The transfer from Hell continues…

Yea, yea, I know, it’s a swear word, but what else can you call what is going on here?

Besides, funny story: one night President McMullin decided to take the couples out to our favorite Indian restaurant as a reward (i.e., bribe to keep us here…) after an unusually tough week (probably another transfer week). Without divulging names…as someone was going over their week during dinner, they swore! Everyone laughed, and without missing a beat, someone quipped that if they planned to use swear words the least they could do was take off their missionary badge first! The next thing you know half the table had removed their tags and thrown them on the table! We all had a good long laugh after that.

Missions are incredibly difficult, and often very stressful, and it’s great to occasionally recognize that and be able to laugh about it all (it is either laugh or cry–we tend to choose to laugh).

Anyway, back to our week: where were we?

The airport is closed most of the week, the airlines are changing flights, canceling flights, refusing to give ANY information about flights; the Drapers got in late after a 60+ hour flight, lost their bags (which we finally found about 4 days later), and then Elder Draper got sick…
The Northern missionaries are still stuck in Mbuji Mayi, and we were patiently waiting for 14 new missionaries to arrive: they were to come weds, then monday, then friday late… All caught up, ok then…

We were informed that it was possible that all the MM elders would be getting on the same plane as the new missionaries (instead of coming through Kenya directly to Lubumbashi, they were coming through Kinshasa, which stops in MM before coming to Lubumbashi), which meant we would have 27 missionaries getting off the plane at 8pm and needing a place to sleep and eat!
Emanuel and I spent the week getting extra mattresses to Golf (the dorm for elders), Lubumbashi (the dorm for sisters) and Kisanga apartments. We also contracted for a bus to pick them all up, and would be taking out two trucks for the luggage.

In spite of all the changes and delays, we would make the most of it. The new missionaries would come in friday late, and spend all day saturday with input (getting the new missionaries registered, phones, pics, M-Pesa, interview with the president, etc.), and then spent the afternoon in some training sessions. Many are scheduled to fly out the next day to their specific areas (you can see it coming, right?)

Korongo Airlines would not/could not give us any information about if the missionaries were on the plane or not, etc.

Terri and I went out to dinner with the Thomas’ to commiserate and discuss the problems that we were having, and during dinner Terri got a text from Justin about the flights:

The new missionaries got stuck in Kenya and missed their connection in Kinshasa… but, because they now had open seats, they picked up some of the missionaries in MM. We have no idea if/when the missionaries will get out of Kinshasa–if they don’t get on the Sunday flight, it might be a week or more they will be stuck there. And although we finally got some of the missionaries here from MM, they came without luggage…

But other areas are good, right? We had four sisters and three elders flying to Bujumbura, and another seven coming here. Well…

The Church ‘forgot’ to buy the tickets for those coming from BJ to Lubumbashi, which meant that pour Elder Neeley would have to find 7 beds for missionaries that they don’t have–perhaps for a week or more. But in one of those ‘Kismet’ moments, we found out a day or two later that the Church also ‘forgot’ to buy tickets for those missionaries going to BJ! All is well right? Well, all those missionaries are now stuck in place too…

And, to top it off, the Thomas’ were supposed to fly to BJ with Elder and Sister Ellis to finish their mission tour…of course, they have no tickets yet either.

The only thing that has gone as planned was our movement of local missionaries around Lubumbashi. Emanuel and I spent one whole day moving missionaries and their stuff from one apartment to another. Terri had it all mapped out, and it went without at hitch–well, one hitch, I took one sister to the wrong apartment, so we had to go back for her (ahhh, Gecamines at night!)

The one plus right now is that we have a free saturday! Slept in late, doing our laundry, perhaps for the last time, and doing this blog! While we patiently? wait for news from the airlines: are missionaries moving on Saturday or Sunday? If today, we have to plan for their coming, and will probably sent them out tomorrow without any training (and hope they at least get a meeting with the President), if Sunday, we cancel Sunday flights and begin to reschedule everything again for the ? time!

So the status as of right now:

1. Missionaries stuck in Mbuji Mayi for an undetermined amount of time

2. New missionaries stuck in Kinshasa for an undetermined amount of time

3. Missionaries stuck in Lubumbashi (going to BJ) and missionaries stuck in Bujumbura (going to Lubumbashi).

4. Luggage from MM stuck somewhere.

The airport is still closed, and no airline will give us any information as to when they are flying, who they are flying, etc. (we did not know if the missionaries from MM were coming until after they were in the air!).

I know, I know, your thinking when is he going to stop whining? Get a backbone! Suck-it-up, etc. Well, not yet…

You see, we seem to have a chicken-pox epidemic coming within the mission! Oh yeah! We have two confirmed cases here in Lubumbashi (in the same apartment: Munama), and one unconfirmed case in Luputa. Besides just the problem of the illness, the missionaries have to be quarantined for about two weeks so they don’t infect others. And right during transfers!

Oh, and another thing: not one but both trucks up in MM are broken, even the brand-new Land Rover we got so it could take the rough roads up there…no, couldn’t take it, broke!

Our goal was to train the Drapers, finish this transfers, and do a quick hand-over to the Mikesells before leaving for home. Now I’m wondering if we will even get through this transfer before getting on the plane!

But when all is said and done… we go home in about a week. Woo HOO!!!

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2 Responses to The transfer from Hell continues…

  1. Korongo Airlines says:

    Hi,

    We just read your article and we are sorry to read about the disturbances.
    Please let us know if in the meantime the missionaries that needed to travel with Korongo Airlines were able to travel.
    Also if there would be anything else we can assist you with, we will be happy to hear.

    Just to give some more background information on the airport works here in Lubumbashi (for which the start of the works was announced 3 days before); The airport is closed 3 days a week (Tue, Wed, Thur) meaning that during summer high season we had to adapt our program to the 4 days that the airport was operational. The works will go on till the rainy season start (we even don’t get a confirmed date) after which the airport will again be open 7 days a week.

    We are very sorry for any inconveniences this has caused, but will be happy to assist where possible.

    Best regards,
    The Korongo Airlines Team

    • tiniantimes says:

      Its nice to know that you are concerned! We are having problems with all the airlines we use here, not just Korongo (the two we use most is CAA and Korongo). And frankly, if given a choice, we choose to fly Korongo (some of our leadership have sworn never to fly CAA again, but, with just two airlines and little coverage, sometimes there is no choice). We are all hoping the airport will fully open again soon, and perhaps that will aid the flights. But the changes in days and times from the airlines that keep coming are real killer for long-term planning!

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