Worth Their Weight in Gold

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17 (NIV)

My life as an MK (missionary kid) in Congo was one I wouldn't trade for a million dollars. I am so thankful for those eight years from age ten to eighteen that shaped my world. Although there was plenty that was not laughable, I was thinking through some of the more humorous/fun experiences that my family shared through the years of living on the mission field. These memories are priceless to me.

(Dad and Chico, the Coke-loving chimp)

1) Having a pet chimpanzee named Chico who would drink the sugary contents of every rationed Coca-Cola bottle he could find.

2) Buying eggs from the Congolese and finding half-formed chicks in the broken shells (yuck!).

3) Having my father set up a zip-line for us (including twelve of our friends from boarding school) that spanned the width of our lake. It was a total blast and a total hit with all of us.

4) Wiping off the continual sweat beads between our noses and mouths on Christmas Day. That was really strange after living in the cold state of Michigan all of our lives before Congo.

5) Finding critters crawling in our cereal and eating the cereal anyway.

6) My sister, Nicol, and I making rock-hard loaves of bread at ages eleven and nine and selling them to the Congolese, who actually bought them from us.

7) Not being able to eat a can of Campbell's Bean Soup because the lack of salting our food made the soup's saltiness inedible to our taste buds. We actually threw that out.

8) Improvising for cream of tartar for a recipe--which usually meant leaving it out, as we did with many of the other ingredients we didn't have for a recipe. You should have seen those culinary successes!

(Our family at Nkara-Ewa, 1981)

9) Watching my youngest brother tear off the wings of the flying termites on the screen windows in the dining room and popping the insect's bodies into his mouth like he was eating candy.

10) Asking the Congolese where milk came from and hearing them respond, "From a can, of course..." All that was available to drink was powdered milk.

11) Watching the same VCR tapes over and over again until we had every line memorized and never getting tired of them.

12) Having to clean up my cat Tiger's regurgitated bat supper that he deposited on the bottom step of our home's staircase.

13) Dipping a bucket of water from the barrel just outside the bathroom to flush the toilet because we had no indoor plumbing.

14) Always taking a flashlight everywhere to be able to spot snakes that might cross my path in the dark.

15) Acceptance of having to dig the vehicle we were driving out of the sand or mud by shovel as all in a day's work, even if it delayed the trip by several hours.

16) Floating down the hippo and crocodile-infested Kwilu River on inner tubes.

17) Playing Christmas music January through December and ignoring the calendar's seasons.

18) Running through the house and flipping on all the lights every time the generator roared to life each night. I can still remember that delicious feeling of knowing the light switches came to life at night.

19) Playing five games of Clue in a row and then six games of Yahtzee and thinking that was a fun way to spend the afternoon.

20) Hearing the rodents playing tag on my plywood ceiling as I lay in bed at night listening to the scamper of their feet. I never had one night of insomnia because of my awareness of their presence above my head.

(Todd and his best friend, Narro, after a hunt.)

21) Reading mail that was six weeks old and opening packages that were six months old and feeling deliriously happy at their contents.

22) Being proposed to many times before the age of eighteen by men who were old enough to be my father. They promised they would pay a good dowry price to my father for me (at least two goats, a cow, and maybe some scrawny chickens to seal the deal!)

23) Driving all night in the Jolly Green Giant, our nickname for our seven-ton army truck, on mattresses piled high above the truck bed. The 70+ degree wind rushing all around me was cold enough for me to put on a jacket and get under a blanket.

24) My sister and I writing elaborate letters on tiny scraps of paper for our Barbie dolls.

25) The wonderful anticipation I felt as our family drove into Kinshasa, Congo's capital city, for vacation.

26) Thanksgiving and Christmas spent at Moanda on the Atlantic Ocean.

27) Calling adult missionaries "Aunt" and "Uncle" So-and-so, and not feeling weird that they were no blood relation at all.

28) Performing the skit, "I Wish I Were a Missionary Kid, there's nothing I'd rather be..." with all twelve stanza's of the song that went with it to an audience of adults or peers.

29) Learning to make do and improvise with the resources available (it's amazing how the creative juices flow when necessary!)

30) Adjusting to the fact that the Congolese know no such thing as personal space when sitting in close quarters, like at church. One church pew can hold fifty people there that would hold ten here!

31) A put-the-fear-of-God-into-you thunderstorm and the sun setting over the hill of Nsiangobo in the western sky.

Please feel free to add to this list if you care to by leaving a comment! Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for reading this post! [;-)]