A couple of weeks ago, we wrapped up our fourth visit to Kasai Oriental. Though this trip is not one I particularly look forward to, each time seems a little easier than the last. This trip we were accompanied by the Drapers, the Davis’ and Emmanuel, our housing specialist. Each of us, other than Emmanuel, had made this trip before and so we came prepared, literally, for the week ahead. Sister Draper even brought the cushion off her couch in Lubumbashi, to make the ride in the Land Cruiser a little easier. It was actually kind of fun!
We began the week with a one and a half hour flight to Mbuji Mayi, where Godefroid and the Land Cruiser were waiting for us. After a three hour ride over some very rough roads, we arrived in Mwene Ditu where Brent interviewed missionaries and members for about four hours. Meanwhile, the rest of us waited for him to join us for dinner at the Carrfour, the little hotel we stay at just down the road from the church. Dinner on this trip is always basically the same – dry chicken and rice or potatoes. Beatrice, the cook at the Carrfour usually has a few extra dishes, like local fish, sombe and of course, fu fu.
Our four great sisters in Mwene Ditu. Sister Wamalwa on the far left, is from Kenya and the others, of course, are from Kinshasa. We do love them!
The next morning we were on the road bright and early to make it to Luputa for interviews and Zone Conference that day.
Our missionaries in Luputa. No sisters here! Man! I honestly cannot figure out why the missionaries won’t smile. Part of it might be that they just don’t think it’s cool to smile… or perhaps in this particular picture, they have an idea of the changes that are about to shake up the mission.
One of our Zone Leaders and just of few of the many, many children of Luputa.
The main purpose of the Davis’ trip to Luputa was to present the local hospital there with an ultra-sound machine. The chief came to preside over the ceremony (I think you can tell by the look in his eyes that he is a good man.) and was very gracious in his remarks, as he expressed gratitude for all the church has done for the community of Luputa. The Church provided the city with an extensive water system a few years ago, bringing water from many miles away and providing a huge holding tank. It is literally the only access to water the city has. The chief referred to it as the “water of life”. Before the ceremony ended, everybody stood and sang the National Anthem. That was the first (and only) time I have ever heard it. It is well suited to this place and people and was one of those moments when I had to say, “Brent!…. We are in Africa!”
There’s something about the light in Luputa! I love the colours, the children and the trees!
Some of the trees feel like guardians to me. Some are huge.
People truly live outside in the DRC and because of that, the trees serve some important purposes. In this heat, shade is a must.
This… is Africa! I love the colour and light of this picture. I think it’s beautiful.
It’s a short walk from the Church to the Hospital but all these pictures were taken in this short time. As you might imagine, six white people walking down the road of a town in the middle of the Congo creates a bit of a stir but while they are staring at us, I am taking pictures of them. It is a different kind of beauty here.
Back at the “Luputa Hotel” (a building the church built so visitors like us would have somewhere to stay), we enjoyed our dinner of freeze dried food. As you can see, we had quite a variety, though everything seems to be a variation of the same theme… chicken and rice. Sister Davis was Chief Cook.
Dinner really was pretty good! As usual, Brent can’t eat without doing something else at the same time. His schedule really is grueling and I am constantly amazed at the pace he is able to keep up, though he is always pretty spent by bedtime. Good thing we didn’t have far to go for bed that night. Our bed was just behind that curtain!
The next morning after a few early morning interviews, we were on the road again back to Mwene Ditu for Zone Conference. The road was not half bad this time… and so beautiful!
This is the bridge we take to cross Crocodile River. One of these times we might get an unexpected opportunity to find out if there really are crocs in there!
Zone Conference dinner in Mwene Ditu was provided by some sisters in the church there. The missionaries loved it and heaped their plates high, even if the rest of us weren’t too thrilled. Yes, of course there was chicken and rice, but there were some other dishes too. The goat had great flavor, but just took a lot of chewing. I think Brent had been working on a piece for about ten minutes, at the time this picture was taken.
The next day we drove the three hours back to Mbuji Mayi and after dropping Brent off to do a few hours of interviews, the rest of us paid a visit to the wonderful members of Tshitenge to see their new brick oven and sample some of their bread. They are now able to not only bake their own sacrament bread, but bake bread daily for themselves and to sell to the community. I’m a little envious. I have wanted a brick oven for years!
The rolls these sisters made tasted very much like the homemade dinner rolls we would make back home.
After our visit, a few of the members piled into the back of the Land Cruiser along with the Davis’, Drapers and Emmanuel, for what proved to be a very cozy ride back to M.M. Brent followed his interviews with the missionaries, with another meeting. Around 200 of the District leadership showed up to listen to President Thomas teach them the importance of Ward Councils.
Remember the old Sesame Street song, “One of These Things Doesn’t Go With the Others”? This is a shot of some of our elders in Mbuji Mayi, waiting for their interview with the President. Though our elders always look nice and clean, “Fashion” is not their strong suit. We are accustomed to seeing a variety of creative white shirts, shoes, bags and even pants…. Then there is the elder on the left. He is from the Camaroon. I don’t know where he gets his clothes, but I don’t think he gets them here. He always stands out from the pack and has excellent fashion sense! This is how he came to interviews. He looked like he was ready to walk down a New York runway! Everything was perfectly coordinated, even down to the sunglasses and baseball cap (both of which he removed as soon as I mentioned it). Honestly! Diesel jeans, Levi leather belt, hoody stylishly tied around his waist, and the most beautiful leather boots I think I have ever seen. I couldn’t help it! I was and still am, full of admiration! But!… We will be talking about appropriate missionary attire in the next round of Zone Conferences. 🙂
Here is Godefroid getting us all packed up to go back to the airport and then on to home. Well, another week in the mission has come to an end, and though it has not been an easy one (they never are up here), none of us are any worse-for-the-wear. Look at those smiles! Tonight we will be back in our own beds, and have hot running water, lights, air-conditioning (if the generator hasn’t broken down) and something to eat other than… you guessed it… chicken and rice.