Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Traditions

In 2010, our first year in Congo, we were not sure how to celebrate Thanksgiving. We gathered with one of the few other Americans in Kananga, our friend James, and another friend, the “Americanized” Jim for dinner at the local restaurant. We all enjoyed some pizza and a night out, grateful for the simple things in life. I must say that since then (and perhaps before that too), James and Woody Collins have both been party to some elaborate American-style cooking to bring the celebration of Thanksgiving to Kananga (including bringing a frozen turkey from the U.S. in a cooler!!)


Pizza at Mona Lux with James and Jim in 2010

This year, we are in the U.S., and we appreciate the gift of being with family for this holiday as well as the familiar foods that have been passed down through our families on this holiday. We have enjoyed sweet potatoes and lots of pumpkin, Aunt Mabel’s cranberry holiday salad, and the classic stuffing – trying to recreate the flavor from Bob’s grandma. We have enjoyed the cooking and the camaraderie and memories that it brings, especially with these classic dishes.


Bob prepping turkey

Bob pins up the turkey


A holiday tradition – a backgammon match between Bob and his Dad

As I am stuffed with food and feeling lethargic, I know that the food is not the real meaning of these holidays. But with a day like Thanksgiving, I think specific foods can be triggers – memories or traditions that remind us of the greater significance of taking time to be grateful and celebrate the intangibles of life. Just like the feast days in the Old Testament and the opportunity to remember all that God has done, on Thanksgiving we get to stop and count our blessings. As we share food, we reminisce about times together in the past and are grateful for each other and God’s faithfulness past and future. So, we are storing up the recipes and look forward to trying some while we are in Congo, with some substitutions of course, but with the spirit of the tradition!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Storm Warning

**This poem chronicles our experience in central Illinois on Sunday, November 17th, when tornadoes and massive winds and rain swept violently across the land.  Thirty five miles from Bloomington (Kristi’s home town, where we are) the town of Washington had entire sub-divisions of homes totally destroyed. 

Hues orange brown tumbling dancing
Circling winds whine, life invisible,
Seemingly Sunday morning Normal.

Pastor preaches, interrupted he –
Storm warning hesitation, caution.
Shepherd shifts, intones, implores -
Go down! Children will find, worry not find.

A hull full hunkering, congregants congregate
Chattering, listening, waiting, wondering -
Man in hand, holds white mound melting,
“Golf ball” hunk a’ hail, heaven’s missile morning -
Wonder hovering waiting shifting…chattering.

Released congregants out-of-doors fly -
Dark reality greeted, water winds “Wow!”
How…wow…how? Radio, storm warning
Bleating – song, warning, song, warning.

Power torn tower, flung here tree there
Wondering wanderers, “Just…happened…what?”
Please stay home - Storm Warning.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

In the news

We are rejoicing at some important news for Congo. Last week one significant rebel group in Eastern Congo, called M23, was defeated by the Congolese Army and gave up fighting. The M23 group took over the major city of Goma in November of 2012 and has been wreaking havoc in the past year. Thanks to international pressure, a more robust mandate for the United Nations in that region, and some military changes, the tide was turned. There are other rebel groups that remain active, but this is still a significant step worth rejoicing over. We hope that some of the thousands of people in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in that region will be able to return to their homes soon! The NY Times article that describes this event is here:

On another front, the current issue of Mission Crossroads magazine just came in the mail. If you received it too, we highly recommend the article about evangelism, which has some quotes from us and pictures of Congo. If you do not receive it, you can see it online (and subscribe if you want to) at  Just click on the red “New ePub edition” button on that page for the current issue.