Monday, April 20, 2015

Improvements at the Market!

Garoua Boulai's huge influx of people, including many Central African refugees, has meant that the market has also been growing.  Now, the city (with support from an international donor) is rebuilding the main market area.
 
I reported before that most butchers have tile counters instead of wooden ones.  There has also been building of stalls behind the market where there are sellers of clothes, household items, and some food.  Many women still set up on the ground in that area.

 

Now, the central part of the market was leveled and cinder block stalls/shops are being built.  One merchant (pictured under this huge umbrella for protection from the sun) told me that things are difficult now, but they are looking forward to the new buildings.  Those, he said, can’t burn down as the wooden tables could have.  I also hope that sanitation will improve with the new changes. 

Ever wonder what happens to all those clothes that people in the USA donate to charity?  Yes, they are sold in resale shops run by the charity, but many of them are also sent abroad – to places like GB.  So, the people can get cheap clothes, but it also takes work from local tailors.  Help and unintended consequences – as with most things. 

I look forward to seeing the “new” market when it is done.  I’ll post pictures.

CAR Update:
Tomorrow, April 21 is the arrival day for delegates, pastors, program directors, and partners for the Church-wide Assembly of EEL-RCA.  They meet every two years, but could not last year because the level of insecurity was too great to assure safe travel.  So, this year they will hear reports for three years of work, discuss and vote on revisions to the constitution, and elect a new national president. (President Goliké is finishing his second term and is not eligible to run again.) 


Willie Langdji and I will be going to represent the ELCA.  After the assembly we will also be part of the team to evaluate the LDR Humanitarian Aid project’s work at about the half-way mark; EEL-RCA is integrally involved in the implementation.  Willie and I will be back in Garoua Boulaï on May 2.  

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Bouar for a Week at Easter


Yep!  I went to Bouar for a week. This is the first time I have been in the Central African Republic for more than a year.  What better time than to be there for Easter – a time of hope, rebirth, and salvation.

I went because Pastor Joseph NGOE, director of the Bible School in Baboua, and Josephine OUMAROU, National President of Women for Christ organized a trauma healing seminar.  It was funded by humanitarian aid from Lutheran Disaster Response and sponsored by the Evangelical Lutheran Church-CAR (EEL-RCA in French). 

This is the same course/seminar I have attended before – first in Bamenda last August and again when I helped facilitate in Yaoundé, Cameroon in March.  I was in Bouar as a facilitator along with Simon DIMANCHE.  He works with the Central African Bible Society as a translator (into Sango) and is head of the Trauma Healing Program in CAR.  He came from Bangui and I from Garoua Boulai. 

Since the seminar started on Easter Monday, I decided to travel on Saturday.  Antoine MBARBET who works with the Central Administration of EEL-RCA and Josephine came to GB the day before.  Josephine bought many supplies for the meals during the training.  They both accompanied me on the trip to Bouar.  We also picked up a couple of participants in Baboua.  The road has been safe for months and the cities of Baboua and Bouar for longer than that, but we agreed that it was best to have church representatives along.  I was glad.  Things were the same, but they weren’t. 

 During the whole time I was there, no action showed that parts of the country are still in turmoil.  We could see houses that had no roofs or with new ones; this destruction and rebuilding is because of earlier fighting.  There was not a lot of traffic on the road – we saw more goats than cars or trucks.  And some sheep, a couple of dogs, and some chickens.  (There is now one less live chicken since it decided to cross the road just as my Land Cruiser arrived and I couldn’t avoid it.  Evidently Antoine hit a goat on the way to GB.  Sometimes it is just impossible to miss them!)
On the way to Bouar, we stopped to buy local mushrooms – roadside stands!  This is the mushroom season – early in the rainy season.  Unlike in the US, when a car stops, young people like those pictured at left, come up to the car to sell their wares.  We bought many bunch – we were feeding 17 after all!  The most common way to prepare them is separately with some onions and a little flavoring.  We also bought some (thought a lot less) on the way back to GB, too, so I made some last night.  Everything in its season…




Easter service was joyful as it is most places.  I worshiped at Temple Centre which is beside the Woman’s Social Center, Chez Marthe and Marie, and catty-corner across the street from the EEL-RCA’s Central Administration Building.  The picture at left is especially for the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod churches that worked with Chuck Short to make the pictured banner.  At the bottom are flowers representing the states where EEL-RCA has partner synods.  You can see that it has pride of place in the church – up front near the board where text lessons for the day are announced and close to a painting of Martin Luther done by Etienne YAIMAN, a long time church worker who is now retired. 

Pictured at left are the two young women who were preparing to read the lessons of the day.  National EEL-RCA President André Golike presided over the baptism of two children and communion.  He also blessed the children who came forward after the adults communed. 

Note:  The National Assembly for EEL-RCA will be held the third week of April.  (It was postponed last year because of the insecurity.)  Preparations are in full swing.  Pastors and delegates will be in Bouar for important meetings which include considering changes to the constitution (that a committee has been drafting for several years) and the election of a new national president as Pres. Goliké has already served two terms and cannot run again. 


Women of the congregation brought food to share after the liturgy in honor of Easter and the baptisms– a pot luck! (They must be Lutherans, right??)  Simon and I were invited to eat with the church leaders. 

Chez Marte et Marie
The Trauma Healing Seminar had two purposes: to help participants heal the wounds of their hearts and to assist them in preparing to lead accompanying groups for healing.  Simon and I taught the eleven lessons of the classic course and provided information about teaching as well as a practice experience.  We meet in the meeting room at Chez Marthe and Marie.  The women there (supervised by Josephine – who was also a seminar participant) provided three meals a day.  This is an emotional and intensive week, but participants were active.  We heard some stories of healing.  One man said, for example, that his house had been destroyed in a town outside of Bouar.  He moved his family to Bouar and built a house there.  During Lesson 1 we discussed why God permits suffering when he loves us.  We discussed that God
Rev. Dr. Antoinette Yindjara
Rev. J M TONGO & Rev. A DEMOKOME
uses suffering; one way is that God turns suffering into something good.  This man said that at that moment in the lesson he felt a great weight lifting from his heart.  He realized that before the troubles, he has been concerned about how he would be able to send his children to high school since there was none in his town.  Now he lives in Bouar where they can easily attend high school and still live with the family.

We tried an experiment with this seminar. The program is strongly grounded in the Bible.  Still, there are also many Muslims in CAR who are also suffering from heart wounds.  So, we invited two interested Muslims to participate with the other Lutherans.  They added a third objective (beyond the two mentioned above).  They kept an eye open to ways they might use the program with their brothers and sisters.  Since the Koran and other important teachings in Islam accept the Old Testament and contain other parallels with Christian teachings, they regularly talked of passages from Islam that parallel those cited from the Bible.  They were pleased to be included and are looking forward to teaching other Muslims in Baboua.  They will also develop a list of Koranic verses for each chapter than can complement the book.  One said that he plans to say, “Here is what Islam teachings and here is what our Christian brothers and sisters believe.”  I hope that this approach can foster peace and reconciliation in Baboua (and elsewhere in the future).  Pictured at right is Sani-Salao MOUHAMADOU receiving his certificate at the end of the training.


During the seminar meat couldn't
t have been fresher!  Josephine and her team bought the chickens and goats live!  Since Muslims only eat meat that is butchered according to their teachings, they could help in the process.  Anyway, grocery stores and freezers (even refrigerators) are had to come buy so all meat is butchered and sold the same day – or sold live so that it can be killed just before the preparation for the meal.  Here are before, during, and after pictures of the goat!  (OK, I admit that I didn’t think to take a picture of the actual goat beforehand so this is another one from the street, but it’s the same idea.)  All of our meals were prepared over wood fires.  At right is one of the women preparing the goat meat for cooking. 

While in Bouar, I stayed in what is now the ELCA guest house and where Jackie GRIFFIN lived when she worked in Bouar.  Tigre, the dog she got is still there to help guard the house.  He is much calmer than I remember him from two years ago when he was still a puppy!  He is friendly but the guards tell me that he has appropriately scared away different people with his barking.  It was strange to be in the house without Jackie and her belongings.  (She is currently working as a volunteer for a year in Mbingo, Anglophone Cameroon, training nurses for the Baptist hospital.) 

former market
The market in Bouar has been demolished so that a new one can be built.  I asked if the destruction was a result of the fighting and people assured me that it was not.  It was intentional.  However, the building part of the work has been delayed – not yet started...  There is a huge temporary market just across from EEL-RCA headquarters.  It makes things noisy during the day!  (Sorry, no picture; I couldn’t capture the noise or the size.)  Look at this place in the picture.  The name of what was probably a bar or night club in “High Tension.”  What an accurate name for what has happened in the country…  Notice too, that it is one of the buildings that has been partially destroyed and is currently not in use.  


Throughout the week, I was able to talk with program leaders about reports and other issues.  I also saw some humanitarian aid (also sponsored by LDR) in action. Here are Antoine MBARBET and Mathias VOTOKO with a load of wood destined to be doorways and window casings for the houses being built in villages around Bohong.  Work is advancing well although they report that they are VERY busy with the work of keeping construction teams supplied with what they need as they work together to make bricks and build the houses.  

I left Saturday morning with participants from Baboua.  I was able to spend about an hour in my house there – found some “new” clothes!  (That is, things I haven’t worn for more than two years – since the first evacuation December 24, 2012.)  I decided to bring all the clothing back since mice have taken up residents in the house (despite efforts to keep them out) and have been taking parts of some clothing to make their nests.  It felt strange being there, especially only for a short time.  Still, all is well at the ELCA station in Baboua.
While I was in Baboua, I was invited to have lunch with Mayor David NGBAKO.  It turns out that the Sous-Prefet also came to meet me and Josephine, President of Women for Christ was there too.  The Sous-Prefet has been in Baboua for a year so I had not met him before.  Both men welcomed me and made it clear that they would like me to come back soon.  What an honor to be among these leaders.

This blog entry is longer and has more pictures than many others.  It seems appropriate for the first time I have been back in my official country of service in such a long time.  I hope you all had a blessed Easter, as I did. 

He is Risen.  Alleluia. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Challenges: Packing

Packing 
Shipping and transporting materials are a challenge here.  Once or twice a year Global Health Ministries sends a container with medical supplies (including some furniture). Others can piggy-back goods that are coming to Cameroon and CAR.  For example, partner synods have sent communion trays and little glasses.  People here are glad to get them, but imagine the packing needed so that they arrive safely!

Last year a container arrived while I was in the USA.  There were three boxes of trays and glasses marked with my name to be sure they got to CAR.  The challenges began since I was not in GB when they arrived.  When I got back, no one thought to mentions that the boxes were in the storage room. We had also delayed sending some other materials because we were concerned about them being stolen or broken because of the insecurity.


A couple of weeks ago, someone, looking for something else, rediscovered the three boxes with my name on them.  Great.  As we tried to figure out what they were (since no one had remembered to tell me that the liturgical supplies were coming marked with my name), we noticed that one box was coming apart at the bottom.  Not just coming undone, but being eaten!  It turns out the box held hand-made wooden communion trays and the termites were having a feast!  As a part of our investigation, we turned the box over.  That turned out to be a good idea because when I went yesterday to get the box to address the problem, the termites had gone – they didn't like the light/air, I guess.

So, yesterday I decided to take the boxes all apart to sort what was there and explore the extent of the damage.  The box that was partially eaten stayed outside, needless to say, even though it looked like there were no termites. (Indeed they were gone although they left behind their dirt and some partially eaten wood.)  As I took the wooden trays out to clean those that were not significantly damaged, two Bible School students passed by.  They stopped to greet me and then offered to clean the trays for me.  I passed that task off to them and they did a great job.  It turns out that the termites only ate one tray and its lid to the point where they were not usable.  The remaining 15 cleaned up nicely.




As the students worked outside, I unpacked the other boxes and found 9 metal trays, MANY little glasses, some trays for wafers, communion cloths/napkins, and some stoles.  I asked the students to come back this morning to help me finish sorting and repacking what had arrived.  They worked diligently with me as we prepared 14 new smaller packages ready to be given to congregations.  Only a handful of the small glasses – that are actually glass, not plastic – broke in transit.  Great packing, sending churches! 
Ngoffi and Semega

Sarwissi and Gaston

As you might imagine when you see shredded paper and Styrofoam peanuts, we had a bunch to clean up to do in my living room when we were done!

The supplies are now ready to go to CAR at the next opportunity. 

This is not a traditional way to spend Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, but I hope that Central African congregations will soon get their new liturgical supplies as (slightly late) Easter gifts. 


Monday, March 30, 2015

On the Road Again

Jump in the car!  Let's hit the road. Oh, wait.  Did you pack the suitcase? Get the flashlight/lamp? Pack the water? Grab the umbrella (the rainy season’s started)?  Check fuel and oil in the car? Get the passe-avant? 

Some of those questions are ones you would ask before going on a trip; some not.  You need the water and lamp because you never know if utilities will be working when you get where you are going, even if it is a city like Yaoundé or N’gaoundéré.  Yaoundé is the capital, but its infrastructure is overtaxed by the huge numbers of people who have migrated there.  N’gaoundéré has regular electricity, but the level of power is sometimes low and sometimes lights won’t go on.

Then there’s the car.  I am down to 2 ELCA cars in front of my house in GB (and one from the German CAR mission) – the others are back in service in CAR.  I came to N’gaoundéré yesterday and had planned to bring the Land Cruiser; it had the passe-avant to come this direction.  Think about wanting to take a road trip to Canada or Mexico or to rent a car and drive around Europe.  What would happen at the border?  There are formalities, right?  Passport check, maybe a check inside the car, then on your way.

Here, to take a car registered in CAR into Cameroon, you need a document called a passe-avant (go ahead, literally) that give you permission to drive the vehicle into the country for a limited time.  It will allow you to go just one place (and back).  So, when I went to Yaoundé, I had to get a passe-avant but I couldn’t use the same one when I came to N’gaoundéré.  Fortunately, since Garoua Boulai is a border town and we know the customs officials, I don’t need any special document when I am driving around town.  But leaving GB is different…

In my logic, since there were two vehicles, I’d get a passe-avant for each one to go each direction.  But, no.  A person can have one passe-avant at a time to go one direction.  It makes sense in that one person can only drive one car at a time… Different logic than mine that would have allowed greater freedom of movement.  Still, if the object is to control where foreign vehicles are, their system makes sense…  So, I had a passe-avant for the Land Cruiser for N’gaoundéré.  I got special permission to have a document for two weeks to go to Yaoundé.  So, all set.  At the end of the week, I thought I had what I needed for this trip.

But, wait!  Let’s complicate things some more.  The Land Cruiser was having some trouble starting and needed some work.  Then, it needed a part they don’t have in GB.  No problem.  Someone was coming from N’gaoundéré and could bring it.  He did, but it didn’t fit!  It goes back with the one that doesn’t work so they can get the right one/size.

Sigh.  So, I took the expired Yaoundé passe-avant and the still-good N’gaoundéré one for the Land Cruiser that won’t run back to customs at the border.  (No, you can’t just use one written for one car with another…)  I now have a month-long document for the pick-up.  It is a double cab one that is actually newer and more comfortable than the Land Cruiser so I guess I did well…

Note:  for a while I was driving a Cameroonian vehicle from the church here, but other visitors came and it was needed.  How could I argue when I have two others I can use.  I just have to plan ahead if I want to leave GB!

So why am I in N’gaoundéré?  I met Willie Langdji here so that we can do the Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluating workshop for program leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon.  Two days starting today!  This is the same workshop we did for Central African leaders in February. 

Hope you have a great Palm Sunday.  I did go to church before I left GB and we did wave palms!  The pastor even talked about keeping them at home until next year so they can be used to make the Ash Wednesday ashes in 2016!


(Sorry, no pictures! Limited internet connection and I didn’t take any, anyway.)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Trauma Healing and Some Relaxation

Last Sunday, I traveled to Yaoundé – about 8 uneventful hours.  I came to help facilitate a workshop about healing the wounds of trauma.  This is the same seminar I attended in Bamenda (western, Anglophone Cameroon) in August.  It was in English then. 
 
This is also the same course that I taught at the Bible School in Garoua Boulai.  In both GB and this time it was taught in French.  As one of the facilitators, I got certified for the next level – I can now teach my own “Equipping Seminars.” 

How does all this work?  The purpose of the trauma healing groups is to accompany those who have faced trauma so that they can begin to heal.  A large part of the process is learning to listen to them – without judgment or advice.  Participants in the group find a safe place to share their stories and to help each other begin healing– as they also get more information about the process they are going through. 


Leaders who want to organized healing groups attend an “Equipping Seminar,” which helps them better understand the lessons, the process used, and to get a little practice teaching others.  After this first seminar and the experience of leading at least one group, a person can return to help teach the seminar in order to be able to lead one (independently or with others).  There is an Advanced Seminar which gives further information about various topics covered and spends even more time refining teaching techniques.  I have not yet taken that final step, but may have that opportunity in the summer. 

I am very impressed with this Trauma Healing Course, written originally in Africa by SIL leaders and now run internationally by the Bible Society (including the American Bible Society).  It is biblically based and also grounded in solid counselling/psychology practices.  I have, in my limited time with the program, seen healing begin.  And, of course, the need is intense in this part of the world.  If all goes as planned, I will one of two facilitators for leaders of the Central African Evangelical Lutheran Church at the beginning of April.  Obviously, their need is also great.

The workshop this week was sponsored by Open Doors International, an organization that supports Christians who are persecuted.  The 27 participants were all part of a Christian denomination, CMCI (the French initials for the Christian Missionary Community International).  These people are all based in Yaoundé and are anxious to start healing groups here in town. 

One lesson we taught explored ways leaders can take care of themselves, especially when surrounded by trauma and when working with people whose lives are full of wounds caused by trauma.  As you might imagine, one way is to relax, take some time off to get distance, and to interact with others socially.  So, I did some of that, too, this week!

First, every day I went for a walk.  The calmest and prettiest were around the compound of CTC/SIL where I was staying and where the workshop was held.  I also walked along the main road sometimes (but no pictures of the exhaust fumes and scads of taxis, cars, and trucks).

Next, the Rain Forest International School (RFIS) staged their high school play this weekend and I had the chance to go Friday.  This is the school where Christa Troester (daughter of my former next-door neighbors in Baboua, CAR) is currently a senior.  In fact, she was the assistant director of “Barbequing Hamlet.”  It turned out that another facilitator of the workshop, Ann, has sons who were part of the stage crew.  When Ann mentioned the play during a coffee break, I jump at the chance to go – and basically invited myself along with her family.   (She graciously accepted.)  It has been a long time
since I was in high school (sigh), but I have been to many school plays over the years and love going.  This one was well worth the effort!  The tenth graders prepared dinner which was served in classrooms – ample food that was delicious.  Then we watched the comedy about a community theatre that stages Hamlet – with advertisements added including a western setting with barbeque.  The actors were great and the play totally enjoyable.  Congratulations to the actors, directors, stage crew, set designers, cooks and everyone else who was involved.  It is so good to laugh!


This morning I went to church (mostly in Gbaya) led by Pastor Ngimbe Nestor.  I worked with him last year in GB when he was the director of the Bible School.  He is now the parish pastor.  Another pastor who teaches at the Bible School was staying at his house.  I also got to see Pastor Ndende Ange, pastor from Baboua who is currently studying in Yaounde.  And, I am now staying for a couple of days with the Langdjis.  More time to visit and relax. 

Tomorrow I have errands to run and then I head back to GB Tuesday.  It has been a full schedule but productive and helpful.  I am, however, looking forward to going back to less humidity – still hot, and the rains have restarted, but GB seems to be less humid and has more cooling breezes.  (I won’t miss Yaoundé traffic either.)


May you find someone who listens, really listens, when you need healing of a heart wound.  And, may you also provide the listening ear when someone around you has need. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

When is Helping Not Helping?

How do we help in constructive ways that will build a better world for the next generations?

As I was talking with some Central Africans who are working with a humanitarian aid project recently and one commented that it is not good to just give people things because then they expect to get more later and aren’t willing to help.  Wow!  What an insightful comment!  This man is working in an area that was devastated by fighting 18 months ago.  People fled, spent weeks in the bush, and came back to burned out houses and destroyed crops.  A humanitarian crisis of major proportions. 

My friend reported that a couple of the villages received monetary and food aid.  (I don’t know the details and didn’t ask.)  Now, he is working with Lutheran Disaster Response and the Evangelical Lutheran Church - Central African Republic in an accompaniment model project.  That means that the beneficiaries are actively involved in all aspects of the project – from planning, to implementing, to evaluating.  Further, villagers are organized into teams who share tools and work together to make mud bricks and build houses.  Later, as the rains come, they will work together to plant and harvest. 
 
Most people are thrilled to have the support and anxious to be involved.  These are their villages, their lives.  They like having some control and being active participants.  We hope that in working together, they can rebuild peace and various groups be reconciled to a life that includes respect for those who are different than they are.  We hope, too, that they will all be less willing to destroy houses in the future since they helped build them! 

There are, however, the one or two villages that received “free” aid some time ago.  My friend says they now sit back with their arms crossed and ask for more.  Why aren’t you feeding us as we work?  Why can’t we have houses with tin roofs instead of thatch?  Why can’t you just give us the money? 

They got once (or often, who knows?) so now they sit with their hands (figuratively) out wanting more.  Those who want to do “drive-by” giving often throw money at a problem or give what they think is needed because it can be done quickly and the giver can feel good about having done something.  This is (often intentionally) condescending and paternalistic.  In the long run, I believe it is also harmful to both the giver and the receiver.  The receiver will, sooner or later, become resentful and/or dependent.

I am pleased to say that the people expecting handouts are the minority.  (And, they don’t get what they ask for!  They, too, have to participate to benefit.)  But I think their attitude shows the huge advantage of accompaniment projects as opposed to those which bring materials or food or money and just leave it. 

This situation makes me think of a great poem by Shel Silverstein, “Helping.”  The first examples are
accompaniment (not that he would have called them that).  The teams work together to complete the task and then benefit together.  And then there is Zachary Zugg.


Accompaniment is needed in many situations, not just CAR or strife-torn regions.  How can those of us who have more work with those in need in ways that are respectful, inclusive, and based on the true needs of the “beneficiaries”?  We can also learn and grow, but it demands some time and effort on our parts.  And, initially, we may be viewed as hard-hearted or mean that we won’t just give what we have.  It is worth insisting on accompaniment.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

International Women’s Day – March 8, 2015

International Women's Day is a MUCH bigger deal in Cameroon than in the USA.  We have much to learn!

Festivities actually begin March 1 with various activities.  One big one was a food festival from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. outside town hall here in Garoua Boulai.  Many women prepared foods from around the country – they were labeled by region.  I tasted several, including some Ndolé and plantains made by Merilee – pictured here.  (I know her from other food preparation she has done for meeting for us.)  Many of the women used regular plates and metal silverware.  I was glad to see so little plastic (even though my food was on one such plate.)  There was also (loud) music – and the men sold beer… 

Saturday, there was a dance at the Sous-Préfet’s building.  Lots of music and people.  There was also a lot of music and dancing into the evening at local bars.  Celebrations galore.

Cameroon makes a commemorative material each year (with a choice of two color variations).  You can buy the material in six yard pieces to make something or ready-made dresses.  I got a ready-made one.  Here’s a picture of me in my living room – by a painting I bought recently – I almost match, no? (But not quite…)

So if you had such a dress, when would you start to wear it?  I debated, but decided to put it on when I went to the food festival Friday, March 6.  By my house, I saw one friend who complemented me on the dress.  Then, two minutes later, two strangers told me I had to go home and change.  They told me that no one wears the dresses before March 8.  In fact, they said, if I were in Yaoundé, women would throw stones at me for the breach!  It is permissible to wear dresses from previous years and many do wear them often in early March.  So, I went home and changed.  Live and learn.  Note:  I took the photo today, so I am “legally” wearing the dress.

Today there was a parade that officially started at 10 a.m.  Church was shorter than usual with French and Gbaya in one service.  It was over by 10.  I walked into town in the direction of the parade, but ended up chatting with some friends.  Then I decided that parades never start on time – 2-3 hours late is the norm, and it was hot and sunny.  The next decision was that I would not go to the parade grounds.  I am told that many women’s groups march/dance together wearing dresses of the official material.  I am sure they had a good time.

I was invited to lunch with friends (Solofo, Joely, and Brian).  We had a great visit and had our own private celebration.

It feels very humid today although my little indicator only says 52%.  It is hot and I feel sticky.  Ah, well, it is equatorial Africa at the end of the dry season.  We actually had about 10 drops of rain 45 minutes ago, but except for the cloudy sky nothing else seems to have changed. 

Marthe, Me, Gertrude, Pastor Abel
I have spent three intensive days working with two women and a man on four planning documents for each of four Central African church programs.  They worked diligently and long.  The documents that needed the least revision were the ones for Pastor Rachel’s Lutheran Center!  A fitting way to end a blog for International Women’s Day.

What change do you think women need and want that will advance all humanity?  I can’t narrow my opinion to one, so I say an end to abuse and human trafficking.  Peace would be good, too, but that is for everyone. 


Celebrate the women in your life.  Happy International Women’s Day – March 8.