May 2016

Hello,

Is there good news anywhere? Sometimes I wonder.

Today's good news is that Beni is relatively calm, and UCBC is in session. For the past week the opposition parties to President Kabila have threatened protests against the Kabila and government efforts to delay the November electionsAccording to the news, there have been clashes between protestors and police in Goma and Kinshasa. According to individuals with friends and family in Butembo, that city has been on edge.

When we left campus yesterday afternoon we did not know if we would come to work today. In spite of the local and provincial government ban against opposition activity, resentment against the government boils. One is never certain about the public response.

Since things were quiet in town this morning, the decision to continue with work was confirmed. Many students and some staff did stay at home. As the day has progressed, the campus has slowly emptied. 

UCBC was closed for three days last week, as were all schools and businesses. Civil Society, a formal organization of businesses, called for a ville morte on Wednesday through Friday. All activities were suspended to honor those who have been massacred and kidnapped over the last 18 months. The ville morte was also an act of protest against the government, whom many believe are complicit in the violence. At the very least, the government is impotent to bring peace..

I share this not to raise worries, but to offer a snapshot of recent realities and to ask you to pray for Congo and our sisters and brothers here. 

The persistent undercurrent of uncertainty and the too-familiar disruption of daily life can slowly erode hope and drain energy. At the university, classes have to be cancelled and projects suffer delays.

Yet God prevails and faith persists. During a lunch today, my colleague Ndjabu noted, "We have gone through these troubles before. We don't know why. But we know God is great, and God will deliver this country."

I look out my office door to see Kisba pruning the hedges, and am reminded of the beauty that surrounds us. Kisba tells me he will have a cutting of lantana for me to take home this week and plant at my house.

Yesterday, first-year student Hakima excitedly showed me a book she is reading on agribusiness and agricultural education. She is one of our "Bilingualism Award Winners," and proud of her efforts to learn English.

On Monday we celebrated a colleague's birthday. Mama Furaha baked a cake decorated with "Happy Birthday, Matthieu." My sweet tooth enjoyed the treat.

Yes, there is uncertainty here in North Kivu Province, DR Congo. But there is uncertainty in every corner of the world. There is uncertainty in every corner of our own lives. God does not promise safety and security. God does promise grace, mercy, and a "peace that is beyond understanding." How grateful I am for the examples of grace, mercy, and peace beyond understanding that God shows me here in Beni.

Grace, mercy, and peace to you,
m