May Ekstrand Newsletter

May 6, 2010

House & yard

Dear family and friends,

We returned to Gemena on Wednesday, May 5 after spending two weeks in Kinshasa.  It is good to be “home” at Bokonzo, even though home remains 2 rooms in the guest house.  It is also very good to be back in Congo.  We have had many former acquaintances, workers, church members and students, come by to say hi and chat.  What fun!

The news on the house is very encouraging – GREAT progress.  The roof is on and the cement plaster on the walls is finished.  They started pouring the floors yesterday and will do the master bedroom tomorrow.

Plastering walls and pouring floor

Pouring concrete is quite different here.  To pour the floor, they first lay down a layer of crushed rock.  They cover this with the mixture of washed gravel, sand and cement, all mixed by hand.  After completing the floor they will put in the wood ceilings.  The truck has gone to get the planks from the village sawmill where they were cut and that trip was just delayed by this morning’s rain.  Work is also going forward on the septic tank and the rest of the plumbing.

We have enjoyed reconnecting with Zefanu.  He helped in our house as cook and more from 1986 to 1989 when we lived at IPOK and Rachel & Carl were small.  When we move into our house, he will help with market shopping, cooking and some other things in the house.  He has been working in our yard for the past two weeks clearing the area around our house so we can plant grass, flowers and trees.

Thank you for your prayers for us during the last two weeks that we were in Kinshasa.  We were blessed getting to know those who had been invited to the US for different training and meetings.

Congo delegation in Kin

From Left to Right in the photo to the right are: Alfred Zondo, VP Liwawa Elenga, Rev. Lyly Yakote, Jean Sabuli Sanguma, Claudine Makuba, Precieux Sanguma in the arms of his father President Mossai Sanguma.  In front are Dr. Aime Nkakala and Rev Isabelle Kanda.  The Sanguma family and Dr. Aime were granted visas on their first try. The pizza party before we left was a great outing and WOW what good pizza and ice cream in Kinshasa!

Pizza at the Hunga Busta

Zondo and Dr. Aime are in the picture on the left.

We also started to build a good relationship with the Consul at the US Embassy.  While he has been very helpful, unfortunately he cannot make any promises of visas being granted.  He clarified for us that even though the Covenant has excellent history having invited many Congolese to the US over the last 30 years, all of whom returned to their ministries and families in Congo, that does not mean that new people applying for visas will be granted them.  The responsibility is on the person applying in their interview to present themselves as a credible person who will indeed return to Congo.  And, when someone’s salary is very, very low honestly the Consulate wonders if they will return once having seen the wonders of the US.  Three of the five leaders who were not granted visas have returned to their homes.  We were not able to schedule repeat interviews for them very quickly and a long delay would mean they would arrive several weeks late for the training programs planned for them in the US, which doesn’t work well.  Two people have second visa interviews.  Pray for visa interviews for VP Elenga Liwawa on May 11 and Rev. Lyly Yakote on June 1.

– Sarah’s mission trip to Thailand May 10-17 with North Park.
– The visa interviews scheduled for May 11 and June 1.
– US visa interview in Nairobi, Monday, May 10 for Jennifer Mburu of Kenya.  Jennifer is head of the women ministries of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Kenya and has been invited to the US to attend the Covenant Women’s Triennial conference.
– Patience for us as, even with overall good progress on the house, we are anxious to move in
– Priorities each day as we decide to: attend to email correspondence with supporters, family and Covenant stuff; check on the house giving direction and making decisions; visit neighbors which builds relationships and improves our Lingala; interact with CEUM leaders and begin to learn more about their current ministry initiatives
– Patience with the internet connection for email.

Grateful for your support and prayers,

Pete & Cindy

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