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


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!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Murder Mystery - Terror in a Toga

Some days remind us of what "normal" used to feel like. Two of the ladies here came up with the idea to have a murder mystery party. They were able to buy a kit and invite people to the party. I cannot begin to describe how fun it was! Each person is given their role ahead of time and a character description. You then show up to the party dressed as your character. You are given a set of instructions and at this point, you are improv acting! Then the murder occurs! You must use the clues you have determined by talking to others to guess who did it. No one got it right this round so it made things even more fun. It is a mix of Clue, Mafia, and improv acting. Here are some photos from our event taking on my cellphone!

Justus Ruler the Senator and his wife Claudia

Money made from squished bottle caps painted gold (so crafty)

Some of the others dressed up

Our game faces...Kevin's method was to
always look like he was lying

The Senators

Some of the Roman food people brought - I took photos too early

The Senator and his Charioteer forming a plan

Amazing decorations!
Tables were set up with cushions

The most realistic costume and hair


Here is a photo of everyone taken by the amazing Jocelyn Frey, who was one of the ladies to set up the party. 

*The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this event are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.
No person or entity associated with this event received payment or anything of value.
No missionaries were harmed in the making of this event.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Hangar Happenings #4

In Hangar Happenings # 2, I talked about the beginnings of the construction on the new bathroom. Here are some updates to the amazing new bathroom!

The original bathroom access was walled up to make a new wall for one toilet stall. 
The original door to the bathroom is now covered.
A wall was placed inside the toilet area to separate the sentinel shower from the new bathroom. The original space was large enough that shelves were in there and they were used for personal food storage, encouraging an abundance of rats. The sentinels will eventually have new lockers placed in a new common area to replace the dilapidated and water damaged old ones.
Leopold adding a wall between the
Sentinel shower and the new bathroom
After the walls were put up, Leopold placed new tiles.
The walls were plastered and painted.
Matthew placing plaster on the concrete.
Matthew setting up the ceiling fan/light.

For a new sink, Kevin found an old rusted Craftsman tool cabinet. Matthew removed the bottom drawers and cut a hole for a sink.
 Kevin painted it a shiny new red color.

 Matthew found someone to put in new cabinet doors.

 Matthew even came up with the cool idea to use old sockets for handles!

Finished product
Kevin is in the process of welding the doors and Wane will paint them. We will soon have an amazing bathroom!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Vaccine Flight

Many of the villages we fly to every day can be reached by other modes of transportation, however it's typically a combination of both boat and car or moto. A trip like this is expensive, dangerous, and quite time consuming. We know of two villages that are only 15 miles apart, but it can take up to a full day of travel to go through the deteriorated jungle trails on a motorcycle. 

Every couple of months, we partner with a local doctor to deliver vaccines to some isolated clinics in the interior of the Congo. I was able to go on this most recent trip where on the first day we landed at 6 villages. On the second day, we delivered to 4 more villages. And on the third day, we offloaded vaccines at 3 more destinations.

One of the other pilots who was on the trip with me.
Visiting these 13 villages using a method other than an airplane would have taken several weeks to accomplish. Also consider that most of the medicines we were transporting require a "cold chain," or constant refrigeration, and it would have been an impossible trip without the small aircraft. The medication would have gone bad.

Over a ton of medications, syringes, and other
miscellaneous medical supplies
Every day, we would begin at our home airport and load roughly 1,000 kilos (2,200 lbs) of medications, syringes, and medical supplies in to the airplane. After making our rounds, we would return to Ndolo and prepare the airplane for the next day.

Everything loaded and ready to go
All in all, over 3 days of travel, we were able to deliver 5.5 tons of vaccines to fight Polio, yellow fever, pneumococcus, and a few other diseases.

Unloading the supplies
In Kinshasa, we see the effects of Polio every day driving down the street. We also recently had a yellow fever outbreak that we helped combat. These are not vaccines of convenience, or something to do just in case. There is no "herd immunity" such as we have in developed countries. If children, pregnant women, or the rest of the population are not vaccinated, it is nearly a certainty there will be an epidemic and many, many people will become disabled (which is worse than death in an unforgiving place like the jungle) or die. 

Unloaded much needed supplies
These vaccine runs are just an example of many vital flights we are able to accomplish with small aircraft because of our love for the isolated people of Congo.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Motherhood Moments #20

Sometimes motherhood looks like...
There are some days I miss the convenience of calling upon one of my barber buddies when my son looks like this...
Granted it only took me 20 minutes to wrangle him and trim it, but most of that time was spent holding him down. Here is the final product:
 But here's what my little man really thinks of his new hair cut...