Our 36 Day God Adventure in the Bandundu

Day 4 : Thursday, September 8, 2011

We were up early - 5AM - because we wanted to get a good early start on our day's trip.  Though we were told it would only take us 2 hours to get back to the paved roads, we were somewhat skeptical (seeing as it had taken over 5 to arrive at Kikongo). 
Freshly baked donuts for breakfast (thanks Mama Françoise!), bags packed, car packed (how many more times will we need to do this??), a final prayer and we set off by 7:30.  We had two extra passengers with us; the one will be going only as far as a village along the way and the other all the way to our next destination, Kenge. 
The first bit definitely seemed easier than when we had done it in the dark on the way to Kikongo.  But then we hit a slight upgrade with extremely deep sand and we got stuck.  Out came the shovels to dig us out.  We moved ahead 10 or so metres and the same thing.  Stuck.  Shovels.  Dig.  Move forward.  Repeat the process ...  This went on at least 4 or 5 times.  Once again, like on the way there, it seemed to be a long, endless, rutted sand road. 
By hour 4 of this, I felt completely done and still we weren't back to pavement.  At one point all of us believed the car was going to tip over on its side because of the tilt - very close call.  But God's hand kept us upright!  Finally at 1:20PM we came to the end of our sand trail where it intersected with the main road, basically 6 hours after our departure in the morning.  A film of sand covered everything and I felt powdered in dust and sand both inside and out.  I could taste the grit.  My throat and nose felt plugged, my eyes watered, and my hair felt like a brillo pad.  All that would have to be dealt with later, of course.  For now, we all got out of the car to stretch our legs, take a few photos and revel in the fact that we had made it back from the sandtraps of Kikongo!
We had also been told that it shouldn't take more than 45 minutes to reach our second training site in Kenge once we reached the main road.  Now I don't fully trust this kind of declaration (especially after the "2 hour" trip from Kikongo to the highway took 6 hours) but this time it proved fairly accurate.  End of second travel day.  Only 8 of the 10 more to go!
Kenge is not a mission station like Kikongo.  It is a town of 140,000 people. The first consideration after arrival is where will be staying and in what kind of conditions.  They showed us to a little house on the edge of an empty, sandy field of sorts across from the church.  It had a small central room with 4 smaller rooms off to the sides.  Privacy was provided by a curtain hung from the doorways.  The "floor" was made from small rocks.  No electricity, no running water and no bathroom in sight.  OK.  I will simply say that Kikongo looked like it was the Ritz compared to this.  But it is what it is.  In a few minutes, between Pastor Pierre, Pastor Muzau, and the district pastor of Kenge, they decide that  Richard and I would be put up in the school director's office on the other side of the sandy field which happens to be much closer to the only available outhouse.  So they move over there a single bed with a foam mattress for us.  Next a mosquito net was installed.  I made up the bed with sheets I had brought and it actually looked a little cozy.  I decided to take a walk over to check out the outhouse.  They had told us that we could simply "shower" there too.  OK, at this point I need to say that I think I accept a great many things and am willing to put up with a lot but I told Richard in no uncertain terms that I just couldn't/wouldn't shower in the outhouse - as much as I needed and wanted one! Finally we opted for a system of two pails in our "bedroom" for bathing.  I will spare you the details...
Once cleaned up, with washed hair and clean clothes, I felt somewhat human again.  We headed over to join the other members of the team and had something to eat.  With the generator running, we had one lightbulb so at least we weren't in the dark - other than the times, of course, when it cut out probably due to dirt and sand in the system after the ride today; I know the feeling! 
Pastor Pierre has a special attachment for the computor that allows for internet access if there is a cell phone coverage available.  So we actually had time to check emails and send a quick message to our daughter to let her know we were doing fine.  So nice to feel connected again :)
Tiredness definitely set in and we headed back to our room - it was 8PM!  I had brought some candles with us so that helped to lighten the room while we got ready for bed.  I read for a while using the flashlight.  Richard, as always, went quickly to sleep.
Through the wall I could hear some of the pastors talking.  It was 10:30 or so before they settled down.  Me, on the other hand, had a difficult time finding that elusive sleep.
At 2:30 someone started praying.  Out loud.  I'm not sure how long it went on but really tough to not feel somewhat resentful that "silent" prayer does not seem to exist here!
Much of the night, I tossed and turned in our too narrow single bed, my throat and nose aggravated by the dust of today's journey.  By 5:30-6AM the pastors were up and talking.  Sleep was no longer possible anyway.  Not my best night!  I will simply hope for better ahead.


Popular Posts