Movin' On Up!

Trip Start Dec 18, 2010
Trip End Dec 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
The Big House

Flag of Congo - The Dem. Repub.  ,
Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sadly for us, the Grings family left yesterday for the USA.  I am so happy that they get to go back for the birth of their first grandchild, but we will miss them so much.
They left Kinshasa yesterday afternoon and we began to move into the main house last evening.  It's the first time since the middle of December that the kids have each had their own room and we have had some room to spread out a little, so it feels quite nice!
With living in the main house comes having workers.  I have three workers each day.  All are men and all are the head of a family and the main breadwinner for their family.  These workers only make about $100 per MONTH!  And that is paying them WELL and far more than they would make at most other jobs.  They make more than Congolese teachers that have university degrees.  Right now papa Jean is here.  He is the father of 5 children.  His wife died this past year while pregnant with their sixth child.  He is a kind man.  He speaks Lingala and can understand some French, but since I speak neither our communication is limited.  Christine Grings wrote down some phrases for me and I do a lot of sign language and gesturing and we seem to do okay.  Papa Jean (pronounced John) doesn't look directly at me in the eye.  That would be a sign of disrespect so it's weird to talk to someone that is not looking at you.  It will take some getting used to.  He comes and helps me feed the puppies and he sweeps the yard.  Yes, I said "sweeps."  They rake the dirt so it has nice lines in it and then sweep the grass.  He also keeps the grass cut and the porch cleaned off.  At 10 AM he comes in to sweep inside and do the breakfast dishes. 

Pepe is also here right now.  He is younger and he is putting tile in the bathroom.  He does all kinds of odd jobs and watches the gate.  All of the workers are security as well and they keep the gate.  When someone knocks or honks, they determine if they can come in and then they open the gate and close it.  He understands French and speaks Lingala, so, again there is lots of sign language.

Papa Juli comes in the evening.  He is the night guard.  He also does the evening dishes, feeds the dogs, fills the generator, and does the ironing.  He stays until about 6 AM.  He speaks Lingala and will hardly look my direction.

3 days a week Papa Pango is here.  He was raised with the Grings family in that his father worked for the older Grings father so they have been together his entire life.   Because of that, he looks at me when I talk and he seems to understand some things I say.  He can cook several different things and he does most of the house cleaning.  He takes care of filtering the water and keeping the drinking water container full, he washes (soaks in bleach and scrubs) all the fruit and vegetables, and folds the laundry.

It sounds like such a luxury to have workers.  As a "missionary" you hate to tell people you have them because it sounds like we are over here living large.  The reality is not like that at all.  First of all, it is EXPECTED by the people here that you provide jobs.  If you came over here and didn't employ anyone they would see you as stingy and selfish.  Secondly, it is the best security there is.  When you make friends with some local Congolese and have them on your compound, they can let you know of dangerous situations that are brewing and they can deal with the police better and anyone that comes to your gate that may pose a threat, they are much better equipped to handle them.  Thirdly, it is a ministry.  To be able to care for the most basic needs of a person by feeding them and clothing them is truly showing the love of God.  Also, you are teaching them marketable skills when they work for you.  You see, you have to teach them how to do EVERYTHING.  They don't really do too great of a job in the beginning.  It's kind of like when you are teaching your children to do a task.  It is usually so much easier and less of a hassle if you just do it yourself, but you know they need to learn it.  It is just like that.  Over time they get better and better and then you have truly changed their life by giving them a skill set.  The Grings have more workers then they need, but they keep them on solely so that the workers might have a job.   Fourthly, when you have a worker, you are responsible for them.  That means when their wife has a baby, you pay all the medical bills.  When the wife and baby die, you pay all the funeral expenses.  When a child must see the dentist, you pay for it.  There is NO free schooling here and all the kids must wear uniforms, so if the kids go to school the worker will most likely need help to pay for it.  You basically become like a parent for them and they are constantly asking for money and for help.  It is a difficult thing to comprehend.
It is really, really strange to have men in the house all day with me that are waiting for me to tell them what to do.  I feel bad sitting here on the computer while they are doing my dishes.  They call me "mama" or "madame" and I keep looking around to see who they are talking too.  LOL

So, life up here in the Big House is going to be a new experience for us.  We are excited to learn some Lingala and to be a blessing to our workers. Until my transportation situation improves, I will not be able to get out to an orphanage for awhile.  That means my main work here in the Congo can be to help my workers in every way I can and hopefully touch their lives for the better.  That may very well be the work God has for me here.  I will try to see them with kindness in my eyes and generosity in my heart. 
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Doris Krebs on

Jennifer, you probably don't remember me, but Pancho and I are friends with your mom and dad. You mom gave me your blog address and I am so engaged by it. Thank you for sharing yourself and your family with the Congolese, and thank you for sharing your experiences through your blog. What an opportunity to minister to your workers and their families! I pray that the love of God will shine through you and your family. Thanks again for posting,
Doris Krebs

Dianne on

Jen - I can't wait to hear how this area and people are different for your being there!! Be blessed and know we love you!

Lynette O'Neal on

Dear Jennifer, Thank you for sharing about your ministry to the workers there. It is difficult for Americans to wrap our minds around such a poor country. Many of the teens in our youth group make more money monthly than folks there. We are so spoiled that is for sure. Your explanation of your ministry there is beautiful for sure. I have no doubt that the folks there see Jesus in you and your family. God bless and protect you all. Thank you again for sharing. Love, Lynette

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