Mbuji Mayi and Kananga 02/14
Last week we traveled to Mbuji Mayi and Kananga. We first flew to Mbuji Mayi and met Pres. McMullin there (he was holding a Zone Conference). While there I was assigned to check-out and drive a new truck that had been bought by the FM people for the mission (we may be sending a couple to Mbuji Mayi in the future). The truck ran well but had a few problems…one of which was a bad tire.
We were heading back to the airport to pick-up about 30 boxes of stuff we brought with us for the missionaries when the tire blew out. Cote-foi and I walked back to a major intersection, and then took motor bikes back to town to get another FM truck. This was my first ‘taxi’ ride in the Congo! Most of the taxis in Mbuji Mayi are just motor bikes (they have few cars here).
While stopping to get the tire fixed I noticed that they had a large carpentry shop next door. It was one of the largest I have seen here in the Congo. They buy large square logs of wood, then cut them to size on site, then begin to build furniture, etc. This was the machine they used to begin to cut the wood into planks.
The new truck had no jack or tire iron (surprise) so we had to go to the FM office and steal both the spare tire and their tire changing equipment!
This is a picture of the tire that blew out.
The spare had already blown out in the same place: the sidewall. So there was no way to just repair the tire.
Typical Mbuji Mayi market street where we searched for tires.
Ah, the local tire mart! They also were repairing the carts used by many to transport goods from one place to another.
You can see one of the new tires on sale. We also found a jack we can put in the truck. But then we found that the gear to raise and lower the spare tire was broken…
Here is one of the tire repair guys trying to work on the gear that lowers the spare tire.
Our two new tires being installed on rims. One for the truck and one as the spare. You can see all the big equipment they have to change tires… They simply use a long steel bar and muscle power to change the tires.
You can see more of the large carpentry shop in the background, with some of their beds and tables for sale.
Once in the other truck we returned to pick-up the boxes, put them in storage, and then went in search of some new tires for the truck. While traveling back and forth we ran a few errands for people as well. We finally found some tires that would work—they were oversized (tall) so that it would lift the truck up a little higher and make it easier to travel the rough roads here.
Eventually we took the new truck to one of those famous road-side garages to put the new tires on the truck. While waiting for the tires to be put on I had an interesting experience.
I was standing in the shade of a tree when a family that lived in the home behind me offered me a chair to sit in. I thanked them, and sat down. Soon a blind man and his son came by, begging for money. It was clear that the man was both very old, and truly blind, and his young (perhaps 7 or 8) son helped him walk. I gave him some money, and they went on their way. Not much of a story…but what I didn’t realize is that there was a large group of people watching me: the family behind me, of course, but also there were numerous street venders that were keeping an eye on the white man in the hat!
Not long afterward and old woman came by begging. I felt prompted NOT to give her money (perhaps more people would continue to come by asking for money—and where does it end?). But she was persistent. Then something interesting began to happen. The vendors who had been watching me began to try to persuade me to give this old woman money. One young man especially got involved in trying to get me to give this woman money. So I began talking to him: Why should I give her money? If she needs money so badly, why don’t YOU give her some money? This went back and forth for a while, and all the time this poor old woman stood there hoping for money.
As the young man became more insistent that I give this woman money, I decided to test his own conviction. After all, they would know of her need more than I. So I told the young man that if HE gave the woman some money, so would I. That made the young man pause for a long time. He went back to his vendor station, and I was sure that it was all over. But then he surprised me, he turned around, put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a very old and torn 200 franc bill (about 20 cents), and gave it to the old woman. As soon as he gave the money to her, I pulled out 1,000 francs and gave it to her also.
I could tell that the young man felt good about what he had done, but the next event really surprised me! Almost immediately the family that had been behind me, and that had given me the chair to sit in, came up to me and started asking questions. In fact, the mother brought her chair and placed it right next to mine! Who are you? Why are you here? Etc. I told them I was a missionary and began telling them about the church. The mother immediately asked where it was and told me she wanted to come.
As the conversation went on, I eventually called the two Zone leaders over to aid in the conversation and to set-up a teaching appointment with the family. What a strange way to find investigators! As I pondered the reason why this family became so interested in me, I came to the conclusion that it was NOT because I gave money to the blind man and the old woman. That is sort of expected of white people in the Congo—they have money and should give it to the poor! I think what changed their attitude and piqued their interest was that I was able to persuade the young man to give money to the old woman. People in the Congo don’t give readily to others. Not because they are unkind, but because they have no money to give. So seeing this young man give of his own money to a needed woman was a true sign of something different.
The next day we toured the missionary apartments. I also met with the owner of a new apartment that we are opening, signed a lease, and gave him money for a down payment. It was just two days in Mbuji Mayi, but I was very busy the whole time.
Then we flew with the McMullins to Kananga.
My purpose in coming to Kananga was to see the missionary apartments and to sign a contract for a contractor to begin work on a new apartment we found for the missionaries. The apartment needed some work prior to entering, so, with agreement with the owner, we hired a contractor to do the work.
In addition, I (as always) acted as an errand runner for the President. He has so many meetings, between Zone Conference with the missionaries and meetings with the local church leaders, that often he does not have time for other things. So I arrange for the food, water, set-up the rooms, etc., so that everything will go smoothly.
A picture of the Stake President of Kananga and his wife, along with some missionaries
Terri teaching coping and stress skills to the missionaries as part of the Kananga Zone Conference
Our group of missionaries in Kananga
The full group, with Pres. and Sister McMullin and other guests
There is always lots of picture taking! The Zone Conference was held at the hotel we stay at when in Kananga.
Like in Mbuji Mayi, we visited every missionary apartment. We had just installed two new solar panel systems on two missionary apartments, which previously had no power. The new systems were working well.
There are two new ward buildings being built in Kananga. This one just started, with a few buildings coming out of the ground.
This is the Kisanga Stake Center in Lubumbashi, just for comparison.
This is the large 2nd site in Kananga. It has a large Chapel area, and then 6-7 other buildings for classrooms, offices, etc.
This is the large chapel building
Not sure what this small building in the middle is for… In the foreground is the Local FM man, Louis. He is a great help to the mission and the missionaries also. The church here in the Congo really could not function without the local FM people who are there to help us!
We spent three days in Kananga. Went to Church on Sunday and had a relaxing afternoon. On Monday we headed back to Lubumbashi. This will probably be the last trip we take for a while. We still travel to Likasi and Kolwezi (driving), but with new couples coming, and the Wright’s leaving, we will be in the office aiding in the transition.
We also celebrated our ONE YEAR mark on our mission. Six months to go! It will be a busy time. Transfers in two weeks, the Wrights leaving, several couples coming, the McMullins end their mission and a new mission president arrives… it will go fast.