From the Bush to the Bush, Part 3
by Matthew Harder
I sat on an ice chest in the cockpit of an old Russian Antonov airplane because the rest of the plane had been overbooked with people and cargo. It was literally standing room only.
Right before take off people pounded on the cockpit door and shouted, “The door is open.”
I tapped the co-pilot on the shoulder to alert him. He stopped the airplane and closed the door. Somehow we managed to arrive safely.
The usual difficulties of travel in Congo confronted me. I spent a day obtaining obscure permits and licenses to travel from Tshikapa to Nyanga (these additional regulations were mostly due to the diamond mines).
The next leg of my trip was overland on a motorcycle. Two flat tires necessitated the use of locally produced glue to patch the tubes. We crossed a river using carved out tree logs.
A blown out piston required my driver and I to walk through the bush in the dark looking for another mode of transport. We ran into an angry policeman who accused me of being a mercenary. My driver venomously insulted the policeman’s tribe to the extent he was nearly thrown in jail.
I found someone with a motorcycle and bargained with him to take me to Nyanga. The policeman saw me negotiating around a campfire at 10:00 p.m. and became irate once again.
Finally, I arrived at Nyanga at 11:00 p.m. I had never notified anyone I was coming. I found a house with a light on. Men who had worked with my dad on the SEDA farm sat outside. Their surprise at my arrival quickly changed to the warmest welcome I have ever experienced.
During my visit to Nyanga stories relegated to the distant past—long forgotten experiences that seemed to balance in the realm of myth now were validated reality. Our house, the farm, the village, and the people opened a floodgate of memories. It was all true. I was even able to understand and speak Kipende again.
When my visit was over I was able to put away the rich memories of this experience into a secure vault. We returned to Tshikapa by a different route to avoid the insulted policeman.
For a while my desire to return and/or to travel had been more from nostalgia or running away. I was restless and unsure what I wanted out of life. However, the Lord used those positive experiences I had growing up in Congo—the exposure and the adventures—to greatly influence me. I had seen a world that lived with far less.
The Drive that Pushed Me to Go Overseas was Two-fold:
1. A Christ-influenced desire to make a difference and help those less fortunate
2. To Pursue a life where I could choose my own adventure
During my first year on the job back in the bush, the bush of war-torn South Sudan, the restlessness molded into a sense of belonging to an international life, one that chased challenging professional growth while making the world a better place.
I have just spent the past four years working in South Sudan (most of the time being spent in country) and am now transitioning, once again, to a new job, this time in Saudi Arabia.
Often times the path to get to where you want to go is not straight, but instead ventures through years of preparation and self-discovery.
Well said, Matt.
Thank you for putting your experiences and emotions into words. God obviously had a purpose for all that restlessness. Indeed, He has a purpose for restlessness in each of us.
You have made us for Yourself (God) and our hearts are restless until they can find rest in You.
~St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.)
Congo in the News
The U.S. State Department has ordered family members of government personnel to leave the Democratic Republic of Congo because of continued instability. In recent weeks tehre have been violent street protests against the postponement of presidential elections. At least 50 people have been killed in clashes between demonstrators and the security forces in the capital, Kinshasa. The east of hte country remains lawless, with the government unable to exert much authority outside urban areas.
*Please continue to pray for the political situation in Congo.
When the state deparment order was posted a former missionary noted, “Wow, 25 years almost exactly to the day from when many of us left before, with great hopes certainly that things would be better by now, surely.
*Pray for the safety and ministry of Charles Buller and his partners
© 2016 Hope4Congo