Now, there were obstacles, delays, broken down trucks, a village that told us to get out when we went

there for evangelism, problems with two staff people, and other problems.

But our hearts are full of praise and gratitude at what did get done.

Hearts are still very hungry in Congo.

We have invitation after invitation from villages asking that our team come and preach.

When things are accomplished, everyone quickly recognizes that the power is not of us but of God.

Life for the most part is very basic.

The level of gratitude is much higher than here.

One's life can count for much because the needs are so great, and there are so many open doors.

That's where we are called, so it doesn't get any better.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

God dropped one on us

and This week started out as recent weeks have:

Trying to get all of our 2011 receipts ready to make our IRS return - ugh!

Doing some fun bookkeeping of last summer's trip to Congo

Sorting of clothes, food, and other goods that we will take to Congo on Feb 1

Preparing to teach Obadiah to the ladies at Ntshiangobo up the hill, many of whom have graduated from our Women's Literacy Center and after being under the leadership of the late Pastor Kilundu and now Pastor Kilasi an his wife (who is now attending LBI), are ready for some verse by verse study

Preparing to teach Haggai to the new students of Laban Bible Institute and the Women's Literacy School at Mbila.  These studies must be translated into Kituba, which is tedious for me.

Making phone calls to see who is coming to our Send Off Dinner in Michigan on Jan 24

Writing letters to inform our supporters what we'll be up to in Congo

Getting a newsletter written, printed, and sent out

Getting a special form letter of invitation to the Send Off Dinner

Translating new songs from English to Kituba with Jim and our daughter Nicol

Family time

And. . . squeezing in fun luncheons and dinners with new friends

Well, in the middle of all this deliciousness, our son-in-law, Rob, comes downstairs (we live in the lower level of their home) and says. . .

"I want to go to Congo."

What?  Amazing!

Even more amazing is that in the last week, more than half of what he will need to make the trip has come in.

We have prayed for Rob to be able to go for years!

And this week, God just dumped that one into our lap.

He is a civil engineer, which means he can look over water potential, including where we might put wells, survey waste water needs for the clinic we began to build, appraise all buildings on the mission, including the houses Dr. Smith built, as well as the ones for our pastors, Laban Bible Institute, Radio Glory, etc.

It's almost like God snuck this one up on us.  I say this with all due respect!

What a wonderful surprise.

We leave in just 17 days!  Yikes!!

Here's what I am asking you to do. . .


Rob still needs his visa.

We still need our new passports and transferred permanent visas which must be taken from our expired passports and transferred to our new passports--all this done in Congo.  Please pray for them to return to us soon!  Someone is going to the designated office everyday to check on their status.

Rob still needs money to make the trip.

These are 3 very important prayer concerns right this minute.  

Your prayers avail much.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Leavin' on a jet plane. . .

The time has come for us to return to Congo.  Tomorrow I give my testimony to my beloved Bible study group led by Mrs. Susie Swafford at Forest Hills Baptist Church.  I'm sharing it with you because  it also contains information about our upcoming send off dinner, departure and a very important goal to reach in Congo.

I am the product of the grace of God.  If someone would have told me that I would end up on the mission field and love it when I was a young woman, I would have told them they were dreaming.  No way!  I would never do that.

Born in an unchurched family, my parents did not even know they were in need of a Savior for years.  I was the first one to accept Christ.  I don't know of a praying grandmother, aunt, uncle, grandfather, or cousin anywhere in our family line.

At the age of 12, I used to take the Bible I was given for attending Sunday School class with my girlfriends and try to make sense of it.  Led to the Lord by a 12 year old friend the summer after I completed the 6th grade, I started attending a wonderful little Baptist church until I went to Bible College, where I met my husband.

Jim was and is a man of God, a man of the Word, and a man of faith.  We served the Lord at a local church in Dearborn for more than a decade and then went into music evangelism, flying our little plane owned by 2 others besides us all over the country.

What I didn't tell you is that I married an MK.  His parents went to Congo in 1938 when it was still a very dark continent.  After 9 years in Africa, with no furlough, Laban was asked to come minister to the Bayanzi people, who were sacrificing their live babies on hot coals.  The babies responded with terrifying shrieks, which were a necessary part of the rite in their eyes in order for their "gods" and spirits to hear and be aware of their sacrifice.  The loud cries from the person being sacrificed would be rewarded with good gardens and power in their lives.  Hence, they already knew that a blood sacrifice was required for the forgiveness of sins.

When they heard that there was a missionary somewhat nearby who was preaching that God had sacrificed His Son for the sins of mankind, it totally clicked, and they asked Dr. Smith to come and personally tell them how that could work for them.

What I hoped for was that God would overlook the fact that Jim was an MK and never require us to return to the land of his birth.  I never wanted to be a missionary, had run from it all of my life, and was paralyzed with fear at the thought of ever living in Africa.  Several years before, we had visited Jim's mom who by now had lost Laban to a fall on the mission station, and I remember standing around Laban's grave begging God to never send me there.  Of course, this was a silent prayer.  And I continued to run away from the thought of ever returning to that desolate bush location.  After all, I was a city girl, a girl who loved malls and high heels, and lunches with my friends.  And how could my children leave the grandparents they loved?

I wasn't the only one who did no want to go back.  Jim dreaded the thought because Nkara claimed his father's life.  So we decided a good substitute would be to send money to national pastors, some of whom he had grown up with.

Then everything changed.  It happened on a cold, fall night in November of 1977.  Our almost one hundred year old home burned to the ground in 20 minutes.  We lost everything.

Jim found out about the fire in a phone booth in California talking to our sister-in-law.  He said after they hung up, he fell to his knees, thanking God that he was returning to a pile of ashes of a burned out home rather than one or more funerals.

One year later, after traveling more than 50,000 miles to raise our needed support, and God granting that support, we boarded Pan Am and made our way to Rome and then on to what was known as Zaire, before that the Belgian Congo, and now called Democratic Republic of Congo.

I was expecting our youngest son, Jack.



Kicking and screaming inside.

But. . . God gave grace to obey.

I followed Jim all the way to Africa and cannot even begin to describe the gratitude I have to God for lavishing me with the needed grace to obey, though I felt anything but lavish at the time.

Today, we work with the descendants of those cannibals of yesteryear.  They have gone from topless and almost naked savages, wearing only a G string and beads to being clothes and in their right minds.  I use the word savage because we are all savages without God.  I recoil when I hear people referring to the Congolese of the past as savages.  The Bible calls us all bruit beasts apart from Christ.  So I include myself in the savage group until I was reborn.

Laban and Marcella were a part of the great Bayanzi awakening from 1947-1953.  More than 10,000 men and women came to Christ during those years.

We work with their sons, daughters, and grandsons and granddaughters.  Many speak 5 languages, some more.  They are artistic, intelligent, joyful people who cling to God so closely they feel and depend on His sustaining power everyday, sometimes hour by hour, even moment by moment.  You know, the way it should be with all of us.

The first thing we did was o start a Bible college with a 3 year training program that includes 90 hours of study in the Word of God.  The first graduation class took place in 1984 with 7 men completing their courses.  Today, more than 700 have finished Laban Bible Institute, many of whom are pastoring more than 400 churches and involved in women's ministries in the largest populated province of Congo, Bandundu.

The heartbeat of our ministry is Bible training and evangelism.  Jim has often said that if we ever put evangelism on the back burner instead of making it the heartbeat of Laban, we are done.  This year alone thousands and thousands have made professions of faith.  The goal is to get a graduate pastor from our school into those newly evangelized villages for ideal follow up.

Speaking of follow up, that's also done on our mission by Radio Glory, which boasts a 300' tower on East Hill in the middle of nowhere and broadcasts 7 days a week.  All our broadcasters are nationals, graduates of LBI, and we have no idea how many have heard the Gospel and responded through the ministry of Radio Glory.  Listeners have told us their marriages have been saved by hearing the Word of God on the air, depression has lessened in villages, fathers have dealt differently with their children, women and men have gotten right with God, and such amazing things have taken place because of this outreach since 2004.

And that's what this next trip to Congo is about.  The tower is in desperate need of painting and tweaking.  We leave for Congo on Feb 1, and 3 men will join us on Feb 22.  Two of them will actually climb the tower, check it for lightning damage or other defects, and paint it.  The other gentleman will install new equipment in the studio.


There is no crane on our mission campus to assist the men in climbing the tower.  No flying is allowed after 5 p.m. in Congo because dusk is beginning to set in, and there are no VOR's in Congo to give direction, just huts and rivers and trees.

We also have a wonderful Women's Literacy School.  In the village of Mbila, about 45 minutes from us, women are learning to read, write, and study the Bible taught verse by verse.  They have studied Philippians, Colossians, Galatians, Ephesians, I and II Timothy, some Proverbs, some Psalms, Malachi, and Obadiah.  Over half of the women have made professions of faith.  One lady testified that the Word of God is at the front door of their house now.  This means that the Bible has primary place in the life of her home.

The reading text is the Bible.

If you can read the Bible, you can read any book.

They love it.

This year we will have several women graduate from the school at Mbila.

God is no man's debtor.  I am a rich lady with a rich life because of what God so graciously has allowed me to see Him do in a country I never would have chosen to live or work in or be a part of.

Please, please remember us in prayer.

Prayer is power.  Much prayer, much power.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

"But Mama, you said . . .

Living in a third world country has its challenges, its stretching until pulled taut, its dark shadows, its exultant spiritual victories and defeats, its unanswered questions, its attacks, joys, sorrows, burdens, heartaches and heartbreaks, and experiences lived out sometimes by necessity that one would never live out in a place like the States.

Somewhat like living in America has but with some differences:

For example, bush living offers no electricity or running water unless you buy your own generator and install your own plumbing, the free flow of which is also dependent on rain fall.  After decades we do have running water because of a simple well Jim put at the foot of the hill in our front yard.  The water is pumped through a hose by an electric pump from the well to 55 gallon drums outside of our kitchen. But, when the dry season sets in and we have company, that well gets tired and low on water.  So. . . we have to get water in buckets from another source.  Though this system is a million times better than what we had before, it has its faults with debris and a pump that needs frequent maintenance.  The water is then boiled and filtered before we drink it, while in America, every home I know of has running water and electricity without interruption.  Filtering but no boiling.  But perhaps we should.

Another difference. Our country was founded on religious freedom and has sent out more missionaries than any other country in the world.  We used to be Bible based, Bible centered, and sin was recognized as sin.

Congo's history, on the other hand, is steeped in human sacrifice, superstition, holding Jesus in one hand and satan in the other, practices lying as if it were an art, trusting fetishes and demon power to get good grades, pass exams, cast curses on other people, and using lightning to kill its enemies.  And while I sound rather outspoken about their involvement in the world of evil spirits, I have observed that they are much more aware of the spirit world than we are.

There are no answers to some of their keen spirit awareness.  Some of it is very real.  On one occasion my husband was persuaded by the Holy Spirit to deal with a young demon possessed girl.   He complied. The young lady had suffered terrible bouts of demon takeover and struggle.  She was delivered.  Hallelujah.

Travel is an incredible challenge in Congo.  Imagine living in a country as large as a third size of the United States and having not one paved road, let alone expressway, that runs either the length or the breadth of the country!  Not one!  In the rainy season, the sandy paths are washed out by torrential downpours.  In the dry season, they become consuming sand pits that defy vehicles to keep moving.  Prayer before, during, and after even a short voyage is commonplace.  Every time we get in the old beat up Land Cruiser we take to Mbila to hold classes in the literacy school there, someone in the car leads us in prayer before we take off.  Another leads us in prayer when we arrive thanking God that we made it, and when we return to the mission, a final prayer is offered up of thanksgiving that we actually made it back home.  A successful round trip--what a concept!

The enemies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are very plentiful in Congo, including witch doctors.  They wear clothes like we do, have smiley faces, and pose as fathers, mothers, prostitutes, and pimps.  They can look disheveled or handsome, charming or dirty, angry or evil.  Enemies who are "pastors" and have a side job of being school principal or vice verse can demand female students to sleep with him in exchange for passing grades.  One such "pastor" threatened to chop off heads of our legitimate pastors who taught the Word of God if they opposed his actions in any way.  He made potions and medicines to sell in order to give people power to know the unknown, pass in school, and overpower his enemies  by casting curses on them.  As principal of the school, he charged tuition and dorm fees for each student living on campus, which was supposed to include daily meals.  Instead, he pocketed the money, and the students were forced to go scrounge the forest for something to eat.

One of the great joys is working with people who are rich in faith and pray as natural as they breathe.  So when anyone wants to meet with Jim or me or both of us, before they do anything else, they say, "Let's pray."  They think nothing at all of calling an emergency prayer meeting at will, after which they will gather to pray for a need we may become aware of or sense we are in a headlock position with the enemy.  Consistent and tireless in prayer, they are like bull dogs, pleading persistently,  prevailingly, wrestling for hours, pouring truckloads of energy into asking God for deliverance, provision, miraculous healing, souls needing salvation, traveling mercies or a spiritual breakthrough to name a few.

A common heartache among missionaries is staff betrayal.  After years of working side by side--national with missionary--ugly truth surfaces:  theft, moral failure, lies.  As piercing as David's recollection of betrayal was in the Psalms, probably from Absolom, his own son, so the heart of the missionary is shattered when he or she finds out what has been going on behind his or her back involving someone in whom there was confidence and trust.

It.  Hurts.  Deeply.

Unanswered questions never to be understood here on earth.  Case in point:  After serving at two mission campuses, Dr. Laban Smith (from what we know the first oral surgeon in the history of the Congo) was invited to come preach the Good News among the Bayanzi people.  He and Marcella saw 10,000 people respond to the Gospel from 1947 to 1952, 1200 baptized at a time, eye witnessed by Jim after 2 years of instruction to be sure they understood what they were doing.  The work was flourishing.  They were happy serving Christ in Congo.  God was being implanted in the hearts of many.  A Bible school was on the docket.  Life was good.

Then, suddenly, at the height of their ministry in 1953, Laban died in a fall building the home we live in when we are in Congo.


No idea.

But two words come to mind:  trust and glory.  Life is all about the Lord receiving the most glory and trust in a God who is just and loving  We rest in these two words.

Surging, exultant victories have been an amazing thing to see in the area of evangelism.  Such power is witnessed when the Gospel is unleashed in a village where darkness has reigned supreme and spiritual hunger is voracious.  To see people imprisoned and strangled by sin's clutches and ignorance released from that hopeless, lost state is incomparable.  "The Word of God is powerful, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of both joint and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."  Amen and hallelujah!

Rebirth.  The lost found.  Victory over satan.  Hope for the first time ever.  God visibly lavishing His love on those bound for hell.  Mercy.  Grace  Redemption. Forever with Jesus. What can compare to this?

Hospitals are few and far between in Congo, and the lack of local clinics which rarely have a doctor on hand means total reliance on The Great Physician.  This total reliance has delivered people from high malarial fevers, sudden onset of unknown illnesses, and babies born not breathing time after time after time.  I've seen this with my own eyes. . . more than once.

Which brings me to the point of the title of this blog.  "But, Mama you said. . ."

It was a sunny day.  We gathered in a nearby village for the sake of one of our staff members, Kimpala.  Young and tender, he had been working with us for about 4 years.  His wife would eventually bear 9 children.  In those days (1983) the Congolese would bear up to 10 children in hopes that half of them would survive the wiles of malaria, typhoid, yellow fever, whooping cough, measles, chicken pox, and other tropical illnesses.

We had jut returned from furlough, which basically means an indescribably busy "break" in America, during which time missionaries aim to visit all their supporting churches, gain new financial support to keep up with the growing needs of the ministry and family, spend quality time with family members, get their children settled in a good school, hopefully live in the area of the home church where the children can find refuge with friends in a church setting, listen to the children discover that they do not fit in a society from which they have been absent for a term (our term was 3 1/2 years), and that the country they left was no longer the country to which they were returning plus fun fun times of eating food so missed, like cheeseburgers, fries, and candy galore!

Now we were back in the bush.  Shawn and Nicol were miles away attending The American School of Kinshasa.  Todd was still with us on the mission.

Jack was 4 years old.

The average Congolese had a life expectancy then of about 47 years.  So that means that dealing with death in some form or other was a common experience for our family.  Sometimes people losing loved ones would come to us for boards to build a casket with or ask for money to buy cloth to cover the casket with or sheets with which to cover the body.

Life for most Congolese is hard and short.   Period.

Since death was a reality, Jack had questions.  Though he was too young to process death and even begin to understand the concept of a soul, much less the concept of a soul being eternal, we attempted   as best we could, to explain that when a person dies, the body goes into the ground for a time, but the soul immediately goes to heaven.  He parroted what we told him.  Life continued.

Time passed.

Then Kimpala's little became ill very suddenly.  She clung to life for a matter of a few days.

They took her to our dispensary, where meds were prescribed, which she took.

Maybe too little too late.  Maybe just too late,

And now we were seeing it again, before our eyes.


The death of a baby.

Kimpala's baby.

She lay there in a tiny casket, so beautiful, with thick, black, oh so soft curly hair.

We wept.

After the service ended, we all walked to the site of her burial.

They lowered the casket into the sandy, Congo soil.

And as they were doing so, Jack looked up at me and said, "Mama, I thought you said, when people died, they went to heaven?"

"Well, Jack, you see the soul goes to heaven right away."

"Then, why are they putting her into the ground?

Back to the drawing board.  We had more ground to cover.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The testimonial of Ntawana

Another lovely lady a few years back stepped forward to talk about how her life has been changed through the Ladies Literacy Center in Congo.

"My name is Ntawana.  I am 24 years old, and I first heard about the literacy school through the broadcasts on Radio Glory.  I shared the news with my father, and he said, 'You aren't that well educated.  It would be good for you to go there next year.'

The radio ad said, 'Here at Nkara we have a school for women.  We teach women how to read, sew, and to learn the Bible.  They end up learning to read very well.'

In My village I lived in confusion.  I didn't know Jesus.  Before I went to the school, I knew very little.

The school has opened my eyes to wonderful and practical things like reading, writing, knitting, sewing, and how to have order in my house."

When asked what were the circumstances that led Ntawana to knowing Jesus, she replied, "I walked the 30 kilometers on foot in October.  School started on October 10 and the very first day I came I accepted Christ as my Savior."

Mama Marie asked me "If you died today, where would you go?"  Ntawana replied, '" would go to heaven."

Marie continued, "And when you stand before Him, what would you say to him as far as why He should let you into heaven?"

Ntawana, "Because I died."

"Then Marie presented the Gospel and I accepted Christ.

I lived near Nkara where the school was located at the time with a relative, Pastor Ezekiel, a graduate of Laban Bible Institute.  He now ministers to the soldiers and police because he is a former soldier.

Some changes that have taken place in my life are:

I can now pray.

I now know God.

I can write.

I can read.

All I could do before was to grow a garden.

Before, my friends would come and get me, and we would go dancing on the street of my village just to have something to do.  We would smoke and dance and drink into the night and then in emptiness return to our homes.

I went home for Christmas vacation my first year in school at Nkara, and my friends came again to my house to asked me to go out for the night and do whatever, but I told them no.

After some time, they told me I was different and two of my girlfriends walked all the way to the school but had to turn around and walk all the way back home because there is no dorm on the mission for them to live in.

I am blessed to be staying with my relative, but they have no one here.

It is difficult when I go home because though my parents pray, they do not know Jesus.  They practice a religion that does not read the Bible, and so the differences in our beliefs makes life hard.

Though I finished 6th grade, I never learned to read.  This is a problem in Congo.  Even some students who have finished 8th or 9th grade do not know how to read or write because:

1.  The parents give some beans because they do not have money to give for tuition, and the beans are used as a bribe to pay off the teachers, and students are passed on to the next grade, even though they cannot read.

2.  Parents don't want to keep praying for the same year if their student fails a grade, so even if the student does not understand what they are reading or can't read at all or write, the parents pay something to have them passed.

3.  Teachers may or may not be paid by the government.  Because they are not being paid they don't show up for class, which means there is no instruction that day for the children.  So then pay for the teachers becomes the full responsibility of the parents.  They refuse to have their child failed, so once again bribing becomes the ticket to going on to the next grade in school.

I am so thankful I had a second chance.  I give God great thanks for the new sight you have given me."

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Clean Sheet of What?

The excitement was mounting!  Just weeks away from our first furlough after 3 1/2 years "on the field" as they say, Jim, Shawn, Nicol, Todd, little Jackie, and myself were all ready to head back to dear friends, missed family, catching up with supporters, central air, running water, shopping malls, high heels, clothes with fashion instead of faded, worn out duds, mobility, and fine fast food!  

And we couldn't wait!!!

Home schooling for Shawn, Nicol, and Todd was coming to a close as the spring semester was about to end.  

But we had one small problem, not for Nicol or Todd, but for Shawn.  

The Congo of those days was at a low ebb.  After former President Mobutu told the ex pats to go home; that Congo (then Zaire) did not need them, well--they up and did!  And they took all of their gear and products with them.  Supplies were at an all time low.  

And one supply we could not do without was. . . 


We had run out.

She still had a very important assignment to mail to the US which was due before we were to leave the country.

So we did what had become a natural response to any need.

We prayed.

The year before, visitors had come from America to spend time with us at Nkara.  One was a pastor from Hixson Tennessee, whom we had never met until he planted his feet on the mission. Of all things, the mission board we were with at that time made an appeal to ministers over the radio to come to Congo and actually visit us.  And this pastor took Dr. Zodhiates up on it!  Totally a God orchestrated encounter, he eventually became a dear friend.  

Having had no idea of the dearth we faced, he apologized repeatedly for not bringing gifts for the family.  After a couple of weeks, we said our good byes and agreed to visit his church when we got back to the States.

So, you may well imagine our surprise and delight when we discovered that a package was waiting for us in the city of Kikwit, about 60 miles away from us and sent by this very pastor.  Most packages were intercepted long before they got to us, so we pretty well gave up on asking anyone to send anything.

But, this one made it.  Hurray!

Since there was no easy way of communicating with people in America those days, we had no idea it was on its way.

Jim hand delivered the precious cargo to our dining room table, and we all gathered around to see what treasures might be inside.

Not one time did we suggest to this dear man what he might send us.  This was a loving project he took upon himself.

And that made it all the more intriguing.  What could possibly be inside?  After all, it was a good sized box.

With only days away, Shawn, almost 14, and I had gathered in our bedroom many a night with the other children, who were now almost 12, 9, and almost 3 along with Jim to spend our evenings together.  It was the prettiest room in the house, with wedge wood blue walls Jim had so lovingly painted, sheets with a matching blue pattern in them serving as drapes over the 4 windows, and a matching bedspread--all purchased in the States by a generous cousin so we could have some pretties in dark Africa--and it became a refuge for our family. 

There were times, many times, when I felt like I was losing my mind I would go to this room and pray for sanity and the grace to stick it out.  The Lord always, always came through.

It was on this almost sacred ground that we prayed, we talked, we laughed, we cried, and we dreamed--of furlough and returning to all we had known previously.  

And it was in this room that I prayed in the quiet of the night as I lay on my bed that the rapture would take place in those early days of our arrival at Nkara so I could get out of what I considered the worst nightmare of my life--being a missionary in Congo!

We waited no longer.  Jim got a knife and slit the box open.

And right there

On the top of all the other goodies

Was of all things

A ream of the paper we had prayed for!

The paper that would enable Shawn to finish her report

The paper through which God showed His loving care

The paper which was a picture of God's faithfulness

The paper the Lord told Pastor B to buy and send

And not only to send but to put right on top so we could see God's face when we opened the box

The paper that would be appreciated more than the toys and goodies that lay beneath it; that is, by Shawn at least.

And that night as we gathered once again in that beloved haven of a bedroom, which even boasted a small piece of bright red carpet (the only carpet in the whole house which Jim had taken out of the top of our Suburban to cheer me up and put on the floor of our bedroom)

Shawn, sitting on the floor of our bedroom, glanced up at me, and said as she held her gift,

"Mom, have you ever seen anything so beautiful as a clean sheet of paper?"

I shall never forget that day.  

A day that is one of my most beautiful memories of living in Congo with our whole family among us.  It still brings tears to my eyes and joy to my soul as I think of Shawn's words.

Words of deep satisfaction and even joy over such a simple commodity as a sheet of paper?

Words she would never have uttered had she not had to do without.

Words of bounty because she knew what it was to experience lack. 

Words of thanks because she had a dead line that could not be met without paper to write on.

That deadline could only be met by God's supply.

God had supplied.  Big.  Time.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Our solace: a bottle of Coke!

She missed her sister terribly.  The pain was almost unbearable, not only for Nicol who was 10 years old, but for me, her mother watching helplessly.

We had been in Congo for less than 2 years, returning to the scene of a great awakening among the Bayanzi people which took place in the late 40's.  Life was far from great at this point in our lives.

It was now late fall of 1980.  Nicol spent a good deal of time with the Congolese children, especially after Shawn left to attend 7th grade at school at Karawa, the Swedish Covenant mission station. . . 600 miles away with no available roads, accessible only by air.

We struggled and struggled with the thought of packing her off to boarding school, but she was down to about 80 some pounds at the age of 12, suffering severe homesickness and culture shock.  Virtually everything had been pulled out from under her:  no more grandparents, no more friends she grew up with, no more familiar surroundings, including department stores, grocery stores, playgrounds, school grounds, tasty food, and snow or at least a change of seasons.

So. . . we decided to try the option of different surroundings.

Because Nicol played with African children whose parents many times had to choose between a can of sardines or soap for the family with which to bathe, she developed recurrent cases of lice.  We had no good and tried treatments for lice, we resorted to what we did have--kerosene.  Mind you, we lived 400 miles in the interior of Congo, not exactly a place filed with Walgreens or CVS pharmacies

Bout after bout of these lice plagues, delayed culture shock (Nicol adjusted extremely well in the beginning), malaria encounters, and missing Shawn put Nicol in a pit of despair and loneliness.

Things came to a head.

I found Nicol in her bedroom sobbing.

My heart broke.

I felt guilty for ever bringing her to this isolated piece of Africa.  What had we done?  What were we thinking?

She poured out her heart to me as she lay on her bed.

I listened.  We were alone.  We cried together.

She said, "Mom, when I look out my window, all I want to see is Grandpa's green Catalina (Pontiac) driving down that hill, and instead all I hear is people speaking a language that is not my own, and I'm surrounded by unfamiliar faces."  No cousins.  No relatives other than our immediate family.  No activities to look forward with other American playmates.  No ice skating.  No roller skating.  No gymnastics.  No Shawn.

What to do?

I had no way of bringing Shawn home for the weekend on such short notice,  no way of convincing my parents to come for a visit--no way, and no way of sending Nicol back to the US for a visit.

We were stuck.

"Stuck" in living out God's will for our lives.

It's one thing to know that God has called you to be a missionary.

It's another thing to live out your missionary role.

To perform the expectations others put on you to fulfill the role of a missionary.

To live out the life God has for you.

To feel like a missionary.

 It takes time.  It is a process.

We needed more time.

The will of God did not yet fit like a glove as I had been told in Bible college.

I didn't even know if I could hold out.  Some days I felt like I was going to lose my mind.

I felt like I was living on Mars totally inept for the call that was so evident on my husband's life.

I never felt called.  I know it goes against the grain and everything you might have heard about having to have a call on your life.

I went because I belonged with my husband, and I was sure of God's call on his life.

It was this simple:  If God called him, He also called me.

But as far as sensing a separate call from the Lord on my life to serve Him in Congo--no.  It wasn't there.

So, there we were.

I told Nicol to wait a moment.  I would be right back.

In our attic was a case of cokes. . . a very precious commodity.  A treaure hard to come by.

Cokes all the way from Kinshasa, hundreds of miles away, not available locally.  Saved for very special occasions.

This was a very special occasion.

Usually shared by two people, each shared bottle was sipped slowly by both.

But drastic situations call for drastic measures.

Down I came with not one coke, but two.

Nicol's eyes brightened.  We had made this case last for a long time.  She knew she was valued and loved.

She rose to the occasion.

We sat on the edge of the bed with feet dangling and even swinging as we sipped away.

Each one being solaced with her own bottle of Coke.

Life was good again.