The first of many photos and updates!
This was the Presbytery meeting on Saturday at Presbyterian Church of Chestertown as everyone was commissioned to leave for the Congo. Co- chair of Ignite Eric Markman led the service.
Our mission team will fly from Dulles at 6 pm tonight and hope to land in Kinshasa 8:15 pm Tuesday night (3:15 pm here).
They would like to take this moment to thank the Presbytery for the support and prayers. They'll return June 4, and photos will be posted here and on Facebook throughout their journey.
So here we are!
The New Castle Presbytery Congo group arrived safely Tuesday night in Kinshasa after a very long and tiring flight. We are staying til Friday at the Methodist-Presbyterian Hostel, a peaceful oasis in the middle of a big noisy city. Several in the group visited the National Museum while others rested.
Jim Annett and I had a lovely visit from Pastor Tshibuabua’s 2 adult children living here. We enjoy meals with other interesting guests. We also are meeting to prepare and pray for our visit to Kananga.
keep us in your prayers. There is yet a lot ahead of us. Watch for our daily posts! Thank you.
Christ’s peace, Laurie
It’s tempting, when seeing this crowded city of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo with its little apparent order or infrastructure, where the cultural hierarchy places women, and children at the low end, and where opportunities must be seized rather than expected, to focus on only that. But to do so would mean missing the courage, creativity, and connection of someone like Maman Monique and her companions.
Here we were on our first day trip in Kinshasa as a group representing New Castle Presbytery’s Congo Partnership. Our driver navigated the chaotic streets jammed with vehicles ranging from from buses to hand carts while multi-passengered motorbikes darted among them through impossibly narrow margins. Though the poverty is worse than anything I’ve seen before, the beauty and resourcefulness of the people are impressive.
Maman Monique Misenga Mukuna‘s nonprofit organization, “Woman, Cradle of Abundance,“ is located deep within a warren of crowded, pot-holed streets. We were welcomed generously by staff members who led us past the two sewing classrooms to Maman Monique‘s office, where she shared with us her story.
She had been on staff of the Congolese Presbyterian Church denomination as Director of Development for Women’s Ministries when she felt called to devote all her time to this nonprofit, specifically focused on empowering women and children in the Democratic Republic of Congo so they can know themselves as beloved children of God who have the right to safety, education, and economic independence.
They have a sewing school and sell handmade goods as part of the organizations support, and we met some of the joyful and energetic girls in those classrooms. The staff here tend to women and girls through counseling, advocacy, tutoring, life, skills, development, and even business management, as they encourage healthy confidence. They offer coaching and cohorts to walk with women who use revolving funds to begin entrepreneurial endeavors. Their support extends to preventative healthcare and nursing support for fragile, elderly women in a society with no safety-net.
They fed us a delicious lunch where conversation continued about blessings shared, multiplied leadership, mentoring, and a legacy for future ministry. Maman Monique‘s gracious, strong staff, her relationships with community and US partners, and the determination and vision of Maman Monique herself have transformed the lives of nearly 200 women. Compound this through the lives THOSE lives have touched, and you can imagine nothing less than the power of God’s love made manifest right here. Right here in Kinshasa.
Tomorrow we fly to Kananga to visit our sister presbytery. Watch for more stories…
Learn more at https://www.womancradleofabundance.org
Saturday in Congo
Today we started our church visits. It’s amazing to be welcomed by singing and palm waving at all the different churches. The church members are so happy and excited that we are here. We got to see the well project that we supported, which is working again and providing much needed water to the area. We visited some schools and saw the new computer lab and sewing room at one of them. Finally, we met with some of the women leaders and talked with them about their projects, and their vision for the future. We’re planning on meeting with them again and hope to hear about how we can continue to support them.
Sunday in Congo.
We had a celebratory three and a half hour service at Paroisse Oecumenique (partner church with Westminster-Rehoboth) and it was not only Pentecost, but Pastor Appreciation Sunday. Gifts were piled high on the communion table, except for the young pig ! Pastor Thierry is also the executive presbyter for Kananga Presbytery. He proudly wore the ebony and maple cross Westminster folks had crafted for him.
Worship is always a highlight here. The six of us preached at different congregations. On Pentecost! I preached at Butoke, a church with a big mission to orphans. There were close to 30 present who sang for us. And there were dozens of children and youth who sat quietly for three hours. As in all the churches here, there was much singing and three offerings! Pastor Manyayi invited me to baptize twin girls! I presented them with a flameless candle to remind them the light of the Holy Spirit is with them always. Butoke means light. After worship I met with the session, then had a meal at the pastor’s home and tour of the neighborhood to look at lots for sale. They must leave their building by July because it’s in the path of a small airport strip. They ask for our prayers. Laurie
Sunday in Congo - additional report
Day number seventh in Congo, Kananga. After breakfast, we divided ourselves into two groups because there was 10 unpartnered churches that we needed to visit. One group visited 6 churches, and my group visited 3 churches, which includes: Kabanza Disanka, Kabanza Bobumua, and Kananga Est. The day was packed with a lot of activities. One of the many things that amazed me was the joy of the people, from children to adults. Even though they don't have church building or any structure, but they were very happy praising God. We had the opportunity to meet the Youth Group. We thank God for bringing us to the end of day 7 in Kananga - Congo.
We had breakfast at the Protestant Center this morning, across the street from the hotel. We left on May 22, so are starting to get bedraggled (at least I will admit to it). When there was discussion to go over the plan for the day, a request was made by our team to provide a few breaks for reflection during the day. This was felt to be important by one of our team members who will remain nameless, even though the person is double stuff over worthy (whatever that means) but thought that I might actually pass them an oreo cookie (hint- would never happen this far into the trip). Anyway, our plea for mercy was heard and an attempt was made to allow for time periods for reflection. I applaud the attempt but the effect was to extend the morning and early morning visits to SEPRES, IMPROKA, and UPRECO until about 4 pm, which pushed back the early afternoon visits to our sister churches.
SEPRES is an NGO with various health and development activities, which was started at the Holy Mountain parish (it's new name) with a lot of support from the Lewes Presbyterian Church that has left the denomination but we still coordinate Congo activities with them. We met in the SEPRES office and heard a presentation.