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When we traveled to visit the Lincolns last August, we took our two older children, Leah, age 8, and Jake, age 5. (We left our two younger children with family.) Arriving in Bunia, Congo, on August 3, we spent the next five days “living life” with the Lincolns.
We were able to visit their church and meet their friends. We also helped them work on the playground they’re building at the MAF office and complete a few other jobs around their house.
Jeff spent a day at the office with Joey, and a day flying with him, too. Brooke visited Suzanne’s women’s Bible study, saw the orphanage school where she volunteers, and experienced shopping around town and at the market.
The children had a fantastic time playing at the Lincolns’ house, jumping on their trampoline, playing fetch with their two dogs, and exploring the city with us.
After our time in Bunia, we took the Lincolns with us to Uganda and spent a couple of days at Murchison Falls National Park, seeing the Nile River and the local wildlife. The Lincolns had never been on such a trip with their children, and it was a joy to take a few days with our families and witness God’s creation in such an up-close-and-personal way!
We had been feeling a call to visit the Lincolns for a couple of years. When Joey and Suzanne left from our Covenant Adult Community for the Congo seven years ago, we began supporting them financially. When they came home to Wheaton on furlough three years ago, they joined our small group, and we were able to deepen our friendship over those next six months.
Before they returned to Congo, they asked us to be their accountability partners, to commit to pray for them, support them emotionally, and just “be there” for them as best we could from the other side of the world. We were thrilled to take on that role!
During their time in Wheaton, we mentioned our idea of taking a group of people from Covenant on a work trip to visit them. They answered that Joey’s job of flying very small planes to remote areas makes a trip of a lot of people difficult to orchestrate. As an alternative, they said they would love to have someone outside of their family come visit them, to walk a few days in their shoes.
The loneliness and isolation they feel in Congo, they explained, can be very heavy at times. But knowing that someone else could picture what their life was like would be very encouraging for them.
We began praying about whether that was what God was calling us to do. Over the next couple of years, a new baby, our fourth child, was born—but that gnawing at our hearts never faded. When the Lincolns were home for a quick visit in April 2012, we decided over dinner with them that it was time to book our tickets.
Our trip was an amazing, challenging, and rewarding experience that tested our faith more than we ever expected and blessed us more than we can put into words.
Among the “interesting” things that happened was getting stuck in Rwanda on our first night because our plane was leaking an “unidentified fluid.” We also had a couple of brief health scares, like when our son Jake got the mosquito net spray in his eyes, which made him scream for about thirty minutes straight that he couldn’t see, and our daughter Leah threw up a couple of times from exhaustion!
We felt such spiritual warfare going on all around us, but God made it clear to us time after time that He was in control. He protected us from our worst fears, even though most of them weren’t even rational! We got to see some amazing things, like elephants, giraffes, and lots of other wildlife—just a few yards away!
We met some amazing people, too. The Congolese are an incredible people. The hardships and corruption they deal with on a daily basis are unbelievable, yet worshiping with them at church, it was like they hadn’t a care in the world! The other missionaries we met (who serve with MAF, Wycliffe, Samaritan’s Purse, and other organizations) are great too. So many have little kids and are there, dealing with health issues or security problems or whatever—and they want to be there! We were so humbled being with them and seeing them put their faith into action in such a real way.
We hope our experience will leave an indelible mark on our children’s hearts, and we pray they will continue to seek God’s will for their lives. We also hope our story will inspire others to see what God has planned for them. But mostly, we pray our time with the Lincolns was an encouragement to them and that God will continue to bless their ministry and their family for their faithfulness to Him and to the ministry to which He has called them.
—Brooke and Jeff
When Jeff and Brooke Weston and two of their kids came to visit us in the Congo, they had one goal—to see our life. So, for five days, they drove our dusty streets, navigated our market, visited our church, bleached our veggies, washed our dishes, attended our Bible studies, met our friends and teammates, and experienced our joys, trials, and frustrations.
Words cannot capture the gift it is to have someone at “home” now who knows how we live day in and day out, who understands our world a little better.
It is so fun to be able to write them and describe something, knowing that they understand exactly what we are talking about. It is exciting for our kids to be able to remember when their friends came to visit and to have familiar faces in the US who have been to their house and played with their toys.
The Westons came without the need for a long list of accomplishments at the end, only with the simple agenda of encouragement. They walked alongside us for a while, and to us, their visit was life-giving.
Blessings, Suzanne and Joey
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