Thursday, October 26, 2017

Closing Doors

Since we left Africa March 31st and touched down in the US on April 1st, we have been on furlough.  Our furlough was meant to be a time of rest, rejuvenation, learning and education to further ourselves, meeting with our partners to tell stories about Africa and give updates, visiting with friends and family, and filling our hearts with American culture to begin our return back to African in August. But life happened - doctors appointments didn't go as planned, a pregnancy, an emergency surgery, and other setbacks. This led us to question our calling and what God was asking of us.

After much prayer, we felt God closing the door on our return to Kinshasa. This has been very hard on all of us. When we left, we did not pack up our life but came with the basics, knowing we would return home (to Kinshasa) shortly. We left our treasured items, left our friends, left our pet Tchaku, and never said good-bye. This transition has been hard, and closure will not come easy, since only Kevin returned to close out our life there recently. We will always remember Kinshasa with many fond memories.

As of today, our prayer letter is "live" online and is being mailed out to you soon (who subscribe). In it is our announcement about closing the chapter on returning to Africa. But with it is some very good news. It seems God has opened another door in our lives when we felt most discouraged. MAF has offered us a position which may be accomplished "remotely." This will allow us to stay in Tennessee and work from "home" helping all the missionaries in all the bases with a new aircraft maintenance computer program. This is so exciting for us (especially for me [Tasha] who is on bedrest right now and can still use a computer to work!).

To the right of this post you will see a link for our "Fall 2017" prayer letter with the official announcement. Please take the time to read over it. We would love for you to pray for us during this transition time. In the meantime, you will see some changes to our blog to reflect our current happenings. I would also like to finish up a lot of blogs I started while in Africa and never finished writing them. While we are no longer "international missionaries" we are still missionaries and want to share about the many ministries of MAF. I hope to continue this blog and keep all our readers informed about our lives and how God is using MAF to shine his light to the world.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Tie-Breaker

One of Kevin's love languages just so happens to be competition. Wait. Maybe not love language. Maybe more of a passion. Anyway, we have come up with a great competition that involves the kids...
Photo Credit: Entrance Photography

So feel free to place you bets as to who will win this competition in January! 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Motherhood Moments #23

Sometimes motherhood looks like this...
a painting party for the ladies in our group. Sometimes motherhood isn't always just about motherly duties like diapers and 2 AM feedings - it is about being a woman who spends time away from her family for her sanity. The ladies in our MAF group got together today to paint, share lunch, and talk about ministry with one another. I was excited that I got to "adult" today! :-)




Thursday, March 9, 2017

Talking About Politics

In general, I don't like talking about politics - it only garners arguments. There is a saying that there are three sides to every story - your side, my side, and the truth. When politics are involved there are a lot of gaps in the information available to my side or your side. The DRC is a country where being patriotic is acceptable but being a critic is not as welcome. The government has been known for shutting down social media (Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Skype, etc.), cellphone text messaging, and internet (all during the time we have lived here) in order to control flow of data and information. Thus, I tend to hesitate to share, but there is some information I need to disclose now so that you will know what is going on here. (This blog will be filled with lots of links from various sources so you will have a less biased view of the situation and also less emotional input from me and more facts so you can form your own opinion.)

The DRC is a democratic society but it is still new to that term. When Kabila's father Laurent Kabila was killed, his son Joseph stepped up and took over in his father's stead in 2001. Kabila was officially elected into his position in 2006. At the same time, the assembly placed constitutional provision on the limit for terms an elected president can serve to two terms. He was elected again in 2011, which should have been his last term. Unfortunately there was no money in the budget in 2016 for the general elections. This means that the current president will remain in office until elections can be held.

The people want change and decided to protest, which ended in many lives lost. The opposition party met with the presidential party to discuss options that will make both groups happy: if Kabila steps down, his position of wealth will be in danger; if he stays, the people will be unhappy. It is a difficult time. 

The opposition elected party member Etienne Tshisekedi to be a right hand to Kabila, which the government accepted as part of a deal leading up to an eventual election. Unfortunately, Tshisekedi recently died while in Belgium, leaving the opposition party without a leader. The body of Tshisekedi was scheduled to arrive in Kinshasa this Saturday the 11th, but now even that is up in the air. He was a popular man who was the face of change for the future to many people. Many people fear the uncertainty without him being their leader. 

That being said, there have been many rumors about what will happen when Tshisekedi's body returns. A funeral is quite the affair to the Kinois community. When the body is transported from one location to another in a car (like a hearse but just a regular car here), the car itself has sirens and is decorated in flowers, all while people follow in vehicles hanging out the windows shouting the whole time. When the body reaches it location for the viewing, there are professional mourners who are hired (by the family) so that there is a constant wailing. When the body heads in a processional to the burial location, people follow in cars and motos or will walk, following the body, all while wailing, chanting, and/or singing. A funeral and is procession are huge events - a time to show respect for the body. The opposition and family want to bury the body but so does the government, an event guaranteed to attract many people. There have been discussions over who will have possession of the remains for burial. 

In the end, the facts are that the country desires change, but when a majority is uneducated, it is hard to know how to (safely) go about the change. People know how to protest to show their displeasure which can end dangerously. Please pray for the situation as those in power determine when the body will arrive. Please pray that the presence of the body does not incite more anger from either side. Please pray for peace. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Motherhood Moments #22

Sometimes motherhood looks like this...
The road to the right is a one way blocked by the police
who work for the ambassador who lives on that road,
otherwise people would utilize that road as well. 
a traffic jam. And not just any jam but one close to our home. There have been some recent road updates on a road that ties into our own, which means people get backed up on our road trying to get to where they need to go. Since we live up about 1/4 mile up the road, often times I find myself walking home with the kids, leaving Kevin (or whoever dropped us off) to wait in traffic. We always beat them home. The worst was when we were two cars away from our gate and had to wait 45 minutes (there is no "sidewalk" by our door that we could use).
Adah holding onto Papa Leopold as we walk home.

This is the spot right by our gate where we got stuck
that one time for 45 minutes
(the dark grey to the right of Papa Leopold's head is our gate). 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

What's In A Name?

Titles are very important to showing respect - Misses, Mister, Sir, Ma'am, Doctor, Professor, etc. This is very much true for the Congolese - our title is a sign of respect, importance, prestige, and sometimes value.

When you have children, your name is now given a title to represent your rite of passage - "Mama" Cele, "Papa" Pepe, "Mama" Georgine, "Tata" Oscar (Lingala for Papa), etc. When you have employees, they like to show their respect with many different names depending on how many people you employ - chef and patron are most frequent. A lot of times you are referred to by your job title - pilote (pilot), délégué (delegate), députée (member of parliment), judiciaire (judicial/police chief), etc. When you are married, some people will call you by your husband's name with Madame before it. Vendors like to call you "Mama" or "Papa" to get your attention. Closer friends or beloved employees may call you whatever your child calls you, like "Mommy" and "Daddy."

Now that you have a little background, I would like to present our many names given and used by locals, not our (always) children or family:

Kevin - Papa Kevin, Monsieur Kevin, Chef, Pilote, Pilote Kevin, Patron, Monsieur Spann, Pilote Matthew (Kevin is hard to say when French is you 3rd or 4th language), Matthew, and Daddy.

Tasha - Mama Tasha, Madame, Mama, Madame Kevin, Mommy, and Natasha (one of the national workers cannot say the hard "t" sound because French is his 5th language).

What would some of your titles be?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Motherhood Moments #21

Sometimes motherhood looks like this...
broken glass and glass shards. Our main door is a sheet of glass with bars surrounded by a metal frame. The door is difficult to close at times. On Saturday evening, as I went to close the door behind me, it did not shut the first time. In my hurry to get the littles inside, I pushed it a little too forcefully and the entire glass plate shattered! I did not realize how weak the glass was until that moment. After an embarrassed stutter-filled apology to Kevin, he cleaned up the remaining bits from the house and called Pepe to come get it fixed. The next day, Pepe came to measure the door and by Monday we had a new glass.
Francy sealing the glass

We have a functioning door again!