SHONA Congo


Monday, October 9, 2017

And then it came...

When Argentine and Mapendo and their families went in for interviews with the Canadian government a few weeks ago, they were hoping to come out with medical forms. They knew that was a sign you were really going to be resettled, when you got to the medical exam stage. They left the interviews with no medical forms, and only the promise that soon they would be contacted about the next step! It has been a long couple weeks of holding our breath.
Today they received their medical forms! And onward they move to the next stage in this journey. Medical exams, background checks...With each step it becomes more real that soon (just in time for winter?!?!?) they may find themselves in Canada.
Let's celebrate this latest step on Mapendo and Argentine's journey and at the same time also remember Solange and Riziki, who remain in Congo. 
Many times on this journey I have wondered about the different paths we all take. When do you stay in your home and when do you flee? Which road will prove safer? Please keep Solange and Riziki in your thoughts and prayers these days. Living the daily work of life is never easy and in Goma, it can be a real struggle. Yet these women endlessly impress me with the beauty they create, and the steadiness of their hands each day.



Monday, September 18, 2017

"A Memorable Day in Our History"



That is what Mapendo's husband called this day...the day this photo was taken.

They were sitting in an office building waiting to meet with Canadian Visa Agents.  How amazing that this day should ever arrive.



They were asked many questions. The interviewers were kind.  And shocked by all they had been through.  And by the clothes they were wearing.  Argentine was wearing a dress she had made (if you look real close at the purple cloth she has on you will recognize it as a SHONA cloth!)  The interviewer asked "Did you really sew that dress?  On your own?"  She loved the dress.  And the hands that made it,

Their fingerprints were taken.  They signed forms.

And then they were sent home to wait some more.  We think everything went well, but still it is a nervous wait.

Perhaps the SHONA women are better at waiting than I am.   Perhaps all of Africa is.

When it rains in Congo, you find a roof to stand under and you wait.  That  is what everyone does.  You stand with complete strangers, huddled together, just barely out of the rain.  But there is no cursing the sky and looking impatiently at your watch.  There is chatter and laughter.

It always felt to me as though no one had anywhere else to go, nothing else planned.  Then I would glance at the basins full of tomatoes they had been carrying on their heads, the bags of charcoal by their sides, and I would know that they were headed somewhere.  We all are.  My schedule was no more urgent than theirs.  They just knew to expect the rain.  And to expect the sunshine after a while.


We will let you know as soon as we hear more!  Thank you for sending your love and prayers!  And in the meantime please keep shopping SHONA! 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Chalk dust

It's loud outside.

In the world these days.



But here I find myself in the quiet.

Unpacking a shipment

of new bags from Mapendo and Argentine.



I unfold each bag slowly, feeling the cloth in my hands.

tracing the stitches made just slightly uneven, by a hand-peddled sewing machine.

My heart rests for just a minute.


Soon I will go out in the world again.


But first I peer inside the darkness of each bag,
and look for what I know I will find.
White dust on black cloth,
The line of chalk that Argentine drew.
The path her scissors followed.

I let my fingers trace that path.
 
It is not enough.
Selling these bags.
Argentine and Mapendo are only 2 refugees.

But I know their names.

So I fold each bag carefully
and am thankful for the chalkdust that rubs off on my hands. 
  

Saturday, January 14, 2017

In search of miracles

A miracle happened.
I just don't know when.

Maybe that is the way that miracles work.  They dance in the shadows, just out of sight, and you can never quite see them full-on.

Let me explain.   You remember that Refugee Resettlement Fund...that fund which so many of you donated to months and months ago. Remember how it seemed like we could never possibly reach our goal?  Guess what!   We reached our goal!!! $58,500! (.That amount is truly unfathomable to me. It seems like a miracle and I am incredibly grateful.

But where did this miracle start?  Did it start with a small group of Canadians who started this fund...who heard about Argentine and Mapendo and their families and decided to try and sponsor all 9 of them at once.  Never mind how much money they would have to raise, or the paperwork they would have to do...or the fact that they had never sponsored that many people before.

Or was the miracle when so many of you showed up and chose to support the fund.  Because honestly...   You could have looked at the numbers and gotten discouraged.  But you gave anyway.  That amazes me.

And then, out of the blue, I got a message from a supporter.  Her family wanted to donate some money toward the fund.  That sounded nice.

Then it turned out they wanted to donate the whole rest of the fund.  Can you imagine that?  At the time both SHONA and AIRSS had been working really hard.  And had raised around $25,000.  Over $28,500 left to go.  It seemed like an awful long way.  And now, in a moment, this generous family wanted to donate the rest. They said they wanted to remain anonymous and that it was a reminder of God's provision.

A miracle, right? Yes, and we are so thankful.

But maybe miracles aren't really about where you arrive at, no matter how amazing.

They are about where you started from...  and the little acts of faith that carries you forward each day.

Because here is the thing.  That family that showed up in the end...they didn't really fall from the sky, Hollywood style.  They actually showed up  8 years ago.  And bought a few purses.  Purses that the women sewed themselves.  And then this family stood with us, exactly the way all of you have stood with us.  For a long time.  Making small donations, sending love, praying for these women.  And that, to me, is the miracle, dancing in the corners, just out of sight, scattered in a thousand pieces.

 The miracle is that each of us have our piece to the puzzle.  And then somehow, when we least expect it, those pieces fit together.  Thank you all for each piece that you hold.

Learn more about the Resettlement Process and where we are now