Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Stories To Tell

I enjoy writing, and I think Gavin would say the same. We love telling the story of what God is doing around us in this different context in which we find ourselves. We love sharing about new things in Central Africa. However, as we drive down the road passing men on bicycles carrying their load of charcoal to sell for the week or stop to purchase bananas from a basket on top of a woman’s head or drive down a bumpy, pot-hole filled, dirt road to get to one of our Nazarene churches or get greeted with kisses on our cheeks, it all seems so natural now. Even our son, Connor, when asked about his favorite food, will say “Fish!” But, he’s not talking about boneless, skinless filets. He’s talking about whole fish, including bones and eyeballs.

So, when we go to tell stories that might capture our reader’s attention, we find it more and more difficult. What can we share about that we haven’t shared before? What new insight did we learn this week? Our vision has become a bit more blurred. The lines of “difference” become a bit harder to see. In fact, you may have to tell us when we are doing something that seems out of place for one culture or the other, because we forget where we are. Now, there are obvious differences between Central Africa and our home of the United States. But, I’m talking about words we might use (open the lights vs. turn on the lights), using a fork and knife (or our hands) simultaneously vs. using a fork and knife then setting our knife to the side, driving a bit crazier and using our horn more vs. calmly waiting on other drivers around us.

Our lives have changed. We’ve adapted. We’ve adjusted. And, I think we’re a bit different.

We’ve owned a monkey.
We have four dogs and three turtles.
We’ve had 23 people in our car…at once.
We eat whole fish with skin, bones and eyeballs.
We’re pretty good at taking bucket baths.
We might be guilty of standing to close to you when we talk.
We show up late on purpose.
Gavin carries five different currencies in his wallet.

We may not have stories to share all the time. But, we love where we are. We love seeing the hand of God move in people’s lives. We can see how God has brought us here, walked with us and continues to lead us. May God give us all the ability to embrace where He’s brought us and the courage to be different for the sake of reaching some with the Gospel.  

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Two Differences (guest post by Macy)

I want to talk about the big differences that there are between the United States and Congo. I like to be in Congo because I go to a very nice school that I’ve been in for 5 years and I can speak French (although, this year I will be changing schools). I have lots of friends at my school. I have a best friend and her name is Jessica. But, I also have another best friend, who does homeschool, and her name is Grace. Sometimes, I like to go shopping with my Mom or Dad at the grocery store and little markets where we buy fruits and vegetables. In both places, I play with my brother Connor, although in Congo, I don’t have to share a room with him (thankfully).

My cousin who lives in Oklahoma
I like to go and eat at Panda Express while we’re in the United States. I also like to go to Mexican food restaurants and eat enchiladas, chips and salsa, and warm tortillas (flour, not corn). While in Congo, we mostly eat sandwiches, chicken, rice and fresh vegetables. I enjoy getting to see my grandparents and cousins. People notice me less and I can fade into the background easier in the States, too. However, I do not like the automatic toilets, because it flushes on you and I can’t get away fast enough.
Helping our Dad with a service in the US
When we’re visiting the United States, I enjoy that church isn’t as long as it is in Congo (it’s usually 3 hours long). I enjoy going to Children’s Church and that it’s in English, my first language. In Lubumbashi, it’s mostly in Swahili or sometimes French. But, one thing I like about church in Congo is that choirs of girls, women or boys sing and dance up front.

What I also like about living in Congo is that we have four dogs, two males and two females. We have two German Shepherds, a Great Dane and a dog that is a mix of some kind. Their names are Nala, Bowser, Jupiter and Samson. We’ve also had different sets of puppies that we like to play with.

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you found it educational and funny.

Que Dieu vous bénisse,

Time at the Beach in Mississippi
My cousins who live in Louisiana
Church friends in Lubumbashi
Friends in Lubumbashi

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Why General Assembly?

I’m going to get real honest.  I’ve been a Nazarene for nearly all my life and I’ve never quite understood all the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the General Assembly and Conventions.  I grew up in a small Nazarene Church that seemed to always be in the shadow of the larger churches around it.  I could tell that they were there, but never really saw them.  I would occasionally hear about quizzing, district events, camp and assemblies, but my little church almost never participated.  I was in college before I realized that most Nazarene Churches thrived on their district community.

Seeing as I didn’t understand the need for district events, you can be sure that I didn’t understand the hullabaloo that surrounded an event such as General Assembly.  There was particular excitement expressed by a small few in our church about the fact that General Assembly would take place in my hometown of San Antonio, in 1997.  Although I enjoyed myself, our youth leader (yes, our youth group had four people and thus needed a leader) had to practically drag me to the NYI convention.  At this moment, I got a small picture of how truly large the Church of the Nazarene was. 

My perspective was broadened and enriched throughout the years and even more profoundly so when we were sent as missionaries to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  I saw how the individual churches, districts, and countries within the Africa Region truly depended on one another. General Assembly was finally starting to make sense.  The entire event is a commitment to being a global church community.  It is a chance for us to see the strengths and weaknesses of our brothers and sisters in Christ so that we may know how to better serve one another.  Yes, it is about the boring business stuff too; the kind of stuff that my teenage mind dreaded so intently.  But I see now just how much it means to be able to do the business of running our church together.
Members of a district assembly in the DRC 

In the DRC, there are more than 22,000 active members in the Church of the Nazarene.  However, finding the funds to send more than a handful of delegates is quite difficult.  In addition, visas are not often granted to Congolese applicants.  This year, we will have only seven delegates, yet they are thrilled and honored to carry the voice of the Congolese Nazarenes to the General Assembly. 

Let’s continue to bring the General Assembly and Conventions before the Lord in prayer; that they would be a means of fellowship for our global community and an avenue to more effectively make Christlike disciples in the nations.