24 November 2010

A Season

It has been 3 months since I moved to the Congo. A season. I have never real had a good sense of time. For the most part it seems like I have been here a lot longer than 3 months. I was talking with a missionary last week and he said the first couple months seem like they'll never end and then time flies after that. I'll just take time as it comes and try to patient enough to slow down and enjoy the moment and take it all in. I'm glad I still have plenty of time here. I'm definitely not at my full potential and feel there is so much more God has for me to do here. So I'll take this moment to reflect on the first 3 months and be thankful and then turn my attention back to the present and joyfully anticipate the future.

Happy Thanksgiving!

05 November 2010


I've been on those tours of old prisons that are now closed down, but I've never been to a real prison. At least, I hadn't been to one until last week. The church I'm attending here in Lubumbashi does a prison ministry once a month. We take a team to the prison to deliver a message and then give them some food. I decided to tag along last weekend and see what it was all about. The prison we went to is in Kipushi, which is about an hour and a half drive from Lubumbashi and right on the border of Zambia. I didn't really know what to expect from the prison. All I knew it was cramped and not the greatest of conditions for the prisoners. When we got there we were led into an outdoor gathering area. All the prisoners were gathered in this courtyard, seated on the floor watching we set up our things in front of them. A family from my church had come along and sang some songs for the men. The message was then given and then we passed out food. They are not fed very well so I'm assuming they really appreciate the food we bring, even though it is not much. I got to help hand out the food so I got to look each prisoner in the eye as I handed them food. I had no idea what any of these men had done to deserve to be in prison, but I never felt uneasy or afraid. I felt sorry for them. I probably sat in the same room with them for 2 hours, sitting towards the front so I could see all their faces. I didn't feel like I was better than anyone of them. I've made tons of mistakes and done terrible things like I'm sure these men have, yet I am the one who could walk out of that prison whenever I wanted to.

It was one of those times, which seems to happen a lot to me, where I try to be a blessing to someone but they end up blessing me more. It also reminded me of Ephesians 4. While Paul is in prison he gives this message to the church:

"While I'm locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walkbetter yet, run!on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and disciplinenot in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences."

I have the opportunity to run, yet I often find myself sitting on my hands or going down these dead end paths. The prison visit reminded me that I am not a captive of my sin and I need to steadily running on the road God has called me.

02 November 2010

Confederation of African Football Championship

I found out a few days ago that the biggest soccer match of the year in the Congo was happening this weekend here in Lubumbashi. I had been to one soccer match here already and I could tell the Congolese here are quite enthusiastic about their soccer so I knew this match would be a must for me to go to. Africa's version of the English Premier League is the CAF Champions league, but it is for the entire continent of Africa. So all the best club teams in Africa play in this league and the local club team here, TP Mazembe, had advanced to the championship match against a team from Tunisia. I decided to go to the match with a Congolese guy I work with named Patrick. He and his brothers are big fans of Mazembe so they were fun to go with. We headed to the stadium and past through downtown on the way. The fanatics were already out in full force with their painted faces and costumes as they danced and sang in the streets. Once we got to the stadium it was much more of the same. We had to push our way through the crowds and police to make our way inside the gates of the stadium. We found some good seats and watched as the capacity stadium sang, blew their vuvuzela's (which I am now able to fully appreciate how obnoxious they are), and chanted as the team's warmed up. The opposing team was full of mzungu's, which is Swahili for "white person", so unfortunately I heard lot of jeering with "mzungu" thrown in there. Luckily I was proudly wearing my TP Mazembe shirt so I was not to be confused as a fan of my fellow white men, which brought much entertainment and laughter to the crowd around me.

Once the match started all focus was put towards the field. I very much wanted TP Mazembe to win, but I was able to watch the match with an impartial view of the refereeing and as I result it was very clear to me that the referees on the field were very biased in favor of the home team. I hoping to find statistics on the match somewhere, but I can guesstimate that the fouls on the Tunisian team were close to 30 whereas the number of fouls against TP Mazembe was maybe 5. The Tunisians probably got about 7 yellow cards to Mazembe's zero. The Tunisian's also had a player red carded and another one called for a penalty kick. It was the most ridiculous officiating ever, but the Congolese fans loved it. TP Mazembe took advantage of the situation and converted on some great plays to win the match 5-0. The stadium would go crazy after every goal. I almost got knocked over several times and definitely got splashed with lots of water. It was sad to see the Tunisian team totally dejected after the goals started racking up. When the final whistle blew the riot police rushed out onto the field to protect the referees because they knew the Tunisians were upset and were going to go after them. There were several skirmishes were the Tunisian players tried attacking the refs or anyone they could take out their frustration on. The police soon devised a plan to hold hands and encompass the entire Tunisian team. This was quite a site from the stands and crowd applauded it. They were led off the field and the celebrating began.

There was a mass exodus from the stadium and again we pushed and shoved to find our way back to the car. I felt like the most popular person there being a mzungu in a TP Mazembe shirt. People loved it and everyone had a comment for me. The car ride home was a parade as crowds lined both sides of the streets and cheered as the cars passed. We headed home one direction but saw objects on fire in front of us a ways down the road. Whether it was tires, cars, or Tunisian fans being set on fire I don't know but the people in the street around us told us to quickly turn around so we wisely did so. Another memorable sight I saw on the way home was a taxi-van with about 15 people crammed inside, including a marching band. The back door was open and there was also about 15 people riding on top of the van as it sped and weaved through traffic. Got to love the Congolese and their ingenuity. We finally made it back home alive. Quite the experience. I was kicking myself the entire night for forgetting to bring my camera so I don't have pictures to share. It felt like one of the crazy events that you only get to experience once in your life. Needless to say I was quite happy.

Found a clip of some of the mayhem after the match: