Do you have a family tradition on Christmas Eve? Our family packs to go to Vanga! This year, was no different. We needed to leave the busy capital city of Kinshasa where we minister to breathe clear country air and be blessed and inspired by colleagues working on the ‘front lines’. We always hope our presence will also be a blessing to them.
If uneventful, the trip takes around 11 hours. This one took longer. Nine kilometers out of Vanga, we encountered a cavernous rut inflicted by rain the previous night. Katherine and I have a running disagreement. She deems it gross negligence to embark on a road trip without a shovel and machete. I deem that if we get stuck, it will take more than one shovel. This trip bore me out as our heroic attempts to dig a ramp on to the left “shoulder” only got us more stuck. By the third try, it was time to seek help.
We recruited a passing motorcyclist to give word at the next village.
In hardly 15 minutes, an energetic group of sturdy young men arrived. With half a dozen shovels, two machetes, and a garden hoe, they rebuilt the road in front of us in short order.
Congo is a marvelous country; extremely challenging and accommodating at the same time!
During the week at Vanga, our son Jonathan worked with the hospital pharmacy team to do the year – end inventory and update the data in the BHIMA software. They worked in teams of two, one calling out numbers, the other entering adjustments (over / under) as needed. Jonathan did the first third with Mama Nginda, the head pharmacist, then sat back to troubleshoot as she supervised her team doing the rest. The sense of accomplishment in a task learned, and and tedious job quickly done, delighted everyone.
Katherine and I walked the five miles to the Lusekele agriculture center to meet with the staff there. I brought additional screens for a winnower I built for them a couple years ago. Conversation on the winnowing floor revolved around how to promote the survival of Lusekele’s important grass-roots agricultural initiatives during a stubbornly persistent pandemic season.
Vanga’s miserable phone connectivity graciously silences Katherine’s phone so she enjoyed time alone, and with childhood friends. With the nursing school team, she rejoiced in the newly constructed nurse midwife classroom (funds raised by ABW of ABCOPAD in 2018). At the Vanga Hospital, which is the cornerstone for improving patient care throughout the Baptist network of hospitals in Democratic Republic of Congo, she exchanged dreams with colleagues there about reinforcing skills in other hospitals by providing refresher courses at Vanga in ultrasound, anesthesia, ophthalmology; and care for diabetic patients.
On our last day, IM associate missionaries Kathy and Tim Rice took us on a ride up the Kwilu river in their outboard. We celebrated another family tradition with a dive into the river and a float back home between tree-lined Kwilu river banks; such a rich heritage of following Jesus.
May God’s favor be upon you
And your family and your children
And their children, and their children.
May God’s presence go before you
And behind you, and beside you
All around you, and within you
He is with you, He is with us.
Thank you for being part of God’s Congo team with us!
Katherine and Wayne