The newsletter of Bill and Sonia Shaw,
currently serving the Lord in Lubumbashi, DR Congo
In our spring newsletter we wrote about building with charcoal-fired adobe bricks. We wrapped up the first quarter of the year with a smallish construction project using those bricks. We turned two unused offices (except for storage) into a small apartment by putting in a connecting door and adding a bathroom to the back of the original Bible school building. In the future this will be a relaxing area for the professors to spend their breaks and hold planning meetings. The reason why we put the apartment together at this time was to welcome Missionary Associate, Sara Nelson, from the state of Indiana. She arrived safely on June 22nd, and she is now comfortably settled in her new living space. While here in Congo for the next two years, Sara will be working with local churches to develop a program for teenagers. Young people aged 12 to 18 are somewhat neglected on this part of the continent because churches either place them with younger children in Sunday school or they become an overlooked part of the older "youth group," ranging in age to 30+ (like Christ's Ambassadors were 50 years ago in the USA). Sara has worked with middle school girls in her home church, and she saw the urgent need for this type of ministry during her Engage Congo assignment two years ago.
April began with a prayer retreat for the English/international congregation on the theme of being crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20). The Easter celebration included a baptismal service and communion. The first baptismal candidate was an 87-year-old grandmother, the mother-in-law of the pastor who hosts our congregation. The pastor and his wife had witnessed to her for over thirty years, and she refused to accept the gift of salvation until recently when another woman in the church felt led to share with her. As they conversed, the mama's heart finally opened to the Good News. As soon as she gave her life to the Lord, she asked to be baptized. What a joyful celebration that day was for the family of God here in Lubumbashi!
Covid-19 has changed many things over the past year and a half. One of those things was the ability to travel freely, and another was the availability of needed surgical procedures. Both of us were scheduled to have knee surgeries during the long summer vacation of 2020. That did not happen due to lockdowns in both DR Congo and South Africa. Finally, travel and hospitals opened sufficiently this spring to allow us to reschedule those operations. We left for South Africa just after Easter. Sonia's meniscus needed repair and Bill's total left knee replacement happened without incident on April 20th. For a couple of weeks both of us hobbled about on crutches. We went through several weeks of physical therapy after the operations, and we feel that the surgeries were a great success. Getting "OLDER" does bring about changes°
Sonia flew from Johannesburg to the USA to participate in her brother's memorial service (a casualty of Covid-19) and spent quality time with family members. She especially enjoyed getting reacquainted with our grandchildren whom she had not seen in person for nearly two years. She learned all about dinosaurs from Zach and spent a lot of time reading stories and being silly with him and his sister Tali.
While Sonia was in the USA, Bill completed his physical therapy and prepared to return to Lubumbashi. However, he was experiencing what he thought were cold or allergy symptoms that week. When he went to get his mandatory covid test before flying internationally, he found that he did not have a simple head cold, but covid-19! He ended up spending two additional weeks in South Africa, isolated in his hotel room, while he recovered. Thankfully he had a light case with no lingering symptoms.
Bill was only home for a few days before Sonia arrived. Since then, we have been doing a lot of catchup work in Bible school administration, helping our intern get settled, and working with the English congregation. During our South Africa trip and since our return, Bill has also completed the last two courses for his MA in Ministry Leadership from Northwest University, for which we rejoice.
During our absence, the diploma level classes continued under very capable local leadership at the Bible school, and the B.Th. students completed their second session of extension courses from West Africa Advanced School of Theology. Session three will begin July 6th. We are all looking forward to an extra-large Bible school graduation this year. Since covid delayed the first group of graduates from completing their studies on time, we are planning for the first two groups of morning students plus the first group of evening students to graduate together in one grand celebration in December.
Wishing all our supporters and friends a wonderful summer.
Bill and Sonia Shaw
Lubumbashi, DR Congo