It is quite an honor to be able to help our freshly graduated families set off towards their homes and places of ministry.
On Sunday morning, we were supposed to set off around 8 AM, but I was frustrated because my crew member came down with malaria during the night.
I had to cover for him by taking supplies down to the river, as well as load the boat.I was concerned about the boat having just completed some maintenance. Since it still leaked without a load, I was apprehensive that the more I loaded, the more it would leak.I assigned a couple of people to keep an eye on the water level and to bail the water when it got to a certain point.
I was also frustrated with the amount of extra people that show up when they hear that there is a means of transportation.I had lots of people wanting to go upriver for a variety of reasons.I refused to take anyone except for the graduates.As it was, a couple of women "snuck" aboard while I wasn't looking.These were people that I had already told they couldn't go.When I dropped these stowaways off, they each had the gall to ask me when I would be returning to pick them up.I'm afraid I didn't give them very gracious answers. Nevertheless, coming back we were empty, so I could pick up anyone who was waiting along the river.
On Sunday we traveled until about 4:30 PM.We got to a narrow part of the river, and didn't want the sun to set on us before finding a decent sandbar, so we stopped along the shore where we found a clearing in the jungle.We built a fire so everyone could keep warm, and try to avoid the mosquitoes. That was pretty close quarters.
The next morning, there wasn't any fog on the river, so we got an early start and got to the bridge before 10 A.M.
On the way to the bridge, we saw a canoe approaching us.Usually when someone approaches, they signal us that they either have something to sell, or they want to be towed upriver.These young men had no intention of communicating with us. They just wanted to grab the boat as we were going by.I didn't like their approach, so I kept full power and as they tried to grab our boat, I swung right while trying to avoid going into the forest. They managed to grab our boat anyway, so I had to change tactics and try the intimidation approach.I yelled at them in the Lingala language, the language used by the military.They responded "Oh, have you come from Kinshasa? We were just seeing if you had cigarettes for sale." I responded rather disgustingly that we didn't have anything to sell and especially not cigarettes.They got the message that they weren't welcome, or we weren't an easy prey and backed off.They made some remark about losing a paddle and let go.
I had only wanted to go as far as the bridge, but one family was from a village another two hours upriver. By much tears and lamentation, they managed to persuade me to take them another two hours upriver to their home village.(Rita says I'm too nice.)
Because of the extra distance, we were not able to make it back down to Kikongo on Monday, so Timothy, my colleague Mike Lowery and I spent Monday night on a sandbar.In contrast to the night before, we had an expansive sandbar all to ourselves.We didn't see or hear anyone there Monday afternoon or all night long.It was nice being surrounded by the river and forest.We saw one flock of African Grey parrots that must have had about 50 birds.These are the parrots that you see in the pet stores for between $600 to $800 each.
On Tuesday, we arrived at Kikongo in the afternoon, having picked up passengers along the way.
I knew I had another trip on Wednesday with only one family. I was to only take them a short distance upriver.I had the same frustrations as the previous trip. Their destination had gotten longer, and the number of passengers had doubled.The Lord granted me grace to deal with loading the boat again and we were off this time only for a two hour trip upriver.We dropped the Bugi family off at the Catholic church center of Ngi.The two hours by boat was the easiest part of their trip. They had three people helping them with bicycles. They loaded all their belongings on the bicycles.Mrs. Bugi had a child on her back, a basin of pots and pans on her head, a 20 liter jug in one hand, and a child on the other hand.They were spending last night on the road, and were hoping to arrive at their village today.What a trip for a family with three small children.I'm glad I was able to help them part way!
Today, we have the privilege of hosting a plane load of tourists. Eight people will be spending the next couple of nights here at Kikongo. That means lots of hikes, and time on the river again.These "tourists" are visitors from the US who came out for a reunion of alumni of The American School of Kinshasa.
Kikongo is a good place where good things are happening!
Thank you for keeping my trips in your prayers.
Glen and Rita