Mbuji Mayi

Reflections during the adult literacy teacher training in Mbuji Mayi, DR Congo, April 2–8, 2018

Here is how you get your baggage at Mbuji Mayi. Passengers and guys whom you can hire to retrieve baggage crowd on one side of a low platform and the baggage is carried in through a door on the other side and stacked in a holding area while an agent examines each tag and calls a name. Or number. I can’t get close enough to tell. Continue reading

Going viral

In the adult literacy teacher–training workshop the week after Easter in Mbuji Mayi, DR Congo, was an eccentric woman. Marie-Claire didn’t seem to care much about her appearance. Her hair went every which way. Her clothes were a bit grubby. She peered over wire-rimmed glasses. She crossed her legs. One day she showed up in a baseball cap. Continue reading

Mots de circonstance

Now that I’ve returned from my 15-day trip to DR Congo I’ll be posting more reports. See the “Congo” category on this site.

The Congolese have a sense of occasion, the importance of protocol and doing things right, especially when it comes to programs and celebrations. This places special demands on an introvert like me.

On Good Friday I was front and center in two ceremonial occasions in Kinshasa. The most challenging thing for me as a guest of honor is delivering the expected mot de circonstance, literally, a word about the occasion, presumably fit for the occasion. Continue reading

A Kinshasa pastor’s busy day

In the middle of the week I asked my dear friend Pastor François Tshidimu to do me a favor. Could he buy my ticket to fly to Mbuji-Mayi on Monday? Buying a ticket involves trekking to an office somewhere in this unwieldy city and my schedule was filling up. Yes, of course. He could do this Friday morning while I attended the closing ceremonies for the literacy classes. But he needed my passport.

I had no qualms about giving François my passport and enough money to more than cover the cost of the ticket. Continue reading

Notes from a long journey

O’Hare, 3 hours

The security line is long and slow. I have plenty of time. A baby on her mother’s shoulder smiles randomly at people. I catch her eye and smile. She smiles back.

After going through security I hold my passport and boarding pass in my hand while I put my jacket back on. As I am walking to my gate I feel something scratchy in my sleeve. It is the boarding pass. Continue reading

Miracles and uncertainties

IMG_1181I am pretty sure I will be in DR Congo two weeks from today. My plans have been playing Upset the Fruit Basket (anyone remember that game?) for the last few weeks– canceled flights and more canceled flights, schedule changes there, new plans here. My right knee decided to test my resolve by freezing up ten days ago but then came back online a few days later.

But the uncertainties on my end are minor. Continue reading

What I don’t write about

I haven’t posted for a while and I don’t really know why. Sometimes I think it’s because my life is very miscellaneous right now, too many different things going on, no one thing predominant.

Accompanying a close friend in a serious health crisis.

Preparing for another trip to Congo.

Helping plan and lead Lenten worship services. Continue reading

Exercise

I used to breeze by the exercise classes for seniors on my way to an intermediate yoga class or the swimming pool or the resistance trainers. Silver Sneakers, ha. I’d never be one of those oldsters doing their exercise sitting down, at least not for a long time.

This was not so long ago. Before the wrist pain made Downward Dog impossible and yoga less enjoyable. Continue reading

Food and creed on a snowy day

IMG_1088I keep thinking I want to write something profound, theological almost, but I am not up to it. Instead I meditate. 45 minutes this morning, no problem. And I think about diet and plan carefully for a food-shopping excursion during a brief break in the frigid, snowy weather. It wasn’t really a break but Vic had to go out for a doctor’s appointment so I went along and went around the corner to the supermarket and bought at least 10 meals worth of vegan food. Beans and more beans, greens and more greens. Continue reading

Perennial

Perennials-that-love-shadeElder, senior, aging, older, old. I want to be honest about where I am in life. I am, unapologetically, 73 years old. But I don’t really identify with any of these words.

“Elder” implies entitlement to authority and status that I may or may not have. “Senior” is a euphemism for “old” and I don’t go for euphemisms. I’m certainly “aging”–but isn’t everybody? And “old” is how I feel sometimes but I’ve tried calling myself old and it makes me–and others–uncomfortable.

Language matters, as Laura Carstensen writes in a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, “In Search of a Word that Won’t Offend ‘Old’ People.” Continue reading