Congo Elections

Bud (Clement Kroeker)

Bud Kroeker in Kinshasa Report N° 2

Dear friends,

There are less than three weeks left before the November 28 elections and so much work has to be finished by then. I must spend all my time sending out the messages about elections and I don’t know if I’m going to have time to write reports to the folks back home. We have been having meetings all week long.

I am responsible for coordination of all the Protestant observers during the elections. There are 60,000 places where people will go to vote throughout the Congo. The churches expect to mobilize 30,000 of their members to help observe on election day. I need to have the name of each person so that my team here can go about getting them registered with the National Electoral Commission. To register, we need the number on each person’s I.D. card from the last elections so that an official badge can be made and distributed along with necessary materials. Those in each region who are training observers have to send in their own lists of observers.

Erik Kumedisa brought over the printer (that I brought on a previous trip from Belgium) this morning, so I set up the Mac that I brought along in my suitcase, but I feared that it might not recognize the printer any more. So I was greatly relieved that, after finishing the writing of the first Info-Action, I was able to print it without difficulty. I was also relieved that I have electricity and Internet connection here in the room all day, though no air conditions. This is better than at the ECC office where all that vehicle smoke is ozzing in all day.

Sunday Nov. 6

Went with Milenge to the Mennonite church in Ngaba today. This church is possibly the largest in Kinshasa. Many pastors were there. The President of the Mennonite World Conference—a black pastor from Zimbabwe—gave a rather harsh message on Ephesians 4:17-25. “Put off your old ways.”  Milenge followed by hammering on the theme. “Challenges Facing the Church Today” touching current issues such as: 1. Preaching the message, 2. Poverty, 3. Conflicts inside the church, and 4. Political manipulation. The sermons were followed by ceremonies of gift-giving (in the uniquely African style amidst clapping and exuberant joy).

After church they fed us and then we joined the traffic jams coming home. Had a nice supper with the Milenge family tonight.

November 7-9      

Bosuet, the protocol man, brought me papers to fill out for a missionary visa. It will cost $600, good for 5 years. Seems exorbitant, but thankfully my other expenses during these four or five weeks, like food, lodging, and transportation are being covered by the ECC during my stay in Kinshasa these four or five weeks while I am helping them out with coordinating the communications and observers, etc…

Busy day yesterday and by ten in the evening I had sent out the first communiqué to all our addresses throughout the country.

I’m doing fine health wise though some headaches and problems from the pollution. I mentioned to Milenge that all the exhaust from the window is bad for us and death for our computers. After Erik talked to them, a boy in the kitchen bought some bananas and oranges for me. I have one big meal a day, usually fish or chicken with deep fried bananas or rice. Cold shower every morning, water just trickles out of the shower-head way up near the ceiling.

Wednesday evening I was invited to a big dinner at Milenge’s house with dignitaries. I was to ride with the professor from France, a Congolese, but his car would not start so we were eight in a little taxi. Police looked at us but didn’t stop us, «te kenda, te kenda», (just keep going) they told the driver. In the evening the new Toyota van of ECC brought us home. Unfortunately even at his house the electricity was off.

Electricity was back again at ECC office yesterday after being off all weekend. No problem here at CAP yet where I am lodging. Erik bought a multiple plug and I use the printer and Internet.

I’m eating with the Commission for Peace and Justice today. They are my committee for elections. Hard to get news. People can’t send E-mails because of power shortages. Erik has no power.

Matende Church

Matende School

I hope to go to Matende (mission station founded by Abe Kroeker) just as soon as I can after the elections. This means in December. It’s been raining so hard every day and I can’t help but think of the roofs that need replacing up there. Pray that I might meet some organization here that can send some money in the right direction.

I talked with David Dehan last night. He is the young Belgian doing agriculture here outside of Kinshasa that I wrote about last March. Dan Yoder, a friend from Indiana, will fly to Kinshasa Nov. 15 and hopes to work in another village in Congo, installing water pumps. Please pray that both of these men will be able to visit Matende with me, especially since Dan is also interested in agriculture.

Please pray also for quiet hearts and strength as we depend on the Lord each day for His wisdom, and for safety during the turbulence expected in this city. Also that, as we write letters and communicate with folks here, we’ll have the right words.

Everyone here is praying for peace to prevail before and after the elections. They are so tired of conflict and violence. Some politicians are dangerously aggressive in their speeches.

Last Saturday night I did not go to Milenge’s house for dinner as planned because he had to go to the Universities to settle student uprisings. There are several Protestant Universities here.

Mrs. Grings on right

Kinshasa

We just received the prayer letter from Dan Grings and his wife, a missionary couple living and working here in Kinshasa. You may remember my staying with them five years ago while I was here helping with the elections. Dan wrote the following in this letter:

“Presidential elections are scheduled to take place on November 28 and results will be announced December 6. Tension continues to mount with unruly demonstrations and increased crime. Several times a week we receive security warnings from our local American Embassy… This is a cruel and volatile period for Congo and we appreciate your prayers for peace.”

Thank you for praying. May the Lord bless you each one.

Bud

Please Pray for Kinshasa

“I will bow down… and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted. May all the kings of the earth praise you, O Lord, when they hear the words of your mouth.”

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