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Revolving Door

November 30, 2012

Confession:  I’ve rewritten this post so many times, I feel like each time I write it that it doesn’t come out right, I’ve expressed the wrong facts or emotions, or that I left something out because I had included in the previous draft.  So, hopefully you get a sense of what our daily lives are like…and not a confusing mess…or are they one in the same?


I feel like our gate is constantly busy.  I love it.  I love that we have so many people who come to our gate for one thing or another.  I love that our sentinels have friends and chat with the other sentinels.  I love that sometimes people come in to perform a service or get things from us.  (If you’re thinking beggars, our sentinels don’t let them in and I never know of any who stop by.  It’s a culture-thing here, to not know about it.)

Let me tell you about some of the people who come to our gate and, sometimes, into our lives…

Papa Willy comes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  He has progressively worked more and more for us, and I’ve mentioned him several times on this blog before, and as of this month he is a contracted worker for us.  He is now salaried.  Papa Willy brings an eye for detail in cleaning, some great kitchen skills, and a rare self-starter attitude.  The man can clean anything amazingly well.  He’s very honest and I never worry about what might be lying around the house while he cleans.  He’s well known in the missionary community, I think mostly for his tortillas.  Tortillas cannot really be purchased here, but they’re so time consuming to make, so I am very grateful to have Papa Willy make tortillas.  He also makes tortilla chips, bakes chicken and then debones them (perfect for the tortillas, casseroles, etc.), and I taught him to make bagels as well (in French, well, pigeon French).  He also does a bit of food prep for me if I have veggies needing prepared or other miscellany.  One of the best things about Papa Willy, though, besides his lovely voice singing hymns while he works, is that he loves kids. He has ten of his own, and two grandchildren if I understood correctly, and Levi and Amelia love him right back.

Pepe is my driver, but Pepe is a man of many trades.  Pepe will do anything you ask him to: cleaning, sentinel-ing, driving, shopping…he’s even helped Matthew on a few of his projects.  I hire Pepe each Wednesday to drive me around to grocery shop, to take adopting parents souvenir-searching, or to have him get gas for our generator.  But, he’s also cleaned our house, done our dishes, and painted our porch.  Pepe is just about the friendliest person you’ve ever met – and seems to know everyone in Kinshasa.  He’s super honest.  People trust Pepe with a lot – a lot of money, their cars, their children, their wives – and he has never broken our trust.  Pepe has a great testimony, and an awesome heart for God.  I’m actually not sure what I would do without Pepe.

Mama Victorine and Papa Joseph both sell me veggies and fruits.  Mama Victorine comes on Saturday evenings and brings what I order on the following Saturday.  She’s an old widow, and a bit much to cope with at times, but she needs help.  Papa Joseph is a sweet older man, who I hear has two wives – not uncommon in this country – who has awesome produce and LOVES the kids and always brings mine presents (fruit).  He comes on Mondays for my order and brings it the following day.  I just realized he ALWAYS comes at 10am, so I’m quite happy to know when to expect him.  His most recent present was a bunch of bananas because Levi always lets him out of our gate, which is hard work, so he says.

Lievin has a booth in the commercial center selling cigarettes, tissues, phone credits and giving change.  However, he stores his tissues and cigarettes at our house.  Someone once told me he is Mosengo’s nephew or neighbor, so it must have been a deal between them.  Lievin knows the news about the neighborhood and is always happy to get me change or sell me phone credits.  One day, I was so close to being out that he “flashed” me more credits after a quick phone call and then totally forgot that I owed him money that night when he dropped off his wares until I handed it to him.

Faustin is “my” tailor.  He comes to my house, takes the order and the fabric, and brings it back usually within a week.  He’s very professional, does a great job, and drives a hard bargain, though I usually get about $10 per item (shirt, skirt, etc.).  I’ve had so much made by him that I think I will have to have a separate post featuring his work.

If Gil stops by, it’s because we don’t have any power.  He works for SNEL and is in charge of our cabine.  I don’t see him often, since our cabine rarely has any issues lasting more than a little while (though the whole grid goes out often), and, best thing ever, is that I have his phone number if we do have a problem.  He’s also very honest and doesn’t ask for more than he needs to get the job done…a rare thing for SNEL, you know?

We have people come in to cut down the coconuts, trim the palm trees, a few random people cut down the big swing tree.  For a few days when the last batch of mangoes were ripe, a small group of ladies came in to get them to sell (with our permission).  There’s the vet that vaccinated our bunnies, the med student, Gideon, whose tuition is paid by people overseas and we distribute the money, the representative for the boys’ home, Bokako, we are financially overseeing, the pastor, David, who needed something for his church and we bought it, the man with the international business degree, Michael, who is seeing what he should be doing to get a job, the boy with the troubled home, Moise, who stops by to say hi…and I’m sure there are more whose names I’ve forgotten.  I love that we have so many Congolese friends.  I hope to make many more.  I hope that we will always be willing to open our gate to friends, both old and new, though we can’t fluently speak their language, or understand why they’re there, or even help them when we do.  I hope we won’t desire our privacy more than what we think God intends for us here.

Yes, sometimes it does get old that the gate is so busy.  Mostly, when I just shut the door to the bathroom, or lay down for a rare nap.  Somedays I’m cranky and don’t feel like being nice (to not admit that is not entirely honest, right?).  Sometimes I find the culture or language barrier annoying or frustrating.  Sometimes, I get so overwhelmed at the need that I wonder if we’re making a difference at all…and God does not promise that we will or that we’ll see the effects of our work here.

But still, I love it and hope the relationships continue.  I pray for the strength and the energy to keep it up each day, and for Matthew’s strength when he needs it after a long days’ work.  I pray for all of you that support us, that you can know how to pray and that your support (both prayer and financial) is not lost on people who want to do what God wants, as much as humanly possible.  Thank you for that.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Tally in Congo permalink
    November 30, 2012 0829

    What a joy to read that, Lisa. I’d love to have Papa Willy work for me again; it was a joy to train him and I was so saddened when it came time to let him work for others. Pepe is a delight to be around also, and you always know when he’s around as his joy is loud! LOL

  2. Nicolien permalink
    November 30, 2012 0829

    I am learning so much from these posts! Thanks for this insight in your Congo life. I also really appreciated the “Bringing Home the Bacon” one which I read on my phone and therefore didn’t respond to.
    How much longer will you stay in Congo? You initially signed up for a year, didn’t you? It sounds like you’re not ready to home yet… but I’m sure that’s a whole ‘nother blog post in itself..


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