Congo Trip Summer 2015 – Matende – August 4

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Matende, Bandundu Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Dear Friends,

The month of July has passed. We thank the Lord for the work that is going forward in spite of human weaknesses and mechanical breakdowns. We learn each day to count upon Him and not upon ourselves and what we think we need in order to work.

David Heads Home

David Torrini flew last night from Kinshasa to Brussels to return to his home and family and job. He gave every last ounce of energy and strength with great patience and courage during the whole month. I am so thankful for this fellow worker and his valuable contribution to Matende. He knew the name of each of the 40 men working with him each day, encouraging them individually and coaching them to do their best. In spite of the obstacles in understanding the culture and traditions, he did a fantastic job.

Rebuilding the Matende School

The work on the school is continuing. First, building the three huge ladders so heavy that it took three men to carry one. Then taking down all the asbestos from a ceiling 12 feet above their heads, then filling wheelbarrows and going to the large hole out on the side of the hill to dump then bury the debris. Then taking down the rotten, dusty wood that held up the ceiling; then brushing and cleaning the beams. Up above these men working with masks on were the group of carpenters who had to check all the beams to see where they needed fixing. Then to nail on the tin roofing. During this time other men are working on cutting wood and closing in the 12 large windows. David showed them how to do this building work.

Others spent time taking out the old mud blocks that had filled in the windows over the past forty years. Closing in the doors and windows is the most difficult of the jobs. The red-colored wood we were able to buy for this was cut down in the forest so neither dried nor planed, not the ideal for a nice job of cabinet making, but enough to close in the classrooms so that they can be used. The building fixed up previously to use as a Training Center also is where materials are stocked. The youth come to get the long boards of hard wood and carry them on their heads over to the school a fourth of a kilometer away. I walk at least 50 meters just to get to the Training Center. Matende Mission covers a lot of ground.

The apprentices doing masonry work are also very busy filling in holes in the walls of the building. Some of the cracks are big enough to require concrete and iron reinforcement. These guys already filled in the cracks and plastered the interior of the large cistern behind the school (the tree was growing inside and had to be taken out). Then still another group of men are making gravel. They have the rocks that were collected several years ago, and sit under the mango tree in the shade to break up these rocks and make gravel for use in the concrete blocks for the construction work. Then when all the tin roofing is in place will come the work of connecting the 30 meters of pipe to collect the rain water and channel it down to the cistern.

Preparing the Soil for Planting

During this time the group of farmers are clearing off the fields, getting ready for the tractor to start plowing the ground. To cut 40 of these very small, tenacious trees that dot the hillside, resisting even the brush fires, they use their machettes and the hoes we purchased for them. They have to dig down and try to get out the roots.

The Path We Choose

Everywhere one can see paths leading in all directions. When I spoke Sunday on Proverbs 1, I spoke simply, as a father would, pointing out the various paths we can take in life and the choices we make. The folks here at Matende know very well all the little trails covering these hills, leading to the streams and creeks down below. The path that we choose is very important. The Bible speaks at least 300 times about paths. As we tread these paths of black dust or red earth, we have time to reflect on our lives and what motivates our decisions and the way we decide to go. It also gives us time to think of Jesus who traveled the dusty paths saying to his disciples: « I am the way, the truth and the life. »

Thanks again for your prayers and gifts. God bless you.

Bud Kroeker

Congo Open Heart

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