Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Rich Blessings

Another lovely MAF wife made the statement about having shock over the level of poverty seen around them, but her shock came from the realization that she was wealthy. And with her realization came the reality that she has always been wealthy and never realized it.

Did you know I was richly blessed? I don’t mean I am sitting on a nest egg ready to retire or that I own gold tucked away in Fort Knox. And in this context I’m not referring to the number of our wonderful friends and supporters we have blessing us beyond measure. No, I mean I am wealthy and so are you. Don’t believe me?
  • I have never had to go outside with a spoon to eat dirt in an attempt to take away the hunger pains. I know what it feels like to be full, even too full.
  • I have access to enough water to bathe/wash on a frequent basis.
  • We own more than one set of clothing, and are able to clean them.
  • My baby owns at least one toy.
  • I have never had to send my child to bed hungry.
  • I own shoes.
  • Not only do we have plumbing, we have the ability to filter our water and not worry about getting sick from it.
  • I had the luxury of being able to afford to attend and complete (primary) school.
  • I own a bed.
  • I have never watched my child laying sick in a hospital bed while the doctors refuse to treat them until more money comes first.

We have been in Congo for just over three months now; some of the honeymoon period is starting to wear off, and some of the realities and struggles are starting to set in. As we are trying to learn various things to which we can cling to keep us motivated, we have reflected on these things. But sometimes this list is actually discouraging. It’s tough to be inside a house (with a roof) knowing that some people walking down the street outside have to deal with not having some or any of these "blessings".  But take a look at Matthew 5 and what Jesus said:

"…and He began to teach them. 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven...'"

In French, and in some English translations, it even says, “happy are those…” In my minds eye, I think of the faces of Congolese Christians I know. I smile when I read these verses, because I know for them there is hope. Their blessings do not rest in material things, or things to make their lives easier. Their hope, many times their only hope, is embedded in these promises of Christ. At first, I must admit, it stung when I thought of it this way. But the more I think about it, they too are blessed. Richly blessed. Lord, reveal yourself to the Congolese who don't know you, so they can learn how great of a reward and  true blessing is found in your love, grace, and righteousness.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

....Ndolo Tower.....Say Again???

As I completed the final items on the before takeoff checklist and prepared to call the flight follower in Vanga, I heard Ndolo Tower come on the radio with a very strong accent. Her voice gave almost no distinction from one word to the next.

"Nine Mike Echo, taxi back runway eight, ATC clearance as follows, clear to Vanga via Ulvas, after departure maintain runway heading, climb two-zero-zero-zero, right turn, pass over Kilo Sierra Alpha three-five-zero-zero minimum, climbing zero-five-zero, intercept zero-four-six degree radial, report passing two-zero-zero-zero right turn, next call ready for departure"


I heard my call sign "Nine Mike Echo," and fortunately I had written down the basic pattern they use and made out enough numbers that I could fill in the blanks.

I repeated the clearance, "Nine Mike Echo, back taxi runway eight, cleared to Vanga via Ulvas, runway heading after departure, climb two thousand feet right turn, pass over Kilo Sierra Alpha three thousand five hundred feet, intercept zero-four-six degree radial, climb to and maintain five thousand feet. Will report passing through two thousand feet right turn, next call ready for departure."

Hey, that sounded good! Then, there was a long pause...I could almost hear her thoughts, almost word for word: Huh? (Except in French, "l'huh.")

She came back on, and repeated her clearance, inferring she did not understand me. This time her transmission was broken, but I was still able to pick out the pieces. The rule of primacy was becoming a problem from all of my time spent in the American Air Traffic Control System. All of the flows, speech patterns and phraseology that I would use stateside, I must forget...or at least shove in the back corner of the hangar in my brain.

I wondered, what could I do differently to help her understand, that I understand the instructions. Oh Yeah! I have to repeat it exactly. I can't say two thousand, or three thousand five hundred. I can't say things in the order I'm used to, I have to repeat it back exactly as I heard it.

Quite frequently, the actual flying-the climbing, turning, descending, and landing- this is the easy part of what we do. It's all the other stuff to get us in the air that proves to be the challenge.

Finally, we were on the same page. A quick check of the time, passengers, hand brake and wind, add the power, a touch of right rudder, and we are airborne, on the way to Vanga to deliver 120 kilos of cargo and two of our national Internet Tech staff to install a new VSAT internet satellite system for a ministry in the middle of the African bush. I love my job.