Saturday, August 28, 2010

Visited the Vacant Seminary and Kilimanjaro Yesterday

We spent a lot of time in the car yesterday traveling from Arusha to Moshi and Himo Tanzania to visit a couple of congregations and the vacant seminary building in Himo.

The first place we visited was the congregation of the former treasurer of the LCEA (the church body that we have had so much trouble with and with whom we recently severed fellowship). The treasurer was falsely accused and arrested for stealing from the church. The bishop of the LCEA is taking this man and others to court on a variety of charges in an attempt to make financial gains. It is a sad affair! While this dispute goes on in the courts the seminary building sits vacant. This very nice building was purchased with CLC funding and remodeled by CLC Mission Helpers. Our mission offerings had paid for its up-keep and the salaries of the professors for the past several years. Now, rather than being placed in the service of our Savior's kingdom, its ownership has been disputed in the courts as the LCEA bishop has tried to mortgage the building for his own personal gain. The judge has given the local congregation in Himo special permission to use the building for Sunday worship services. This is a very good indicator that when this is all settled in the courts, the local congregation and those who have remained faithful to the Word will retain ownership of the building and hopefully the seminary and kindergarten will be able to re-open soon. The building is very nice with two large class rooms, five dormitory rooms, a kitchen, and professor offices. It also has one other class room that was being used as a kindergarten for upwards of 50 children. What a shame that greed and pride have brought this important work of the Kingdom to a halt. Special arrangements have been requested and approved by the judge in the case for me to give testimony in court on September 1st concerning CLC involvement in the funding and support of this seminary since its inception back in 2002. While we certainly don't desire any of this and recognize that such issues among Christians ought not be settled in court, none of this was asked for and as false charges were brought, these men are in court simply defending themselves against the false accusations leveled against them. While this trial is to determine the guilt or innocence of these men concerning the charges of stealing from the church, in the end, if these men are found innocent of the charges, this will also settle the question of ownership of the seminary building. From all indications, we will retain ownership of the building and we should be able to get it up and running again soon. We pray that the Lord's will be done.

We also had the opportunity to visit the home of the original members of the LCEA who came out of the very liberal Lutheran church body in Tanzania that supports the ordination and marriage of homosexuals among many other un-Scriptural doctrines. They took this bold step knowing the persecution they would face as the district headquarters for this church body are literally, right behind their home. It was a joyous reunion as we were welcomed into their home. They were so very glad to see Pastor Mayhew, whom they have worked with for the past three years as our part-time visiting missionary to East Africa. This small band of Christians have had a had a very difficult past couple of years as their congregation has been torn apart by the turmoil brought on by the greed, ego, and pride of their former leaders. They have had fellow Christians falsely accused and even arrested and imprisoned. As we arrived at their home, we were met with the shrill shrieks of African joy from the women and hardy handshakes and hugs from the men. While I have never met these people before, you could instantly sense the common bond that we share. They were so appreciative that we have stood by them and offered assistance in their stand for the truth as we strive together to serve our Savior. One of the older elders of the congregation asked if he could say a few words to us. It was quite touching as he struggled to control his emotion while telling us of the congregations struggles and of their love for the Lord and their commitment to the truth of God's word in spite of the apparent set backs and tribulation of the past couple of years. What a joy to fellowship with these brothers and sisters in Christ.

The day was cloudy from beginning to end and we didn't think we would be able to see Mt. Kilimanjaro. But on our return trip to Arusha in the late afternoon the clouds began to disperse a bit and the peak began to show itself. It is quite a beautiful site. Pastor Malyi explained that the word Kilimanjaro is an ancient word that means difficult journey. It was named for the journey that the priests would make to the top of this mountain as they took young virgin men and women to the peak to sacrifice them to their gods. Pastor Malyi expressed thanks to the Lord that Christianity had been brought to Tanzania by the Germans and that such practices no longer take place.

We are taking a day of rest in Arusha today (Saturday) because Pastor Jeremiah's niece went to be with the Lord this week and today is the funeral. Please remember Pastor Jeremiah and his family in your prayers as they mourn the loss of their loved one.

We get up early tomorrow (Sunday, 8/29) and plan to be on the road by 6:30 am as we head to Tanga for another pastoral training seminar and congregational visits.

Don't forget to check out Pastor Mayhew's blog at:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One Day in Arusha, Tanzania

We rode the bus for about 7 hours today over various types of road and un-road (lots of bumpy, dusty, bumpy dusty construction) and right through the heart of Massai country on our way to Arusha, Tanzania. We met with Pastor Jeremiah to discuss the schedule for the next week or so. It looks like we will be here for one day of pastoral training tomorrow (8/26) and then it is off to Moshi, Tanga, and beyond. We will be back in Nairobi on the evening of September 1st for the 2 day East Africa CLC Pastoral Conference on September 2-3.

Here's a little info from the BBC about Tanzania:

Country profile: Tanzania

Tanzania has been spared the internal strife that has blighted many African states.

Though it remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with many of its people living below the World Bank poverty line, it has had some success in wooing donors and investors.

Tanzania assumed its present form in 1964 after a merger between the mainland Tanganyika and the island of Zanzibar, which had become independent the previous year.

Unlike many African countries, whose potential wealth contrasted with their actual poverty, Tanzania had few exportable minerals and a primitive agricultural system. To remedy this, its first president, Julius Nyerere, issued the 1967 Arusha Declaration, which called for self-reliance through the creation of cooperative farm villages and the nationalisation of factories, plantations, banks and private companies.

But a decade later, despite financial and technical aid from the World Bank and sympathetic countries, this programme had completely failed due to inefficiency, corruption, resistance from peasants and the rise in the price of imported petroleum.

Tanzania's economic woes were compounded in 1979 and 1981 by a costly military intervention to overthrow President Idi Amin of Uganda.

After Mr Nyerere's resignation in 1985, his successor, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, attempted to raise productivity and attract foreign investment and loans by dismantling government control of the economy.

  • Politics: President Jakaya Kikwete won elections in 2005
  • Economy: Annual growth rate between 2000 and 2006 averaged 5.8 per cent, one of best performers in sub-Sahara Africa. Power supplies are erratic and fall short of demand.
  • International: Tanzania hosts thousands of refugees from conflict in the neighbouring Great Lakes region
  • This policy continued under Benjamin Mkapa, who was elected president in 1995. The economy grew, though at the price of painful fiscal reforms. Tourism is an important revenue earner; Tanzania's attractions include Africa's highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, and wildlife-rich national parks such as the Serengeti.

    The political union between Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania has weathered more than four decades of change. Zanzibar has its own parliament and president.

    • Full name: United Republic of Tanzania
    • Population: 43.7 million (UN, 2009)
    • Capital: Dodoma (official), Dar es Salaam (commercial)
    • Largest city: Dar es Salaam
    • Area: 945,087 sq km (364,900 sq miles)
    • Major languages: English, Swahili
    • Major religions: Christianity, Islam
    • Life expectancy: 55 years (men), 56 years (women) (UN)
    • Monetary unit: 1 Tanzanian shilling = 100 cents
    • Main exports: Sisal, cloves, coffee, cotton, cashew nuts, minerals, tobacco
    • GNI per capita: US $440 (World Bank, 2008)
    • Internet domain: .tz
    • International dialling code: +255

    President: Jakaya Kikwete

    Ruling party candidate Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania's long-serving foreign minister, won presidential elections in December 2005.

    He vowed to continue the economic reforms set in motion by the outgoing president, Benjamin Mkapa, and to create jobs and tackle poverty.

    A veteran of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), which has controlled Tanzania since the country's inception and also governs in semi-autonomous Zanzibar, his presidential aspirations were thwarted in 1995 when he made an unsuccessful bid to represent the party in polls.

    The former military officer was an unswerving supporter of Tanzania's founding president, Julius Nyerere.

    Mr Kikwete, who was born in October 1950, is married and has eight children.

    His predecessor Benjamin Mkapa retired after 10 years in power. He was credited with being the driving force behind Tanzania's extensive economic liberalisation, which was well received by the IMF and World Bank.

    Under his presidency inflation dropped, the economy grew and Tanzania's foreign debt was wiped. But Mr Mkapa's critics said that, behind the statistics, most Tanzanians remained impoverished.

    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Nairobi for One Day

    Just a quick post to let everyone know that we made it back to Nairobi from the Congo. We arrived at 1:00 am and got to bed around 2:30 am. We taught pastors here in Nairobi from 10:00 till 3:00 pm and now we are catching up on a few things. I'm at an internet cafe' right now that has the worst keyboard I've experienced in quite awhile.

    We pick up Pastor Mike Gurath at the airport tonight at 9:00 pm and then head to Arusha, Tanzania tomorrow for a visit with Pastor Jeremiah Issangya and pastoral training.

    Hopefully we will have better internet access in Arusha.

    Sunday, August 22, 2010

    CCLC Working in Zambia

    We just got done with a meeting with Pastor Yumba, president of the Congregation Confessionnelle Lutherienne Au Congo (CCLC). He was working today near the Zambia border south of Lubumbashi. We had visited this area a week ago and tried to cross over into Zambia for a quick look around but we weren't allow. Today he told us that he has a contact in Zambia who is working to translate Lutheran materials into Bemba, the local dialect of the north part of the country. He is planning to begin a Lutheran congregation in Zambia and Pastor Yumba is assisting him in his efforts. Virtually all of the materials we have sent and made available to Pastor Yumba and the CCLC are in French and Swahili but they speak English in Zambia so we plan to send a few English resources so they can be translated into Bemba more easily.

    Please pray that the Lord will bless this fledgling effort to spread the truth of God's Word in Zambia!

    Time in Congo Winding Down

    It's Sunday evening here in Lubumbashi, DR Congo and our work (in country) work is nearly finished. We attended and preached at Trinite Lutheran Church this morning where Pastor Muzakuza, the president of the ELCC is the pastor. Church lasted 2 hours and included much singing, prayers, Scripture readings, a sermon, and the installation of two new elders in the congregation. The singing is what amazes me. The only instruments they use are drums, made of a hollow, carved out log with a hide strapped over the top and various pieces of metal that are beat against each other to make a high pitched clanging noise. There is also much clapping and the shrill shrieks of from the ladies in the congregation. The voices harmonize together with seemingly no effort what so ever. It is a joy to hear them sing.Following the worship service we met with the two man translating committee of the ELCC and tried to work out the details of how they can work together with the CCLC so as not to duplicate efforts and to assist in proof reading each others work before they move on to publishing and printing. There is still some uncertainty and skepticism about working together with the CCLC but I am confident that they are taking positive steps in the right direction.

    After our translation committee meeting we were invited to the home of the congregation president/chief who seems to be a man of some financial means by African standards.
    We were treated to a typical Congolese meal of rice, bugari (a dough ball made by grinding corn, cob and all, used for scooping the various soups/sauces and dishes) chicken, fish, cole slaw, and even some spaghetti pasta. Our host were very gracious and the fellowship and conversation was a lot of fun. I always enjoy these times of fellowship because they really give you a chance to get to know each other as friends and build that relationship that is such a precious gift from the Lord.

    On our way back to town we were taken to local arts and crafts flea market of sorts. The sellers saw the color of our skin and got very excited. I am sure the prices escalated at a higher rate than did their excitement level. I inquired about a small set of wooden salad tongs with handles carved like a giraffe and was told that they were $30. Nathanael asked about a chess set and a price of $200 was given. I ended up buying two bracelets and four necklaces for $7 after much negotiating. The first price I received was $10 for one bracelet.

    We have one more meeting in about an hour this evening with a couple of pastors and then it
    will be a bit reading and off to bed. Our Ethiopian Airlines flight leaves tomorrow at 1:10 pm. We were told by the airlines, when we confirmed our seats yesterday, that we should be there by 10:00 am. We will say our goodbyes to the pastors, their families, our translators, and Mr. Martin Essien (from Nigeria) tomorrow around 9:30 am.

    I was able to talk to (and see) Beth and the kids yesterday via video Skype. It was great to see and hear them. They seem to be doing well. They should be finishing church right about now. Josh heads back to ILC after church. Beth will miss his help around the house and with the little ones. In some ways it doesn't seem like I have been gone for nearly two weeks already, but when I think of my family and the congregation it feels like I have been gone for months.

    I forgot about this picture until I looked again tonight. Look carefully and you will see that the boy on the right is wearing a St. Louis Cardinals shirt. I took this with my cell phone at the airport when we were waiting to pick up Mr. Martin Essien from Nigeria. This young lad is one of the many young men running around the airport trying very hard to out maneuver the other boys for the privilege of helping you with luggage, whether you ask for it or not. Sometimes they will just walk next to you with their hand on the suitcase while you carry it or roll it yourself and when you get to the car...they have their hand out waiting to be paid. This young man agreed to let me take his picture and I gave him a 1000 Congolese Francs ($1.13). He ran over to his friends and our translator John (in the picture) told me that the other boys were asking why I took his picture and he told them that I liked his shirt. They told him he should come back and ask for 5,000 francs (about $6). He came over and asked for the 5,000 francs but didn't get any more money. You can't blame the kid for trying. I don't think they get too many Muzungu's (white guys) through the Lubumbashi airport. Gotta love the entrepreneurial spirit!

    Be sure to check out Pastor Mayhew's blog at:

    I'll check back in from Kenya in a couple of days.

    Saturday, August 21, 2010

    Learn a little about DR Congo

    Country profile: Democratic Republic of Congo

    A vast country with immense economic resources, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has been at the centre of what could be termed Africa's world war. This has left it in the grip of a humanitarian crisis. The five-year conflict pitted government forces, supported by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, against rebels backed by Uganda and Rwanda. Despite a peace deal and the formation of a transitional government in 2003, people in the east of the country remain in terror of marauding militia and the army.

    The war claimed an estimated three million lives, either as a direct result of fighting or because of disease and malnutrition. It has been called possibly the worst emergency to unfold in Africa in recent decades.

  • DR Congo is struggling to recover from Africa's ''world war'' in which millions died between 1998 and 2003
  • Former rebels joined a power-sharing government
  • Eastern regions are still plagued by army and militia violence
  • DR Congo hosts the UN's largest peacekeeping mission
  • The war had an economic as well as a political side. Fighting was fuelled by the country's vast mineral wealth, with all sides taking advantage of the anarchy to plunder natural resources.

    The history of DR Congo has been one of civil war and corruption. After independence in 1960, the country immediately faced an army mutiny and an attempt at secession by its mineral-rich province of Katanga.

    A year later, its prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, was seized and killed by troops loyal to army chief Joseph Mobutu.

    In 1965 Mobutu seized power, later renaming the country Zaire and himself Mobutu Sese Seko. He turned Zaire into a springboard for operations against Soviet-backed Angola and thereby ensured US backing. But he also made Zaire synonymous with corruption.

    After the Cold War, Zaire ceased to be of interest to the US. Thus, when in 1997 neighbouring Rwanda invaded it to flush out extremist Hutu militias, it gave a boost to the anti-Mobutu rebels, who quickly captured the capital, Kinshasa, installed Laurent Kabila as president and renamed the country DR Congo.

  • Enyele rebels in Equateur: Decades-old conflict over fishing rights has evolved into ethnic tussle for economic and political power in north-west. Some 200,000 refugees have fled violence since 2009
  • Ugandan rebels in north-east: Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels remain active here and in neighbouring countries, raping and killing
  • Rwandan rebels in the Kivus: Hutu and Tutsi rebel militia operate in North and South Kivu
  • Ituri rebels near oil finds: North-eastern province has quietened down after heavy fighting, encouraging oil firms to tap reserves in Lake Albert on Ugandan border. But several militia persist in area
  • Nonetheless, DR Congo's troubles continued. A rift between Mr Kabila and his former allies sparked a new rebellion, backed by Rwanda and Uganda. Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe took Kabila's side, turning the country into a vast battleground.

    Coup attempts and sporadic violence heralded renewed fighting in the eastern part of the country in 2008. Rwandan Hutu militias clashed with government forces in April, displacing thousands of civilians.

    Another militia under rebel General Laurent Nkunda had signed a peace deal with the government in January, but clashes broke out again in August. Gen Nkunda's forces advanced on government bases and the provincial capital Goma in the autumn, causing civilians and troops to flee while UN peacekeepers tried to hold the line alongside the remaining government forces.

    In an attempt to bring the situation under control, the government in January 2009 invited in troops from Rwanda to help mount a joint operation against the Rwandan rebel Hutu militias active in eastern DR Congo.

    Rwanda arrested the Hutu militias' main rival, Gen Nkunda, a Congolese Tutsi hitherto seen as its main ally in the area.

    However, during 2009 eastern areas remained beset by violence.

    • Full name: Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Population: 66 million (UN, 2009)
    • Capital: Kinshasa
    • Area: 2.34 million sq km (905,354 sq miles)
    • Major languages: French, Lingala, Kiswahili, Kikongo, Tshiluba
    • Major religions: Christianity, Islam
    • Life expectancy: 46 years (men), 49 years (women) (UN)
    • Monetary unit: 1 Congolese franc = 100 centimes
    • Main exports: Diamonds, copper, coffee, cobalt, crude oil
    • GNI per capita: US $150 (World Bank, 2008)
    • Internet domain: .cd
    • International dialling code: +243

    President: Joseph Kabila

    Joseph Kabila became Congo's president when his father Laurent was assassinated in 2001. He gained a mandate through the ballot box to rule the vast country as its elected leader in an election in 2006.

    The historic presidential election was intended to bring a new era of stability after years of war, dictatorship and chaos. The vote was generally praised by international monitors.

    Mr Kabila has enjoyed the clear support of western governments such as the US and France, regional allies such as South Africa and Angola and businessmen and mining magnates who have signed multi-million dollar deals under his rule.

    He is a former guerrilla fighter who participated in nearly a decade of war that ravaged the country.

    He fought alongside his father in a military campaign from the east that toppled dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997 after more than 20 years as the despotic, whimsical and corrupt leader of the nation he had renamed Zaire.

    But when Laurent Kabila was killed by a bodyguard in 2001, his soft-spoken, publicity-shy son, who received military training in China, was thrust into the political limelight and installed as the world's youngest head of state.

    He swapped his military fatigues for elegant business suits, but - in contrast to his chubby, jovial and temperamental father - remained a reserved figure.

    Mr Kabila has promised to rule by consensus to try to heal the still raw scars of Congo's many conflicts.

    Though revered in the Swahili-speaking east, where he was widely credited with helping to end Congo's 1998-2003 war, he is less liked in the west.

    Joseph Kabila is the eldest of 10 children fathered by Laurent Kabila. He spent much of his early life in East Africa, where his dissident father lived in exile.

    Friday, August 20, 2010

    A Day of Joy for Prayers Answered / A Day of Prayers for Those in Need

    Yesterday was a wonderful day! After four days of working together with the ELCC and CCLC (two church bodies in Congo that agree in doctrine but have struggled with organizational differences for the past few years) in joint pastoral training classes that they worked (at our request) to organize, we ended the seminar with a proposal to put differences aside and to move forward to honor our Savior and expand His kingdom. The leaders of both the ELCC and CCLC willingly agreed to sign the resolution and to work together. They are already working to make plans for a joint worship service in December and will begin working on translation and printing projects in the near future. The signing was followed by joyful singing, a wonderful prayer of thanks and for guidance by Pastor Muzakuza, and the benediction by Pastor Yumba. This day began with much anticipation and not a small amount of doubt in the hearts of most who were gathered. This resolution was no small accomplishment and we praise the Lord alone for this joyful outcome! (Pictured from left to right...Me, Pastor Yumba, Mr. Martin Essien, Pastor Muzakuza)

    Today brought a difficult and heart wrenching experience that is fairly common for those who are privileged to visit the congregations of our foreign brothers and sisters in Africa and India. We visited two congregations where terrible wind/cyclones (last February) virtually destroyed their modest church buildings. The cost to repair these two buildings is only about $1800 but this is far beyond what the members can support. Both congregations are located in impoverished villages a few KMs outside of Lubumbashi. I asked the pastor of the congregation in Kalebuka how they were able to purchase the land and build the building 6 years ago. He responded that the members had given all they had and it took them several years to buy the materials and make the bricks by hand. You could see that they were heart broken and distraught that the building that they had worked so hard on and sacrificed so much for was now in ruins. The other church building in Kalubwe is a similar story but in this case they are still paying for the land on which the building stands. These types of stories are not unique to Kalebuka and Kalubwe...they are common throughout Africa, India, Nepal, and Myanmar. In the US we typically have insurance for such things and while such disasters are unsettling and disruptive for a US congregation they are soon rectified and quite often with something better than before. This just isn't the case here. I breaks your heart to sit in the home of a pastor or member of one of these congregations who has so very little to begin with and to then witness their joy and appreciation for your visit by bringing food and drinks to share. It is humbling to say the least.
    Tomorrow (Saturday - 8/21) we will teach Sunday School training classes in the morning and then visit a near by congregation for worship service in the evening. On Sunday we will visit and preach at the congregation of Pastor Muzakuza here in Lubumbashi in the morning. Our flight back to Nairobi, Kenya departs at 1:10 pm on Monday.
    Please pray to the Lord that He will provide for the pastor and members of the ELCC congregations in Kalebuka and Kalubwe that they may rebuild the buildings that they have built for His glory and honor. Thank you!

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    Worship and Opportunities

    We visited two congregations and another country today (almost).

    Our schedule today took us to the city of Kipushi where the CCLC has a congregation that meets in small church building behind the home of Pastor Lababa. There were several young boys in attendance which bodes well for the future of this small congregation. The service involved much singing and dancing. At one point everyone stood up and our translator (Mark) leaned over and said that they are singing "let us stand and praise the Lord" and then the he turned to me again with questioning eyes and asked, "shall we stand?" Of course we stood and clapped and praised the Lord! I was asked to preach in this service and it was a joy and privilege to encourage these children of God by reminding them of our Heavenly Father's Great Love for Sinner like us as we considered the parable of the prodigal son.

    Following the worship service we were invited into the home of Pastor Lababa for lunch. The first platter that was set on the table was heaped up with grilled fish (head, tail, bones, scales, eyeballs, and all). Pastor Mayhew and I exchanged nervous glances that turned to relief when more and more variety of food was brought out. We were thankful that there were more guests than there was fish and we didn't need to feel bad about leaving un-eaten fish. The other food that was served was very good and we were thankful to the Lord and our hosts for the nourishment we received.

    We then took a 2 hour journey to an area of the Congo that is near the Zambia boarder where two other CCLC congregations are located. The first congregation we visited was holding worship service in a temporary structure that provided little more than shade. This is a new congregation in the village of Wiske where the local chief has given a rather large plot of land in a new housing development so they can build a church and a school. This will be the only school in the newly developing area where land is being cleared and plots are now being sold. A few houses have already been built. In western terms this would be described as a new subdivision. What an opportunity the Lord has presented to the build the first and only school that would serve all the children of this new community. Pastor Yumba is also very excited for this opportunity as he has developed a good relationship with the village chief and is being encouraged to build the church on the donated land as soon as possible. The families of the village of Wiske have donated the time and money to make 5,000 bricks so they plan to begin construction soon.

    The village of Wiske is very near the Congo/Zambia border town of Kasumbalsa where the CCLC has another congregation. We visited this town and attempted to cross the border into Zambia just to take a look around. Pastor Yumba has contacts in Zambia and hopes to start congregations there soon. We were able to cross into the "no man's land" from Congo but the guard at the Congo gate insisted on keeping our passports. We objected to this and certainly weren't comfortable with it but everyone assured us that this was proper procedure. When we got to the Zambia border office the official there told us we could not enter without a passport. We asked if we could just step inside the country to take a picture by the sign but he would not allow it. So, we could see from the window where the fence marked the actual border and since half of the building was officially in Zambia we stood on that side of the building just so we could say we were in Zambia. I'm pretty sure all the hassle was not worth the result but it was an experience none the less.

    We only say a very small portion of Kasumbalasa but the part we did see was all about commerce. This is one of the main cities through which much of Congo's imports and exports travel. It is a growing city with a booming economy. We were told that all the imports from south of Congo like Zambia and even South Africa come through the gates that we tried to walk through. The new village of Wiske where the land was donated is being planned and built by the leaders and politicians who are expanding the trade routes through Kasumbalasa. The pastor of the congregation in Kasumbalasa is also serving the new congregation in Wiske. It is so exciting to see the Lord, apparently, opening new doors so that the truth of His saving word can be proclaimed!

    Tomorrow will be a big day. I have been asked to participate in the ordination of three men for the full time Gospel ministry and to administer baptism for twenty children. At Pastor Yumba's request, I made Ordination Certificates on my laptop tonight but will need to get them printed tomorrow before the service.

    I was able to talk to Beth yesterday and she said that she and kids are doing fine. The boys have all been working hard doing landscaping work around the church property and the girls have been having fun visiting at friends homes while Beth has been busy with more census work. I sure do miss them all.

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    An Encouraging Day with the CCLC

    Our Congo schedule was set yesterday afternoon after we met with the leaders of the two church bodies we are privileged to work with in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was decided that we would spend the first three days (Fri., Sat., & Sun.) with Pastor Yumba and the Confessional Congregations Lutheran of the Congo (CCLC), then four days teaching 30 pastors from both groups on Mon., Tues., Wed., and Thur. The following weekend we will spend three days (Fri., Sat., and Sun.) with Pastor Muzakuza and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Congo (ELCC).

    Today (Friday 8/13) was spent in the printing/publishing/translation offices of the CCLC as we spent the morning discussing and encouraging each other in the work that the Lord has given us to do and what a blessing it is to work together in unity of faith and doctrine. We discussed many aspects of the work and the plans they are proposing. Their number one concern is ongoing training for the pastors and evangelists as they work together to strengthen the faith of those in the congregations they serve and as they spread the saving message of God's word. The afternoon was spent with many of the same men but the Evangelists, Catechists, and Sunday School teachers were also in attendance so they could benefit from the discussion as well. They had many good and well thought out questions about teaching the young children and young adults in the congregations. Their humble attitude toward the Word of God and the task they had been appointed to was evident in every question asked and every encouragement given.

    We spent most of the day in the lower level of, what seemed to be, a mostly abandoned clinical laboratory building casually discussing God's word and the blessed privilege of being His servant we encouraged one another in the word of God. While the room we met in looked better suited to a storage room, at best, the Lord greatly blessed our time together as we were mutually encouraged through His Word! It was a very encouraging day and I thank the Lord for the privilege of being a part of it! I am confident that the Lord will bless the labors of Pastor Yumba and the CCLC.

    Tomorrow we will visit two congregations of the CCLC. On Sunday we will have the privilege of participating in the ordination of three men for the ministry and the baptism of twenty 20 children.

    Your prayers and much appreciated.

    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    An Eventful yet UN-eventful First Few Days

    (written Wednesday (8/11) evening and posted Thursday morning)

    It’s been an eventful and yet very un-eventful first few days of this trip. It always amazes me how tiring it is to travel. I left for the airport around 12 noon on Sunday and when we arrived at the Hotel Southern Blue in Nairobi, Kenya I had been on three airplanes that took me from St. Louis to Chicago…Chicago to Amsterdam and then finally from Amsterdam to Nairobi. Almost 27 hours had gone by with nothing more than a couple of short cat-naps on the airplanes. We arrived at our hotel at around 11:00 pm. After a plate of French fries it was time for bed and I had no trouble falling asleep and a Tylenol pm made sure I slept through the night to reset my body clock for the new time zone that is 8 hours earlier than home.

    So, it was later Monday night (Kenya time) when we arrive at our hotel. Unfortunately, we had two pieces of luggage that were missing so we spent nearly three hours trying to track them down. Because of our delay, Pastor Charles decided that he must have missed us so he went to our hotel. When he didn’t find us there he went to another hotel where CLC visitors have stayed before. He then returned to our hotel but it must have been just before we arrived. He came to visit the next morning and we were happy to greet him and a few of the men and students he is working to train in area congregations.

    We are now on a (much to our dismay) 24 hour layover in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Our odd flight times have played a part in the eventful yet un-eventful first few days. Since our flight out of Nairobi left at 2:00 in the morning, Pastor Charles assumed it was the next day so he thought we had another full day in Nairobi so he scheduled a pastoral training seminar for some of the students and pastors he is training. These men came quite a distance. Unfortunately the 2:00 am flight prevented us from having the seminar because we had to go to the office of Ethiopian Airlines to confirm our tickets to the Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since there had been some problems with the reservations. It was a good thing we went to the office because our seats were reserved but not paid for. For some reason the website was unable to accept my credit card for two tickets at the same time. Once the tickets were paid for and our seat confirmed we were able to rest a bit easier. But unfortunately, we were unable to conduct the seminar that Pastor Charles had arranged. We rescheduled it for the day we return from the DRC. Now back to the un-expected layover in Ethiopia. After our early 2:00 flight took us to Entebbe in Uganda to pick up more passengers we arrived in Addis Ababa to change flights for the final leg into Lubumbashi, DRC. Everything seemed to be going according to schedule until we could find our flight listed on the departure boards. Once we found the customer service counter we found out that our flight was not today at 9:45 am but tomorrow. I’m still not sure how this happened. It was back in May when these flight reservations were made so the only thing I can figure out is that flights must have been added or dropped from the schedule since then. We tried to talk the airlines into a free hotel for the day/night but they wouldn’t budge, but they did give us the discounted price and shuttle service and meals so it wasn’t all bad. We are staying in a very nice hotel, taking naps, writing blogs, and waiting for the wireless internet to come alive again. They have been working on the wi-fi since we checked in. It comes and goes but mostly goes for now.

    While the trip has been un-eventful in that we haven’t had the opportunity to preach or teach yet, it has had plenty of the un-expected. But the Lord has kept us safe and healthy and we are appreciative of this day of rest and catch-up. It will be good to spend the afternoon looking over teaching notes. It will also be good to get a nap since we were up all last night again.

    Thank you for your prayers! I’m not sure what our internet capabilities will be in the DRC but I will post again as soon as possible.

    From the Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Airport eary Thursday (8/12) morning...
    In Christ,
    Pastor Ohlmann