a blog for the summer missions training team from Bethel Baptist Church

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A word from Gregg (finally!)

It seems like ages since Russell first asked about the possibility of Bethel sending a team to encourage us in our work in Congo. The issue hindering a team from having significant ministry input has always been language. They speak over 200 of them in the country but none are English. So I thought maybe it would be possible to do something for Congolese secondary school students who have to learn English as part of their curriculum. We sketched out a preliminary scenario, presented it to the church in the DRC and the idea of an English Bible Camp was born.

From the beginning my desire had been that any team from the US see themselves as learners more than teachers. I think the question posed to Vicki as the team landed in Uganda, "What do Americans know about God?" helped everyone keep that in perspective. Amber's testimony to the Congolese at the end of the camp "We have learned so much from you" confirmed it. The body of Christ is made up of many parts and we all need and learn from each other.

It was such an encouragement to the Congolese students that you were willing to take your vacation time and raise the money needed to come out, help them with English and study the word together. They saw that not all American youth are like the ones in magazines and in the movies. You were living examples that it is possible "to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation." Your visit and testimony won't be quickly forgotten!

This brief experience in Africa will help you look at the world from a new perspective. Karen and I wonder how God will use it to direct your future. We look forward to hearing what he'll do in your lives and how you will continue to shine "as lights in the world."

Thanks for your involvement with us in Congo for God's glory.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Dear friends and family -

Thank you so much for your faithful prayers these past few weeks, months, and years leading up to our trip to Congo. We are praising God for what he has done in the hearts and lives of the team, the church, the missionaries, and the students and leaders in Bunia, Democratic Republic of Congo.

After a week of English Bible Camp and several days of debriefing and decompressing in the beautiful Great Rift Valley of Uganda, the team has now returned safely to the US for wonderful reunions. We began our journey first thing on Thursday morning, and ended it nearly 24 hours later after flying through London into JFK and driving for four hours to the church parking lot.

Please continue to pray for the half of the team that stayed behind to shadow Gregg and Karen and enjoy continued fellowship with their families, and also for those who have returned that they would adjust to life in the US. We look forward to seeing many of you at the full report we make to the church on Sunday, July 29.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bunia - A poem by Bethany


Once a small city
Prosperous, quaint and pretty
Brothers lived in love and unity.

But one day
The peace of this place fell away
And all left was war and decay.

Friend against friend
To the grave they would send
And to this bloodshed there was no end.

Under the same sun
Where brothers would run
Now is but a red machete and gun.

One is shorter, one is tall
When young, they played with the same ball
Now, in their brother's blood they fall.

Over land and grazing grounds they fought
And their own gain they sought
But slaughtered for naught.

Families separated in flight
Thousands killed every night
Their hatred grew in might.

They used their victims for witchcraft
Tortured, dismembered and decapitated them as they laughed
And openly terrorised others with their evil craft.

Five years the two tribes waged war
Until there was but widow, orphan and poor
And prosperity was no more.

This city suffered after the battle
It's population displaced and wandering like cattle
It's working hands gone, dead or fragile.

Now as you walk by
There are still orphans who cry
There are still bullet-holes and blood stains on walls even if dry.

You can still see scars and wounds
Because even though it's been many moons
Those hurts cannot be put in tombs.

But there is hope for this city even if small
Even now, hatred and revenge will into memory fall
And Bunia will surprise all.

Please do not think this war was an exceptional case
And that the rest of the world lives in roses and lace
For you will be surprised to find in your place
Hatred, discrimination, slaughter for status or race
Whether it was, or is now, or will be along this race
Do not let it leave in your society any trace.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The End is Sweeter than the Beginnng

Hey Guys,
Africa has been amazing! From Bunia, Congo to Queen Elizabeth Park, Uganda.
We’ve seen some pretty sweet things. It has been s awesome to see how people love the Lord with all they have even when they’re going through some of life’s hardest trials. It’s also been a very humbling experience!

So we left Bunia on Sunday, which was hard to do because we all made great friends. Then we went to Kampala and stayed at this cute little place. Now we’re at QE Park! There are so many animals! Not a variety but a lot! (I don’t ever want to see a water buffalo again in my life!) There were so many deer type animals. I don’t know what they’re called but they all looked like deer to me. Also a lot of water buffalos. We saw Pumba and his family (warthogs). Kelly was very pleased with all of the elephants! Some were really close! The one thing that we all wanted to see didn’t come out and play! LIONS! It was very disappointing at the end of the day. But we got to spend the whole day gazing upon God’s beautiful creation, so I think we got over it!

Gazing upon His creation has been so wonderful to me personally. From the sun rises to the sun sets to the stars at night. I wish I could have captured the exact images because it’s been so beautiful and no one can explain them. The stars are so pretty and there’s so many! I saw my first planet!

Leaving Africa on Thursday is going to be very hard. We’re used to this culture it’s going to be weird to go home. I’m really looking forward to the food but I’ll miss the mystery of what I’ll be eating! It was kind of fun! Almost all of us have craved Charcoal Pit!

We’re all ready to come home but we’ll miss Africa! A little part of us is here forever!

Vicki (Team Encourager)

P.S. Happy Birthday to Mr. Foggy, Emery and Jenny!


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Overlooking the Great Rift Valley


This morning most of our team woke up to some new and exciting things…warm showers, brewed coffee, milk and cereal! Matoke Inn certainly has been a wonderful ½ way point. But for me..it was a GREAT morning to see old views, catch-up with old friends, and just reminisce! Just getting up in the morning walking out and seeing the AIM office reminded me of every morning coming into the office!! Then Lyn, the admin for AIM headquarters, stopped in to see me!!!! It was great to see her again and hear what God has been doing here in Uganda….plus she was trying to entice me to come back for 6 months (December-May). Russell must have paid her off to see if he can get rid of me for a while!

Then I got to see Godfrey, the caretaker for the AIM office and Matoke Inn. He has become a father again and was very excited to tell me about his brand new daughter! I also got to see my good friends Shuni and Gizmo—the AIM dogs…I LOVE THEM!

We headed out after breakfast and drove with our driver Dennis (he has been such a great tour guide for our trip to QE) to Mbarara. In Mbarara, we stopped at a restaurant and met up with Russell’s friend from high school Renee Rose and her husband Nick and their 4 children. Renee had a special treat and had us come back to the house for chocolate/peanut butter brownies and sugar cookies. Nick’s parents have traveled out to Uganda numerous times and they have built a FORT in the back of the yard that would put any of our swing sets to shame! Oh yeah..and we broke their tire swing…I guess 3 teenagers weigh more then 4 little kids…who would have thought. Renee has enticed us back by promising our boys pancakes on Wednesday…so we’ll be back I think…at least Dan and Greg will be (parents…get food ready…they have definitely NOT been eating until they are full…but no complaints!)

We then headed to the game park and went to King Fischer, our hotel. I can’t begin to describe our view…but our rooms look OVER the Rift Valley!!!! Words can’t describe! And yes…we saw elephant the first night. But I’ll leave the rest of the game park description for Vicki for tomorrow!!!

Thank you for all of your prayers…they have been felt and have been needed! We love you all and can’t wait to see you in a few days!


Kelly (steward I.W.W.P.O.T)