First day in Kinshasa

Trip Start Sep 27, 2008
Trip End Oct 22, 2008

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Flag of Congo - The Dem. Repub.  ,
Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I didn't leave the hotel today, but had visitors morning and afternoon. The Mukendis arrived first, about 9:30; I met them in the lobby. It was a pleasure to meet Mrs. Mukendi and to chat with them both about their history in the Church of God, especially the recent history. They have remained faithful to their beliefs, leaving WCG when it abandoned key doctrines, and have gone through a rather lonely period. They are very happy to have a in-person visitor representing others who share their beliefs. This is the first such visit in a very long time for them.
About 10:00 Jacob and Justin arrived. We all moved outside to the garden area where we could sit together and hear each other. The Mukendis had many questions about what had happened since the early 1990s when our Church went through radical changes and schisms. They asked questions about specific individuals: what happened to this man, where was this other man? And they shared again how happy they were to have personal contact with a Church pastor.
The Mukendis had to leave for a funeral after about an hour, but they were very pleased to find out where we would be meeting tomorrow. It will be a very happy time, I'm convinced. After they left, Jacob and Justin discussed the local situation with me; the needs of the people here. The main need was to have some legal status so they can meet. Churches need government recognition here even to be able to meet regularly without hindrance. Jacob is confronting resistance from his landlord because people gather in his living room on Saturday for a Church service. "This just isn't done." I took notes. We'll discuss this further tomorrow.
They left shortly before lunchtime.
In the afternoon François Bamongo came by the hotel. We went back out to the garden area to chat away from the lobby crowds.  He has been a church member for about 30 years, and has gone through a long lonely period like the Mukendis. They have only recently "refound" each other even though they live in the same city. He also had many questions and was excited to learn we'd be meeting tomorrow. He has helped hold together a small group of church members in Kinshasa and in the Bas Congo region of the country, apparently near Matadi.
I look forward to having a group discussion with all the local leaders tomorrow, to see how we can best move forward and make arrangements to serve them here.
It was dusk by the time we separated, and just before François left a mosquito bit me. This is not something that would attract undue attention at home, but here there is the risk of Malaria. There are risks to taking prophylactic medication for long periods of time, and since I spend so much time in Africa, I would be on such medication almost continuously if I did use it. So I don't usually take a preventative any more, though I do travel with medication that should knock Malaria out pretty quickly if it ever declares itself. I got a glace at the mosquito as it was leaving, and it didn't appear to be of the anopheles variety (the kind that carries the Plasmodium falciparum or Malaria virus), though I'm not enough of a mosquito expert to ever be certain. I know the anopheles has two long palps, or sensors, sticking out from its head - as long as the proboscis with which it sucks blood, and has distinct blocks of white and black scales on its wings. It rests (and bites) with its tail pointing up in the air. Not seeing any of that, I simply reminded myself to keep my insect repellent in my pocket whenever I go out around sunup and sundown which, this close to the equator, are right about 6:00 am and pm all year around.
It was a busy day, but not an especially tiring one which was welcome. Tomorrow will be a big day, and I should have some photos to post.
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