The Walls of Matende Church Rise…

Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.—John Newton

A Series of reports on the Summer 2014 CongoTrip

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The following is a series of reports from my brother, Clement (Bud) Kroeker, regarding his efforts in Congo this summer of 2014, when he was accompanied by two assistants: David Torrini from Belgium and Nelson Kayamba, a Congolese, presently living in Germany.

Congo Trip N° 1

We arrived here in Kinshasa safely last night after a very comfortable flight on Brussels airlines. We praise God that all seven suitcases came through in good condition—including David’s guitar. We were thankful, when checking them in for departure in Brussels, that we were allowed a little extra weight and one free piece of luggage for humanitarian purposes.

 Initiation to Africa.

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We had told David that he needed an initiation into Africa on his first trip, and we didn’t have to wait long. Leaving the Kinshasa airport around 11 p.m.,  our driver was racing into the city when all of a sudden we heard a loud BOOM. Blowout on a tire! David quickly got out of the van to try to help jack up the flat tire, something so characteristic of him but not the thing to do in the city as it draws the attention of young people out on the streets, who are looking for trouble. Alas, the jack broke, and after trying several other things, our driver decided to abandon the vehicle. Another van finally came to pick us up and drive us to the St. Clement Center where we had reserved lodging. We found it, however, already dark and closed down for the night but managed to awaken someone who in turn found an individual who could check us into our rooms. So David got his initiation! Today we are out doing errands in the city. We so appreciate your prayers for safety and that we’ll be able to find the materials we will be needing.

Congo Trip N° 2 – July 11, 2014

Thursday night we finally arrived at Matende! Passing through Kikwit on our way, we stopped for dinner at the home of Nelson Kayamba’s sister. She is a very active Christian and mayor of Kinshasa for that section of the city. We enjoyed the meal after two days of travel with only bananas and other fruit available. There was a wonderful welcome at Matende when we arrived at 7 p.m. even though it was already dark. The children were singing and laughing along the road as the truck pulled in. We were very touched. Our stay in Kinshasa took longer than we had expected, but… we were happy for:

Friends we were able to talk with

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Dan Gring’s sister and husband who helped us find addresses for stores and places we needed to find and Osée, our truck driver from last year (who is a pastor with their mission), and Nelson’s family. How special it was for him to spend the five days with his mother. She then took a bus to Kikwit to meet us and be able to ride in the truck the last 50 miles to Matende, her home town where all her children grew up. David Dehan, the Belgian fellow who is an agricultural missionary, came to Kinshasa to meet with us and exchange news, ideas and information. It was good for David Torrini, my Belgian co-worker to have this visit right at the beginning of our trip.

The truck was waiting for us

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Saturday morning Osée and Nelson drove the truck to the Hostel where David and I were lodging in Kinshasa. Nelson decided to apply for a Congolese driver’s license, since he’s from Germany where he is a truck driver. So we knew there would be lots of errands on Monday. Passing inspection, paying Insurance, tax, getting the right documents…

We were able to find stores that sold the materials we needed

We needed to find paint, a special product for lining the inside of the cistern, boards less expensive than in Kikwit, and even pieces of corrugated tin for the rain gutters we hope to build at Matende. David saw men making them along the side of the road as we passed through the city Saturday. So we stopped and ordered some that we’ll pick up Monday.

Opportunity of immersion into the local culture

Saturday afternoon Eric Kumedisa invited us to his daughter’s wedding supper, and this was a wonderful occasion to see first hand the way another culture dresses, eats, talks, sings, preaches and celebrates a very special occasion. David fit in very well, and is totally at ease talking with people and making friends. His smile is contagious in any language, but since everyone spoke French with him, there were no linguistic barriers. During our time in Kinshasa the weather was actually cooler than normal, so we were spared a hot night, and though there were mosquitoes, we thankfully had mosquito nets. David has no problem trying new foods or tastes—and doesn’t mind going without a meal!

Finding a place to spend the night

We stopped half way along the road to Kikwit this time, and found a little hotel in a town. The truck doesn’t go much faster than 45 miles an hour, and the 700 kilometers is long when trying to go clear to Kikwit in one day. So this way we could get a rest before the second stretch of the voyage to Matende.

 Provision of needed cash

We found the Congolese Bank (BIAC) in Kinshasa, and they agreed that our Congo Open Heart Bank account had been opened in Paris back in May, and that some money had been transferred, but hadn’t yet arrived. This was disappointing. More time was wasted looking for bank machines that would take the Visa card in order to draw out cash. I think we tried four or five machines and took out a little at each one. This is the first trip that I didn’t bring much money in my pocket. Fortunately some had been transferred to Eric Kumedisa ahead of time for all the truck insurance, papers, lodging, etc. This bank has also opened a branch in Kikwit, so pray that things will work out there.

For the generosity of God’s people

We are so grateful for the gifts that have been coming in for this trip. From the U.S., from Belgian friends, and also four transfers were made to the Congo Open Heart bank account from Germany (in euros)! People who know Nelson wanted to contribute to the expenses of the trip. This is the first time we have seen this.

For God’s protection, provision, strength and wisdom

We are filled with joy and thankfulness to God for his protection along the road. He provides day after day in spite of our weaknesses and failures. Pray with us that He will supply us with the necessary strength and wisdom as we face the challenges ahead. 2 Corinthians 4:1; 6-7 reminds us:   “… since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart… For God, who said, Let light shine out of darkness,  made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

Congo Trip N° 3, July 18, 2014

Saturday July 12

A very busy week is coming to a close. Already last Saturday work began on the cistern. David and Nelson worked with a team of twenty young men all day, with wheelbarrows of dirt that were dumped in piles around the foundations of the living quarters and the cistern. It appeared, the way David went about things, as if he was coaching a team of soccer players. In fact, as an incentive, he offered each of the fellows an entrance ticket to watch the final game of the World Cup on TV. (10 cents each) at a local business. The owner of the small TV, Blaise, charges an entry fee to stand inside his bamboo wall.

Sunday July 13

We enjoyed the Church worship service where I was  asked to bring the message. That afternoon we were given a long walk and tour around the agricultural farm and vegetable garden, which is growing nicely, and has more than doubled in size.

Monday July 14

A Trip to Kikwit

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While David stayed to oversee the work going on at Matende, Nelson drove me in the truck to Kikwit for the day to pay a visit to the bank and to buy supplies and materials for the construction work. Of course a load of passengers wanted to crowd into the back of the truck—just as in the days of our parents.  And at the entrance to the city of Kikwit we let them all get off, with their sacks of vegetables or seeds that they hoped to sell. Produce such as peppers are much in demand at the market place. Women selling at the market were crowding up around the truck to try to get the first sack handed down. 2010-03-21 Kinshasa Ngaliema 28 Describing the city of Kikwit is virtually impossible. One just has to feel the experience. It has grown so fast that there is no rhyme or reason to anything. People just set up their stands here and there on the edge of the streets where there’s barely room for vehicles to push their way through, and where youth driving motor scooters used as taxis force themselves through the center with absolutely no regard for rules or regulations. So where do pedestrians walk? In the streets between the cars and motor scooters. A few trucks like ours try  unsuccessfully to create a passage way by honking. Nelson suggested leaving the truck at the Church Missionary Guest House where he worked some 20 years ago. There, to our surprise, we found the road totally blocked by new construction going up. So we had to leave the truck and just continue our way on foot… walking down the middle of the street like everyone else!

The Bank

We managed to find the new Bank building and it was already filled with customers waiting in line. We found the director of the Bank way in the back where two plastic chairs were offered to us.  The money we transferred from Belgium on June 26 still has not arrived. We had to go outside to the new Bank machine in a little protected room to use our Visa card. Fortunately the machine accepted it. We needed over $1000 cash for all the purchases we would be making.

Purchasing necessities and meeting key people

We walk to a store where we can buy twenty sacks of cement; at another 100 sheets of corrugated tin; at another we found hardware. After that Nelson took me back to the Guest House while he went back and loaded up the materials. Most thoughtful of him.  How thankful I was that he could take charge of this business. In the meantime, I could talk with various people, such as a man who was in charge of the Health Centers for Mission Stations. He explained to me the procedures for getting nurses accredited by the state. We exchange phone numbers  and e-mail addresses.

Joyful return to Matende

I get a cell phone message that the truck is coming to get me. I try to go meet it, but it has to come part way up the street anyway. We then try to go around the block, and return to the main road, but a huge hole cuts off the passage, so the truck has to back up a block or two. The people from Matende who ride in the back, are picked up along the side of the road as we leave the city. We’re happy and relieved to be out in the country again, where we can breath fresh air. The last stretch of road is extremely bumpy, but as we arrive at Matende, a crowd of children are outside excitedly running in circle. We are amazed to see what David and the team have accomplished during the day. They’d taken off 96 old rusty strips of corrugated roof from the house where we sleep and eat, so tonight we sleep under the stars.

Five Construction Sites at Matende Going on at Once

1. The Cistern

DSCN3790Work continues on the cistern. Four boys work with David to fill in holes in the walls all the way to the bottom in order prevent any leaking, then clean and paint them.

2. Roof on the Guest House

At the same time, Michel and other carpenters work on the edge of the roof of our living quarters to get it ready for the rain gutters to be installed.  Then a team places the new corrugated tin roofing. The last must be put down by Thursday so that David can begin building the rain gutters.

3. Rain gutters

pastedGraphic_1By 5 p.m. David has finished half of the house. I am amazed at how he works, and can tell that he is a born teacher. I can hear him giving instructions and explaining in detail each thing, while also warning on matters of security. At the end of the day he goes along with the young men clear down to the river to swim and get refreshed after a long hard day in the heat. Fortunately the evenings are cooler and pleasant with a nice breeze.

4. Transporting water and repairing machines which Nelson takes care of.

It is wonderful to see all the activity. And we praise God for His protection and the health we have been given.  Our goal this trip was to be able to furnish water for Matende, to install adequate sanitation along with teaching the rules of hygiene, and especially to share God’s Word and express his love in action. Thank you for backing us with your prayers and thank you for your gifts which made the trip possible.

5. THE CHURCH

This big project we got involved in was not in our planning, but… (See photos below). The Church building, ruined in the 1960’s rebellion, was never rebuilt. A bamboo shack served up until two years ago when it fell into ruins. The Pastor decided to hold services in a building connected to the Health Center, a long room which was sitting empty. Well, one of the walls was ready to collapse, and the only remedy was to tear it down and build a new wall. So, while Nelson and David were here at Matende to give advice and show the men how to do their jobs, work was begun. Now the wall has been taken down and cleared away, block by block. Even. I was amazed to find a small iron rod inside the wall which had kept it from caving in all these years. A group of 12 boys who are apprentices in masonry are busy separating the blocks from each other, and breaking up the broken ones to make gravel. On Wednesday they began making new cement blocks for building the new wall. This building is quite a distance away from the other buildings, so I get tired out walking down there in the heat of the day. Too bad there isn’t a bicycle available, like the one that I used as a boy riding around these hills.

 Congo Trip N° 4 July 23, 2014

Greetings from Matende (and Kikwit, where I have to send this E-mail) !

Friday July 18

Matende Women

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The women of Matende gathered for a meeting this morning. Mrs. Kayamba, Nelson’s mother who came from Kinshasa, was the speaker. The fifteen women listened attentively. The women invited Erik and me to come join the group towards the end of the meeting. He talked about health problems and the importance of eating the healthy foods. I explained that change is hard, but comes gradually as we make the effort.

Last touch on the cistern:

Putting cement on the inside wall  of the cistern is now finished. Left over cement was spread on the top of the cistern to make it smooth.

Building blocks amid problems that only prayer can solve

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Production continues. The masons have already made 130 new cement blocks and in all we will need 400. Unfortunately the little iron bar in the mill broke. Nelson, our fix-it man found a sodering iron we had brought last summer in the truck container. At first he had no rods, but finally found two so that he could do the work. Later he had problems with getting enough current from the generator. Little problems here, where there are no stores, require thinking, trying to figure out a way to use what you have, and praying to solve each as it rises.

The guest house:

DSCN3398We began work on the south side of the roof, putting on new sheets of corrugated tin. David and his team continued working on the rain gutters in front, and the work is going well. I had to take time to un-block the toilet for the second time. This happens when more than a small piece of toilet paper is used.

 School building:

We spent time today visiting the school buildings, or what is left of them. Both the primary and secondary schools are just huts constructed inside the once standing walls of concrete. A big problem is that asbestos is still found in parts of the ceiling of the structure that is barely holding together. This is dangerous, especially since the folks at Matende don’t realize the health hazards when the pieces of asbestos fall, and this has been going on some twenty years now. So we suggested they build a scaffolding, since the ceiling is very high. It’s also very important that they get gloves and masks and bring down a piece at a time without letting it break into pieces. After a thorough examination of the school buildings, we encouraging the directors to see that the drains are cleaned out so that rain water can pass through. A very large cistern next to the school is filled with the branches of trees that grow all around it. The children, themselves have started to cut the branches. It seems that it is the kids who take care of all the maintenance around the school.

Saturday, 19 July

Working hard and in good spirits though attacked by critters: five foot snake, insects, bees and bats

We all worked a half day. Everyone is tired, but in very good spirits. Another mould for making cement blocks is broken, but Nelson got it fixed and soddered. The electrical currant coming from the generator is better this morning. We need to try to buy a new mould when we go to Kikwit the next time. David and I spent time discussing the best way to get the water from the rain gutters down into the cistern… Need to find some other pipes in Kikwit. Insects and other living creatures don’t bother us too much. I explained to David that if we leave them alone, they usually leave us alone. One man, however,  killed a long four or five foot snake down by the river where people wash and swim. There is a sort of bumble bee—a  longer type than mod that bores its hole into cliffs of earth. The wall of our kitchen, built of red earth-like clay is perfect for them and they go in and out of their little holes which look as if they’d been drilled just for them. Even when they occasionally fly over our heads while we eat, it doesn’t bother us. But yesterday when the men were working up on the roof, they bothered a nest of  large-sized bees; and got attacked as if by fighter planes. They managed to strike down the bees in the air with their hands or hit them on the ground with hammers. On the other hand, we’ve had a  problem with bats! They lodge inside the roofs and here again bothered the construction. We would like to be able to keep them away permanently, not so much because of their noise but because of what they drop on the floor. If anyone knows of a good strategy, please advise us as to how to get rid of them!

Sunday, July 20

Church service this morning begins at 9:30 with singing for about a half hour. The building where we took down the wall was very dark inside last week, but today, with only two rows of new cement blocks, it’s full of light. The « bay window » is lovely, overlooking a superb view of the countryside with not one single house in sight. Around the church we see blocks of cement drying in the sun, along with piles of gravel, and pieces of construction debris. David sings two songs while playing his guitar. The folks—who have no instruments—love this and listen attentively. He introduced the songs with a meditation from the Bible.  Some of the hymns they sing are old ones translated by our parents, sung without music or printed words, though somewhat changed to their local style over the years. I didn’t even recognize one that they were singing in Kikongo until the pastor shared his old hymn book with me and I saw written at the end of the song  “How Great Thou art.” Students from the Bible School in Kikwit were here to preside the Church service, and one student who finished his studies last year is now serving as Assistant Pastor. Israel Kibombi, the regular pastor, gave the announcements and led the prayer time. After the service we all lined up outside where little children and adults stretch out their hands enthusiastically. How precious it is to be united without distinction of race or age. Psalm 117: « Praise the Lord, all you nations; Extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, And the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. »

Congo Trip N° 5 – August 2, 2014

Since my last letter, the work continues at Matende. I made another trip to Kikwit to meet with Church leaders, and then this week David accompanied me on the trip to visit two other missions.

Wednesday, July 23 

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Back from Kikwit with boards and screws and also with memories of good discussion with church leaders including Dr Benza, the head of Mennonite Church at Kikwit. On the trip back it took us one hour to drive the last seven miles to Matende because of holes. We had two bananas for lunch. Cold soup in evening but also with a big bowl of rice and crispy Congo cane sugar with big slices of pineapple!

Friday, July 25

Worked on grinder today, Drain pipes finished tomorrow.

Saturday, July 26

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Normally we stop work at noon on Saturdays. But the men doing the building and roof work wanted to keep going until after 3 p.m. All of the rain troughs are finished and connected to the rain pipes. The wall going up in the Church is clear up past the windows. At noon we fed 40 men their lunch. Yesterday I tried to get the grinder functioning properly. The machine is the one we ordered from the U.S., and brought with us in our suitcase so that the women could grind their manioc four more easily than with pounding with sticks. Alas it proved to be slow and more trouble than what it was worth.  We’ll have to keep trying.

Sunday, July 27

Sunday evening, we find ourselves sitting out on side of the guest house in a breeze as it’s rather hot this afternoon. I preached in church this morning. This afternoon we again tried the grinder and found it extremely slow. Fufu needs to have very fine flour because they swallow it without chewing, but when we set the grinder on fine, it’s too  hard to crank. It can, however, be used for other things such as corn or peanuts and in various ways in the guest house. I tell my wife Char (Charlotte) that the women need to learn how to make corn bread. We eat her granola every morning for breakfast with the powdered milk we brought in our suitcase. There are no bakeries or ovens out here. As for David, he’s dreaming of a nice hot pizza or good old bread and butter.

Monday, July 28

A blistering hot day that continued through the evening, though much got accomplished. We can hope to finish tomorrow.  Nelson hauled more water, sand, stones. David connected the drain pipes. We will leave Wednesday for Iwungu-Nsamba—another mission station not far from here that Dad opened.

Tuesday, July 29

The end of a long day, and the end of the work on the house here with its new roof. The cistern is all cemented up and painted inside with a nice coat of epoxy. The rain gutters around the house are finished and pipes are connected to the cistern to capture rain water;

Best of all

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The new wall of cement blocks in the Church is completed We gave out 34 French Bibles to all the workers and men who are in charge at Matende.

Wednesday, July 30

Today we made the trip to the Mission Iwungu Nzamba, leaving Matende at 10 a.m. and arriving at 3 p.m. The roads are very bad. The buildings of the Mission are in poor condition, and there’s no electricity or running water. But we were given a wonderful reception, and we are happy to be here for the night.

Thursday, July 31

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Just finished the meeting at Iwungu. David has gone down to where there is the spring where the folks get their water.

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Iwungu Needs to be rebuilt.

When they get back we’ll leave for Idiofa, at 1 p.m. We arrive around 6:20 p.m. Only  30 kilometers but five hours of driving on bumpy roads, which are very tiring. There is no electricity or running water, no connection to internet all this week. I had hoped to be able to send some photos this week but it will have to wait until we return to Kinshasa next week. We stay here tonight. Thank you for your prayers. We know that God is at work and we praise Him for his strength each day and protection along the roads. I Timothy 2:1, 3 and 4: « I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone… This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. »

Congo Trip N° 6 – August 6, 2014

Wednesday, August 6

Here we are in Kinshasa after two days of driving. The computer works here. All the emails since July 20 have stacked up. Finally I can send a few photos and write a few lines.  Sure is easier to type on the computer instead of the cell phone, especially in a bouncing truck. I was afraid the computer would not work because the battery was dead and the computer very hot.

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We are anxiously waiting for our dinner to arrive because we were too late to order here at the center. Nelson likes his cup of coffee in the morning so we stopped at a village market where a lady boiled some weak coffee for us and someone went tried to find some powdered milk and sugar. The only milk they sell here is in little packages enough for one cup of coffee like Nescafé.  Otherwise we haven’t had a meal for two days!

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Well, David is grateful for the experience this trip has provided and says he will never be the same. He is happy he could have a decent shower for once, though in fact, the shower doesn’t work and water in the bucket for that use is cold. This place is nice though, in that it is very clean and quiet.

Driving down from Kikwit we tried to contact David Dehan by cell phone without success, so we asked around if any knew how to find the farm where he lives and works, but no one knew. So we finally just came on into Kinshasa. There are other people we hope to meet tonight and tomorrow.

Thursday, August 7

This day in Kinshasa is coming to an end. We had a hard time finding World Vision because they have moved and Marie-Claire Zaina, whom we were told to contact, was not there. We managed, however to set up a rendezvous with her at 9 AM tomorrow. From there we’ll head straight to the check in at Brussels Airlines still called SABENA by everyone here.

We were able to find UNICEF where we were well-received by Anne Cécile Vialle and another man who were both friendly. They have the programs, “Villages Assainis and Ecoles Assainies” with an office also in Kikwit. This may be a good contact for the future since they are actively promoting health education and prevention in the villages.

This morning I had a good talk with Nzusi Mukawa of ESCCHE (Community Health Evangelism) who also teaches at the School for Missionary Training. He seems to be a very fine man. Hope we can begin to work together in the days to come. So we will pack and be ready to leave here at 8 tomorrow morning, breakfast at 7:30. Erik will come by at 7 and we will meet Nelson in town. Tomorrow afternoon we head out to the airport and get our flight back to Belgium. Will be good to be home. Thanks for your prayers and gifts which helped make this trip possible.

Congo Trip N° 7  – August 15, 2014

Safely back in Belgium. These words describe our present situation, though empty of all sense of what we’ve experienced.  What  joy it is to be reunited with a loving wife, family and friends, to take a nice warm shower, fall asleep on the couch… though overshadowed by an enormous task to analyze, remember and evaluate what took place during 36 days in another world.

Now that normal Internet is available,  I can finally show you a few of the 1500 pictures that were taken, but which ones?  One feels that no words or pictures can adequately portray the feelings involved.

First, thank you for your prayers, help and concern. We experienced God’s protection, keeping and provision. Charlotte translated my hurried messages, reading between the lines and decyiphering misspelled words, often written from a bouncing truck or interrupted by intermittent air waves.

Life is different when nothing is certain and everything is late.

The pastor and friends at Matende, along with David, Nelson felt adequate in expressing thanks to God for what has taken place on that 400-mile trip ahead. We trust that our time spent there has contributed to making life on the mission station run more smoothly and comfortably. What has been accomplished hardly fits a neat list, and how does one report on the many hours of discussions and explanations needed for every step. In spite of all and besides the wall of the church building, a new roof on the visitor’s building along with the placement of large rain gutters all around connecting with four pipes to the rain water cistern that was completely cleaned, refurbished and painted, we can finally say that the goal of bringing water to Matende had been reached. We were only sorry that  we had to leave before the first heavy rainfall which will test all the connections. We pray that no adjustments will be needed and that when the cistern is full they will have about 13,000 gallons of water on reserve and no more rain water washing away the foundations.

A big step ahead at Matende has been realized through the teams of local carpenters and masons, apprentices, who got training and practical experience that permitted them to do most of the work themselves.  A supply of boards, sacks of cement and extra concrete blocks have been left for them to work with as well as sufficient paint to cover many inside and outside walls, a job we didn’t get to. Nor was there time to think about new tin for the church roof.

Our departure from Matende began August 5 at 9 am. The truck was loaded with 20 sacks of grain and 40 people in the back. David Torrini sat back there with them. With us up front we had a mother with a two-year old covered with skin sores. We were happy to give her a ride along with some cash to help with expenses at the hospital in Kikwit. We will try to get information of what followed.

The passengers got off with their sacks in Kikwit. I stopped at the bank where the cash machine was a great help. It was located in front of the bank and was guarded by a solder armed with a rifle and managed by a man who gave directions.  It so happened that this particular man was an enthusiastic friend and pastor of a church in Kikwit who had received training at Matende. He proceeded to tell everyone that came by about the history and ministry of the missionaries. He asked me to wait about a half hour because they had to fill the machine with cash from inside the bank. I sat in a plastic chair beside the soldier while waiting.

We inched our way across country on the two land highway N1, just two narrow lanes, is inching its way across the country. Going to Matende from Kinshasa Nelson drove the truck with no problem, though on the stretch of ten miles before Matende there were deep holes in the pavement that had to be avoided.  It appears that the Chinese construction workers had run out of tar at that point, so it now has big problems.

Leaving Kikwit just before noon, we were able to reach the town of Kenge—about two thirds of the trip—by night. We arrived at 8 pm, very late for Congo as the sun sets at 6. We had previously informed a pastor regarding our plans, but he had forgotten, so he sent some of the church members to lead us to a little hotel in that town. Nelson Kayamba and three men slept under the tarp next to the truck while David and I each had a hotel room, very rudimentary, with just a bed to sleep on covered with a sheet. The toilets were the typical African system, a slab of concrete with a small hole in the middle. The toilet room without light or air was full of cockroaches on all the walls. Thankfully there was some water in the truck that we could wash with.

We paid $10 each for the night and were on our way by 6 am but without breakfast. A little further down the road we reached a small market for passing vehicles where we asked a woman to boil some coffee for us while someone went to find some small packets of milk and sugar. Meanwhile we bought a few “beignets” or doughnuts hot off  the pan, but when we reached the big city of Kinshasa by mid-afternoon we had to wait until nearly 10 p.m. when someone finally brought the promised dinner to us.

So travel in Congo is not like driving down the freeway in the US or Europe. Fortunately there are girls along the sides of the road near the villages carrying bananas on their heads who are happy to sell some for 20 cents each, (200 francs) which at least keeps a stomach from being completely empty.

We will save other information for future letters as this one is sufficient to let you know we have safely reached the Brussels area. As usual we feel as though we left part of ourselves back in Congo. It just isn’t possible for one to make a trip like this without being shaken and changed.

Gratefully yours in Christ, Clement (Bud) Kroeker

An addendum from Bud’s sister Joanne (Kroeker) Mahar

The rebuilding of the Church at Matende has been a source of great concern and subject of many prayers. Now in these days especially I’d been studying the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther when I learned that the walls of the Matende Church were being rebuilt my heart exploded with joy.

I thought to add a little background to the church as I, as a little girl, was a witness to the founding and growth of the Church there, and later, in the last years of my Dad’s life was interviewing my parents while also consulting Mom’s diaries in preparation for writing the two-volume set of Shiny Shoes on Dusty Paths. The story of the founding of Matende and the building of the Church from a mud and bamboo building that grew to become a “Chepelle-Ecole” or combination church and school to where a  larger, more permanent church built and dedicated just before our family left Matende.

It all began with a Church without walls1930s-50s Congo Ev..2

Village evangelism blended with negotiations with the chief of the Matende area for the establishing of a mission.

1946-05 Philip Matende 3642

 The  humble bamboo and mud Church

How we children loved to hear the Congolese sing with enthusiasm,” Yesu Zola Mono” (Jesus loves me). The concept of a God of love was so new and precious to them, especially since they feared their pagan gods and evil spirits who always needed to be appeased.

1944 Congo Matende 1st Chapel

The  “Chapelle-Ecole” Church-School

Then came the day when the little church got too small and children were needing to be taught. So Mary became the teachers and my older brothers studied along with their playmates.

1951-07 Church Matende-a

A New More Permanent Church

How exciting it was when the new church made of cement bricks was finally finished. The dedication took place on the same day as a baptism.

Days of Persecution

2010-03-09 Matende 040

Then came the horrible rebellion in the 60s and missionaries had to leave. The church was burnt almost to the ground. The remains of the church have been used until recent times.

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Finally the Best News of All—Walls of the Church are Being Built

” I read that news over and over before I could grasp the full impact. With gratitude and praise my husband and I share the joy of seeing our prayers become reality.

I too thank all who have prayed and shared in this project which means so much to me. Matende was my childhood home, the children were my brothers and sisters, and it was at Matende that I was born again into God’s family.

Hallelujah! (Praise to Yahweh the Eternel God.)

Please pray for grace, strength and provision for the completion of the Church.

 

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