Kinshasa second day

Trip Start Sep 15, 2011
Trip End Oct 21, 2011

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Flag of Congo - The Dem. Repub.  ,
Friday, September 23, 2011

I was very thankful not to have to get out of bed early this morning, and felt rested when I did get up in time for breakfast and a 10:00 meeting with Jacob Pembelongo and Justin Tshikuda came to the hotel with four young men who have asked to counsel for baptism. We went outside in the garden behind the hotel where they would be most comfortable and sat under a round thatched roof which people particularly enjoy here, a reminder of a cultural past. We talked for about two hours as we laid the groundwork for them to study and prepare for baptism. I discussed the meaning and importance of baptism. Then we took turns reading different passages, and I asked them to give their understanding of them, as we studied the biblical teachings about prerequisites for baptism, particularly repentance and faith. I found that three of them didn't have a personal Bible, they had to borrow one when they wanted to read or study. So I told them I would make a deal with them, I’d buy them each a Bible if they’d commit to the general rule of reading it at least a little each day. They were very happy to agree! Before we finished, I gave them a list of particular passages to read and study, and encouraged them to make note of any questions they would have, so that we could discuss them when we next met.

As we wound up this first session, I passed along to Jacob some money that a member in Missouri had given me for just such a purpose.  I ask Jacob to take the men out and buy them French Bibles as well as cases to protect them and keep them clean. I also asked him to buy them each a notebook so they can take notes as they study. We take that for granted in the West, but even having writing paper and pens to use is not a given here. They left together to buy the Bibles, so the young men could continue studying. I asked Jacob and Justin to come back in mid-afternoon so we could continue our discussions.

For lunch I had a local dish: chicken in peanut sauce served with fried bananas and rice. Peanuts are an important source of protein in many parts of Africa, so various meats in a peanut sauce is a common dish. It takes a little getting used to, since it always first reminds me of chicken with peanut butter on it, but if it’s prepare well which this dish was, it’s quite good.

Jacob and Justin arrived back around 16:00. As we began talking I asked if they had seen the monkeys in the pen in the front of the hotel. Justin was interested but as we walked over to see them, Jacob said with a smile, "I get enough of monkeys when I’m out at my village…" He wasn’t talking about misbehaving children, but true simians of which there are still many living in the wild and not so wild parts of the continent. After watching the monkeys cavort and handing them some small fruit that had fallen from a nearby tree, we went back to our garden table. Over a soft drink we continued discussing many varied things starting with how our families are progressing. Justin has 4 children and Jacob has 8 (if I counted correctly). It is not easy feeding a family in Kinshasa. They are both well-educated civil servants, but are not paid a truly livable wage and what paydays they have are not regular. It’s now been 2 months since they’ve been paid. The last time I was here in the spring it had been three or four months since they’d been paid.

We talked about the organization of the Feast of Tabernacles, and regular Sabbath services, as well as the state of the registration process for the Congolese association. We talked about how the gospel could effectively be preached here. They told me that that it is still difficult and prohibitively expensive for most people to spend time on the Internet, and that printed publications, public Bible lectures and possibly announcements on the radio would be more effective for more people in spreading the good news of the Kingdom of God.

Then I brought my laptop to the lobby of the hotel where I could connect to the Wi-Fi network and showed and explained to them the features offered on our church websites both in French and English. It’s good for them to know what’s there even if they can’t make frequent use of it as yet.

By this time it was starting to get dark outside, so I wrapped things up so they could get home before dark. It’s not too dangerous in the center of Kinshasa they told me, but on the outskirts of town there are roaming gangs of teens armed with machetes that rob people of everything they have. “If you joke around with them, they cut you, maybe an arm off” Jacob said. And in other parts of town there are uniformed policemen or soldiers armed with rifles who rob people. “They clean people out completely, poor people!” Justin said with indignation. That’s the sad state of much of the world: the strong preying on those who can’t defend themselves. I expressed to them that when we see how mean and evil things can be in this world, it’s very encouraging to know something much better is coming, to which they readily agreed. That’s why we do what we do.

Tonight I’ll finish getting my weekly member letter ready for the French-speaking region and put together the mailing of translated elements from the weekly announcement bulletin from our central administration, (that doesn’t really have a physical center yet!). Tomorrow will, without doubt, be another very busy day.
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jpvernaud on

Nous vous souhaitons à tous un très bon Sabbat ainsi que de très belles Fêtes d'automne

Karen Collins on

Thank you so much for your update. I will continue to pray for all of God's people and for these gentlemen and young men who want tot be baptized.

Tess Washington on

Happy Sabbath Mr. Meeker! Good to hear from you again and wonderful to hear about the 4 young men, Justin and Jacob! Together with you and your family, they will be in our thoughts and prayers!
I noted also the comment about the difficulty and prohibitively expensive cost of the internet over the other is something we can all pray about...

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