Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Update on the little boy of the rape victim

Ed sent some pictures of the little boy who had surgery on a tumor. Thanks to the folks who gave so this little boy could be helped! Him mom, one of the rape victims we met in Bukavu is overjoyed!

Update on Offering

With the extra money we raised last Sunday for the earthquake relief, we were able to help repair one of the pastor's houses that was heavily damaged.

His name isRutakangwa Murhula. His house was totally destroyed in the earthquake. He received $60 to get his family into a rental house for 6 months but needs to rebuild. He has given me an estimate of $813 for all of the material and labor to get it done. This would be a house made from poles to which bamboo strips would be attached inside and out so that in between they can put small rocks and then coat with a layer of mud. It would have a metal roof.

He has come to work here every day since he got the $60 so he could help with the building of the wall without expecting any pay in return.

Thanks to those who gave and now have seen a blessing from the Lord!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Some good news on repairing Sopo's House

Mick Adams one of our Unit guys shared with our congregation this morning about Sopo's house and what we were doing in trying to repair it after the earthquake.

We gave people an opportunity to help us withe the expenses, needed about $1,000. The folks came up with almost $2,000! God bless you all! What a joy it is to pastor at a place like Maryland! You guys rock!

To God be the glory!

Friday, February 22, 2008

A night to hear about the Congo Trip

There will be a dessert and coffee time on Thursday Feb. 28, 6:30 pm in the Atrium at MCC for you to come and hear, see and learn about "The Unit's" mission to Congo.

There will be pictures and some video.

Love to have you there! Plan on coming.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday At MCC

It was great seeing all "the Unit" at church this morning! Some of us were a little ragged and still getting over jet lag and some tummy issues. But it was such a joy to be back worshiping with our family at Maryland.

My son asked me, "was culture shock harder going to Congo or coming back?" Good question! I told him they were both very uncomfortable and each was hard.

The sheer lack of normal comforts was everywhere in Bukavu. I missed my wife, my recliner, my shower, my bed, my TV, my good internet connection, my cell phone, electricity being on all the time, running water all the time, etc. The constant onslaught of poverty and the ravages of war were all around. One amazing cultural difference was the huge honor and respect the church of Congo gave us. We were treated like royalty and their humble respect was overwhelming.

Back here in the USA I was just overcome by all the things that were available to me that I had taken for granted. The sheer ability to be comfortable was just awesome. I don't think I ever want to take it for granted again. As I walked into MCC I was overwhelmed by the huge difference it was compared to the three churches we had worshiped at in Congo. Sometimes you just have to distance yourself from what you have to appreciate it and even understand it.

It was so hard after church to try and explain to a reporter about our trip. How do you put it into words. They seemed to fail us. But we tried. I found myself even disappointed in all the pictures that just didn't quite communicate what I saw and felt. In some ways I find myself thinking, wow, no wonder Jesus had such a hard time communicating the Kingdom of God! Talk about foreign concepts!

The little phrase we were taught by Ed Buell, was "TIA" or That Is Africa is really almost impossible to communicate to somone who hasn't been there and experienced it.

Hopefully over the next few months the six of us will do our best to communicate about our neighbors in Bukavu Congo. They taught us so much about faith, living for the day and hope. We learned what it meant do something in the name of Jesus and have it make a difference. Some lives were change, including ours.

I want to live more "in the moment" and not so much in the future. Easy to say, but I know how hard it will be. I think, "one day at a time" really hit me between the eyes in Congo.

Well so much for that rambling, forgive me, I am still kind of working it all through.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


We arrived home safe and almost sound at 10:10 pm in Indianapolis.

We had a slight detour through St. Louis after missing a connection in Chicago from a delay in Brussels, but that is minor with all this in perspective!

We will all be reorienting for a few days for sure.

God has been good! I have truly enjoyed and been blessed by the five guys; Mick, Dutch, Denny, Paul and Jim who joined me on this mission. Way to go UUNIT, you were awesome!

Thanks Ed and Brenda, you two were amazing, we are so blessed at MCC to partner with you and African Christian Mission.

From a tired but blessed Pastor Vinny.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

On our way home!

We left for home on Tuesday morning 9 am Bukavu time. We flew out of Bukavu to Kigali; interesting flight but all went well. We stayed in Kigali for 8 hours before we left for Brussels. That was quite an experience. Not your airport with a lot of conveniences! A ragged internet connection, but it did work with only two electrical outages!

We met a woman who works for the American Embassy; she is a believer and was worshiping at a church in Rwanda when the earthquake hit. We share our "rock and roll" stories. She was excited about what we had done and we gave her the blog site to check it out.

Met two guys in disaster relief that were stuck at the airport; one from New York the other from L.A. They said they were going to be on Oprah on March 2; we will see if we see them!

Met to missionary ladies from Phoenix also; Dutch had a great time talking with them and sharing stories.

We arrived here in Brussels at 7:30 am Brussels time; 1:30 am Terre Haute time. Have a four hour layover before an eight hour flight to Chicago. We are glad to see some things that look like home!

I am having a great cup of Espresso Mocha; not sure what I paid for it, but it was worth it! The internet is working like a charm and I am in a little bit of heaven until we real set foot of the mother land! Not looking forward to more airtime, but if that is what it takes! Dutch said it beats the vans and taxis in Bukavu!

See you soon!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Monday Evening 2.11

Monday evening 2.11

We had two groups of Congolese come to say good-bye to us. JP and his family was a precious time that we all deeply appreciated. What a great blessing from the Lord they were to us and continue to be to the Buell's.

Then the executive committee from Ceca 40 came had some tea and food with us. They formally thanked us from coming. Muganza, the President (Jeff & Peta), read from John 13:14-15 and told us that we had come to Congo and washed their feet. They gave us a certified thank you letter and invited us to come back any time. We likewise invited them to come to the U.S. some time. They laughed and said it was a pretty long walk and swim!

We closed out the night with a couple of more tremors, why not! We will not miss those things for sure.

None of us slept well. We were physically and emotionally exhausted. I just kept flashing back to my walk through the crowded market going to Sopo's. Then scenes of their house. Jambo'sana kept going through my head. The scene of washing feet was also on my mind. I have taught on that example many times. But this teaching to me was powerful. To say that people's feet are dirty around here and in need of attention is no overstatement for effect, it is reality.

The scenes of beautifully dressed Congolese women and smartly dressed men walking in mud and sewage will never leave my memory. The extreme measures they go through to be clean in the middle of all this dirt is exhausting.