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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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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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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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:

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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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:

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