Trip Start Apr 02, 2014
33Trip End May 07, 2014
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We walked along the shore and talked of the seasons of the river. At times it is so high that the bank where we walk is under 30 feet of water. In the dry season, we could walk much farther out that we can today.
We talked with rock-breakers at work on a huge stone with diamond tipped chisels. They are pounding holes in the rock to break off large sections which will then be further broken with a sledgehammer to make foundation rock for homes. They tell us they will be paid 150 dollars for 20 tons of rock, about one truck load. It can take five days for the two of them to break that much stone, then they must wait for a buyer to come with a truck. In the distance we can see larger scale rock breaking, and heavy trucks coming and going.
We are told that just over there, "traders" (commerçants) cross the river at night, bringing in merchandise such as ammunition; things that can be legally purchased in one Congo but not the other.
It was now very warm. I had sweated through my shirt, which I just washed out last night. The tropical humidity makes everything wet and heavy. We walk back to the vehicle, vaguely wishing it were air conditioned. We drive on. I watch the driver to see at what level he sets his window. The farther down it is the more air movement can lessen the heat, but the easier access would be for a snatch-and-grab aimed at our cameras or shoulder bags. The higher the window, the safer one is from attempts at theft, but the more one sweats. As we drive from place to place, he raises and lowers his window and I follow.
We drove on and stopped at Justin’s house, where his wife received us warmly. She brought in several neighbors and her sister to meet us. It’s a big event to have a pastor come to visit, especially a foreign pastor. Everyone is excited to meet us. She asked a Bible question. I had explained on the last holy day that offerings are collected by the church only on the 7 annual holy days. But in Mark 12:41-42 Jesus saw a widow making an offering by the temple. How to understand? I explained that we are certainly free to make an offering to God any time we choose, but the church only formally collects an offering in an organized way on the holy days. Before we left, she asked us to pray for all the children in the house that they would do well in school. We bowed our heads and I asked God’s blessing, guidance, and protection on the household, and success in their various endeavors.
We drove on, moving closer to the hotel but there were additional stops to make. We stopped near the church hall where we meet for services, at a small room rented for $70 a month where local members meet for Bible Studies on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It is typical of rental properties: not very clean, quite open to the elements even when windows and doors are closed, and so on. But it serves its purpose, and better would be hard to find in any event.
Justin asked if we could make more stops or if we were tired. We were both tired by this time and I said, I thought it was time to head back to the hotel. Justin kept answering and talking on his phone as we went. Then as we drove, “by chance” we saw the member, Samuel, who had been hoping for a visit, by the side of the street. His house was very nearby, so we stopped and went in. His 2 year-old son had been having seizures, and he’d been diagnosed with epilepsy, though another expert said he didn’t think the symptoms matched epilepsy since the seizures always happened at night while the child was sleeping, never during the day.
I anointed the boy, and asked God to heal him completely according to His will and our faith, and asked God to show the parents if there was anything they should be doing to help. They were very thankful for the visit, and I felt a little guilty about having wanted to skip this one, though had I known of the need we would have gladly come right away.
We said goodbye and drove back to the hotel where we arrived about 4:30 pm, grimy, sweaty and tired. I paid the driver the rest of the $70 we owed for the day (we put $20 worth of diesel in up front). I asked at the desk if my suitcase had been delivered. It had not, even though Roger, the agent had come by. He didn’t want to leave it without picking up the baggage claim ticket. We called the number and said he could deliver it now. That wasn’t possible, he said, although perhaps if there were a tip, something might be worked out. As tired as I was, I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of gaining something by corruption. So Justin and I walked out a quarter of a mile to look for another taxi. The first one who stopped saw my pale face and asked an outrageous sum. Justin rattled off some colorful sounding Lingala, which I understood to mean: get lost. The driver tried to backtrack, but we didn’t accept. He could think that over for next time. Another driver stopped and we drove into town to find my suitcase. It was there at the South African Airways office (I suppose the imperious Roger must work for several companies). My suitcase was sitting on the sidewalk guarded by a couple of fellows. I walked up and Roger asked if that was my suitcase. When I said yes, he lit into Justin for being rude to him on the phone, Justin who was arguing that I should have to pay a bribe to have my bag delivered!
I cut short the tirade by walking off with my suitcase. Roger stopped complaining and ran after me to get the baggage tag. I will be taking this whole issue up with Kenya Airways. As we got back into the taxi the driver made a play for more money that was originally agreed upon. A very loud dispute then occurred with Justin and the driver shouting at each other non-stop, at the same time. It was not a conversation; it was two monologues running over each other. Many disagreements appear to be settled by this method. There is a very great deal of shouting at each other that occurs in the Congo, probably due to the heat, the stressful nature of living here, and a cultural predilection. I tried to change the subject and things calmed down a little. Back at the hotel Justin said “5000.” He had won the dispute, but I quietly gave the driver a little more anyway. It was a joy to have my suitcase. Finally, I could wear some different clothes!
Daniel and I had a well-deserved cold beer with dinner and if he’s as tired as I am, we’ll both be crashing (the term is not too strong) early.