Life in the Congo is definitely improving, but there’s no question it’s not easy here!… and right now I’m not talking about me. You can see signs of progress that give you hope, but the reality of most people’s lives here, at times makes you want to go to your room and sob. Honestly, some times it is just too much for me! At those times of discouragement, I wonder if things here can ever really change and I wonder if we are doing any real good. I get a little impatient, judging pretty much everything using a North American standard, which is helpful to no one. But even if it is a case of, “Two steps forward and one step back”, they are at least moving in the right direction. I’m not sure at times, if I can say the same about me. Sometimes, I feel more like it’s “ONE step forward and TWO steps back”! I don’t think I have ever been ignorant of my weaknesses, but they sure seem to be highlighted here! The good thing though, is that I have never before felt such an outpouring of Heavenly Father’s love for me, faults and all.
Another trip to Kasai. I am always amazed by the way people travel here. We were behind one of these trucks the other day, watching a guy that was fighting to stay awake. He was perched so precariously, that I was sure he would slip off! The amazing thing to me, is that they can stay up there at all!… Tons of people!… Mom’s with babies… goats… all kinds of “stuff”… for hours, on unbelievably bumpy roads!
Interviews in Luputa make for a long day. There really is not much to do for most of it, except sit in the shade. The kids are there within minutes of our arrival and it doesn’t take long to run through my bag of tricks. We usually sing a few songs, do “Head, shoulders, knees and toes” in French as well as English, the always good, “Put your right foot in, Put your right foot out” (I guess the real name is “Hokey Pokey”?), and each time I show them once again, how to make a duck noise with a blade of grass. And, for the Piece De Resistance… they always want me to show them how I can whistle loud with my fingers. (I must say, I’m pretty proud of that one myself.)
This was a attempt at “Red light, Green light.” They really didn’t have a clue, but they had fun anyway. Brent was trying to help me out, but gave up and took pictures with his phone instead. I’m sure when we visit again in a couple weeks, they will want a repeat.
This is the “Presidential Suite” of Luputa. I choose to bring our own pillows and sheet to sleep on, though as you can see, there are some provided. Among other things, there is no light (unless the generator is running), no air-conditioning and…
No running water! Yes… there is a toilet, sink and tub. But any and all water comes from that barrel, which is kindly filled by someone other than us, from a well, not far away. This bathroom is shared by all, who stay at our little “Luputa Hotel”. Did I mention that the door doesn’t close? Night is especially interesting. Flashlights do more than light the way. The light is essential in clearing the path through the cock-roaches! (Okay,… so I’ve only actually seen two.) And no, there is no toilet seat. However, for all of my complaining, this is worlds better than anything anyone else might have, here in Luputa. And, any of you thinking you could never come to this mission because you couldn’t live like this… You don’t have to! The Senior Couples who come to this mission live in good conditions. Just ask any of them! Brent and I are usually the only ones who need to visit these places, but you might like the adventure… just once? The Drapers are dying to go back!
The boy on the right is always there when we arrive, and no matter how early we go out in the morning or how late at night, he is there… waiting. He must have a home and family but we have never been able to find out anything about them. He is always alone. There is something not quite “right” about him, and the other children and even many of the adults make fun of him. After our meal with the missionaries, one of the elders, trying to be kind I suppose, gave him a dish heaping with some of the left-over food. This boy sat out on the step of the building eating his fill, while about 30 kids watched on from a few feet away. After he had eaten all he wanted, he got up and walked away, leaving what was left behind. A second later, the other kids swarmed the plate for whatever morsel they could get. Most had only a taste of what was on the plate, by licking their finger tips. …One of those times you just want to go hide and cry.
The rainy season is coming to an end. I am always amazed at Godefroid’s driving skills. We haven’t gotten stuck yet, but came close on this trip. It was worse than it looks!
No pictures can do justice to this road trip, that we make every two months. We take a one and a half hour flight and then drive a total of five hours (depending on the road and split between two days), one way, and then return the same way. I thought it was getting easier, but this last trip was harder than ever. It find it grueling, I must say
Brent and I drove to Kasumbalesa (a town not far from Lubumbashi) to meet with our elders there and go with them to teach a family. This is their home. Notice the bricks keeping the roof on? Last year, our guard’s little grand daughter was killed, when a wind caught their roof and one of the big rocks fell on her while she slept. Can you see the two babies in this picture?
This young family was expecting us and proudly invited us into their home. The room was about 6’x6′ and seated seven of us (if you don’t count the dog and the chicken that wandered in). Though there was little light (the only light came through the doorway), it was easy to see that the room was neat and swept clean. The chairs were worn and old, but surprisingly, there were clean white doilies on the backs of them. The father of the house was polite to us, but though he was proud of where he was and what he had, it was obvious that he felt a hopelessness about his families future. I really do think the Gospel is their only hope, and that will take a few generations.
Some of the neighbor kids, came to watch the day’s big event! It’s not every day you get to see a red SUV with two white people inside, driving through your neighborhood! As a matter of fact, I’m not sure they have ever seen a car driving through their neighborhood. I was sure the path was too narrow for us to get through many times, but the elders assured us we could make it, so we crawled along between the houses, with people happy to direct us and encourage us along the way. We finally did need to stop and get out and walk. These pictures were taken as we walked.
This was another one of those days when you simply cannot describe the experience. Suffice to say, though I thought we would never be able to find our way out of the maze of houses (especially without tipping over or getting wedged between two buildings), we were, with a little help, able to find our way back to the main road and returned home safe and sound.
This post has taken me a long time to do. Part of the reason is that we have been very busy, but part of the reason I think, is that I have gotten quite used to things here. And… the truth is, I feel either uninspired or just plain too tired most days. I think there is some truth to the idea that pain can inspire creativity, and I am happy to announce, that though I continue to struggle with my personal weaknesses, I have experienced very little pain over the past month or so. I guess I should find comfort in the thought, that like the Congo, two steps forward and one step back isn’t all that bad. At least I am moving forward.
One of our elders… leading us home.