Note: this post was written on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 11:00PM Tenke time.
Today was what I needed. It wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for as I spent most of the morning being frustrated out of my mind. But, tonight I feel that I have finally fully offered what I could; and I did get to have a lot of fun today, too! Once again this morning, plans changed about three times, so I felt lost and blindsided by it all. After my prayers yesterday and today, I woke up feeling so refreshed and ready to run camp. I am a camp staffer at heart, and I think one of the reasons I have felt so lost the past couple of days is because once I’d set my mind on the prospect of being staff again for a week, being taken away from it so often was just disappointing. For those camp staffers who read this, don’t ever take your job for granted. I know that sometimes it seems thankless, but life as a camp staffer is one of the most rewarding experiences ever. I miss it all of the time.
Anyway, I felt so energized in the morning with the notion of leading program, but by the time flags were done, I felt that we were just headed down the same dead end again. It didn’t help that nothing was working in my daily Scoutcraft program setup. Nothing was staying together, and even my Firecrafter equipment wasn’t cooperating. The day seemed lost. But God works in mysterious ways. I had a quick prayer, and then David and I just decided to be positive no matter what, and do what we needed to do. I popped a spark soon after that and officially made fire-by-friction possible in the DRC. I was so happy. After a long lunch, we returned to finish program, pass out Bibles, and play soccer!
Scouts got Bibles for having done a Bible study that morning. They are “en français” (in French) and I got one too, so we’ll see how well reading that goes… In program, the Scouts continued to amaze me. Honestly, there is a lot that American Scouts could learn from these guys! The African Scouts are flawless in their skills, knowledge and dedication. I continued to teach fire-by-friction and other fire building skills, which I love, but we also tried to incorporate other fully-rounded Scoutcraft and Firecrafter skills. They made fire with batteries and steel wool, plus a lashed cooking tripod, in just over 5 minutes. These were GOOD fires too. I had them in three groups to make three fires, and then I used the time at the end to explain the importance of the three tenants of Firecrafter: friendship, leadership and service. I talked about the power that comes with being a Scout, and the importance of other knowledge such as first aid, nature and always being prepared. If I could have truly brought Firecrafter to the Congo, I would, because I believe these guys and girls would excel with it (yeah, they have female Scouts, and they are better than the boys at what they do half the time!).
Besides, I feel that Firecrafter is good for everyone anyway. But in the end, I can just keep talking about all of these things and hope they take hold. In fact, David and I did just that tonight. It seems that the best way to get stuff done here is to just do it. So we just made a meeting happen between David, myself, our translator/friend Joseph and the Scout leaders. I had been dying to just have the chance to offer our minds to them so we could show them their ideas and they could ask anything they wanted. I had heard from a few people that the Scout leaders really wanted to talk to us. I wanted to feel like we did what we came to do: show them how we run a jamboree so they can more easily run their own. Our conversation was great. David and I took the initiative, and together, with the Congelese Scouts, as leaders we all made a plan for tomorrow. Whether or not that plan happens, we will see, but I’m content because I got to have conversation with them and answer questions and make a difference. Hopefully I can talk to the SPL tomorrow one-on-one (with translator).
I know these guys are so smart, so I don’t want to push our ways on them. I do want to share though so they can take use them if they want and make the best decisions. As Bob told us, the solution or end product should always belong to the Congolese. We are a different type of missionary because we don’t give free fixes, we give free tools to let them make the fix. I’ve gotten other insights in my head from this trip, but I want to save them for my reflection blog at the end. Our trip truly has been successful. The only stumbles I have encountered have been personally trying to see ALL of the ways we have impacted these people. Sometimes it seems like we are doing nothing and sometimes it seems like we are really making a difference. By the end of our stay I’ll have figured it out.
In the meantime, I’ll take one more minute to describe the real highlight of my day: futbol! Tonight I got to play for the Scout Soccer Championship title with a team of African Scouts. We lost after the second round of penalty kicks, but it was surreal because I got to become part of their team and become one of their friends. Besides, I tore it up on the pitch! I mean, while wearing hiking boots I played over an hour of soccer straight, cleared the soccer ball expertly in what turned out to be a full downfield assist-to-the-assist on our tying goal and scored my penalty kick to the low corner post. My team was awesome! As I’ve said, these Scouts are incredible and fun. Words don’t do them justice. I’ll go to bed tonight happy and praising God and preparing to wake up at 6:00 a.m. to do the community service in Tenke that we planned.
-Mitch and the DRC crew
The above image is property of http://timeslive.co.za