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Category Archives: 12 Days of Christmas in Congo

12 Days of Christmas in Congo – Motherhood

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 10.15.26 AMTo be a mother without the means to help your child is gut wrenching. While we were in the process of adopting our sons, the report came that our youngest broke his femur. Merciful, how I remember the misery of wondering if he was being abused at the orphanage, if he was getting proper care for his injury. All I could do was pray and pay the medical bills sent to America.

The mother I met this afternoon can’t pay the bills.

In the Congo children are allowed to go to school whether their family can afford it or not. But the child builds a debt. Talk about student debt, try starting it in the 3rd grade! What happens here is the child doesn’t receive the grades until the debt is paid. Why not drop out in 6th grade when you discover you’ll never receive your diploma even though you rank top in your class?

This mother’s child works hard, likes to learn, but he doesn’t receive recognition for this work–not until his year and half debt if removed. All $185 of it which might as well be a million dollars to this family scraping by with fewer than 3 meals a day.

How can I tell a sponsor, “Hey, we’ve chosen a child for you who is motivated even when hungry and works hard. But the money you gave won’t cover his tuition because he owes more?

I don’t.

Instead, through translation, I attest that the debt will be paid in full in January. The woman’s words are low, jumbled with emotion, in a foreign language, and completely understood by me. Mother to mother. Heart touched to heart. This is God working through the body of Christ.

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and president of the non-profit Future Hope Africa. She is spending what she calls “The 12 Days of Christmas in Congo” visiting the educational mission.

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12 Days of Christmas in the Congo – The Children’s Fete Part II

First group of children singing for the Christmas Fete program.

First group of children singing for the Christmas Fete program.

Toward the end of the Christmas Fete program, I am required to give a small speech which I completely blow. I do not begin by honoring the church elders or thanking the guests, or recognizing those who worked with the children to put the party together. What I do say is short but heart-felt. I pray the spirit behind this speaks louder than words.

The children sing again and dance. This what puts smiles on all our faces. For the finale, they gather around Jaime and me to sing the English song again. Yes, they learned a song in English thought they don’t speak the language. It is a Christmas gift to us, the visitors. I don’t catch all the words. In the main they are singing:

We are many

We are one body in Messiah

Loving each other

I smile. I cry. After, I get a few hugs as most go from the church back to the center for snack.

They are precious.

Suffer the little children to come unto me, Jesus said to his disciples. Some adults do suffer when children enter the scene, invading the adult setting. The sticky hands, the inappropriate wiggles, the talking too loud, the mess left wherever they have been. To me it seems Jesus is saying, Let the adults suffer.” Little ones are always accepted by the Christ. In fact, any one of us that wants to be in God’s kingdom must come as a child according to the Bible. That is what we truly are before our heavenly Father, thoughtless wayward children with our messy lives because we do not listen and have no sense of the bigger picture. Yet we are precious to Him.

Precious when we come with simple trust that God is good. Trust that He means what He says. That God wants us. That God loves us. That all of our curiosity, questioning, and desires are just as important to Him as they are to us.

He is approachable God and He speaks to me through these children.

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and president of the non-profit Future Hope Africa. This blog is about her travel to Africa to visit the educational mission.

 

 

 

 

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12 Days of Christmas in the Congo – The Children’s Fete Part I

The children walking from our education center to the church next door for the Christmas Fete program.

The children walking from our education center to the church next door for the Christmas Fete program.

The children came to the education center today, first by one’s and two’s, then so many I could not keep up with all the names and faces. For years even before FHA I have prayed for these children, these families, this community. Now I actually know some of them: Esther, Deborah, Mark, Lambert, Ange…

I tried to greet them as they came. Like me they need to practice their French.

Bonjour.

Bonjour.

Je m’appel Kristin.

Je m’appel Esther.

Ca vas?

Nods or Ca vas bien—a few laughs.

I choose a picture book from the shelf. It is in French but I tried to read it anyway. The two girls listening to me are attentive. One realizes her French is better than mine. She reads the entire rest of the book out loud to me and those who are arriving early for the Christmas Fete.

My only job then is to hold the book up and show the pictures around to everyone.

Later they sing at the program prepared for our visit. It is Fete Noel and a few of the Princesses have packed gift bags to give at the end. Unfortunately we run short a few. This is a common problem for our center–running short when so many come.

The children sing, a small group does a play, another performs a praise dance and an older student, Stephen, tells poem he has written–not a simple rhyme but a prose work full of lovely phrases about the accomplishment of the students, the support of the parents, the support of the church, the staff, the hopes and dreams of us all. Bintu translates for me and even though much is lost, his eloquence is profound.

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and president of the non-profit Future Hope Africa. She is spending what she calls the “12 Days of Christmas in Congo” visiting the educational mission.

 

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12 Days of Christmas in Congo – Africa’s Switzerland

IMG_0115We drive up the low mountains–very well paved road so far in Rwanda as we make our way on Christmas Day from Kigali to Congo. Traffic is “good” Bintu says meaning it is not as bad as usual. We do stop for a small wreck. A mini SUV as lost one wheel off the curb and is stuck. No wonder, the curb is 3 feet (over a meter) sheer drop. The SUV probably sits on its axle.

I know that sound–the drop, the clonk of your metal car frame on paving. I did that backing out of a friend’s driveway in Kentucky when I was in school at Murray State University. Just like at home, someone with a big truck and a chain is pulling the car out. The wait is not long and we are moving quickly.

Not like home, the military police with guns stop our car. One stands at a distance. One ventures close, bent over, body turned sideways (suspicious?). He inquires of the driver who only cracks the window a few inches and reaches for paperwork. The gunman doesn’t want to see it. He prowls around back looking over our luggage from outside with only a brief glance at the passengers. I slipped my camera away, not wanting undue attention. Bintu types away on her laptop. She and I keep talking about the Biblical financial seminar I will give. Neither of us glances at the armed man outside. All is well and we are sent on our way again.

There are more people out than I expected, walking or 2 to a motor bike, buses packed full, some bicycles–and oh the dresses! Several women wear beautiful full-length gowns in often bright patterns, sometimes soft. I want to stop to ask each one if I can photograph them.

Crazy Kristin. We have a 6 hour drive.

I ask Bintu where all the people are going? Most are coming home from Christmas Day Services.

I am like Scrooge–awake to life all around me and just realizing the day.

What day is it? Why Kristin, it’s Christmas Day!

I say, “Joyeux Noel” to everyone (everyone I speak to anyway). The “el” in Noel refers to God just as it does in the names for God used in the Old Testament (El Shaddai, El Elyon, Elohai) and   nee or no is birth.

It is a great day to drive through these mountains. Bintu informs me that Rwanda is called the Switzerland of Africa. I crack the window to enjoy the cool air. Mountain jungles do not scream Christmas–though the present I am looking for is around another hour of bends.

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and president of non-profit Future Hope Africa. She is spending what she calls the “12 Days of Christmas in Congo” visiting the educational mission.

 

 

 

12 Days of Christmas in Congo – Rwanda Shopping

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With hello food I am trying to figure out if they deliver bourbon coffee or coffee as well as bourbon–and are those really the top items to put on your business banner?

I am always on the look out for hats to put in my FB album of them. These gi-normous sieves caught my fancy.

Jaime and I had to try the bubble gum flavored milk. As expected…it was not stellar.

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and president of non-profit Future Hope Africa. She is spending what she calls the “12 Days of Christmas in Congo” visiting the educational mission.

 

12 Days of Christmas in Congo – Merry Mosquito Christmas

bedThere’s nothing like waking up on Christmas day to mosquito netting to remind you where you are and that your everyday dangers have changed. Of course, danger is part of every day life in America too. What fool hurtles down the road at 70 mph (okay..75) in a metal box?

Oh yeah, that would be me.

While I don’t like getting stung by a bee, I am not allergic (and the silver lining is that my mild outdoor allergies will be better for a season after a sting). Bugs do not usually inspire my caution. In the heart of Africa, matters are different.

Those who live here may have malaria regularly and recover and build antibodies to fight the disease born by mosquitos. Folks like me, who have never had the disease or any resistance built, are more likely to become gravely ill. Some people, indigenous and otherwise, die from the disease.

Christmas morning 2014 I wake, see the netting, and am grateful.

Merry Mosquito Christmas!

(Now, which bag did I pack the bug repellant in?)

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and president of non-profit Future Hope Africa. She is spending what she calls the “12 Days of Christmas in Congo” visiting the educational mission.

 

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