Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mbote Na Bino (Hello to you all)!!

Fred a blind man we visited
telling us of difficulties being a blind
person in the Congo.
Two people making bricks for a new building
that was to be constructed.
Paul with sleeping boy at
Leve Toi.
Mama Julliene the person who
runs Leve Toi the school for blind
and handicapped.

Mbote na bino!

This is Carianne on behalf of the team, we're all sitting in the library at MPH, debriefing another rewarding, adventure-filled day.

Our day started out with a delicious breakfast of French toast and papaya. Next, we were off to Fred's house near Pompage. Before I explain our visit with Fred, I think you all might be interested in our method of transport to his house... motorcycles. The road is so bad on the way to Fred's that you have to take a motorcyle to get there. The group of drivers were all very enthused about having Mundellis on the back of their motorcycles, it was a quite a spectacle. The actual ride was an adventure. No one wore helmuts. There were a total of 3 people on each bike. We drove through sand, around craters, up hills, down hills, through mud and water... Somehow, we made it to Fred's.

Fred is an old friend of Paul's from his first trip to Congo, and I had the pleasure of meeting him last year. Fred is a blind man whose greatest passion is to empower and inspire the blind. Fred was a teacher at College before glaucoma took his eyesight. After becoming blind, he lost his job and was told that he was no longer useful in his role. Since then, Fred learned brail, and started envisioning ways to teach brail to other blind people. He uses leftover pill packages, match boxes and pencil stubs to create a brail learning game. It was wonderful to be in the home of such a wonderful, kind man. While we were there, Fred apologized to us and explained that his wife had been very sick this past week, and the cost of her care was such that he could not even serve us something to drink. It was heartbreaking to imagine that caring for her sickness meant having to forego food and drink for their family.

After Fred's we headed out to Leve Toi, which is a school for handicapped children nearby where Fred lives. Mama Julienne walked us through the facility, sharing with us how God has blessed the school. She also was overwhelmingly thankful for Paul and the teams who have come over the past number of years. Now they have a chicken coop with 100 chickens. They plan to sell some of the chickens and eggs to make more money for the school so they can continue building. The old school buildings have started to crumble, so they have had to demolish them and start fresh with new bricks. We had a lot of fun playing with the local children, and hearing from Mama Julienne. It was encouraging to see that, even from last year, more progress has been made in this ministry. Ray and Dave also had some fun with the workers learning how to make bricks.

After our time at Leve Toi, we headed back to MPH for a rest. We were feeling pretty tired, and we all crashed for an hour before traveling to Paroisse Missionaire to take part in choir practice. There we learned that the church has 4 different choirs. One of the church leaders explained the importance of music in African culture and in the church. He said that he believes that singing is how we will most likely spend our time when we are all in heaven one day. Then the different choir groups sang for us in French and in Lingala. The singing was an absolute blessing. Their rich voices and beautiful harmonies coupled with lyrics of praise and African-style of music left nothing to be desired. It was truly a blessing to sit and listen to them sing, even though we did not always understand the words. We didn't need to.

After our time with the choir, we headed to a family from the church's house to share a meal. On the way, we took a large bus, packed with people. I had been quietly singing one of the songs I had heard in church on Sunday, and the team joined in. Suddenly the whole bus of people started singing the song with us, and they laughed and laughed as we tried to pronounce the Lingala words correctly. It turned into a sing-a-long and we kept singing what few songs we knew in Lingala. What an experience, singing together and laughing with total strangers on a bus. It is, again, a testament to the warmth and acceptance of these people.

When we arrived, we were greeted warmly by Mama Esperence (a name which means "Hope" in English) and her family. Another lady from the church, Mama Joseline, was also there to help cook. They had no hydro, so we sat and ate by flashlight while we learned that Mama Esperence has been living alone with her 3 children while her husband has been in Sudan for the past two years, working for the UN. She said "My husband is away, so I am here with my children and Jesus." She expressed her joy in hosting us, and we were, once again, humbled by the giving nature of the Congolese people.

Now, we are all back at MPH, ready for bed. Thank you all for your thoughts and your prayers. We count on them. We are so thankful for continued health and safety. At this point, we have eaten 6 Congolese meals with foreign food, and still we have felt healthy. Please pray for energy as we continue with our fully packed schedule. We are doing well, and we all look forward to sharing our experiences with you all in person.


1 comment:

  1. Carianne, Thank you for an articulate reflection. I found myself with your team and participating in your activities. The richness of this trip is a priceless gift. lloyd