Hello people!

I am sorry this is so late, I have had so many things going on!  Anyways, I am finally posting part 2 of my interview with Rachel Martin. It is so funny! The part where she  relays the funny stories about cultural clashes and misunderstandings are really, really funny, so please read through to the end. I laughed really hard all over again as I prepared  it for publication. Its even better if you listen to it and read along. Its some really great stuff I tell you! And yes, I still laugh funny, I know!

Here is part 1 of the interview if you missed it.




Going on Furlough

CCmag: so, two quick questions before we move on. First of all, you talked about coming here and going back four years. I think I understand that but a lot of people who are reading this won’t know, so, how does that work?

Rachel prayer card

R: yeah, if you’re what we consider a “full-term missionary”. We can different types of career missionaries. With our mission, it was four years somewhere and you would come home for a year and your year at home was called a deputation. It’s where you have to travel and represent the ministry wherever you’ve come from and churches. The Free Church mission is set up where you have to raise your support which is a huge challenge for many people. So, even before I ever went to France I had to spend, for me, it was about a year I had to spend for support raising where I had to be out in churches, contact people and present what I hoped to do with the Free Church and have my base of support behind me. So then, every four years, coming back to the States

CCmag: it’s kinda like to maintain that

R: to maintain your support, you have to give reports everywhere. A lot of times, you’re under supported because the cost of living has changed during those four years or some of your supporters have died off,  or disappeared, so that was always a challenge for missionaries, and still up until this day. I’m a missionary with the Free Church and I still have to maintain my support base. So erm that’s the way it worked

CCmag: that’s why you came back every four years

R:mmh mmh (affirmation)


Relationship with other Missionaries

CCmag: and then, what was your relationship like with other missionaries, can you give us a kind of profile of who else was there

R: I had some close missionary friends and erm

CCmag: were they all from the Free Church

R: yeah they were all from the free church

CCmag: all from the same mission?

R: except we had, they were all from the Free Church with our mission, we had a couple of single ladies that were from Wycliffe bible translators. They were actually from Great Britain, they were working on translating the bible, the Barka language, the language I was learning, they were translating that into, well translating the bible into Barka. So, it was a real challenge for me learning Barka because it was had never been a written language and I’m a visual learner, so, as they would translate, and as they would come up with the alphabets and what words, putting together the Barka language, they would share that with me, that was a real blessing because I will have something to work from as I worked with the  Congolese who would help me then with the pronunciation. So, I remember I had learned Barka, actually I was maybe with the Free Church, the only missionary that really knew Barka, there were a couple others that had learned some phrases and words but had never ever spent time doing it. And, when I went back, after my first term, I had actually requested the mission to give me  three months off work so that I could work on the Barka language and once again, that was a little of “we don’t do this” but they did it for me.

CCmag: (laughs) ok

R: and so, I had three months of concentrated language learning and so, I had some very close friends. I think I tend to, you know, all of us are called to work with different people and God gives us a love for, and I had a real love for the Congolese and sometimes I think I could, when I look back I think I have made the mistakes sometimes in life of ignoring those who, I don’t wanna say “like me” but I felt called to minister in Congo to the Congolese and yet people, no matter what they look like, if they are missionaries, Americans, Congolese wherever they are from, we all have needs and we all need other people and I wasn’t always really close to other missionaries. I think I was a little bit of a rebel and maybe that was threatening to them as well, but, I did have some very close missionary friends, very close. I had one couple when I moved from Tandala after 8 years and moved to Gemena which was where the church offices for the Congolese church were, they asked me to work specifically in Christian education which the church did out there, so that I could help build up leaders within the church for bible studies and camps, kids’ clubs, things like that. And so, I moved away from Tandala to this new ministry. The missionary and his wife were leaders at this time, there were quite a few of them, that were, so many missionaries with the Free Church

CCmag: in that area?

R: not in Gemena, but in that whole area, they were probably around ten different missions’ stations. And so, we were a big group people before the war in 1996/97

CCmag: yea

R: and so they were our leaders, and they became our closest friends over there. And they lived about a mile from me because I didn’t live at the mission’s station but we still got together weekly for bible study and prayer and just encouraging one another and then I had another single missionary lady,  we became very very close friends. She had a heart kinda similar to mine, she wanted to live among the people and really get to know them and share our lives with them. And so we, she did not live with me for the last few years because she was still at the hospital but we still maintained a close friendship up until now

CCmag: cool

R: And my sister and brother-in-law went out there after I have been there just a couple of years. That was like a huge miracle in my life because when I left here, the hardest part about leaving was, the biggest challenge was leaving family behind and giving up, it is a sacrifice to give up your way of life and culture and the people that are dearest to you and to leave that all behind. I went to Congo at a time when that there wasn’t a telephone in their country that existed, I don’t think. And

CCmag: really? So, how did you communicate?

R: we had to cross over to Bangi, which was a 2-day truck trip to get there to make a phone call back home and our mail would all come through there as well into Bangi, Central African Republic. And then, depending on when there was somebody coming our way, we might get only a bunch of mails, once a month. There was no internet; computers didn’t even exist when I first went there. Word processor, somebody came out with word processor. I remember  around 1988, we were all “this is incredible”.

CCmag: (laughs)

R: So, to give up all of that, it was really saying goodbye because we didn’t really have communication with our families and so after being there a couple of years, I heard that my sister and his husband were coming out. I was totally amazed, they came out for 2 years and ended up signing up for a long term commitment.

CCmag: so how long did they spend there?

R: they spent about 10 years in Congo. They had two of their boys born in our hospital

CCmag: wow

R: one of their boys, I was with them for both of the births and Caleb, I remember we rent a Toyota truck heading to the hospital and Ruthie said “it’s time” and

"His name is Toyota!"

we get outside the hospital, it was black, there was no electricity; nobody could find the key to the generator room. So, we couldn’t get the lights on.

CCmag: wow

R: we couldn’t get the lights on, it was nighttime  and she said “it’s too late, he’s out” and she gave birth in the Toyota truck

CCmag: wow

R: and all the Congolese friends said, “his name is Toyota” (laughs)

CCmag: (laughs louder)

R: so, that was an incredible experience but it was a real blessing to think that I had left family, God brought family to me.

CCmag: so, you guys lived in the same area?

R: erm, just for the first couple of years and then they went to another area, and so, we would still see each other for holidays like Christmas, Easter we got together and Ruthie was kinda like, she’s younger than I am but she was like a mom to me because she always had more of a house that was set up, she would cook big meals for her family and I could enjoy that with them, so that was special.


Change of Perspective

CCmag: That’s fabulous. One more question about, before we move on from here. I’m sure that each time you went back, came back to the U.S. your perspective started to change with each passing…can you talk about that? I mean, how did you start to change? You lived in Congo for 4 years, you came back for a year and went there for four years and came back here for another year, I mean, you start to see life differently.

R: totally differently. And it doesn’t take four years, you’ll go to place like Congo and after 2 weeks, you come back home a different person. The problem is “ is that gonna last in your life?”

CCmag: yeah (laughs)

R: because, the whole experience is

CCmag: so, what changed?

Teaching Congolese children

R: well, a lot changed in my heart about my values, my eternal values, and what was really important, what I needed to be happy, that changed. When I would come back to the States, I had to really fight being really careful not to develop a judgmental, critical spirit because I will see our churches and will see “oh the expenses and lavish way of even doing church, the money that was spent on building programs and caring for every age group of your church and your church is 500 hundred people having 5 or 6 staff people. Here back in Congo, one struggling pastor in a dirt church, where he hardly got paid, you know, maybe get paid in eggs and chickens maybe or something from the garden. Just to see all that we had, of course anybody would tell you that if they ever go to a country like Congo, they come back here, it’s an eye-opener. As they realize the kind of lifestyle we live and how materialistic we are and how extravagant we live and how wasteful we are. So, that’s a real struggle for me, it’s a continual struggle for me and I really have to ask God to help me not to be judgmental of my brothers and sisters here in the Christian church. Erm, at the same time, I take advantage of the opportunities God gives me to really share about how what we have is a blessing from God but God gives it to us, entrusting us to be good stewards and we have a responsibility to him; to use what he has given to us in a way that honors him. So, I like challenging churches that way but at times it was overwhelming. I remember coming back and actually not being able to go shopping, not being able to buy things and I was almost like paralyzed. I couldn’t make decisions about toilet paper.

CCmag:  (laughs)

R: make a decision. I remember coming home with the wrong brand and my mum blew up at me, “that’s not the type of toilet paper we use”. To me, you know, what did that matter? I have been in villages where all I had was leaves and toilet paper if we did  have it was rough and hard. It wasn’t like Charmin’ soft toilet paper, things like that were really overwhelming to me

CCmag: (laughs)

R: … I remember too, coming and my sister meeting me at the plane and she said “wow, those clothes go in the garbage, you’re not gonna wear those shoes and those clothes again”. And I couldn’t even make decisions on how to buy things. Four years is a long time and you come back and you feel overwhelmed not just because of the lifestyle change because as a Christian you’re feeling convicted. The sad part about it is: no matter how long you’ve lived somewhere else, your heart could easily get pulled back into the lifestyle and the way of thinking that happens here. So, I have learned too that it is not something that you know, where there is a difference between rich and poor, like if you’re rich, you’re living a wrong lifestyle, if you’re poor, you’re living a wrong lifestyle. I have come to understand that that’s not true, and sometime when I bring Americans to Congo, who’ve never been there before and they are only there for a couple of weeks, they get this attitude “ oh it’s wonderful to be poor because you can live without all of the temptations of things and all of our luxuries and everything.” I have learned over the years that it has nothing to do with that because you can be poor and still covet, you can be poor and still not be satisfied, you can be poor and still want all the riches and be selfish and even poor people still like to find someone poorer than them so that they can treat badly. And they can say “I am better than they are ”. So, it’s not that different, it’s difference of what do we do with what God has given us and are we finding our contentment in things  or are we finding our contentment in Christ? In first Timothy, Paul raised Timothy and I have always loved this verse, I think it is in the sixth chapter where it says “I have learned contentment in everything and what’s important is Godliness” and in Philippians, Paul said, “whether I have a lot or whether I have nothing, whether I am full or whether I am hungry, whether I have clothing or whether I am naked, I have learned to be content in everything”. “for to me to live is Christ”, he says, “and to die is gain” that’s been, I think the way God has changed my heart and learning to be content in any situation and so, when I come home to the States, I can be content here. And when I am in Congo, I can be content with almost nothing, I think that’s something that as you grow and in finding your satisfaction in Christ, he helps you become content in every situation but not in making one situation or the other look idealistic because both sides, I think have their good and bad and both sides have negatives, and you can as a person and as Christian, you can fall into sin being poor or being rich

Funny Culture Clash Stories

CCmag: Wonderful answer. So, we’re going to switch gears a little. Well, I have known you for a while. So, I know some of the stories, but I want to hear a little bit about the culture-clash or the….You have a lot of very funny Congo stories; tell us a few of those

R: I do. Ooh, maybe one of the most recent, I don’t know, this past year ago, I was out there with a missionary and she was like my boss kinda, she has  never been to Africa before, here I am the experienced missionary and I know so much , I know all their cultural, everything

CCmag: (laughs)

R: and so, we go to this little village church. It was the first time I have really gone into this church but I knew people at this church. We just walked out there and the churches in town in Gemena  started  around 9, well that’s what they say but everyone starts late. This church was way out in the garden area, we got there at 9 but even by 10 o’clock nobody had come yet, I learned later that everybody was up in their garden working; they were going to come as soon as they were done. So, we got there and I had two orphans who whenever I am out there, they liked going everywhere with me and they get fed better. And they like tagging along. So, they are with me and this lady, this boss of mine and so we got there and sit in this tiny little church, nobody comes in around 9:45 , this little boy comes in, he has a big smile on his face and he’s carrying these pots and they are full of food and so , he walked by me , and us,  and he smiles at me, I give him a big smile and then he sets them up in front in the church and walks by me again and smiles and I tell him “thank you”. He leaves and we were alone in the church, so I told my friend that that was so nice of them, they knew that we were sitting here alone and they want us to eat. And so, we brought the dishes to us and there were the four of us because these two kids and then myself and the other lady. So, we were sitting there and praying and there were two pots and then you eat with your finger, you know, we were eating , what they called poundu and fuku we’re eating it, we ate and finished eating, we put the covers on, and when we were starting to finish eating, people were starting to trickle in, it’s a little after 10. They were looking at us a little funny, I put the pots back up there and then, it gets to announcement time and the pastor announces the visitors and we had to stand up and I introduced my friend. Then, he said, “we have more visitors” and there students that for becoming pastors, they were like 5 or 6 men that had come in the back of the church. He stood them up and he said, well we had food prepared for you for after church but I think Rachel and her friend already ate it. (laughs)

CCmag: (loud laughter)

R: I was so humiliated. Because here I thought I knew their culture and of course after I thought about it, I thought “yeah, they always feed their special guests, those that have come a long way” and they’ll have food for them

CCmag: so you ate it all?

R: and no, there were some left but not very much and we had put our hands in them, we had just enjoyed it so much and oh, these poor pastors they have come from miles and miles away and they were hungry and we had  ate their food. I was so embarrassed because I would have been so proud, I think that the Lord did that to humble me, it helped me to understand, because I knew, I knew that was what they always did was to bring food so that they could feed their guests that

"useless woman" with some congolese friends!

have come a long ways but it wasn’t me and my friend and it was for after church. So anyways, and then, just to top it off that Sunday, you know, it was garden time, harvest time, lots of people had brought their corn and their peanuts and erm as we were walking back, they had women just following us back that the church sent corn and peanuts just huge buckets full of stuff just for us and it was heaping, heaping insults and insults. You know I had already eaten their food and they want to send all this other food home with me. We had corn for the next week or so and lots of peanuts to eat. That’s just, you know cultural mistakes that you make and, I, a lot of the things that have happened to me, I already told you the story about the chicken but I said they had given me the name WASIPAMBA (useless woman) and actually they really did call me that  saying “mbote wasi pamba” (hello useless woman)

CCmag: all the time?

R: , and so

CCmag: did you answer?

R: did I answer? Oh yeah, I always smiled, you know, I learned early on that I made a lot of mistakes, language learning I would make so many mistakes and it’s just if you let them laugh at you and laugh with them. Laughter gets you a lot of friends.

CCmag: yea

R: and Congolese people love to laugh, they love to laugh so, anyways, one morning I got up early and I had an out house. There was a snake there lying on the toilet seat, and I didn’t know what to do, so I ran back to the house and grabbed a baseball bat. Of course, who plays baseball in Congo?

CCmag; so, did you bring it with you?

R: I brought it with me and it sat for three years in my little house

CCmag: why did you have a baseball bat? (both laughing)

R: well, that was the question. This is why, I ran out to my old house and I killed the snake with a baseball hat, see, there was a purpose! And erm, I killed it but I didn’t realize how scared I was and when I killed I started screaming. All these people, my neighbors where I lived, because I lived in a circle, there were just huts, they were all these houses all around me, they came, running into my outhouse and they saw me standing there with my jamas on and I’m holding the baseball hat, they were just amazed and they looked at this dead snake, it was a green MAMBA, it’s a snake they were scared of. They go wow, “wasi makasi”(tough woman), so, that morning after I got dressed and everything it was so fun because I left the house and they were all going  Bote! (tough woman!), Bote wasi makasi! So up until

CCmag: so you changed your name?

R: today, they still call me wasi makasi , tough woman and I love it. It’s a wonderful name and so

CCmag: you’re no longer “useless”? at least now, you can pluck a chicken, right?

R: I know, well I know how to pluck a chicken, I still can’t kill one, it’s too hard, it’s too difficult to kill a chicken, so but you know there are just a lot of mistakes you can make especially with language. Another thing with me knowing Barka, I was the only missionary that knew it and so none of the Congolese thought any white person knew their language

CCmag: so you could hear what they were saying?

R: I could hear,  and always I would wait to tell them. if I were out in the village, because they’d start talking about me, then I’d listen a little bit and then I would finally say something and uhm, well, this might not very appropriate but I’m kind of short and I’m not fat fat but I have big thighs and big calves and they’d talk in their language and they go, “wow look at her calves”

CCmag: (laughs)

R: so, I would let them talk about my legs a little bit.

CCmag: the men or the women?

R: oh, the men

CCmag: hahaha, they thought you were hot

R:  and women, everything. So then, after I would let them talk for a while, then I would say something in Barka. And they’d  go “oh no”. so, it was always kind of a fun game and I still do that today because I love it, they are always so  surprised that I know their language but they are honored too, that tribe, it is tribe that is the biggest in that area, and they always so honored that I have spent time learning their language.

CCmag: what about visitor adjustment when you take people there. Do you have funny stories about people going there for two weeks, three weeks and then getting into

R:  getting into trouble?

CCmag: well, not trouble but you know, adjusting

R: oh, well, they are just so overwhelmed because sometimes they are here and somebody might tell them how to live in that part of the world. I remember hearing couples, they have to take bucket showers because we don’t have regular showers and they have to go outside the shower area and it’s nice, they actually put cement down and it’s clean and it’s a nice area and you just have to bring the bucket out there

CCmag: I mean it’s enclosed right?

R: enclosed. But there are scared to death and if it’s like a man and wife, you’ll hear them say “oh we are gonna go together” I will watch and stand there and they will say when we were taking our bucket shower a little bit of the water, we think it got on our lips we might have swallowed it.” That’s okay!

CCmag: hahaha

R: you know, they are so paranoid about everything and for me, it’s really hard because I have lived out there for many years and nothing bothers me and they will see a spider or something and they will like “it’s like a huge spider, oh, we can’t go in there”.

CCmag: haha

R: I remember when my mom and dad came to visit me in my outhouse, so, this is a funny story because we needed a, I just had a hole and I have gotten used to living like the Congolese

CCmag: just squatting

R: we just squat, maybe that’s why I have such huge thighs from all the squatting. So, anyways, my mom and dad were just coming, you know, they were in their late fifties, early sixties and erm, neither of them could squat. My mum had knees that didn’t work at all, and now I understand because I have a knee problem.

Rachel and her parents

One of my Congolese friend who’s a carpenter said, “I know what your toilets look like, I will build a wooden seat and your parents could just sit on that, we could just put it over the hole. So the  day before my parents came, he brings this little,  it looks like a potty trainer for a two year old and it’s just about six inches off the ground and about a foot long and it has a tiny, you know, hole, they cut out like drill a hole in it – like a bedpan kinda and I said, “oh my mom and dad can never sit on that, they will never get up again, it’s too small”. So then I had to I quickly order another one and told them how high it had to be and so they got it in place the day my parents were coming. And then, another Congolese friend with a good heart thought he would clean my bathroom and then he sprayed all these bug spray in the hole, and so he did that in the daytime. And so my parents come and at night, they had to go out to the outhouse, and my mum goes out there:  just this horrible scream!  I ran out there, I thought for sure she got bitten by a snake or something. “Cockroaches!” And I thought, oh brother, come on mum, but I opened the door and shined my flash light and we were talking thousands of , it was black, the walls were black with cockroaches, everything  and it was because they were all coming out of the hole

CCmag: because of the bug spray?

R: because of the bug spray. And so, I took my sandals off and I’m smashing and

CCmag: ew

R: I’m shining my light and I’m getting rid of them and I said, ok mum, they are all gone, now go in, but by the time I left, in just a minute or two

CCmag: they were back

R: they were hundreds of them back already, my poor parents, it was awful and then at night, I could hear them “Dave”, my dad’s Dave, “what’s that on the wall, I don’t know Carol, it’s really big, I think we should call Rachel “ (laughs). And it was like a spider and a cockroach together and it was awful looking, just awful and they were so terrified. You know, it doesn’t scare me anymore

CCmag: yea

R: but I still don’t like cockroaches and will still have nightmares about them, crawling in my ears or something but other things don’t scare me, I just don’t like cockroaches. It has always been whenever you bring people out there, they have a lot of fears and they’ve heard so many stories, you know,  the stories you hear here in the States about anywhere in Africa, they are going to a remote area where there is no electricity and running water, and the water isn’t safe to drink and you can get all these parasites from it, you gotta be careful. Erm, yeah,  so it’s always a challenge bringing people here and having them there and having them be culturally acceptable,  sometimes they will try to work on the language and that’s really funny. ‘cause they will use it and they haven’t learned it at all. I remember this one guy who preached out there in Congo. In our churches, a lot of the pastors will start by saying “Akumi sama”, which means “let Him be praised” and all the people will say Asan zo lama

CCmag: what does the reply mean?

R: Asan zo lama means “yes, let him receive glory” and then he will say Nani? (who?) YESU!   and then everybody will say Nani? (who?) YESU!  So, this one guy really liked that and he was preaching and he said “teach me that” and I said you say “Akumi sama” so, he tries and tries and then I said all the people will say Asan zo lama and then you will say, Nani then they will say Yesu! and they you will say really loud, NANI! So he works and works, so he gets up to preach, he needs a translator but he was gonna use his Lingala. I can’t remember what he said but it didn’t come out right, he said AKU AKU, I can’t even remember but it was a totally different word. It wasn’t “praise him”, it was something like “let’s let’s”, I don’t know Ku..kum… , I can’t remember, sorry, but it was funny, people just burst into laughter and he’s trying so hard, trying to be so respectful, but they were laughing so hard. Oh, it was really quite funny, it would probably come to me, the translation, oh, it meant, “let’s chase him out of the church”.

CCmag: that’s what he said? HAHA

R: yea, Akimisama instead of Akumisama. Akimisama means” he’s gonna be chased out”,  “let’s chase him out”,  and they were trying so hard to be respectful. At first, it was really quiet and you can see people smiling and then snicker, and then laughter !(laughs) But they were trying to respect him. Oh, the poor guy and he had no idea!


Part 3 coming up, where she talks about her current work and plans for the future. Very inspiring – do not miss it!


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