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Greetings from Rwanda once again,
I have been back for a couple hours now and, after having had something to eat, feel ready to resume normal stuff. The Congo ministry was an extremely taxing trip, but I think quite a profitable one. On Saturday night the first outdoor meeting took place in Bagira. The pastors who asked me to come had an official sanction from the town mayor to hold an evangelistic meeting. Just before they began doing sound checks, the mayor called and told the organizer that he wanted $100 US before he would let them have the meeting or else he would not allow the meeting to go forward. The organizer was quite angry and told the mayor in gracious terms that he held the official letter that gave legal permission to hold the meeting, and that it was signed by the mayor himself. Fortunately, the meeting went off without any “police” intervention, and when I began my message I made sure I thanked the Lord for allowing us to be there that night, but that I also wanted to thank the “good mayor of Bagira” for giving his blessing to the meeting for both Saturday and Sunday evenings! The Lord always gets the last laught doesn’t He?
The services went very well. The meetings had been well prayed for and the Lord gave us about thirty decisions on Saturday night and I believe about the same number on Sunday, although I have not been given official numbers or actual results yet. I do know that on Sunday night, a military officer from the Congo was saved. I will try to fill in those actual results when I get them.
I am still “recovering” from the five days in the Congo. It is truly a very corrupt country. The sad thing is that the Congolese president is being officially supported and sanctioned by both our American President and most of the European block of nations. It is very sad. The city where I stayed has not changed one bit since the mid-sixties. It has had no sewer repair, no street repair, and absolutely no infrastructure changes since the Beatles came to America. Does that put it in perspective for my fellow baby boomers? The street pavement is gone, the people in the immediate areas have open sewer ditches, the smells are repulsive, and the buildings look just like they did in the mid-sixties, except they have not been fixed, overhauled, or painted. The open street markets are basically food-driven with potatoes, bananas, chickens, beans, avocados, rice, and such. The electric company in the city rations their electric production. Every other night, a city section is without power for five to eight hours. People are forced to use candles and other forms of artificial light in their homes and anywhere else. This is while Congo Power is selling power to other nations!
People teem the streets even at night using their cell phone lights to light their steps in the pot ridden streets. To not do so is to invite almost certain injury. Housing here ranges from a clean decent flat, to the typical box shantys of the every day soul. The bathrooms are all outhouses in the shanty towns. I am very thankful that we stayed in a Christian man’s house named Nicholas which had plumbing and proper toilets. However, water still had to be brought in for showers because of low water pressure issues which plague all the citizens. Therefore, all of my personal bathing has been done while standing in a little dish tub. It is truly a skill to not get any water on the floor while bathing in one of these things! Please remember to pray for Nicholas as he starts a new church plant in Bukavu. He was a gracious host and I look forward to see what God does through him.
It is hard to describe the feeling of being the only white man walking down one of these streets with my ministry escorts. People just don’t glance at you, they stare at you. One time two little Congolese boys walked by me and one of them rubbed my arm as he passed. I guess a white hairy arm was something he had never seen before, much less touched. I never made a whole lot of eye contact just kept up the pace with the guys. I confess, I was quite uncomfortable, even though I knew I was safe in the Lord’s hands. It is one thing to say that, but, it is another thing to say it and know it by real experience!
Another unforgetable event in the Congo was the trip to and from in the Rwandan bus/taxi system. I don’t know if I have ever been in a vehicle like this before in my life. It is a twenty passenger diesel bus loaded to full capacity, plus bags, suitcases, personal effects, etc. This makes airplane travel in the economy class seem spacious! The trip is five to six full hours of this deisel bus trying to set the land speed record between the city of Kigali and the Rwandan border with the Congo. Two or three of us were literally forced to scream at the driver once to slow down. I mean, we passed three trucks which had turned over on this road today. One was a dump truck, which by the time we saw it, had burned completely after the accident. Our driver just flies past them while the passengers are temporarily stunned that such a thing could happen to those poor trucks! Pit stops include stopping at a clearing long enough for men and women to get out and use the facilities. The only problem is that there are no facilities. The nearest tree or bush will do, with a slight separation between the men and the woman. Everybody gets back on, they quickly cram themselves back into their seats and the flying circus is back on the road again. Today, I literally felt like kissing the ground when we arrived safely back at the bus station here in Rwanda.
As I write this last email, I am preparing to pack, go to bed and head to the airport about midday tomorrow. I am tired and weary but encouraged at the first pastor’s training seminar in Rwanda and Congo. We have been invited back and this will require finishing the course work, tests, and all around program. Please pray for the funding for the foundation as we continue to move forward towards 2013. We would like to see the Myanmar trip fully funded and the Lord continue to bless as we build and expand the foundation with more traveling professors for the future. The need is endless.