For three days we have wanted to write a blog. Then evening comes and we play some games with Ed and Brenda, then bedtime comes and we are too tired. “We’ll just do it tomorrow.” Three days later, it’s finally tomorrow. So, here we go. Both of us are contributing, starting with the wife.
Sunday we went to church in Tchanampanzi, an area up in the mountains about an hour away from where we are. It was a full house that morning, which I guess is pretty normal for that church. Ed preached in Swahili, while another guy translated in Mashi, yet another tribal language here that we don’t speak. Ed had a really good sermon, there were three choirs who sang a whole bunch, and we got to visit two very packed Sunday school classes for the kids. After church we went to the preacher’s house where his wife was making lunch for us. It was an AWESOME meal. Very African. We had super delicious beans, rice, very tough, yet tasty beef, this green leafy stuff that kind of looked like cooked spinach, but had more flavor and was really good, and bugali, which looked to me a lot like the yeast bowl they have on Baby Mama, but it wasn’t yeast. I’m not sure how to describe it. It’s mushy, you pull off a piece, roll it around in your hand a bit and either dip it or scoop up your rice and beans and stuff with it. It was made from some kind of flour they made from grinding up a root of something, and they add cornmeal and stuff to make it more nutritious. It tasted good. I just wish I could describe it better! Taylor was absolutely crazy for the meal. He made a big deal to the wife when he met her. It was really good.
After lunch we went outside to take some pictures and hang out with the kids while Ed talked to some of the elders. Taylor is hilarious with these kids. Anywhere we go, kids follow us around. So every now and then Taylor will just be walking at a normal pace and turn around and scare the kids. They scatter and giggle. It’s really cute, although, these kids at the church seemed honestly scared of Taylor when he did this. There was one boy who lost his shoe next to him when he turned around once and would not come back and get it. His friends were pushing him toward Taylor and he was fighting so hard! He was so scared! Taylor eventually just threw the shoe to him to save him, but he was just so scared! Poor little guy! That tall hairy Muzungo is scary!
Monday we went to a school down the road a ways to help teach. Kasavubu set up a meeting Monday morning at 7:45 for us. We were told it was just a meeting with the Head Master to find out when we’ll be teaching and what we’ll be teaching, but when we got there the Head Master wasn’t there and there wasn’t someone around that spoke English. Haha... So we waited a bit out front when a lady came up to us and started asking us what we wanted and why we were there and everything. Turns out she was the English teacher at the school! She brought us in and sat us down in the office where she called the Head Master. I’m not sure he knew we were coming that day, but he told her to just let us follow her around. We taught in four classes, helping them with their English. We went over body parts, colors, the Alphabet, “If You’re Happy and You Know it”, and a few greetings. We had a lot of fun, but it was really exhausting. We also got to watch them during their recess hour, though I think it’s more like a PE class. They sang all these songs and did dances and it looked like complete chaos but they were all doing the same thing at the same time. It was nuts. And it was a TON of kids! They filled the whole courtyard. I’m not sure how they all stayed together on everything they did. It was very cool. (don’t worry we have video we will show upon request when we come back, IT TOO WAS AWESOME!! –taylor) Tuesday and Thursday we went back to Choir practice with Sopo. I got to teach them How Great Thou Art in English, and I’m learning it in Swahili. Taylor helped them out more with their beat boxing, which they absolutely love! We found out on Thursday from Brenda that this choir was asked by the President of Burundi to come and perform along with a few others, and they are the only choir that was asked to come back. They are pretty incredible. Every time we’ve worked with them though, it’s only been a portion of them. I hope I get to see the whole choir perform sometime before we leave.
Well, I think I told my part. Taylor did some things without me that I think he would like to share with you, so I’m going to turn the computer over to him and go finish my third book. :)
Well hello hello hello…. Or Jambo Jambo Jambo as I say here (though it is right, I am sure, to just say it once). I do not know where to start as I have been a busy bee. My free time seems even to be filled with sweat filled tasks. Man it is a blast to be here. We went up into the Jungle, close but not close enough to dangerous rebels. That was, as of yet, my favorite part of the mission. It was like getting to see a place you had always envisioned. It was like a dream come true and shattered all at once. I have dreamt many a days of such a place, and upon seeing it those dreams were proved wrong. It was different that I had imagined, but not in a bad way, just different. The trees stand tall, very tall, with no branches reaching out from their trunks till 75 feet in the air. At that point, quickly they all reach outwards for the coveted sunlight. We drove uphill for what seemed like hours over a VERY rough bumpy mud road that makes the gravel road to NCC seem like perfect flatland (as much in Nebraska is). Even with the vibrations of the deep washboards below, the sights were still breathtaking; Tall mountains in the distance with trees as tall as described on their peaks, with even others standing double or triple their height dwarfing even the mountain itself; looking down in the a vast green valley covered in wild bush and farming land alike, set amongst the back drop of even more mountains; gazing at one tall mountain standing like Bear Butte above the rest of the mountains whisked me home. Seeing the Jungle dwellings in all their simplicity, let’s just say, I loved it.
The church service was a blast and even though it lasted 2+ hours, it didn’t seem to phase me much (even with not understanding a word). It was so tight to see the God of all creation worshiped all over His Creation by his creation. A very joyous time. People, if they are agreeing with the choir or the worship songs will dance, naturally (if only this was allowed in the states without weird looks or ex-communication lol). The women, in another form of worship will lift their voices up in a high pitch. It sounds like they are saying “lili lili lili lili lili lili” (kind of like the flower) over and over. It is similar to “Hooray” or just yelling in the states as we heard it at women’s day as well. We ducked out of the church for a bit to visit the Sunday school classes. In our absence there was the announcement and celebration of 2 baby girls being born to some of the members. In the kid’s Sunday school classes we were received by welcome songs and got to teach them our names (something quick and kinda fun for em.) We went back up and Ed preached as the rain started and stopped (there was a hole in the roof right over Bonnie and Brenda lol).
After church we ate with the Pastors and Elders. And man I gotta tell you, it was a KILLER Meal. Some of my friends on the Old NCC Soccer team (yes there was one once) might remember eating at Boney’s house down at Ozark, and it was similar (but better) than that. It was a feast and as of yet, the best meal I have had here. It seems that both parties were honored by the other. It was great to hear their stories, one of which I will have to tell to you if you ask me about it.
We had planned on the way back to snap some pictures of those amazing sites we saw because we didn’t want to be late for church (which anyone that knows us knows hat had to be the Buells, because we are always late lol). On the way back, the rain clouds had enveloped the beauty to hold it for themselves. We did take a few pictures, but they weren’t the same with the clouds.
Teaching at the school was tight, but unplanned and exhausting. We had skipped breakfast and arrived at the school BEFORE (I know crazy) 7:45 expecting a one to two hour meeting discussing what they would like us to do. At 2:30 we arrived home totally exhausted from teaching many classes and walking a couple miles. But I must say, their recesses here are AWESOME. I don’t think they have a PE class specifically, so after a 20 minute play period, it is time for organized exercise. I took some video of the whole ordeal that will show you how cool it was. Hundreds of kids were dancing and singing the same song with all the breath in the lungs. They did a shouting competition between the boys and girls while dancing in circles. Sadly to say it was girls 2, boys 0. Right after that we went and prayed for a friend of Kasavubu’s in the hospital that was just able to have an emergency appendix removal. It was super cool and really neat to be able to be with her and petition for her.
I slowly (sadly) ran a mile or so up to get some avocadoes for lunch, and that let me know how much I needed to keep running, but also hindered it by spraining (or something bad of the like) my ankle on a well-placed rock in the middle of the road. After a good lunch, I ventured down to a new fast friend’s house to play some table tennis. I got dominated that day by Bill Vinton (a long time 2 generation missionary to DRC). I haven’t taken a beating like that since I first began to get a feel for the game years ago. His top spin is KILLER and I cannot get my return for it down. So after a lot of sweat and many tears held back, I walked back home, defeated lol.
Friday Ed was taking a tree survey trip back up to Tchanampanzi so I decided to go with him again. On our return trip Sunday we stopped by one of the old mission stations up in the Jungle. It was huge, having a long aisle of trees on each side of the road leading up to what looked like a large mansion. The enormous white mansion was actually the church. Once we parked for our unexpected visit Sunday, we prayed with the leaders and took a tour of the old station. We got to see the old string of connected houses that the Crowls stayed in when they were missionaries here long ago. Additions were made for other staff that were there at the time, nurses and the like. But it all had been of little use in recent times and looked a bit abandoned, but still sturdy. The last of the houses was still in good condition and was occupied by the head of the medical center that was now there. There was once a great pool there in the 60’s. They filled the pool the first time, and it had been built wrong and didn’t hold water, so it sat empty for years. Later some missionaries suggested digging out the ground around the deep end and making it in to a church. The Africans said they wouldn’t like to worship underground as it would feel like a tomb, but once the project was complete they loved it. It is now used as the sizeable church’s children’s center. The church that occupies the ‘mansion’ is very large and has many members, so it had quickly outgrown the pool church (shown below).
Alongside the Children’s building was the old orphanage. It was built years ago by the missionaries to house the many orphans in the area (some of which they were able to adopt). But when they left it was closed down (don’t worry, the kids were taken in by families in the community). It was soon revived as a medical center, and it was a quite impressive one at that. The Head nurses office had every wall adorned with charts. Charts marking the number of people bandaged, people vaccinated, children delivered, malaria cases, etc. There was a lab, a delivery room, a treatment room, overnight quarters, and nurse’s offices. The building was a big square with an entrance on the east, and one the west that led into the courtyard that all the rooms emptied into. The whole of the mission station was quite large and it was someplace I could see so many ministries popping up. They desire to open up the orphanage again and move the medical center to another building they have ready, but do not have the staff. One of the coolest things that was out there was a professional sized Soccer field. The church had decided to build it to give the youth something positive to do on Sunday afternoons (their only day off from school).
That Sunday there was a game. It was between the Civilians and the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) Army. So naturally there were some soldiers with RPG’s, Fal’s, and AK47’s. There was a running joke (by me) that the military came ready for a loss lol. So many ministry possibilities everywhere we go.
Anyway, it is to this station that we returned to survey the possibility of getting a lumber mill going. I, sadly, am unable to converse in any other language other than English (something that Rosetta stone may be addressing upon our return) so I came prepared. I had brought a Mensa Sudoku book, my iPod with LOTR on it, my Bible and devotional, and a deflated soccer ball. I bet you can guess what I did the rest of the day. We arrived with a host of people around. They were at school, work, or in-between tasks. As soon as we parked, I tried using the portable electronic pump that Ed had in his car. But even with fitting the needle to it, we couldn’t get it to work. So we locked up the car after I changed and I went searching for a way to inflate it. I found one, and let’s just say I now know how to pump up a soccer ball using an old bike pump, a pen, and a bit of rubber. The ball was out on the huge field, and so were a host of people. Within five minutes we had a legitimate game of soccer going. 11 on 11 is how we started, but from what I could pick up, the members of my team were mad when we were down 2-1 because the other team apparently had drafted 2 more players. After a good amount of time, we managed to tie the game, then a foul came in the box, penalty kick time! Who would take it? They eventually forced the reluctant Muzungo to take it. Normally a PK is taken with players and refs arranged in a way that there are no distractions for the player, no people near him, no one but the goalie ahead of the ball. But at this game there was a funnel of people starting from where I was standing to the goal posts of people. Hundreds of people were watching this white dude take this pick-up game PK. Once the ball was placed in the goal past the goalie, there was a lot of cheering. Feeling as if there was NOTHING else to do, I pulled my shirt up over my head and ran towards the center of the field yelling “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! This, for some reason, didn’t seem to silence the crowd. When we had advanced the score to 2-4 the other team walked off the field. It would be nice to say our skills were the cause of their leaving, but I am inclined more to think it was the school bell had a part to play.
After scaring some more kids, and sitting around for a little bit tending to an ant hill, classes were let out. I found myself surrounded by 100-200 kids. With not knowing much more than very basic Swahili, and they seeming to not know any English besides “Give me ze money!” some beat-boxing seemed in order. A short time of mad beats passed and I could see my ride winding down the road to me. “How do I escape this ring of youth pressing in on me? “ The simple solution, as talked about before, came in the form of a bit of yelling, a funny face and moving quickly to one side of the group. As the kids split like the Sea of Reeds, I made my dash for the truck. And we were on our way back…. I was drained, unable to keep track of my water bottle during the game, I emptied the one in the truck quickly as we set off.
Stuff has been picking up quite a bit lately and we are excited. Please pray for us. Keep praying for us. All these opportunities can be draining and frustrating. The weight has been showing on me quite a bit in that I have been making the horrible guy mistake of trying to “solve” the things my wife talks to me about instead of “just listening.” So as many of you guys know, pray for me to have patience. And as many of you ladies know, pray for me to “wise up.” With rain, sickness, and her not being allowed to come on some of the stuff, Bonnie has a bit of cabin fever so pray that we can get rid of that quick. We love you guys and thank you so much for praying for us diligently and earnestly. I cannot imagine this missions trip without it. It is weird, halfway across the world, I am finding myself praying a lot more for my friends at home then when I was there. Love you guys. And thanks.