Our family just returned to the States on furlough. It’s a big change going from living a couple degrees north of the equator to an Iowa snow storm. Oh, well…c’est la vie! The snow is kind of nice to see, but it’s bitterly cold. The wind chill is supposed to hit -30 degrees Fahrenheit tonight (for you non-US readers, that translates to “really freaking cold” in Celsius). I’m not sure which is better, the bitterly cold and snowy Midwest, or the hot and dusty dry season we just left in Congo. Each place definitely has it’s things which are better than the other place.
Aside from weather, another thing I was thinking about last night was cheese. We were walking through the grocery store, and had picked up a few of the cheeses we hadn’t had for a couple of years. Munster, colby jack, and pepper jack were some of the varieties we had been missing. It’s nice to have variety again!
In Congo we only had one cheese–Goma cheese. It was named for the city where it is produced. It’s basically a Gouda cheese, but we found it tasted like anything from mozzarella to sharp cheddar depending on its age. There were some other varieties available in Uganda, but the prices were expensive. For nearly the last two years we had been getting 1 kg (2.2 lbs) wheels whenever the pilots would fly to Goma and have weight available on the return flight. Often we’d get 10 wheels at a time, and us it over several weeks. The funny thing is, when I saw the Gouda cheese in the store yesterday, I kind of missed the Goma cheese. This was especially true when I saw the price difference. Gouda cheese at our supermarket here in Iowa is about $10 per pound. In Congo a 2.2-pound wheel was only $5 (or about $2.27 per pound). Some things really are better there.
Coincidentally, I was not the only one interested in Goma cheese this week. I just saw it tonight on Facebook, but here is a BBC article published three days ago about our beloved cheese. Perfect timing. Enjoy the article, and if you’re reading this from east Africa, then enjoy some Goma cheese for me too!
This is actually a couple of months old, but there’s a nice little story about our family that went out in the winter edition of Flightwatch, MAF’s quarterly newsletter. It’s a quick read, and well written article that was put together by one of our pilot’s sister, Luanne.
It’s always nice to have projects which take me out of the office for awhile. Sometimes those projects take me across the country, and other times it’s just across town. This morning it was the latter. I went down to Université Shalom de Bunia, the Christian university in town, to help Ted, Martin, and Patrick (USB IT staff) setup some firewall rules on their MikroTik router. They needed to be able to lock down access from their computer lab, and restrict access to only certain Websites. It was a good opportunity to share some of my knowledge, and help them improve their network.
At USB students receive Biblically-grounded training from a diverse team of Congolese and international staff. Areas of study include theology, sciences, agriculture, development, and management.
Wow, it’s been too long since I’ve written a post on here! We’ve had such a busy summer with comings and goings. I’ve made two trips to South Sudan, and various trips around DRC as well. It’s October, and we’re about half a year out from furlough, so it’s time to start planning that suff! Where has the year gone?
Here are a couple of blog posts about some VSAT work I did recently in Nyankunde, DRC and Juba, South Sudan.
Wow! It’s hard to believe, but we’ve been here for a year now! It’s been challenging, for sure. We’ve struggled to communicate without formal language training. We’ve constantly dealt with power and water issues. The kids have made never-ending messes. The weather has always been too dry or too wet. The to-do lists have been way too long. We had to evacuate to Uganda on the day before Thanksgiving, and stayed there for three months. We’ve said goodbye to friends and playmates. We’ve been stressed and exhausted to the point of physical sickness.
It’s been a great year in many ways. We’ve experienced new cultures, and traveled to different coutries. We’ve made new friends. The IT work Owen has done has hellped missionaries, churches, and aid workers communicate from remote places. We’ve seen beautiful parts of God’s creation. We’ve been challenged and grown in our beliefs, pre-conceived notions, and opinions. We’ve dined on delicious fruit, and the best peanuts in the world. Despite sounding like children, we’ve grown comfortable enough with new languages to “survive.” We’ve been blessed by the support of people around the world who care about the work we’re doing in Congo.
It’s been a crazy, difficult, rewarding, challenging, amazing, confusing, exhausting, stressful, fun, ridiculous, incredible year!
In addition to bringing some of my favorite holidays, November and December also means crime season here in Congo. There’s a marked increase in the number of thefts this time of year. I presume it is because people are looking to provide for their own Christmas celebrations, but I’m really not sure. While we haven’t been victim to any of this crime (nor are we aware that anyone else we know has), we are taking the time to beef up our security. Read more…