Sunday, October 11, 2009

We've arrived and have been blessed with 4 chickens...

October 9 at 6:00am we were picked up by Dean Jordan and his son Ben to head to the airport for the flight to Lodja.  We were anxious to get there.  Marty (Paul's wife - Appointment Congo) describes this process like experience Bedlam...however, Bedlam defintely underestimated this experience.  Fortunately, Pastor Leon had taken our luggage the day before  and we did not have to mess with anything other than a back pack.  The 'staging' for the airlines was in town and packed with people inside and out.  We we made it through the room was the size of a two car garage and boy did it feel smaller.  It was hot and dark and chaotic and we were so thankful for Pastor Leon and Dean with us.

Finally getting on the plane we flew to Lodja without any further issues.  All our luggage had made the trip successfully and was piled and waiting for us on the tarmac.  The porters hoisted those 70lb. packs loaded with tools, saws, paint, and various other supplies on their heads!  Unbelieveable!

We found Paul outside, loaded up and ready to rock and roll.  The trip to the mission station was only 7 kilometers.  And so here is where we sigh - phew... from Austin to Kinsasha and finally in Lodja - we have arrived!

Marty and Paul are incredibly loving and committed people.  The people of the Congo are truly blessed to have them.  The Laws have a nice home.  After visiting for a little it was time to open the packages.  We popped open the trunks filled with the saw, the transit, the paint, the chocolate chips, and of course the pecans - after all there is more to life than tools, I think - all made the trip safely thank you God. 

After a short visit we settled in the guest house.  The house is at the end of the station and looks out over the center of the compound.  Palm frawns waved in the breeze as if they were welcoming us into their home.  There is no electricity, but there are concrete floors one dichotomy of situations that was becoming the norm and yet felt surreal.  It was nice.

That afternoon we finally made our first trip to the "dam" site.  At the top of the hill was ran into a group of children carrying water up the hill and a few small children on their way down.  The hill is much more than I expected.

It is long; it is steep; and the path is not easy to navigate.  But when we got down there and saw the site, it all made sense.  The stream carries more water than it appears in pictures.  The construction of the dam, overflow, ram system, makes total sense when put in context.  Workers had been there earlier and fresh diggin was evident by the mud and silty water.

The hike back up the hill was not easy without water on our heads.  =)  Seriously, I can't even imagine - well I guess I can with the hauling of oranges on my back in Honduras, but we were winded, Kip more than me because he is so much older.

Saturday morning after breakfast we loaded the saw and headed to the shop.  Worker's were unloading the freshly cut lumber.  We had our first real conversations with the men of the community.  Shaku, Jamba, Michelle, Victor, Daniel, and many others.  The kids were everywhere all the time.

Around 3:00 that afternoon we were told that Elders were coming to see us.  They sang Blessed Be the Tie That Binds in Otetella.  The words were foreign but the melody was clear.  They said they had been hearing about us and that we wanted to help with the dam and water system.  It was an honor to meet them all.

That evening was the adventure for the day. It was in a word - incredible.  Paul invited us to travelto the village of Shilo (Shelow) where he would peach and show the "Jesus" film.  The road there was the adventure.  Shaku came with us and had to do a little 'road work' in one spot to make the road passable.  That same spot on the road back (after the rain) turned out to be a problem.  We left about 5:00pm and it was 20 kilometers whick took about an hour to make the trip.  This was quite the production with a generator, small lights, a microphone and projector showing the film on a large screen that would show the film on both sides.  Villagers began to gather and by the time Paul started his sermon there were approximately 100 women and children and men all around.  The movie began.

About halfway throughthe movie, Paul, Kip, Shaku, and I, the Pastor and a few others were all invited into a hut for dinner.  It was a mud hut with a small room in the front where we ate at a table.  We dined on djese, rice,chicken, and water we brought from the mission station.  Our ambiance was one small palm oil candle.  We were given a gift of 1 chicken and 3 eggs. We felt so blessed to have been given this honor when it was our priviledge to be their guests. 

It had rained so the roads were now slick and it was a bumpy ride but we were making progress.  Remember that bad spot I mentioned earlier, well suffice it to say we slipped and slided right at that spot and got stuck.  Because we were among good company we were successful in getting 'un-stuck' and off we went heading for home safe and sound. The chicken survived the trip as well.  I don't believe he survived the night. 

So we have had quite the adventure so far.  It is Sunday evening.  It was another great day but you will just have to wait to read those stories.  But here is the hook - we now have 4 chickens!!

Tomorrow we will be mapping the dam site and doing other 'dam' stuff  =} Then we are off to Katambe to look at a completed dam and spend the night there.  Tuesday we will finish there and head to Wembo Nyama and spend two nights there. And back to Lodja on Thursday and off to Kinsasha on Friday.
We will be in the Congo - communication is limited at best.  We will be in touch when we can.

Much Love.
God Bless,
Phil and Kip
(via Diane)

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