Holiday Homestead Happenings: Dec 2017

There have been several changes around our homestead over this Holiday with more to come in the coming months. We got some long-standing projects done, are redoing some previous ones to be longer-lasting and have a handful of newer ones coming down the pipeline.

The garden has had several setbacks in recent months due to both theft and then our ducks getting into the garden. Not only were thieves stealing produce from our place but some of our son’s toys were also going missing. For added security we are employing a temporary night guard for the times when Dave is gone and we are putting up razor wire all along the back fence to prevent entry. The razor wire, admittedly, is a disappointment (having to stoop to that) but the theft has stopped at last, which is encouraging. We were able to recover one of the stolen toys and now are careful to lock everything up at night. The ducks have decimated my salad and cabbages a couple different times unfortunately which has been frustrating and disheartening (of course upon discovery there are always threats of eating them but I do love them around the yard).

We are in the middle of redoing our chicken/duck runs with more permanence in mind. The bottom is now made of cement with large posts set in it, a strong high quality chicken wire at the bottom and then the rest is filled in with normal chicken wire. They are also taller and now have large angle-iron doors that wont sag and get stuck. We hired a friend to do the cement work this time as Dave has been shorter on free time lately to do projects. The duck pen is done and now we will start the larger chicken run while using the finished smaller one in its stead.

We also had a very large hatch out of kuroiler eggs from Uganda over Christmas day and have around 100 chicks. With the loss of so many babies through out our time here we have decided to start vaccinating our chickens and will do the first round for the entire flock sometime this week. If it works and saves our chicks it will be worth the time and money. We are still searching for fertilized turkey eggs to hatch out and start raising them again. We also had the addition of a litter of 5 kittens and will be looking for homes for them once they are weaned.

Some of the large changes inside the house have been the addition of our fake fireplace (a long-standing project), a new bedroom set and my amazing Christmas gift of a new improved stove. The fireplace has been something I’ve wanted since before our first Christmas and it is finally done and was done in time to enjoy for Christmas with stockings and decor. It is my new favorite place to sit in my rocker – facing the fireplace. I added twinkle lights to some logs for atmosphere and it is quite nice and relaxing. Our new bedroom set we bought in Uganda and it has a nice bed frame, two night stands and a dresser custom made to fit the wall between our bedroom door and master bath door. The old bed we had made here in Bunia and it was poorly done and ended up having to be cut apart to be transported here and then put back together. It squeaked terribly any time you moved and had wobbly posts that were unsightly. It is so nice to especially have a dresser! My amazing new stove is already making life nicer cooking wise; I finally have a stove that I feel compliments my cooking abilities.

Some of our upcoming projects will be a new mosquito net for the bedroom in a “curtain” pull-around style that is suspended on runners on the ceiling. The netting was out of stock the last time we checked but should be back in stock sometime mid-January so once it is I’ll get started on that. Another huge upcoming project is a back-porch extension/expansion. The East side of our porch will be extended (the roof is missing over the area where we have our pizza oven) and we will move all work/operational things over to that side of the porch. That will enable us to expand (widen) the West side of the back porch, screen it in or hang our mosquito net tent and create an amazing outdoor living space to enjoy.

Another completed project for the year was butchering our pig. We raised him for almost an entire year off of house scraps and got a lot of meat for sausage, hams and bacon along with plenty of fat for rendering lard. We will be updating our pig pen before doing another pig but as we wont be getting another one until after our furlough this summer, we have plenty of time.

The upcoming year is going to be very busy and full with non-stop events and challenges including MAF events, audits, trainings, conferences and even a furlough. We appreciate all of your prayers and understanding in the coming year as we will be constantly busy; even to the point of not having time to blog. Thank you for all the support this last year and as we look to the upcoming year know that we are giving praise for you. Hope you had a Merry Christmas and will have a great New Years too.


I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.

Is Christmas a joyful time for you filled with family and friends? Is it full of traditions and wonderful memories? What does Christmas time mean to you? Do you know that Christmas time is often the hardest, most emotional time of the year that can be filled with grief for a lot of missionaries? Do you know it can be one of the most confusing and challenging times of year for those of us on the field? Let me give you a glimpse into my mind during this time of year in hopes that you will know how to better support the missionaries in your life.

This is my third Christmas on the field and to say I’ve learned a lot is an under statement; so is it to say I have a lot more to learn about what we need as a family during Christmas time. Last year I explained how the Holidays are work here and what that looks like. This year much is the same as that post but overall I would say I’m doing better emotionally this year than the previous two. Either my expectations have been better adjusted after the previous two years or perhaps my “family time emotional bucket” is more full going into this season from my Mom and Aunt’s visit in October- November. Maybe it is a little of both. For whatever reason I am coping better with the changes and I dont find myself crying as much as I have in previous years.

Yes, crying. Crying is a part of Christmas time for many missionaries, including myself. Have you ever actually listened to ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’ when you’ve been far away? How about ‘I’ll have a blue Christmas?’ ‘White Christmas’ in the tropics anyone? Even other Christmas songs that are traditional for your family stir up treasured memories that also can bring a pang of loneliness and grief.

Christmas is the time of year when it’s hard to not feel forgotten for many missionaries. Everyone you love back home is so busy with everything that comes with the season and not having a physical presence in their lives anymore is hard. No more shopping trips together where you hide presents in your carts from one another, no more sharing a time together over some hot cider, no more hugs and shared smiles, no more snowball fights, no more laughing together at the annual ‘white elephant’ Christmas party, etc. Instead you sit on the other side of the world remembering those times while pictures of them happening without you pop up on Facebook. At times it feels like your presence before didn’t matter because neither does your absence now. Take a break from the busy and let your missionary know you remember those times you shared, what they meant to you and most importantly that you are thinking of them still. Let them know that you miss them, that you still care and do whatever you can to make them feel remembered and connected during this potentially lonely time. Skype them, call them, write them, send a Christmas card, send a package, repost that old memory photo on Facebook. Remember them (but don’t be shocked if they cry when you do ūüėČ).

Christmas time is a time of grieving. Grieving that you took the time you had with your family for granted in the past. Grieving that you don’t have time with them now. Grieving for the traditions that are now lost to you. Grieving because you’re now conflicted during the time of year that used to be happy. Grieving the loss of some team mates that were around for Christmas last year and helped you get through it. Grieving because you’re confused. You might have a missionary who is dealing with grief during this time of year and all that comes with that process. Don’t be surprised if your missionary is very emotional in one way or another – gushy in sentiment, closed off from the pain, cries at seemingly nothing, etc. We need Grace and compassion here – we miss you so don’t be shocked when I cry at seeing your face on skype or that photo.

Confused you say? Yes, confused. The calendar says it’s Christmas but it looks like summer. Your mind tells you its supposed to be cold and snowy outside but instead it’s 90 some degrees out. Normally you loved this time of year and it was a happy one – now its difficult and emotional. Confused about what traditions to have with your family in your new situation. Confused about what you and your family need during this time of year. What do I need to make it feel like Christmas? Don’t be surprised if your missionary can’t answer this question, especially if they are newer to the field. Look at us, we’ve already had two years and are going into our third of trying to figure this out. Piece by piece. This may take some patience on your part, hang in there with them because it is a journey.

Christmas is tiring here. With all of the above mentioned going on plus it being a lot more work is it any wonder? If Im being honest I almost didn’t decorate this year. I was sick after Thanksgiving which is my normal decorating time and once I felt better physically I was down in spirits and wanted to forget the whole ordeal. Couldn’t I just ignore it this year? I did force myself to get started and once I did I was more and more happy about doing it but it was a close one this year. Your missionary is just finishing up another year of ministry (or their first/partial year) and you can expect them to be tired in more way than one. Emotionally, physically, socially even spiritually. Pouring yourself out into ministry and being pulled and/or needed by people all the time is utterly exhausting at times. More grace, more patience, less offense. You reach out and send that email but no response. Trust me, I’m guilty. I got your email. I read it. It touched me that you remembered me/us. It filled my tank a little, thank you. Now, can I empty it some to write back? . . .oh shoot I forgot that and oh no, the baby needs changed . . .oh there’s another person at my door needing something from me and that little bit you put in my tank is now gone . .or perhaps, I literally cant even think of another line to say right now I’m so empty. Please forgive me if I’ve done this to you. Forgive your other missionaries too. We need those emails but literally might be so empty you never hear back from us about it. I’m sorry and I’m sure they are too. We still need you.

So if you have a missionary in your life that you support and appreciate take just a little time this busy Christmas season to reach out to them. They may be having a hard time right now and need encouragement. They may be lonely and need to be reminded that you haven’t forgotten them. They may be grieving and need you to listen to them. They may be confused and can’t answer your questions so be patient. They may not get back to you until Christmas is over if at all; don’t hold it against them. They need you. We need you. We cannot do this without you. You are our team of supporters. Think about that this season. We cant do our ministry and time here without our team that pours into us and supports us. So thank you. Thank you for everything you do for us and the other missionaries in your life. That is what it’s all about and it’s what Christmas is all about in the end; Christ and following Him. God Bless you all and Merry Christmas.

-The Petersens

September-December Recap 2017

To say this is the busiest time of the year is an understatement. Reflecting on this last year reveals just how eventful this last year has been; some good and some bad. Between the emotional transitions of people leaving and now dealing with a heavier workload from a smaller team, I now feel busier than ever and more needed than ever. After God led me through a refocusing time I’ve been able to see more clearly what God wants from me as a part of this team; not just using my skills on the side “to help the team out” but really investing in the team whole heartedly through my God-given abilities. My work for the team still comes after my family and always will but it isn’t further down the line than that any longer.

So much has happened in the last few months that I cant hope to cover it all, which is the main reason for the silence on my end. September we had the EDRC Women’s Retreat that I was primarily responsible for planning and putting on. Right after that my Mom and Aunt arrived for a visit from the States, my Aunt left, and then the entire team and guests (including my mom) travelled to Uganda for our family conference. My mom was with us for just over a week after our return from conference and then we were into November by the time she left us to return home. Then I had MAF’s Day of Prayer that I was planning and executing followed by Thanksgiving. I had a medical ordeal mixed in there where we thought I may have shingles for a bit but it turned out to be a nairobi eye bug sting, thankfully.

Now we are into December which means decorating, wrapping presents, parties and get-togethers, as well as putting together ‘Christmas buckets’ for all of the MAF workers and ours. This requires knowing how many you need and how much of each thing goes in each one and then purchasing the various items from different places and coordinating a time for the expats to put them together. Typical things in the bucket are rice, beans, palm oil, sugar, tea, matches, two kinds of soap, candy, milk powder and even a solar lamp. The day to do this this year also happens to be Daniel’s 3rd Birthday so we will be celebrating the following day on our first day of Christmas vacation.

Following that is of course is Christmas and somewhere in all of there are a few movie nights and some other missionary families coming and leaving. So yeah – busy!

The Women’s retreat was A LOT of work but it was so so so worth it. We all had a relaxing and unifying time with each other and we each learned something new about ourselves and grew in our relationship with God. There was talk of doing one annually. But we will see what happens.

My Mom and Aunt’s visit was a very special time for me and for Daniel. My Aunt stayed for 10 days and my mom was with us for an entire month. Honestly I have a hard time describing how important and meaningful this time was for me. I felt so supported by them for coming and by the others who had contributed to the financial gift allowing my Mom to come visit. You cannot put a price on family time or memories and somehow having them here made it feel more like home and gives me the courage to keep serving here. It is such a huge sacrifice living here anyways but that burden, that often brings missionaries off the field, is lifted just a little when your family can come be with you on the field; when they begin to understand your life more and are equipped better themselves to have empathy and wisdom concerning your life and decisions. They are making a huge sacrifice having you live so far away – it’s not just the missionary family themselves – and when they can view why you are doing what you do and the difference you make serving it eases that sacrifice on their end too. I suddenly don’t HAVE to explain the background of everything in conversation with them and I know they understand somewhat of how Im feeling about things. The joy of having them here lasts well beyond their physical visit. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything and it brings me to tears even now as I type this . . .tissue break. I praise God for that priceless time together.

Family conference is always a nice break for us in certain areas of our life but we never seem to get much sleep. I don’t have to cook, we get to primarily speak English and worship in English, you don’t have people pulling you every which way all day. There is a big pool and even a spa. We also had a day trip this year as a family to a local Ugandan nursery to pick up some new plants for our yard and garden including fruiting trees, strawberries and mulberry bushes. My mom was with us to babysit Daniel during sessions which was also another HUGE blessing.

About a week after my mom left was MAF’s International Day of Prayer which our Program Manager had asked me to plan, while mixing things up this year from the previous years. So this year we moved things indoors, starting with a breakfast as usual. That led into worship time that had a couple new songs that had to be translated into swahili for the men and we provided both English and Swahili lyrics so all the staff could sing in their heart language, celebrating our united differences. Then I did a presentation of videos followed by a slide show teaching the men about MAF and the impact it has worldwide and slowly brought it in closer and closer to home until they were able to see the impact we are having here. My main question for them was ‘are they working for MAF or are they working as a part of MAF’ with emphasis on how the menial everyday tasks are our foundation – how it’s all God’s work, from washing planes to raising children, etc. We then spent time in prayer for our team followed by a nice lunch. That afternoon we prayed for MAF around the world and ended with some dessert.

Thanksgiving was shortly after that and this year trying to source turkeys was a handful. In the end we were able to have a team member in Uganda find some live ones for us there and butcher them, then send them over. I pressure cooked them each for an hour so they were tender and it was lovely. We had all the traditional foods including orange sweet potatoes from our garden. It was a good time together as a team.

So now we are onto December which is also busy but still has that joyful feeling of the Holidays surrounding everything you do. Now that you are somewhat up to date on my business for the last few months, I’ll save a more in-depth look at what is happening around our place this December in the next post to follow. Till then . . .

Homestead Happenings: August 2017

There have been so many changes and events happening in our small community of missionaries that I really haven’t shared anything about our homestead in quite a while. Sickness coupled with emotional turmoil of so many families leaving, all friends, didn’t leave much margin for blogging about our homestead. Though I did do a few write-ups on how empty this place feels now and how I’ve experienced some personal growth in my own life and ministry focus. So here is what we’ve been up to lately on the homestead front.

Our most recent and current project that we are working on is quail. I wont go into this too much as I’m doing a separate post including all the details but know we are adding them to our homestead very soon. Another week and we will know more but in good faith, construction on housing has already begun and will be finished this weekend to await their arrival.

The chickens are doing well despite some recent deaths, both adult and chick. Unfortunately we only have 1 Australorp chick left due to a freak accident (no I don’t want to talk about it as it upset me greatly) but we will try again in the future. For now we are going to bring in and hatch some kuroiler eggs to improve our lines and egg production. If you remember the last times we tried this we shipped in live chicks that already had disease that spread it to the rest of our flock and then the survivors were wiped out by driver ants or there were power troubles for hatching eggs. So we are bringing in eggs again that we will disinfect and hatch this time. Hopefully the results will be good this time around as the power issues on our base are under control for the moment.

The garden is doing well and I’m continually learning more and more new things about how different varieties work here and which ones don’t, new methods of growing different plants, etc. Always learning. With learning comes some failures – like my attempt to grow local pumpkin on our un-framed trellace; it became far too heavy and the trellace collapsed long before it even had fruit on it. I left it as is and it is bearing but it is far from the beautiful spot in the garden it once was. I’ll get it cleaned up after the pumpkins are finished and we will rebuilt the trellace with a frame.

Another lesson learned was the need to spray our purple cabbage more often. Part of this problem was due to all the sickness (including three bouts of malaria in 3.5 months, 1 normal and 2 serious) that didn’t allow for much gardening during those months so not enough spraying happened. Most have been eaten by caterpillars beyond human use but there are 3 that are maturing and we may get a taste before we rip them out. Another lesson from the garden was learning the best method to grow tomatoes with. Local Congolese people wedge a stick in the ground and tie their plant to it and up until now I have always used cages but no more; I am now a huge fan of the string method (what the nurseries use) and am going to work towards almost exclusively growing tomatoes this way.

The string method is where you suspend a string 9 feet up that you twirl your tomato plant around as it grows. It gives more support than a cage, your plants grow straight, wind doesn’t bother them and there is no flopping over or outgrowing the cage; even in rainy season here when you get a downpour that creates a soupy mess they wont fall over or break like what happens to a plant in a cage. It also allows more time for a longer harvest in our never ending summer so I get the most out of each plant that I can. I also started pruning my tomatoes this year and the results have been truly amazing with healthier plants (but don’t forget to disinfect between plants like I did) and bigger and better tomatoes. The two methods combined make for a very clean, healthy and productive tomato patch (as long as you don’t spread disease through your clippers). I’m never going back.

Our sweet corn attempt ended up in another bust despite resorting to hybrid treated seed. It actually ended up worse because we had small plants that tasseled early gave small ears and this time they weren’t even sweet; at least the heirloom varieties were still sweet along with those other problems and you could get a taste. I’ve given the rest of that variety of seed to our worker to see how it does in his garden and plan to plant some local field corn in my garden to test what may be going on and if its our soil for some reason – any ideas anyone?

Our nursery seedlings, the green peppers and eggplant, are all doing well and producing wonderful large vegetables. I think I’m going to make them a staple in the garden if I can. I still haven’t figured out how to get either to germinate myself yet (future attempts coming in the “fall”) but I’m not giving up yet. So much variety of food could be opened up to us with them (fresh salsa for example).

Some of the other experiments that I’ve been working on in the garden have been doing a technique called ‘vernalization’ where you trick plants into thinking that they have been through a winter by putting them in the fridge so they will grow or go to seed if they are a two season crop. I just completed this with some garlic that you can purchase local (imported from China) and they were planted in the garden and are growing. We will see if anything comes of them but I have also ordered an heirloom variety that will hopefully come over with my mom in October that we can grow. So far it is a success but we will see if the end results bear heads of cloves or not. Another vernalization project I was working on was carrots for seed. Everyone here has to buy carrot seed each time they plant because carrots require a winter to go to seed in the second year (overwintering). I put the selected carrots in a bag of rice (other online sources said wood chips but with our humidity I thought this might be better) for about two months but then a few days ago I noticed mold growth inside the bag. Most of the carrots had some mold growth on them unfortunately which I had read was the problem with trying to vernalize carrots. I decided to just go ahead and plant them instead of throwing them out and we will see what happens. It wasn’t as long as they should have gotten but perhaps I’ll try again and change out the rice part way through.

Another exciting addition to our garden is strawberries. I dug up some transplants from another missionary’s garden to start our own strawberry patch. They died back but are sprouting again. We also hope to add some blackberries and maybe one day raspberries (sourced from other missionaries in Uganda) to our place.

Right now it is the middle or later half of the rainy season despite it starting late and grain is cheaper right now than during other times of the year. So, trying to be financially minded, we are purchasing a year’s worth of grain (hopefully or at least very close to it) that will be stored in large barrels that will be used to mix our various feeds for our different animals. We are using grains and legumes that can be sourced local (corn, sorghum, millet, amaranth, beans, soy beans, peanuts and maybe sesame seeds) along with imported vitamin sources to cover what the feed can’t. Free ranging in the yard each day also helps with this and it helps keep any tick populations under control so win-win. The large sacks of grain and legumes get delivered on motorcycles right into our yard for 2,000 Congolese francs (1,500CF/$1 currently). We will receive another few sacks later this week and then roast the beans (you have to cook beans before use along with millet, amaranth and sorghum) and put into storage barrels to mix feed. Feed recipes are calculated using the nutritional values of each kind of grain and which bird at what stage you are mixing for – for example our quail will need 25-28% protein vs. the 16-18% that our adult chickens need.

So some of the other things that are being worked on on the side of daily life are seedlings (rather a constant thing), constantly hatching out chicks of one kind or another, Dave is obviously flying and more-so right now as the only caravan pilot for the moment, and I am working on a ladies’ retreat for all the expat ladies here in Nyankunde. Perhaps I will give more details on that later but I don’t want to spoil any surprises for the ladies. Busy busy busy. Speaking of that I’d better get back to it!

A change of Ministry

Reading back through my posts of late to see what I needed to update everyone on for a ‘Homestead Happenings’ post, I realized just how down and depressed my posts lately have been. They are a true reflection of the difficulty we have been facing here in the past few months and even for me, it wasnt easy to read and accept. There is always that temptation to put a smile on and cover up what is really going on but I refuse to do so. Things have been hard lately, harder than I even communicate online. Sometimes I dont want to write about all the bad, simply because it is so depressing to read or for the fear of being seen as a “downer” or very negative person who has to complain for attention, etc. More difficult things have happened lately but at last I feel a sense of ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ so to speak.

Part of the reason that I feel a sense of relief is something that is actually hard to admit because some could view it as a failure or giving up. And I guess in a way it is both but it is what it is; a change of ministry. For the time being I have decided to take a step back from trying to start my animal micro-loan program and to only focus on running our home; so I guess it could be phrased as changing priorities but let me explain a little more. After two years of striving and pushing, I’ve come to a place of growth in my journey where I no longer want to strive to prove something; I simply want to be at rest as the woman God made me. I’m choosing to be Mary at rest at our Lord’s feet instead of Martha striving her hardest to win approval unsuccessfully. Later, if God makes it possible to start this ministry outside of me striving to get it done, then to Him be the glory; for now, I am going to rest at His feet and do the most important ministry He has already given me – our home and family. 

Running our home and taking care of Daniel is so much bigger than it sounds. Yes, I could do that anywhere but I’m not. Instead I’m living cross-culturally as an expat in a country torn apart by unrest and corruption and my prescence, doing the same things (if not in the same way) while speaking a different language, has a world-wide impact. Being here supports MAF world-wide. How? How does changing a poopy diaper or weeding the garden support MAF worldwide? The obvious answer is it allows my husband to live and serve in this country so he can fly and fix the airplanes that bring relief and point people to Jesus daily. Without my husband here at this base right now, things would crumble – pride? No. Reality. There are only three pilots assigned here right now. One is gone for a month, the other can only fly the 206 for the moment (safety check-out reasons so this is a good thing) and he will be leaving for maintenance on that aircraft for a while, leaving only Dave. Seeing all that Dave does for this base, it would have to shut down without him right now. He is essential, therefore I am essential

However, if you look a little deeper though you can see even more impact. My children (whenever we have more) are going to grow up being more culturally aware than I was; one day they will grow up to be the next generation taking on the fight. Having more Christians that are globally and culturally aware is a good thing for all of us. Being here provides jobs. What? Being here and living here provides jobs for local Congolese that literally make the difference between life and death here at times. We employ four people, one full time and three part time, and provide health care for them and their families. Many people die here because they wait until the last moment to get medical help simply because they cannot pay. Our employees and their familes no longer have to make that choice that could cost them their life. I also get to enrich other women’s lives, Congolese and expat, by being here. I strengthen the team by being a support and a friend. I support our team but I’ve also supported the local SP team the same way. I bring my personal Spiritual Gifts to the team as a member of the body of Christ and fill in the gaps that would otherwise be there.

Me teaching Emmanuel our kitchen help how to make ice cream for the first time. He not only has a wage and healthcare but he is being trained in cooking skills that can keep him employed for the rest of his life.

Can you imagine what would happen to MAF worldwide if all the wives decided that it didnt matter and that they were going home? Sad thing is – it is! There is a global problem of missionary spouses (mostly wives) feeling unimportant and unfullfilled, causing their family to leave the field. MAF is facing a serious problem with this right now. Between our culture and the false expectations put on Christian women these days, is it any surprise? “Oh, you’ll be flying and doing maintenance on airplanes and saving lives! That is so great! So . . .then, what will your wife be doing? Running the home and taking care of the kids, wow, that’s good. What else will she be doing?” Or “What will her ministry be?” after just explaining that it takes four hours to make a meal of hamburgers and tater tots. These questions along with today’s feminisim culture devalue what missionary wives across the world do to support The Great Commission. It is no longer “enough” to only be a mom who takes care of her home. I am using the word “only” instead of “just”  because the word “just” is the most common phrase used that tears the honored position down – just a mom and homemaker.” Have you ever said these words to a missionary wife? How do you think it impacted her? Even missionary to missionary this happens. Think about that for a moment. Is it really any surprise that missionary wives are finding it hard to achieve a sense of purpose and value with this being thrown at them? 

So battling all of these messages has been a loosing battle on my end, until just recently. One of those ways that I am supporting our team, being a friend, and bringing what only I can bring to this team, is through an upcoming ladies’ retreat. I am planning and putting on a retreat for all of the expat ladies here in Nyankunde (though one cancelled so now it’s just MAF ladies). It will be at the end of September and we will be studying the book ‘Captivatng’ by John and Stasi Eldredge. Studying this book and working through this material ahead of time, so I can lead the group study, has helped bring about this growth in my life (along with other events) – it has helped get me to the place of being Mary and not Martha, of resting in who God has already created me to be. One quote from the book that has deeply impacted me is “What if you have a genuine and captivating beauty that is marred only by your striving?” Captivating pg. 110. God made women to reflect His beauty and point people to Himself through being at rest in Him, not striving and pushing to be “enough.”

This change in ministry is a journey though, even a battle. Everyday I have to give myself permission to rest in Him, not try to prove myself or feel guilty about “just” being a homemaker and mom. I have to fight culture (American, Christain and even local Congolese) to not be devalued anymore. I have to combat the negative messages thrown at me, portrayed and created in my own mind that say what I do doesnt matter, that it’s “not enough” to “just” live here, that I have to have an “outside ministry” to be a worthy missionary worth supporting. Lies, all of them. An attack of the enemy to send missionary wives and their families off the field and stop God’s word from being spread. I’m done listening. I’m not going to leave the field. I’m going to rest at the feet of Jesus. I’m going to fight to feel fullfilled and valued in my God-given role. I’m changing my ministry.

My God-given ministry

Living in a Ghost Town

Have you ever visited a ghost town? The abandoned buildings and discarded pieces of a life in the past. The strange quiet in a place that used to be bustling and filled with life. There are moments nowadays where I feel like I’m living in a ghost town; except I’m not visiting an unknown place of fascination. I’m living in a place swarming with memories as I walk the empty halls of uninhabited houses, picking up the abandoned pieces of a life lived before. 

The laughter and love that used to fill these homes and ring down the hallways echo only in my mind now. The cobwebs that gather in the corners, the overgrown and unattended gardens, the curtains blowing in the windows that fool your mind that someone is still there. Even driving by the homes of those who will one day come back to live there pulls at your heart; some sooner rather than later but for now the houses sit as empty reminders.

A reminder of what was, what you had and what you lost when they left. The security, wisdom, guidance, love, examples, friendship, support, accountability, laughter, routine and family. I can no longer ask parenting advice from a calm and steady woman who I admired so much and looked up to like an older sister. I wont get to look out my window and just know its 5 o’clock because another family just walked by to go for their nightly walk or they are around for guideance. I can no longer enjoy the calming  and reassuring presence of another friend who is one of my heroes. I no longer get to daily discuss life with and listen to another amazing woman who refreshed my soul and honored me with transparency. I don’t get to just sit across from a couple who I trust with the life of my son and know that its going to be alright as they  examine him and share their struggles of life here with me. 

The life that was lost to those who left was not just lost to them, it was lost to those who remain as well. Those of us who remain dont have the joy of seeing family and friends, moving on to a new chapter in a life that is so different to temper the grief and the loss we feel. We are simply left over and over again as each family waves goodbye and looks ahead to their destination. There are tears all around, promises to write and even some promises to return but there is a significant difference between the pain of leaving and the pain of being left. I have experienced both and the goodbye while remaining hurts the most.

The goodbyes in a missionary’s life are different. Saying goodbye to your family and friends when you move a continent away while knowing you wont see them again for a couple of years, if ever again, is in a completely different realm than the “goodbye, I’ll see you tomorrow and call me if you need me to come over.” I can’t just get in my car or hop an hour flight over to see them again. If there is an emergency I wont be there to help and support. If a life event like a funeral or wedding is happening there’s a good chance I might not be able to make it. I don’t get to grieve and rejoice over these things like I would if I were there. It is a reality. Goodbyes are a huge part of a missionary’s life; and I would also say they are the hardest part.

Is this a pity party? No. It’s an insight into probably the hardest part of missions – a part that isn’t openly talked about enough. The part that changes you and makes you question each time “Are the sacrifices worth it? Did we make the right choice? How can God call me to this? How do I get through this again? What will life be like now?” Sometimes there are answers, sometimes there are not. It’s the part of this life that you either walk through and process while grieving or it’s the part that makes you shut off your emotions, close your heart to survive because you can’t deal with it anymore. It’s the part of missions that isn’t talked about with the recruits because they just might change their mind if they knew . . .

We have entered a new season in our lives here; a lonely and difficult one. A painful one. Every journey has its ups and downs and this is a season of “down.” Living in a ghost town will hopefully be a short season. New families will fill the empty houses and with them hopefully some new friendships will form. Our friends from before cannot be replaced and life will never be the same but we will find a new normal here now. Even if that new normal for the moment means living in a ghost town. An empty, too quiet ghost town.

Homestead Happenings: Reconstruction and Firsts

How do you put your world back in order after completely ripping it apart? What about your broken down emotional state where you cry at everything? Trying to get back into the swing of things life-wise is hard when you’re empty. Here, I’m having to look to the little things to fill me up.

In my last post I shared what we have been dealing with in our home the past few weeks (ticks)¬†and about the struggles I faced during Dave’s absence. What I didn’t mention was that we are also in a season of change right now on our team and the extra emotional burden that creates. Our MAF team right now is in the middle of a transitional time with many families leaving, some returning, and some staying. Currently one family is already¬†gone (reassignment), another family returned from furlough to take back over leadership, one family leaves tomorrow for a short furlough but will return, another family leaves in about two weeks (minimum two years with possible return), we will hear news on another family’s return, another family leaves in July (our dear friends and neighbors), the family on the short furlough returns and then another family leaves for a short furlough in August. The team is fluid right now; ever-changing and never able to settle and wont until the fall it seems. It’s a tough season.

With so much going on with our team right now home really needs to be sanctuary for us but at the moment it just isn’t. There is still powder everywhere to kill insects, minimal clothes in the closet, disorder, clutter in places, etc. Slowly I’m trying to ease back into daily life here and get back on track, hopefully in time to receive some very special visitors we have coming – Dave’s parents, Dan and Kathy, are coming for a two-week visit mid-June and we are so excited about it. This will be the first time we have had any visitors and family in our home here with us.

So while I try to get the inside of our house back in order and calm the chaos, I’m also continuing to work on all of the other projects and pieces of daily life. I’m looking after Daniel, teaching our kitchen help how to cook (in French), working in our garden, meal prep and cooking, looking after our animals, incubating eggs, animal ministry¬†and more along with all the other smaller pieces of life here that add up. And the endless projects we have on our list, those never end – seriously.

IMG_4768Our garden is doing well and is starting to put out produce again at last. I’ve harvested salad, beets, summer squash, celery¬†and even a couple tomatoes. Many things are still growing and haven’t begun producing yet and some things I have even yet to plant. Can you believe with such a huge garden I have run out of space? It’s true! There are so many things I want to plant but don’t have the room right now. Some of the new things that I have going are Napa cabbage, desi summer squash, local pumpkins, black-purple carrots, purple cabbage¬†and plenty of eggplant and bell pepper seedlings I purchased from the nursery in Bunia. We are also waiting to plant some russet potato starts that Dave was able to bring back with him.


One of our purple cabbages. I’m looking for a variety that does well here to hopefully pass on to the locals for improved nutrition.


My favorite place in the garden at the moment.


One half of the garden with a few beds awaiting corn and russet potato seedlings


Eggplant starts


A piece of the russet potato Dave brought back


Lettuce leaf basil – basil as big as lettuce that’s great for salads, wrapping things and even pesto.

IMG_4793An exciting first for us is our long-awaited pineapple! We started planting pineapple tops right when we moved in almost two years ago and the very first one is finally growing a pineapple. It has been fun to watch the beautiful flowering part of the pineapple form and now turn into a fruit; it will be even more fun to eat the pineapple off of our own bush once it is ripe.

The chickens are doing well and we have lots of babies at the moment. One of our biggest challenges with chicks, now that we have a closed flock and don’t have to deal with other diseases, is Coccidiosis. It kills babies in pens quickly if not treated and we are still tweaking a schedule to prevent this from happening. I found two dead today, only three days from their next treatment, so the schedule needs to be moved up a week or so. I’m treating them now but it’s a shame to loose any since this batch is our first second-generation hatching and is¬†intended for the animal micro-loan program’s first families. Hopefully within a month or so we will be ready to start the program at last with 5 chosen families.


The first batch of second-generation chicks intended for the animal micro-loan program.


IMG_4808Another¬†first that we have now is our first second-generation duckling from our khaki Campbells! We were waiting for our ducks to be of a good age to hatch their eggs and then dry season hit and we struggled for months and months to get good eggs. They were heat stressed and would lay eggs with no shells or weak paper-thin ones that were¬† impossible to hatch from. Then we magically got 4 with normal shells and two developed and one hatched.¬† They have been laying¬†well this last week but suddenly stopped again; why is a mystery. Today I made up some more nests for a couple of broody hens to sit on some more of our ducks eggs so hopefully in a month’s time we will have some more ducklings to add to our collection!


The few precious normal duck eggs collected over the last week that will be placed under some broody hens today.


IMG_4800¬†We also have our first australorp chicks to start improving our chicken¬†lines with! The hatch numbers were disappointing to be sure because of problems with our power system; the power would go out for hours at a time during the night and morning and it caused many deaths in the egg unfortunately. I’m grateful to have any¬†and right now we have 5. I’m praying we don’t loose any but here the odds are just not very great¬†for all 5 of them¬†to make¬†it. I’ll do my very best to raise them special and get them to adulthood if I can. I’m praying for a rooster and a few hens and the odds are more in my favor, obviously, if they all make it.


IMG_4787For the first time we now have two pigs at once. Our larger pig is the pig we bought earlier this year with the goal of raising it all of the way until this coming Christmas for ham and bacon. The second, smaller new pig was a gift from a Congolese friend. They have worked it out and are living peacefully together which is a relief.

IMG_4767One other new project that I’m excited about is my worm bin. I know, I know – I’m excited about worms. It’s truly the most efficient and rewarding way of composting, something we do a lot of here, and it will make the best fertilizer for our garden. We were able to get a small start of red wiggler worms back here along with the bin and have already got it started up and running. I’ll have a learning curve I know but once I get the basics down and our population goes up we will be cranking out amazing fertilizer every few months.

So that’s where we are at as we try to reconstruct our house from the inside chaos and infestation we dealt with and get back on track with normal life. We are eagerly awaiting our special guests as we deal with the difficult transitional times on our team. The precious precious family time together will be a much needed relief and break from the tough season we still find ourselves in. Until then I will continue to find peace and rest for my soul in my garden.


My quiet retreat