D.R.C.

11/12/2012

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After three weeks of road/plane trip through Africa, we made our last leg of the journey to our final destination: The Democratic Republic of the Congo.

I still remember the look on the nurse's face who gave me my Yellow Fever Vaccination back in the States in preparation for my visa application to the DRC Embassy. "Going to the Congo for your honeymoon? In all my years of tropical nursing, this is a first!"

Yes, perhaps it is. But I have a one-of-a-kind husband, and it is wonderful to be here.

Our journey to Kisangani was not without challenges. We were waylayed at the border while our host dealt with visa issues. Four hours of baking on the sidewalk in front of the office later, we had secured the much coveted stamp. We had watched our plane to Kisangani glide overhead without us a couple of hours before, so we spent an unplanned afternoon and night in Goma. Not the safest place in the world, but the Lord was watching over us and we had fine hospitality from the Union office. I hear the rebels camping out in the mountains north of town have no particular desire to take over the city for the time being.

The volcano on the edge of town steamed and puffed smoke all day and night, per usual. It was quite the sight. Goma has beautiful surroundings, but years of war, refugees, and volcanic eruption have transformed the streets into dusty showcases of poverty and need.

Everywhere we stopped, beggars of every age and appearance surrounded our vehicle. One eloquent english speaking boy preached us a sermon on giving to the poor, ending every paragraph with the words, "If you give to me, God will bless you full full!" (emphasizing the fulness by pounding one small fist into his other hand). Other less conversant children crowded around to see the result of his appeals (and hopefully share in them). Our magnanimous driver handed them some francs which created a near stampede as others tried to present their needs. What does one do when dozens of hands are pounding on your window saying, "Mama, I am hungry! Food, money, please!"?

We did what we could. How I wish I could take them all into my arms and feed and clothe them, then tell them the sweetest story ever told that will satisfy more than physical hunger and thirst.

I talked to a couple of street children a little later. We visited about various things and ended up talking about the Bible and the Sabbath. They were bright and responsive kids. Near the end I asked about their parents and the 10 year old said with a calm resignation, "Our mother is dead. Our father drinks much much. We live with our grandmother and when there is no school we work (beg)." I told the boy I was proud of him for being a little man and caring for his sister (he had been patting her head and pulling her close to his side during our entire conversation). He smiled and stood a little taller as I shook his hand. We left them with some bread and francs. I will never forget the grateful look on their little faces...

The Goma airport was utter chaos. I've never experienced such confusion in a public building in my life. We made it past half a dozen counters with officials scrutinizing our papers (plus a trip to a side room for extra questioning and negotiating), and boarded our plane an hour late. It was so good to feel the plane take off just a couple of seconds before we reached the end of the usable runway. A very relieveing moment. :)

So now we are in Kisangani, in the heart of the Congo River Basin. Pray for us as we seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these precious people.
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Friends from the South Sudan field. Met them at division meetings in Nairobi just before we left for the Congo.
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Spent a night on the Rwandan side of th border before crossing into the Congo. Right next door... a different world.
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Kivu volcano over Goma housetops



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