Musings From the Road
The global pandemic of 2020 impacted us all in ways small and large. Many of us lost loved ones and/or our own health. Even for those spared the direct hit of the virus, we found our long-planned trips and gatherings canceled, took financial hits, and were once again reminded of the world’s interconnectedness and the unjust inequalities in it.
Throughout this crisis, FPM leaders remained faithful to the friendships we have nurtured for well over a decade by doing what we have done from the beginning—prioritizing listening to and encouraging one another and being highly strategic about how we use our financial resources to maximize their impact.
January 2020, which feels like a lifetime away, started out with an infusion of fresh energy and ambitious goals as three new dynamic leaders joined FPM’s Board of Directors: Freddy Kitwa (in charge of coordinating FPM projects in the Tanganyika Conference), Kenny Smallhorn (FPM/Purdue bike tour alumnus), and Rev. Jacqueline Mwayuma (yes, the very same Mama Jackie who Bob Walters sets out to visit in The Last Missionary and finally reaches in the book’s sequel, which we promise really is nearly ready for publication).
In February, FPM secretary Rev. Lana Robyne was busy packing her bags preparing for her new life serving in a fulltime appointment in the United Methodist Church’s Tanganyika Conference. She had scheduled a brief stop in Slovenia to visit yours truly on her way down. When the airports suddenly closed, Lana became our extended pandemic houseguest, giving us over three months to deepen our friendship and reflect together on what mission God was calling her into in Tanganyika. Lana is now finally in Kalemie and is already in conversation with conference leaders and FPM members on the ground about how her gifts can best be used to strengthen ministries there.
In August, we celebrated the publication of Decolonizing Mission Partnerships in the American Society of Missiology’s monograph series. This doctoral thesis is the second published book on missiology that is the fruit of the work of FPM.
In October, we shared with our Facebook followers that our beloved riverboat, The Indiana, had been destroyed in a storm. Thanks to a generous outpouring of contributions, we were able to raise enough to begin to build a new and larger boat to continue this vital transportation ministry. We hope to have it registered and in use in early 2021.
As always, FPM has continued to provide merit-based and financial-need scholarships thanks to designated and undesignated gifts from friends like you. This year’s scholarship recipients included women studying at the nursing school in Mulongo and orphaned youth raised at the UMC’s home in Kamina. We also provided laptops to two clergy who had to take all their first semester courses at Africa University online due to the shutdown.
While pandemic movement restrictions temporarily halted construction efforts in DR Congo, much progress was made on a number of FPM supported new builds and renovations. A photo album created by Freddy shows the highlights of this work in Tanganyika , and Lana’s report on her recent visit to Kabimba provides an inspiring narrative of how a growing congregation in Tanganyika was able to build a larger and sturdier sanctuary thanks to the final bequeath of a dying congregation in Indiana.
As we say goodbye to 2020, we pray that the lessons we have learned from it will lead us into a better 2021 and beyond.
Wishing you good health and deep friendships,