Challenges and Victories–March 2016

1         Building of our Middle School in Kikimi

In answer to your prayers, the Rawji Foundation agreed to finance the building of two classrooms, and all the materials finally reached Kikimi for the building of the first classroom, in spite of countless difficulties because of the condition of the roads. For example, one of the trucks transporting the bricks didn’t have proper traction, so got stuck in the sand 4 times. As a result, the next truck that was supposed to bring the foundation bricks refused to make the trip. We had to find another one, but it was too big to pass through some of the narrow roads, and even broke one of the streets water pipes. So 500 foundation bricks, weighing 30 kg each, had to be unloaded by hand at a police station overnight, and a jeep had to make 8 trips the following day to deliver those bricks to the site. We will spare you the details of what happened with the other trucks, suffice it to say that getting the building materials there was nothing short of a miracle.

Truck stuck in the sand on the way to Kikimi.

Truck stuck in the sand on the way to Kikimi.

Nevertheless, as of today, the first classroom is almost completed (the roof will be done tomorrow). What a victory!

Laying the foundation for the first classroom

Laying the foundation for the first classroom

First classroom almost finished.

First classroom almost finished.

We are now praying for the transport of double the amount of materials for the other two classrooms. After the difficulties we faced transporting the bricks, we decided to go back to making our own bricks again right there in Kikimi as cement is available nearby.

We decided to make the bricks for the next two classrooms.

We decided to make the bricks for the next two classrooms.

One of our neighbors, who is the general secretary for the Minister of Road Maintenance, told us that a contract had just been signed to remake the Mokali Road, almost all the way to Kikimi. So we need to keep praying for it to happen, and for nobody to run off with the money before the road is completed (as happened a few years ago). But first, the Water Company needs to repair the leaking pipes which are flooding the road and causing half of the problem.

2         A visit from our friends

We had quite an adventure going to Kikimi with our friends Jean-Paul and Joëlle, as the road was the worse we’ve ever experienced, and the population in that part of town was particularly nasty (we heard on the news in the following days of some bloody attacks by what we call “Kulunas” who are ruthless bands of thieves who attack the population with machetes). Besides the difficulties of the road, they were so happy to see how much things have changed in Kikimi since their last visit 3 years ago. The kids were having P.E. when we were there, which included playing volleyball, leapfrog, and gunny sack races. Their grand-daughter Nora even joined in on one of them. Jean-Paul and Joëlle have helped supply most of the books for our little library, and their daughter financed the set up of the volleyball court. It’s been a treat to spend time with them this month.

Joëlle with grand-daughter Nora with the kids in Kikimi.

Joëlle with grand-daughter Nora with the kids in Kikimi.

Leap-frog games

Leap-frog games

Gunny sack races

Gunny sack races


3         Changing the world: Avocados, Babies and Micro-Enterprise

When we first came to Congo in 2008, we lived in a Mission Center that had a beautiful garden with several avocado trees. We would save the seeds and germinate them, and then bring them to Kikimi to plant in what was at the time a barren piece of land where we now have our school. Well, we are happy to say that these seeds became trees, and that these trees have now started to yield fruit!

Our first avocados!

Our first avocados!

A few more babies were born this month, our hope of the future!

Mommy with baby born this month.

Mommy with baby born this month.

Thanks to a grant we had received from Family Care Foundation, we were able to help one more potential young man this month, Tresor, get the tools he needs to start a micro-enterprise. He got his degree in car mechanics, but without tools, he was unable to even get a non-paid job as an apprentice in a garage. He will now be able to gain experience and training in automobile mechanics. With the funds he will be able to earn, he is planning to take a course to specialize in electronic injection for vehicles.

Tresor, happy with his kit of tools

Tresor, happy with his kit of tools

4         Retreat

We just came back from the 3 day retreat we held for the last batch of graduates from our Bible Course and had the most inspiring time ever, which was another answer to your prayers. We haven’t had time to sort through the pictures and personal testimonies yet (will share those with you later on) but wanted to give you the highlights. We were deeply impressed by the leadership potential of each of the attendees, their love for the Lord and their hunger for the Word. The accent was placed on having a passionate love for the Lord, a love for humanity, the challenge to discipleship and to “dare to be different”, including to be willing to let go of certain traditions. They were alive, vibrant, and embraced all that was shared with them. We were also impressed with the eagerness of the old-timers to take initiative in leading various aspects of the retreat, so that the leadership role was shared evenly among us all. Getting up in age, we no longer feel capable of running the show by ourselves, so it was beautiful and rewarding for us to watch how the Lord has raised up these new Congolese leaders of the work. Praise His wonderful Name!

Retreat attendees, with Comboni Father on the left

Retreat attendees, with Comboni Father on the left

We took advantage of the retreat to present the French version of the STEPS Program, which is getting near completion, and challenge those who feel called to a Sunday School ministry to start using it. We organized workshops for teams of two to prepare a class, using either the 12 Foundation Stones Bible Course or the STEPS Program. Each team did a 10 mn presentation followed by positive critiquing. We thus discovered some wonderful childcare talent among the attendees and can already foresee the powerful impact the STEPS Program is going to have in this country.

Presenting the STEPS Program during the retreat.

Presenting the STEPS Program during the retreat.

For the Christian, heaven is where Jesus is. We do not need to speculate on what heaven will be like. It is enough to know that we will be forever with Him. When we love anyone with our whole hearts, life begins when we are with that person; it is only in their company that we are really and truly alive. So it is with Christ. In this world our contact with Him is shadowy, for we can only see through a glass darkly. It is spasmodic, for we are poor creatures and cannot live always on the heights. But the best definition of it is to say that heaven is the state where we will always be with Jesus, and where nothing will separate us from Him anymore.—William Barclay (1907–1978)

 

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