Congo Trip July 2014 – Update 3

July 18, 2014

Dear friends,

Saturday July 12

A very busy week is coming to a close. Already last Saturday work began on the cistern. David and Nelson worked with a team of 20 young men all day, with wheelbarrows of dirt  begin dumped in piles around the foundations of the living quarters and the cistern. It seemed as if David was coaching a team of soccer players. In fact, as a reward, each of the fellows got an entrance ticket to watch the Final game of the World Cup on TV (10 cents each). The owner of the small TV, Blaise, charges an entry fee to stand inside his bamboo wall.

Sunday, July 13

We enjoyed the Church worship service and singing. They asked me to bring the message. That afternoon we were given a long walk and tour around the agricultural farm and vegetable garden, which is going nicely, and has more than doubled in size.

Monday, July 14

While David stayed to oversee the work going on at Matende, Nelson drove me in the truck to Kikwit for the day to pay a visit to the bank and to buy supplies and material for the construction work. Of course a load of passengers wanted to crowd into the back of the truck. And at the entrance to the city of Kikwit we let them all get off, with sacks of vegetables or seeds to sell. Produce such as peppers are much in demand at the marketplace. Women selling at the market were crowding up around the truck to try to get the first sack handed down.

It is hard to describe the city of Kikwit. One has to experience it for oneself. It has grown so fast that there is no rhyme or reason, as people set up their stands here and there on the edge of the streets. There is hardly room for vehicles to push their way through. Then in the center of the road is a mass of motor scooters used as taxis, driven by youth and forging ahead without regard to rules and regulations. Since the sidewalks are full of stands, pedestrians are obligated to walk in the street between the cars and motor scooters. A few trucks like ours try to create a passageway by honking, without any success whatsoever. Nelson suggested leaving the truck at the Church Missionary Guest House where he used to work 20 years ago. To our surprise, we found the road totally blocked by new construction going up. So we had to leave the truck and just continue our way on foot…walking down the middle of the street like everyone else!

We managed to find the new Bank building and it was already filled with customers waiting in line. We found the director of the Bank way in the back and two plastic chairs were given us.  The money we transferred from Belgium on June 26 still has not arrived. We had to go outside to the new Bank machine in a little protected room to use our Visa card. Fortunately the machine accepted it. We needed over $1000 cash for all the purchases we would be making.

We walked to another store where we could buy 20 sacks of cement, and then 100 sheets of corrugated tin. Another store for hardware. Nelson took me back to the Guest House and he took the truck to go back to each of these places to load it on to the back of the truck. How thankful I was that he could take charge of this business. In the meantime, I could talk with various people, such as a man who was in charge of the Health Centers for Mission Stations. He explained to me the procedures for getting nurses accredited by the state. We exchange phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

I get a cell phone message that the truck is coming to get me. I try to go meet it, but it has to come partway up the street anyway. We try to go around the block and return to the main road, but a huge hole cuts off the passage, so the truck has to back up a block or two. The people from Matende who ride in the back are picked up along the side of the road as we leave the city. We are happy to be out in the country again, breathing the fresh air. The last stretch of road is extremely bumpy, but as we reach Matende, a crowd of children are outside running in circles with excitement.

We are amazed to see what David and the team have accomplished during the day. They took off 96 old rusty strips of corrugated roof from the house where we sleep and eat. We sleep under the stars tonight. We can look up and see where the holes used to be.

Tuesday through Thursday, July 15 – 17

Work continues on the cistern. Four boys work with David to fill in holes down in the bottom to keep from leaking, thoroughly clean walls and bottom, and then paint.

At the same time, Michel and other carpenters work on the edge of the roof of our living quarters, to get it ready for the rain gutters to be installed. Then a team places the new corrugated tin roofing up there. The last one is put down at noon on Thursday and David can begin building the rain gutters. By 5:00 p.m. he has finished half of the house. I am amazed at how he works, and can tell that he is a born teacher. I can hear him giving instructions and explaining in detail each thing, and warning about security measures. At the end of the day he goes clear down to the river with the young men to swim and get refreshed after a long hard day in the heat. Fortunately the evenings are cooler and pleasant with a nice breeze. 

The third project we got involved in was not in our plan, but…

The Church building ruined in the 1960’s was never rebuilt. A bamboo shack served up until two years ago when it fell into ruins. The Pastor decided to hold services in a building connected to the Health Center, a long room which was sitting empty. Well, one of the walls was ready to collapse, and the only remedy was to tear it down and build a new wall. So while Nelson and David were here at Matende to give advice and show the men how to do their jobs, work was begun. Now the wall has been taken down and cleared away, block by block.Even I helped. I was amazed to find a small iron rod inside the wall which had kept it from caving in all these years. A group of 12 boys who are apprentices in masonry are busy separating the blocks from each other, and breaking up the broken ones to make gravel. On Wednesday they began making new cement blocks for building the new wall. This building is quite a distance away from the other buildings, so I get tired out walking down there in the heat of the day. Too bad there isnt a bicycle available, like the one that I used as a boy riding around these hills.

So all in all there are five different construction sites:

  1. The cistern
  2. The roof of the house where we sleep
  3. The rain gutters
  4. Making cement blocks for the Church wall
  5. Transporting water and repairing machines, which Nelson takes care of.

It is wonderful to see all the activity. And we praise God for his protection and the health we have been given.  Our goal this trip was to be able to furnish water for Matende, and get adequate sanitation and some teaching on hygiene as we share God’s Word and show forth his love. Thank you for backing us with your prayers, and thank you for your gifts that made the trip possible.

In Him,

Bud Kroeker

D. M. Stearns Missionary Fund, P.O.Box 157 North Wales, PA 19454  USA, specify for Congo Open Heart, account 116

The cistern and the roof BEFORE the work began on the living quarters 

citern

Congo Trip July 2014 – Update 2, Arrive in Matende

Congo Trip # 2
July 11, 2014

Dear Friends,

Thursday night we finally arrived at Matende! Passing through Kikwit on our way, we stopped for dinner at the home of Nelson Kayamba’s sister. She is a very active Christian and mayor of that section of the city. We enjoyed the meal after two days of travel with only bananas and other fruit.

There was a wonderful welcome at Matende when we arrived at 7 p.m. even though it was already dark. The children were singing and laughing along the road as the truck pulled in. We were very touched.

Our stay in Kinshasa took longer than we had expected, but we were very happy for:

The friends we were able to talk with

Dan Gring’s sister and husband who helped us find addresses for stores and places we needed to find, Osée, our truck driver from last year (who is a pastor with their mission), Nelson’s family. He spent the five days with his mother. And then she took a bus to Kikwit on Wednesday to meet us and be able to ride in the truck the last 50 miles to Matende, her home town where all her children grew up.

David Dehan, the Belgian fellow who is an agricultural missionary, came to Kinshasa to meet with us and exchange news and ideas and information. It was good for David Torrini, my Belgian co-worker to have this visit right at the beginning of our trip.

The truck was waiting for us

Saturday morning Osée and Nelson drove it to the Hostel where David and I were lodging in Kinshasa. Nelson decided to apply for a Congolese driver’s license, since his is from Germany where he is a truck driver. So we knew there would be lots of errands on Monday. Passing inspection, paying Insurance, tax, getting the right documents..

Finding all the stores that sold the materials we were looking for

We needed to find paint, a special product for lining the inside of the cistern, boards less expensive than in Kikwit, and even pieces of corrugated tin for the rain gutters we hope to build at Matende. David saw men making them along the side of the road as we passed through the city Saturday. So we stopped and ordered some we could pick up Monday for loading into the truck.

Immersed into the local culture

Saturday afternoon Eric Kumedisa invited us to his daughter’s wedding supper, and this was a wonderful occasion to see first hand the way another culture dresses, eats, talks, sings, preaches and celebrates a very special occasion. David fit in very well, and is totally at ease talking with people and making friends; His smile is contagious in any language, but since everyone there spoke French with him, there were no linguistic barriers. During our time in Kinshasa the weather was actually cooler than normal, so we had no problem of heat. Just a few mosquitos one night. Set up the mosquito nets. David has no problem trying new foods or tastes. And doesn’t mind going without a meal.

Finding a place to spend the night

We stopped half way along the road to Kikwit this time, and found a little hotel in a town. The truck doesn’t go much faster than 45 miles an hour, and the 700 kilometers is long when trying to go clear to Kikwit in one day. So this way we could get a rest before the second stretch of the voyage to Matende.

We found the Congolese Bank (BIAC) in Kinshasa, and they agreed that our Congo Open Heart Bank account had been opened in Paris back in May, and that some money had been transferred, but hadn’t yet arrived. This was disappointing. We had counted on drawing out money for all the purchases in the city, and we purposely wanted to test out their transfer system. More time was wasted looking for bank machines that would take the Visa card in order to draw out cash. I think we tried four or five machines and took out a little at each one. This is the first trip that I didn’t bring much money in my pocket. Fortunately some had been transferred to Eric Kumedisa ahead of time for all the truck insurance, papers, lodging, etc. This bank has also opened a branch in Kikwit, so pray that things will work out there.

We are so grateful for the gifts that have been coming in for this trip. From the U.S., from Belgian friends, and also four transfers were made to the Congo Open Heart bank account from Germany! (in euros) People who know Nelson wanted to contribute to the expenses of the trip. This is the first time we have seen this.

We are filled with joy and thankfulness to God for his protection along the road. He provides day after day in spite of our weaknesses and failures. Pray with us that He will supply us with the necessary strength and wisdom as we face the challenges ahead.

2 Corinthians 4 reminds us: “since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart… For God, who said,

Let light shine out of darkness,  made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

(verses 1, 6 and 7)

In Him,

Bud Kroeker

D. M. Stearns Missionary Fund
P.O.Box 1578
North Wales, PA 19454  USA
designate gift to Congo Open Heart, account 116

Congo Trip July 2014 – Update 1

July 4, 2014

Greetings!

We arrived here in Kinshasa safely last night after a very comfortable flight on Brussels airlines. (It seemed almost too comfortable for this voyage into the heart of Africa). We praise God that all seven suitcases came through in good condition. We had been thankful when checking them in for departure in Brussels that we were allowed a little extra weight and one free luggage for humanitarian purposes. Now I can hear David tuning his guitar this morning. I was afraid that his instrument would be damaged during the flight. 

Upon arriving last night, the Jeffrey Travel service took charge and invited us to sit down in their office while they looked for our bags. However, Nelson and David followed them just to make sure they found them.

We told David that he needed his initiation into Africa on his first trip, and we didn’t have to wait long. Leaving the Kinshasa airport around 11 p.m. our driver raced down the road towards the city. But all of a sudden we heard a loud BOOM. Blowout on a tire! David quickly got out of the van to try to help jack up the flat tire. This is something one shouldn’t do because it draws the attention of young people out on the streets looking for trouble. But the jack broke, and after trying several other things, our driver decided to abandon the vehicle. Another van finally came to pick us up and drive us in to the St. Clement Center where we had lodging. But here, everything was dark and closed down for the night. We managed to wake up someone who could go find the person who came to give us our rooms.  So David got his initiation!

Today we are out doing errands in the city. We appreciate your prayers for safety and that we’ll be able to find what we need.

In His service

Bud

July 2014 Trip to Congo: Preparations

Matende sunset before rain. Matende couché de soleil avant la pluie.

Matende sunset before rain. Matende couché de soleil avant la pluie.

June 17, 2014

On July 3, three of us are leaving again for Congo. This time my companion helpers will be David Torrini and Nelson (Lawum) Kayamba.

Nelson works as a truck driver and lives in Germany where he has taken the name Nelson with his German nationality. He is the son of one of our first converts and the boy that helped my mother with the house work at Matende in 1945 when our family started a mission station in the tall grass near 12 villages. Nelson has an extended vacation from his work for 6 weeks to go with us.

David is a school teacher in a town in the east of Belgium. He and his wife Lucie have 4 children and one of the girls is married to an American and waiting for permission from the embassy to join her husband. David has built his own home from a little shack and has experience for the building work at Matende. He is bringing his guitare to teach the people some new songs that we sing in French or some he has composed himself.

At Matende the only musical instruments are a tin can filled with beans that someone shakes and an old tamtam drum hollowed out of a log with a goat-skin top and suffering from age. I will have my little digital projector and, if we can keep the generator going in the evenings, we can show some pictures and especially some videos on nutrition and healthy eating.

The first three days in the capital of Kinshsa we will meet leaders, pastors and key people. One pastor is coordinator of an effective program called CHE, Community Health and Evangelism, that we hope to see implemented in the country. Another is a professor and member of parliament who has done research and written a book on nutrition and an evaluation of all kinds of food found in the Bandundu province where we are going.

We will have a short time to purchase some supplies that are only available in the big city, especially a lot of paint. The other supplies we hope to be able to get in the town of Kikwit just 50 miles from Matende.

Fortunately our 1981 MAN former Belgian army truck is waiting for us in Kinshasa and Nelson will be doing the driving. Usually in Congo we have a boy chauffeur who rides in back, jumps down first and gets on last, guards the truck when we are off and helps with mechanics. The fellow who worked with us last year has gone down to Angola to look for a job and we need to find someone else.

There have been many delays in the preparation of this trip and many things still to complete in the next two weeks. This weekend we will be busy with the wedding of our first grandchild, Sara Murru marring Vincent Pedziwiatr. This will be the opportunity for five of our children and their families to get together. All will be here except for our son and his family in the U.S.

I wanted to go back to Congo earlier this year but was delayed by the operation of the tendons on my right hand. I am grateful for a very good surgeon. You don’t see the two-inch scar and I can use all my fingers. I have to remember that after nearly 80 years of all kinds of work my tendons need a little protection at times. I forgot to go to my last physical therapy session so he came to our house to do the last flexing of muscles yesterday.

So each trip to Congo is a battle of preparations and many unexpected things waiting for us when we arrive. David has purchased some hardware to take along if we can get it in the baggage allowance. I am looking forward to leaving him to direct the construction work so I can spend more time on communications and begin working at two other missions. We want to build rain gutters for the two roofs to keep the water from washing away the foundations and save the water for use of families and school

Thank you for your help and prayers. We will be grateful if you can share this information with others.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Clement “Bud” Kroeker

Please help us pray:

  • Travel to Congo July 3.
  • Safety in travel by air and on rough and sandy roads.
  • Finances needed and transfer of funds without loss or delay.
  • Meet the right people in the right places.
  • For wisdom in evaluating our small budget to get and do the most important.
  • That we will remember and be able to get items that are not available in the interior.
  • That the truck will run well and wisdom for any repairs.
  • Find a place to sleep and rest half way between Kinshasa and Kikwit.
  • Skill and wisdon for the driver, protection from accidents.
  • Good relationships with the authorities and village chiefs.
  • Health and strength of the team and all who will be working with us.
  • Right words to communicate, help and train.
  • To commuicate God’s love by what we do and say.
  • That we will be helpful to the people, not just bringing in foreign ideas, but to really help them in their local situation to see God work, to get ahead, to live more healthy lives and to raise their families without the medical care we take for granted.
  • Our return to Belgium August 8.

Water for Congo

Dear Friends,

Please take a minute to think about the things we do automatically every day:

Open a faucet for water, even hot water.
 Flush the toilet.
 Lift a glass of water to our lips without concern for the bacteria content. Push a button or a switch for light. 
Turn on the TV or connect to Internet.
 Buy a loaf of bread without thinking where the flour comes from.

These common activities and many other similar ones depend on two things we take for granted: water and electricity. As soon as our homes are built, they are connected to the networks that very rarely let us down.

Water for Congo

Think a little more about thousands of people in the world, like our friends in the heart of Africa, who have to walk a mile every day, morning and evening, to go get water to cook and drink and, if a little is left, to wash with—the return trip from the river is up a steep hill with five gallons of water on their heads.

Each time you lift a glass of water to your lips without worrying about the bacteria content, think of the thousands of children with bloated stomachs and sick from parasites in the water they drink. Thousands more die every year from infections due to the water they drink. Nearly two million children in the world die of waterborne diseases each year.

Scientists say that that the Democratic Republic of Congo has 40% of the water of Africa, yet most of the people don’t have it.

Carrying Water in Democratic Republic of Congo DRC

Cooking in Congo

Before cooking, mothers and girls have to grind the flour, hammering in a mortar with what used to be the trunk of a small tree, until they have blisters on their hands. They have also made the same trip down the path to bring back a big bunch of branches and wood on their heads to make fire for cooking.

These problems are just as real in the big cities where water is polluted and wood very difficult to find. All the precious money is spent for charcoal produced where wood is becoming rare. They have to cook with the smoke filling the huts and covering towns and villages with a cloud of pollution.

CONGO OPEN HEART is working on these problems as much as finances permit, to encourage the people to stay or return to the country, to keep in good health and help the Christians to show the example.

July 2014 Trip to DRC

On July 3, three of our members are again leaving Belgium and going to Congo for five weeks of work at Matende. This time, especially, water is the priority. A permanent solution would be a well or pump and pipes from the river, both solutions very expensive. Even then, we must catch and conserve the rainwater that comes down in great quantities seven or eight months of the year and keep it from eroding the foundations.

At Matende mission the team has recuperated two 
houses, but the water cascades down from the corrugated tin roofs, washes away the sandy soil around the
foundations and is not saved. We plan to build wider rain
troughs to catch the water and channel it to cisterns. Since the last trip, one house has a completely new roof and the other needs all new tin sheets to replace the twisted and rusted ones. The concrete walls of the main big cistern we cleaned out are too porous and it does not hold water. It is necessary to plaster the walls with a material used for swimming pools. This cistern will hold 10,000 gallons.

women carrying loads for many miles

Women carrying loads for many miles.

Goals for the Trip

Tickets are in hand for the three of us to leave in July and return together to Belgium in August: David Torrini, Nelson Kayamba and Bud Kroeker. We were fortunate to get a humanitarian price by ordering in advance. Nelson is a truck driver in Germany and son of the first convert at Matende in 1945.

The budget still needs to be completed without knowing 
exactly how much material, boards, tin sheets, hardware and 
paint for the walls are needed. There will be the fuel costs for 
inland driving of nearly 2000 miles. Fortunately the MAN
 army truck is waiting for us in Kinshasa and missionary friends have purchased two new batteries. The diesel electric generator is on the truck. The budget will be nearly $15,000.

We are very thankful for all who have helped us with the ministry of Congo Open Heart. We need your prayers for strength, good communications with our African friends and meeting many unpredictable situations and expenses.

On this trip we hope to be able to spend a little more time with the two neighboring missions, Iwungu-Nsamba and Mangungu.

We will try to keep you informed of this new adventure in the coming weeks. Thank you for listening to us and helping. When you turn on the water, please pray for Congo.

Pounding and sifting manioc flour

Pounding and sifting manioc flour.

Grinder for Flour

It is not possible to solve all the problems at once, but the women are begging us to get a grinder for flour. A big motor driven grinder is excluded because it would need fuel, maintenance, training and costs to operate. We have been looking for a grinder with a big wheel that they can turn by hand like we used in 1940 that could be purchased from Montgomery Ward then. Nothing similar could be found in Congo or elsewhere. Finally we found a humanitarian organization in the US that makes a hand grinder. We haven’t seen it yet but are ordering a test model. We need to find an economical way to ship it to Congo so at least one grinder could be available for each of the four missions. We hope to have one here before the trip.

Clement “Bud” Kroeker, CONGO OPEN HEART

Pastor's wife carrying a load of flour

Pastor’s wife carrying a load of flour.

Read as pdf (with photos): July 2014 Trip to Congo: Water & Grinder for Flour

Congo Trip: Matende July 26, 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

Greetings from Matende,

I haven’t written for over a week. Plunged into another world here with no internet connection, I’ve lost contact with the outside world and even forget which day of the week it is.

At 5 o’clock this morning, all is calm. Life begins peacefully in the quiet of the daybreak. A cool breeze passes through the open door and the birds sing in the mango trees. We can see the mist rising from the valleys around Matende.

Our daughter Caroline and Peter Cunliffe arrived in Kinshasa Thursday evening and will come to Kikwit Saturday where I will meet them with the truck. I will no doubt be able to send off this letter then. It is difficult without Internet. On other trips we could get a connection through a small modem such as a portable telephone, but I think Vodacom has become too overloaded. Now we can barely send a cell phone message from Matende if we go outside to the highest spot. So I have to stop writing when the battery gets low on my laptop. (which happened this morning). At 6 a.m. the sun is rising and already people are coming to say good morning. At 8 a.m. the day’s work begins.

There is a team of five Congolese who work in the construction of the roof, to replace the framework. Half of the roof was damaged by a heavy storm, the tin roofing bent and twisted, all which had to be taken off as well as take down the rotting beams before starting to re-build. Then there are two cabinet makers and two other helpers working with me on the doors and windows. All the windows in the building were boarded up with branches and slats of bamboo filled in with red mud, all very dirty. We’ve taken out all of this which was keeping out sunlight and fresh air. Now the rooms are cleaner and filled with light.

We went with the truck to Kikwit last Monday to buy boards and tin roofing, nails, etc. We are so grateful for the safe arrival of the truck at Matende. We are thankful for the generator bought in Kinshasa and brought in the truck. We keep it running four hours each day. This has permitted the use of the table saw, an electric drill and a small hot plate for cooking — all at once. It is a blessing to have the truck here to use and the container sitting next to our living quarters at Matende, still full of tools and machines. A neighbor lady in Belgium gave us the new table saw to put in the truck. The men had to get used to using electrical equipment rather than hand saws and machetes. We bought 20 boards, each over 5 yards long last Monday in Kikwit. And all the boards for the four doors and five windows have now been cut. We are working with very heavy, hard, unplaned wood over an inch thick. One room is already finished. We will get more wood and supplies in Kikwit tomorrow. We didn’t have enough money last Monday, but Caroline and Peter have more with them to use for building supplies: 30 boards and 50 corragated tin roofing panels, each 3 yards long. This building or house, which will be used as a Training Center, is actually quite large (30 ft x 60 ft). There are 18 windows, three outside doors and several inside doors going to the various rooms.

Training in schools seems quite often to be a memorization of rules to apply in a given situation without reasoning through how to put them into practice in a given situation or adapt to when you lack the necessary materials. My helpers wanted to make beautiful shutters for the windows but had to come to the realization that priority # 1 was to be able to close everything up tight so that the storm winds can’t get inside to lift off the roof again. In working together with them, I can see that some have had more theory in their training than I ever had. .. But haven’t had the practical experience and practice of solving problems and thinking through the solutions.

Sunday, July 28 from Kikwit

There are obstacles of course. I packed a lot of screws in the truck but not enough. They are hard to find here. Caroline brought an extra suitcase of screws and other things we need but unfortunately it didn’t come with their baggage. Maybe got stolen. We don’t know how to recuperate it even. Kinshasa is 600 km away and who would bring it here even if they did find it?

Early this morning a woman in the village started giving birth to a pre-mature baby. She lost a lot of blood and didn’t make it to the hospital in Kikwit in time. She died on the way, riding behind the motorcycle driver. Too bad that I wasn’t there with the truck. And too bad the Health Clinic is not equipped at all.

We are constantly evaluating our reasons for being here. What is really our end goal?

It isn’t just to give folks  better living conditions, or certain material benefits. I think first of all we are here to show God’s love in a practical way, to show them that God has not abandoned them, to help them realize that they don’t need to flee to the big cities to have a better life, that there is still hope right here. We realize how urgent it is to get the Health Clinic at Matende up and running.

Pray for Caroline and Peter Cunliffe that they might be an encouragement to the folks at Matende these next two weeks. Pray that we might have wisdom and guidance in choosing the projects God would have us undertake., that all might be done according to God’s will. Pray for the family that is grieving.

In Him,

Bud Kroeker

Truck for Congo 4

“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth” (Ecclesiastes 11:1).

camion pour congo 1

Dear Friends,                                    June 15, 2013

Friday we got up early to accompany the driver of the truck with a big flatbed trailer loaded with the “new” truck of Congo Open Heart. This truck is converted from its old life of military service to a new life of humanitarian and missionary service. We unloaded it at quay number 311 in the Belgian port of Antwerp, fourth largest port in the world. This quay is one of 1000 places in this big port where ships coming from all parts of the world can dock.

The ships of Congo Shipping Lines, (Lignes Maritimes Congolaises LMC)  are not among the largest because they have to go up the big Congo river where sand banks can stop the huge ships. About a hundred vehicles will be on the MV Chopin including our big truck that now seems so small in its new surroundings.

camion pour congo 2Abandoning this truck there on the dock after being so busy with it for weeks made us think of the instructions of the Wise Preacher, Ecclesiastes, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” It’s like throwing a piece of wood in the water of a river and expecting someone else to take it out a long way down stream, or like baby Moses in a basket floating along.

There are possibilities of theft or damage on the quays of departure or arrival. The big cranes lift the cars and trucks and put them in the holds or on the decks of the ship. Then there will be 18 days of navigation in the winds and ocean currents around Africa to arrive in Congo.

We trust this precious cargo to God’s hands for protection and we thank you for joining your prayers to ours. We thank all those who have helped to make this shipment possible, who gave for the purchase of the truck ($14,000) and the ocean shipping costs ($7,300), those who donated equipment and supplies from Germany and Belgium and those who helped load every corner of the truck. Thank you very much! The last day before leaving we were still looking for parts, fuel filter and two big spare tires. Fortunately the last minute it started to rain, because we thus discovered that the windshield wipers had to be fixed.

camion pour congo 3In addition to our fears for the security of the vehicle and its contents during the voyage, we are very concerned about the cost of the duty and customs fees on arrival. We pray that there will not be as much to pay as many predict. Erik Kumedisa is in touch with two Congolese customs agents who have been recommended by other missionaries. They have to put in applications to government officials for a reduction of costs for humanitarian work. Pray that the funds we need will arrive in time.

The ship is scheduled to leave Tuesday, June 18, to arrive at the port of Boma about July 6. So now I can buy my airplane ticket to arrive in Congo a few days before the truck on the ship. It will be necessary to take a bus from Kinshasa to Boma, about 280 miles.

A series of events will follow that are all in God’s hands. After clearing customs and delivery of the truck we will have to drive back to Kinshasa where we have contacts and some purchases to make. Then it will be necessary to drive the 360 miles to Kikwit and Matende mission. There the people of the mission will be happy to unload the truck and find a protected place to put the equipment and supplies that were donated in Europe.

After that the actual work on the mission can begin and that will have its share of difficulties and problems. We will try to keep you posted. Thank you for your sharing and help that is so necessary.

Clement “Bud” Kroeker and all the Congo Open Heart team.

Preparing the Truck

MAN TruckThank you very much for your donation. Our big project this month has been the purchase of the truck for Congo. We are happy to inform you that sufficient funds have come in to make the final payment next week. This means that work can go ahead with repainting and preparing it for shipment.

Now there are two big steps ahead of us: finding a good price and a good schedule for shipment to the port of Matadi near the mouth of the Congo river on the west coast of Africa. Some ships take a long time to reach there without definite schedules others are not reliable. Please pray that we can find the right solution. We trust the Lord for the funds for shipping about $7000 plus customs, taxes, registration, insurance and fuel once the truck is off the boat.

God’s miraculous intervention thus far and your generous contribution encourage us to go ahead.
When I was a boy, driving with my father along the sandy roads in Congo, we would open the doors of the old Ford truck and tie a string across the hood to keep them open. We needed all the air we could get on the hot dusty road. While he was driving I would sit on the edge and dangle my feet in the tall grass as we drove along. No traffic to worry about and sometimes we could walk at almost the same speed. Later at age 12 I began driving myself.

The roads have not improved to the present day and some are worse or nonexistent and a few more trucks have done more damage than good. The torrential rains deepen the ruts and gullies and bring in more sand or mud. This MAN four-wheel-drive army truck is high off the ground and should take us over the difficult places while we still keep counting on God to bring us to destination.

It has also been exciting to see how God has been working things out and your encouragement is such a big help. Getting this truck has been a difficult experience for us because so many pieces of the puzzle have had to fit and still need to fall in place.

Of course, my trip to Congo has been delayed and I still can’t give an exact departure date, hopefully to arrive in Kinshasa and then go to Matadi 200 miles west and get there about the same time as the truck. Matadi means stone in Kikongo (Mahtahdee). Matadi is the last point of navigation before the huge Congo river comes boiling over rocks and boulders all the way from Kinshasa.

Thank you for accompanying us on this adventure even though we are not near each other.

I had a phone call from Erik Kumedisa in Congo and I tried to encourage him to keep everyone patient as they wonder what has happened to us. The people at Matende and the other stations are very anxious for our help.

If John Bunyan knew the kind of roads we have to deal with he might have written a different book. We all continue on in our trip to the Celestial City and pray that God will keep us from getting bogged down or turning aside in our important journey.

Yours in His service,
Bud Kroeker with Char’s constant help

Truck for Congo

MAN Truck

Dear Friends,

We greet you this Easter season in the name of Jesus Christ our resurrected Savior. Each country in the world is going through crises and problems, but no matter what the situation may be, we renew our hope that Jesus is alive and coming back.

Here in Europe, names in the daily headlines take us back to the cradle of Christianity: Greece, Macedonia, Cyprus and other places in the book of Acts where Jesus’ plans began: “the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it” (Matthew 24:14).

There have been deaths and pillaging again in Bangui, Central African Republic where we have friends just across the big Oubangui river that separates them from the north of Congo. From the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo comes the good news of the arrest of the man they call the terminator, Bosco Ntanganda, who has been taken to the International Court of Justice.

Far from there in the Bandundu province where we work, life goes on, unfortunately without big changes, where the people have become too used to living in their miserable conditions. With Congo Open Heart we pray, communicate and look for solutions and the means to make them work. There is some progress but there is still much to do. We would like to finish the roof building next.

DSC_0345In preparation for the next trip, Congo Open Heart Belgian committee has found a possible solution to the transportation problem. Instead of expensive rented jeeps— a truck big enough to carry boards, bricks, sacs of cement as well as medicines and furniture and to transport the village produce to market.

There is the possibility of buying an army truck that is especially adapted for the mud and sand roads that lead to the mission stations in the Congo bush. It is a high truck with front and rear wheel traction, dual tires in back and load capacity of 6 tons. When the team went to see this vehicle, everyone was surprised to see that it had on the back a big container 16 feet long that served as an army field office or medical unit. We could fill this metal box, about 670 cubic feet, with tools and supplies that we wanted to ship by ocean container.

It is a MAN diesel 150 HP truck, 4-wheel-drive, model 11.136, made in 1980, but has only been driven 7,000 miles. Specialists agree that there are some problems with a vehicle of this age, but several of us who are mechanics have examined it from all angles and apart from replacing some rubber parts like belts and hoses (the tires seem to be fine) it looks and runs good. The price includes a complete paint job in non military colors, probably cream colored. We contacted all Congo dealers and none of them had even a new vehicle that would meet our needs.

We want to be sure that what we see as a solution will not just bring other problems. So we bow in prayer, first of all to seek the Lord’s will. If it is his will, we need his wisdom to solve these technical problems, and to supply the funds needed.

The price is $13,000 plus the ocean freight and customs for about $7,000. Congo Open Heart does not have this amount in the bank. Maybe you know of an organization or anyone that might be able to help. Every dollar counts. Thank you, those of you who have sent in gifts this past month, or have promised a gift!
The son of one of the first converts at Matende is a truck driver in Germany and he has offered his help.

Last night I sent out this letter in French and mentioned that ‘’We are looking for those who have served in the Belgian army and are experienced in maintenance of this type of vehicle so we can prepare training for repairs and upkeep in Congo.’’

DSC04348-BA few minutes later (9 p.m.) an answer came back from a Belgian man saying ‘‘Greetings in the risen Christ! I got my truck driver’s license in the army on this type of truck and can find all the maintenance manuals, the notes given in class and other instructions. Actually my work is directing the military driving Centers in Belgium, but am also a construction engineer. Please let me know how I can be of help.’’

So we realize that God has the answers to our every need. Pray for the man who sells these army trucks. He ‘‘happened’’ to hear Yves Pascal play his violin at a concert and came up to get acquainted. The discussion turned to Africa and Congo Open Heart. The man was immediately interested in the work at Matende. They became friends and Yves Pascal, one of our committee members, found out that the man sold army trucks. So we have been to visit in his home and pray that God would touch his heart, that he and his wife would come to know the Christ who rose up from the grave that first Easter morning.

Thank you for your prayers and cooperation with Congo Open Heart.

Happy Easter!

Bud Kroeker and all the team

Congo Trip # 7 – Photos

Click on each thumbnail photo to see full size and click through collection.