Last week was an exciting week for our youth group at the International Protestant Church. It was time again for our annual retreat, and I have to say, it was our best one yet! We took 35 high-schoolers and 10 adult chaperones camping at Bombo Lumene Animal Reserve. It's always a huge task in terms of logisitcs, but it's all worth it. One major difference from last year – the road is fixed!!! Halellujah! It used to take us 4 to 6 hours of very hard driving to get there. This year, with the new road, it was a quick 2 hour scenic drive. We praise God for getting us there and back safely, as well as for the development that's happening in Congo.
For the retreat this year we had a fantastic young guest speaker, Matt Elmore. His theme focused on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Our kids connected instantly with him and really responded to his messages. I know the kids had a lot of fun in activities like hiking, swimming in the river, and nightly campfires, and I'm happy for that, but I was so excited to see them intently focused on every one of Matt's messages and fully participating in discussions and prayer times. To me, there are few things more inspiring than being with a group of young people who want to grow in their faith. Please keep them in your prayers, especially our graduating seniors who will be leaving us this year, our son Matthew included. I pray everyday for them that they will have the kind of faith that can withstand the trials of college life and beyond.
...What's happening with the CBCO women's work:
The CBCO ladies that I work with had a little surprise waiting for me when I got back. We hadn't seen each other in almost 2 weeks because I was busy with preparations for the retreat. Most of you know we've been working on our Women's Restaurant project. We're not only improving the building and landscaping, but we're also working on improving our menu and service. Just a few weeks ago the staff and I talked about starting a simple breakfast service offering tea, coffee, omelettes, and muffins. We never talked about it again, so I thought it was put on hold. I was pretty shocked when I showed up for our meeting and saw a couple of young women I'd never met before serving breakfast in our new gazebo (paillotte). It looked so nice with bright table cloths and new tea cups.
One of the reasons I thought the breakfast service project was on hold was because we couldn't find a trained young woman who could get it started and manage it. But Mama Koba, our women's president, found a lady in her church who runs a little restaurant from her house in the evenings. This lady already knew a young woman, Tina, who desparately needed a job. Mama Koba's friend agreed to oversee our restaurant in the mornings, just for a few weeks, while she trains Tina for the job. It's exciting to see real improvement in the restaurant project, but I'm even more excited about the fact that, thanks to this small project, there is now one less unemployed person in Kinshasa (one less young woman to fall prey to desperation and prostitution). As Mama Koba has said to me, “Little by little we move ahead.”
We thank God for His never-ending mercy. Please pray for Tina in her new job, and pray for Mama Koba and her staff that they have the strength to continue to push ahead little by little, despite the obstacles in their path.