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Adopting, Part 2

February 1, 2013

A while back I told you about a ministry into which I was slowly involving myself.  A niche, a need, and I happen to be available to meet it, in a small way.  You can read about that here.

Someone recently asked me, someone not here in Congo, if I was still doing that.  I realized, that while it takes up a great deal of my formerly free time, I don’t say much in, the online sense, about it.  This is partly because there isn’t much to share, at least not publically.  Adoption is a messy process.  While it is, in some ways, a series of steps and paperwork (entire forests are destroyed in giving a child a forever family, but in a Worth It sort of way), it is a complicated disaster of people, cultures, customs, emotions, money, laws, lawyers, and love.  And we all can imagine, if we haven’t been there ourselves, that all those things should not be in the same place, at the same time…but they are during the process of adoption.

So, I am happy that I have been able to be a bit of the positive part of the process, near the end, after “Gotcha Day,” during the wait to go home permanently (most of the time) and share a little of Kinshasa with the families.  It has been an amazing adventure, hearing the stories…wishing I had time to hear all of them.  Meeting these moms and dads who have given up more than just a little time, money, and sleep for these kids to have a large, loving family.  Often, it seems to involve entire communities to bring these kids home, and I am so excited to offer a small amount of time to make it go a little better.

Each Wednesday, Pepe and I leave home at 8am for a full day of shopping.  We stop at all of the populated hotels between here and the end of the boulevard (where the main hotel is for adopting families).

Our first stop is always for fabric, since it’s the closest.  The families shop from two main booths, though only one is usually open.  The fabric is decent quality, with a few higher quality options available.  The guys are mostly friendly, though lately I admit they’ve been bumping up their prices.  It’s probably time to remind them I can take my business (aka my friends) somewhere else.  So far, though, after some Congolese-style haggling (yelling), I get the prices back down to a decent amount.  Since most of the moms don’t speak French or Lingala, I usually act as the interpreter.  This is funny to me, because I don’t really speak the languages either, but make do as needed.  Of course, every other week I seem to have a mom who speaks French and that is always AWESOME!

After fabric, we head over to a little shop that is part of a disabled persons’ community.  The souvenirs are all made there, reasonably priced, and the money goes to a good cause.  The best part for many is that it offers a quiet place to shop.  There is no one who is there to bargain (the prices are set) or pressure you into buying.  Sometimes there is power in the building and there is light, even fans, but most of the time no.  However, the atmosphere is pleasant and non-stressful.  They have a few goodies that are favorites, like pretty dolls, baskets, and the Congo fabric fans.

Lastly, we head over to the big open market, which has a lot of names, most of them negative (Ivory Market, Thieve’s Market, etc.) – and not true.  I prefer to call it the Art Market, but I don’t think it’s correct.  Anyway, this market sells a wide variety of classic Africa souvenirs, like masks and wooden statues, lots of locally made jewelry out of local stones, like Malachite, a green stone.  While there is a variety, most of the booths sell the same things over and over.  And it is not a peaceful experience.  I personally think it’s fun, but it can cause a bit of stress if you’re not accustomed to overly zealous vendors.  Pepe and I, along with a vendor who has befriended us and is an ok guy…we’ll call him Willy, because that is his Christian name, and I can’t pronounce his Congolese name, thus I cannot remember it…help people through the market.  Most people are okay on their own because the vendors speak just enough English to make a deal.  Or rip people off.  By now, though, they recognize me and I try and make sure everyone is at least getting a fair price.

The market has a large variety of art for sale, Willy’s specialty, and it is all “roll-able” for easy packing.  While I am not always an art lover, the paintings here are gorgeous with so many bright colors.  We bought a lot of art not long after arriving and so far, I’ve been able to stop myself from buying more.  I do intend to get a particular painting before we leave, but I’m waiting trying to decide exactly what I want.

I have made many friends (and a few enemies) at this market over the months.  Most of the guys are decent guys just trying to make a living, and a few are there to rip off foreigners, but overall it’s a positive experience that is not soon to be forgotten.

After we’ve exhausted the market, and shooed away all the guys trying to make last minute deals at the car, we take what are, by now, very tired kids back to the hotels.  We’ve done lunch a few times, but it makes for a long day and I often have other errands I need to get done, since it is my only personal opportunity out of the house as well.  Lunches are fun for me, though, because it gives me a chance to chat with some of the moms more one-on-one.

As each group gets dropped off at their hotels, I gather the orders and fabric and money for the tailor.  Since we’ve outgrown a personal vehicle, I have been borrowing an MAF van for the outing, filling it each week with around 10 parents, plus their children.  Since this also costs me money, I ask for a bit of help and so far everyone has been overly generous.

The Wednesdays are fun, and the opportunity to minister doesn’t end there.  Thursday mornings, I prepare all of the fabric with the orders in French attached to each piece.  Faustin, the tailor, comes to my house at noon to pick up the orders.  He returns Tuesdays to drop them off again, before my Wednesday morning departure.  He loves all the work (and income) and I’m so excited to be able to help him that way as well as provide some awesome new clothes!  If only I was as disciplined about fabric and clothes as I was about the art.  Ah well, we all have our weaknesses.

This ministry has been a blessing to me in so many ways.  It was not something I sought to do, and certainly something for which I am not the most qualified.  I don’t speak the languages fluently, and I haven’t lived here very long to be an expert on the culture, but I love it and am happy to be part of this side of the adoptions for so many beautiful children!  And, oh boy, does it ever keep me busy on facebook!

(Note: I wrote this post over the last two days…and today it seems the US Embassy is announcing a new period of investigations into each child’s background, which will delay the process by 3-6 months.  In theory, it might affect some families that were planning to travel within weeks!  Please pray that there will be grace, both for the Embassy for making sure each child is, indeed, an orphan in need of a family, and for the parents who are suddenly far from holding their children!  Thanks!)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Tally in Congo permalink
    February 1, 2013 0829

    I loved reading that and visualizing your all’s trip into town. Wha a blessing yu are to help the ladies like that!

    I will be praying regarding adoptions that are in process right now.

  2. Deborah Spann permalink
    February 1, 2013 0829

    Was there someone ministering in this capacity before you started doing it? Will there be someone to take over when you come back to the US for a while?

    • February 1, 2013 0829

      No – adoptions have only boomed in the last few months. There have been families in and out of Kinshasa for a couple of years, but not nearly as many as there are currently. The other ladies (and gents) here are all full to capacity with their own ministries at the moment. I’m not asking my friends here to take it over, because I think it really needs to be something that one is called to do. I know the Lord knows the timing and the need and am confident He has it handled without me. 🙂

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