The changing of the calendar year marks a renewed focus for our ministry in Congo. After a difficult first year (for specifics you are welcome to write and ask), we spent some time in the States meeting with our home staff at International Ministries and reflecting on our experiences in Congo. We also took advantage of this time to gain more skills that we hope will help us live well in our unique and isolated circumstances.
We arrived back in Kikongo on December 19th with a clearer understanding of our ministry roles moving forward. We have had a hard time being assertive and saying no, but living in a village with so many needs requires strategic decisions, some of which are to turn opportunities down or to say no to various requests. Kyle will be focusing on teaching one class at a time at UNIBAC (Baptist University of Congo), starting with a general psychology course. Katrina will be continuing to aid UNIBAC’s financial staff with bookkeeping and basic accounting on top of heading up the homeschooling of our kids. We will also try to travel more to Kinshasa where we are able to meet with the President and Board of UNIBAC. This is a necessary step for us to strengthen our relationships. Building these relationships is made difficult by distance, especially given the cost of travel and housing in Congo. You can be in prayer about how exactly to meet this need.
UNIBAC’s Board of Directors is planning to meet this March. This will be a pivotal meeting for the board as it is their first visit to Kikongo since the creation of the University. We have been asked to send our thoughts and ideas regarding the operation of UNIBAC. To fulfill this request, we will be setting aside some time to further reflect on our experiences over the past year and provide some feedback. Even after a year living and working in Kikongo, there are cultural differences and limitations on the University and how it can function in such isolation that we don’t fully grasp. This makes it difficult for us to think through some of the roadblocks the University is facing.
This academic year is the third year of operation for UNIBAC, which has three year degree programs. All of the third year students have final projects and internships to complete, making it a busy season with a lot of logistical complexity for the administration. We are looking forward to learning more about the educational requirements in Congo as we observe UNIBAC’s first class of students graduate! Pray for the finalization of the University’s accreditation as this is a vital part of granting diplomas in Congo.
As for our family, we arrived back in Kikongo and were warmly greeted by many visitors. We have also taken time to go for walks and greet people in the village. Our walks double as a time of language acquisition. Somehow, we were able to madly unpack our bags, put the house back in order after it sat vacant, and relax as a family for Christmas.
The kids are all glad to be back in Kikongo where they spend most of their time playing with friends outside. Most of our animals made it fine during our absence. Unfortunately, our cat went missing while we were gone, but the monkey, antelope, crocodiles, and various fish were well taken care of and healthy upon our return.
A few days before Christmas, Fili, our orphaned red duiker, lost one of her horns. She recovered well, but it bled quite a bit. We decided to bring her inside for a few days to keep her out of reach of insects and a greater risk of infection. She makes a decent houseguest, as she is mostly timid and polite.
We hope you have had a restful holiday season and wish you a joyful 2018!
Kyle and Katrina Williams