No Words To Say ‘Thank You’

“I do it myself!” A phrase so many beautiful, chubby toddlers have insisted to their moms and dads. Often we want them to hurry up and “do it yourself!” but typically we need them to do it faster and honestly, we’re just more capable. Here’s the problem I’ve been facing, sometimes I just can’t “do it myself!”
I have mentioned that I am independent, Type A, and many other good or bad things, depending on your perspective. However, there have been countless times in my life in Congo that I am simply incapable of solving a problem. I may know the answer but I don’t know the first thing about finding the parts I need or knowing whether or not the parts are even in country. God has not been just breaking down my walls of self-proclaimed independence, he has been lobbing grenades at them.
It is painfully hard to realize that I am not in control of my situations. When our car broke down on the side of the road outside the city, our only weapons of attack were a cell phone and prayer. After a short period of time, bonding with some boys watching us sweat alongside the road, and several
heaven sent friends, the boys and I got a ride home and Nick spent the next 4.5 hours with our friend Gaston and his “pit crew” well after it was dark fixing the car. Is there anything I can do or say to repay this generosity? No, there isn’t. It makes me squirm a little at receiving this act of love and fall on my knees because that is the only response I have.
When we moved here, “fresh off the boat,” a non-UMC missionary from Australia took it upon herself to visit us at the guesthouse where we were staying. Unhappy with our accommodations, she took us to see another guesthouse, invited us to her church and later fed us lunch. She has not stopped extending her hand in friendship, encouraging us and saving us over and over from our “we don’t know what to do!” situations. She seeks approval from God because there is nothing, we can do to repay this kind of radical love and hospitality.
IT IS SO HARD! I love what God is showing me through this kind of “I can’t do it myself” lifestyle. I pray that I take this lesson with me, knowing this is how I am to receive Christ’s gift of the cross. I can’t earn the love of God, salvation, or do anything to lose it (which is a good thing when I’m being a terrible).
The gifts that God gives us through this type of giving and receiving are countless. This is that fabulous time of year where we all look at our bank accounts (or tell ourselves that we should be responsible and look at our bank accounts) and calculate how much we want to spend on Christmas. There are so many family members and friends who you want to buy for, so many charitable causes that are worth contributing to…what about mission’s work?
{Shameless plug} What missionaries do is so amazing! It is much larger than you can imagine! People envision missionaries as “bringing Jesus to the downtrodden” but really it is about connecting the church through taking care of people, working with people in a community to grow in health, education, and sustainable jobs. It’s really amazing. Please think about giving, even a little bit, to making this continuing work a reality. God bless you this season my friends!

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Provers 3:5-6

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It’s Electric- Boogie Woogie Woogie

For anyone born before 1990 and who has attended a wedding or school dance, I hope you now have the Electric Slide tune running through your head. You’re welcome. One of the lines from that song is, “You can feel it. It’s everywhere. It’s electric, boogie woogie woogie!” We KNOW there is electricity all over Lubumbashi, but why in the world is it out of reach? I want to take you on the Shaw’s journey for electricity that started back in March.
We knew from our six weeks stay in the Rest Awhile Guesthouse that electricity was a fickle thing. You can not make plans that include her, you never know when she is going to leave the party early or not show up at all, and you celebrate every time she returns even if she’s only been away for five minutes.
I know this is not the first time that I’ve shared our struggles with not having electricity, but Nick’s herculean efforts on trying to conquer this elusive beast needs to be documented. Here is a brief synopsis of Nick’s work. We moved into our house on March 2nd. The power, being unpredictable, led us to quickly buy a generator. Said generator has been repaired once by the business where we bought it and another time by a local repairman. It is STILL not working and has a melted output plug. I think it is “generating” more frustration than electricity.

Solar power is more sustainable and a much better long-term solution so off we went to our Jambo Mart to purchase a small system. Celebration! The refrigerator never lost power and Nick wired in some lights and a plug to charge electronics. I felt like Congolese royalty. Life was good until a fluke thunderstorm in September took out 3 of the 4 panels and the inverter box. A week later and at great expense the system was back up and running…or so we thought. Last Sunday the box started smoking like an 80’s hair band and had to be unceremoniously shut-down! Currently we are waiting on a part that is “on a truck.” We’re not counting the seconds until then…
Our third form of electricity, and what should be the most reliable, is the power company. Since arriving here, we have paid the electric company to run a second incoming line, we have had an electrician come to the house three separate times to try and get things working and replace melted breakers and had the second (new) line repaired already. This last event happened on Wednesday and our guard got involved because he was unhappy with the electrician not sharing the profit with him, cops were called, and ultimately the power is back on. MVIMG_20191028_193115
Not to be snarky, but I hope this sounds as ridiculous to you all as it feels to us. We KNOW plenty of people go through life without electricity and we understand there is beauty in that. I’m sure given time and the proper mindset, we too could embrace this lifestyle, but we have yet to give up the desire to be plugged in. (Keep in mind without electricity there is no hot water coming out of the shower and our fridge no longer is cold – thus our food goes bad). Nick joked last week that Congo is trying to oust us, but we refuse to leave! Though the struggle sometimes feels overwhelming, we know that God gives us what we need for today. None of this can separate us from His love, even if we receive                                                                              that love unbathed and in the dark.
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:31-34
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Back At The School

We have returned to school. How are we dealing with the challenges? Watch to find out.

Ohhhhhh, Chipotle!

There are plenty of things the Shaws love about our life in Congo. There is no shortage of people greeting us, willing to allow us to practice our new French skills with them, and possibly wanting a selfie with us. We have tried new foods, explored new landscapes, and tried our hand at homeschooling. The breadth and depth of new experiences seems limitless but sometimes we indulge ourselves and reminisce over the things we miss.

If you are reading this post, you are probably one of the people we miss. There are so many friends and family members who are thought about, prayed for and loved from very far away. We miss the simplicity of driving in a luxurious car with smooth roads and laws that protect drivers and pedestrians. We miss people being able to understand us when we go shopping. BUT, these are not the things we talk about around the dining room table.

 

What are we going to eat when we are back in the States? It has become a fun game to try and outdo each other in naming the most delicious, sorely missed foods that we can think of. UDF ice cream, a grocery store aisle dedicated to cereal options, asparagus (I don’t typically get any votes for that one 😊), Whits Frozen Custard, Chipotle and Mexican food, really good coffee, hummus, liquid milk that doesn’t cost a fortune and really all forms of dairy, chocolate chips, Chinese food, chips and salsa (do you feel a huge Mexican food deficit for us?), and so many other things.

s'mores
Happy Shaw boys

We are certainly not starving and have been so blessed to eat similarly to how we ate in Ohio, but we have found comfort in being honest about how we’re feeling. We all need to accept how important it is to share that we miss things. Food is an easy thing to be honest about and we’ve found it opens the conversation for the boys to talk about other things they miss. We have traveled so far both physically and emotionally in the last 8 months and the magnitude of that is worth acknowledging. We can’t eat ourselves sick when we visit home next year so we’re going to make a “things we’re going to eat” food map.

corb's s'more
Real Graham Crackers are SO good!

We’ve had several conversations about living in the moment. God doesn’t want us to yearn for yesterday or try and rush into tomorrow. We are very excited for what our visit to the U.S. will hold in store. However, God has asked us to be here, in this moment, serving Him in this way. Even when it is hard, enjoy it. Thank Him for all the moments in life that you learn something new and keep dreaming about that Chipotle burrito.

 

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Isaiah 43:18

 

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C/O United Methodist New Life Center
PO Box 20219
Kitwe, Zambia

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Patience is a Virtue

Something I never would have believed 15 years ago was that I would learn to be a patient person. If I told the younger me that I would wait a week, a month, or longer for an important, life changing answer I would have laughed in the face of the”wiser-me”.  God certainly does work for His good and in ways that we could not imagine. I want to share what this big, patient waiting is all about. I am purposefully trying to share this information in a neutral, unbiased way.

The school where we serve, TESOL, filed papers to be an ASBL which in the U.S. we would call a non-profit organization. This was to gain status as a legal entity, however

img_20190204_092511
TESOL Kinsevere campus

the local United Methodist Church was not happy with this change and a legal battled ensued to determine who would control the school. Both parties, the TESOL administration and the UMC, are struggling to determine possession of the school properties and physical belongings, as well as the control over the decision making.

As UMC missionaries sent by Global Ministries we have been in a sticky situation, but by the grace of God and the support of our employer, have been able to remain out of the fray. Sadly, this has us waiting. Waiting to get onto the campuses to prepare the school, waiting to know when our four boys will be starting school, and simply just waiting to hear who will be responsible for the operation of the school.

 

Though I loath waiting, Nick and I have taken advantage of the time by playing games with the boys, working on some advanced math and reading, and taking a short trip to Zambia. We thank you all for the concern and prayers. It is not an overstatement to say that we are truly blessed by our time so far in D.R.Congo and pray that our time here continues to bless those God puts in our lives.

On a different note, if we end up homeschooling the boys for a short time, please pray that everyone makes it out alive. I would have been the first to say in years past, under NO circumstances am I willing or able to take on that task. However, God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.

Be completely humble and gentle; bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2

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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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Instagram- reneeshaw5