The vacation that kept on giving…

When you plan a vacation, I imagine you choose a destination that you are excited to visit with plenty of fun activities, beautiful scenery, relaxing beaches, or people you want to see.
What if I told you the Shaw’s just spent two weeks paying a heap of money that met none of those qualifications?! That’s right. We did not see cool people, beautiful scenery, relax, or do exciting things. In fact, we got to walk down muddy, crowded sidewalks for seven days straight, sometimes in the rain and other days in the searing heat…uphill both ways!! Okay, that part is exaggerated. It was only uphill one way.

The story of our adventure started with our first solo border-crossing. We typically have a charming, elderly man accompany us who knows the ins and outs of crossing the border, but sadly he wasn’t available for this journey. There are always plenty of people to “help” you whether you want it or not and a man named Jean attached himself to us like Cling Wrap which did ease some of the hassle of knowing which window to visit in which order. There are 8 on the Congo side alone.

Once we crossed to the Zambian side, we rejoiced in our ability to speak English but promptly got intercepted by Interpol. Though this was our third time crossing, there was the unexpected need for a document that we did not have and have never been asked to present. This document should have been signed by the Lubumbashi police department to authorize that our vehicle is legal to take out of the country. We still don’t know if this was a ruse, but I applied all my powers of persuasion, appealed to their Christian values (it being the day after Christmas), and we were allowed through. We breathed a sigh of relief and headed to Kitwe, which was our first stop of the journey.
One night in Kitwe and the world was not our oyster…it turned into 3 very long nights. After rolling into town and finding our accommodations unprepared for our visit, we went to get dinner. We received a green light for our guesthouse while at dinner, but by a cruel twist of fate, our beast of a Land Cruiser, Tina, lost gears 3 and 4. We had JUST had this unreliable hunk of white junk serviced before leaving town…but what can you do? Day 2 in Kitwe was spent searching for a new transmission, and Day 3 Nick spent sitting at the garage babysitting the installation. Day 4 and thousands of dollars lighter, we took off bright and early for our destination of Lusaka, the capital city.

We had a fantastic time exploring, eating at good restaurants, finding Malaria medication, and ringing in the New Year, but sadly Tina still struggled with her transmission. This time gears 3 and 5 had to be forcibly held in place or they would drop into neutral. We headed back to Kitwe with a sense of hope but annoyance. The garage that had installed the transmission was going to work on Tina for free. Thank you, God.
We chose a hotel in town which was much more expensive than the guesthouse but enabled us to walk to the malls and boasted a pool. This was a good choice because the 2 estimated days for repair turned into a WEEK! The boys rejoiced in swimming everyday and we did what the Shaw’s do. We played a lot of Uno, ate a lot of ice cream, and made the best of it. This is where we walked the muddy sidewalks… yay!

So if this sounds like a delightful vacation to you, requiring unforeseen expenses, a week of extra travel, and an extended stay in a city with very little to do for entertainment, travel with us! One of the positive things I have heard said about Africa is the pace of life. I do have to admit that the easy, slow speed of the way we live definitely has its perks (silver lining?), but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that my American need for efficiency doesn’t fit that slow pace. Fortunately, the race I am running is one I am running for God and He determines the outcome, no matter at what pace I am living. Thank you, God for unexpected “vacations” which always come with lessons learned.

Romans 5:3

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.”

Hebrews 12:1-2

“…And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”


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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.