On Thursday Terri, me, and Emanuel took an overnight trip to Kolwezi. Terri needed to go to see some sick missionaries, while Emanuel and I traveled to try to find new apartments for missionaries in Likasi and Kolwezi. It was going to be a very busy trip.
We had planned to start early but had a minor glitch: Emanuel received notice from Kinshsa that his contract was being renewed (he is a Church employee) and he needed to fill out all the forms and get all his info into them within 24 hours–a problem since we would be gone for two days! So we waited in the office as he completed all his forms and sent them off to the person requesting them. We finally got out about 830 am or so.
On the way, we picked-up Emanuel’s brother who was traveling to Kolwezi also. His wife just had a baby, and they had traveled to Lubumbashi for the birth (so she could be with family, I think), and he was traveling back for some things.
We got into Likasi late and started to see new apartments for rent that had been found for us. It is always a slow process of either picking people up, or following them to the house, reviewing the house, and then, if we like it, discussing pricing, reviewing the contract, etc., and then making arrangements for a meeting for final negotiations and to sign the contract once we have decided to proceed.
We looked at four apartments, and liked three of them. We will probably choose two of them to rent, after looking at a map of the ward boundaries and discussing how we would move missionaries in the area.
We left for Kolwezi about 1:30 (we had wanted to leave before noon), and had to stop in Kakonda (about an hour out of our way) to pay the carpenter for the furniture he had built for our new apartment there. We now have a great working apartment in Kakonda, where a small branch has been flourishing for some time. It has been over a year trying to get missionaries into that small city. They have only been there about a month, but are already baptizing about 5 people a week!
Once leaving Kakonda we finally headed for Kolwezi, hoping to get there before dark. The one grey area in the trip was the road conditions. The last time we traveled there, there was a section of road that was not finished, and had so much loose dirt and dust that at times it was like driving through snow drifts, with the dirt so deep it flew up over the roof of the car and caused white-out (brown-out?) conditions! To our relief and amazement, the road had been finished (all but one bridge that looked ready), so we got to Kolwezi before dark and had time to visit the missionary apartments.
Our first stop was Diur apartment where 8 Elders live (it is a packed house–part of the reason for looking for more apartments!). We had brought a guardrobe with us for them (portable closet each missionary uses). They had good water and power, and the place was very clean.
The next stop was the Kolwezi apartment where 6 Elders live. We had brought many smaller items for them, and for the Zone, such as boxes of Book of Mormons, pamphlets, water filters and pumps, etc. They were having some problems with their plumbing, so we installed new faucets in the kitchen sink and one bathroom, as well and one of the outside water taps. They get water once a day, in the late afternoon, but seem to get it consistently now (they had been buying water for some time).
By the time we were through it was dark and we headed to our hotel for a room and dinner. We had been told by one of the locals that were helping us find apartments that a reservation had been made for us. When we got there–no reservation, and they were full, and it was raining hard!
We had no choice but to try to find another hotel. It was so dark and with the rain, it was hard to see anything. We stopped at the Kolwezi church (there is always someone at the church!) and got directions to one just next door. They had rooms, and they were actually quite good, but had nowhere to eat. So after getting the rooms we went back to the first hotel, which had a restaurant, and ate dinner. It was great food (perhaps we were just really hungry?). Then we returned and went to bed.
The next day we got up early, ate, and had planned to get to our first apartment by 830am. No such luck. The person was late, so we sat at the church and read.
Meanwhile, Terri had arranged for all the missionaries who had medical issues to come to the church beginning at 9am. She would be able to see them about medical problems as well as pass-off English exams, etc.
Once our local man got there, we left Terri at church and headed off to see apartments. We ended up seeing three (we had planned on seeing four, but one was already taken). But all three looked good, especially the last one. We will probably take at least two of them.
Terri finished about the same time we did, so we prepared to head back to Lubumbshi. It turned out that the District President was heading to Lubumbashi also, so we had a packed car on the way back, with the same four, plus the district president. We left Kolwezi about 130pm. We made such good time we drove straight through and got home about 5pm!
By that time Emanuel’s contract had been completed and sent back, and Elder Eastman was given the privilege of telling Emanuel about a raise he had received in the new contract–a well deserved raise, I might add!
Here are a few picks of our trip to Kolwezi:
Gee… I wonder why this truck broke down?
This is an accident waiting to happen!
Before leaving Likasi we stopped at the local auto repair to get our tires filled with air. $2000 congo francs (about $2)
As you can tell, this ‘service station’ was nothing more than a couple of guys with a gas compressor and a few tools.
But they were kept very busy!
When all else fails, improvise!
We saw a lot more of these on this trip, and since the rainy season: huts made out of local orange plastic. Some are quite elaborate. Along the road to Kolwezi there were whole towns of these make-shift buildings used to house people building the road, or supporting those who worked on the road by selling stuff.
There are three types of vehicles used to haul goods in the Congo: the bicycle, the two wheeled cart (like a hand-cart), and the big overloaded trucks.
The Congo is beautiful now, and very green everywhere. In some places it reminded me of Tinian: everything grows so fast, at points it seems to want to overgrow the whole road!
This is the last section of road they finished, so they put down sticks to prevent people from driving on it too soon.
Well, we got back safe and sound, and were successful in finding more places for the missionaries to live and serve– almost ready for the next transfers and even more missionaries coming to the Congo!