The Return Trip

Pres. McMullen wanted to visit Ngandajika on the way back to Mbuji Mayi, so we traveled a different road. In addition, since the last trip he made this direction ended up with his vehicle getting stuck for a time, he decided to take a detour that was supposed to be better… Well, we got stuck three times on the detour road! Four times if you count both cars.

Road to Laputa (7)

Often we would get out and walk, to make the cars lighter, so they could make it through a deep section. Road or trail… you decide!

Tavel to ngandanjika (18)

This was perhaps the worst section of the road. Car one got stuck with little hope of getting out. Finally, a steel cable was hooked to car two and with the help of the missionaries, we got the car free. Of course they still had to drive through that deep hole on the right side of the tree… but with everyone walking, and them ‘going for broke’ through this section, they were able to make it to the other side without disappearing into the Congo landscape!

The first time car two got stuck in a deep muddy water hole for some time (we were in car one), but with the help of some locals, and a shovel, he got out. The second time car one got stuck; a combination of being high-centered on one end, and stuck in a mud-hole on the other end. After about an hour, some digging and pushing and thinking… and a steel cable hooked to car two, we got out of that one. The third time was simply getting high-centered in the chasm deep ruts. Car two got stuck, then car one went back to help… and got stuck also. Shoveling commenced again, and after about another hour, they both got out of the hole.
For me, the most anxious times were going through the deep water/mud holes. Most times this entailed placing at least one set of wheels on dry ground at the side of the hole—which meant that the vehicle tilted to the side at a dangerous angle. Many times I was sure we would roll over, and be buried alive in Congo mud. But we had excellent drivers and the whole thing became and exciting thrill ride—the envy of any amusement park! In fact, the thought that often came to mind were all of those ‘off-road’ fanatics in Utah that loved to go to Moab and test their skills; eat your heart out! This trip had to beat anything they could find in Utah!

Typical home

All along every road we saw similar homes and small villages. It was surprising how similar they all were.

Tavel to ngandanjika (4)

Tavel to ngandanjika (21)

This picture gives you a good view of the stick framing used for their homes. After the frame is built, they apply mud to the inside and outside of the walls, then attach grass to the roof.

We made it to Ngandajiki, and the Pres. had wanted to continue to Mbuji Mayi (he had a meeting the next morning there), but it was simply too late—and it is impossible to drive these roads in the dark. So, miraculously, we found a very nice hotel—it actually had power AND water! They fed us the typical Congo fair: Foo Foo, rice, casaba, and some meat, and threw in some small fish. Again, I found the food to be very good. Although they cut the meat like the Asians do: without regard to bones…so one had to be careful eating, as there seemed to be more bones in the meal than meat.

ngandanjika (4) The LDS Church in Ngandajika

ngandanjika (8)

A view from the back of the Chapel

ngandanjika (9) Relief Society room

Mbuji Mayi
After a good night’s rest, we left early for Mbuji Mayi and made it without incident in time for the Pres.’s meeting. We had some time before going to the airport for our flight back to Lubumbashi, so we ate at a local café—taking the food to the airport with us.
The air flight back was much less hectic than coming. Fewer people at the airport, less noise and confusion, etc. We even had time to get our shoes shined by one of the many young entrepreneurs roaming the airport.

When we arrived back at the Mission Home, a wonderful meal was waiting, prepared by the other couples staying there. We ate as we recounted our ‘adventures’ in the Congo bush.
We are so grateful for Pres. McMullen for deciding to take us on this trip! It was the perfect way to introduce us to the Congo, to the Mission, to the local missionaries, and the members. Rather than being frightened or intimidated by the experience, it made Terri and I even more excited about being here and having the opportunity to work and live among these wonderful people.

Mwene Ditu (3) choir in Mwene-ditu

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4 Responses to The Return Trip

  1. William and Ann Moore says:

    In one week you had all the experiences we had in 18 months but yours were on steroids. We never got stuck in the mud holes, only high centered a couple of times and almost sliding off the road into a big ditch. We only stayed in one hotel, not one in each city. We never ate so much local food. We’d say that you’re getting a big bang from your buck.

    Bill and Ann Moore

  2. John Asplund says:

    Hey how about giving us an approximate pronunciation of the villages. When I say them in my mind they sound like I have a mouth full of FOO FOO. 🙂

  3. jbullfrogger says:

    I know you guys got healthier before you left, but I’m not sure if you prepared in the appropriate manner. It sounds like you should’ve done more than just walking and exercising it sounds like you should’ve joined a construction crew or something, to practice shoveling, pulling, lifting, etc.

  4. Kim says:

    I learned on my mission that “detour” is code for “start praying that you won’t die while on the Lord’s errand.”

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