My (Kristi’s) parents came to visit us recently in Kananga. We were excited to introduce them to our friends and ministry here, and see things afresh through their eyes. It was fun to meet people on the street and introduce them, “This is Tatu Jim and Mamu Sherri.” Then we would tell the person they were my parents, and the look of surprise and delight was instant “Your parents! Come to visit you?” And they would have to shake hands all over again with renewed vigor.
God answered many prayers for their visit. One gift was that we were all able to stay in our apartment together. The largest tribes in Kasai have a strong taboo against a mother-in-law staying in the same house with her son-in-law. After discussing this with several people, we felt that out of respect for the culture it would be best if we stayed down the street at a guest house while my parents stayed in our apartment. The week before they arrived though, we discussed the issue with a couple of CPC church leaders. They said that we should definitely feel all freedom to stay together in our apartment, and that everyone would understand the differences in culture. So, with this recommendation and authorization, we scrambled to get our guest room ready with a mattress, mosquito net, and curtains. We were all grateful for the freedom and understanding given us by our Congolese friends!
Jim and Sherri were introduced to life and culture in Congo in more ways than expected. We drove with them to Tshikaji to show them around the IMCK hospital. Unfortunately the brakes on the Land Cruiser locked up just as we were approaching the guest house. A mechanic happened to be right there, watching as we tried to figure out what was wrong. He was incredibly helpful in unlocking the brakes and communicating the situation with our mechanic in Kananga. The determined solution was to release the brakes and drive back to Kananga without brakes, where our mechanic could replace the needed parts. As we set out the following morning, Bob turned to my dad and said “OK Jim, we need you to pray a muscular prayer for this trip!”. We drove slow and took an alternate route to avoid the hills and crowded section of Kananga. We missed a turn, and God provided some women to alert us that we were on an impassable road and where the correct road was. Bob was a valiant driver given the challenge, and we all got to experience the flexibility, courage, and perseverance needed when you make travel plans in Congo!
We were so grateful that Mom and Dad made the long trip to Kananga. It was a huge encouragement to us and also to our colleagues and friends. Anyone else want to come for a visit? :)
Trekking down into the valley to visit Tatu Henri
Interacting with an English class for high-school girls
Worshipping at the parish we attend, Kananga 1