We’ve been up to Mbuji Mayi a few times now, and each time serves to made us grateful for our home in Lubumbashi. There is a feel there unlike any other place we’ve ever been to. So… I thought that I would dedicate this post (mostly) to Mbuji Mayi aka Diamond City.
On this trip, we were accompanied by the Assistants, the Drapers and the mission medical team, the Mikesells. We are so grateful to always have someone at the airport to greet us and help us on our way, along with the assistants and our driver Godefroid to get us safely from one place to another. We once again had a full load with three of us in the front of the Land Cruiser and eight in the back. Though the roads this time, were not as bad as in the past, it still meant hours of cramped and sweaty driving conditions, especially for everyone in back with boxes and bags wedged between their legs. The trip that was meant to last six days actually took seven, due to an inconvenient thunder storm that prevented our plane from landing and taking us back to Lubumbashi. I am so impressed with these wonderful senior couples in their 60’s and 70’s, that not only volunteer to come here but pay their own way to boot! They spent hours on this trip bouncing up and down on hard bench seats, no air conditioning or running water in our “hotels”, hot and sticky and with little to eat. I didn’t hear one complaint. Oh wait! Yes I did! But that was me.
Godefroid (our driver in Mbuji Mayi) and family standing in front of his house.
There they are! Pretty impressive right? What am I looking at you ask? Why diamonds of course! As we had an extra day, we decided we should see where “Diamond City” got it’s name. We pulled up to a diamond seller on the street and this is what he had to offer. Needless to say I was a little disappointed. Mbuji Mayi is the diamond capitol of the DRC. Really?!!!
Mbuji Mayi has been without power for a few weeks and water is tough to get. Men and women haul water from the muddy river, which is downhill, twice a day, to destinations about six km away in the city. These men are at least able to roll this barrel of water, though I’m not sure it would be any easier, especially up hill!
We were told that these men and women would be paid about $1.50 per bidon or tub of water that was delivered 6 km away. That’s 24 km per day, 12 loaded with water, 12 without, making a grand total of $3.00 for your day’s work!
There is a feeling in this city, of a simmering pot. People seem friendly enough, until one more thing is added to the mix. We were waiting in the Land Cruiser, on a crowded street (they’re all crowded), for our driver to buy us some bananas for lunch. Of course, people came up to the windows of the vehicle, asking for money. It is always the same. This time however, there were about four young men who were relatively well dressed and who, though smiling the whole time, wouldn’t take no for an answer. An older man came up and tried to chase them away, with little success until he slapped one of them across the face. At first, we thought he was thinking of us, but he didn’t even glance in our direction. We realized, as he walked away, that for him it was a matter of his people having some pride and not begging for money. We were impressed, as that was the only time we have seen that. Before his arrival on the scene, we were wondering if these same boys were thinking about tipping the vehicle over. Not an impossible feat, as we were already sloped sideways on the side of the road. Nothing happened and we were soon safely off, bananas and all.
You might have wondered about the horse. Well, in the absence of the typical African wildlife, this will have to do. This guy lives in Mbuji Mayi and has the run of the place. We have seen him all over the city. We hear he belongs to a rich man who rides him occasionally, but like the chickens, goats and pigs, he seems to be a citizen like everyone else. Actually, he is a little better off I suppose, as he seems to have plenty to eat and only works occasionally. His mane and tail are pink from the red dirt.
We saw this little lady as we waited in traffic. She is actually wearing a skirt and T-shirt in much the same condition as the children wear. She was just walking around like she wears clothes everyday! As we watched, she nonchalantly walked up to her “dad”? He pulled up her skirt… and then she trotted off. I… have… NO… idea!
One of the better hospitals that we visited with the Mikesells.
Our wonderful elders of Mbuji Mayi.
This is how the people get around and how our missionaries arrived for our dinner at a local restaurant. Three on a motorcycle here is nothing!
Of course, after dinner there are always photos. Here I am with Sister Draper, Sister Mukadi and Sister Mikesell.
Brent’s phone must be with him at all times. With around 180 missionaries, this is a common sight.
The Luputa train station. You can take the train from Luputa to Lubumbashi we hear. The trip takes somewhere between two and three weeks. They grow corn everywhere they can for maize and here they had beans growing up the corn stalks. Beautiful!
The “Luputa Hotel” the church built so there was somewhere to sleep when leaders visit. The Mikesells and the Drapers got the two bedrooms and Brent and I took the beds in the kitchen. Once again we were blessed with an evening rain storm that cooled off what would have otherwise been an unbearably hot night. It wasn’t half bad!
There are even more children here than most places I guess because polygamy is so big here. It is a challenge for missionaries.
Church in Mbuji Mayi. There’s Sister Draper on the left. The kids must sit outside with the Primary President to watch over them. She wouldn’t even sit down when I offered her a chair and kept the children in good order.
Our assistants waiting with us at the Mbuji Mayi airport, hoping that the plane would land and take us home to Lubumbashi.
These cute kids were looking in on us as we waited in the airport. Sister Draper shared some cookies with them and they were offering us some peanuts… free of charge I think!
We look like a happy bunch, don’t we?! Don’t let the smiles fool you. We were SO ready to get out of there! Thank heavens the plane did make a special stop to pick up the passengers stranded by the storm the evening before. We had to fly home via Kinshasa and finally got in bed Sunday morning at 2:00 am. If not, we might have had to wait another week…. Thank you Heavenly Father. I know that all of our prayers, and others were heard.