Sunday, May 19, 2019

Coopers' May News from North Carolina and Congo

May 2019
Hospital Chapel Completion
It is with great joy to hear that the long-awaited chapel rehabilitation project at Nyankunde 
Before:  July 2019

After:  May 2019
Hospital is finished!  It was a momentous occasion which we shared through pictures and videos.  It has been almost 17 years since this building has been used by hospital staff.  It is the last building to be rehabilitated since the war.  I get the sense that this was like a “home” for many Congolese before the war.  They are coming home.  It felt very significant to hear the group of CME women praying about this. It has felt like a privilege to participate in it.  There is an element of remembrance that has come out with the chapel rehabilitation...remembering former chaplains, community events, etc.  It inevitably brings up the tribal conflict that our village experienced because that is why the chapel was destroyed in the first place.  So there is more work to be done to remember people who have gone before.  What does that look like in this culture?  How does one honor a place, a people
Finally, enough seating for all staff (and patients!)

Hospital director Dr. Davin

Handing over the keys to Pastor Remy

The opening ceremony
  past and present?  What is honoring to God?  There is an important tree called the Toba tree, or the “tree of our ancestors.”  This tree is used to remember family members who have died and is sometimes planted for this reason.  I look forward to learning more about this.  

Update on the Ebola Situation in DRC
We look forward to being able to return to Congo.  It is hard to read all the devastating news about the Ebola epidemic in our and our neighboring province.  It is hard to feel so far away.  It is a beautiful country with a very resilient people.  They continue to work, raise their children, cultivate food, and life is far from easy…now add a very serious epidemic to make their lives more difficult.  There are whole communities where children are not going to school, people are fearful to seek health care for fear of isolation, threats on the lives of healthcare workers.  This is not happening to our community or our area, thanks be to God.  It was a difficult situation before, and now is even more critical.  Unfortunately the answers are not going to be easy.  The WHO is having to re-think their strategies due to the fear and security concerns for healthcare workers in North Kivu province.  There is a recent article on NPR which describes the challenges:  My heart is heavy when I think about all of this and I pray for this country.

Activities in North Carolina
Meanwhile in western North Carolina, we attend preschool graduations, mulch 
Boy from Wilkesboro

Emmanuel and his teachers Ms. Pattie and Ms. Lori
repair rotten windows, watch the trees blossom while every possible color of azalea declares its' presence!  Our lives are quite different here in America, but very peaceful.  I have been a stay-at-home mom these last months!  This feels like a “real” furlough, one we have never had the opportunity to have.  It has been really a blessing to spend more time with Emmanuel, see him growing and learning every day.  We have been blessed to have a home in the mountains to come back to, with amazing views. It is nice to work with our hands and rest.  

We just celebrated our 9 thwedding anniversary.  We have changed a bit since our wedding day and we look older.  We are thankful to have each other in this complicated, albeit joyous, journey of life.
We have discovered that Emmanuel loves the beach and driving boats!  We spent a lovely week with dear friends in Wilmington on the NC coast last week.  It was balmy and the sand felt great between our toes.  We spent a few late nights watching the sun go down from the ocean.  What's not to like?

We have been enjoying nature hikes and introducing Emmanuel to the woods.  I want him to grow up with a sense of beauty and being at home in the natural environment.  I also desire for him to grow up knowing that God has created some amazing things and develop an inquisitive nature.  Most recently he has been chasing chipmunks, trying to put salt on their tails.  It is really funny!  He can catch butterflies with his fingers, so why not chipmunks too?

-Pray for our family as we make some important decisions in these next weeks.
-Pray for us as we make plans to return to DRC.
-Pray for people to feel moved to be part of our ministry support base.

Many blessings,

View of the Blue Ridge Mountains from our home

Sunday, March 24, 2019

A Peaceful March

March 2019

March is coming to a close soon and we are still in the USA!  Spring is on the way here in
the mountains.  Daffodils are coming up and the trees are blooming.  Many of you have been asking.  We are prolonging our stay here this spring for various reasons and due to the Ebola situation in DRC.  We read the most hopeful report this last week with fewer new cases over the past 5 weeks, compared to earlier in the outbreak.  There are no new cases in 10/20 health zones affected during the outbreak, of which Nyankunde is one of them.  Just when things seemed to be looking up, there was a 6mo baby diagnosed with Ebola in Bunia, an hour from us.  Babies always get this disease from an adult so there for sure will be others.

We are enjoying our furlough and getting lots done around the house.  It is a blessing to be able to focus on friends and family, enjoy the outdoors, and all the freedoms that we have in the USA.  I wake up every day thankful to not worry about fevers, possible isolation/quarantine and malaria.  There is a peace in knowing this. Emmanuel has been able to attend preschool with his peers and seems very well adjusted.  He calls his friends at school “his kids.”  This may be related to the fact that he calls his nanny “My Ziga,” when here name is Maziga.  We are thankful to see him advancing in English immersion through this local preschool. He is getting to know his grandparents much better.  He taps his feet to bluegrass music and says that he lives on Buck Mountain, but is quick to say that he is going back to Congo.  It is a beautiful thing to hear him fondly talking about his friends on both sides of the ocean.

Planting flowers together
We are truly "tucked away" in the woods.  There are a lot of fun backwoods trails around here, great for exploring with an all-terrain vehicle. It is funny how a destination can be only 4miles away, but it takes 45 minutes to travel there.  We are discovering the area and finally sorting out the peaks visible from our front deck.  Emmanuel is learning how to fish.  He hasn’t caught anything yet, but he casting and seeing the fish up close. There are so many things to learn outside at this age.

Emmanuel and all of his schoolmates and teachers

We just returned from a trip to Thailand where we enjoyed medical conferences, meeting new people, and reuniting with friends practicing medicine throughout the world.  We scouted out the night markets.  There is fresh juice on every corner.  Coconut juices come in coconuts, not in cans!  We love coconut!  It is hard to get a bad meal in Thailand!  Thailand is a funny merging to modern and traditional cultures, very colorful and exotic.  The gardens are absolutely exquisite!

We were able to visit two national parks just outside of the city where we were staying, with beautiful vistas.  Unfortunately, Thailand has huge problems with air pollution so due to smog we were not able to see as much as we were hoping to.  It is the burning season so the air quality is particularly poor.  Emmanuel and I had a fish exfoliation treatment in a local spa.  You submerge your feet and allow little fish to remove dead skin.  It sounds kind of gross, but it is fairly common in this area so we had to try it.  Overall it was wonderful to learn new things and get up to date on medical practice. Emmanuel met lots of new friends and loved his teachers.  What a highlight!

We have felt blessed to live in a home and have a stable stay in the US.  We have had the time to re-connect with old friends and make new ones.  Our church here has been very supportive and kind to us, loaning us a vehicle, and intentionally coming alongside us.  We have had time to go exploring and enjoy being together as a family.  It seems like there is always a new project, something to be fixed or improved.  It has been a season of peace and discernment.

Thanks for keeping up with us.  We seem to write more often from overseas.  We would love to see you in person.  Keep praying for security and abatement of fear that keeps Ebola going.  Pray for the continued ministry and work of Nyankunde Hospital to provide for the medical and spiritual needs of people in the area.  Our hearts are very much with our friends and colleagues in eastern Congo.

-Pray for Emmanuel’s educational growth and feeling well adjusted here in the USA.
-Pray for God’s blessing of our family.
-Pray for the completion of the hospital chapel.  It is being completely transformed and it is wonderful to see this in pictures.


Lindsey for the Coopers

Our little Buck Mountain helper!

EB Jeffress Park

The Cascades

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Happy New Year from the Blue Ridge Mountains

January 2018

We have officially been back in the US for about 6weeks now!  We apologize for the lapse in blog postings.  We are doing fine and nestled down in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina for the wintertime.  We are living in the mountain home we bought last year, a completely unexpected blessing.  A friend recently said “I love that often when you come back from Congo you get to be in the snow.”  It hasn’t been intentional and isn’t always so convenient, but it has been fun for Emmanuel to experience snow.

Our minds have been thinking a lot about what we left behind in Nyankunde.  Just before Christmas there was a Ebola confirmed death in our village.  A pregnant women from a village where there are active cases was admitted and promptly died.  Many of our staff members were exposed and it was a scary time.  Mass ring vaccination occurred within 48hours and since then there have been no other positive cases.  It is a huge blessing that no one contracted the disease, and a reminder that medicine is a risky occupation.   This women was tested and had a safe burial.  Funerals are very public events and often when Ebola spreads to the community.   This was completely avoided.  We continue to pray for eastern DRC and our village.  I have posted several articles about the situation in eastern DRC and the risk Ebola poses to central Africa.  They are very sobering articles.  Here is one of the links:  This is the time for the international community to rally around this outbreak.  This week Samaritan's Purse has officially opened an Ebola Treatment Unit (ETC) in the neighboring community of Komanda.  Here is a video about the center:

What can I say after this?  My life right now nestled in the mountains is in stark contrast to my life in eastern Congo.  I have a hard time reconciling the two.  There is no real way to transition in words.  Pray for me as I struggle with this from afar.

Now I will transition to the Blue Ridge Mountains.  This is a place where fog is prolific, ice falls off trees and accumulates like snow, and wind is amplified at higher elevations.  Our son Emmanuel was literally blown over going up stairs to our house the other day!  The climate can be extreme.  In our first week home we geared up for our first major snowstorm.  More than 2 feet of snow fell over about a day just plastering the trees with white powder.  It was really beautiful!  We learned several things during this storm: park at the end of the road (not in the garage), have an alternate mode of transportation (and even heat if power is lost), chainsaws are useful to clear downed trees, and generally don’t plan to travel. Up here they use a grater to clear roads of snow, as snowplows can’t make it up the hills.

We have had the blessing of both of our families visiting these last few weeks over the holidays.  We are thankful for this uninterrupted time together and realize what a rare occurrence it really is!  There was lots of cookie baking, learning old recipes from my grandma, and play when my parents visited.  We got my mom and dad in the side-by-side 4 wheeler once each!  We rode a holiday train and Emmanuel received his very first train set for Christmas!  Then Warren’s brother’s family and sister came for a visit.  We did lots of hiking, movies, cooking, and catching up.  In the evenings Warren has worked on the insulation and drywall of the upper room of our garage.

After a month’s work on the garage, the upper multi-purpose room is finally finished!  Warren has done an amazing job with very little help.  He is largely self taught and gifted with his hands.  It will be nice to have a place to store our things when we are not here as well as having office space.   I am more of the interior decorator who wants to change things around inside.  I enjoy running most of the time, but I have learned that running in the hills is serious work and commitment!  One feels like a superstar running down hills, that is until one turns around.  Confession:  sometimes I call for a ride home from the base!  My uphills are improving slowly.  No complaints...we love living on Buck Mountain!  Today was a typical afternoon of exploring the trails around us on foot and 4-wheeled side-by-side cart, spotting deer and turkey.

Emmanuel has made some nice friends here, but his heart misses his friends in Congo.  He loves looking at our photo book from DRC and showing friends and family his life over there.  We are trying to still read and pray in French.  It is fun to hear him say he is from Nyankunde.  It has been a blessing to be more or less in one place this time, as last furlough we traveled so much and it was hard on him.

We are looking forward to a trip to Thailand in a few weeks!  It will be lovely to reconnect with friends and fellow missionaries around the world.

We would love to connect with you during our time in the States.  Send us a “hello,” we would love to hear from you!

-Pray for an effective response to the Ebola outbreak in eastern DRC, for the field hospital in Komanda.
-Pray for wisdom for us to know the timing of our return.
-Pray for our family as we adjust to living in the USA and our spiritual growth.

Lindsey for the Coopers