Archives For Brazzaville

Ghislaine

by Mara Seibert, HOPE fellow in the Republic of Congo, reposted from www.maraseibert.com

This Mother’s Day, HOPE is honoring the creativity, dedication, and love of the women we serve as they work to provide for their families. Join us in honoring the many roles mothers like Ghislaine play through our “We Heart Moms” campaign.

7 a.m. Early enough that clouds still cover the sky and the air is cool. Children in blue and white uniforms walk to school, and Brazzaville is waking up. Breakfast in Brazzaville depends on where you live. Some people prefer bread and eggs, others substitute manioc for the bread, and then you have one of the most bizarrely cross-cultural meals I have witnessed: spaghetti with beans and mayonnaise. Some of my colleagues eat it for breakfast, and the bite I had was surprisingly good.

One of my favorite Congolese breakfast items would have to be beignets—essentially a Congolese doughnut, sweet and fried in oil. Here, beignets and riz-au-lait (sweet rice in milk) are made by Congolese mamas all around Brazzaville early in the morning, and on this particular morning I was finally going to try some of Mama Ghislaine’s beignets.

Ghislaine holding beignets

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As we walk through the bustling marketplace, the spiritual integration officer at HOPE Congo, Precy Ndongui, calls out “Hello!” in English to anyone who has been part of the HOPE Congo family, and without fail the clients respond with the expected “Hi.” As an excellent former loan officer, Precy knows this call and response well and energetically greets the clients as friends. As we navigated through the market from one busy client to another, clients’ words of friendship and community through times of joy and difficulty stood out. I invite you to meet a few beautiful women from the HOPE family:

Euridice

“Now I have another family,” says Euridice, a member of a HOPE community bank in Brazzaville. As she smiles and confidently sells us a bag of peanuts, Euridice explains how she has not only benefitted from the business trainings on investing wisely, managing cash flow, and developing savings, but has also grown closer to other women who sell in the same market as they learn together and visit one another.

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Over the next few days, I will be sharing some thoughts and reflections from my recent visit to Brazzaville, Republic of Congo and Kigali, Rwanda.  The trip was incredible for a variety of reasons.  God is transforming lives in amazing ways, and the teams in each program are doing a great job of steadily improving our spiritual integration (SI) efforts.  So please tune in over the coming days, as I share the most meaningful thoughts and impressions from the trip. 

Just as many were preparing for church Sunday morning, ammunition stockpiles exploded in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, collapsing buildings and killing or injuring thousands. Though official reports are much lower, our staff in-country report an estimated death toll of 600-700 or more, while thousands have been injured. Relief workers have been unable to thoroughly search for survivors amid the rubble because the blast scattered many unexploded devices that could remain volatile. HOPE operates in Brazzaville and six miles away in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, where shockwaves from the blast remained strong enough to shatter windows. This morning we received an update from one of our staff members in Brazzaville, asking for continued prayer. Please join us in praying for our brothers and sisters in Congo.

We are very fortunate that all of our staff our safe after the explosions. With that said we are still trying to assess the impact on our clients. Please be in prayer for them as we can only assume that some have been injured or even killed. Homes and business have been destroyed. I would ask that you particularly pray for two of our staff members, our loan supervisor and our senior cashier. Our senior cashier’s home was completely destroyed on Sunday, and she is now living with her uncle. Our loan supervisor’s home also received extensive damage, and she is now living in a safer area for the time being. They both came to work yesterday just to see everyone. It was heartbreaking to see the look on their faces. You can just see the sorrow and sadness that is inside them. Their hearts are very heavy. This has no doubt impacted them emotionally. Please keep them in your prayers.

January 16, 2012, 3:34 EST – Brazzaville, Republic of Congo

Another great day in Brazzaville! We started the day at 8 a.m. at the HOPE Congo offices with morning devotions. I led the staff through morning devotions, studying Romans 5: 1-8.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I’ve repeatedly come back to this passage during my time at HOPE. It is so encouraging and poetic, and it puts our daily trials into a larger perspective. Later in the day, when our loan officer was leading his clients through devotions during a repayment meeting, I heard him allude to the Romans passage that we reviewed during staff devotions. Daily staff devotions are core to our mission at HOPE International: we must be spiritually fed as staff members if we are going to minister to our clients. Continue Reading…