A festival day in Kinsahsa

Trip Start Apr 02, 2014
Trip End May 07, 2014

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Where I stayed
Hotel Invest Kinshasa
Read my review - 3/5 stars

Flag of Congo - The Dem. Repub.  , Kinshasa,
Monday, April 21, 2014

This morning I woke up at 07:00 refreshed by a good night's sleep. I enjoyed some slow personal time, before Daniel and I went for breakfast at 08:30. I had checked right away at the desk to see if my suitcase had been delivered during the night. No luck. Breakfast at the Hotel Invest de Presse is served in a covered area in the gardens and is included in the price of the room. We had a Spanish omelet and savored our coffee as we watched a peacock, guinea fowl and another very brightly colored bird I don’t recognize, peck their way around the lawn, or in the case of the peacock, beg for a treat.

Daniel told me had slept well and through the night. We were both very tired the night before, so the good night’s sleep had been much needed.

We discussed the sermons we would give and other things concerning our work. After breakfast we worked or relaxed in our rooms. I called the Kenya Airways phone number I had been given at the airport to check on the status of my bag. A recording said that my correspondent’s phone had been switched off. That didn’t sound good. I tried several more times during the morning and always reached the same recording. There was a morning flight from Nairobi to Kinshasa, the same one on which we had arrived, so I hoped my suitcase might arrive before we left for services, otherwise I’d have to go in my blue jeans which would be an undistinguished first.

Daniel and I met again for lunch right at noon. As it took 45 minutes to be served, we finished lunch at 1:00 and were ready to go when Justin arrived to take us to the hall about 15 minutes away. No suitcase. I borrowed a tie from Daniel to be as formal as I could under the circumstances.

On arrival the hall was already very full. It was full of young people in their late teens and 20s, most of them very new to the church who wanted to ask about youth programs and education. It is common in this part of the world to have a "youth ministry" organization with officers and titles and separate activities. Some of them were thinking that we would organize the same way.

I spoke for about 45 minutes explaining what we had in the way of youth education programs for teens and young adults, and our approach to youth activities and participation in the church. I explained that while we do have youth education programs, our young adults are encouraged to serve in the church, not have a parallel organization separate from the life of the church.

I asked Daniel to share his thoughts. He talked of how educational programs for young adults had helped him get going on the right path and had served him well since, sharing some personal examples.

At the end of our presentations I gave them some points on things they could do to get involved right away in the life of their congregation and be of service to the work of God. These included:

1.      Studying their Bible every day to become strong in the word
2.      Praying every day to develop a strong relationship with God
3.      Volunteering to help in the congregation
4.      Looking for informal ways to serve members in need

I took a few questions, but they weren’t really about youth programs but more just Bible questions such as the nature of God and the Holy Spirit.

It was 2:45 at this point and the service was to begin at 3:00. When all the rest of those attending came, the count was 88 adults and 45 children. We’ve never had so many attend here, most of these are very new people, so I don’t anticipate all of them remaining, but it was encouraging to see so many interested people come on a weekday when many had to take off work or classes.

After the hymns and opening prayer, I gave some introductory comments, apologized for my sartorial inelegance. I used a French expression with which they could all identify: la guerre comme la guerre. This is not easy to translate, but it means something like, when you go to war, you do what you have to and make do. Africans understand this painfully well. I introduced Daniel Harper to the congregation. Then I spoke briefly about why we give offerings on annual holy days, and we gave our offering.

After another hymn, Daniel gave a first sermon on the topic of Why are We Here Today? He explained each word: Why us?, Why here?, Why today? It was a very good message and a timely one. I then spoke on why the Church observes these days of Unleavened Bread that most Christians believe only apply to Jews. As we spoke, the sky grew very dark and one of the seasons’ rains poured down. The few anemic electric lights in the room allowed us to read our notes and the Bible only with some difficulty. When the power went off, as it did periodically, it became even more difficult to read. We had to tilt our Bibles toward the door to catch as much light as possible and move them close to our faces to read. But we kept going and were able to finish.

It was a pleasant change not to have to pause for interpretation each time; almost the entirety of this group could understand French enough to follow the sermons. After services, I had an initial meeting with 12 people who had asked about baptism. I explained what the covenant was, how the ceremony itself is conducted, and how we help people prepare for baptism. I took a few questions. Then there were some sick people for whom to pray and a few others asked that we pray for them too. I took down their names and said I would pray for them. I think some of them were hoping for a sort of public prayer service where they could come before the congregation and have us pray over them, as is done in many churches here. But I explained what Jesus said about prayer in Matthew 6 about how most of our prayer should be in private between us and God and that we don’t do much public praying to avoid the pitfalls about which Jesus warned.

We took some group photos and fellowshipped as the sky became darker. Finally just before sundown, we said goodbye to everyone still present and took a taxi back to the hotel. Once arrived, we discussed our plans for tomorrow and Wednesday, and said goodbye to Justin and Victor. I called the Kenya Airways number and the phone was still switched off. I called Kenya Airways in Nairobi to report the baggage loss and the situation. The employee took my information and phone number and said they would call me “if they could find anything.” That wasn’t too reassuring either.  

Daniel and I had dinner in the garden once again. We’re both very tired after hours of non-stop talking and teaching. I’m sure we will both sleep well again tonight
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mary on

What a large meeting for the Holy Day! And 12 people talking about baptism. The words of life must be especially hopeful there. We benefit from hearing about your visits among the people. You and Daniel are keeping up a quite a schedule of preaching and teaching, all the while working around a missing bag, rain, and power outages. Thanks for the great reminders on serving in church.

Tess Washington on

Thank you for all the teachings that we could also learn and apply in our own lives! Great to know about this congregation in Congo...their interests in educational programs and knowing more about God! Great to know about Daniel's beginnings in the same path we all chose to walk upon! Hopefully, you and Daniel will get more rests and sleep and may your missing luggage arrive soon!

joyce stoner on

Thank you so much for sharing with us. i feel like i'm walking along with you. and i do hope your baggage catches up with you

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