Sunday, January 31, 2010

DRC Three Days In

Missing Luggage. We are doing well here in the DR Congo. Two team members were delayed and arrived in Kigali a half day and a day later than the rest of the team. I sent the team with our contacts on a bus up to Goma and stayed in Kigali for one night to wait for the volunteers as well as return to the airport several times to collect the straggling luggage. After three more flights Kenya Airways has been so kind as to deliver 12 more pieces of luggage but one is "still not here". I am thankful to be able to say I have friends in Kigali who took great care of me in these shifting circumstances.

Soccer Gear. The good thing is that all the bags carry donated soccer gear has made it. We have arranged to meet the teams next Sunday. We have been told the girls team (ages 12-14) have now additionally become a wonderful choir and will perform for us. Something else to look forward too!

Designing on Lava. Upon my arrival in Goma with the two stragglers, our team walked the large property with the ministry reps. We are designing their new headquarters where they will oversee the operation of dozens and dozens of schools, medical clinics/hospitals, churches and vocational training centres in eastern DR Congo. The new facilities will be right on top of the lava flow that flattened their previous facilities in 2002 (first such incidence in 120 years of work in this region). It's definitely some new territory for our volunteer architects and engineers!

Please continue to pray for team unity and a servants heart as we put together a complex master plan and design the buildings for this amazing ministry.

Pray too for the arrival of one more piece of luggage, that of our volunteer architect, as he awaits his drafting tools and borrows some clothing for (hopefully) just a few more days.

Julie says in an e-mail that she and the kids are doing great. I'm bummed because I missed Cam's first appearance in a city-wide Allstar soccer game but I look forward to seeing the video that Julie took when I get home. Blessings.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Volcanoes, Guerillas, Gorillas and Genocide

The city of Goma, in North Kivu province, is considered the capital of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. In this very large central African country where the capital lies far to the west, this border city to Rwanda has seen some very rough times. In the late 1990’s its location put it in the midst of the First and Second Congo Wars, the second of which was dubbed “Africa’s world war”. This conflict saw the death of nearly 5.5 million people, mostly from disease and starvation, as well as the displacement of millions more from there homes.

A large part of Goma’s recent history is also wrapped up in the effects and aftermath of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The areas surrounding Goma experienced a massive influx of both genocide victims as well as those who perpetrated the crime. This volatile mix resulted in violence and conflict that to one degree or another still exists in the region.

The ecological focal points in this region are the fragile forests and the famed mountain gorillas that dwell in them. The price for a tourist to get close to these magnificent animals is upwards of $500 for the one-hour experience. Besides destruction caused by the encroachment of humans these precious but limited forest habitats were recently threatened by fire as the result of burning lava running down the sides of a nearby volcano.

Working to bring peace, stability and the mind-renewing love of Christ in the midst of this volatile mix of political instability, environmental concerns and outright human conflict is the Community of Baptist Churches in Eastern Congo (CEBCE). For many years this group has founded churches, established schools and brought modern medicine to this region.

eMi first partnered with CEBCE in the fall of 2008 with a disaster response team, in conjunction with Samaritan’s Purse, to provide water filtration and sanitation to serve 2,500 people at a camp for Internally Displaced People (IDP). Representatives of CEBCE were the local coordinators for these efforts.

In 2002 a rare but deadly volcanic eruption of nearby Mt. Nyirogongo sent lava streaming through the city of Goma, wiping out the main administrative and ministry complex of CEBCE. Our eMi team of 12 will help to redesign a new multi-use ministry center. The facilities will include a new health center and medical laboratory, a guest house for visiting pastors and teams (like ours), conference spaces and commercial retail spaces which will provide revenue to help fund the work of CEBCE.

Our team will be flying into Kigali, Rwanda and drive overland into the DR Congo. Our prayer requests for the team include safety in our travels in the sky and on the ground, unity as we get to know and work with one another and sensitivity in listening to and providing a design that is well suited to the ministries of CEBCE. We also ask for prayer for all our families at home who need to handle the ongoing busyness of life without those of us on the team.

You can see more details of the project by visiting the link under Greg's Upcoming Projects at the top of the right side bar of the blog. Thank you to all supporters and friends who have come alongside my family and me in so many different ways, making it possible for me to be a part of this work. I look forward to sharing with you all about this project upon our return.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Response to Crisis in Haiti

For all those who have asked me for updates regarding the condition of the children at Haiti Children's Rescue Mission, I am thankful to report that all the children are safe, as is Pastor Jean-Fritz, Madame and their small staff of house parents.

I have just received news that a benefactor in Texas has applied to have all the children of HCRM be flown as soon as possible to Texas where they can be cared for while the process of adoption into American families is ongoing. This is wonderful news but as you can imagine, a stressful and vigorous process is needed to ensure the proper and excellent care of each child during this whole process.

Please pray for Pastor Jean-Fritz and Madame as they prepare to part ways with these children and look ahead to receiving many more during this terrible and trying time in Haiti. They still need funds immediately for the ongoing care of these children and also as they look to the future they will need money to construct the orphanage facilities that our eMi team has designed for them.

Please see the Support Us page at Canadian donors will continue to receive receipts for their support through Acitve Christians With A Mission (ACWAM): However, American donors cannot currently receive a tax receipt.

eMi now has two trained first response teams in Haiti. We work in conjunction with Samaritan's Purse and Food For the Hungry. To read more about our efforts go to and refer to our news items at the bottom of the page.