Monday, November 2, 2009

Day 7 in the Congo

Our last day in Kinshasa. I am going to miss this place a great deal. I have become close friends with the crew here at Hope! The first day we arrived here, I will have to admit, I had fear. I felt like a million eyes were watching us and at times, did not feel safe. However, today, I felt at home with my local friends. No longer was it about different color skin, but, a love for the people and place. I will be a leaving a part of my heart here. These hard working people have left quite an impression on me! We finished filming today and got all of the imagery that was needed... Praise the Lord! Sarah and Nic are up late translating tonight and we fly out early tomorrow! Thanks SO much for your prayers!!! We are very excited about how this project is coming together! We begin our voyage home in the morning! Bonsoir

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day 6 in the Congo

The Congo is such a beautiful place, full of so many sweet people. We have had the priveledge to visit three local homes where each family has made us feel so welcome. There are over 10 million people here and the majority are struggling to meet daily needs. You can see the desperation on their faces when they approach you to buy their products on the street. The need here is great. However, I have met some who have a great joy because they have businesses that provide enough, not just for the day, but for their family's future. This is made possible through Hope International. Each day that I am here, watching the program in action, I see the great need for microfinance in the Congo. Today we interviewed Sarah, my new friend, and a loan officer for Hope. We also went to Leonne's home to meet her family and highlight her home life for the video. There was such a community feel in her village. All teh children play together and many families live in one complex. The children LOVED having their pictures taken. It blessed my heart to be able to spend some time with such beautiful people! Tomorriw is our last day. I have fallen in love with this place so it will be sad to leave. This trip has been such a blessing and we pray that the video will reflect the work Hope is doing in the Congo. Life changing work!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day 5 in the Congo

Today was a very productive day. We drove around Kinshasa filming the people, the city and we interviewed Mama Flore. Flore has been through her 8th loan cycle and has grown her hair salon business from 2 employees to an astounding 15! Her salon has now become a training school for hair dressers, allowing her to give back what was initially given to her... opportunity. It touched my heart to hear her answer some of the questions we asked. She expressed heartfelt thankfulness to Hope for initially giving her the ability to borrow money. She went from a very bad situation to a succesful and abundant life. It was an amazing testimony to the effectiveness of Hope International. Lives are truly being transformed!! What an honor to be a part of something so beautiful! I have grown to love the people here in a short time! Such initiative and drive and a genuine love for the Lord. We also filmed a loan officer named Joly who we are highlighting in the video(Nic got some AMAZING imagery). Nic is up late working on translations with Sarah. We have two days of production left so it will be pretty busy. We are SOOO happy with how things are coming together and we are very thankful for our production team here in the Congo. Without them, none of this would be possible. They are all amazing!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Day 4 in the Congo

We spent all of today at Hope's Congo office interviewing many key people working with the organization: 2 loan officers and the Project Manager (Cathy an American working in the Congo.) We had the priveledge of documenting one of the most genuine and heartfelt prayer and worship sessions this morning. Every Friday, Hope Int. staff gathers for a time of worship, praise, and encouragement. Some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard came from a small room in the Congo today. Three part harmonies, percussive rhythms, and hands raised in worship. It brought tears to my eyes. Such passion and love for Jesus! This trip has impacted me in so many ways. Tomorrow we have a very busy schedule! Our prayer is that this video will represent Hope International's heart to reach out to our brothers and sisters all over the world What a powerful and effective way to show the love of Christ! I truly believe and have seen firsthand the success of microfinance!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 3 in the Congo

This morning the sky turned black and it poured rain! It is the rainy season here in the D.R.C. so it rains at least a couple days a week. The streets flood and the thousands of people on the street rush to pack up their businesses. We attended a Hope community meeting this morning. This is where different solidarity groups meet their loan officers to make their weekly payments, receive disbursements, and listen to their officer discuss many trainings including the need for a relationship with Jesus. We than went to visit Flor, the owner of a beauty salon who has a great story! Her business has multiplied since she took out her first Hope loan cycles ago. Flor's salon employs many people in the community establishing her as a very successful business woman in the area. We will be interviewing her tomorrow. I set up the dolly in the middle of a dirt path with many curious onlookers wondering what was going on with this white American girl. We ended up chatting with some of the local children(Sarah translated for us). They loved Michael Jackson's music so we all sang "Beat It" together and a couple of them performed the moonwalk. It was a highlight for me:)

Day 2 in the Congo

We began the day with Simeon's interview. Simeon is the managing director for Hope Congo. His smile lights up a room and is rumored to have the best smile in all of Africa. I Agree:) Simeon eloquently and passionately delivered the mission and heart of Hope on camera. He talked about the effects of war, the widespread poverty in the Congo, and how he believes that Hope's efforts to bring empowerment and training through small loans will be a sustainable answer to the many problems facing the region. We visited a local market where we met a loan officer by the name of Joly who introduced us to several clients. We had the priveledge to interview them about their businesses. Leonnie, the owner of a plantain shop, is on her 6th loan cycle with Hope. She delivered a message of gratefulness for the opportunities Hope has given her, which have ultimately allowed her business to grow abundantly. Gulienne, a merchant of household products beamed with pride while showing us her business. It warmed my heart to see the joy and self confidence these Hope clients exhibited. A small loan can greatly enhance the lives of entrepreneurs and I got to see this firsthand today!

Day 1 in the Congo

After 43 hours of travel, Nic and I arrived at the airport in Kinshasa and experienced the chaos that happens quite often in third world airports. Yes, we were the only Americans, and yes, we do not speak french. SO as you can imagine, it was very interesting. Thank the Lord that Hope International arranged for a liason and driver to get us to our hotel safely.
We arrived at the Hope D.R.C (Democratic Republic of the Congo) office and met our team for the week. Emmanuel (our coordinator), Sarah (our translator), Longo (our security official) and Pierre (our driver). What an amazing group of people! They have been so gracious in serving for this production! None of this would be possible without them.
We had a great meal of chicken and plantains at a local resteraunt! With sprite and coke:)
We are excited to rest and begin filming tomorrow! Thank you for all of your prayers! Here are some photos from Day 1:
Nic's red eyes from 43 hrs travel and no sleep!