Monday, November 3, 2014

6 Months Old and Almost 30!

Wow, can it be that Pascal is already 6 months old! Time flies when your having fun hey? 
It is really quite crazy to me how much I love my little kiddos, they are so fun. Speaking of fun we are going on vacation!!! Yay!

In just 16 days we will be headed down to Durban, South Africa. I am super excited as this will be my first time going to another country in Africa, so far my african experience only includes Congo. 
We wanted to plan a trip that would be nice and relaxing with 2 little kids. Most african adventures are a bit well.. too adventurous for 2 small children so we decided on heading to Durban where we can sit on the beach and do a little shopping. 
Also, we will be there for Nicks 30th birthday!!! He's becoming such an old man ;-) So all and all we are pretty excited to get away from the stresses of life and job here in Kinshasa and celebrate together as a family. 

Pascal the Pirate (Yar!), Princess Ruth and Cowgirl Maddy! 

Also in just 8 days we have a new family arriving here. Randy and Vanessa Clairmont; we had the privilege of meeting them when they came to adopt their son Elijah over a year ago, now they are coming back and Randy will be doing our IT work. So we are busy getting ready for their arrival in just over a week. 
So lots of exciting things going on. Please continue to pray for Nick and the stresses and difficulties in his job. Its tempting to just let broken things stay broken because of the effort it takes to fix or replace them but we believe that God has us here because we are not the kind of people that are okay with status quo. He has a busy week next week as he has been invited to attend the National Prayer Breakfast with many important individuals that will be in attendance. Nick is hoping to meet some key people and talk to them about how MAF can best partner with them for the good of Congo and the Glory of God.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Contentment or Frustration

Nick and I have been talking a lot lately about what the word contentment means. The bible says that we are to be content in ALL things... But unfortunately I think that is easier said then done, and that contentment has been hard to find lately. Instead of finding contentment, what I have found to be it's opposite has replaced it. frustration.

Here is a picture of a regulator. Looks like just a regular regulator, sure, but this little tiny piece of equipment was the start of a considerable source of frustration.

Let me tell you why. 

So power has been bad lately. Not like off for 2 weeks straight bad, but off for more then 12-14 hours a day bad and most of the time that it's on is while we are sleeping. So that means if I want to get anything done I have to stay up late or run the generator in the day to do it.

Also at this time we started to realize that our batteries that are used to power our 12v lights, fans and Internet when the power is off, were starting to die very quickly, leaving us often with our lights and fans at night. Which right now we are getting to the middle of rainy season when it is 100 degrees with 90% humidity and if these Canadians don't have a fan... Well they just don't sleep. However at first we were not to sure if this was because we did not have enough power during the day to charge them or if our batteries were needing to be replaced.

We had some money that was set aside for us from a faithful supporter in an equipment fund to help improve our house in circumstances like this, so Nick went out a bought some solar panels hoping that  they would be able to charge the batteries in lieu of the power being off for long periods. Up he went one day to go install the panels, yay so exciting! Then while he was up there he took a step on a weak spot in our old aspestius (sp?) roof and poof a hole the size of a man appeared (Nick was fine, he didn't fall in. He just made the hole). So now we have a hole in our roof in the middle of rainy season. 

We quickly covered it up with some plastic (which I really don't think would have done anything if it rained but it's the thought that counts) and called some of our good missionary friends to come over when they could to help us out. 2 days later we were finally able to get someone in to patch the roof just in time as it started to rain not 30 min later. Woo that was close! However then we started to realize that our solar panels are not charging the batteries. They are putting out electricity when the sun is out but when it gets to the regulator we got nothing.

Nick plays around with it for a few days and finally gets some advice from another missionary friend on how to wire it correctly. So we get that working. Yay. 

After all that our batteries are still not charging and we finally come to the conclusion that our batteries are just kaput. So we have new batteries on the way... Which are on a shipment and will maybe be here in a couple weeks. Awesome...

So middle of rainy season, with power getting worse and no lights and fans at night (and really your not gunna light a bunch of candles... It's hot enough already) 

This is just one example of the many different things that have been going on and all of this Nick has been trying to help and deal with after long, significantly stressful days filled full of extortion, corruption and disappointment. Needless to say his job is hard and it is very very frustrating. Which I would love to expand on but alas the public World Wide Web is not the place. 

So where is the contentment in all of this? Yes yes I know Sunday school answer is 'Jesus', however in the midst of the difficulty sometimes it's hard to see the purpose. 

This world is fleeting and it's not even all the material difficulties are really a big deal, it's not really that big of a deal that our batteries don't come in for a few weeks; but it's the frustration and disappointment that slithers it's way deep into your bones. If your not careful to get rid of it before it gets too deep, it takes a long long time to get it back out. So if you could remember us in your prayers and ask God if he would shine his light into our bones and sear away the frustration and disappointment and replace it with his contentment to do his work and bring him glory. 

*** I don't write this post to be negative or for other people to add on their bad experiences in Congo but I write this to help those who love us have a better understanding of our lives and it's a part of out lives that could use lifting up in prayer. So please as thumper would say 'if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all'. Thank you 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Hair Cut

So Ruth's hair was starting to look a little straggly... It was getting super long in the front and still looked like a mullet in the back...

So I thought to myself....
The hair that made me decide to try my hand at hairdressing
" I'm a missionary, it's like miraculously birthed into you when you decide to become a missionary that you can cut hair right?!"

And common I've been cutting Nicks hair for like almost 5 years now, I've got to be able to cut some simple bangs on my child... 


Was I ever so wrong. 

It started off quite innocent
Yup Ruth... I feel the same way about your hair
 "meh I'll just, you know, cut straight across bangs, cause those are cute" 

Then it escalated to 
"oh hey I'll just trim her mullet a little bit"

Then a little bit of straightening everything out 
"Cut a little here... Cut a little there... Ruth don't move, no no, don't move!"

"Oh my gosh what have I done... Maybe I can fix it... Seriously Ruth stop trying to spin the chair!... Oh no..."
If I pin the bangs back it doesn't look TOO bad...

And continued on
"Oh, what have I done... Oh, what have I done" 

And on
"Just a little more here... I'm SURE that will make it better. UGH Ruth... Your really not helping."

And on

Then it just stopped 
"I don't care if it's crooked if I cut more off she's going to be bald.

But look at Pascal... he's 5months now and super cute
So... I will probably say this many times in your life Ruth but; I am oh so sorry... There are some... many things your mother just can not do... And cutting your hair is just one of them. 

I apologize to all my hair dressing friends... 

Friday, September 26, 2014

PC-12 Dedication

Shaking hands with the Director of the Air
Let me introduce you to our new lean mean Mission Aviation flying machine!

It is such a cool thing to be able to be here for the arrival of our PC-12. This has been a long time in the making! The original dream to bring this machine to Congo started in 2008 and how 6 years later in 2014 it has finally arrived.

Our friend Ben Durkee and our very own Rod Hochstetler flew the PC-12 from Switzerland, where she was getting a new engine and paint job, here to Congo. The trip; like anything in this part of the world; look a little longer then expected, but they got here safe and sound with only a few minor hiccups. The day after she got here we all headed to the hanger to meet her and pray over her and her future work here in the Congo.
Nick giving an inspiring speech about the future of MAF
We had an awesome turn out of a variety of people from all over the airport and we were able to give an amazing testimony of how God works and to remind everyone that we are not here to make money but to work along side the Congolese to bring the light of Christ to dark forgotten places.

Most of us here have not ever had the opportunity to be a part of a Airplane dedication and it was a really special thing to experience. Just seeing so many prayers and hard work come to fruition is humbling.
Ben and Rod. They ferried the plane here together.
For the next 2 weeks Ben spent his time with our 2 pilots who are checked out to fly her continuing to train them. Flying a PC-12 from what I understand is a bit different then flying a 182 so the training is also a bit more intense. They have been working super hard and I think our mechanics finally tore her away from the pilots for a couple days so that they too could get acquainted.
Putting her away for the night

So here are a few pictures from the day!

She is new-to-us, shine'y and ready for work.

Welcome to the DRC fleet N243MF!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Current outbreak in blue and past outbreak in red
As many of you know there has been a significant outbreak of Ebola in Africa. There have been confirmed cases of Ebola in several West African countries including Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia Nigeria, just recently Senegal and Democratic Republic of the Congo. 
The first four countries have been the most highly effected and they are all connected where as here in Congo where we are located there is no connection to the other countries and outbreaks. 
Flying Supplies into the nearest airstrip of the effected area.

The first outbreak of Ebola was here in Congo (then Zaire) in 1976 and according to the WHO there have been 7 outbreaks in Congo since. 
MAF has assisted in Ebola outbreaks here in Congo in both 1995 and 2007 transporting medical personal supplies and equipment. Today it is no different, MAF has been in communication with several humanitarian organizations and we have already been assisting in flying personal, supplies and samples in and out of the area. 
Supplies and Equipment
As Congo has had experiences with Ebola before and because of the awareness of the disease in other parts of Africa the response here in Congo has been swift. 
The effected area is approx. 475 miles by air away from our base here in Kinshasa in a isolated interior village. The nearest airstrip to the area is still about 100 km away from the effected village and some of the road is only passable by motorbike. 
Flying in to drop off personal and supplies
We are so glad that MAF in the past and present has been able to assist in combating this scary disease and we are confident from the response that any spread from within Congo is unlikely. 
Thank you so much for your prayers for us here and please continue to pray for Congo and the countries that are continuing to try to contain this outbreak.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ironing the Directors Shirts

My new ironing board
I recently bought my first ever ironing board. It was oddly a very exciting moment.
Over the last couple years Nick got a bit of a hard time from the guys at the hanger that his pilot shirts were never ironed. The first year he told them it was because we didn't have house help (and really; I wasn't going to iron his pilot shirts), they mostly just left him alone after that. He was working on lots of IT stuff and flying inbetween so pretty looking shirts were really only needed for church. 
However it seems like we have come to a point there Nick really does indeed need nicely ironed shirts. 
He is now the director. 
Nick and Maurice ready for the Synod meetings
In North America we see the Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg influence of CEO wearing jeans and a sweater, the era of the suit and tie are dying away. However here in Congo it is the opposite it is alive and thriving more then ever.
When we were home over Christmas we even bought Nick a suit... He had a suit from graduation but to be honest it was like 8 sizes too big... He got a beautiful, nice fitting, 50% off Boxing Day sale suit; and boy are we glad we did. 
Just this 2 weeks ago there was a big synod meeting at ECC where we have our offices. (ECC stands for ├ęglise du christ du Congo. This is the umbrella church organization that all Protestant churches in DRC are under, including MAF.) So they all had to go and present their organization/denomation. Nick was told to go put his suit on and write a little 5 min speech. 
The meetings were long, political and lasted HOURS longer then they said they would, but that is typical so not totally unexpected. Regardless it was a great time for Nick to meet and talk with different denomations and church organizations affiliated with the ECC here in Congo to see how MAF can serve them. 
Nick has also been trying his best to have meetings with high up government officials to be able to talk about the many things that affect us and really just to start to have a good relationship with them. Though he was told when he requested to have a meeting with one very important man that he could not have a meeting with him just then to discuss a urgent matter because he was not wearing a suit. 
Smiles for Big Sister
Oh man, so we brought his dress shirt that goes with the suit home washed it up, got it dryed, ironed and now it is waiting patiently at the office for when Nick is able to have this meeting.
So though I feel quite domesticated as a stay at home mom, ironing Nicks shirts; I also understand the importance in this culture of looking professional. We are here to transform people hearts toward Christ and we don't need to be fighting unnecessary battles. If we can get to the heart of the matter quicker because Nick has a nicely ironed shirt then I'm gunna make sure he has ironed shirts. There is no reason to make things more difficult in a country where things are already quite difficult. 
I know this because Nick and I are a team, it has been so great to be able to help him brain storm problems and give him ideas on how to best address issues that really are more about people then airplanes. And I love when he comes home, gets to love on our kiddos and brainstorm potty training solutions. We are in this together.
Sometimes I look at my life and think to myself... Wow it's crazy that I'm 26, married to the Director of MAF in DRC, have 2 kids and am living in the Congo... But then I think... Well where else would I be? 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Busy as can be

My little Flower Princess
Its been non-stop busy since Nick has taken on the full time position of Accountable Manager/Program Manager here in Kinshasa. After the auditors left Nick had to go on a 4 day trip to Monkoto. It was a great time for him to get away from the Kinshasa busyness and also got to have some great chats with a handful of directors that are working in that area about how we can better work together. Not only just MAF with those organizations but also those organizations with each other so that we are not all doing our own thing but working together to be more effective.
He then came home friday afternoon to monday afternoon and then proceeded to go to Lubumbashi for 5 days.

Dan Carlson the Base Manager at the Lubumbashi hanger
The base in Lubumbashi helps serve the south of the country, here in Kinsahsa we serve the west and the MAF base in Bunia serves the East. Nick traveled to Lubumbashi for a couple of reasons; he had never been there before and because he gets to be the guy to sign off on stuff he needs to see what kinds of things we are doing down there and make solid relationships with those we are serving. He also needed to work together with our MAF families there on what they need the budget and ministry plan to look like for their base.
He had a great trip there, I do wish that I could have went as well but hopefully next time we can make the visit as a family.
Sam Wills in Lubumbashi
He is now back to the grind of office work and loving it, as long as we get to bed by 8pm haha; which I don't mind because after a week and a half of just me and the kids I was pretty tired.
A couple of things you could pray for; we have lots of families traveling in the next little while, to and from Congo. We are excited to have some of our families return after the summer, pray for traveling mercies.
There is also a new family that has finished fundraising and language school and on their way to us! We are so excited for Randy and Vanessa, he will be doing our IT work here, which since Nick has been busy with office work has been put on the back burner a little bit.
Also Matthew and Lisa Lind who were here with us for a year are just heading off to language soon in the next couple days. WOO!! We are so excited for them to be one step closer to being back here with us in Kinshasa.
3 Months Old!
Also,  Im sure you  have heard of the Ebola outbreak here in Africa. This is not currently in our area but with the ease of international travel it could travel quickly. The many medical NGO's along with WHO are working very hard to contain virus but it is difficult for them to keep track of the cases if people are not coming forward that they have it or know someone that died. So please be in prayer, it is not an airborne virus so it is transmuted through bodily fluids, because of that our best defence is to make sure we are washing our hands.  Even though it is not here we are making sure we are doing things like that a bit more and keeping a ear out for any sicknesses in the area. We hope and pray that it will not spread any more and for protection for those helping to do that.
So there are lots of things going on, lots of things that Nick needs Gods grace for to be able to get everything done, but also the wisdom to know when things can wait. 
Thank you so much for your prayers we hope and trust in a big God. A God even bigger then our busyness.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Which is worse?

Which is worse do you think?

1. A cockroach landing on your neck and waking you up at 5:30am
said cockroach... it met a dark fate
2. bending down to get something in a dark corner and there end up being a HUGE spider web there and it getting stuck to your face
3. a party starting in the property right behind yours starting at 10pm and well it's 7am and it's still going. With them blowing whistles ALL night long! WHISTLES ...

I digress ...

Being 'gentle' ^_^
As you can probably tell these all happened to me this week, but to be honest my week hasn't been all that bad, it's been pretty good... Well you know other than those 3 above mentioned moments. Ruth has been a hit, she has enjoyed getting to know everyone here in Congo all over again. Her memory is better than mine and just melts peoples hearts as she chats away in French, English and sometimes her own language. Pascal laughed the other day! It was a beautiful grunty lil giggle and I loved it! I think Ruth may get Nicks ability to sing and well Pascal will have my lack of any musical talent haha. 
We have been able to figure out a sort of schedule providing for the needs of both Ruth and Pascal and even some play time. Some days I am praying for the moment Nick gets home but others are still tiring but so good!
She loves her time with Papa

Nick has been the official boss at the MAF office for the last 2 weeks. It's been quite the learning curve, not because he is not capable of doing any of it but because of the amount of things that need to be done and approved by the director. I think I have talked about before that there is not much trust here in Congo which is why everything takes so long. When there is no trust, cost and time spent go up and when there is trust, cost and time spent go down. In North America we have a mid to high level of trust in people so things can be done fairly quickly... Here there is no trust, no trust from the government to the guy selling cell phone credits on the corner... So producing trust takes a LONGGGGG time. So because of that culture everything takes a long time and the only way to produce trust is to make long and lasting realtionships with mutual trust. Which is what Nick as the new director de la MAF is trying his best to do in between all of the administrative stuff he is asked to do which he could do all week and maybe still not get it done.

Auditors here from MAF-HQ working hard at the office with Garth (far left) and Nick.
Though, like I said above... It may seem unpleasant and there are probably parts of his day that are frustrating he still comes home every day and says that he is really enjoying it. The times when he is able to have really meaningful trust building Christ-filled conversations with our employees, government officials coming to ask for another 'tax' or people needing the services of MAF; it may be difficult and seemingly unpleasant but it is so worth it because in the end Christ is glorified and people are spiritually and physically transformed. That's why we are here...

Though I may be buying another bottle of raid for those cockroaches.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

2 years in the World!

Dear Ruth,

You are 2 years old!! In your last 2 years you have traveled the world and back again. You were born at a very exciting time in your parents life and also in the state of the world. We now live in the world of iStuff, video calls, Facebook and the ability to jump on a airplane and be across the world in just a couple days. 

Can you believe there was a time that if someone wanted to travel from Africa to Hawaii like we did for your Auntie Nicole's wedding it would have taken months if not YEARS, and it just took us a mere 60 hours... and we thought that was long! 
I can only imagine what the world will be like when you are my age.

But alas instead of looking to the future lets reflect on the past, you have done a lot in the last year. Just before your first birthday we traveled to Canada from Congo, just you and I, for your God parents wedding, your Papa met up with us later, but was quite sick with Malaria. I'm not going to lie it was a rough trip traveling with you by myself but we did it, even though all the crying. Then after that most of your second year of life was spent preparing for your little brother to come and for your Dad to step into his new job. So to do that we spent about 7 months of the year in Canada and the USA, where you got to hang out with some cool baby sitters, Aunties, Uncles, cousins, Grandmas, Grandpas, puppies and many others. You grew so much during that time and went from saying Mama, Papa, Baby and Uh Oh to being able to put together 3 word sentences, always telling us interesting stories! You had 6 teeth come through all at the same time and you grew 3 inches in just 2 months! You had some sore moments but you are one tough girl! 

We all wondered how you would react when we brought your little brother home, but we were all pleasantly surprised when you just knew that this baby was different from all the rest and you have loved him with hugs and kisses ever since. It is so fun for me to see you carry your baby doll around the same way that I carry Pascal around and how cute you are when you lie down beside him and say 'Cuddle Pascal'. 

I am so excited for your next year of life, we have a busy year ahead of us but I am so excited to spend it with you watching you grow and learn. Though please give your Mama a little grace this year as I try to figure out how to take care of both you and Pascal ;-).
Talking about your brother, he is 2 months old now! I think that you and him look so much alike but there are lots of differences as well. I can imagine that one day you are going to be telling him to not be so serious and he will be telling you just the opposite, but I hope that you can be best of friends. He is gaining weight much faster then you did, he's only 2 months and already 17lbs and he still has blue eyes but those could still change.

Anyways my love, Happy Birthday I love you SO MUCH and I am so very proud of you! Heres to next year, may the God continue to show you the wonder of his goodness and when the trials of life come creeping in may you remember that Jesus tells us to"...take heart, I have overcome the world!" (John 16:33)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Back in Kinshasa!

MAF team that is here for the summer
I have to say that our trip back to Congo, and our first 2 weeks back though there were some moments that have been difficult, it has gone much better then I thought it would. We were blessed with a ride to the airport and someone lending us their van to get there. Checking in our bags was a breeze, and I do indeed love being able to go through the short 'family' line through security. Our first flight was just to Montreal then to Brussels and lastly Kinshasa, all with short layovers. Ruth slept very well on the flight from Montreal to Brussels but not very much on the Brussels to Kin but for the most part was in good spirits. The longest part of our trip was probably the drive back to our house as we got stuck in traffic for about a hour only 5 km away from our house.

Fran handing the coke bottle 'baton' to Solo
Then after only being home for 3 days our regional director who is moving into a new position and his replacement came for a visit to do the official hand off with our team here in Kin. We had the pleasure of being able to share most of their meals with them as some of the other families in our program were traveling on their vision trip (Check out their adventure here). However it was good because they had lots of good chats with Nick in preparation of him taking over the position of program manager!
Lynette, Eric, and Erika with Ruth

Then right before they left we had a family who I have gotten the pleasure to know over Facebook but never in person, arrived. The Fagerland's are a American Airforce family who will be retiring in 3 years and would like to join MAF after that! They have a 13 yr old daughter Erika and they wanted to make sure that she would be on board as well to coming not just anywhere with MAF but to Congo! So they arrived on the 21st and headed home yesterday. It was such a blessing to have them here because they were able to help me out so much with playing and taking care of Ruth as I did my best to get settled back into life here in Kinshasa. Without them here specifically at this time I think my last 2 weeks would have been quite a bit more difficult, but Lynette is such an amazing crafty mom and brought so many fun thing for Ruth to play with. I just know Ruth is going to miss them so much!

So now officially, our guests are gone, Nick took over as program manager, I am slowly working out what it means to be a mother of 2 here in Kinshasa and Ruth turned 2 today!! A post more on that later!