It just so happens that God is so good, so big, and so mysterious, that when God chooses to do something and you are a willing participant, the joy and satisfaction in the work will come and surprise you. We have been in Congo for nearly four months (wait, when did that happen?) although somedays it feels like years. Somehow, after many terrifying moments of “What have we done?!”, “What were we thinking?!”, and “Can we possibly survive this?!”, Nick and I looked at each other and said, “We’re doing this, and its good!”
I’ll be honest with you though, I have never been more challenged by the simple, daily things in my life. Living here just presents different struggles that may make you chuckle, shake your head, or even want to cry (wait, that’s me).
Ironically when it is time to prepare dinner, power often goes out. We made the decision to purchase an outdoor, gas oven which has been a blessing beyond measure. We cook on it almost nightly because even when we do have power, it is often too weak to run our oven. Isn’t that “a gas?!” The electricity sometimes hangs on until we sit down for dinner, but we are frequently left finishing our meals by lantern light. We’ve taken to putting a lantern on the table before the meal. Nobody said the Shaw’s don’t adapt, right?
Shopping here is an adventure. I’ve shared before how you get change in small “gifts.” I helped Porter’s 2nd grade teacher with his lesson plan on American coins because they simply don’t exist here. There is also the struggle of trying to find anything where you think it might be sold. I have seen shower heads at the grocery store and phone cases at the furniture store. The key to shopping in Congo is when you see something you want, buy it then and buy more than one. It may be years before that item appears on the shelves again. I planned to make rice vermicelli and saw it in nearly every store from the time we arrived, so I thought it must be a staple. When it came time to buy some it had vanished. We searched every store we frequent, at least a half a dozen stores, and nada. The Chinese egg noodles were a sorry substitution.
Driving here is a free for all with the mentality of “I have the right-of-way” and “move it or lose it.” Because there are few traffic signs, when you come to a bend in the road, cars honk their horns to inform other drivers or pedestrians to duck and cover. I have closed my eyes many times and also praise the Lord that my children will not be old enough to drive in this country before our return. God, please honor that request.
All of these parts of our daily lives are feeling manageable, but in case the day has gone well and we’re feeling pretty confident, Nick and I have French lessons three times a week and there is nothing more humbling than a session of fumbling around trying to build a sentence in French. I sometimes tell Nick that I am feeling more self-assured in speaking French and then Monsieur Ney, our tutor will arrive and throw out some words that I swear I have never heard! He may be making them up.
Thank you for reading this and giving us a safe place to share our crazy life. We are thankful for these experiences and are thrilled to be working with the children and teachers at TESOL. If God can use our broken and half-baked efforts and offerings, then I say, hear I am Lord.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” – Isaiah 6:8
Renee’s advance #3022491
Nick’s advance #3022490
Nick and Renee Shaw
C/O United Methodist New Life Center
PO Box 20219