Friday, October 31, 2014

Mulungwishi mission news

August and into September found us being very involved with the Kafakumba Pators’ School (Congo version). As you remember, in May, we taught the Kafakumba session in Zambia. The Congo session is done at Mulungwishi during the vacation time so the pastors can occupy the dorms. There were 107 pastors, 20 wives and over 40 kids.

Including the staff, Lori was organizing food for 200 three times a day. Every evening, women were baking 400 roles for the next breakfast. We were humbled to be able to teach them what the Lord had given us. Some of them had travelled for over two weeks to get to us in very difficult conditions.

Determined pastors

One pastor walked over 150 miles to get to a place where he could climb on top of a truck to come the last 250 miles. Can you imagine having to make the trip back once more?  They do this for eight years so they can be ordained. In the mean time, they are serving churches as local pastors in very rural situations binging the light of Jesus Christ. Their level of dedication really touched us. Our graduates have received their appointments and are leaving for their churches.

In one way, we are sad to separate from the friends they have become during the time we were together. On the other hand, they are going out to do what the Lord has called them to do. Be in prayer for them as they start their new ministries, the change of communities and for their children who will be finding new friends and schools.

New students

Our new students are beginning to arrive. The academic year actually begins in mid-October. However, we will be starting to teach them towards the end of September in order to cover courses they should have when we leave in at the end of October. Continuation of our courses will be when we return next May.

D.R. Congo internet problems

By the way ... Sorry for the delay in our blog posts. We have been without internet the whole time we were in Congo; here and there were able to use the phone line for access.

We are sad to report that one of the Kafakumba pastors died on his way home. He was 65 years old. We were touched by his desire to be a pastor at that age.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Mulungwishi news through August

Internet access at Mulungwishi has been spotty, so these blog posts are running a bit behind. Here's the news through August...

Work team visits

One of the joys we have had during this time has been the visit of a work team from the New Mexico and North West Texas Annual Conferences. Rev. Derrell Patterson and Tom Stanton have been here on numerous occasions but the rest of the team were new.

Tom continued with the Kindle project with a focus on the Seminary this time. We are working in conjunction with the General Board of Discipleship to develop a French theological library to download into kindles for use in the Seminaries in French speaking Africa.

Dispensary expansion

Another great focus of the team was the dispensary. Charlie, a surgeon for Lubbock, spent several days with Dr. Alain doing surgery. What a great affirmation for this young doctor who is operating in very difficult conditions. One of Dr. Alain’s dreams is to build a surgery wing for the dispensary. He has put in the foundation and the walls. Chuck, an architect from El Paso, came on board with the plans for making the trusses for the roof.

You should have seen the eagerness of constructions workers so see how he planned and show them the best way it could be done. Within a week the trusses have been put up (the team also left money for the roofing which has been put on since). Bud, also from El Paso, brought his welding skills to teach three persons how they could improve their skills.

The affirmation brought by Chuck and Bud was beyond measure in creating a pride the workers had in themselves and what they can accomplish. It was an experience of empowering at a very personal level. Beautiful to watch!

Seminary course videos

Chuck’s son, Richard (a high school senior) worked with our IT staff on the use of a video camera and editing in order to make DVD’s. This is part of the same initiative with GBOD to provide resources for theological schools in Francophone Africa. Our hope is to make DVD’s of our Mulungwishi Seminary Professors teaching their courses and send them on to other Seminaries as a means of providing a professor to a school that would not be able to have one.

The IT staff real have gotten excited about it and are trying out their filming skills in other venues (e.g. the UMW retreat that took place at Mulungwishi with some 1,000 women who came to pray).

Bishop Bledsoe visits, preaches

Bishop Earl Bledsoe was also part of the team. This was his first visit to this part of the Congo and came to solidify the partnership between his Annual Conferences and that of the South Congo/Zambia Episcopal Area under Bishop Katembo Kainda. Bishop Bledsoe preached the opening of the South Congo Annual Conference.

He also preached the graduation for the Katanga Methodist University at Mulungwishi. It was a real bash. So much joy with over two hundred students graduating in IT, Psychology, Agriculture and of course the Seminary and Women’s School.

It is so beautiful to see people bringing the gifts God has given them and share them with other people. Instead of sitting on the side lines, each one has gotten involved in some way in what our Lord is doing in the earth. It is so good to be a part of it.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mulungwishi news

Nutrition Program challenges

We always hope when we come back that the number of kids needing help with nutrition will be way down. But every time it seems worse and these past months were no exception! First day, Lori was down for the program, we checked 71 kids! We still have about 20 that are critical and managed to keep some of them in the hospital to feed especially, to help them.

For many families, this is harvest season, and the whole family moves out to the gardens to work. This can be as much as 10 miles from the village where they live! Therefore the kids go too! When they come back for a checkup, we see many slip even further! Pray! It is so hard for the mothers to balance all the needs of the family and the work that needs to be done!

We keep trying to give extra food and needed medical care. Out of the blue, one “little” girl showed up with her grandmother. Two years ago her sister brought her, at 12 months and at 6 pounds! Her mother had died at birth. We got her up to 8 pounds then they disappeared again! This year the grandmother showed up in January for a while, then again now. The girl is almost 3 but weighs only 12 pounds and does not sit, or stand or talk! We keep trying and teaching! Pray!

We are hoping to get some of the special Plumpy’Nut feedings for special cases but the government wheels turn agonizingly slow! Pray!

Lots of Conferences

During the 4 weeks we have been back in Mulungwishi we have been involved in taking care of three lay conferences preparing for Annual Conference. Our Southwest Conference will start the 13th of July. Bishop has already driven 600+ plus miles to do two other conferences! Pray!

One of the lay gatherings was the United Methodist Women. They are very strong group in Congo and a real part of the Church. It was faith building to see their joy and commitment has they discussed their different ministries and programs.

One special blessing is that they have been helping our nutrition program here with funds from time to time! It was neat to see all the “yellow” scarves and to know their commitment to Jesus. Good singing and dancing too! :)

Texans to help with projects

We are looking forward to a team from Texas coming in at the end of the month. They will be involved with construction, medical and our Kindle project to provide resources for the Seminary students. Bishop Earl Bledsoe of the NM and NW Texas Annual Conferences also will be with them. This will be his first Episcopal visit in this part of the Congo. His Annual Conferences are partnered with the South Congo/Zambia Episcopal Area.

Thank you for the continued love and support.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Back at Mulungwishi

Mulungwishi internet frustration

Our first blog post after returning to Africa comes late. Why? The station has lacked internet services for three months! The station is still deciding if it is possible to get something cheaper than they have had previously. We were told that buying a modem for the local phone company would work but that is a joke! Internet connection lasts 5 minutes … maybe 10 if you are lucky, but usually 1-2 minutes and then it cuts off! We hope they work this out sooner than later because it is very frustrating and we miss Skyping with the kids! Pray!

Zambia to Congo

On June 1st, we had a good crossing from Zambia into Congo in spite of a few minor problems with authorities wanting hand outs! Our faithful driver, Nkonde, did a fantastic job doing all the negotiations. We spent two days in Lubumbashi buying food supplies and getting our passports sent off to Kinshasa, the capital, for the transposition of our visas into our new passports.

A Mulungwishi welcome

On Wednesday the 3rd, our Mulungwishi driver, Jacques, came and drove us up to the mission. All the women of the Women’s School were at the house, singing and dancing to welcome us back. They were so happy to see us and especially their Mama Lorene. Throughout the next few days groups of people would come by to greet us and thank the Lord for our return and safe travels. Several prayed that the blood of Jesus would cover the water, the food, and the air we would take in so that we would not have problems adjusting back to Africa. Women are bringing our favorite foods: beans, pumpkins, okra, sweet potatoes etc. knowing how much we enjoy the local foods. We have most definitely been blessed.

Sunday celebration

Three days later was Sunday, and it was quite a celebration! Our Bishop came to “install” the District Superintendant. Five hundred guests were invited. Church was held outdoors because there was not enough room in the church, which seats 1,000! So right at the start Lori was involved the meal, which fed probably 600! The practice of installation is something our Bishop started a couple of years ago. In African tradition, there needs to be a formal installation of those who have leadership and care of others. So to contextualize the church for the African culture, he is installing the Superintendents, who intern install the new pastors in a church.

Heavenly choirs

Definitely the Congolese are going to be the heavenly choir. The Mulungwishi choirs united for the effort and three other choirs from the District were present. Of course there was plenty of dancing to go with the music. Definitely, Church here is a celebration. The different entities of the district (UMW, MYF, Methodist Men, construction, medical, etc.) all presented symbols (including the District Flag which Lori had created the night before) of the work that they were going to do together. The DS gave a wonderful sermon how nothing can be accomplished without the Lord and how He is able to do beyond anything we can imagine!

Back into the thick of it

Within the next three days we started teaching classes! Sooooo … we are back running! David is completing the courses he started in September-November. Lori is teaching Wesley, one of her favorites, and Nutrition, plus she’s busy sewing with the graduation classes!

We can’t thank you enough for your continued loving support and prayers.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Back in Congo

A quick note to tell you we are back in Congo. We crossed the border from Zambia on Sunday afternoon.

We have been without internet for several days.

Our time in Zambia was wonderful. Sharing Christ's life with some 60 pastors and their wives is a humbling experience. They were so eager to learn and be a part of what God is doing in the earth. It was a real blessing to be with them.

We leave for Mulungwishi tomorrow (Wednesday June 4th). As we understand it, the internet is not working at Mulungwishi either. We bought a modem today that works through the phone service and we will try to have it work so that we can keep in touch.

In the mean time, we continued to be blessed by your loving encouragement and prayers.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Back to Africa!

We had a good trip back to Africa, going a new way thru Joburg and up to Ndola, Zambia. Our friend, Nkonde met us with our trusty "ole" double cab Toyota and happily all the baggage came too!

Thanks for all your prayers. As we have shared in letters, we are in Zambia for several weeks teaching at the Kafakumba Pastors' School. This is a program like the Conference course of study for lay Pastors doing the work, mainly in rural areas, who have not had the chance for formal Seminary training.

Kafakumba is built as a conference center and can take as many as 300plus and we are staying in one of the guest houses. David is teaching the pastor students and Lori with the wives. These students come every year for eight years to go through this program. There are 70 students and are mainly from Tanzania and Zambia.

In August, the Congo students will hopefully be able to meet in Mulungwishi, like last year.

We plan to head for Congo at the end of the month. Please, keep us in your prayers and the students as they work on their courses, that the Lord will be very present for them.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

News from the Persons

Again the Persons have been off line way too long! Not sure we will be number one bloggers.

This past year has been packed with many miles of travel, changes and decisions. The biggest change was, which most of you know, we retired on August 31, 2013 from the General Board of Global Ministries as full time missionaries. We completed 35 years in Congo.

Here's what's been happening over the past year...

January – March 2013

We travelled and visited many of you on the West Coast and Hawaii starting in Washington. During our stay in Seattle, David officiated the wedding for Andrew and Judy. The event took place on a beautiful old ferry boat. It was great to celebrate with the whole family. We were glad to visit so many of our churches and spend time with you. Also to enjoy the beauty of the west coast and Hawaii.

April – May

We travelled east to Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia and a meeting with the Board in New York.

June – July

At the end of our travels, Lori came down pneumonia which delayed our return to Congo until the end of July.  One huge bonus in the delay was being present for our second grandchild, Cora, of proud parents Jeff and Michelle.


We were able to arrive in Congo in time to celebrate the Seminary’s graduation for 18 pastors and their wives. As always, it is a miracle to have these students complete their studies.

In August, the Seminary welcomed the Kafakumba Pastors School. We had 123 pastors plus wives and children. This is a yearly program like the Conference Course of Study bringing in lay pastors for 4-6 weeks a year.  These men and women mostly serve in rural areas. This always entails a big cooking effort -- like 460 wood oven backed rolls every day and a lot of meals over charcoal! Many of our Seminary staff were faculty for this program as are also the directors of the Kafakumba Pastors School who are past graduates of our institution! 

It's such a blessing to see them continue to fulfil their calls in ministry. Thirty-eight pastors graduated this year from the program and will be ordained by their Annual Conferences. One of the graduates has taken 15 years to complete the 8-year program.  His determination and commitment to completing this through trials of the war in Congo and problems of travel was so inspiring. His call to be a pastor was something he would not give up!

September – November

Mulungwishi also hosted two Volunteer in Mission teams from the States. We were excited by the vision and project to use e-readers for the schools of Mulungwishi. They started with elementary and secondary school teachers to have a Kindle. Now, we are working towards our seminar students having a theological library on a Kindle.  The Second team was involved in drilling water well, working with downs syndrome children and consulting

At the same time, the new academic year for the Seminary started and we continued teaching our courses, then returned to the States in mid-December. Since then...

Mid-December – January 2014

Celebrated Christmas with the family and did some settling in our home in Lakewood, CO. It was so special to have this time with the grandkids!

February – mid-March

Travels again to churches in the east and mid-west in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, New Mexico and Texas. After much prayer and sharing with our Congo Bishop and the church, we will be returning to Congo as Volunteers in Mission for several months each year. With this change, we attended the VIM training on St. Simons Island early in February. It was a great experience and good fellowship.

Bless you for continued Seminary support

We remain so thankful to you who have continued to support the Seminary. It is still important to stand with the Church in Congo and help develop the leadership.  We plan to return to Congo the last week of April. We covet your prayers for us as we prepare to return.