Road Trip, Part 6

H4C.Kasai.Ndjoko.Punda
Kasai River

It’s after 2:00 a.m.
Stan and Brad are exhausted from their long jarring road trip. They have finally arrived at the Kasai River across from their desired destination, Ndjoko Punda. Dr. David and several young men are ready to take them across the river in their canoe. Only one problem….

The young men from the village were almost finished packing the canoe when the policeman came. His drinking buddies trailed behind. Together the men formed a line, blocking Stan and Brad’s way to the river.

In a drunken drawl, the policeman yelled a demand. “Let me see your papers!”

“You don’t need to see their papers. These men are the children of former missionaries. They’ve come to help our village. They’ve brought supplies for the hospital,” Dr. David said.

“Are you interfering with me?” The policeman bellowed his question. He waved the doctor aside.

Stan and Brad produced their papers.

The policeman staggered over to the fire. He squinted at the papers in the flickering light. Teetering unsteadily, he returned to them. “State your business here.”

“We’ve brought supplies for the hospital at Ndjoko Punda.” Stan’s voice was quiet and respectful. Brad nodded his agreement.

Dr. David spoke again, “Alright, you’ve seen their papers. Now let them pass. We need to get these men to the village.”

“You can’t go across the river tonight,” the officer said. “The river is rushing too wildly. It isn’t safe to cross at night.”

One of the church youth flung his arms outward. “It isn’t safe to stay here at night.”

“These men are my guests.” The doctor stepped between the policeman and the brothers. “We’ll get them safely across.”

Four of the policeman’s sidekicks surrounded David.

“He’s the policeman!” one of the sidekicks shouted.

Another man screeched in a high-pitched voice, “He’s in charge! You have to do what he says.”

“That’s right. You need his permission to do anything!” a third comrade hollered.

A fourth man rubbed his fingers together. “Yes. Permission. You need permission.”

Stan and Brad collapsed under a tree as the argument continued.

“They want money,” Brad said. “And lots of it.”

“Yep.” Wearily, Stan rested his elbows on his knees. “All the authority, but no pay. It’s no surprise they depend on bribes to feed their families. A drowning man will grab at anything that comes along,” he quoted the Congolese saying.

Brad fanned his face with his hat. “I think he’s taking his courage from the bottle and his buddies.” He leaned against the tree. “I’m beat. A whole day just to get to the river. Now this.”

The babble of voices increased to higher decibels as several of the youth joined in the shouting match. Tempers flared. Arms flailed in excited gestures. Enraged shrieks split the night air.

“This is going nowhere fast,” Brad said. “What are we going to do?”
***

What would you do if you were in this situation?

Join us next Thursday to see what Stan and Brad do.
©2015 Hope4Congo

Road Trip, Part 5

H4C.Kasai.Ndjoko.PundaToday we start part 5 of the journey Stan and Brad took to Ndjoko Punda along with their driver and his mechanic. They are all exhausted from the difficult journey.

About 2:00 a.m. they pulled up a quarter mile from the Kasai River. What little road or track they had followed previously now ended completely.

Stan and Brad grabbed their backpacks and walked the remaining distance to the river. The steamy night air pressed heavy on them. The whole jungle felt like a giant sauna. No escape from the oppressive heat and humidity.

Brad took his hat off and fanned his face. It was the only breeze in the stifling air.

A short distance down river a Congolese policeman and several of his friends gathered around a large fire. They passed a bottle. One of the men fell over. The rest of the circle burst into raucous laughter.

The Kasai River roared past at the bottom of the embankment. Swollen from the rainy season, the wide river was treacherous. A group of young men lounged beside a thirty-foot canoe pulled up on the muddy bank.

A tall thin youth ran toward Stan and Brad. “It’s them, Dr. David. They’re here,” he called over his shoulder in Tshiluba.

Tshiluba, the language of the brothers’ childhood—its rhythm and pitch resonated with their souls. Like a welcome breeze, it rushed over them and refreshed their weary spirits. They were nearly home.

Dr. David came forward. “My brothers! I was getting worried you wouldn’t make it through tonight.”

“It was a long hard drive. We’re bone-tired, but we’re here.” Stan stretched out his hand.

Dr. David grasped it and pulled Stan into a hug. “So good to have you come back to us. God has answered our prayers for your safety.”

“He’s also answered our prayers. We’ve brought all the medical supplies you asked for,” Stan said.

David hugged Brad, too. He grinned broadly at both of the men. “We are honored you have come back to us.”H4C.Kasai.Canoes

Fifteen Congolese young men surrounded them. Brilliant white teeth flashed a welcome from their dark faces.

The doctor gestured toward the youths. “I’ve brought good workers from our church to help. Come boys. Let’s get everything loaded into the canoe.”

The young men chattered as they returned with all the bundles. They were almost finished packing the canoe when the policeman came. His drinking buddies trailed behind. Together the policeman and his friends formed a line, blocking Stan and Brad’s way to the river.

In a drunken drawl, the policeman yelled a demand. “Let me see your papers!”

“You don’t need to see their papers. These men are the children of former missionaries. They’ve come to help our village. They’ve brought supplies for the hospital,” Dr. David said.

“Are you interfering with me?” The policeman bellowed his question. He waved the doctor aside.

What do you think will happen? Why does the policeman want to see their papers? We’d love to hear from you. Join us next Thursday for Part 6.

Quick call to prayer:   Just saw a prayer request from the Congo Leadership Network.

12004675_10153630140289473_3460302600411861859_nOne of their coaching team members, Albert Mulamba in Tshikapa, Congo was returning from a meeting of provincial church leaders on Sunday – where among other things he was sharing with them about the Congo Leadership Coaching Network – when a drunk man stepped in front of his motorbike. The man’s head cut a large and deep gash in Albert’s face (Albert was wearing a helmet, but not a face guard).

He received internal and external stitches and is now at home recovering. Apparently the drunk man, while undoubtedly bruised, was largely unhurt and stumbled off. Albert, on the other hand, was left bleeding profusely from the face and somehow got himself to a clinic where he could receive help. He now describes his whole body as racked with pain. Thanks for keeping him in your prayers.

Silver lining here: Fortunately his wife Aberty just returned to Tshikapa from Kinshasa where she was with the rest of their family and had planned to stay through Christmas. Now she’s returned just in time to take care of Albert.

You may remember our story about Albert titled, “A Lonely Ride.”

©2015 Hope4Congo