It’s hard to believe that in just a little less than a month, we will be leaving Kikongo for a 9 month home assignment in the US. If it seems that our term in Congo is a bit shorter than our usual 4 years, it is. We are grandparents now, after all. There are two new grandbabies we have yet to meet. We also have each had a mother in her 90’s we have looked forward to spending more time with. Rita’s mother, however, passed away in December. Still, Glen’s mother is in good health and it is a joy to know that we will soon be close enough to visit. We plan to rent an apartment not far from where she is living, hoping we will be able to see her as often as S. California COVID restrictions allow.
Here at Kikongo, our national colleagues have been invaluable in helping us hammer out ways to leave our work in what we hope will be sustainable ways. Finding mature, careful men and women to continue key positions at our university, then having them come alongside has been an important part of our last 6 months here. We have been grateful to God for his provision of people in our community who have the kind of stature, knowledge and spiritual depth to take on some of the tasks we are leaving. It is heartening to see them take their places.
Nothing like coming down to the wire to remind one of all the other sorts of projects one always hoped to accomplish, but never found the time to do, however! Those house repairs that never seemed that important until now, worthy unfinished projects hanging fire, and those secondhand items one wants to bless others with, but find they need cleaning or bits of sewing/gluing done on them first. Or, in the case of Glen’s Powered Parachute, finding a way to winch it up into a truck for transport to Congo’s National Museum in Kinshasa. It’s a joy to leave things well. Sometimes it takes a lot of ingenuity and creativity to make that happen.
If you have followed the Chapman household throughout the years, you know that we often have extended hospitality and nurture to wild orphaned animals that have come our way. For the past year, we have been raising a young Spotted Necked Otter pup, not to be confused with it’s larger more terrestrial cousin, the Congo Clawless Otter – 3 of which we have raised before. In the past couple of months, our smaller Spotted Necked Otter, or SNO, let us know that he was ready to go wild. Being much more social than our previous otters, though, meant that without us to otter sit him on his daily outings to our river and swamps, people he met out and about might harm him. So, one day, he piled into a canoe with two of our otter caretakers who took him down to a large isolated swampy area rich with fish quite a distance down river. After two days, the caretakers came back with the report that our little male otter was happy and seemed to have no further need for them.
As we, Glen and Rita, make this transition back to the US for home assignment, we are more aware than ever that we will be changing worlds! Although the threat of COVID has impacted the whole world, at Kikongo, we’ve hardly ever worn masks. Apart from school and church closures, community life has remained much the same. People have continued to freely visit and work with each other and children have played with each other as always. As we arrive in California at the end of the month, however, we will immediately jump into a 10 day self-quarantine period. What will life in the US be like? All those realities all of you have become accustomed to, will be new for us. How will we shop for food? How will we go to the dentist? Will we get to see any of you? Like you, we hope things will begin to change as summer approaches. However, even until then, we will soon be blessed with high speed internet! And, we will do our very best to reach out to you by all the creative ways that technology has now made possible. Our present internet (till the end of March) is slow as molassas, but after April 5th, what a change will have taken place in our lives! Please, do let’s keep in touch.
May God bless and keep you all.
Glen and Rita