Business As Usual

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!”mvimg_20190429_100052.jpg

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?

toilets by generator

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 traffic-taximy 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.

traffic
That is a traffic robot, but no one listens to it.

 

 

 

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

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SUPPORTING US:

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Renee’s advance #3022491
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Nick and Renee Shaw
C/O United Methodist New Life Center
PO Box 20219
Kitwe, Zambia

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School Break

We had a two week break from school, find out what we did with all that free time.

What’s in your Easter Basket?

“I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong- that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:11-12

A week and a half ago we purchased this fierce beast, Carl, and he is doing his best to protect us. We think he is part German Shepard and he has the boys wrapped around his finger. He is great company for our guards (did we mention we employ guards?) and will alert us if there is any mischief while we sleep.

More on the guards. Most homes in the city of Lubumbashi are surrounded by a high stone wall usually topped with razor wire or shards of glass. It is not uncommon to have decorative bars over the windows as well as the presence of guards, gatekeepers, or gardeners…whatever term you prefer. The two gentlemen serving our family are named Michel and Felix. They are here not so much for our protection, but to discourage any shady business. Carl is the perfect addition to this dynamic duo.

Our other Easter blessing was the arrival of my parents, Linda and Al. It is NOT an easy task to travel to the lovely country we live in. It requires months of planning, numerous vaccinations, lengthy wait times for Visas and invitation letters, not to mention the expense. Though all of that is a mountain many never chose to climb, my well-traveled, fully vaccinated parents arrived last week, a little apprehensive and tired but excited to see our city of Lubumbashi.

It wouldn’t be Congo without a dinner by lantern light.

We had the BEST time! The boys drug out every board-game, read lots of books on grandparents laps, showed off their schools, and rejoiced in our Risen Lord. As Nick and I celebrated our wedding anniversary yesterday, we tearfully put them on a plane to leave us. Never have I wanted to beg them more to stay, but also never have I been more grateful for the love that I know they have for me and my family.

The love of God was ours before we knew it, it is ours when we deny it and it is ours when we seek it with our whole heart. I am so thankful for our heavenly Father who doesn’t abandon or deny us. Thank you Lord, this year my Easter basket was amazing!!

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 Supporting us:

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Nick and Renee Shaw
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PO Box 20219
Kitwe, Zambia

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Things that make you go hmmmm.

“Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold I make all things new.” Revelations 21: 3-5

The everyday things that you find second nature surround you and go unnoticed. Let me tell you, visit a foreign land and God will surprise and delight you with all of the numerous things that you might not understand. We have been blessed to cook many of the same meals that we loved in Ohio, play the same games, and wear the same clothes. However, the little things that are entirely new and foreign are starting to feel less alien. I want to share and capture some of those things before they become our new normal and I will not think to share them.

In America, when you go shopping at a store and purchase something with cash, you most likely receive change. We rarely used cash and enjoyed our debit cards, but here that is not an option because DR Congo does not use credit cards. That being said, when using cash you expect to receive exact change for the amount left of the bill you paid with. The first time I purchased something at a store I received my change as well as a small chocolate wafer bar similar to a Kit Kat. An outing or two later I received a small bag of laundry detergent. I have since received a small bag of chips, bottles of water, pencils, gum, and candy.

These gifts are not truly gifts, but given to account for the small change that would be given in coins in the US and many other places. I find this practice both creative and amusing.

pastry
Custard-filled pastry

We have also witnessed the unfortunate use of prepackaged, highly-processed food in the children’s lunchboxes at school. If you know the Shaw’s, you know that we strive to be healthy eaters, so this was very troubling. Foods brought for meals at school consist of chips, bread with chocolate spread, waffles, juice drinks, sweetened yogurt drinks, pasta, hot dogs, and many other versions of pastries.

 

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Literal translation is a sugar biscuit

AHHHHHHH! Can you imagine how the kids behave by early afternoon? This is also troubling because you can’t walk 10 feet down any road without seeing a woman with a bowl of bananas, oranges, pineapples, avocados, or other produce on her head. There are stands everywhere selling pumpkins, lettuce, tomatoes and carrots. The produce is GOREGEOUS and the families who can afford a truck full of produce are opting to buy prepacked, unhealthy foods.

To combat this we held an assembly last week and encouraged all of the children to pack healthy lunches with “Captain Sugar Bowl,” Nick, showing all of us the bad foods in his lunch. We have seen an enormous difference this week and could not be prouder of the children as well as their parents. Making good decisions regarding diet really affects the kid’s ability to focus and behave at school. Everyone wins!

 

 

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 Supporting us:

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

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Luck of the Irish

shamrock

We love celebrating holidays and making new family traditions and always have. The first holiday that we have had the pleasure of celebrating here in Congo was the very green holiday of Saint Patrick’s Day. As you might suspect, there is not a great number of people of Irish heritage here in DRCongo. How did the Shaw’s celebrate you ask? I will tell you.

We donned our green clothing and headed off to church to start the day. It was the first day of the new Children’s Church ministry we are helping start. We did not try and share our love of the Leprechauns with the Congolese kids, but once we returned home from church it was on. Our meal was as green as we could get it. We had green scrambled eggs, green chocolate pancakes, and fresh limeade. The bacon was delicious and not green. We looked-up our Irish Leprechaun names and sent the kids on a treasure hunt to find some golden, Ferro Roche chocolates at the end of the rainbow.

The Shaw’s are not particularly Irish but our ties to the United States and the things that make us who we are have come with us to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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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

Social Media
Facebook- gotherefour
Instagram- reneeshaw5