Safe Arrival

Received a short text from Stan today.  Hope for Congo team were successful in getting their supplies flown in to Ndjoko Punda.  Today was spent at church and in planning for the work that will begin on Monday.

Life at Ndjoko Punda is 7 hours ahead of central standard time here in the United States.

Stan Graber will be going with two friends, Fred Suter and Les Schlagal, who have also worked and served in the Congo, to Ndjoko Punda DRC leaving Tuesday March 5th.

Stan says, “The main reason for this trip is to install a hydraulic ram pump at a spring near the village of Ndjoko Punda where I grew up. This project includes laying 1500 feet of pipe and installing a storage tank at the mission hospital where there is currently no running water. This project has been in the works for three + years. Because we could not get quality material there we had to ship the pump, pipe, and parts from here even though it was very expensive. We will also be checking on the generator there which some of you helped pay for. It is unclear at this time how it is working. Keep in mind communication and logistics is a huge problem and a matter of concern for anyone praying about these projects.”

Watch for additional post over the next two weeks. 

Plans are under way to finish up the water project at Ndjoko Punda.  We have been delayed by lack of quality supplies available in Congo for this project.  The decision has been made to purchase necessary waterline piping supplies and a ram pump here in the states.

Supplies will be sent DHL to Kinshasa within the next week.  From there we will fly the supplies into Ndjoko Punda via MAF.

Stan Graber, Fred Suter and Les Schlegel will be leaving March 4, 2013 for the DRC.  We have been encouraged by the contacts and networking that has materialized while we have waited for the details to come together.  We make our plans, God directs our steps.

Pray that God will grant Stan, Fred and Les safety and success in completing this long awaited effort.

Pics to follow.

Congolese celebrate century of God’s faithfulness

By Lynda Hollinger-Janzen Mennonite Mission Network

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TSHIKAPA, Congo — About 50 young musicians walked nearly 100 miles carrying their drums, luggage and a few babies to attend the centennial celebration of Communauté Mennonite au Congo (CMCO, Mennonite Community in Congo) July 16-22.

<img alt="The Mille Voix (thousand voices) choir directed by Mobutu Bongela sings outside the Welcome Center in Tshikapa. ” height=”357″ src=”http://media.mennoweekly.org/media/uploads/images/2012/08/10/congo-centennial2.jpg&#8221; width=”540″>

The Mille Voix (thousand voices) choir directed by Mobutu Bongela sings outside the Welcome Center in Tshikapa. — Photo by James Krabill/MMN

For a week, the choir members from Ndjoko Punda, one of the first Mennonite mission stations in this central African country, traveled along rugged paths through forests and savannas, crossing rivers on makeshift bridges and spending nights in schoolrooms.
Chorale Grand Tam-Tam (Big Drum Chorale) arrived in Tshi­kapa, the headquarters of this Mennonite denomination, to lead Mennonites from three continents in praise for “100 years of evangelization and cultural encounters,” the CMCO tagline for the occasion.
In his historical overview of Mennonite history in Congo, the CMCO president, Adolphe Komuesa Kalunga, named weaknesses and failures in the missionary approach of those who came to Congo through Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission and its predecessor agencies: paternalism, a heavy focus on the spiritual with less concern for conditions that oppressed the Congolese people and a reluctance to trust the Congolese church with financial management.
However, Komuesa also acknowledged with gratitude these same missionaries, hundreds of them, who were faithful to God’s call to share the good news of Jesus — braving sickness, a harsh climate, difficult living conditions and political instability.
Some died of illness while serving. Komuesa asked the gathered assembly to stand for a moment of silence to remember all the Mennonites who sacrificed their lives in obedience to Christ’s call.
“I salute those missionaries who gave of their youth and their lives for our country,” Komuesa said in his concluding address. “I also render homage to their descendants who are still laboring for the welfare of our church. Let all of them know how grateful we are.”
Missionary accomplishments were only possible because Congolese people worked hand-in-hand with their brothers and sisters from North America, Komuesa said.
Today, CMCO is a member of AIMM, which brings together eight partner agencies.
About 400 participants gathered for the final worship service July 22. Many held candles in celebration of CMCO’s birthday.

Culture Shock shared by Paul & Marty Law

Click to view larger image
Pastor Kitambala

In April we came home for Paul and Pastor Kitambala to attend General Conference in Tampa. This was the Pastor’s first stateside visit, so I noted some of his observations and comments.

We arrived into the Indianapolis airport on a beautiful spring day. Our son, Burleigh, met us with his family van. We let the Pastor ride in the front. Since it was about 5:30 p.m., we drove to KFC and Burleigh ordered from the outside window. Then he drove around and paid for the bucket of chicken with plastic money and we drove away.
We then went to our son’s new home. After meeting the family, whom the Pastor had heard about, I took him on a tour of the house. Upon entering the master bedroom/bathroom, he commented that it would be possible to put a whole village hut inside! Walking back down the carpeted stairs, he remarked that if this were in Congo, the sand would soon destroy the carpet!
Later, driving to our home, he saw several geese and wanted to know if we ate them. We told him that was against the law, and that we had no need to eat them since there was plenty of meat available at the grocery. In our home, I showed him the dishwasher, the stove, microwave, washer and dryer–appliances that allowed me to get work done easily. In the Congo, I need people to accomplish the tasks that these appliances allow me to do in the U.S. (and without running water there)! The Pastor then commented that he could let the water run as long as he wanted to in the shower, and no one would care.
Two days later, we drove down I-65 to visit my 96-year-old mother living in a private home. The Pastor wanted to know why there were no people walking along the roads? A bit later, he wanted to know why there were no bicycles? He noticed that most cars had only one person in them! He saw only pavement and then grass, and the grass was always being mowed. Where was all of the sand? He said he had pictured America as mostly houses, but here he saw lots of open fields and farms with lots of space–especially in Indiana. That really surprised him.
While in Tampa, he was appalled by the number of women he saw smoking, saying, “A Congolese woman would never do that!” Then he talked about the women who walked around with only halter tops and very short shorts. He said, “No respecting woman would walk around like that!” He said, “Missionaries taught us to wear clothes. Then I come to visit, and I see you are taking them off!”
He noticed the long daylight hours, since usually it is dark by 6:30 p.m. in Lodja each night. “Why do you have such long days?”
The Monday after his return to our home after the conference, our oldest grandson, Caleb, invited him to visit his French class. It was a block class, so the Pastor had 90 minutes to share. The Pastor spoke in French, while Paul translated. The students seemed to enjoy his descriptions about the different way he lives at Lodja, compared to the way they live.
At one point the teacher let me get on her computer to bring up our web page–which showed up on a large white board (there are no longer any black boards!) called a “smart board”, which displayed the computer screen. (That was the first time this grandma ever saw one as well!) Our grandson’s high school even blew my mind. The school is very new. There were two gymnasiums, with one having an indoor track. The school had a very large completely updated workout room, two large swimming pools, a large cafeteria, and a library.
We met Caleb’s engineering teacher in the classroom–where each desk had a computer. We asked him the cost of the school. He said it was supposed to be $130 million, but it had gone over budget. That is more than most governmental budgets in Congo! And this was only ONE school in the U.S.! We told the Pastor that these are our tax dollars that REALLY work.
Outside, there was one field to practice soccer, and one to play on. There were other fields for a marching band, baseball, and football fields with lots of parking. There were large cement balls in front of the entrance doors for security.
One of the students asked what food he liked best. He replied “Hamburgers and ‘finger-licking good’ chicken”! Rice is his favorite food, which he ate only twice before he refused to eat the “plastic rice you have in America”.
As we returned back to our house, he saw a dead deer on the side of the road. He wanted to know if anyone would eat it. We told him, “No, we have all the meat we want available at the grocery.” The next day I took him to Walmart and showed him the large variety of meats and fish we have from which to choose.
For decades now, the Congolese in our area have believed that we came to Congo just for the eggs, since we are always sending out for eggs or trading salt for eggs, or sending someone to the market for eggs. At Walmart I showed him the egg section. Later, while at General Conference there was a buffet breakfast and each day there was a large hot tray with scrambled eggs. Paul asked him, “How many of our small eggs do you think it would take to fill that hot tray?” He said, “Way more than we have in the market!”
One day I was cutting up a roast for supper with an electric knife. The Pastor commented, “There are so many things that you can do because you have electricity!”
He saw the waste management truck come and take our trash away. He saw lawn mowers that keep the grass so nice. He talked several times about everything being mowed.

When traveling to Waxhaw, NC, where we were to arrange our things for the ocean container, we stopped and spent the night at Lake Junaluska to visit Paul’s step parents. While there, we ate out and once we walked outside, he commented to Paul that he felt like “a piece of charcoal on a bed of white rice”–meaning he was the only black person in the restaurant! However, once we arrived in Charlotte, he saw he was no longer the only black man there. In a Charlotte restaurant he counted the televisions to watch… there were 14! Several times he exclaimed that we certainly live in a different world.

He said, “In Lodja, I live in a nice house compared to others there, but it is nothing compared to the U.S.” Of course, our Interstate road system was a lot to take in. He said that was what impressed him most–our Interstates.
He talked many times about the conveniences of life in the U.S., and how good and easy it was. After having observed TV and people while shopping, he concluced that all of the “things” in the U.S. would probably keep any young folks from ever coming to Congo to work, since life in central Congo is so different. But then he said, “You can have all of the good things in America, but if you don’t know Jesus, then it is for nothing.” Amen!
He said repeatedly that Paul and I must really love them (the Congolese) to give all of “this” up to come and live like we do at Lodja. He said, “You are giving up so much to come to us–many, many conveniences.” Yes. We do love them! The only difficult things we really miss (“give up”) are our children, grandchildren and friends. The other things we can do without. “Things” are not necessary in order to have contentment and commitment and a calling.
Pastor Kitambala’s perspective from Paul and Marty

P.S. Since our return to the Congo, the Pastor has been have having very HIGH blood sugar and has been very sick. Please pray for a special touch for his health. He is our key man!