In crossculture. People watching. Community in the two-thirds world and other places. About questions too: "Higher up and further in!" with an outreach twist? How?

A Fun Thing that Happened to Me in Congo! (Post #4 in series)

Those of ’round-about my generation or older, remember passing notes in highschool?

In my highschool, The American School of Kinshasa, Kinshasa, Congo we passed A LOT of notes!

Here’s a note, that got passed to me there in my school, by one of my  girlfriends, R., who was my age, in my grade, and who was also, like me, the daughter of crosscultural workers, only HER parents lived and worked in the middle of the jungle in Congo, while my family was up the Continent a hop, skip and a jump, by plane.  A couple of countries up, in GIGANTIC AFRICA, in Cameroun.

We were both sixteen, and Easter Vacation was coming up.  Cameroun was too far away and too expensive on the planes and all, in the seventies (which this was!) for my folks to be able to bring me home for the long Easter Vacation, so I didn’t really have anyplace to go, from my boarding hostel (MPH), and I was feeling sad at the prospect of spending all those lonely days all by myself in my empty boarding hostel while all my friends went home for the holidays!

My girlfriend rescued me!  She invited me home with her, to inland Congo, to spend the Easter Holidays with her and her family!  It was for ten days or two weeks, I can’t remember which.

Only, she and I waited with bated breath (or, at least, I waited with bated breath – I should only speak for myself here!) because there was a potential problem.  I might not be able to go!

That’s because there was no road to the place in the jungle where they lived and, the only way for us to GET there was by Piper Cub Cessna Six-seater (I’m pretty sure that was the kind of a plane.  Something like that.  I know it was very small and light, a six-seater.)  There might not be room for me. The crosscultural worker families who lived out there needed to use most of the tiny plane’s carefully calculated luggage and weight allowances for food, medicines and supplies they needed.

Then, on the morning of March 24th, in the middle of First Period English Class , R. slipped me this note!

March 23

Dear C.,

Guess what!!!

MAF has squeezed you onto the flight that I’m going up to V. on!  If you had been any bigger or fatter you wouldn’t have made it!  Doesn’t that make you glad that you’re the size you are?  (Note:  I had had to send in my WEIGHT notification, a couple of days earlier, to see if I would be able to get onto the flight or not!)

We’ll be leaving Thursday morning, probably around 11:00 or 12:00 for the airport.  Tell your hostel parents everything is clear.  Your way back on the boat is all arranged.  Praise the Lord!!!

It may be that it would be better if you spent the night here Wed. since I don’t think we’d be going to school that day.  I’m not sure about that yet, we may have to go for half a day.

Anyhow, you can set your mind at rest now.  The Lord is good.

Love,

R.

P.S.  Your entire trip will probably cost somewhere in between 28-30 zaires. (Note:  I’m trying to remember the exchange rate from then…..I think that was maybe around 50 dollars…)

__________________       ________________        ____________________

I only just found this old note, handwritten, slipped into an old journal notebook of mine from way back.  A couple of years ago, through letter writing, emailing, and Facebook, my highschool girlfriend and I renewed contact and correspondence with each other and are presently benefitting from each other’s communications and friendship even though we live on opposite sides of the world both in very remote locations.  Hopefully, she and I can be a mutual encouragement one to another, even after all these years.

Today, I thank God for my highschool girlfriend, I thank God for that wonderful trip with her, so many years ago now, and I thank God for the relationships  with HIM that my girlfriend and I had, even way back then when each of us were barely older than children, and also to this day, and continuing.  And I thank God for kindred spirit friendships.

I think that notes and letters, cards and emails, Facebook messages, Skypes with vidiocams, texts and phone calls, all variations on the NOTE, can  be  powerful tools for sharing God’s love and encouragement with others and for seeking to deepen our relationships one with another, whether these “others” be our own children, our grandchildren as they get older, our parents or grandparents, friends or acquaintances. We all know how important the thankyou note is.  How would short Scripture verse-headed notes or emails be, as an encouragement to a Christian friend or loved one?

I think of younger local friends, a married couple who are intentionally raising their three gradeschool-aged youngsters without a television set in the house.  I’ve noticed the three kids spend tons of time writing and drawing notes, little signs, and “funnies strips”, “cartoon strips”, with black and white line drawings that they create themselves.  Not to mention that half the time one meets up with these children they seem to have their nose in a book!  They often gift us with some of these creations, and we always LOVE getting them, and proudly display them on our refrigerator or around our house.  Our friends seem to be raising their kids to write and give and share NOTES.

People like us tend to have a lot of transitions in their lives, a lot of airplane trips, a lot of road trips, maybe a lot of moves.  Come to think of it, almost everyone tends to have a lot of transition, on one level or another these days!  More and more all the time!  I’ve one longtime friend who often gives tiny handwritten notes of exhortation and encouragement, with one small Bible verse that applies handwritten in there also, sealed up in a small envelope.  Before her friend leaves on a plane, she gives it, and says “Don’t open this yet!  Open it when you get on the plane!”  It’s so fun, and helpful.

My mom has a longtime cherished personal tradition by now of sometimes, for very special ocassions, giving books as family gifts, and she sometimes writes a short note, signed, in a front page of the gift book, all in her old-fashioned, beautiful, perfect “elementary schoolteacher 3rd Grade Palmer Method teaching hand”.  My grown children now have treasured little kid books, with her notes in the front of them, that they can now begin sharing with their own babies!

I know the concept of notes and letters is old-fashioned now, but does not that make the creating, the giving, and the recieving of one more special and valuable than ever?

I say, “Long live the NOTE, for God’s Glory!”

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