Easter, water bottles, Zamuda…nailed it.

I love Easter… it’s my favorite holiday.
The Un Jour Nouveau Chapel celebrated Easter (Pâques) with multiple events. Baptism in the(super cold) lake, A killer service with SOOOOO much dancing and singing, a huge party after the service (complete with a massive buffet of home made goodness) to celebrate our 2 year anniversary as a church… and then I was able to go to a concert at another church. I love the local concerts here. They are SO. MUCH. FUN! Singing and so much dancing… and a great workout.
Unfortunately, 13 of the kids from Minova were back in Goma with Malaria. Four of them needed to be admitted to the hospital, including Augie. The kids who were doing better than the 4 in the hospital were staying at Mama Zamuda’s house, including Sifa. 
 originally it was just going to be a picture with Jojo (my ninja turtle) but we were rushed by 3 others. 
 I think Arsène was going for fish face.
Sweet Esther was so sick. She muscled up a smile, but just wanted to cuddle
Sifa loves to share. But she wants to feed you. One bite for her, one for you…potatoe straight to the face! And occasionally up your nose. Jojo and Arsène know this and sit close to get extra food. 

 Vicky, my Belgian counterpart, giving Augie a kiss to wake him up. 

Augie LOVES Esther
 Augie LOVES Esther. It’s so cute
Poor little guy was so sick again, but not to sick to take his first selfie with my phone. He pressed the button. He’s a smart one.
So, even though it’s an unfortunate situation, I was able to have Sifa with me ALL DAY for Easter! Here is a picture of Chad and I in our matching Easter outfits (the entire church wore the same fabric)… sifa is playing peek-a-boo (a game I recently taught her) behind the desk.  
She is seriously so different from the little girl who did not smile, did not look at you… so different. It’s the coolest thing to see her personality. Also… a very cool thing was to see Chad get baptized along with 19 other people! Halleluuuuu-yurrr!
Sifa is obsessed with water bottles. I have a theory. It all centers around her trauma. Being stranded with no food or water for two weeks has done a serious amount of damage. She is still very insecure about whether, when she sees food or water, she will actually be given any. She usually carries water bottles around with her like baby dolls. If you try to take it from her she will freak out. Case in point. We needed to wash our hands to eat after church. We went to the bathroom, I took the bottle and put it to the side of the sink so we can wash hands. The water bottle is literally RIGHT THERE on the sink and she started screaming and tears streamed down her face. I reassured her I would give it back, made her wash hands for a few more seconds, then gave it back. As soon as I put it back into her arms, she stopped screaming and the tears went away. Immediately. 
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 She was debating whether or not to go share with Chad
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Then we walked outside to go to the buffet line. She saw people sitting at tables with food and again freaked out screaming with tears as she reached for the food. Of course everyone is looking at me like I’m hurting the child. I again, reassured her that we were getting food. She screamed for a few seconds longer then finally trusted me after I cut in line and grabbed a plate. There is a long road ahead of her for healing. Augie as well.
They are both easily calmed with my sunglasses. If they start to get upset we just put the sunglasses on them and they calm down. Sifa does this funny “ehhhh” sound, smiles and lays back for you to admire her. 
But she is really cute with her water bottles. She waddles around and collects them. Then she looks around and decides who she wants to give them to. She waddles over to you, gives you the bottle like a gift with a huge smile and proudly walks away. It’s a big deal for her to chose you. But don’t get too excited. She will come get it back in less than 2 minutes to take back her bottle!
Mean while, Mama Zamuda… she is in HEAVEN! She is part of UJN’s daughters of Congo women. She lives in one of our houses (with 2 other women) while she is getting back on her feet. Literally. This woman lost her entire family during a rebel attack. She suffered severe physical assaults during her rape and it took years for her to physically heal. Even now, because of the severity of her attack, her hips and legs did not heal properly and walking is very hard for her. She doesn’t let that steal her joy. She is the meanest chair dancer I’ve ever seen and she even has a few moves she can still hustle out while standing with her massive walking stick. Half of the pictures we take together are blurry because she’s dancing so much!A woman after my own heart. 
 Mama Komeza, Zamuda and Esther. Getting this picture was hard because Zamuda wouldn’t stop dancing and singing!
Mama Melena, me and Zamuda… dancing and giving thumbs up
She always wanted to take care of orphans; it was her dream. For the past week she had a house full of kids. She LOVED it. I went to the ouse everyday to see the kids. Each time I came and Zamda was home, you would find her sitting in the living room laughing and looking out for the kids. When the kids were released by the doctor to go back to Minova, Zamuda was so sad to see them go. In her words, it was “terrible” they had to leave. “especially Sifa… I love her”
This woman makes me smile just thinking about her. She really only speaks Swahili, and on occasion will blurt out something in French. Every now and then she repeats what I say in English. Last week, as she was saying good bye to the kids, she said “thank you” in perfect English. I loved it and said “nailed it”… which she repeated. I died laughing. It was the cutest thing. When asked if she feels better (she was in the hospital for her heart) she says “Iks beddah now”! She gives the best hugs and she also does THE BEST Congolese yelling thing at church. She’s a very thoughtful woman and very opinionated. One thing I love, rather than calling me Muzungu (white person) she calls me rafiki wangu (my friend) and on occasions she says Jenni… but mostly “Na kupenda sana Rafiki wangu”(I love you so much my friend”.
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this was caught on tape… right after she said “nailed it”… I lost it…clearly!
Esther caught this moment when she was in the hospital. I climbed into her bed and Vicky and I prayed with her. 
much love from Goma…

About Jenn Eason

I'm typically an over sharer, I don't embarrass easily, I like gnomes (please don't buy them for me), Cat meme's (I don't like cats), laughing, cold espresso with milk, spending time with friends and family, and I enjoy a good sarcastic banter... as long as it's not at someone else's expense. I'd also eventually like to develop a sound absorbing toilet. How can you support my work you ask? If you are interested in financially supporting my work, please send checks to my church with "Congo Missions" written in the memo line: The Lighthouse Fellowship 5200 Eisenhower Ave, #200 Alexandria, Va 22304

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