International Ministries

Big Storm Damages Our Church in Kinshasa

October 15, 2010 Journal
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Dear friends,

We had an exceptionally long and hot Dry Season this year. In Kikongo several of our avocado trees died and most lost all their fruit. We're thankful that the Rainy Season has started in full force up there and that the trees, and peoples fields, are already turning green again. For some this could mean a very hungry November and December. Please pray that families will be able to find the food that they need.

In Kinshasa, we had our first real storm this week and it was a big one. People are still cleaning up broken limbs and fallen trees. The storm did lots of other damage as well. Jill and I were downtown at the church when the winds started. I was watching as the wind tore at the roof of a nearby building when someone came to inform me that part of the roof of the church was gone. By now, it was raining in sheets. I was soaked by the time we got to a place where we could see the damage.

Sure enough, four of the roofing sheets had been carried away by the wind and left a gaping hole in the roof. I decided to see what kind of damage was on the inside of the church and ran across the lawn. Inside everything looked okay, for awhile. Then water started to drip out of the light fixtures. Slowly at first, and then it became a stream. Soon, we had streams of water coming out of electrical outlets all over the building. With a wet floor and water coming out of the outlets, lightning everywhere outside, I decided that was my cue to leave. We cut the power to the building and made our escape.

The storm went on into the night. In fact, the city of Kinshasa pretty much shut down. Jill, who's had experiences like this before, said that we would never get back home until the roads cleared up. She was right. Traffic was blocked for miles, so we decided to go have dinner somewhere. We settled on pizza, which was a treat for us.

After dinner we tried again to get home with no luck. We sat in traffic for one hour in the rain and moved about one block. We decided to go back towards town a pay a visit on some friends. They graciously accepted us in and we talked and watch TV until about 10 PM. We were grateful to have a refuge to wait out the storm. There were hundreds and hundreds of other people who weren't so fortunate. Many were walking home after work. There weren't any taxis. They were tired and soaked and most had a long way to go.

When we finally felt sure, we left our friend's house and headed home. But, no luck. We got back to the same place where we were before and traffic was still jammed for miles. This time we waited for about half an hour and didn't move at all. In addition to that we were getting low on gas and all the stations were closed. We needed another plan. We didn't want to bother our friends again, so we went back to the pizza place and had some ice cream. Jill knows how to handle adversity! We stayed in the restaurant until about midnight and they closed up.

Sometime in there the rains stopped and traffic opened up. We were finally able to make our way home. However, the pizza that we planned for Matt's dinner was now long cold and Matt was long asleep. We were just happy to finally make it home. (I was happy to have a little extra time with Jill.)

We got some pictures of the church yesterday. There is damage to the roof and to the ceiling. We won't know how much damage there is until things dry up a bit and we can get in and inspect everything. We had a previously planned workday for tomorrow. So, I think we'll know more by tomorrow afternoon. We really need to get the roof fixed before the rains start on a regular basis.

Please pray that we get the repairs done on time.

Pray that we can work in unity with the other congregation that uses the church building.

Pray that God will be glorified in all that we do here.

Thanks for all your support, MEL