Monthly Archives: November 2009

What’s in a Name?

In Congo, names have great significance and insight into the character of an individual. Oftentimes, parents will wait weeks or months before naming a new child. For instance, the woman who cooks for our volunteer house is Mama Furaha. The Swahili translation of “furaha” is “joy”, which perfectly depicts her delightful and exuberant spirit.

When we are introduced, many Congolese inquire about the meaning of my name. After a week of responding with a puzzled and vacant stare, I channeled my inner research enthusiast and asked Jeeves. So, according to Wikipedia, “Megan” means brave, pearl, and precious. I’ll take it.

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A Picture Paints 1000 Words:


Many of you have requested photos, so here’s a snapshot of the journey thus far.

Boat ride at sunset on Lake Victoria (spent 2 days in Kampala, Uganda en route to Congo)

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Honest to God?

Our front yard and the walkway to our house...

With less than one hour of internet access over the past week, I feel entirely disconnected…guess I never realized my dependence on technology.

Admittedly, I think I over-romanticized the simple life. Stateside, I craved a life free from the chains of electronics. Perhaps I was enslaved to my Blackberry and cyberspace. I acknowledge that nouns morphed to verbs which became paramount to my vernacular as I Googled, ChaCha-ed or Facebook-ed my way through life. Truthfully, though, I never felt as though the information superhighway prevented my development of relationships.

Brutally honest? I miss it.
Out here in the jungle it is truly primitive…no exaggeration. This rudimentary life consists of no cell phone. No internet (except occasionally at school when the weather is clear). No electricity (except for a few hours each day). Sponge baths in the evening. Washing clothes by hand. Sparse furnishings.

Nonetheless, I’m realizing that by disconnecting with life as I once knew it, I’m able to reconnect with God on an entirely different level. Less distractions allow me to refocus on what matters… renewing my gratitude for family meals; sleeping when the sun goes down. I’m learning to appreciate the rooster rather than my alarm clock; releasing my fear of germs as I try to embrace the mud, dirt, and dust.

Worshipping Without

My first exposure to life in Beni, DR Congo was at the Congo Initiative/UCBC church service on Sunday. As I observed the worship team leading the congregation in song, I noticed a lack of instruments. My initial reaction was pity because they had such limited resources, however, I quickly experienced the most joyous worship time I have ever known: voices raised in glorious harmonies singing songs without words, clapping hands with various rhythms, and dancing feet to keep tempo. My heart leaped with joy as I was keenly aware of God’s presence.


How contrary to our American notion that musical worship requires a myriad of instruments played with the highest level of technical skill, perfect intonation, and flawless rhythm. I am caused to question whether it is DR Congo or America which is truly lacking. Do we know how to worship the LORD in America without our man-made instruments, sheet music, and technology?

Thanks to the generosity of my friends and family in America, I have brought with me a guitar and new drum heads for Congo Initiative. Oddly enough, I now feel reluctant to share these resources for fear that it will somehow taint the Congolese style of worship…

Girl to the World

My suitcases are packed…I guess this is it!

So I bid farewell Milwaukee; new adventures are in store. Today I am feeling entirely naive and ill-equipped, yet confident in God’s provision for me to serve in Africa. I’m excited to see how God will change me this next season and eager to be used by Him to make an impact on others.

I should arrive in Entebbe, Uganda on Thursday. By Sunday, I hope to be in Beni, Congo.

standingonsuitcases

Makes no difference where I go

…Milwaukee is still the best hometown I know:

Just a few more weary days and then…

Photo on 2009-11-07 at 22.01 #5

I’ll fly away.

But until then, still more packing.

Still more goodbyes.

Still more tears.

What I’ll miss about Milwaukee…

The day draws near when I leave this old town. And the closer that day comes, the more I’m realizing how much I’ll miss Milwaukee. When I first moved back here, I didn’t like the city. Every day I compared it to Madison and every day Milwaukee came up short. Milwaukee didn’t have State St, the LVM, or Badger football. Milwaukee didn’t have the Rathskeller, Urban Outfitters, or Hoofers.

Fast forward 7 years and Milwaukee has found its way into my heart. It may never have Badger football, but this sweet city has much more to offer than I gave it credit for…

1. I will miss Alterra coffee. I love love love Alterra. But really, its about more than just terrific coffee and espresso. I love the environment and atmosphere. I love the people. I love the food.

2. I will miss Milwaukee music. I will miss the cutting edge talent that comes out of this city as well as the national talent that comes into the city (and the radio station that helps make this happen, 88.9 Radio Milwaukee). Highlights from the past few years: Northern Room, Lykke Li, Mat Kearney, Copeland, The 5 Browns, Wilco, Fever Marlene.

sketch-epikos2

3. I will miss my church, epikos. I will miss the building, the people, the music, the messages. This is my church and the lovely rose window (I promise I was paying attention during the sermon…)

4. I will miss my friends. This week has been filled with goodbyes to the friends that have made Milwaukee, without many of whom, Milwaukee would be just another ordinary city. The next year is certain to bring about many changes in their lives: marriages, new babies, new homes, new careers. I am sad to miss this.

5. I will miss the fantastic art and architecture sprinkled throughout the city: Milwaukee Art Museum’s Calatrava addition, the turn-of-the-century Lake Drive mansions, Pfister Hotel, Bradley Sculpture Gardens, Villa Terrace, Basilica of St. Josaphat, Old North Point Water Tower…

To Be, or Not To Be? (indecision at its best)

indecision

For those of you who haven’t met me, I’m a terribly indecisive person. I waver back and forth all day long. I evade making a decision until the last possible second. Why don’t I like making decisions? Because I fear that I won’t be pleased with the outcome or I worry that an alternate selection would have been better, smarter, less-expensive, more appropriate.

Check it out:

A few months ago, I was that girl you saw who was paralyzed in the Target aisle while trying to purchase bleach. This should be a simple decision, right? Wrong. In purchasing bleach, one must make 37 decisions:

Brand: Clorox Regular, Clorox Ultra, Chlorox Plus, Seventh Generation, Mrs. Myers Organic, Generic
Scent: Regular, Lemon Fresh, Mountain Fresh, Clean Linen, Lavendar
Ingredients: Chlorinated or Chlorine-free
Size (oz): 24, 32, 64, 96, 182
Price: Regular, Sale, Coupon-valid
Extra features: Splash-less, Child-safe
.

Okay, maybe 37 is a bit of an exaggeration. But seriously?!?

Lately, there seem to be a multitude of decisions to be made…and suddenly, I feel overwhelmed. Even as I type this posting (which in turn, reminds me of the amount of decisions still left undecided) I feel entirely overwhelmed.

Just for once, I wish someone would select for me. Tell me what type of coffee to order, which shoes will be most comfortable, which laptop bag will be most adequate, which medication has the least side effects, what store has what I’m looking for, when to go to bed, how much shampoo I will need to last me 12 months, who should I meet with one last time, what coverage of sunscreen will suffice….

Here’s what I’m trying to say: I am SO eager to experience the simplicity of African culture. Perhaps too idealistic, but I hope to be cured from this plague of decisions I face here in America.

Let the countdown begin…7 days from today I will be en-route to DR Congo and hopefully less decisions.