Somewhere Over the Rainbow

When Dorothy fell into Oz from the sky, she must have been totally overwhelmed. Her world was black and white and Oz was techno-colored. The Munchkins must have been startling and a woman floated out of a bubble and proclaimed that she was a “good witch.” I would love to say that I am as accepting and versatile as Dorothy, but come on, seriously Dorothy?!! Where is your freak-out moment?

As missionaries, strangers in a strange land, I have a new perspective on this classic story. I think it should have gone something like this…

Dorothy lands, killing an inhabitant in her new world. She cries hysterically, runs screaming from the Munchkins, and passes out when a woman-carrying bubble appears. After that she attributes the entire experience to a hallucination or some really bad take-out food and goes to therapy for the next 15 years.

Being new in a country where SO MANY THINGS are new and different is exhausting. It is also wonderful…don’t get me wrong. The reason I am reflecting on this, yet again, is that we have had the blessing and privilege to be on vacation in the lovely country of South Africa. In so many ways it feels like home. They speak English as one of their national languages, they have working water and electricity all of the time, and they follow set rules of the road. We soaked in the conveniences: Ubers, fast-food and malls.

It has been a wonderful, breath-of-fresh-air vacation. I feel recharged and yet hesitant knowing that we are going back to our “strange land.” The good news is that God has equipped us and this time as we set foot on the soil of the Democratic Republic of Congo, we will be greeted by a friend. He is picking us up in our own vehicle, Tina, and we even speak some French. Thank You, God for walking with us. You go before us, and we know You are at our backs, sometimes pushing us through the door.

The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you. He will be with you, He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

Deuteronomy 31:8

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Take No Prisoners

I am a pretty tough, no-nonsense woman and my independent, type-A personality doesn’t often run and hide from a challenge. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

I must admit that during our time in DR Congo I have felt a bit like a captive. We see beautiful African Grey parrots in tiny little cages, canaries, doves, and other birds being sold alongside the roads in our city. I have allowed myself to become a little like these birds but not anymore! Last week, after some pep talks and prodding, Nick insisted I get behind the wheel of our beast of a manual vehicle, TINA, the Land Cruiser.

tina
Meet TINA

I love to drive, l-o-v-e it! I have missed the freedom of being behind the wheel and knowing that I couldn’t drive even if I wanted to, made me feel like one of those caged birds. I also allowed that fear of driving on the unpredictable, pot-hole laden, congested streets to turn into tiny seeds of bitterness. It is difficult to never be alone. Even for an extrovert, knowing that I couldn’t go anywhere without a driver, escort, or my wonderful husband, was really suffocating.

I would not go as far as to say I’m a “free bird” now, but I have driven a half a dozen times in the last week. My heart has been in my throat when I have to stop and drop Tina back into 1st gear, but as soon as we hit 3rd gear I feel like we could fly- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang style!

chitty chitty with renee

When we arrive safely at our destination I so appreciate the looks of amused support from our guards or the gardener at the school. The encouragement from the boys has been hilarious. After a somewhat difficult time getting into the parking lot at school Porter said, “I liked the bouncing Mom,” followed by Corbin laughing, “I hit my face on the seat!”,

This is not my first time being taught how to drive a stick-shift. Nick has attempted this feat more than once and there are some sad manuals that, if they are still on the road after so many years, still shudder at the thought of me grinding their gears.

The challenges before all Christians are many. Every time we faithfully answer a call to serve God we battle fear, self-doubt, and inadequacies. The devil wants us to admit defeat. Saying “I just can’t do it” is so much easier than doing the hard things that Christ calls us to do. Do it anyway. Take no prisoners- in His name!

renee driving- funky

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Nick and Renee Shaw
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PO Box 20219
Kitwe, Zambia

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The Spirit Abounds

The Holy Spirit is on the move and being proclaimed by the children here in Congo…

They’re just so nice!

Depending on where you live in the U.S. I’m guessing you’ve experience varying degrees of stranger friendliness. You know what I mean. If you live in North Dakota, people ask how you are and typically care about your answer. If you are from the east coast people may not even look at you as they ring you up at the grocery store.corbin reading Bible

Well here in the metropolis of Lubumbashi we have had the unique experience of standing out in a big way. That may be the cause of the friendly and excited waves, but there is certainly a lot of excitement about our family. The “Sh-awesome Six” can’t go anywhere without someone hanging out of a taxi-bus to wave or shout “Muzungu!” (which means whites in Swahili).

Sticking out like a sore thumb was overwhelming at first, but we have adapted and are feeling quite comfortable in our new home. What felt awkward and vulnerable, now makes me feel like Norm on Cheers. I have encouraged the boys to smile and wave back when someone shouts hello. My favorite interaction thus far was when a young man yelled, “dame blanche” at me when I was crossing the street. For my non-French speaking family and friends that means “white lady.”

revin
The kids at TESOL touring the bottling plant, Revin.

Nick and I have told the boys that we have an amazing opportunity to be a witness to who we are and whose we are. Standing out when you’re a kid can be really intimidating but we have prayed for God to strengthen the boys and make them bold. We recently did a lesson on The Armor of God from the book of Ephesians at Children’s Church. It is easier when you feel like you can hide in the crowd and others won’t notice or judge your actions. We do not have that luxury when we are 6 of very few Caucasian people. We remind the boys, and ourselves that when we are in Christ we are protected by his armor, then there is nothing to fear on this earth.

I challenge you to stand out today. Be the warrior that God has asked you to be and please pray for our 4 warriors as we boldly ask God to bless our work here in Congo.

h at church
Harrison reading scripture

13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:13-17

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Supporting us:

prayer please

umcmission.org
Renee’s advance #3022491
Nick’s advance #3022490

Nick and Renee Shaw
C/O United Methodist New Life Center
PO Box 20219
Kitwe, Zambia

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