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Trip Start Mar 14, 2013
Trip End Apr 05, 2013

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Flag of Congo - The Dem. Repub.  , Kinshasa,
Thursday, March 21, 2013

Today was a day for meetings and catching up, with some unexpected excitement at the end.

On my way out to the garden for breakfast at 8:00, I stopped to look at the monkeys and tropical birds they keep in cages for the entertainment of guests. Monkeys are mean I learned a long time ago, so I kept a safe distance as I prepared to take a photo, and sure enough the cute little fellow launched himself at me with a screech as if he were hoping to make it through the cage. When I came back to the room, a hotel employee with a pump and spray apparatus like one might use in a garden to spray insecticide, was going from room to room spraying a liquid all over the floors. When I asked him about he said just to let it dry on the floor, it was to kill mosquitoes. I was all in favor of killing mosquitoes but the room floor was very wet, there were puddles forming all over. I wondered how I could get around. I just did my best to miss the largest puddles, but before long there were shoe tracks visible all over my room.

Justin and Victor came to the hotel at 10:00. We walked out to the gardens and found a table under a rondavel thatched roof and sat down to talk. The three extended families that make up the congregation in Kinshasa are doing well, though finances are always difficult. The wars in eastern Congo and north eastern Congo (they're not related to each other) have created great instability in the country and driven an exodus of people into Kinshasa. Add to that the heavy UN presence (the UN always buys up or rents the best real estate when it moves in – your tax dollars at work), and prices have been driven sky high. I can attest to the fact that everything is overpriced. The hotel I use is one example. It is very expensive for what it offers, yet it is the best alternative I've yet found that offers security and safe food. In Rwanda I pay about half the price for a similar room and utilities work better. More on that later. The three breadwinners are state employees, and while salaries are being regularly paid now – this wasn't the case until recently – they’re not really earning enough to realistically make ends meet as prices remain so high.

We discussed how the Church can realistically help them. I’ll be giving give them a little "scholarship money" to help pay school fees. We also talked about how we can continue to meet their spiritual needs from afar. This is not an easy situation, but the discussion was very helpful all around.

We finished about noon and they left for work. I had a light lunch, a quarter of a small roasted chicken and fries.

At 2:00 pm two young men whom I've been counseling for baptism arrived. We picked up where we left off last time, and had an in-depth discussion of the annual festivals taught in the Bible and how they underline different steps in the master plan of salvation. It’s part of believing the gospel.

We went until 4:00 pm and I gave them some homework and said I would see them again tomorrow. I gave them copies of our new booklets, one of which covers the festivals, to aid in their study.

I had an early dinner, and when I got back to my room, the air conditioner was making loud rattling noises and there was water all over the floor underneath it. I went to the front desk to let them know, and they called a technician. He looked around inside and out and found that the unit has frozen outside. Just turn it off until it melts he said. So I sat in the room with no air conditioning and hoped it would melt quickly. The room steadily heated up. At 10:30 pm I tried the air conditioner to see if it was working. No go, still frozen.

I went to the front desk and asked if they had another room I could use so I could go to bed. I wouldn't sleep through the night with no air. “We usually only do room changes during the day” I was told. I insisted, and finally an employee took another key to another room and we went for a look. The windows were broken and wouldn't stay closed. That wouldn't work. Strangely, everyone seemed surprised, as if they didn't know anything about the state of each room.

They found another key, this time to room 12. The air worked, but the halogen floor lamp did not. The technician tilted it over and looked closely: no bulb. He went to another room and brought a replacement lamp – but didn't test it. Later I realized it didn't have a bulb in it either. At least the two bedside lamps worked, or so I thought. As I was getting settled in the room, with no warning the light bulb in the lamp on the left side of the bed suddenly exploded. All the lights went out.

In the dark, I found my camera bag and pulled out the little flashlight I keep there for such times. I walked to the front desk and explained the problem. They called the technician back. When he arrived, he needed to borrow my flashlight, he didn't have one. He checked the lamp, unplugged it and unscrewed the ruins of the bulb and then left (with my flashlight) to check something outside the room. Back in the dark I pulled my backup, backup flashlight out of my shaving bag and waited. He came back with a broom. He first swept up the glass shards around the night stand, and then went to the closet. Leaning inside backwards, he reached up with the broom handle to turn a circuit breaker back on. It is located just below the 10 foot ceiling in what is probably the most inaccessible spot in the room. I wonder who thought that up.

So at 11:30 at night I am left in a room where one small light on the night stand works, that’s all. No other light; the TV doesn't work, and there likely won’t be any hot water tomorrow, but the air conditioning works, and that’s most important for a night’s sleep. The rest we’ll try to work out tomorrow.
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alzoo on

Hope you got your flashlight back :D
All the best

Tess Washington on

Wow, that was an exciting day or was iit exhausting with the monkeys and all? Pardon the pun, it was like a "monkey wrench" was thrown in your midst! Enjoy your rest and sleep, Mr. Meeker! We are with you...our thoughts and prayers are for your and the brethrens safety and comfort. Please extend our warm regards to them from sunny Northern Cali!

Bernard on

Hi, Joel

I hope you plan to keep all these adventures handy to write a book someday! It may become a bestseller! It is always fascinating to read your blogs. It always prompts all kinds of emotions and reactions in our minds. It teaches us lessons and give us food for thought. Thanks for keeping us informed. We wish you a safe and meaningful Passover and FOB. With our love.

Mary Hendren on

Thanks, Joel, for another interesting and informative blog. I hope that your counseling of the young men for baptism counter balances all the frustrations of faulty AC, broken lamps and inflated prices. We will continue praying for your safety and accomplishments. We trust that you and the brethren will have a meaningful Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread.


Ted Franek on

What a full day you had ! Thanks for keeping us up to date on your travels. Each time I read one of your blogs I realize how much we have to be thankful for here....and how so much of the time we take it for granted. You and the brethren are in my prayers. May you have a blessed Passover and FOUB.

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