We have gone through an intelligent lockdown, a loosening up of restrictions, and now these are tightened again because numbers of covid-19 infections are on the rise another time. Today new infections in The Netherlands rose to 3252.
These 7 months I have stayed with my parents and I have been able to keep an eye on them, and help them in the house and doing the grocery shoppings.
In my home church new exploits have been started. The Sunday morning service is being broadcasted through livestream, we have a new pastor and some new elders and deacons. September 20 was the inauguration of the pastor and his wife, although they have been serving the church since April first.
Meanwhile in Adi
In May we had to cancel two workshops Channels of Hope because in Congo there was a lockdown as well, and I even was not able to return. One of the workshops was destined for the women students at the Adi Bible Institute, and Ayila could organise a workshop together with Margaret the beginning of September. They had two days with the women, and one of the medical doctors of the hospital in Adi could come in to teach about covid-19 as well. It was great to see some photo’s taken during the workshop, although the quality is not optimal.
And did I write last time about some funding for a small covid-19 project to create awareness among the people in the health zone of Adi how to prevent its spread, I can tell you that the same organisation has doubled the amount given. We are very grateful for this and are praising God for His provision.
What is ahead?
Covid-19 here in The Netherlands is again on the rise. However, in DRC the the declared number of COVID-19 cases is now 10.685 with 272 death. In Ituri, the province where we find Bunia and Adi, the number of cases has been declared to be 153. There is no covid-19 yet in Adi, although it has been diagnosed 45 kilometers south of Adi.
However, I have decided in contact with AIM and church leadership, to return to DRC for 6 months. I will leave from Schiphol Airport on October 7 to arrived via Frankfurt and Addis Ababa in Goma (DRC) on Thursday the 8th. From there I will fly to Bunia. I will travel with two people from Wycliffe and meet up with another AIM missionary in Addis. The four of us will continue to Bunia together. I will stay in Bunia for about a week to talk with church and mission leadership.
I have peace with this decision, still need to be tested though (on Monday). The thing that I want to ask you is to accompany me with your prayers, and I would like to ask you to pray for my parents as well. Pray that God will be a shelter to them, keep them safe and in good health. Pray for travel mercies and for wisdom how to deal with the situation I will find in Congo. I know for sure that Margaret, Ayila and the rest of my friends in Adi are thrilled to have me come back.
After I wrote this, I left it and didn’t think about it any more. Information about Covid-19 infections is outdated and will be updated in the next blog. I didn’t want to completely rewrite this one.
Covid-19 in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Until now the Democratic Republic of Congo has more than 9.000 cases of covid-19 as of Monday, with more than 250 deaths but also more than 8.900 people who were healed after being sick with covid-19. Most of the cases are in and around its capital Kinshasa. In the east the cases are fewer, but are present in North and South Kivu. In Ituri the number is rising.
In Adi no cases of Covid-19 have been diagnosed. But the threat is huge. There are many cases in Southern Sudan, where fighting is still going on and that brings about refugees who are entering the north of Congo. And in neighbouring health zones cases have been detected. These positive cases give concern to the medical staff of Adi, as road traffic is frequent on some of the routes.
A small project
The end of last week I received a mail saying that there is a possibility for funding of a small project concerning covid-19 and how to prepare for the possibility of covid-19 in Adi. The people in Adi have written a project and we have applied for this funding. The hospital means to teach the population about covid-19 through the radio and brochures, while also buy personal protection equipement, like masks, gloves and handgel and make sure that patients and their families have also the possibility to wash their hands. And last but not least, they like to train the hospital personnel in the prevention and care of covid-19.
Today and tomorrow a Channels of Hope workshop is organised in Adi for the women students of Adi Bible Institute. Teachers are Ayila and Margaret. Please pray for those two days that the teaching will be clear and that the women understand the importance for them to be involved. May they become channels of hope for people living with HIV.
It has been quite an adventure to go to Bunia with all the delegates of the two church districts of Adi and Aru. They had hired a bus only for us. And yes, I was the only woman. And no, it didn’t bother me. I was well looked after. The first start we had on Easter Sunday, when we went by motorbike to Ariwara, where a youth concert took place and the place of CECA 20 Ariwara was packed.
Easter Monday we had an early start at 6am and a stop was made in Aru where we picked up more delegates (and had a meal). Until around 4.15pm we had smooth going, but then we got stuck behind trucks. And were not able to make any more progress. A truck packed with wood (planks and the like) had capsized and had touched two trucks in its fall. All three wouldn’t move. A fourth truck was blocking the only part of the road that was kind of okay, but too muddy for the truck to go on. And we had to pass the night there, together with about forty or fifty other trucks. That is called ‘Congo roads hazards’.
The next day it took another two hours before we finally got on the way, and got stuck again about 10 km further down the road. That took all morning. It was the middle of the afternoon that we finally arrived in Bunia and were welcomed with a meal at the church.
General Assembly took four days and were intens and hard work. But also, revisiting with old friends and making new friends. It was an Assembly in which we were to vote for another church president, and we did that on Saturday, April 27. And all the candidates that were chosen in leadership were chosen with unanimous votes. It was great to see that the Lord brought unity among so many voting members.
It has been a good time to make new friends, as I mentioned earlier. One new friend works as a pastor in Uganda, and with him I have made plans to organise the workshop ‘Channels of Hope’ in Uganda after they have had their board meetings in Koboko. Because Koboko is not far at all from Adi, we have opted for that time somewhere in June. I started translating the participant syllabus back into English. I will go to teach with Ayila, who helped me in Durba in October. The only thing is that Ayila doesn’t speak English and has to do the teaching in Swahili. It will be another workshop with several languages!
No, it doesn’t mean time out of everything, but time out of Congo. Last Monday I left Adi for Uganda where I have been for a week and a half. AIM Central Region had its conference and it was probably the best since the start of CR. We were just north of Kampala, and the venue was perfect. Nice rooms, good food, TV with National Geographic Wild that I could snatch glimpses of, and of course good fellowship with other missionaries and visitors. One of those visitors was Eddie Larkman, a pastor from the UK, who shared the Word of God with us. He spoke about trust, sacrifice, prayer, satisfaction and service (not necessarily in that order). I took notes and like to go through them again and see where I need to commit to apply God’s Words in my life. Another visitor was Kokole Idring’i, our church president, who took the stage together with a representative of the church of South Sudan and one of Uganda. What they shared was thought provoking, and I have to go through my notes here again, but one thing I retain was that it is important to listen to them and to share our vision with them so that they can have an impact, an important impact in our ministry.
I said a bittersweet goodbye to Caroline. We had to do the debrief and talked a lot. There were things that needed to be discussed and prayed about and we separated as friends and sisters. She is now in north Uganda visiting with missionaries who work among the Karamajong.
I am on my way home now, at the moment I am in Arua, and waiting to hear from the people in Adi. They will come to the border to pick me up – on motorbike. The hospital car broke down Tuesday when it hit a rock and has not been repaired so far. From the border to Adi will be about a 2-hour ride. It has been raining here this morning, so I have to see how to protect my backpack, in which I have my computer. However, I think it will be okay.
It will be great if I’ll make it today. Tomorrow is the ‘graduation’ of the nursery school in Adi and one of the students who will say goodbye to kindergarten is Esther Anyadru, an orphan girl supported by the AIDS Program. I visited the school just before going to Kampala and she was just about to do her exam. I stayed and took pictures. She did well!!! Next school year she will go to primary school. I think she will do well there also.
First of all my apologies. Due to an error in the website some information was deleted. Thus…I will write this about the whole month of February.
Adi has been hot, and busy.
Laura has been filming and editing for the AIDS Program. It will be a kind of documentary about the program and show how it started, how it developed into what it is now and how we see the future. She has been working with a volunteer, Beba, who came to ask one day if he could work with her so that he could learn many things about editing. Laura could finish the French version before she left on February 19. I have translated all the interviews for the subtitling she will need to put under it. I’ll make sure that it will be distributed in the UK, USA and The Netherlands (at least).
Caroline is a medical doctor and following the work at the hospital. Sometimes it is hard on her, especially when she lacks all the facilities that are available in the UK (where she’s from). Sometimes she experiences new things. Like in the first week when we were helping at the prenatal clinic and a woman who was full term had come for her prenatal checkups. Her water broke though, but there was no progress. Finally it ended up to be a C-section with the birth of a healthy baby boy, whom we called Aimé after the doctor who had done the intervention.
People around here appreciate the presence of the two short termers and we have regular visitors. Like Papa Zebulona, a former teacher, but though retreated, he is still teaching the Sunday school children. He asked for a photo together with us, and we gladly agreed.
Also Badaru comes. She is a volunteer in the AIDS program and she is living with HIV. Together with her I am preparing a workshop for church leaders. She often has good ideas and we discuss a lot of things.
While discussing and using materials from the Channels of Hope training that I attended in South Africa in 2013, we came up with a wild idea. As Badaru speaks both French and English and as it is difficult to find facilitators who can teach in French, we decided that it is a great idea to send Badaru to the training, either this year or next year (of course preferably this year). However, we don’t have the money for her going. Also she doesn’t have a passport. We have been calculating the total costs (passport, trip, training) to be around $3,000 in total and we will need to find financial support for our dream to become reality. When she has attended this facilitator’s training, she can help me facilitating workshops using the Channels of Hope materials. Even a bigger dream, it would be great if one of our doctors (maybe Dr. Aimé, who is the focal point for the treatment and care program for PLWHA, could go together with her).
The day before she left, Caroline and I prepared a surprise for Laura. Together with Badaru (AIDS Awareness Program) and Iyete (teacher of English at the secondary school) we went for a delicious meal in Ingbokolo. It was fun. And it was a big surprise for Laura. On the way back we went to see Onzi, the French teacher of Laura and Caroline. We were offered another big meal, and because we couldn’t refuse we all took a tiny bit. We were still satisfied from our late lunch.
The church leaders have proposed a date for our training, 16-18 March. With around 45 participants. Many leaders will be invited together with their wives. A momentous occasion. Often only the men come. I really look forward to it. The time flies, and we still have lots of preparation ahead so Badaru and I want to involve Likambo as well.
Being on home assignment in the Netherlands I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. I could give presentations about my ministry in DRC in several churches and also in some cell groups in my home church. But it being summer holidays as well, I couldn’t visit them all. Instead, I went sailing with friends for almost a week. A very nice time with sunny weather.
Talking about my work is a joy for me, as I see in everything that God is a faithful God and Father. He has surrounded me with his care and protection for already over 25 years in Congo. Even when in situations that were, to say the least, insecure.
Also now He is at work. For years I have been saying that I would love to see more missionaries to come to Congo, and even more specifically, to come to Adi, where I am based now. But when you talk about Congo, people think about rebels, insecurity, fighting, travel restrictions, and now also ebola. Congo knows all of them. It is also one of the reasons that aid organizations work in those regions in Congo that are insecure.
Doing so they forget the other regions of Congo.
Adi is in the northeast of Congo, pretty close to the borders with Uganda and South Sudan. True, sometimes we are bothered with insecurity but overall it is fine. Work is going on as usual, schools did start last week and patients come to the hospital. The treatment program with ARV is still continuing at the hospital. Likambo gets a lot of people coming to him when he works at our program office at the hospital asking questions about AIDS.
All five staff, together with some volunteers, continue to work with the little means they have. And that is almost nothing. They only have their enthusiasm to work and to serve and they are faithful.
We do not have funding for the program. However, to continue ministering to the people we need financial support. In a paper I have mentioned what we are doing and how, and also how much money we would need for the rest of this year and for 2015. You can read it here: AIDS Awareness Program CECA 20 COR. If you’d want to know more, don’t hesitate to contact me.
Another huge challenge is my personal support. To be able to return to Adi, I need more people who want to support me financially. The gifts that I receive now don’t allow me to go back and I have a return ticket for 20 September, in two weeks time. If you want to help me to return, you can contact AIM International in The Netherlands, www.aimeurope.nl.
My home is in Congo. My life is in Congo. My ministry is in Congo. And God is doing great works in Congo. In November this year the church I’m serving will organize her General Assembly in Adi and I am a participant in this assembly. Also, AIM will send two short term missionaries to Adi. One will come in November until end February and she will be working with me to produce a documentary about the AIDS Program, and maybe a movie that we can show when teaching about AIDS. The other will come in January for six months to work as a doctor at the hospital and with the AIDS Program.
Then I am thinking, God will not send people to Adi, having AIM arrange everything for their arrival, and then cancel it at the last minute because I don’t have my supprt. He will do miracles. He is a faithful God and He has a plan for me for good (Jer.29:11).