First Impressions and thoughts after moving to Congo in 2015 and now in 2018

I stumbled across this old blog post from August 3rd, 2015, less than a month after we had moved to Nyankunde, Congo. A big part of this furlough has been reviewing the last term and this was part of it for me. Where was I back then? Where am I now? What of these first impressions are still true? What has changed? I’m leaving the original thoughts just as I wrote them three years ago. I’ve also responded to my original thoughts like this for you to compare and see what you think. I had plenty of smiles as I worked my way through these. Perhaps I’ll repost some more for you to read along with me how it felt like when we were new back then and how I feel about things now.

Some more first Impressions and thoughts:

  • I killed a mosquito the other night and one of the first thoughts in my head after “phew!” was “That could have killed someone!” I’m laughing out loud at myself at this one. I don’t think about this so much anymore, probably because I’ve had malaria multiple times already with one extremely serious case. It’s technically still true though. 
  • The sense of relief after killing a mosquito (that wasn’t in the middle of biting you) is greater than ever. This is still true to some degree because you know what can come with that bite.
  • Leftovers are not as convenient as before; they are still less work than creating a new meal from scratch but you have to use either the oven or stovetop to reheat them. No microwaves, no toaster-ovens here friends. Yessssss . . . this still applies fully and does make it more complicated.
  • I’m glad to have been in France for a year prior to coming here. It prepared me for some things that would have otherwise been more shocking. Like people smelling of BO, food that spoils quicker, dairy tastes, walking everywhere, etc. I’m still grateful for our year there. It was an extremely difficult year, won’t lie, but it did do wonders in preparing me for Congo. I had never been out of the country prior to that move to France and it was a good bridge of the gap.
  • There is a bigger sense of dread after receiving a mosquito bite – yeah for prophylaxis. You still have thoughts along these lines but you don’t dwell on it as long or really worry like you used to. If you get malaria you treat it and that’s that; no reason to live in fear of it.
  • I still enjoy the sound of rain, and like France it still brings a sense of peace. The rain is still wonderful but first I have to run around making sure the house windows are closed so it doesn’t flood the house and also to make sure that our baby chicks, laundry or other things you don’t want getting wet are inside. Thunder clouds mean a little prep work.
  • I am itching to get my hands in the dirt and start planting things. Always. Even on furlough I miss my garden there. Heck, I started an entire ministry to do this to help others too.
  • I love living here. Yes, this.
  • You need to be careful and watch your items and things to make sure they are not stolen, even in church here. Another missionary couple had their daughter’s muck boots stolen today from the church entry-way. This is still true but I would take it further to say that Nyankunde is changing and sometimes you need to take measures to prevent theft even in a fenced yard.
  • I’m beginning to understand why it can be bothersome to some missionaries to always be stared at. It hasn’t really started bothering me yet because things are still so new, but I’m beginning to understand how it can and does. Again, laughing at myself with this one. I’m there, folks. It bothers me to some degree now but less than it did in the middle of our first term. You learn to cope with it.
  • I enjoy the birdsong here more. Well there is more of it. I still enjoy it but I’ve come to enjoy it “as much” not really more in the sense of value – just ‘more often’ because there is more of it.
  • Ants can be scary here, downright intimidating (perhaps I’ll make a post of this by itself) Still true to some degree but again, you learn to deal with it. Now I just burn the suckers like the pyro I am and call it all good. Vengeance baby, vengeance.
  • I’m grateful to be a part of a mission that doesn’t force the spouse to do certain things or ministries. I can do what I want at the level that I feel that I can. I still praise God for this in our mission. I understand many wives have a hard time feeling like they have purpose but I love my freedom in this area. It’s why I get to do the ministries that God has called me to – Being a homemaking mom, investing in our team and doing the community development ministry.
  • It’s going to take a while for me to really make the inside of this house ours. The outside has dramatic changes already like a fence going up, garden being dug up and soon a chicken house will be under construction. But the inside will take more time as we gradually paint, sew up curtains, hang photos, purchase and place décor and buy furniture. Well this has come in bits. It’s better than it was but I still want to paint this next term and we have more projects coming up for inside the house like a special mosquito net curtain for our bedroom and a hood system for our kitchen. We have a fence, garden and chicken coop completed as you know.
  • I love our life here and want to share it with family and friends badly. I don’t want it to always be a mystery to everyone back home. Pictures are nice, but it’s not like having someone you love see your life in person. I love that I said this and I love it even more that I have had the chance to share our life there with Dave’s parents, my mom and my aunt. The ripples are long-lasting.
  • I’m really missing my close friends from language school. This is still true though we do keep in contact.
  • I still love canning and even though the majority of my jars have nothing in them, I still feel like I don’t have enough. <sigh> addicted I know. Addicted and embraced, people. And most of my jars are filled these days which makes life easier for me. Did I mention that we have a lot more jars coming that I’m looking forward to filling?
  • Thunder sounds different here. Yup. Listening to thunder on furlough confirms this yet again.
  • Thunderstorms here bring refreshment but can be so loud in the middle of the night they wake you up. Still true.
  • I do not appreciate the 6am school bell sounding on Saturday mornings. And just when you start falling back asleep the second reminder at 6:30am sounds. Grrrrrr. Oh, I think I must have meant 5:30, 6:00 and possibly even 6:30. Who wants to sleep in on a Saturday anyway?
  • Because there is no winter here the houses are built differently – the windows don’t seal, there are permanent air flow vents in the walls and there are no sources of heat like a wood stove or electric base-boards. Some houses have a fireplace that gets used when it’s cold and raining but otherwise this is still true. Trying to explain heating a house in the states to a Congolese is amusing.
  • There is a bar somewhere close by that likes to play music loudly into the wee hours of the morning. Sound machines are still needed here because of it. Wow, I’m so glad this really isn’t the case consistently anymore. Once in a while there is a funeral or a crazy night but in general, no, this doesn’t happen anymore.
  • You have to be observant more when you are walking; between the driver ants, rough roads, mud and animals you just need to be. Yes and no. You get used to a higher level of needed observation so it doesn’t impact you the same way it used to when you first arrived. Now it’s just normal.
  • We are different; different then even the other expats here because of our homesteading-type lifestyle we like to live. No one else has had livestock before. No one else cans food. Only one other family seriously gardens. Well this is mostly true these days but I do believe we have had some influence on the other families getting them started on some of these things. I’ve shared chickens with two families so far. One other family does some canning. No other families seriously garden the same way I do. It’s a passion that I’m alone in there right now.
  • Our home here really is like a palace to the Congolese. It’s a beautiful home, the nicest we have ever lived in. But compared to the mud houses the Congolese live in, it really is a palace. This is still true but the guilt over this is gone. I’ve accepted that we are different and the Congolese themselves have no problem with it; they also acknowledge the difference without issues. They know we are different and are not Congolese and we also know this. We could live in one of their huts with the same conditions but wouldn’t be Congolese. The sooner you accept this and embrace the differences the sooner you can start using them to witness and influence their lives for the better.

So for now those are some more of my random thoughts and impressions. I’m sure I’ll have more as time goes on. Perhaps I’ll go back further into my past writing and see what other goodies lie in wait for me to discover.

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