Archive for July 14th, 2018

July 14, 2018

Getting Settled in Beni

I have been in Beni for two months now. It is hard to believe! I haven’t had the chance to write about my arrival in Beni until now because I was trying to catch up on everything that has happened up until this point. I am settling in well. I am living in the house of two american women who are friends of mine. They are both away (I overlapped with one of them for a short two weeks) and so I have been taking care of the house for them. In the meantime a Congolese colleague from UCBC has been living with me so that I’m not living there on my own. It took time to get used to living in Beni both with the difference in culture and language and also meeting new people everyday. I found that for the first few weeks I was going about my days in a bit of a haze and by the evening was completely drained. Then after a month I started having more energy and it was as if I could see everything clearly again.

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Beni sunset

It feels like the time is passing quickly. From Monday to Friday I go to UCBC and assist the Sharing the Land (STL) project at the Integrated Research Institute (IRI). It took some time to get oriented within my role, but it has slowly taken shape over the last two months. I am serving to build internal capacity within IRI and the STL team because UCBC is taking on more projects and is becoming a leader and a training hub within the land reform process in the DRC. My role involves developing curriculum, performing trainings, finding publication opportunities, and contributing to graphic communications. I have enjoyed getting to know and working with the team of 10-15 people who are mostly alumni of UCBC. At the beginning of July I began leading a one month training in GIS tools for other UCBC alumni and a few land administrators. It has been a real challenge to develop curriculum in french at the same time as leading the training in french! What a great way to improve though! At the same time as doing this I am also continuing my part-time work with E4C. I am remotely overseeing the work of three fellows from India, Kenya, and Guatemaula who are doing research in the agriculture and habitat sectors. All of this combined has been keeping me very busy!

 

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GIS Training

On the weekends I have been joining a few different social activities. The international staff have been gathering once a month for a social, and the international women have been meeting for a time of fellowship and prayer once every two weeks. I have also joined a discipleship group that Othy is a part of called Like Christ (Kama Kristo) and am thankful to have been welcomed with open arms by the group. On Sundays I have been attending Othy’s church which is the English service at CBCA (Communaut√© Baptiste au Centre de l’Afrique) and after church I often attend the choir practices. I am enjoying learning many new songs in French, English, and Swahili! I have only spent a short time with the people I have met so far in these different groups, but I know already that they are people that I want to get to know more. When I am around town I always feel like an outsider, but in these groups that feeling disappears which is a real blessing.

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Choir practice

Before arriving in Beni I wondered what it would be like to finally live in the same city as Othy! It has been a nice development in our relationship. We see eachother in passing at UCBC, and we find time to hang out on weekends and after work on some days. We have also taken two short trips to Butembo to visit his famly. We have jumped into the various planning that needs to be done for our upcoming wedding that we have set for October 20th! One of the big tasks was to send out wedding invitations and now the next one is travel logistics for those who are coming. We have also started group counciling at Othy’s church and will have some counciling sessions over Skype with a friend from Toronto. Very soon we will start looking for a house to rent. My life is already looking different and soon it will change again!

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God at work

I put “God at work” as the subtitle of this section because I want to intentially reflect on what God is doing in Beni, in me, and in the community around me in these monthly updates. However, sometimes there are times when it is more difficult to see where God is at work. I feel like I am in a season of learning to trust that He is acting for our good even when I don’t always see or understand what He is doing. I have also been challenged by the need to pray daily for Him to act in big ways because he is able. Sometimes I feel hopeless when I hear about what is happening in Beni region.¬†The insecurity in the region has far-reaching implications. For example, many people here make their living off of the land, but because of insecurity they cannot access their fields and sometimes their livestock and crops get pillaged. Some of their children are students at UCBC and they are no longer able to pay their school fees. As a result, UCBC has been struggling to pay the salaries of their staff and visiting professors. It appears to be a helpless situation, but everytime the staff and students gather for a prayer or chapel time, they pray both with confidence that he will act and answer their prayers, and confidence that He works all things out for our good. In difficult times we have to trust in his promises to us and also look and see how He has been faithful. I have been reflecting recently on the Psalms because many of them express the uncertainty that I sometimes feel and help me to pray when I don’t have the words.

Prayer requests

Praises:

  • I have settled in well here and have been in good health
  • I am beginning to develop relationships with people and have found various communities to be apart of

Petitions:

  • Pray for the families who cannot access their fields and are struggling to pay school fees and other expenses, that God may work in the details through people and groups to bring peace to the region.
  • Pray for UCBC to find the funding they need to keep serving, growing, and being a shining imitator of Christ in this region.
  • Pray for intentionality in the relationships that I develop, that I may share God’s love and that cultural barriers can come down.
  • Pray for energy, discernment, and good communication for Othy and I as we prepare for our future together
  • Pray that God provide avenues for Othy and I to have sufficient finances to meet our needs in this upcoming season