By the Numbers
This trip was a success before it even started – primarily because Ivan, Mike, Warb and I served the important role of “pack mules.” No jokes please. 🙂
Before I go into the details of what we carried, I want to remind you of the reason we go to Bukavu, DR Congo. We hope to build relationships with Congolese people who God will use to subdue the earth (specifically, through business), change their culture and bring glory to God. We work with adults knowing that it will be the children who will be the prime beneficiaries of these changes. Here are two of my favorite pictures. I encountered these children after church on Sunday.
In my first trip to Africa, I was determined to travel light because we would be doing a lot moving around. Then the requests for bringing stuff to people started trickling in. So I gave up on traveling light and oriented myself around traveling heavy. This trip however set a new standard!
Here’s what we took: 1000 pounds of stuff distributed in 12 suitcases, four backpacks and four boxes – two of which could not even fit on the first “regional jet” leg of our flight. No worries. God took care of it and many other details, just as we/you had prayed.
On the return, we had just five fairly empty suitcases and four backpacks.
Our luggage included:
- 170 pounds of radio transmitters, antennas and related gear for Radio Kahuzi (www.radiokahuzi.com) to spread the Word of God further
- 105 solar powered MP3 players with the New Testament in French and Swahili
- 48 Bibles in Swahili
- 3 pounds of chocolate chips and 3 pounds of M&Ms for desperate American missionaries 🙂
- Italian and Ranch salad dressing mixes to two different missionary families
- 20 laptop power “bricks” for Food for the Hungry (www.fh.org)
- 1 laptop
- 5 English as a Second Language (ESL) textbooks
- 1 political science textbook
- 2 Blackberries
- 6 Kindles containing business and Christian books in French and English
- 100 pounds of long range wifi antenna “dishes” for one of our friend’s IT services business – the boxes were too big to fit on the “regional jet” leg from Austin to Dulles.
- 1 replacement screen for a laptop
- many clothes that we wore and then left
- 1 set of rechargeable batteries, and
- most importantly, 16 ounces of potentially lifesaving antibiotic for a baby born with spina bifida. Can you imagine being stuck somewhere with no access to medicine that could save your child’s life?
So, if you can bring luggage on a trip, you are officially qualified to go to Africa! Remember, while Congo has a post office building, there is no mail service.
Ivan Giraldo and Warb Lee trained about 40 people about the inherent goodness of work (Genesis 2:15), the need to subdue the earth (Genesis 1:28), and how to develop a concept for business and write a basic business plan. (Note that we are not engaged in “microfinance” but in the development of larger businesses.) They will submit their business plans by email in any language. We will translate, review and offer comments to the author. We will also meet with them individually during our next trip.
I have to slip in one story of God’s provision here. This trip represented the second time that we hosted a business seminar. People seem to be catching on to the fact that we are “for real.” At the same time, apparently there was some murmuring in the church that hosted us that it was just typical American style stuff showing up – telling them what to do without understanding the culture. The murmuring was quieted immediately when they discovered that the two seminar leaders in Taiwan and Columbia. Rumor has it that one even spoke some Spanish in the seminar. They quickly witnessed that the principles were not just from America. God provided what I could never imagine would be helpful. Another reason why it is better and easier for me just to answer the call, “Follow Me.”
Mike Scheffelin trained many of the same participants to use the solar powered MP3 players and form groups of people to listen to them. He also cast vision about the value of reading and listening to the Bible and its importance in our lives.
Mike also shot 15 hours of video to help tell the story of Congo and how “ordinary” Americans can make a difference.
Mike trained school administrators at two schools with 800 students to use the MP3 players in the classrooms. We gave the schools 30 MP3 players. Please pray that the teachers would begin using the Bible regularly and that the kids’ lives would be forever changed.
We challenged 25 young adults to memorize 12 verses to “earn” a Bible. They do not currently have one.
We met with one businessman to whom we have provided a loan and discussed his business. We worked with him to improve his business, develop future strategies and remind him of how God wants to provide for him as he works in the business.
We met with two businessmen with whom we have been working for 16 months to develop their business plans. They will be ready for funding soon – a total of about $20,000. Let me know if you would like more information about helping fund these loans.
We met with one Congolese person who is planting a church. We provided him with 6 MP3 players to seed the small groups that he is forming. I especially enjoyed meeting him because he has a “coming to faith” story quite similar to mine. We also gave him a Kindle to make learning easier.
We had dinner with three “young bucks” and challenged them to form a “trust group” to talk about God and cultural change in Congo – subjects near and dear to their hearts. We told them that a cord of three strands is not easily broken. Pray that it would happen – that they would become like the Three Musketeers. In Congo, without God’s inspiration and encouragement, it’s a long shot. We also gave them Kindles to enable them to access more books and learn more easily.
Although there are many questions needing answers, the model seems to be working. I am praying that God would raise two teams from two churches to go to Goma, another city in Congo, and Bujumbura, Burundi. The network that God has arranged in Congo could provide all of the logistical support for these trips. I would train the team. The church would just need to make a commitment to “show up” at least 5 times over 3-5 years. If you are open to considering such an endeavor, let’s talk. I am also open to doing presentations to missions committees, Sunday school classes, Bible studies, etc.
P.S. Here’s a pic of the kids at the school to which we gave the Bible on MP3 players. They had a special assembly, including a parade and presentation of bouquets of flowers to us – what an experience! You can see a bit of the neighborhood around the school.