Friday, March 30, 2007

Back in Congo ...

We are back in Congo after very good trip. We left Denver on the 15th on British Air. The "check in" people were fantastic helping us save 30% on our extra baggage!! After a 7 hour lay over in London the flight to Lusaka was also good. One piece of luggage did not make it and by the time we had filled out all the paper work for the lost luggage, the customs people had left and we just walked through without any hassles. Kabinga, a Zambian colleague working with our friends, the Enrights, met us with the van to drive us to Ndola. Before leaving Lusaka, Lori was able to buy much needed sewing materials for the women’s school. We spent several days on the Copperbelt of Zambia making purchases and our lost bag caught up with us. Our pickup was there waiting for us and on Sunday, we crossed the border. There were hundreds of trucks lined up on the road on the Zambian side (approx 200+) at the border waiting to cross but due to some new regulations in Congo there were many more stuck then usual. It is hard to describe the border and how trucks are parked every which way in the ‘no man’s land’ in between the two posts. These are the trucks that have past one border but waiting for the other to let them through!! There is never a straight line and you ‘zig and zag’ through and actually have to have trucks move to make a way!!! We were able to drive right through the middle of them. It was like Moses parting the Red Sea!! Jean Pierre, our protocol helper was waiting for us and helped us through the border in 20 minutes!! Yea!! You know how much we dislike border crossings!!! We praise the Lord!! We thank you for your many prayers for the travel and all the ‘fun stuff’!! :) In Lubumbashi, we are continually greeted by smiling joyful faces. Friends and church acquaintances are happy to see us back. It is also nice to have warm Congo weather and not more snow as Denver is receiving today!!! :( Last evening while checking our e-mails, we were overwhelmed by the news coming out of Oklahoma. During our itineration in the fall we shared with three churches in the Oklahoma Annual Conference (Ardmore First UMC, Stillwater UMC and Tulsa First UMC) of our need for a new Internet satellite connection at Mulungwishi. The server that we had was from Kinshasa (the capital of Congo, over 1,000 miles away). It has never worked the way the way it was promised and with the distance they have been reluctant to come the 1,000 miles to take care of problems. They have been very negligent for the price that was paid!! :( Five months ago they changed satellites and our antenna was pointed in the wrong direction. The result has been that Mulungwishi has been without Internet connection all these months. Just two weeks ago a technician was sent to make the adjustment. Nothing like a local house call!!! He was never able to make the connection and finally gave up saying that there was nothing he could do and our contract was through. We have been in contact with a couple of other providers here in Lubumbashi and they are ready to come in and provide us with what we need. Lubumbashi is the large city 100 miles south of our station. The problem was the expense of a new system. It has been very difficult for the IT program and for the rest of the University to not have the system running. It is doubly compounded by the fact that that we have taken 52 new students into the computer school this year. Last night when we opened our e-mails, the news from Oklahoma that these three churches (particularly Stillwater) had raised over $18,500 for the new system. Praise the Lord! J What great news we have to bring back to Mulungwishi that the new system will be paid for. What a miraculous and generous God we serve and what a privilege it is to be tied in with God’s people who are so compassionate and giving. We are humbled and just plain spoiled to be a part of this wonderful adventure. Some of you have probably read about fighting in Kinshasa this past week. This was from part of the party of Jean Claude Bemba, the man Kabila defeated for the Presidency. There is still strong feeling in that area that Bemba did not win. We have not had a complete picture of what happened but many people were killed….many innocent by stray bullets. So please keep praying as this country tries to pull together and solve the massive problems of the war and heal the hurt. Continue to pray for us as we travel up to Mulungwishi next week and get back into the swing of the academic year. We are stuck a couple of days here working with finances and supplies ….as always things run slow!

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