Here,There and Everywhere

These days it is challenging to keep my thoughts and heart responses positive.  News comes from here….there….and everywhere full on with emotional wrenching force.    Hurricanes, floods, fires, terrorist attacks in Europe and North America and  in this region of Africa where we live and many areas of the world  people are living in extreme hunger, poverty and war.

This past week we visited a little village in Congo where we spend time with dear little children with ready smiles, tummies showing through rags and partial coverings on their little dirty bodies.  Hugs and a little bon bon just doesn’t seem like much for such deep needs in their lives.  I wonder how they can show such resilience in the face of more than difficult situations.

These children and the village they are from just survived a few days where rebel militia came through their land with declarations of war.  I can’t imagine the fear they felt hiding in their  little mud huts for hours, and yet they continue to play and laugh seemingly oblivious or at least able to “get on’ with their simple life in a way that I can not understand.

Many people we know have fled in fear from this region where injustice and  war continually hangs heavy over daily life.

I was recently going through some books I wanted to give to some children who we relocated to another country because it is dangerous for their tribe to be here.  So many people have fled leaving all their belongings behind, not knowing where they will live or what they will do.  We know they will never come back to this country because it is not safe   for them here.  This reality continually impacts me deeply.


My way of dealing with the suffering and great pain around is often to close my heart off to protect myself from it all but I am again reminded not to do that but to keep pouring love out to those around.

Matthew 10 in The Bible says “If you forget abut yourself (and how you feel) and look to Me, you find both yourself and Me.” Christ attitude about hearts was to pour them out not to try to protect them. 
(from an article by Ann VosKamp)

Amazing thing happens when my heart is open, I see so much beauty even in the midst of great sadness. God’s creation is beautiful.

 

The Lord is the one who will bring to pass all His will. Is.46:11 “What I have said, that will I bring about;what I have planned, that will I do.” He has a plan and even though I don’t understand it, He will bring it about in His time.

Trusting in God and His sovereignty and faithfulness is where I can find peace.

Comfort Zones

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This is Ornella at 5years old, badly malnourished and couldn’t walk.

When we met this dear little girl I was struggling with deep emotion seeing her state.  It is not comfortable to witness children in this and often much worse health.

After so many years living here I still find I have to step over the areas where I want to be comfortable, where life looks nice, smells nice and everyone is okay.  However, of course it is not like this in life no matter where one lives.

IMG_3113Here is Ornella now, thriving as she is being loved and cared for through the team The Cries of a Child in Burundi.  It is a joy to see how she is growing and developing.

It is amazing that when we dare to say “yes” to step out of the areas of comfort we settle in, we witness miracles in our own lives and others.  As hard as it was to hold Ornella without falling apart with emotion of the injustice towards children like her, I am thankful to have seen the process of God’s love and restoration in her life.

Recently I travelled upcountry on my own  endeavouring to respond to God’s nudges to not succumb any longer to my “settledness” in the comfort nest I had made.  I left Boss and Ray behind in Bujumbura which is a city, to visit and spend time in villages and a community that has great need.

Sometimes your one brave  yes is how God destroys a tangling net of nos.~(Ann VosKamp)

I love spending time walking through the dusty streets lined with people carrying all manner of things on their heads, sometimes there was a  pig or two walking along, cows, bicycles, motor bikes and I tried to speak to the people as best I could but without much of the language skills it was interesting.

Visiting a very poor home with a mother of six, helping her prepare beans for drying, holding one of her little ones who was very sick with malaria and sticking happy stickers on heads of many dirty sweet children was a special time…sad to me but special in the sense I received some thing from them I won’t forget.  In the midst of much poverty this Mama Eve was full of grace and pride in her family.  She was very tired but took time to smile and talk with us as we sat on the ground and worked with her a bit.

Her husband helped me especially to manage the slippery mud path through trees down to the road.

Their house is mud bricks with gaps between the bricks.  They have a dirty straw mat on a mud floor where they all sleep and rainy season is here! Mosquitoes that carry malaria are thriving in that situation.  The children walk a long way down a hill to get water from a river which is far from clean.

All these situations seem unsurmountable for me but I came away from that time realizing how much more I saw God in that time than I do sitting in my comfortable place in the city with water and food each day.  Of course I am very thankful for comfort but I do believe that when we step out of the boxes we have built, our hearts wake up. Jesus is calling us out of our comfort boats to do something unthinkable, something that is possible only with His power.

It’s like God looks at us and says “I wanted to go crazy through you. I wanted to change your neighbourhoods, your city…and you just keep going to your room to watch net flix.” (from book Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen)

I am deeply challenged to continue to allow God to work in and through my life wherever I am.  Age or health is no excuse to settle back and withdraw from the exciting journey we are on.  After all it is not about us or how strong we are.  It is in our weakness He works.IMG_3122IMG_3135

“worm” pills distributed to the children in a village where I was. They ate them like candy and we pray this medicine will help their health.

I believe God is wanting to pour out of us and pour into the world.

Setting another goal, dreaming another dream.

 

I ask myself, “why is it so challenging to put words on paper that express my thoughts?” I suppose there are many reasons but every time I go to share some things here I have found I am stuck somewhere between what I am thinking, my emotions and the way of expressing those things.  Any way, here I go with this post and hopefully even a little of it makes some kind of sense or at least gives something fresh and encouraging to those who may read it.

These days as one watches news or even listens to peoples interpretation of news events it is very easy to fall into a kind of despair.  There seems no way of really knowing if what we think is happening really is, or even what is the true account. It is the same in this country as it is in North America.  It is easy to get angry and I realize the state of my own heart needs attention.

I am trying to help my geraniums grow and often find the roots are not healthy from too much or a lack of water or some disease.  As it is with our hearts…our roots have to be healthy so we can grow.  It’s amazing to look at creation and all the ways we can learn from it.  God provides.

images-6

I have decided to try to keep my focus on that which is bright and beautiful no matter where it comes from.  If one looks hard enough there is always something to be thankful for and something to be inspired by. It takes a fresh perspective daily.  I am not by any stretch saying I am good at this but just endeavouring to try.  When I do it is clear that the world has a different look to it and people are not so hard to live with….myself included.

As I look forward to this next season it is clear there are new opportunities to take advantage of and to keep creating in whatever way, to keep dreaming and moving forward no matter how slowly.  Someone said “your speed doesn’t matter, forward is forward.”

There are moments which mark your life.  Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts, before this and after this.  ~~ author unknown.

for now….Mary Anne

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does hope look like?

img_9511This is Neema.   She lives with her mother in Rutemba village which is next to the land in DRCongo where we are building a training centre.

She is eight years old and cares for her little brother on her back all day while her mother cultivates land nearby.  There are around 100 children from babies to ages 12 in the village.  Each time we visit the land the elders ask if we would build a school. Although people in the village have nothing but a mud hut and dirt floor they have not asked for money or food…just a school. The nearest school is too far away for them to walk each day. Education is the hope for future generations.  The people here believe that.  No matter where we go in the world, most parents want something better for their children. Education is an amazing tool for transformation in communities and countries.  It is the possibility of a new way of thinking.

Our vision is to begin with an early years school for the village, facilitate training for teachers, pastors, families, and business leaders in the centre being built on the land.

The roof is going on the first building of the training centre.

img_9493

   HOPE is a verb with it’s sleeves rolled up ~~~ David Orr

We are thankful for friends who have been raising funds for a well that will provide clean water for the population around the centre. This will enable training in hygiene and better health care.

img_9509

When we see children, we see hope for this country.

There is severe malnutrition in certain areas of Burundi and Congo in these days and ongoing political strife. Although there are many daily difficult challenges, we are moving forward believing and trusting God in the changes we are able to help create.

We ask God to increase our hope when it is small, awaken it when it is dormant, confirm it when it is wavering, strengthen it when it is weak and raise it up when it is overthrown.  ~~John Calvin

We welcome any who read this to become part of the building and transforming communities in DRCongo.     our website is http://www.najengacongo.com  Giving on our website will be receipted.

just saying

Just saying..despite the challenges that are occurring due to political issues, I am very thankful to be living in this area of Africa.

I wish I could take a picture that would capture all the colour, sounds, beauty and challenges that are unfurled before me in daily life here.

Trying to write a blog is a journey of courage for me because I know so many people who write exceptionally and express themselves much more adequately than I do.
Recently I have been encouraged to continue to write this blog, sharing what I can and how I can. There are amazing people and wonderful things happening that should be shared ….so I continue in this space.

There are treasures hidden in daily life that can easily be overlooked and lately I have realized just how much beauty there is all around. Giving thanks opens my eyes.
Yesterday I was in town walking on a street full of holes and strewn with garbage. Two little boys came up to me asking for money . They were ragged, dirty and obviously hungry. I didn’t have any small change but my friend with me did and gave them some. The smallest of the boys came alongside me putting his hand in mine and began to walk with me. I looked down and saw his huge smile. He walked along with me until I had to go into a shop and then he left. I can still feel his little dirty hand in mine and am aware his life is a precious gift.

This week we had the privilege to visit again an organization The Cries of a Child, run by dear friends living here in Burundi, Isai and Samantha Torres. Ray was speaking at the weekly meeting they have with staff and people from the area. It was a real joy to be with them. They all are carrying huge burdens for hundreds of people who come daily in the clinic they run and the social program for women and babies. They also have two homes for abandoned children on the land they have.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Nadine, a little girl rescued and cared for by this lady.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Samantha with a 5 year old girl

These are two children suffering from malnutrition. It is a sad situation as there are many people starving these days in areas of Burundi and Congo.
The little five year old girl was brought to the care centre by her ten year old sister who walked several miles with her on her back. These are just two of many we saw this week. Many children are abandoned because the mother has died or the people who could perhaps care for them don’t have even enough food for themselves. It is almost impossible to imagine what this is like.
In the midst of this though we are seeing heroes who are working and praying, being light and love among the dark times. It is important to focus on this and continue to encourage where we can, helping to carry the load that at times can seem unbearable.

My heart is stirred to keep believing Gods word, that He sees, and He cares. He works through willing people who depend on Him and His strength.
Even a cup of cold water with love accomplishes much. There is much we all can do to help. May we do so.

Pressing On

We are still here!

I have not written in this blog since April, not knowing how to communicate the sense of sadness and anger at the injustice I see all around me this year.  It didn’t seem helpful to share more bad news to people who daily are bombarded with it over the news. I will say that the situation in the country here is not secure and no one knows what will happen in the months ahead but no matter what we are living in the present and trusting God knows and cares.  I was reading the the other day…This is my Father’s world, let me not forget, that though the wrong seems so strong, My God is Ruler yet.

This summer while seeing a Dr. about some health issues I was informed I probably needed to process the emotional things I had seen, heard about and live amongst here in this country at this time.  I found my time in Canada during the past months have helped me greatly just being with family and friends in a country where we have the privilege of so much peace and order.  While I didn’t see a counsellor to get help I sense a new awareness of God’s faithfulness in a huge way  in my life and our lives as a family. I know the way forward living here in Africa and travelling back and forth to Canada is in God’s plan for this time. The love and support of family and friends is an amazing encouragement and strength. It is with renewed vision and sense of purpose filled with faith and encouragement from our church leaders I know I can press on into all that is before me and for us as a family.

So, just to say, there is hope for the future because of God’s faithfulness and in turn it is possible to share that hope with the lives we touch daily.

Our friends came to visit us in the spring and helped greatly in stirring us to keep pressing on….

img_3208
Mathongo, Andrew Freeman, Charlie Whitley, David Freeman and Emmando

In the background is the training centre being built outside Uvira DRCongo.

Thanks to all who continue to support us and all we are involved with here.  I will endeavour to keep more up to date with happenings as we press on.

Perspective 2

image

The youngest children in New Hope Centre Rwanda.

 

Albert  Einstein said…… There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

image
The sixth house finished in Emmanuel Centre.
image
The Emmanuel Centre school finished!

Your perspective is the way you see something.
A Latin root word meaning “look through” or perceive and all the meanings of perspective has something to do with looking.

Figurative meaning—-“mental outlook over time”

We are living in a region of Africa which seems very unstable in every way. It is important we see things rightly to be able to continue in what we feel we are here to be part of.
These months I have found my thoughts don’t translate into words. The reasons for this are unclear however I know my heart is full of sadness for the injustice I see all around. Many friends have just left their homes,personal things and moved on. They have no intention to return. In a few weeks life changed.
Hundreds of thousands of people left their homes and land, businesses, churches and moved, either to refugee camps or other places where extended family or friends are in Rwanda, Tanzania or Congo, Belgium etc.

Our perspective we find is clearly one of seeing life through the truth of Gods word and His faithfulness. If we didn’t believe that we could not continue in the midst of things around us. There is beauty in the mess and hard times.  We only have to keep the right focus.

After fourteen years living here we have come to understand some aspects of life however we still don’t “get” so much of the culture and the years of fear and turmoil people have gone through and still are going through.
Daily we hear of arrests, torture and killing. With all the African and U.N. leaders coming to try to work out some type of dialogue between opposition and government there seems to be not much progress. Even today a body was found in the river and an opposition person arrested.
More controls are coming with a census being taken for foreigners.

Through all the “happenings” as horrific they are we continue to see people push ahead with smiles and hope. It is hard to imagine how they can continue year after year but they do. We have much to learn from their resilience.

Over in Congo building is continuing on our land. Ecole Shalom in Uvira with 900 students is doing well.
Our friend David Freeman will be doing another teacher training with our staff there in April. We are thrilled that his son Andrew will be joining him.
Our friends and pastors in Vernon Christian Fellowship in Vernon will also be with us for two weeks for which we are excited about.
Our children in Emmanuel Centre, the village in the high plateau of Congo are doing well. The school is finished now and the sixth house for mamas and children is also finished. The agriculture project is producing well, the cows producing milk and the flour mill producing flour.

This coming week we plan to travel by road to Rwanda to see Ruben and the New Hope children we relocated from here. They are doing well but we are praying about plans for the future for them.
Pastor Ruben is still in Rwanda but his wife, Jolie and their own children are now living in Nairobi Kenya where the children are in school.

Thankyou to all who continue to support all the children we care for.  We see Gods faithful care daily.  We are in prayer for provision and direction for the New Hope children and know God cares even more than we do for them.

Thankyou too for support you have given to us over these years.  Words are not adequate to express our hearts.

Our love and thanks…on behalf of the children.