Self-isolated in Kinshasa

About a month after Moses was born it was clear that the Coronavirus was going to become a worldwide pandemic. We made the decision to self-isolate in order to protect ourselves and others even before the government started taking actions. We are now at more than two months of self-isolation here in Kinshasa. Staying at home all of the time didn’t feel all that different to me because I was home caring for Moses. Othy was already working from home beforehand because our car had not yet arrived, but now he doesn’t go to town for meetings as he did quite regularly before via public transit. Now we are avoiding the public buses because people are always in very tight quarters. A few weeks after we started self isolating, the government decided to put the downtown neighbourhood, Gombe, in lockdown which has halted most business activities in the city. Although the downtown is closed, when we walk around our neighbourhood everything feels very normal; there are more children and groups of young people on the street because they are all home from school. The government made it a requirement to wear masks and so you find a good number of people wearing masks as you approach the busy main road. Most small vendors and shops are still open. We decided to purchase a freezer because we didn’t want to have to go to the market as regularly as before, and bought supplies to last us for a few weeks. I didn’t get to see what it was like at the market, but Augustin said that people are wearing masks and trying to sell their goods further apart; however, it is still busy and impossible to not be close to other people. Othy and Augustin hired a taxi to bring all of the food back. The first few days we had a lot of work sorting, cleaning, and blanching greens, chopping and cooking cabbage, and boiling ndizi (plantains) for freezing. Othy bought a huge bag of garlic that, after one month, started sprouting and so Augustin and I spent a over a week peeling garlic cloves to freeze. Although there was a lot of work those first few days, now cooking meals is faster. I am reminded of how fortunate we are to be able to stay inside and store some food. A large portion of the population in Kinshasa live hand-to-mouth and are likely struggling right now.

Outside of my time spent caring for Moses and doing things around the house, I have occupied myself with many activities that include sewing masks by hand for us to wear, designing a wedding photo book that is now ready to get printed, updating my portfolio and design website (still underway), and helping Othy prepare graphics for his start-ups (and peeling garlic of course!). I have also been trying to take advantage of the situation by having video chats with friends from Canada and elsewhere who are normally busier but are now stuck at home. Spring is usually a time full of celebrations including Easter, Mothers day, and many birthdays of friends and family. This year we didn’t do anything special for Easter. I watched Grace Toronto Church’s Easter sunday service online. For Mothers day I arranged a skype call with Mom, Al, and Jen which was really nice. For Othy and my birthdays we didn’t do much either. I cooked a chicken on Othy’s birthday and then for my birthday Othy spent the day fetching the car which finally arrived on the boat from Kisangani three months late! It was pretty special getting to open the big box of stuff that we had left in Kampala and brought in the car! The box had most of my exercise stuff like my yoga mat, dumbbells, stability ball, foam roller, and running shoes; my craft and drafting things; toiletries and some books. For Othy it was books, lots of shoes, his basketball and keyboard stand. We aren’t using the car much yet, but it will greatly simplify things and facilitate our work here. Market runs and other errands are much easier, especially if we need to take Moses along. Moses likes movement and so, as predicted, he seems to enjoy rides in the car! Othy is starting to go to meetings with select people and as soon as things open up again he will get going with setting up his paint business. We are hoping to get an office space soon because the power is out quite often at our apartment, even more so during this pandemic. It has made productivity difficult.

We have been frustrated that our projects are taking so much longer to get started than we had planned. I described it once on a call with friends that it feels like we are running a marathon and just before we are exhausted and approaching the finish line, it gets pushed back another 10km. We run those extra 10km, and then it gets pushed back another 10! And yet God is bringing us through this strange time and using the challenges to refine our character. I hope that we will look back on this time and tell Moses about how the world was turned upside down for a while after he was born, and that we saw the worst in people and also the best. I saw a poem enacted on Youtube that I really liked called The Great Realisation by Probably Tomfoolery. It is a bit idealistic but I do hope our world will learn and grow from the events of the last few months. I hope it will also give us perspective on the fight against global warming!

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Prayer requests:

Praises:

  • Moses is healthy and growing fast
  • My recovery was bumpy but I made it through!
  • We have a roof over our head and food to eat
  • The car arrived!

Petitions:

  • Pray that Covid transmission remains low here and pray for the people and families affected
  • Pray that people who are going hungry because they are unable to work be provided for
  • Pray for the security situation in North Kivu as attacks against civilians by rebel militia are still happening on a weekly basis but are now generally ignored by the media; pray that justice come to the perpetrators and peace return to the region
  • Pray for the ongoing efforts to contain the Ebola epidemic in North Kivu; the number of cases was zero but in mid-April, just three days before the end of the 42 day countdown, new cases came up; pray for healing and for the virus to be contained once and for all
  • Pray for Othy and I as we discern how to carefully move forward with work and projects
  • Pray for healing for me as I injured my lower back this week

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