Seminar in Massango

Trip Start Sep 06, 2012
Trip End Oct 09, 2012

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday we were to leave at 07:30, but they arrived at 08:00, about as I had expected. I was dressed in what I think of as my mud-clothes, thinks I don't mind wearing while tramping through mud and rain. Mr. Mundeli was already in the vehicle and Moise sister who would ride north with us, but not Nathan; we picked him up at the hospital. His brother had had a good night and slept well but still wasn’t in good enough shape for the operation.

We headed north on the familiar road toward Cibitoke, always full of bicycles carrying amazing loads from rural areas to various markets. Once we reached the provincial line, the terribly potholed road suddenly became perfect, the roadwork for the province, financed by an International body was complete. Eventually, I was told the road will be completely redone from Tanzania in the south to the city of Goma in the north. I’ll be happy when they get the intermediate stretch from Bujumbura to the provincial line done. The new section has dramatically lowered travel times. What used to take two hours or more, now takes 90 minutes. When the last section is done, the whole trip will take an hour or probably less. It probably won’t ever be as quick as it would in the west because of the regular need to slow, swerve, and stop for pedestrians, bicycles, oxcarts, playing children, cattle herds, goats, chickens, and I’m sure I’m forgetting some things.

We finally arrived at Nyeshenza, the last village before Massango under clear skies. As we drove in, I noticed a boy of 9 or 10 wearing tattered dirty shorts and flip flops, with a T-shirt that read "I am the American Dream". You couldn’t make up stuff like this.

We found the usual road to Massango blocked in the village due to road work. We had to find an alternate path with was actually a path. But they’re used to driving on such ways, and though we had to stop and move logs, we made it to our usually parking place, from where we hiked 15 minutes including “walking the plank” over a stream to arrive at the hall. Six congregational leaders were present, so with our party we made 10 in all.

There were formal greeting from Nathan on behalf of the group, to which I responded formally with Moise translating. Mr. Mundeli also greeted everyone on behalf of our Rwandan brethren. Then I started in on the topic for the day: our fundamental belief about the annual Holy Days of the Bible which outline the divine plan of salvation for mankind. This was a very useful topic considering the time of year, but also because this is such a fundamental subject for understanding many biblical topics.

We went through various scriptures and discussed their meaning and significance. We went from 10 until 12, and had a 10 minute break, then continued on until almost 3:00 pm. Some church ladies were cooking lunch outside over fires, and it was ready by the time we wrapped up: rice, beans, cabbage, beef and fried potatoes. The men were served heaping plates of food, as much as the plate could possibly hold. It would be their one meal of the day. I ate lightly, as I usually do in such circumstances: some rice and beans a few slices of potato. I’ve learned from experience, that I can usually handle a little of the food without much problem, but it’s risky to eat copiously.

After lunch we had a closing prayer and then we  parted for the day, we should see each other again tomorrow when we’ll meet for services.

The drive back to Bujumbura was uneventful. We stopped as usual to buy tomatoes at a particular village. Moise told me he buys for 1000 francs (60 cents) what he would pay 2000 francs to have in Bujumbura. That’s a significant amount of money here.

Having arrived in Bujumbura I changed some dollars to get some francs, and we went to the central market area to buy a new CD player for Nathan, so he can listen to sermons. After trying several shops we ended up in one run by an Indian fellow. There were no simple CD players to be had, only DVD-CD players with viewing screens and high price-tags. Finally we found a radio that would also take SD chips. Moise and I disused this and he said he could transfer sermons to the SD chip on his laptop. That seemed a good way to go. Now we had to haggle.

65000 was the price about $43. Moise got them down to 55,000, which the owner said was his last price. I did my part and held out for 50, making as if to leave if the price wasn’t met. The Indian man waved me over in a sign of assent. The shop staff broke out in laughter. I asked Moise why: “your skin in the same and yet you haggle”. We didn’t really look that much alike from my perspective, he had the swarthy skin of many East Indians, and I’m really northern-European white. But to them we looked the same, and I guess light-skinned people don’t usually haggle with each other. In any event thought it was pretty hilarious.

We drove back to the hotel sat on the restaurant terrace and had a discussion about organizing the Feast of Tabernacles until it got dark and the mosquitos were out in force. So we said goodbye for the evening and agreed to meet at 7:30 again for the drive to Mugina
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Jason on

Thanks for the updates Mr. Meeker. They are always heart-warming. We will continue to pray for your safe travels and for productive meetings along the way. Happy fall Holy Days!

Tess Washington on

I wonder if that boy with the t-shirt on "I am the American dream" knows what the American dream is. It looks like things are coming along well on this trip and the preparations you and the brethrens are making for the FOT in the area. It is truly a blessing that you are able to make this trip to visit our brethrens in this part of the world! And it is good for us to see them and know what the other members of the Body are doing and going through!

Bernard on

Thanks for your blogs. Always very informative and touching. It helps us to know our Brethren in this part of the world better. And I love the humor. Our warmest greetings to all. Bon voyage !

Linda Morgan on

Praying for your safety and the safety of all our brethren. We do enjoy reading and following your trail. May it continue to be blessed.

Beverly Lofty on

Saw your beautiful wife at church today but did not get to say anything to her :-( we are praying for your safety :-) with what is happening in Tunisia and the Sudan we are worried for you :-( we pray for God's protection and safety for you :-) thanks for your wonderful posts :-) Bev and Bruce :-)

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