Sunday, October 18, 2015

Koinonia in October

October 17, 2015

Greetings from rainy Congo!  Every morning for the past week we wake up to the sound of rain.  Although we love the rain, it does become tiresome,,,especially on a night like tonight when we got stuck in it on an evening walk.  
The Fein Family and Samaritan's Purse Family

Maternity Ward Opening
This last week we had some very special visitors to Nyankunde from the US to commemorate the opening of the newly renovated maternity building.  Congo is one of the countries with the highest maternal-child mortality rates in the world.  We see this reality on a regular basis.  A young man by the name of Gabe Fein, affectionately known as the “Cakeman” and his sister Livvy have been raising money through Samaritan’s Purse by making and decorating cakes for the last year or so.  They really wanted to use their gifts to benefit others, in particular women and children.  Their story has inspired us to serve for the glory of God with whatever gifts we have.  No one is too young to be used by God.  They even were able to bake cupcakes in our wood-burning oven, which was a first.  This was an opportunity to talk about the fact that most household do not have ovens and that firewood and charcoal are commodities that are reserved for cooking meals.  Bread, and definitely cupcakes, are a bit of a luxury.  To read more about Gabe and Livvy check out their facebook page or Samaritan's Purse website:   
Vicky, Livvy, and Gabe Fein

Baking cupcakes in a wood burning oven

opening of the newly renovated maternity building.

The inauguration consisted of a big celebration with lots of speeches, tours, and a big feast.  It felt a bit like a wedding.  The renovations included installing better lighting and an independent solar system, plumbing for several hand-washing stations, and private rooms.  There is a new sanitary block with toilets and shower facilities, as well as a new place for women to wash their clothing.  It is very timely that these changes are taking place as we are hoping that it improves our infection rates and ultimately reduces maternal-child mortality.  It is our hope that we become more and more of a   Ultimately we want to communicate to women and children that they are greatly loved by God and
Maternity nurses in matching celebratory outfits
provide a nice environment for them.
referral center for at risk pregnancies and gynecologic care.

We are becoming quite a referral center for chronic health problems, gynecologic problems included.  It amazes us to see how long people stay at home with obviously debilitating tumors, difficulty urinating, broken bones, and infections.    I think sometimes people are hoping for a miracle, a magic pill, or simply that you use a machine on them and they are suddenly healed.  Sometimes people look at us backwards when we say that there are no medical treatments to cure their condition.  This is one of the more difficult aspects of our job here.

A Book Recommendation
I would like to recommend an excellent book written by a friend of ours named, Justin Wren, called “Fight for the Forgotten.”  He is affectionately named the “Big Pygmy.”  Over the last few years he has worked in partnership with a local university in Bunia called Shalom to acquire land and drill wells for pygmy tribes in the area.  He humbly tells his life story from how he goes from a life of addiction and professional fighting to real “fighting” for one of the most oppressed people in this country.  There are people who do not believe that pygmees are humans.  Justin’s life was transformed by Jesus, or as he says God “loved the hell out of him.”  It is an excellent book.  I was reminded that God sees and advocates for these people and asks us to participate in His work.  “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:  to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke”  (Isaiah 58: 6).  He see the injustice and suffering of the pygmees and has used this man, Justin Wren and his Congolese team, to transform what is unjust.  Take a look at this book!

Our Growing Child
It is such a joy watching Emmanuel grow.  He seems to be figuring out his world more and more.  He   Occasionally I hear what sounds like a French word like, “bien.”  Most of the time I am not sure what he is saying, but he really likes to participate in the conversation.  He will grow up speaking two and probably three languages (English, French, and Swahili) as we have Congolese people in our home daily.  We anticipate that he will learn the same number of words developmentally as other kids, but that he will not know as many in one language and perhaps seem delayed.  It will be really interesting how he sorts it all out.  Here are some of his favorite activities:

makes a lot of varied sounds and says, “Momma, Daddy, and Cocoa” most consistently.
1)   Putting his toys in the oven, closing the door, and opening it again (trying to curb this one)
2)   Throwing balls for his dog Cocoa
3)   Running after Daddy around the house…or following Daddy anywhere
4)   Chasing the chickens
5)   Attempting to climb the fence
6)   Drinking out of everyone’s cups
7)   Imitating bird calls (his favorite is the crow)
8)   Taking everything out of his crib
9)   Walking to Jazira’s house wanting to play
10) Dancing to any and all music (even the chickens clucking)

Thoughts on Koinonia

What is true fellowship?  What does it mean to truly connect with another human being?  Is it simply sharing common interests (like a soccer club), hobbies, or professions?  Have you ever joined a club and still felt like an outsider after a considerable amount of time? We have been thinking a lot and struggling to build community.  Biblical fellowship is different than other fellowship.  Fellowship between fellow Christians is often referred to as Koinonia and refers to a deep connectedness.  It is a Greek word that occurs some 20 times in Scripture…so it appears to be very important to the Christian life. 

What we receive from our relationship with Christ should naturally spill over into our relationships with others.   As Paul says in Philippians 2: 1-2, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy likeminded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” It is very clear that if we say that we have fellowship with God the Father we can have true fellowship with one another.  If we do not stay connected to God we cannot have true fellowship with another.  “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.” 

Characteristics of this koinonia are: devotion, honor, living in harmony, acceptance, service, kindness and compassion, admonishment, encouragement, spurring on one another, hospitality, and loving one another.  We really want to work on these characteristics as we relate to our fellow missionaries and serve the Congolese.  We realize that it is difficult to have true koinonia and just how easy it is for bitter roots to develop within a fellowship.  Please pray with us that as a team we will grow in our love and devotion for Christ, and thus our love and devotion to one another.  Pray that these characteristics of koinonia would permeate our missionary community.  Thank you!

We appreciate your interest in our lives and ministry.  Enjoy these last pictures of several birthdays and a picture of community life.


Lindsey Cooper
Another shared birthday celebrated together

Miriam's birthday party
The Larochelle Family, celebrating Miriam's first birthday

Crossing a river to the Samaritan's Purse community gardens
Emmanuel and Lukas Folmer

Jazira's second birthday

A typical night at our house in the baby tent

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