Category Archives: Africa

Congo Kids

At the evening service last night here at the ECC Annual Meeting the speaker spoke of how we must respond to the needs in the Congo.  The Covenant has launched a project called Congo Kids powered by World Vision.   Hoping to make an impact on the lives of kids in the area of the Congo known as the Nord Ubangi – the area I used to live in. 

all the neighborhood kids

The needs of this extremely poor country are huge.  This could make an impact.  They are hoping to have water points in Gemena within 500 M of every home.  No more walking all the way to Bokonzo to get drinking water for Pascaline, who did this for Willadeen and myself while we stayed there.

Bokonzo water tower Water towers at Bokonzo.

The Canada Covenant is launching its own part of this project.  This will happen in October so watch for it and think seriously about sponsoring a child from this project through World Vision.  The money you give for support will go to development of the whole community in which the child lives.

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Filed under Africa, Photos, Travels, Worship events

This week I’m back

I don’t know, it has been almost two months since I posted.  It is not as if I have nothing to say, just that saying it publicly seems to have lost its urgency.  But since I do want to share some of my experience in the Congo, this does seem a good place to do it.

young boy

The kids out there are great.  As you can see they are not camera shy and they loved getting their pictures taken and then seeing them on the digital screen. This is one of the boys from the neighbourhood in Gemena where I spent a week.  Every day when we returned from class, the kids would come running to greet us.

World Vision is starting up a project in this area of the Congo.  More on this another post.

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Filed under Africa, Photos

Canadian, eh?

You bet.

And by this time tomorrow there should be two new citizens that have joined the ranks. 

Christian and Yaounde have passed their tests and all they must do is get sworn in.  Massa will have another go at the test but it will come.  Hard stuff to know for a struggling with English guy. 

Celebrations will be in order.

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Filed under Africa, Dealing with stuff, Family

Power is really only temporary

Just got news that a person important in the little corner of the Congo where we used to live, has died in Brussels.  Bemba Saolona. 

If you read French, you can catch the story here.

Leo played tennis with him and his son, Jean-Pierre at Karawa a couple of times. 

He owned businesses and an airline and many plantations while we lived there.  His son is now going to trial for war crimes.  How the mighty are fallen!

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Filed under Africa, In the News

What will change Africa?

A friend from my missionary days in the Congo posted this link on Facebook.  Very insightful, considering the writer professes to be an atheist.  I think he recognized the heart of what we believe, what we hope shows in spite of our failures – that following Christ makes a difference. 

I would contend that this may be more visible to him in Africa but it should be no less true here, in North America.

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Filed under Africa, In the News, Reflections

Thirty Two

Just got of the phone from wishing my second son, David, a Happy Birthday.

I still remember the night.  I’d ben in labour most of that Sunday and finally, in the dark of the night, everyone medical at Karawa gathered in the private maternity suite. Kerosene lamps were lit, Leo and the others began playing cards, (Rook of course, it being a mission station) and I lay there wondering how long the ordeal was going to take.  No fetal monitors, no monitors of any kind that I can remember. Sheesh – no lights or power even till the last the stage . The power plant was started up at the bitter end so the delivery was not done in the dark. Al the mission station knew I was having my baby since the power plant went on!

And then David arrived. Leo had the audacity to take some photos. I had the wisdom to destroy them.

Happy Birthday, dear boy of mine.

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Filed under Africa, Day to Day

Good friends honored

Some good friends and fellow missionaries, Roger and Eileen Thorpe, were recently honored at the Annual Meeting of the Covenant Church.  You can read the story here.

Dr. Roger and Leo worked together for almost all of the years we were in the Congo.  Roger and I did a few procedures together as well – stuff involving the head and neck.  Eileen attempted to teach my kids music at the missionary kids school but I mostly remember her gift of hospitality.

For the past two summers, they have hosted Randall and I as we studied in Chicago, living only a few blocks from North Park Seminary.  They are gracious in opening up their home to us.  And so, again this summer we (and Leo and Lauralea who will join us at the end of the course) will be privileged to stay with them.

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Filed under Africa, In the News, Reflections

Women as Weapons of War

It happens in the Congo. Disturbing, a bit graphic and so sad. Check out this episode of 60 Minutes.

Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Jordon.

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Filed under Africa, In the News

Processing the Lewis Speech

We heard Steven Lewis last night – a privilege. One comes away from a talk like that with many things to process. And I must be a bit of a slow processor. I need time to mull it all over in my head and deal with some of the information we were given. And not just for the sake of processing but to somehow respond in an appropriate way.

The Virus of Inequality I think we are all infected with it to a certain degree – and it can drive us mad with despair or paralyze us with hopelessness. I think it can probably cause us to jerk with spasms of frantic activism as well, thinking that our efforts will make the world change overnight by our own efforts. And of course that leads to hopeless despair as we come up against powers that are too big for us to budge. Or we can become deluded into a sort of selfish haze of indifference where we tell ourselves that we have worked hard for all we have and if only the rest of the world would shape up and share our political systems and economic ideals they would pull themselves out of the pits they are in. And above all we must protect what we have worked so hard to acquire.

What is a Christian to do?
I think we are called to something more like health. Even to a place of joy – not happiness, but a deep sense of wellness within that frees us to give ourselves in service to others. Nouwen says,

Ecstatic living entails a constant willingness to leave the safe, secure, familiar place and to reach out to others, even when that involves risking one’s own security. On an international scale this means a foreign policy that goes far beyond the question “How can our nation survive?” It would be a policy primarily concerned with the survival of humanity and willing to make national sacrifices. It would be a policy which realizes that idolizing the security of the nation endangers the whole of humanity….

…As long as national security is our primary concern and national survival more important than preserving life on this planet, we continue to live in the house of fear…. Nouwen, Lifesigns, Image Books, p 95

There is an inner joy that comes from knowing God – the “ecstatic” life that Nouwen talks about here that changes our relationship to the world around us. As he says, it exists in “the house of love” where we as Christians are called t o live. Loving and being loved frees us to serve others and the world and should send us out into the world around us almost like antibodies to this “Virus of Inequality” that Steven Lewis spoke so eloquently about. We do what we have to do in the areas we are placed. We stand for justice and honesty in our lives and in our politics. We do as Jesus did in standing for the oppressed. We have lots to do just in our little radii of influence but we also need to hold our leaders accountable for our actions as a nation and for the promises of our nation to the world.

The talk last night by Lewis was a great challenge to me. I will not be paralyzed into despair by the horrors that have been perpetrated on great segments of the world’s people, especially the women and children in countries at war. Living in the freedom of a deep joy that comes from knowing who I am in Christ, I will work in as many ways as I can to share the love that I have experienced with the hurting of the world. And I will renew my efforts to pass along these concerns to my children.

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Filed under Africa, Dealing with stuff

Ebola

Seems there is another outbreak.  It is probably not far from the hometown of a friend. 

An old friend – he used to be our pilot at Karawa – sent a bit of a report/prayer request.  Here it is:

The news today is that there is a confirmed outbreak again of the Ebola virus in western Kasai.  The most cases have come from the Luebo area which is about 380 nautical miles southeast of Kinshasa and around 80 miles north of Kananga.  Last count I heard was 180 have died.
 
At this point we / MAF did one flight last week with some supplies and to take some blood samples for verification.  There is a possibility of doing one flight on Thursday and also Friday in the Caravan then we will need to do a mini – check on the Caravan which, at this point, will take place Friday afternoon and Saturday morning then return to Kinshasa Saturday afternoon.
 
SANRU which is kind of an umbrella organization overseeing many health projects in the country and is also connected to the Protestant Church in Congo is overseeing some of the responses along with CDC and MSF. (Center for Disease Control and Doctors without Borders ).
 
Last time the response from MAF lasted about six weeks.  We / MAF are already quite busy with other flights so we’ll need to be flexible in adjusting our schedules to meet the needs this disease is bringing.
 
At this point Ebola is not communicable through airborne means, but is communicable through fluids.  So in that respect it is similar to AIDS, but much more virulent.
 
Prayer requests to go along with this include:
 
1. Ability to keep the airplanes maintained and flyable.
 
2.  Good judgment with the airstrips that we will need to use.  Luebo is seven hundred meters long with an up an down slope to it.  You cannot see one end from the other since the hump is too high.  It is only ten meters wide and is built in the middle of town with houses all around it.  The other airstrip is longer but very soft so to take any kind of a load out you have to be down quite a bit on your fuel.  Bulape is also a little short at eight hundred meters long with a slope on it and it can also be a bit soft.  It also has some rough areas on it now.
 
3.  Pray that God will intervene and get this epidemic stopped.
 
4.  Strength for the ones going in on the ground to check out the surrounding villages for other cases.
 
5.  Understanding hearts for those who had flights scheduled and now may get bumped because of this epidemic.
 
6.  Availability of fuel to keep everything going.
 
So pray as you feel led.  We are willing and want to be used by God to further His Kingdom here.
 
God Bless,
 
Daniel R. Carlson

 

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Filed under Africa