Jim and Patty's church is partnering with the Brazzaville Nazarene church and in January, donated money to help construct a building for the church. Pastor Antoine started the construction at the end of January and things have come a long way in 3 months! The building is up and services are now being held. There are some finishing touches to be done still. The congregation is so excited and proud of their new structure. It is a lot bigger, in a better location (more visible to the main road and away from a garbage dump), and has a cement floor so things won't get muddy when it rains.
Sarah and I have continued to work at the orphanage. We bring the older girls to my house 1 Saturday a month to do a Bible study, a craft, and eat snacks. The younger kids come over on Tuesday evenings for dinner and an activity. We bring the younger kids in groups 8 and just rotate between the boys and girls. It is a good time for us to be able to really focus on them and get to know them better.
Sarah and I are French tutoring 3 times a week together. We both really enjoy learning French and want to study as much as we can while we are living in Congo. I still do not speak great, but I am understanding more and more when I am out and about. I can usually get across what I need, it just isn't pretty! haha
Things at HOPE are going well. Nate is enjoying his job and is happy to have a new director here! It was just him and the operations manager for a few months and they were both getting tired of the extra work load. He spent a week in Belgium last week at a HOPE Methodology conference. It was his first time to visit Europe. They had 3 free days so He, Micah, and Jon went to Bruges, Belgium which is a tourist city known as "The Venice of the North". Nate has some really cool pictures. He will put them up and tell about his trip soon.
While he was gone I spent 4 days in Point Noire which is 2nd largest city in Congo. It is located on the coast and has some pretty beaches. I went with 3 German girlfriends. We had a great time! We took the train on a 15 hour cross country trek. We saw beautiful landscapes the whole way. We went through fields, mountains, and forests. We also passed through villages where people would come up and wave to us. We got to see the city and eat at a really good restaurant. We also walked along the fishing beach where a lot of fisherman from Benin work. We also went to a beautiful beach 30 min north of the city to swim and spend an afternoon.
The HOPE Leadership Summit is coming up in May and we are looking forward to taking a few weeks vacation! We will leave May 12th and spend 3 days in Paris on our way to the conference. I'm so pumped for this! I have already planned out our time and cant wait to see all the sights. We will spend a quick 2 days in Nashville to see some friends and family. Then finish our last week in St. Augustine with my family, Nate's parents, and Miley!
For those that don't know already, I will be pursuing my Master's in Social Work at UNC Chapel Hill starting this August! I am very ready to begin this degree. I want to focus on international social work, especially working with refugees and immigrants. Nate and I will live in the Raleigh-Durham area for 2 years while Im in school. I will move back to the US in August to start school, but Nate will have to stay here in Brazza until November 1st. It isn't ideal and I dread the separation, but we decided it was best for our situation. God has given both of us a peace about this decision and we look forward to this next step! On the other hand, saying goodbye to all of our friends here will be extremely difficult. We have grown so close to the HOPE staff and expat community.
Here are some pictures from the past few months!
|The boardwalk to the fisherman's beach. All those white things in the trees are birds!|
|Fisherman taking out a boat to fish.|
|Women come down to the beach to buy fresh fish to sell in the market.|
|Ann, Annikah, and Johanna|
|The beautiful beach!|
|Missionary friends who took us up north to the nice beach.|
|Annikah and Johanna|
|Took this picture from the train. That is a giant mound of bananas from the village!|
|Boys playing soccer at my place|
|My mom gave these cute flowers to make with the girls. They loved them!|
|Us and our friend Améde|
|Pastor Antoine preaching Sunday morning in the new building|
|The new building! Still not finished, but looking good!|