Almost a year ago I was headed for the United States for some R & R – if you can call “rest and relaxation” rushing around to see family and friends in five different states, visiting several doctors for routine exams, and managing to not see many people with whom I had intended to touch bases.
Greetings and blessings from Angola!
Almost a year ago I was headed for the United States for some R & R – if you can call “rest and relaxation” rushing around to see family and friends in five different states, visiting several doctors for routine exams, and managing to not see many people with whom I had intended to touch bases. As hectic as the pace was, it was a time of renewal, which the joy and peace of the season always entail, and a time of reflection after a challenging year and a half of adjustments to a foreign language and a different cultural context. These challenges give you a reality check on how relative your functional competencies are! It’s a humbling process, but also a liberating one when you realize that God is faithful wherever you are seeking to do God’s will and that when you stumble and fall there is grace enough to cover you as you get back up, dust yourself off, and start all over again, with the help and encouragement of your new-found Angolan sisters and brothers!
In January I returned to Angola with a renewed sense of purpose and energy, was welcomed at the airport by my supervisor, Luis Samacumbi, and we began a challenging year of trying to make ambitious plans a reality. Our department, the Evangelical Congregational Church in Angola (IECA)’s Dept. of Social Assistance, Studies, and Projects (DASEP), is deeply committed to monitoring program progress, both here in Luanda and in the provinces, in order to offer supportive assistance, as needed. Luis and Felizberta, his program assistant, spend a lot of time in the field doing just that, in terms of school evaluations and progress checks on two of our rural development projects. The end of May found us at a national meeting in Camundongo, celebrating the founding of this mission station, even as efforts continue to physically renovate the war-ravaged infrastructure and to retool education and training programs.
June found us back in the USA, as guests of the Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ, where we attempted to nurture and grow the church-to-church partnerships of which my presence in Angola is one part. Luis Samacumbi, General Director of DASEP, and IECA’s Executive Secretary, Rev. Abias Cauto, were the main bearers of the messages from Angola and I accompanied them as we reflected together on the joys and challenges of the partnership. We attended the Illinois Conference’s Annual Meeting the first weekend in June and were international guests through Global Ministries at the United Church of Christ’s bi-annual General Synod in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the last weekend of the month. In between, we visited churches and other interested parties to report out and to find ways of moving forward in partnership during a very challenging time given the global economy and its impact, especially on those most vulnerable who get moved further to the margins.
So, a lot of our paths have crossed and I am so grateful. Thanks to each of you for continuing to send prayers to Angola for our shared work of peace and justice. They make a difference! Hope all is well with you and yours.
Peace and blessings,
Donna Dudley serves with the Evangelical Congregational Church of Angola. She assists with development projects and staff leadership training programs.