Our 36 Day God Adventure in the Bandundu

Day 12 : Friday, September 16, 2011

At 5AM someone was knocking on our door in order to take our bags to pack the car. All I know is that getting ready in the dark is not a good thing – I managed to have my dress on backwards all day long and my hair was beyond a disaster!!
After a quick breakfast (composed of fufu for those who like to eat “cement” in the morning), we loaded into the car, a pastor prayed for us and by 6:30 we were on the road, or rather, rut. We had a doctor travelling with us for the first part of the trip. It had rained a good part of the night and we had been told that it should be to our advantage. In principle it should have compacted somewhat the sand.
Not too long into the journey we got stuck trying to get up a steep incline. We all piled out in order to lighten the load. Part of the trail had been washed out by last's night rain. So much for the advantage theory! So the guys worked at filling in the crevice. It probably took about 30 minutes to get through there. Did I mention that this spot was overrun with red ants? You know, the type that bite. Everyone had to check clothing to make sure they hadn't gotten in. Apparently their bite can be quite vicious. Exciting way to start my day!
Before reaching the river we needed to cross we went through a section of thick jungle growth. At the crossing, the river was not too wide.  A barge-like boat on a manual pulley was the system used to move the boat from side to side.  After we were all on the boat, Benoit drove on the car.  With the effort of a young person pulling on the pulley, the boat arrived at the other side of the river.  They said that only every 5 months or so a car passes by there.  Not what you could call a full time job exactly!  Pastor Pierre paid 5000 Congolese francs for our passage and then gave them an extra 5000 as a contribution. 
Somehow my understanding had been that once we crossed the river we would be on paved roads again.  So wrong!  The "good roads" everyone had talked so much about - well, let's just say we saw no pavement all day again today.  We knew we had 230 km to cover today - double what we had done to arrive at Moanza (which took us 10 hours) so we were a little concerned about the time it might take us.  But for the most part we were able to bounce along consistently.  There was one village we passed through where we had a few problems - we got stuck in the sand, then we lost a bolt from the traction, and some guys from immigration (?) wanted to know about us; actually I don't think they could care less about us but sure would like a little money  But evetually we were able to continue on.
I had learned from earlier trips that I usually do better if I don't watch out the front window to see where we are going.  Understand that the two benches in the back of the car are opposite each other and facing sideways.  So I either looked out the side window at the passing scenery or closed my eyes - for me, a way to experience both silence and solitude.  I can think and pray like that.  Actually I pray a lot during these trips, especially for our safety and that God  would use us for His glory.  But today I also prayed a lot for my family.  I'm finding it hard to be absolutely out of contact with them.  I always miss them but not being able to skype or email - to simply not know how they are all doing - is difficult.  So I just kept giving them all into the Lord's care.  "Guard and keep each one".
By 3 PM we reached a very large village - Feshi.  There a large banner had been hung up to welcome us.  You can't imagine the joy of all these people.  After a few words of greeting exchanged, we were shown the church and then taken to the pastor's home for a meal.  Ahhh.  Congolese hospitality!  What I'm beginning to grasp is twofold - the impact of the history of missionaries from the past in these mission stations and secondly, the importance of having people come from Kinshasa and especially from the General Secretary's office to visit is a really big deal.  Often these parishes feel cut off from what is happening in the capital.
From Feshi to Tono we are told is 28 km with good roads (!) and should only take us 40 minutes which means we should be there before dark.  I really hope so.
What do you know, shortly before Tono we went through the village where Pastor Muzau was born.  Pastor Pierre insisted that we honk to announce his return much to Muzau's chagrin.  People came from everywhere!  To me, it was so heartwarming to see.  Not long after, we arrived in Tono where Canadian missionaries first established this mission station.  Pierre was given a bouquet of flowers.  We were served some peanuts, bananas, water while many others watched on.  Always drives me crazy...
We were anxious to see in what conditions we would be staying seeing as we had been told we would be sleeping on grass mats on the floor.  But to our great surprise and pleasure, they had transformed several offices into bedrooms - complete with bamboo bed frames, foam mattresses and even mosquito nets.  To my tired eyes it looked divine!  They had even built a brand new W.C. (outhouse) and outdoor shower area.  I loved the "shower" - kinda like a spa look - well, if you have some imagination!  There was a raised bamboo floor with a little bamboo bench to sit on.  The women kept supplies of pails of "hot" water.  It felt so good to shower and wash my hair.  Back in our room, I put my PJs on and climbed into bed.  Richard informed me it was 6:30PM.  I couldn't care less.  I wasn't going anywhere.
I could hear the thunder and see lightening and it wasn't long until the rain started.  Did it ever come down heavily!  The others had all gone to have something to eat.  I simply checked that no water was coming in, then rolled over and went to sleep. Bliss!


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