Get Ready, Get Set…Go!!!

A Letter from José LaMont Jones, serving in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Summer 2022

Write to José  LaMont Jones

Individuals: Give to E132192 in honor of José Jones’ ministry

Congregations: Give to D500115 in honor of José Jones’ ministry

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery)

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Dear friends,

My time here in Kinshasa has allowed me to get settled in our new place, visit schools, meet administrators and teachers, observe the teacher training for the new year, and more! I have received Evelin’s letter of invitation and am patiently (or not so patiently) working on her processing to be able to join me here in Kinshasa. We both are hopeful that we will be together again soon. She finished her courses in July and is ready to travel.

With Rev. Roger Findo, fourth vice-president of CPK, at the Gazelle School Training 2022 (photo by Rigobert Katalay Kataplot)

I have been able to learn more about the Presbyterian Community of Kinshasa (CPK) and gain an appreciation for its organization and function. I have had the pleasure to worship with several CPK congregations and enjoyed the great singing, preaching, praying and witnessing that are characteristic of the Congolese worship experience. Believing in worshiping where I am planted, my “home” church here in Kinshasa is at CPK Limeté, just around the corner from my house. Reverend Paul Dimukayi Ndumbi, Elder Dr. Samy Ntumba (director of CPK Health), and Elder Thomas Tshisambu have been very welcoming and check in regularly to make sure my transition is going well. The members and friends of the congregation remind me of the worshiping community I come from in Ohio, a mixture of languages, cultures and personalities, full of faith and love. In that respect, the transition has been very easy.

Concerning the CPK schools, I have observed much need. With the reality that many classrooms have more than 50 students, teaching and learning are different here. However, despite the large class sizes and salaries not necessarily in step with the cost of living (Kinshasa is the capital of the DRC and has one of the highest costs-of-living) teacher morale that I have seen, is remarkably high and there seems to be excitement and positive anticipation for the beginning of the new school year! As world economies and societal structures revolve around technology and its application, CPK schools are in dire need of some of the basic teaching technologies that can help ameliorate the effects of large class sizes and the need for more individualized learning. I hope to share some of the lessons learned in the U.S. classrooms in terms of teaching techniques and educational theory and work with mentor teachers to implement what is doable in the immediate and near future and to set goals for the future. Of course, there is the issue of resources.

I have not yet learned the budgeting process or how resources are assigned and prioritized amongst such needs, but I can see the effects: classrooms in need of seating and workspace, ceilings with holes in the roof that allow water to enter during the rainy season, lack of supplies for lessons/activities, buildings in need of repair and teaching dependent on note-taking and memorization of what is taught. There are, however, opportunities for cost-sharing and other creative ways of utilizing shared resources and indeed, involving the surrounding community in more effective ways. I am encouraged by the different ways this is currently done, but these examples are episodic and not the norm. Pray with me that the necessary transitions to bring more positive outcomes in CPK schools can happen soon.

The preschool teachers enter in procession and song as they prepare for a theatrical interpretation of the book, they present…Gazelle School Teacher Training 2022 (photo by José LaMont Jones)

I recently attended the teacher training at the CPK Gazelle Educational Center, partially supported by a Swiss Foundation. The Gazelle School is one of the top performing CPK schools and is highly coveted by teachers because of the caliber of students the school attracts, and the premium teachers are given to supplement the government-provided salaries. The training was co-sponsored by the Community of Protestant Churches and had teacher trainees from other schools located in Kinshasa.

I was impressed by the creativity and resourcefulness of the projects presented and their fidelity to the implementation of the subject matter guidelines. I was especially impressed by the innovation of the lower grades and how the teachers were able to use whatever was available for projects and lessons. Since the upper grades, specifically the high school level, are more resource dependent and the level of curiosity (and mischief) is higher…extra care must be taken in terms of student placement, laboratory safety, and risk management. Being a former science teacher, I see a need for in-servicing lab safety and student placement during those labs. Equipment, sometimes taken for granted, like balances, glassware, rulers, etc. are needed: first to model safe laboratory practice but also to facilitate higher level scientific thinking and methodologies. All of the high schools that teach science, I have visited, need laboratory equipment. I hope to teach teachers and students how to make some of these lab apparatuses (which in itself develops a greater understanding of concepts and technology).

Because of limited funds, the CPK was not able to host teacher training for its teachers but hopes to do so, concentrating on Language Arts and Mathematics, in 2022-23. Depending on resources, that training can take several forms. We ask God for wisdom and resources to be able to reach as many teachers as possible and get CPK schools on the road to success.

There is a need on several levels: students/families, teachers, the organization of educational structures and in society at large. Thank you for your past prayers and support for our shared ministries in the DRC. Will you also keep me in your prayers? We are getting ready for improvements in teacher preparation and educational outcomes this school year and are set to do BIG things. Let’s accompany our Congolese brothers and sisters together…TODAY.

Thank you for your prayers and support,

José LaMont Jones
Mission co-worker/Educational Specialist to DRC

Please read the following letter from Rev. Mienda Uriarte, acting director of World Mission:

Dear Partners in God’s Mission,

What an amazing journey we’re on together! Our call to be a Matthew 25 denomination has challenged us in so many ways to lean into new ways of reaching out. As we take on the responsibilities of dismantling systemic racism, eradicating the root causes of poverty and engaging in congregational vitality, we find that the Spirit of God is indeed moving throughout World Mission. Of course, the past two years have also been hard for so many as we’ve ventured through another year of the pandemic, been confronted with racism, wars and the heart wrenching toll of natural disasters. And yet, rather than succumb to the darkness, we are called to shine the light of Christ by doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God.

We are so grateful that you are on this journey as well. Your commitment enables mission co-workers around the world to accompany partners and share in so many expressions of the transformative work being done in Christ’s name. Thank you for your partnership, prayers and contributions to their ministries.

We hope you will continue to support World Mission in all the ways you are able:

Give – Consider making a year-end financial contribution for the sending and support of our mission personnel (E132192). This unified fund supports the work of all our mission co-workers as they accompany global partners in their life-giving work. Gifts can also be made “in honor of” a specific mission co-worker – just include their name on the memo line.

Pray – Include PC(USA) mission personnel and global partners in your daily prayers. If you would like to order prayer cards as a visual reminder of those for whom you are praying, please contact Cindy Rubin (cynthia.rubin@pcusa.org; 800-728-7228, ext. 5065).

Act – Invite a mission co-worker to visit your congregation either virtually or in person. Contact mission.live@pcusa.org to make a request or email the mission co-worker directly. Email addresses are listed on Mission Connections profile pages. Visit pcusa.org/missionconnections to search by last name.

Thank you for your consideration! We appreciate your faithfulness to God’s mission through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Prayerfully,

 

 

Rev. Mienda Uriarte, Acting Director
World Mission
Presbyterian Mission Agency
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

To give, please visit https://bit.ly/22MC-YE.

For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6


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