We should be in Gemena. Gemena is where we will be visiting Dr. Kongawi for about a week. Kongawi is the father of the two boys we have had living with us for the past ten years. So now it is my turn to take advantage of his hospitality. He is a great guy – good sense of humor, hard working and very hospitable as most Congolese are. I haven’t seen him since 1999 when he visited us up here in Prince Albert. Our wonderful government decided he is too big a risk to allow into Canada since his boys claimed refugee status while the civil war was raging in their home area.
Jacques is the Leprosy and TB Co-ordinator for the northern part of Equateur province. He works under the American Leprosy Mission(US) and is responsible for this branch of the health services for about 4 million people.
And from what I hear, the UN peacekeepers are staying in his guesthouse next door. Meeting them should be interesting too.
If you have been following my travels, you will know that today is the day I should be flying by small plane to Gemena. An SIL plane will come down from Cameroon and fly us across the border into the Congo. The border between the Congo and the Central African Republic is officially closed. So we get around that by flying over and entering at Gemena.
The mission in Bangui has a guest house where we will be staying. I have fond memories of staying there in the past. It was a sort of vacation spot since we lived in the “bush” and Bangui is a city with stores and in those days restaurants. It has gone through a few civil uprisings so may not be exactly as I remember it.
One memory I have is taking our children to a restuarant and having David order a steak – well done. The chef made a trip out to our table and appologised but he just could not do that to a steak.
Another overnighter in the plane. Saves on hotel accommodations! The only trouble is that our clocks will not have had time to adjust and we will be landing in Bangui at about midnight Saskatchewan time. We will be craving sleep and everyone will just be getting up bright and chipper to start the day.
We will not only be fighting sleep but will undergo a serious shock to our thermometers. From the air conditioning of the plane we will step into the steam bath tropics of central Africa. I can almost feel it hitting me as I write this from my naturally cooled home in Saskatchewan on this rainy morning.
Greg, who returned not long ago from Africa tells me that I may be surprised at the airport. I guess most of the glass was shot out in the last uprising in the Central African Republic. It was not a bad airport back in the days – pre 1991. I guess airports fare poorly in wars.
Bonjour, bonjour. If it is Saturday morning Paris time that is where I will be. For a few hours. Our plane for Africa doesn’t leave till 11:00pm Paris time so we have about twelve hours to see all the sights of Paris. Think we can do it?
This is going to be my first time in Paris without little kids that have to be carried. There are some things that one learns not to attempt as a parent when the kids are that small. This time we had better all be able to walk on our own, jetlag notwithstanding.
Planning to see the Eiffel Tower and someone suggested the Latin quarter. I’ve always wanted to see the “rive gauche” We’ll see what we will see. Just got to keep moving so sleep does not overcome us!
This is it. I’m off to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We catch a plane out of Saskatoon at 10am and travel via Toronto to Paris. Will arrive in Paris on Saturday morning. I guess the only problem will be that it won’t really be Saturday morning for us. We’ll be missing 7 hours of good old sleep. Oh well. We’ll try to stay awake by doing a tiny bit of sightseeing in Paris. Then we get on another plane Saturday night and arrive in Bangui in the Central African Republic (neighboring on the north western border of the Congo) on Sunday morning.
We are not traveling light. We have four big cases full of dental supplies and each of us has a trunk with our personal stuff plus. I expect we’ll find the baggage handling easier on our way back. We DO NOT intend to bring back empty cases. Someone will make good use of them in the Congo.
The biggest hassle we expect will be the red tape of getting dental supplies through customs and through airport security. I would appreciate any prayers you are willing to offer up to God on our behalf.
It is early. I’m having trouble sleeping so I came downstairs got on the computer and checked out my e-mail. I think in some ways I am just having pre-travel jitters. But the messages on the e-mail were good. Do not worry about the situation in Kinshasa. Internal flights are running as usual, etc. Songo came by the Gustafsons and was glad to hear I am still coming. They sense that God is in the timing of this trip as well. All is good.
Still hard to sleep. I guess I’ll get tired this afternoon. Last day of work today.
Tomorrow banking stuff. Picking out flowers for the wedding I’m in the weekend after my return. Tieing up loose ends. Finishing the packing.
Just as we are preparing to leave for the Congo, trouble breaks out there again. Rumors of an attempted coup. Fighting in Bukavu and the UN support people pulled out of Kinshasa after rioting.
Still I have a strong sense that God is taking me back there. The trouble is far from Equateur province. But we had planned to travel down to and leave the country by Kinshasa. That is where the girls have birthfamily. It is the only part of the trip I am nervous about. Not sure what will happen. Changing our tickets would also involve getting another visa for RCA since we are transiting to the Congo from there on a single entry visa. There is no time left to apply here for a change of visa.
I need really clear guidance about this part of the trip. Writing in the sky would be acceptable!
Seriously, I would appreciate prayers.