Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas 2008


It seems this year has gone by very fast and our world has changed incredibly. It is good to know we serve a sovereign Lord who never changes. The Christmas story reminds us that God came to us as homeless, in poverty, a refugee, surrounded by injustice and violence. God wants to share with us in the problems that we face. His presence with us enables us to sing with the Angels and the shepherds, “JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD HAS COME!”


As we look over the past year, we have so much to be thankful for. God has blessed us so abundantly. As you know, January through mid March found us completing a six month stint of itineration in which we were in contact with some 125 churches over 20,000 miles. Indeed, we were blessed by so many people opening their homes to us. We are grateful to the Lord for his healing hand upon Lori and the eye problem she had, David’s shingles and for His hand upon Amber.

Return to Congo, then back to U.S.

We returned to Congo in June to finish out the school year. During the summer two work teams from New Mexico visited us and again the Lord’s blessings flowed. The reality of Christians coming together from different parts of the world and working together on a common goal is a beautiful thing to watch. Bishop Max Whitfield of the New Mexico Annual Conference invited us to itinerate in the conference during the months of October and November to develop this partnership between the Annual Conferences.

Lori arrived in the US at the beginning of October to attend the 40 anniversary of her nursing class. It was a blessing to be with old and life long friends who have remained close through the years. David stayed on at Mulungwishi in order to bring to conclusion our first class of the Masters of Organizational Leadership & Management by extension. Eight candidates defended their thesis in public session and graduation was held on October 5th.

Masters in Leadership Program partners


Dennis and Jeanette Fulton from Development Associates International (DAI), our partner organization in the Masters of Leadership Program, were present for this first graduation for French speaking Africa. The Fultons had been missionaries with the Methodist Church in Congo before their tenure with Mission Aviation Fellowship and now DAI. It was Dennis who first shared with David about the DAI and their program of leadership. The Lord took that conversation and through His grace has done a mighty thing putting together this program at Mulungwishi. Our Seminary was the first place chosen for the program in Africa. This choice was made because of the Seminary’s reputation and outstanding faculty. Now, some of our own faculty have been trained and are teaching in the program. Dr. Jean Marie Nkonge, the former Provost, is now the coordinator for French speaking Africa. Praise the Lord for partnership like this continuing training for the leadership of God’s people in Africa!

Methodist Clinic blessed

The one thesis David had mentored in the Master’s program was that of Dr. Kasongo Irung. What an exciting privilege it was to be a part of his work. Dr. Kasongo is the head of our Methodist clinic in the mining city of Kolwezi. The clinic ministers to the medical needs of many people in the city. Most receive $10-15 a month and are not able to afford high medical fees. The clinic has been operating on a shoestring budget to survive. Lack of medicine and the ability to have equipment were a constant pressure. Dr. Kasongo became a part of this leadership program and he felt it changed his life and his way of looking at leadership in every day issues. He realized more personally what the principles of leadership as a Christian meant. He was to serve others and not just be the “big boss doctor”. He felt convicted and remolded his ministry. Armed with these new tools, he was able to forge a partnership with Crusader Health, a for-profit Christian based health provider which has come to help Congo. Crusader Health brought to the table the finances and the possibility to sign contracts with mining companies to provide health care for their workers. Dr. Kasongo provided the facility, the reputation as the best clinic and the staff. The result was that the clinic was refurbished, new equipment brought in, medicines made available and salaries raised. But more than that, contracts were signed with the mining companies who could afford paying for the care and this enabled Dr. Kasongo and his staff to increase and widen their services to the poor at a reduced price. This thesis was more than a paper. It was a living report of what this leadership program had done in the life of a doctor in bringing health care to a community in need. We praise the Lord for the results.

Joy of family

After our travels in New Mexico, we celebrated Thanksgiving as a family in Denver. Andrew and Amber flew in from Seattle to join Michelle and Jeff and Jeff’s brother Dustin and his wife Saca. Again, we are thankful to the Lord for the family he has given us.

Continue your prayers

David and Dr. Kongolo

Be praying for Congo amidst the constant conflict in the north-east and the instability it brings to the whole country. Continue to pray for the Seminary, the University and the young men and women the Lord has called to be a His witnesses in this part of the world. We covet your prayers for us as we prepare to return to Congo. Thank you for your faithful support and caring for Congo.

We celebrate Christ’s coming with you this Christmas season.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Medical problems for Lori

A quick note to call you to prayer for us...

We have been held up again on our return to Congo for medical reasons. Please forgive us for not keeping in touch. We have been overwhelmed and surprised by the events.

Lori will be undergoing a procedure tomorrow. When things are clearer, we will let you know.

Thank you for your continual support, love and prayer.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

December prayer focus

The Persons family

During December, pray for the Persons family — David, Lorene, their children, and their extended family.

Pray for their personal support and well-being as God's and your representatives to the Congolese Church.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

November Prayer focus

Mulungwishi UMC

The Mulungwishi ministry 2008 calendar asks us to pray for church life. Pray for pastors, teachers, and lay leaders.

Pray for churches and schools being established in the villages surrounding Mulungwishi mission station.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How to comment on blog posts

Several people have told David that they are not sure how to add a comment to a blog posting they read online. So below are two ways to add a comment to a blog posting:

Method 1: Go to the posting's separate page.

  1. Click on the title of the blog post, as in the figure below:
  2. This takes you to a separate page for just that blog posting.
  3. When the new page appears, scroll down until you see the "Post a Comment" area, as in the figure below:

Method 2: Select the "comments" link at the bottom of a blog posting.

  1. Scroll down in the blog until you see the "comments" link at the bottom of the posting to which you want to add a comment. The link shows how many comments have been added to the blog posting so far. Feel free to comment. That's one of the great things -- communicate with the Persons right through blog postings.
  2. Click on the comments link to immediately go to the "Post a Comment" area (see the image above) of the separate blog post page.

Mulungwishi wrap-up

Back Stateside?

Too many days have flown by and you are asking what is happening. Believe it or not we are back in the States for two months. Bishop Max Whitfield invited us to speak in churches in the New Mexico and North West Texas Annual Conferences in order to promote the partnership between these Annual Conferences and the Southern Congo Episcopal Area under Bishop Katembo Kainda. We are traveling in New Mexico and some in Texas through October and November. We are trying to plan some family time at Thanksgiving and then back to Congo in December.

Small generator helps a bit

August and September still found us struggling with no electricity. It was a balance act to keep the fridges somewhat cold and secretarial work for the university offices, plus minutes here and there for Internet! A small generator was set up at the Clinic to help with the lab and at night. With one generator for the University, we had "an outside office" with people, computers, printers, etc. in our payot (the African version of a gazebo) working off the generator in the garage!

Lori: Sew sew

Lori worked on sewing projects with the women, especially quilting, as we had received special quilting things in the container! Yea! Another session of the Christian Leadership was held in Lubumbashi. Then we had a quick time in Zambia.

Volunteer teams paint classrooms

We arrived back in Mulungwishi to help host a work team from the New Mexico Annual Conference under the leadership of Rev. Jeanie Riley. In the tradition of the great VIM teams that have come out, wonderful relationships were created with the Congolese on the station. The focus of their work was refurbishing and painting the preschool and kindergarten classrooms and nursing at the dispensary. The children of the preschool were so excited to have a newly painted classroom with pictures of Noah’s ark and animals on the walls. The children kept looking in the windows as the paintings appeared and they could not wait to come inside and show their parents!

Lori's KU reunion

Lori left at the end of September in order to join her friends in Kansas City for the 40th anniversary of her nursing class at Kansas University. It was worth the four days of flying to be with wonderful friends and catch up on our lives and memories. Go Jay Hawks!

Another first

David stayed on at Mulungwishi to help bring to a conclusion our first class of the Masters of Organizational Leadership & Management by extension. Eight candidates defended their thesis in public session and graduation was held on October 5th. Dennis and Jeanette Fulton from Development Associates International (DAI), our partner organization in the Masters of Leadership Program, were present for this first graduation for French speaking Africa.

Small power transformer helps

The good news is, two days before David left Mulungwishi, the railroad company put in a small transformer (because they still have not been able to fix our old one ) and Mulungwishi is back in the "light"! This brings a big sigh of relief, as the cost of using the generators was terrible! We are still hoping to have the bigger transformer fixed.

Cross Hill status

We have also been working with the Bishops and officials about the mining of the Cross hill. So far no sale has been registered with the government and it looks like a private deal with the local chief. We are putting together a dossier of the property boundaries of the mission station to present to the governor. Please keep praying!

Continue to pray for:

  • The Leadership program
  • The beginning of a new academic year at Mulungwishi
  • The itineration and travel in New Mexico

Friday, October 03, 2008

In the headlines

While you can always read news by using the "News, weather ..." links at the right side of this blog, below are selected links to recent news -- mostly bad news for the Congolese people.

August to October in Mulungwishi

David and Lori

[This is a catch-up posting, which explains the title.]

Difficult months

The last two months have been amongst the most difficult of our missionary life. The continued lack of electricity, lack of communications, colleagues disappointing us, the local chief selling the cross hill, suffering children coming to the nutrition clinic, miners from other countries (particularly China) taking Congo’s mineral wealth and leaving nothing for the Congolese, corrupt politicians selling the country, and David’s shingles. Sometimes you wonder where God is in all of this. Well, He is right there inspiring you to pray. It is such a comfort to know how you are keeping us before the throne of grace and petitioning the Lord on our behalf and also on behalf of the Congolese people.

Pray for Cross Hill, electricity

On the political side and also with the cross hill, it will take time to work out and we need to continue to pray. We hope that the electricity will soon be back. Definitely David’s shingles have been very minor and have not moved. The rash is drying up nicely and he has had very little pain. He still gets tired quickly. Thank you for those prayers.

Servant leaders

Last week, we spent in Lubumbashi as part of a team giving seminars in the Master’s of Leadership program. It was exciting to see leaders from the different denominations; Para church organizations and the secular world realize that Jesus has given us a new paradigm of leadership, being servant-leaders. This is a huge revelation to them since the only models they have had was that of a big boss (colonizers, village chiefs and military dictatorships). God is good at challenging our preconceptions and call us to live a different life style in His Kingdom.

A graduating student couple

Our graduating students are gradually leaving to take their appointments as the Annual conferences are taking place. One such couple is Robert Kalau and his wife Umba. We wrote about them a few years ago when they had just entered the ministry. During the last two years they have been in the masters program at the seminary. We shared together and prayed before they left. Robert and Umba shared part of their ministry with us.

This couple had been in an area that had had been heavily influenced by the violence of war, the Mai Mai militias, and countless atrocities including cannibalism and witchcraft. In the midst of this they brought the light and good news of the Jesus Christ and the love, forgiveness and freedom He brings to His children. They sometimes had to travel by foot, bicycle and canoe to reach villages where they started churches. In one village, a former Mai Mai rebel is now the lay leader.

Isn’t this what it is all about. God’s love reaching down and touching people. Sure we get tired, depressed and just plain fed up. Guess what, the Lord is still at work. It is by His Spirit that these things are done. To Him be the glory!

Thanks for being there for us.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

October Prayers


During October, pray for the Development and Agriculture Program. Pray for Director Mwenze, the staff, and local farmers.

The Agriculture and Development Program helps local farmers improve their farming skills.

Monday, September 08, 2008

September Prayers - Nutrition Program

Meals bring a smile

During September please pray for the Nutrition Program -- the staff and the children. The Nutrition Program provides food and nutrition for preschool children at Mulungwishi Station and also to malnourished children from the surrounding area.

The Mulungwishi staff regularly touches the lives of about 200 children.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

August Prayers

Mulungwishi clinic

Prayers are always needed ... for many people and many situations.

The clinic at Mulungwishi station serves 20,000 people within a 25-mile radius of the local community. Medical care includes a full maternity program, health education, satellite clinics, and a vaccination outreach -- by bicycle!

Please add prayers this month for the Clinic ... for Head Nurses Jean and Alfred, for staff, and for patients.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Mission Station Hill sold! - Urgent Prayer Request

Mulungwishi cross hill

Annual Conference is in session now in Africa. Today David Persons received a call from one of their Bishops. He had just learned that one of the local tribal chiefs has sold the mission station's hill to a Greek mining company.

This is the hill on which Woody Bartlett (Lori's dad) built the large cross out of metal barrels. It is also the home of their water well. Full details are not known at this time, but David has a meeting later this week which will hopefully give him further direction.

David and Lori ask for massive amounts of intercessory prayer and fasting from all of us.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Prayers for Mulungwishi

Mulungwishi still has no electricity

At $8.00 per gallon of gasoline Mulungwishi is only able to run their generator a short time in the morning and evening to keep the refrigerator cool. When it gets dark outside, it's dark everywhere.

Please pray for the transformer to be repaired soon. The people who operate the train are responsible for repairing it and seem to have numerous problems that keep delaying the repairs.

David has Shingles

David's Shingles are very painful. He really needs some rest and down time, but his schedule with Teaching and Annual Conference does not allow time off right now. Unfortunately David and Lori's lives are full of stress right now and stress is the main cause of Shingles. The local Congolese do not realize he is sick because they cannot see a problem. It's exasperating, but David and Lori have not been able to find the word in French that will explain the Shingles to them.

Please put the Persons and Mulungwishi on your prayer list and share these concerns with your church.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Finally home ... a hectic week

The Journey home

Can you believe we are writing to you from Mulungwishi? Thought we would never get here! We have hit the ground running. We left Denver on June 10th on a night flight to London. It was a good flight arriving at mid-day and that evening took the night flight on to Lusaka. Charles, a Zambian coworker, was waiting at the airport for us with our car and drove us up to Ndola (about 200 miles) where we spent the next two days with close friends and colleagues, John and Kendra Enright.

On Sunday, the 15th, we crossed the border (considered by Lori as "purgatory!") with very little trouble, praise the Lord! We arrived in Lubumbashi in the late afternoon. Thank you for your prayers. Purchases for settling in and for the coming work team, preparations and paperwork were the agenda for the next two days.

On Wednesday we drove to Mulungwishi. The road from Lubumbashi to Likasi is better in spots and still being fixed BUT "the road" on to Mulungwishi is at best the worst we have seen it in 30 years and something out of a car rally horror film! It took four hours to do the 100 miles! The eggs had the best seat on Lori's lap as we were jolted and jarred in every direction. There was a great greeting with people out with songs and flowers to welcome us back! It was good to get home and be in our own bed for a change! The same 'ole' cat, more fat and retired then ever, crazy parrot, and of course our special Baba Nogoi all welcomed us with open arms.

Box-filled house

Our house, thanks to many of you, was somewhat "changed" because of all the boxes from the containers filled with lovely baby things, yarn and things for the Women's School ... half the living room and most of the office! Wow! With the help of Women's School teachers and members of the New Mexico Team we have managed to sort half of it and now we can see our fire place! All we can say is a big thank you to the Church friends that gathered and packed the things and to Mike and Terri Hobbs and the Washington Team that got the containers here. These things will bless many babies and women in the months to come! Again thank you for your prayers!

Night one surprise

Night one of our arrival, guess what? The Electric transformer from the train station blew and we have pretty much been without electricity since! Help! Lori went right to work with Mama Kat and their team organizing the kitchen and food for the coming visitors. Don't you just love candle light! Yea! Thank goodness for charcoal babulas!

Teams of visitors

Friday, David drove back down to Lubumbashi to meet the Team. Our 13 visitors from Hobbs, NM came in on the Saturday flight from Nairobi. They arrived safely but 19 pieces of luggage did not arrive. (Some came latter in the week, thankfully) They were good sports about it and those without extra clothes dipped into a box of scrubs. We started calling them "the blue team!" In the mean time, we realized that the repair of the electric system was going to take longer then we thought, so we picked up a small generator to help preserve the food we had bought for the team. All that week Lori felt like a "mother hen" figuratively sitting on three freezers making sure that they had enough electric time to keep food cold because we could not afford to run them all day. Smile! People! Gasoline prices here are at $8 a gallon. Enjoy your $4 a gallon in the U.S.! Also, with no electricity we are back to pumping H2O with diesel fuel three times a week so save that cup of water!

Sunday, after church in Lubumbashi, the team took off for Mulungwishi. What a reception they received when they arrived. Flowers, singing, dancing and prayers of thanksgiving for their safe arrival thrilled the visitors. One of the team, cardiologist Dr. Tom Maddox, remained in Lubumbashi for two extra days in order to give seminars at the Medical School of the University of Lubumbashi and to share with fellow cardiologists.

Graduation week

The next week was a flurry of activities leading up to graduation on Sunday the 29th of June. Monday was the public defenses of the Master's thesis. Thursday, renewal of wedding vows for out graduate students who had never had a chance to have a Christian wedding. Friday was the agape supper for the whole Seminary community. Each team had been paired with each graduate to pray for each other during the months leading up to the Team visit. During the week, they were able to share together. Good fellowship was also done between the team leader, Roland McGregor, and Dr. Kajoba, the Dean Emeritus of the Seminary. It is for them that the first chair of professorship was named.

The team worked with various ministries during the week ... the dispensary, the Women's School, Children's program. A major effort was putting in the ceiling and air condition in the computer server room. Also the basic installation for wireless network on the station was mapped out by Joe Barnes and Congolese Prof Cedric. We would we have loved to have electricity to get it all up and running! Barry Dickens, DS of Clovis, led the meditation on the Friday night. Steve Chappell, Senior Pastor at First UMC of Hobbs, preached the graduation service. Each Team member blessed our community with their gifts and abilities and we Praise the Lord Jesus Christ for their willingness to come share with others. It is so good to be a part of God's family. We are just plain spoiled.

We need to add that the team were great sports dealing with no electricity and very little water. They became schooled in the Mulungwishi "save every ounce of water " method and flush last!

Thankfulness and Praise also has we celebrated a combined Graduation of the School of Education, School of Information Technology. and the Seminary, helping send out new leadership for the Congo!

Please pray for

  • Our continuing reentry, as it really seems like a "time warp" after being in the States as we get back into the routine of Mulungwishi.
  • For the graduates who are waiting for their designation and ordination at Annual Conferences later this month.
  • For the repair of the electric system!
  • For travel and wisdom for the Church as our Bishop, Bishop Katembo has started one of the five Annual conferences that will take place this summer.
  • For the Congo and the government that they will remember the people of the country and it's future with the riches of the mines that seem to be flowing out to other countries!
  • For world leaders, business leaders, economic policies and decisions that seem to keep so many across the world struggling to live in 18th century conditions when we are in the 21st century!

Thank you for being a part of this ministry and for your support. We love you all.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Odds and Ends

While surfing looking for Africa-related sites, we came across some interesting pages at National Geographic:

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

July prayers: Masters of Leadership Program

The 2008 Mulungwishi Ministries calendar asks us to pray for the Masters of Leadership Program during July. Pray for:

  • Visiting professors
  • Church and secular leaders

The Masters of Leadership Program adult learning by extension, bringing needed skills to church and secular leaders in the region.

Monday, June 23, 2008

New Mulungwishi challenges

David and Lori report that God really blessed their flight from Denver and it was great all the way to Africa. The road trip from the airport to Mulungwishi went very well until the last 25 miles and then the road was so destroyed it took two and a half hours to navigate that stretch.

Since then they have had several challenges:

  • Transformer explosion. While they were in the states, the transformer exploded so they have no electricity and because the water pump runs on electricity, they have no water. David was in Lubumbashi trying to buy a generator as we spoke. This has also caused a critical situation with their frozen food.
  • Email down. They have no access to email at Mulungwishi (presumably until the transformer problem is fixed).
  • Cooking challenges. A work team of 19 from Hobbs, NM has just arrived at the station. Lori is trying to cook meals for all of them over an outdoor charcoal fire and for that many people it is a challenge. The team arrived fine, but they did not get their luggage and who knows when it will arrive or even where the luggage is.
  • Graduation. This coming Sunday is a combination graduation including students from the seminary, the University, and the IT Program. There will be at least 150 dignitaries coming in for this ceremony. Again, Lori will be cooking over charcoal (she says please pray hard). This is also the use for most of the frozen food mentioned above, they are praying they can keep it.

There are numerous other challenges in the area but these are the pressing ones right now. They asked us to forward these to you and ask for lots of prayers. We all know God is so much bigger than all of this and He will provide. It’s just a little overwhelming right now.

Friday, June 20, 2008

New Photos

The Persons

We just uploaded over a dozen photos to our Flickr photo site.

This photo of the Persons family, Christmas 2007, is one of them.

An easy way to keep up with new photosis to "subscribe" to the umccongo "photostream" at Flickr. Only the photos you have not yet "read" (seen) will appear.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

People from 63 countries visit blog

People from all over the word visited the Congo Missions - Mulungwishi blog over 3,000 times from June 2007 to June 2008. They surfed from the 63 countries below, representing 6 continents. Click on the map above to see a larger, clearer image.

  • Afghanistan
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Cameroon
  • Canada (7 Provinces)
  • Central African Republic
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Gambia
  • Germany
  • Ghana
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Hong Kong (China)
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Ivory Coast (Cote D' Ivoire)
  • Kenya
  • Liberia
  • Malawi
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Republic of Congo
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Scotland
  • Slovakia
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan (China)
  • Tanzania
  • Togo
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America (49 states)
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Thursday, June 12, 2008

ClustrMap now zooms

The ClustrMap in the "Blog visitors come from..." section at the right now lets you zoom in for a closer look of the locations of our visitors.

After you click on the map on this page, click on any area of the world you want to zoom in to.

Our hearts are warmed that visitors from nearly every continent (come on, Antarctica) find something of interest in our blog of mission efforts at Mulungwishi.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Request for prayers

We request your prayers as we travel back to Congo. We leave Tuesday the 10th and arrive in Lusaka, Zambia on the 12th. We will then be going by car to Ndola. Probably, on Sunday the 15th, we will drive across the border into Congo.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Ideas for using our photos

Children are so important!

Our Mulungwishi photo albums continue to grow from the many fine photos taken by visiting volunteers as well as people at Mulungwishi.

Here are some ideas on how to make good use of these in your local mission efforts for Mulungwishi.

Choose. You can choose to download different groups of photos, such as:

  • Single photos -- your favorites
  • The latest photos posted online
  • Photos in an album (set)

Display. No matter what you download, here are a few of many ways you can display them:

  • Print a small collection for a poster board or bulletin board display at your church.
  • Save the images to a memory card (CFC, SD, or whatever), then insert the card into an electronic photo frame and have a rotating slide show of the photos.
  • Save the images to a computer and project a slideshow onto a screen.

Theme. You can display photos for several different purposes, such as:

  • Photos tied to the Prayer Focus of the month (from the current Mulungwishi ministry calendar -- also get from this blog).
  • Photos about a specific area of the Mulungwishi ministry -- the Nutrition Program, for example.
  • Close-up building photos linked by string to its location on a large photo of the Mulungwishi campus.
  • A "Year in Review" type presentation.
  • A special theme at your church, for which the photo just happens to fit.

Do you have other ways to use these photos? Add a comment and let everyone know what has worked for you or your church.

Friday, June 06, 2008

June Prayers: Katanga Methodist University

Rev. Dr. Kongolo, Administrative Dean and Rev. Dr. Kasap, University President

During May, the 2008 Muungwishi Ministries calendar asks us to pray for Katanga Methodist University. Pray for President Dr. Kasap, the faculty, staff, and students.

The University was founded in 2002, with Schools of Information Technology and Education as well as the Methodist Seminary. KMU prepares its students in a Christian setting, helping them today to garner the skills they'll need to be Congo's leaders of tomorrow.

Returning to Congo!

David and Lori

Greetings! As always time and miles have flown by. We apologize for being so long in writing – it seems that these trips wore us out more than usual! For the six months period we did more that 20,000 miles in the car. Again it was good to renew old acquaintances and meet new friends and see our beautiful country. We have been held up in Colorado due to Lori having medical tests and David translating for General Conference.

As we watch our students graduate each year, you feel like a parent watching our children leave the home. Because of Congo’s great distances, it is hard to meet up with many of our students again. We try through word of mouth and letters to touch base with them. While we have been here in the States we have been contacting our staff at Mulungwishi to keep up with our students. We thought it would be neat to share with you some of their testimonies because you are invested in the lives of those receiving training at Mulungwishi.

IT grad Danny excels, spreads gospel

While at General Conference, David visited with Danny Kapend. What a wonderful story! Danny’s father was a Methodist pastor and District Superintendent in Congo in our southern area. He died a number of years ago of kidney failure. Five years ago a scholarship was given to Danny to attend the new Information Technology School at Mulungwishi. He was part of our first graduating class in the School of IT of the Katanga Methodist University. We were very pleased with his academic work. Then, Bishop Katembo worked it out for him to come to Lon Morris College, a Methodist related Junior College in Texas.

After a year, Danny transferred to McMurry University (again a Methodist related University) in Abilene, Texas. He is finishing his junior year in Computer Science. An internal competition was held in the computer department and Danny won. He is considered one of their best students. All of this speaks well for the education he received at Mulungwishi.

What excites us even more is how he is sharing the life of the Lord Jesus where ever he goes. Strangely enough, refugees from Congo, Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi are being resettled in Abilene. With the help of Rev. Derrell Patterson, the Senior Pastor of Aldergate UMC, who has been to Congo on several occasions, Danny has started a Swahili Sunday School class for the refugees. It just shows how incredible God is in bringing us together around the world.

The ravages of war

The northern part of our Katanga Province has been particularly devastated by the war. Villages in this area have suffered from all sides. They have been burned out and pillaged by the government troops because they have been suspected to have collaborated with the rebels. On the other side, when the rebels come, they think that the people have collaborated with the government and then destroy what is left of the village. A group known as the Mai Mai was formed as a sort of local militia in order to protect the villagers. They in turn became violent and involved with witchcraft to the extent that they became more deadly than the other two. It is into this sort situation that a number of our students have gone to minister.

Woman pastor hunted; God protects

Umba Ndolo Kebele, one of our women graduates, was sent with her children to Kibamba in the Kinkonja District. Her husband, a Catholic professor, remained in Kamina where he was teaching. The Mai Mai came to her village specifically to find her and kill her. God was gracious in protecting her. She hid in a back room of the house with her children and they were not able to find her. As they were looking for her, she was able to slip out of the house with the children and climb a tree where they spent the night. Unable to find her, the Mai Mai left pillaging the village. Umba was rescued the next day and rejoined her husband in Kamina where she is now the pastor of the Umpafu congregation.

Pastor and wife a light in the darkness

Pastor Makobo Young and Beatrice were sent to Kamungu, in the Kabongo District. This area had been particularly had hit by all sides. At the beginning of their ministry, most of the parishioners were hiding and living in the bush, afraid to be in the village. As the war subsided, they began to return. A number of past choir members had joined the Mai Mai and been involved in the atrocities. Slowly God’s spirit showed them the error of their life style. They repented and once again have become a part of God’s people. Makobo and Beatrice have been a light in the darkness helping to heal the wounds of many who have suffered in this war. What a loving God we serve, who brings His Love, His Mercy, and His Reconciliation to whoever seeks Him! How wonderful to have pastors willing to go into the hardest areas to bring God’s Love!!! Now, there are songs of forgiveness, thanksgiving and praise coming from this His family.

Praise the Lord with us, for His faithfulness. How wonderful to see Him use these young men and women in sharing His Kingdom! Thank you for your part and sharing in their lives. You have never met them but you have faithfully given and prayed through the years. Rejoice and give thanks to the Lord.

Request for prayers

As we pack to return to Congo, we want to share these prayer requests:

  • For travel and grace for the trip back to Mulungwishi
  • For the graduating classes this year and the running of the University
  • For the country of Congo: the healing, the restitution and the reconstruction
  • For our family: Michelle and Jeff in Lakewood and Andrew and Amber in Seattle

Monday, May 26, 2008

Special prayers for the Congo

Pray for the DR Congo

Dear Friends,

Special prayers have been called for in Congo for the dates of May 27-30. We want to share with you the subjects that they will be praying for.

We also invite you to join with your brothers and sisters in Congo to bring these concerns to God in Prayer.

  • Pray for sustainable peace in the Eastern DRC. Pray for the AMANI (peace) Initiative led by Abbe Appolinaire Malu-Malu.
  • Pray for the implementation of the five key performance areas (chantiers) for the DRC. The Congolese people are waiting for effective implementation of these five KPAs.
    • Employment
    • Road infrastructures
    • Health and Education
    • Shelter
    • Water and Electricity.
  • Pray for the Church and its mission in the DRC.
  • Pray for the DRC President, the Government, the National Parliament, the Senate and other institutions so God can provide to them further wisdom, good governance, etc. in order to be able to serve the people.
  • Pray for children (separated and abandoned) and women (sexually abused) affected by ethnic and armed conflicts.
  • Pray for the newly established mining companies. They have to avoid child labor, corruption and fraud, destruction of the environment, exploitation of highly radioactive minerals, etc.
  • Pray for the civil servants who are not paid for many months. This situation has led to many social problems, including prostitution, street children, crimes, etc.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Congo departure delay

We seem to live in a continual state of complications. Our departure for Congo has been postponed until early June. We are doing this for family medical considerations which need to be taken care of. For right now we felt that it would be better for us to be on this side of the water. The GBGM agrees with our decision and have been very supportive.

We covet your prayers for our family at this time. Please continue to pray for the Seminary and the University as they move towards graduation.

Friday, May 09, 2008

May prayer focus

Bible class at Mama Doris School for Women

During May pray for the Doris Bartlett Women's School. Pray for Mama Lorene, Mama Kat, the teachers, staff, and students.

The Women's School educates and trains the wives of seminary students and others from the surrounding area to be women of God.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Cleared for Congo return!

Praise the Lord! Good News! This past week, we completed the testing having to do with Lori’s eye and arthritis.

The rheumatologist was able to rule out lupus. He was not sure about the rheumatoid arthritis because he has found that those of us who are malaria carriers mess up the numbers on that part of the blood test. So we are working on the pain management having to do with her arthritis and phybromyalgia. The ophthalmologist said that the cotton wool spot on her eye has disappeared but there is still a spot on the retina.

Long story short, their opinion is that we can return to Congo. We have sent the results in the Wellness office of the GBGM for clearance to return. We appreciate so much your prayers for us. If all goes as planned, we hope to leave around the middle of May.

In the mean time, David arrived in Ft. Worth today to interpret for the French speaking delegates at General Conference. He is looking forward to being with so many Congolese colleagues and friends. Be in much prayer as our church leaders gather to dialogue about issues facing the church and what the Lord wants us to do in the coming 4 years.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

April prayer focus

Faculty & Grads

The 2008 Mulungwishi Ministries calendar asks us to focus our April prayers on the Methodist Seminary at Mulungwishi. Pray for the faculty and the students.

The seminary was founded in 1951 and was the first University-level seminary for the United Methodist Church in French-speaking Africa.

Through the years the faculty has become Congolese; today the seminary has over five PhDs on staff.

Since 1976, women have also entered the ministry.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Latest news ...

Back in Lakewood

A quick note to let you know what is happening in our lives and a call to prayer. After some 20,000 miles on the road we are back in Lakewood!! It was good to see and fellowship with many of you along the way and we are thankful for your warm hospitality.

Lori's eye shadow

During our last week of itineration in Arizona, Lori developed a shadow in her left eye. We went immediately to an optometrist to check it out. The shadow is gone but the spot on the retina is still there. She said we should have it checked out by an ophthalmologist as soon as we got back to Denver. Long story short, she is busy seeing a number of doctors and getting tests. At this point, we do not have results or what the treatment will be. We covet your prayers for us, for her healing and the doctors who are ministering to her.

Return to Congo delayed

We were due to return to Congo on April first. In fact the tickets were in hand. The General Board of Global Ministries and their Wellness Program have been very understanding and have put our return on hold until the picture is clearer and we know what we are dealing with.

David to be French translator

Since we were to be here through April, the GBGM contacted David to help with the French translation at General Conference in Fort Worth at the end of April. He is looking forward to being with so many African delegates and helping them with the language in order that they may fully participate in our Methodist procedures. He is especially excited that six of the delegates are professors of the Seminary at Mulungwishi. This speaks very highly of our institution and the respect that our faculty enjoys within the Church in Congo.

Monday, March 10, 2008

March prayer focus - High School

Institute Kitabataba studentsThe Mulungwishi Ministry 2008 calendar asks us to pray for the High School -- for Principal Mayonde, the faculty, and all the students. The High School educates 600 students from around the region. Program specialties are Math, Physics, and Agriculture.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

IRC News links

Some Internal Rescue Committee (IRC) news links related women in the D.R. Congo:

An ongoing crisis: Mortality in DRC

The Congolese people have been victims of war for over a decade. The most recent conflit caused:

  • Mass displacements
  • Collapse of health systems
  • Food shortages

All of these have contributed to a major increase in mortality ... deaths equivalent to the state of Colorado or country of Denmark ... all in a decade!

In addition to the video below, please read the IRC's special Congo Special Report: Congo in Crisis.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

February Prayer Focus - Elementary School

Elementary school at Mulungwishi

Pray for the Elementary School ... for Principal Phillip Mwembo, the faculty, and the children.

The Elementary School serves about 450 children from Mulungwishi station and the nearby villages. For many of these children, especially the girls, this is the only formal education they will ever get.

Monday, February 04, 2008

As we travel ...

Donations fund transformer repairs!

What a great God we serve and what great brothers and sisters we have in the Lord!! Our prayers have been answered. The money has been raised for the repairs for our transformer at Mulungwishi. We want to specifically thank 1st UMC Stillwater, OK; Ardmore UMC Ardmore, OK; Reynoldsburg UMC Reynoldsburg, Ohio and the Pillsbury’s in Ft Mohave, AZ for their gifts. Praise the LORD!

Pacific Northwest Conference visits

We have just completed visiting churches in the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference. We appreciated so much the welcome that we received in those churches. We also had wonderful visits with so many who had visited us in Congo. It is so exciting to be able to connect with people who have caught the vision of what the Lord is doing in Congo and are taking it back to their local congregations. Some have returned two and three times to Congo. We were also in contact (particularly Mike and Terry Hobbs) with those who loaded and put together two containers for projects in Congo. The items for Mulungwishi are already there. Cartons of baby clothes and material for the Women’s School are in our living room waiting for us to return. Can’t wait to celebrate Christmas in March.

On to Northern California

We are now starting our itineration in Northern California. From here we will spend a couple of days in Southern California in Churches we were not able to visit last year. Our tour ends up in Arizona from mid-February on. We return to Denver in March to pack up and return to Africa.

Story of one seminarian

We want to share the story of one of our new students in the Seminary. Kambongo Longesa (Jean-Marie de Dieu) is married and has 3 children. He was born of Christian parents in 1962. His wife’s parents are also Christians. He grew up within the church and as he grew older took more and more responsibilities within the church. Kambongo was influential in the construction of two churches, Jerusalem and Tshiwengo. He became disillusioned with the church because of the conduct of the clergy (both Catholic and Methodist).

Later on he was wooed back into the church by the activities of the youth group, choirs and scouts. It was in a retreat lead by Pastor Sul-A-Nawej (one of our Mulungwishi graduates) that Kambongo received his call into the ministry. The verse from 2 Timothy 2:2 is the verse that inspired him to follow Christ and become a minister of the Gospel: “and the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit them to faithful men who will be able to teach others also”. Pray for Kambongo and his family as he starts his studies to fulfill the all God has put on his life.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tips on printing our photos

Touched by the Son

We know many of you like to view, download, and print photos. What we don't know is how most people are using the photos -- just viewing online, printing small 4"x6" prints, using for Windows wallpaper, printing larger photos, etc.

Most of our photos currently online are in the same size dimensions as they came from a digital camera. Compact size digital cameras usually take photos in a 3:4 ratio, whereas the old film cameras take them in 2:3 ratio and produce 4"x6" prints.

Photos that came from scanned photos are naturally in the printed photo dimensions (4"x6").

The pain comes when you print a 3:4 ratio image from a digital camera on 4"x6" photo paper. Part of the image gets lopped off, as shown at the SmugMug site. There are only two ways to fix this problem:

Also note that newer and more expensive digital cameras may let you choose the image ratio or use the 2:3 ratio for its images be default. Some compact Kodak cameras let you choose the 2:3 (4"x6" print) size for saving photos.

The image ratio you want depends on the intended use.

  • For Windows "wallpaper", use a 3:4 ratio image to cover the screen.
  • For 4"x6" prints, use the "normal" 2:3 ratio images
  • 5"x7" and 8"x10" (4:5 ratio) prints require special image ratios. You'll need to crop these before printing or take what the printing system gives you for a photo crop.

We mention all this as a way of saying we'd like to provide you with what you need. As long as we don't get flooded with requests, we'll provide any ratio image you request.

We don't recommend that you download and crop the online image yourself. Why? Each time you edit a JPEG type photo (JPG files) the image quality decreases. So if you edit an already edited master image, you decrease the quality. We have the master copy of each online photo and can provide the same quality photo as the online one but in the image ratio you need.

Changes in photos we upload to Flickr

Since we suspect that most people who want to print photos will want the standard 4"x6" prints, we will start uploading photos in the 2:3 image ratio that is best for the 4"x6" prints. If you need a different size, for example for Windows wallpaper, just send an email request to our webmaster.

Also, we will start using 1280 pixels on the longest side of photos we upload. This gives a bit better quality printed photo and fills more of the screen on wide-screen monitors. That also increases the image file size, so it will take a few seconds longer for you to download photos. We think you'll find the trade-off well worth it.

We welcome your comments and suggestions.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

New photos from 2007

Inside of the chapel

The Mulungwishi photo albums at Flickr now include about 50 new photos, taken by Dan, a visiting volunteer in 2007.

The inside photo of the chapel at right is one of those taken by Dan.

I'm working my way through seven CDs of photos from visitors during 2007. I'll announce new photos when a lot are uploaded at once, as is the case here.

Also note that as we add new photos, we add many to existing sets as well as create new sets. So check out the list of sets to see if you want to review those too.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

January prayer focus

Preschool kids at Mulungwishi

The 2008 Mulungwishi Mission calendar asks us to pray for the Pre-school ... for Headmistress Mama Esther, the staff, and the children.

The Pre-school serves about 90 children every day, helping prepare them for academic challenges ahead.

Mulungwishi in WikiMapia

The folks who started the online encyclopedia WikiPedia have created a map encyclopedia too -- WikiMapia. As with WikiPedia, content is submitted by anyone and then reviewed, with commenting allowed.

I have added a proposed map site, Mulungwishi. In order for it to be added to their permanent map encyclopedia, other people have to verify that the placement and information are correct. That's where you come in.

Please do the following:

  1. Surf to the proposed Mulungwishi map point in WikiMapia
  2. Click on the yellow bordered square with the target center. That pops up the description I added.
  3. If you agree that this is correct, lastly click on the green number (which starts at zero) or the "Yes" link in the upper left of the location information pop-up.

After enough people verify that the information is good, it gets added to the map as a valid location.