Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Another journal entry written while in Congo

From my Congo journal, July 17:

Today (we) went to visit Panzi Hospital in Bukavu.  We got to spend about half an hour talking with and listening to Dr. Denis Mukwege, the head gynecologist/surgeon for women needing medical care due to sexual violence.  He was very direct and clear as he explained his opinions of the change that needs to take place in Congo.

He said the financial assistance, food, medicine, etc. that is poured into Congo is causing more long term problems than it is solving.  He feels the Congolese people have become dependent upon it and are not standing up for themselves.  What Congo needs is peace.  He said the Congolese women are very strong and very resourceful.  If they had peace and an end to violence, they could solve the remaining problems on their own.  He said the Congolese church especially needs to speak out and support the Congolese people, to stand up against all that is wrong.

A break from the journal entry, some thoughts from today:

Dr. Mukwege acknowledged that if the aide from other countries was removed, lots of people would die initially.  But even now lots of people are dying due to the lack of peace in Congo, it has been that way for many years and will continue unless dramatic change happens. This was important, yet hard for me to hear.  This is a man who cares deeply for the people of Congo.  He is from Congo.  He has dedicated his life's work to serving the people of his country.  He is well-educated.  With my head, I understand what he is saying.  My heart does not like it!  I think of all the innocent children who would die if all external aide was actually withdrawn from Congo.  Dr. Mukwege is certainly right about at least one thing...  They are dying now.  I had to interrupt him and ask...  "So what can we do to help Congo without further adding to Congo's problems?"  His response...  Congo needs prayer and for people to speak up for them.  We need to encourage politicians to adopt policies that help put an end to the violence.

I must admit, I am not completely satisfied with that answer.  That can't really be all we can do!  It doesn't help the children who are dying as I type, or as you read this blog.  Prayer helps of course, but we are also to be Jesus' hands and feet in a hurting world.  So where do we find a balance in this?  I keep praying and asking for guidance in answering this question.

How do we help the children who are currently orphaned?  Yes they need food, shelter, and medicine; mostly they need loving families.  We traveled across the world to shower a few with love for a couple days.  Would my time have been better spent encouraging and training people in the village to regularly volunteer their time with the kids?  Would I spend time volunteering in an orphanage if it was in my town?  Would I do it if I didn't know how or if I would be able to feed my own children that day?  Am I called to adopt?  Are you?

What can we do to keep more children from becoming orphaned?  Check out "Run for Congo Women."  Have any of you sponsored a child from another country?  Month after month, year after year, you send money that you hope helps one child and his or her family to some extent.  Ever wondered if it really makes a difference?  I know I have.  I like the idea of this organization (Run for Congo Women) because the sponsorship helps train and get a woman started in her own business in just a year.  So while I've sponsored one child for the last 15 years, I could have helped 15 different women (each likely to have many children)!  And you can develop a relationship through letters.  Okay, I'll be quiet about it now... Just something to think about.

And now, back to that journal entry from July 17:

At Panzi Hospital, we were able to briefly meet some of the women who have experienced sexual violence.  Some were recovering from surgery and some were awaiting surgery.  It was so touching to look into their eyes and shake their hands.  One woman handed Cammie her baby to hold.  Behind the hospital there is a small forest area where some of the women rested, some were washing their clothing or preparing food.  (The hospital has no running water and does not provide food for the patients).  Many of the women had small children with them.  These women are strong, beautiful, and forgotten or rejected by many of their own family and country.  I wanted both to smile with them because of their strength and beauty, and to cry with them because of their pain.

Journal entries from my time in Congo

I wrote this while traveling to Congo, July 9:

My prayer is that I can be a source of encouragement to (my family in Congo), and all the staff at Kaziba Orphanage.  That I can help the children know that they are loved.  That I can be inspired, and inspire others to truly love and make a difference in the lives of those in need.  That I can listen and hear from God what His next step for me is.  That I can serve others without crying constantly!  That we can be safe and healthy.  That my family will be fine in my absence.  And so much more.

I wrote the following on July 14, while I was in Congo:

Yesterday we drove up to Kaziba.  It was a very long and bumpy ride.  We arrived at the orphanage in the late morning.  The older children (ages 3 to 5) sang to us.  It was very sweet and many of them are great singers.  We stayed for a short while and then went to see the mwamikazi(the acting "king" of the Kaziba area).  She invited us to stay for a wedding celebration for her daughter.  The Congolese food was very good.  I don't remember the names of the things we ate... rice, beans, sweet potato, cole slaw, chicken, etc.

After that we returned to the orphanage and of course spent more time holding the babies and playing with the kids.  We also did four small trainings: oral health, nutrition and medical information, play and stimulation for babies and toddlers, and play/interaction with the older children.  We gave the workers lotion, toothbrushes, and donuts.  For the babies and children we brought crib toys and other toys, bananas and cookies, toothpaste and toothbrushes, formula, cloth diapers, diaper covers, a baby sling, and a bumbo baby seat.  We spent quite a while there just interacting with all the kids.  Can you imagine getting about 30 kids ages 5 and under ready for bed?  It was pretty crazy!  We "helped" tuck the oldest children into bed.  We sang with them and they all laid down.  As we left, they were all standing on the bed and peeking out the window at us.

We spent the night at a nearby guest house and returned to the orphanage in the morning for a few more hours with the kids.  The biggest challenge for me at the orphanage was trying to give lots of attention to as many kids as possible.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Preparing to move... AGAIN

We are buying a house!  It should close tomorrow and we hope to move into our new home on Saturday!  I am so excited for our family to make this move.  We have been living in small spaces and without a yard for the kids for most of their lives.  Our new home has an extra room that will be our dedicated school room, plus a yard with lots of room for running, gardening, and hopefully chickens eventually.  And all this for about the same monthly expense as what we were paying for rent at our last condo.

As we were filling out all the papers for the house purchase, one document in particular was a little surprising.  We had to write all the addresses Joel has lived at in the last 10 years.  Can you guess how many?  Our list for him was 13 addresses; one of those was 2 years at the same military address, but in reality probably included 2 to 4 moves.  That makes at least 15 moves in 10 years for Joel.  Poor guy.   The count for me is 9 moves in 10 years.  And for the kids... Tabby Cat has lived in 7 different homes in her 5 years of life (this next one will make 8) and Baby Oliver has lived in 5 homes in his 3 years.  Ugh.  Hoping we can stay put a good long time and stop the moving insanity.