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Try again.

My mind has been all cattywompus since returning to America. The dates on my previous posting about the Amani Ya Juu Holiday Sale are incorrect!

Please note: I will be selling Wednesday – Friday, December 15-17

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So this is Christmas…in Congo

Last week, the only sign of Christmas (other than the homemade snowflakes hung to decorate the house) was Ella Fitzgerald crooning “Let it Snow!” on my iPod…which just seems wrong since the weather outside is frightfully hot.

our Christmas decorations: just one string of snowflakes cut from scraps of paper

But today, Christmas is here…whether or not I can see any visible sign. On the surface level, this Congolese Christmas feels foreign, so far from all I know Christmas to be. At the same time though, it is exactly what I know. The underlying and foundational message transcends culture, continent, and language. The message of God’s Son sent to Earth to save us from ourselves.

Congo allows me to experience this message more clearly than ever before. Nothing clouds or distracts from the birth of Christ which is honored first and foremost. Congo has no newspapers or magazines to advertise the best gifts of the season. There are no shopping centers, no Christmas decorations, no presents wrapped beneath an evergreen tree, no postal service to send Christmas cards, no stockings full of candy, and no Christmas feast with family.

The absence of distractions allows me to experience Christmas as it was intended. Seeking God in silence and allowing thankfulness to flow freely from my heart in response to God’s glorious gift. The Congolese refrain from all work on this day and the Christians celebrate with utmost reverence. They dwell in the promise of God’s presence, Immanuel, and bask in the light of His Glory.

Although I yearn for the presence of my family and friends, carols sung round the fire, and snow (okay, maybe not the shoveling part), I am enjoying a renewed appreciation for Christ’s birth. Perhaps God had to physically remove me from the many distractions in America for me to truly understand the gravity of His sacrifice.

“For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” Luke 2:30-32

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…

Mission: Impossible?

Formerly blogging as designdumpster, my advisory board Mother suggested I establish a new site for all things Congo-related.

So, this is Megan…

On A Mission. Well, not quite yet.

I’m actually beginning to feel a bit like Tom Cruise circa 1996.

Seems more like “Mission: Impossible” than Megan On A Mission. I am boggled by the red tape one must go through to begin serving in Africa. This week has been one obstacle after the next. Hoop after hoop to jump through. At what point do I stop pushing through these roadblocks and surrender to closed doors?

So, this is Megan….

Feeling discouraged.

Wanting to serve.

Desiring to have an impact.

Aspiring to change the world.

But maybe the world doesn’t want to be changed?