Congo Trip Summer 2015 – Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead

Dear friends,

A wonderful two months in Congo are now past history and a new page of history has begun for Matende Mission. We are back in Belgium and thankful for what God has done, thankful for your prayers and gifts and words of encouragement.

We started out with one main project in mind — to rebuild the roof of the school, take off the asbestos ceiling and build doors and windows to prepare for the group arriving in August. But as we look back, we realize that God had plans for five other projects as well which all demanded time and finances:

  1. repairs for the truck in Kikwit caused us to spend time in meeting people, discussing and learning
  2. meeting a young doctor who could come to Matende
  3. cleaning up and getting the Health Center into operation
  4. finally borrowing a tractor for Matende
  5. installation of water filters.

Quite a stretching experience this summer!

Truck repaired

After many delays and difficulties, the truck is repaired and has given good service this summer, even for the long trip back to Kinshasa with the team August 28. Nelson kept driving until the very last day, doing errands for supplies and serving with a willing heart in many different ways. Buying and bargaining in four local languages made him a valuable member of the team. As he drove everyone back to Kinshasa the last day of the trip, I was sitting next to him in front but the others were piled in the back with the luggage for 16 hours. His mother said good-bye to him with tears in her eyes as he left Congo to return to his job in Germany. She also had spent the two months at Matende helping and visiting friends.

New doctor and Health Center

A Christian doctor, Eleazar Kakesa, is on hand to treat the sick and injured. The building is fixed up, cleaned and painted. He, along with Bruno Feuillerat and his group spent their first week scrubbing and scraping off the white wash before putting on the first coat of white paint inside and out. A group of volunteers from Matende helped. A new door was installed in the much needed « hospital ». Other doors and windows with screens are still being built and boards are on hand to replace the ceilings. A supply of medicine on the shelf will last for a while, and more can be purchased in Kikwit as gifts come in.

Water is still in the cistern from last summer! Men hauled out water by the drum full to use in washing down the Health Center and for making cement, etc. The second cistern next to the school was emptied out, repaired, and a concrete cover built. The gutters that run the whole length of the school along the sidewalk are connected to this cistern, which will give a huge quantity of water once the rainy season begins. More water available means that folks can clean, wash, filter some for drinking, thus making possible a healthier life with less disease, while the teachers talk to the school children about hygiene and health. The new Sawyer water filters are in use.

Construction work

Toilets were installed in the residence house, and in the Training Center. For each toilet we had to find, uncover, restore and connect old septic tanks. Under ground next to the school, the men discovered sceptic tanks looking like bunkers hidden from sight for 60 years. An old friend, Mandongo, told us about seeing them as a boy. Sure enough, after digging down two or three feet in various places a whole network of drainage systems and tanks were uncovered. They are connected to the ancient outdoor toilets now in ruins. I called the men real archeologists. New school lavatories are yet to be built.

The new roof is on the school building. Thanks to David Torrini’s leadership, the school now has windows and doors and can provide classrooms and an office for the principal. Other buildings made of old mud walls and straw roofs are still out in back for six other classes.

The school building was finished in time to house, feed and teach the delegates: 50 men and women coming from Idiofa, Iwungu, Gungu and Kikwit, and even from Kinshasa. Several came by bus to Kikwit and then hopped on the truck coming to Matende.

Training seminar

Bruno Feuillerat led the three day conference or seminar on Health Evangelism (CHE). He drew pictures on the posters, made object lessons come alive, and used team members to act out skits, all  with the purpose of teaching important truths. The folks attending were able to understand and visualize the results of Biblical teaching and a healthy way of living with nutrition and sanitation all going hand in hand.

Pierrette Cayuella registered the guests, helped with children’s activities and in the health center. Simon Van der Does took pictures and interviews, helped with skits as well as soccer and youth work. Roselie Murru helped organize the meals, seating and serving, and helped Bruno in teaching. Jeanne Lukeba also served and helped in skits. The women from the church at Matende did the cooking in one of the other school buildings built of poles and straw. They cooked huge kettles of manioc and rice in their traditional fashion using wood fires on the ground. 40 plates and cups had been purchased ahead of time in Kikwit but there weren’t enough so 10 more were taken from our house where the team and I eat. I guess our faith wasn’t big enough to expect 50 people. The benches from the church were brought over for the sessions with Bruno. (a narrow board seating four or five people). The desks from the school were used as eating tables. These had been built by the local boys taking the course in wood working two or three years ago.

Visitors arrive

One special surprise was the visit of a lady, Ebwi or Lydia, and her son who walked for two hours to see me and talk with me and daughter Roselie and grandson Simon. When my parents served as missionaries at Matende between 1945 and 1952, a man walked from another village and brought two twin babies to my mother asking her to keep them. His wife had died at child birth and back then, without medical care or baby food, it was the custom to bury twins with the mother. So my mother used the oven of her wood stove as an incubator. With no thermometer or thermostat she succeeded in keeping the temperature at the right level and the twins survived. This lady came to tell us that she was one of those babies. Since then her sister, Enim, and her husband had died. I remembered her name.

New sign and agricultural work improved

A sign out on the National Highway N1 indicates the entry to the road leading to the mission and the new Health Center.

A tractor is out plowing the field, making the earth receptive for seeds before the rainy season begins this month. A mechanic came from Bandundu, the provincial capital, to take care of it and drive it during the month that Matende is able to use it. Men of Matende spent weeks digging out the roots of many small trees in the field.

Prayer needed

Please continue to pray for the doctor Eleazar, who wants to stay and live at Matende to care for the sick and the maternity cases. He and his young wife are dedicated to helping. The government may help pay their salaries after formalities are completed.

Pray for all those who attended the conference, that the Lord will use them as they return to their churches and schools and places of work that they may share the vision, the Good News of a new life in Christ which takes place here and now… a total change in our way of thinking and doing.

Pray for all those who received a Bible and are now reading it for the first time. Pray that many more will be distributed as a supply of Bibles goes out from Kinshasa to this area around Matende and these other Missions.

Yours in Christ,

Bud and Char Kroeker

NOTE: Photos in this pdf file: Congo Trip 2015_web

Project Video (in French):

Congo Trip Summer 2015 – Aug 25

August 25, 2015

Dear Friends,

The team was here at Matende all last week and the time went by very quickly. Their enthusiasm and joy is contagious and radiates to all those around. Each morning after breakfast together, Bruno leads in devotions, with focus on our mission here and then talks about the activities for the day.

From the beginning we all have felt the urgent need for a Health Center that functions. So the team has been doing all sorts of jobs to repair, renovate, clean, paint and fix up the dispensary and doctor’s office and operating room which serves as maternity ward. The young doctor has been treating the sick in one room while the team was busy painting walls in another room. One day a mother came in to give birth. With the noise of someone drilling with an electric drill on the other side of the wall, and the noise of a mother crying out in pain, the doctor delivered the baby. The baby was born without problems. The mother named the baby Pierette, after one of the ladies on the team who helped out. God is good. Since then another baby has been born.

Sunday morning Bruno shared in the church worship service. Roselie and others gave their testimony. There was a real spirit of fellowship in the Lord. Five choirs sang special numbers.That evening Simon was out playing soccer with the teen agers.

Once the roof and windows installed, the school building was ready to be put to use. People started arriving already Sunday evening for the seminar with Bruno on Community Health Evangelism. It began yesterday (Monday) and will continue through Wednesday. There are four large classrooms in this school building so one is used for the conference meeting hall, one for the dining hall where meals are served, one as men’s dormitory and the other for women’s dormitory.

Please pray that these pastors, teachers and lay leaders will be inspired and challenged during this week to see how God can use them in the task of building up the believers and reaching out to the lost through the Community Health Program. Thank you for standing behind us.

Bud

Matende, Congo

Congo Trip Summer 2015 – August 18

August 18, 2015

Dear friends,

We thank God for the tremendous help that David gave us during one whole month, serving others with a humble heart, teaching and showing them many skills. But even more important was the example, sharing with joy what it means to do heavy manual work with ones hands, offering it as a service to the Lord. It’s a real blessing to have Nelson here with me for the two months, a true missionary mechanic.

Bruno and the group flew into Kinshasa Saturday night. They spent Sunday attending church and meeting key people before leaving yesterday for Kikwit in a rented jeep. I met them when they arrived last night. This morning we all drove to Matende together. We got a jeep to take the team. The men and baggage went in the truck. It’s wonderful to have the group here. God is good. Pray for them these next two weeks that He  will bless  and use them.

Thanks for your prayers for all of us here.

Bud Kroeker

David shakes hands with kids lookign on

David with kids

Water cistern behind the school had a tree growing in it.

Water cistern behind the school had a tree growing in it.

Water filters for clean drinking water.

Water filters for clean drinking water.

Progress on roof

 

Construction of school roof, windows and getting rid of Asbestos.

Construction of school roof, windows and getting rid of Asbestos.

David says goodbye to fellow workers at Matende Aug. 2.

David says goodbye to fellow workers at Matende Aug. 2.

Congo Trip Summer 2015 – August 10

Dear Friends,

We are praising the Lord with grateful hearts for the group that will be coming this weekend from France. The embassy in Paris finally granted the visas last Friday. Now we pray for each one as they prepare for the trip, their health, their finances, their testimony to friends and family who will be asking questions about the purpose of the trip; for Bruno, who will be directing the group and giving the seminar.

August 4

More unexpected detours on our trip home from Kikwit Tuesday. The truck was rolling along just fine but all of a sudden the motor started slowing down and stopped just two villages down the road from here. We ended up spending the night in Banda Muntini and meeting the folks there for the first time. They were so happy to meet us and the Christians of the village gave us a warm welcome, fixed beds and gave us food. Even the director of the school said how happy he was to have a chance to meet us. We pass by on the road each trip to Kikwit but never have time to stop. The next morning I went on to Matende in a jeep and by motorcycle. A mechanic from Kikwit came out to work on the truck but we ended up getting the tractor at Matende to go pull it back here.

August 7

The Doctor Eleazar came again to visit Matende and bring with him material purchased in Kikwit with funds from Congo Open Heart ($700). It is very important to get things set up and working in the Health Center now.

It was so sad when two children died this last month at Matende and last week a little brother came down sick – and the Doctor is treating him. The child is only 16 months old but (as is often the case) cared for during the daytime by a sister of only 5 or 6 years while the mother is far off working in the fields. The two small children play in the dirt there where the goats and pigs run free and can easily pick up diseases.

Please pray for this child and for the doctor that he might be assigned the position to take charge of the Health Center here at Matende. He would be such a valuable help to teach hygiene and health to these communities as well as to care for the sick.

I rode out on the tractor to visit the farm land to see what all is going on.

On the walk back up I was accompanied by a group of children showing me the path to take and waiting for me to slowly climb it. I was worn out to say the least.

August 8

The tractor got good use this past week. There are still trees to pull out and replant as hedges around the outside of the field, and young people are busy. Nelson is driving the tractor and trailor much of the time and it wouldn’t take much to get him to settle down here and stay permanently. His brother in Kikwit (Dieudonné) helps him do all the errands and buy parts for the tractor and trailor. His mom is here from Kinshasa helping also and will be directing the kitchen when the people come in for the three-day seminar with Bruno. She still remembers us from when we lived here at Matende with my parents, sister and 2 brothers back in 1950.

No sooner had the truck been fixed after the night in Banda Muntini, than it had to go out and come to the rescue. The trailor had a flat tire and the men had to go out and fix it. Truck, tractor and trailor all came rolling in to Matende at 8:30 p.m. piercing the black night with their headlights blazing with light.

We pray that the light of our Lord Jesus would shine out as brightly to the hearts of people living in all these villages around, transforming lives both in Congo and around the world.

Yours in Him,

Bud

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

Congo Trip Summer 2015 – Update 2

July 11, 2015

Dear Friends,

It is hard to believe that we  are still blocked here in the city of Kikwit trying to fix the truck. The mechanics have been working on it since we got here last Monday. We do not always understand why the trials come our way, but God knows.

Tuesday July 7

Today we will try to make some purchases and find someone to fix the truck. The trip here was very difficult and very tiresome. We thought the problem was fixed but it wasn’t. We lost a lot of oil and fuel and finally the clutch got so much oil on it that we could barely make it up every hill. Twice we had to stop and let the clutch cool off and then on up the hill as slowly as possible.

Got to Kikwit at 7:30 p.m. last night.  Gerard Mambakila’s wife Julie gave us dinner and a room for me. The others are sleeping in the truck. During two days we had bananas and pineapples as our menu. Woke up very early this morning . Kikwit has no electricity or running water. The generator was running last night so I could partly charge my phone. We will discuss plans for the day; another day by faith and trusting God to work things out.

10 a.m. Praise the Lord, we found new oil pulp for the truck engine. Now looking for a mechanic. Will probably stay here until it gets fixed.

7:30  A hot day in Kikwit. There are children who bring water up to the house from a public faucet. Very few bathrooms in houses here. Mama Julie asked: “If I put water in your room will you wash?” “That would be wonderful,” I said. First shower since last Saturday in Kinshasa.

The mechanic worked on the truck all day welding a crack on the plate. David spent time ordering things for Matende.

Wednesday through Saturday July 8  – 11

Wednesday night the injectors are in place but after trying it out we decide the clutch needs to be changed. This takes most of Thursday. All day Friday trying to regulate the Injection Pump .The truck has been loaded with 140 sheets of tin roofing. Sacs of cement and other supplies we can buy here. David bought 10 mattresses for us to take to Matende for use next month when the group comes from France to help. But while waiting, he has already piled up a few for him to sleep on here. The truck is parked behind the Mennonite offices and buildings in a closed parking lot guarded by a Congolese.

I’ve had good conversations with people here, Gaston the financial director of the Mennonite Brethren Churches, etc. It is wonderful to have Nelson and his mother here because they have lived here in the past, know their way around and have many friends. What a good initiation for David to get familiar with the places he needs to shop, etc. We’ve had time here to re-charge the camera and the computor when the generator is running. Even walked down to the River Kwilu and David was able to take the canoe crossing to the other side and back. It still has river boats that carry merchandise but nothing like in days past when it was the main means of transportation and carrying palm oil and rubber down to the port to be shipped around the world.

Sunday July 12

Still can’t get the truck motor to run fast enough. Phoned to a friend in Belgium for advice.

Today a Pastor friend here in Kikwit found another truck and we will use it tomorrow to take the load to Matende and not wait longer for the other one to get fixed.

Continue to pray. We trust that you have a good Sunday wherever you are.

Bud, David and Nelson

Congo Trip Summer 2015 – Update 1

Congo Here we are back in Congo.

We arrived here Wednesday night, July 1.

David met Nelson Kayamba, and I at the Brussels airport early on Wednesday to get checked in. It was again suspense at the last minute. Brussels Airlines Humanitarian Program gave permission to take a generator, which was overweight and wouldn’t fit into a suitcase. A Belgian friend, George, (father of Jeremie who went with me in 2012) bought two of them for Congo Open Heart last year, keeping them stored at his home until now… So when permission was granted June 30th, the problem still remained: How to go get it and bring it to our house? I phoned George and told him we had permission to take it on the plane the next morning. He said he would phone us back in 15 minutes. His daughter and son-in-law (our pastor) offered to drive with their two small children the hour-and-a-half down to where the parents now live, have dinner and a short visit, and drive back to our place. They arrived at 10:30 p.m., and the box was transferred to our van with all the other luggage.

The precious box was checked in at the airport and made it with no problem. The other suitcases were too heavy and a supplement had to be paid. Books, boxes of screws, and other heavy items all add up! But the flight was good and nothing was lost. We were taken to the same hostel where we slept last year in Kinshasa. Arrived there at 10 p.m.

The next day, Thursday, I talked with various people and in the afternoon met with Katherine Niles in Kinshasa to talk about the CHE program in Congo. David did errands and Nelson worked on the truck to get it running again. He worked on it all day Friday and found the batteries were dead, so they had to end up buying two others. They also were able to get all the insurance papers and taxes paid, which was an answer to prayer. I had phoned last week from Belgium to ask two Congolese friends to take the papers in first thing Monday morning to the office in Kinshasa, which closed at noon and would be closed all Tuesday for the National Holiday for Independence Day (June 30th)! Our daughter Roselie found out about the holiday when she drove into Brussels Tuesday to take her passport to the Congo Embassy for her visa … only to find a paper on the door saying “Closed today because of Independence Day.” She is planning to go with the group that will join Bud at Matende the end of August.

Saturday, July 4: After getting the computer hooked up, the phones working, and going to the Bible Society to stock up on French Bibles to take with us, we looked forward to leaving Kinshasa Saturday before 1 p.m. The traffic was terrible but we were finally out of the city at 4 p.m. The countryside was beautiful. Stopped to put air in one tire. Then at 7 p.m. we dropped off Erik Kumedisa at Mbankana where the training farm is located. It was dark by then but we kept going to try to get to Kenge to spend the night. At 10:20, after crossing the river at Kwango, we found that the truck was losing too much oil. We stopped and tried to fix it, sending someone to go find the Baptist pastor in the village to ask where we could spend the night.

Sunday, July 5th: This morning at 7:30, we were back on the road. The pastor took us in. He had mats to sleep on the floor. During this time a local mechanic fixed the truck. I don’t think David slept much during the night (bugs crawling around on the ground or floor?).

We should have been at Matende by 7:00 p.m., but instead had to work on the truck all day. Finally we were back on the road near Kenge (where we had planned to spend the night before). The phone battery is dead.

We ask you to pray. We left Bibles with the Pastor who gave us lodging. Maybe we are supposed to stop somewhere else tonight? All our steps are in God’s hands and we trust that He might use every moment of this trip to carry out His purpose.

Thank you for your prayers thus far, and for your gifts sent in. We appreciate all that you have given. May God bless you as you stand behind us so faithfully.

Bud (Clement)

Congo Trip July 2014 – Update 7, Back in Belgium

Congo Trip July 2014
August 15, 2014

Dear Friends,

Back to Belgium. Three words describe the present situation but hide what seems like a lifelong experience. The joy of reuniting with loving wife, family and many friends, experiencing a nice warm shower, falling asleep sitting on the couch… seem to be overshadowed by a lot of work to record, analyze, remember and evaluate what took place in 36 days in another world.

Now that good Internet is available, I can show you a few of the 1500 pictures that were taken, but there is the problem of choosing. Neither pictures nor words can adequately portray the emotions and feelings.

First, thank you for your prayers, help and concern. We experienced God’s protection, keeping and provision. Charlotte translated my hurried sms messages, reading between the lines and deciphering misspelled words, often written from a bouncing truck or interrupted by intermittent air waves. Life is different when nothing is certain and everything is late.

Along with the pastor and friends at Matende, David, Nelson and I were able to thank God for what had taken place and ask Him for his help on the 400-mile trip ahead. We trust that our time spent there has contributed to the life on the mission station: many hours of discussions, practical work on the buildings with clear explanations of every step, a new wall of the church building, a whole new roof on the visitor’s building with the most important job, large rain gutters all the way around and connected by four pipes to the rain water cistern completely cleaned, refurbished and painted. The goal of bringing water to Matende had been reached although we had to leave before the first heavy rainfall to test all the connections. We pray that when the cistern is full they will have about 13,000 gallons of water reserve and no more rain water washing away the foundations.

final touches rain gutters - Congo Open Heart

Final touches to rain gutters.

Final job at Matende: put a cover on door of rain-water cistern

Final job at Matende: put a cover on door of rain-water cistern.

Big progress at Matende is that the teams of local carpenters and masons, apprentices, were able to have practical experience with training and do most of the work. Since Congo Open Heart provided the materials, they could get experience doing what they normally don’t have supplies for. A supply of boards, sacs of cement and extra concrete blocks was left for them to work with as well as sufficient paint to cover many inside and outside walls, a job we didn’t get to. Nor was there time to think about new tin for the church roof.

New wall for Matende church building - Congo Open Heart

New wall for church building.

We left Matende August 5 at 9 am with 20 sacs of grain and 40 people in the back of the truck. David Torrini sat back there with them. A mother with a two-year old covered with skin sores also was given a ride and $10 for her to take him to the hospital in Kikwit. We will try to get information of what followed.

The passengers got off with their sacs in Kikwit. I stopped at the bank where the cash machine was a great help. The machine is behind the bars in front of the bank, in an enclosure with a glass door, guarded by a solder with his rifle and managed by a man who tells people when they can go in. This particular man was an enthusiastic friend, pastor of a church in Kikwit and trained at Matende. He proceeded to tell everyone that came by about the history and ministry of the missionaries. He asked me to wait about a half hour because they had to fill the machine with cash from inside the bank. I sat in a plastic chair beside the soldier while waiting.

National highway N1, just two narrow lanes, is inching its way across the country. Going to Matende from Kinshasa Nelson drove the truck with no problem, but the last 10 miles before Matende, the Chinese builders seem to have run out of tar and the blacktop is broken up and converted to deep holes bringing traffic to a stop.

Leaving Kikwit just before noon, we were able to reach the town of Kenge for night, about two thirds of the trip. We arrived at 8 pm, very late for Congo as the sun sets at 6. We thought that the Baptist pastor had been informed of our arrival but he was not aware of it. He sent some of the church members who showed us the little hotel in that town. Nelson Kayamba and three men slept under the tarp next to the truck while David and I each had a hotel room, very rudimentary, but a bed to sleep on covered with a sheet. The toilets were the typical African system, a slab of concrete with a small hole in the middle. The toilet room without light or air was full of cockroaches on all the walls. There was some water in the truck that we could wash with.

We paid $10 each for the night and were on our way by 6 am with no possibility of dinner or breakfast. A little further down the road each village has a market for passing vehicles and we asked a women to boil some coffee for us while someone went to find some small packets of milk and sugar. We bought a few beignets or heart-shaped doughnuts hot out of the pan. We reached the big city of Kinshasa by afternoon but had to wait until nearly 10 p.m. when someone finally brought dinner to us.

roadside "Starbucks" in Congo

Road-side “Starbucks” (notice the charcoal stove at left)

Good cup of Congo Coffee

A good cup of coffee.

So travel in Congo is not like driving down the freeway in the US or Europe. Fortunately there are girls along the sides of the road near the villages carrying good bananas on their heads, happy to sell for 20 cents each, (200 francs,) which keeps your stomach from being completely empty.

We will save other information for future letters as this one is sufficient to let you know we arrived safely in Belgium. As usual we left part of ourselves back there. One can’t make this trip without being changed.

Gratefully yours in Christ,

Bud Kroeker, David Torrini and Nelson Kayamba

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 6

Nelson Kayamba, driving truck

Nelson Kayamba, driving truck

Wednesday, August 6

Here we are in Kinshasa after two days of driving.

The computer works here. All the emails since July 20 have stacked up. Finally I can send a few photos and write a few lines. Sure is easier to type on the computer instead of the cell phone messages, especially in a bouncing truck. I was afraid the computer would not work because the battery was dead and the computer very hot.

We are anxiously waiting for our dinner to arrive because we were too late to order here at the center. Nelson likes his cup of coffee in the morning and we stopped at a marché in a village and the lady boiled some weak coffee for us and someone went to get some powdered milk and sugar. The only milk they sell is in little packages enough for one cup of coffee like Nescafé.  Otherwise haven’t had a meal for two days.

Well, David is grateful for the experience this trip has provided and says he will never be the same, it has changed him.

He is happy he could have a decent shower for once even though the shower does not work and water in the bucket for that use is cold. This place is nice in that it is very clean and quiet.

Driving down from Kikwit we tried to contact David Dehan, but no success. His phone would not reply and we asked many people how to get to his farm but they didn’t know. So we finally just came on into Kinshasa. Hubert Miyimi said he is coming by to see me, probably this evening. And I will meet Scott Shannon tomorrow.

Thursday, August 7

This day in Kinshasa is coming to an end. We had a hard time finding World Vision because they have moved and the Marie-Claire Zaina was not there. But we have a rendez-vous with her at 9 tomorrow. We will go from there right to the check in at Brussels Airlines still called SABENA by everyone here.

Tried going to UNICEF and were well received there by Anne Cécile Vialle and another man. They were very friendly. They have the programs Villages Assainis and Ecoles Assainies. They have an office in Kikwit. This may be a good contact for the future since they are actively promoting health education and prevention in the villages.

This morning I had a good talk with Nzusi Mukawa of ESC, CHE (Community Health Evangelism) who also teaches at the School for Missionary Training. He seems to be a very fine man.Hope we can begin to work together in the days to come.

So we will pack and be ready to leave here at 8 tomorrow morning, breakfast at 7:30. Erik will come by at 7 and we will meet Nelson in town.

Tomorrow afternoon we head out to the airport and get our flight back to Belgium. Will be good to be home.

Thanks for your prayers and gifts which helped make this trip possible.

Bud

David Torrini on roof in Congo

David Torrini finishing off the home-made rain gutters and connection to the cistern.

 

Men work on roof of house where we sleep

Men work on roof of house where we sleep

 

Road after leaving highway

Road after leaving highway

Congo Trip July 2014 – Update 5

August 2, 2014

Dear friends,

Since my last letter, the work continues at Matende. I made another trip to Kikwit to meet with Church leaders, and then this week David accompanied me on the trip to visit two other missions.

Wednesday, July 23 

Back from Kikwit with boards and screws.  Good discussion with church leaders and Dr Benza, the head of Mennonite Church at Kikwit. On the trip back it took us one hour to drive the last seven miles to Matende because of holes. We had two bananas for lunch. Cold soup in evening but big bowl of rice and crispy Congo cane sugar and big slices of pineapple! 

Friday, July 25

Worked on grinder today, Drain pipes finished tomorrow.

Saturday, July 26

Normally we stop work at noon on Saturdays. But the men doing the building and roof work wanted to keep going until after 3 p.m. All of the rain troughs are finished and connected to the rain pipes. The wall going up in the Church is clear up past the windows. At noon we fed 40 men their lunch. Yesterday I tried to get the grinder functioning properly. It is the machine we ordered from the U.S. and brought with us in our suitcase, for the women to grind manioc flour. I am not yet satisfied with it.Will have to keep trying.

Sunday, July 27

Sun evening, we are sitting out on side of house in a breeze, rather hot this afternoon. Preached in church this morning. This afternoon we tried out the grinder again.  The grinder does not work the way we’d hoped.The women aren’t really satisfied. It doesnt grind the flour fine enough. Too slow. Need to try other settings. Fufu needs to have very fine flour because they swallow it without chewing. When set fine enough, it is hard to crank. But it could be used for other things such as corn or peanuts and can always be used  here in the house. I tell Char the women need to learn how to make corn bread. We eat her granola every morning for breakfast with the powdered milk we brought in our suitcase. No where to buy bread and no ovens for baking.

We are outside talking this evening, David dreaming of a nice pizza or bread and butter. 

Monday, July 28

Hot day even in evening. Good progress. We can hope to finish tomorrow. Macons have got the wall up to the roof. Nelson hauled more water, sand, stones. David connecting drain pipes. We will leave Wednesday for Iwungu-Nsamba. 

Tuesday, July 29

The end of a long day, and the end of the work on the house here with its new roof.

The cistern is all cemented up and painted inside with a nice coat of epoxy.

The rain gutters around the house are finished and pipes are connected to the cistern to capture rain water;

The new wall of cement blocks in the Church is completed

We gave out 34 French Bibles to all the workers and men who are in charge at Matende.

Wednesday, July 30

Today we made the trip to the Mission Iwungu Nzamba, leaving Matende at 10 a.m. and arriving at 3 p.m. The roads are very bad. The buildings of the Mission are in poor condition, and no electricity or running water. But we were given a wonderful reception, and we are happy to be here for the night.

Thursday, July 31

Just finished the meeting at Iwungu. David gone down to where there is the spring where the folks get their water.  When they get back we will leave for Idiofa, at 1 p.m. We arrive around 6:20 p.m. Only 30 kilometers but five hours of driving on bumpy roads, very tiring.

There is no electricity or running water, no connection to internet all this week. I had hoped to be able to send some photos this week but it will have to wait until we return to Kinshasa next week. We stay here tonight. 

Thank you for your prayers. We know that God is at work and we praise Him for his strength each day and protection along the roads.

I Timothy 2:1, 3 and 4: « I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone… This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. »

God bless you each one,

Bud Kroeker and David Torrini