Monday, November 18, 2013

Billings Congo Update

Dear family and friends, 
       After having been gone for 20 months now these are a few things that we don’t have here that we are looking forward to when we get home.  Some items are specific to George, others are specific to JoAnn, and most are shared by both of us.  Close analysis of the list should pretty much tell you of our present conditions.  Those who have been here and experienced it are the ones who can really identify and get the full impact of what is being said.  We are living in the best of circumstances that are available here.  There are thousands of people
who have it much more difficult than us.  Yet, they have the strength to live with what they have.  America and home is more beautiful than it has ever been.

With our love for each of you,
George and JoAnn Billings

Hot water heater
Washing machine
Toilet that flushes without chasing it down with a bucket full of water
Electricity more than 3 ½ hours a day 4 days a week
Water that flows more than 3 days a week
Stove for other than the night meal 4 days a week
Warm water for bathing
Drinkable water from the tap
Air conditioner that doesn’t cost $40 a day to run
Comfortable chairs.  Television
Internet that will stay on for more than 5 minutes at a time
Reliable telephone service
Ability to keep rechargeable electronics charged
Well maintained paved roads other than Main Street
A banking system where you have immediate access to your money. . .
Family and friends who can speak English
Anyone else who can speak English
Police who are not corrupt
Mechanics and technicians who know what they are doing
Less than 50% of the people around you begging for money
Red meat without the cloud of black flies
Arctic Circle brown topper
Cold Stone Creamery chocolate ice cream
Traffic rules that people obey. . .
Gasoline that costs less than $10 a gallon
A safe and free environment
Customer service lines where people wait their turn and don’t butt in
Durable tools that aren’t made to break
The ability to leave the house when George is gone for 8 hours
Snow.  Mountains.
Neighbors who don’t have a confused rooster
Mosquito abatement
Clear water lakes and streams
A house free of scorpions and cockroaches. . .
Straight lumber
Wild game animals
Grass lawns.  Colorful flowers
Someone other than George to cut my hair. . .
Sawdust that smells good such as fir, pine, oak, cedar, walnut, ash,
alder, and even poplar. . .
Four seasons in the year
A full selection of groceries at a nice grocery store where even the
eggs have been washed
Daytime temperatures less than 90 degrees F
Garbage collection
Sanitary sewage systems
Non-threatening airports where one can find his way around without
getting ripped off
Cities that are well planned
Enforced building codes
Flour I don’t have to strain the weevil out
Qualified medical professionals. . .

 After twenty months in South Africa I can relate to many of the items on George and JoAnn's list. There is 90% unemployment in the Democratic Republic of Congo; compared to 50% unemployment in South Africa. We were both called to help the young people in our church prepare for careers that lead to employment.   Our assignment was PEF.   George's assignment was to teach building skills so that the church could use young returned missionaries to build chapels in Africa rather than flying in contractors from the U.S. and Canada.  

George described the commitment of a young man named Jeff at his December 27th homecoming report.  On a day of a torrential rain storm George waited at the building site but none of his students showed.  Finally Jeff finally came limping up totally drenched.  He said that the taxi he was riding in was hit broadside and the man seated next to him was killed.  Jeff sustained some injuries but was still able to walk and did not want to miss class.  He limped the last few miles in the downpour.  George decided that rather than cancel class that day he would reward Jeff's determination by providing a learning experience for him.  George ended his report by bearing testimony of his calling,  "Jeff and  other young black men like him will become Africa's building contractors of the future," he concluded. 

Tom and I were pleased to be home for the birth of our new grand daughter.  Little Gabrielle Stokoe was born at 6:30 a.m. on November 15th.  She was a week early and weighed just six pounds and is 20 inches long.  Gabrielle is the daughter of our son David & wife Nikki Stokoe and joins sisters Sophie and Lola and her brother Cole.

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