Please click on any image to open it, then in the new window, right click on the image and select ‘Save Image As’ from the menu.

Well our journey here is finally on it’s last day. We stayed a comfortable night in Bangui and will be headed to the airport in a few hours. Its really strange yet familiar to come back to the city we first got our first taste of what Africa is like. Familiar in the sense that the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes we first experienced here will forever be etched in our memory as the place that started the long journey. Strange in the way that the city seems so different to what we experienced the other %90 of our journey. The poverty of the rural Congolese jungle – the mud huts, chickens and goats everywhere – we met so many lights of hope in that darkness we hopefully will never forget.

We cannot wait to see ALL our friends and family back home and to share a taste of what our experiences where here. Not all were great – on the way back we spent an hour stuck in a giant mud puddle in the poring rain. But the good ones – like the inspiring Godly people we met – will always stay with us.

So as we say good bye to the people who took care of us, the people who rode with us, and to the people we will leave behind we feel blessed to have been able to come to this place and know we are seeing brothers and sisters in Christ.

See you soon!

As our time here in Gemena comes to a close, we look back at everything that has happened here and are overwhelmed by it all. Luckily we have the pictures of our time here to remind us of the grand scenery and activities we participated in. Yet, the atmosphere will never truly be recreated once we leave, but we will stubbornly cling to our impressions and memories that have been created in our minds and our hearts.

We have met more children than we can count or possibly remember, each one we find as precious and invaluable. We do our best to interact with them and play games just to see the beautiful smiles upon their faces. Joy shines brightly from behind their eyes as they engage in games of soccer, basketball, or something as simple as playing with balloons.

We also have to tell you all about a man we met who has probably the biggest task in all of Africa. His name is Deolo and he is head of the HIV/AIDS ministry in the Congo. He is very passionate about fighting the desease because eight members of his family have died from AIDS. Now he fights everyday to curb its’ effects by encouraging, educating, and empowering the Congolese people. He has a heart the size of Africa and that’s exactly what we need doing this work here. We also are excited for you all to meet because we got a chance to sit him down for an interview.

We are finishing up our last day here in Gemena and are hitting the (bumpy) road for Tandala tomorrow. We are very excited to see what the hospital is lik as this is the spot were we will be installing the solar powered pump purchased for the hospital. It will be a great place to end our time in the Congo!

Our nets that keep out the mosquitos, bats, guano, spiders, millipedes, ants, termites, elephants..ok, not the last one.Some local flora, we didnt look up what it is.We were met with very different approaches to the idea of us taking their picturesPastors conferenc-1500 people

Wow! It has been some crazy days here for us at the CECU center here in Gemena.We have recovered from our exhausting journey and been focusing more on the task at hand.

We have attended the pastors conference that is currently going on here as well as visiting Elikya, the project to help older orphans and widows to learn a means to provide for themselves. What is so exciting about all of this is that it so new, the first buildings here only went up last year and they were build for the director, and one for the training. While we are here they are finishing up a storage building or depot, they have two shipping containers to use, are working on the foundations for a new school, are renovating two old houses to be used as dorms and also planting a huge garden to support themselves and to raise an income. As we have been there, the director, Mowa’s, wife has made some pretty tastey  food for us, including Pundue–a spinach, goat meat, rice, and plantanies–a large banana.

We sometimes get a ride to these places, but more often end up walking the mile or so routes through the town, where all eyes are on the strange white people with cameras walking down the road. Here, the larger vehicle has the right of way, so if you hear a horn or a vehicle coming, you have to jump out of they way or risk getting hit.

The stories we have heard here so far are exciting, hopeful, painful, and heartbreaking. There is so much suffering here, yet in the midst of it, there is a lot of hope and a lot of great things being done to overcome it. We have committed to sponsoring an orphan and will hopefully get the chance to meet him or her before we leave. We have seen the impact that the $25 a month donation can do and what it means to the child, their family and community. This provides for medical expenses, food and nutrition, school, a uniform, shoes, and a book bag and it is incredible to see how this revolutionizes life one child at a time. A nearby termite mound, these are scattered all over the landscape.

The most common way to transport goods

There may not be as many days longer than the first day we crossed the boarder into Congo yesterday. This was the day to traverse across the center of Africa by land and by water from Bangui in the Central African Republic south 125 miles to Gemena, Democratic Republic of Congo would take 16 hours. It started with an early morning in Bangui, had what is starting to become the morning ritual 3 pots of coffee, then piling cautiously yet happily into two dugout canoes skimming along the Ubangui River that runs as the boarder between the two countries and officially started our journey across the Congo. All of the 10 of our team with our hand luggage (the larger luggage pieces went in earlier canoes) made the trip across the open water to the other side to meet our trucks for the next (and many times more challenging) land portion of the trip. We landed on the beach and walked up to the Congolese immigration ’shack’ and checked in our passports. We had our first meal of goat and rice and we hit the road. The older gentlemen and ladies grouped into the Land Cruiser – Nate and Mike jumped gleefully (and willingly) into the 5 ton 10 wheeled massively huge Tonka truck with all the luggage, and around 8 other Congolese men and two women who were coming to a pastor’s conference in Gemena with us. It was really great to join these men and women on this journey and to really felt like we were holding our own ….for the first 5 hours ….but the next five hours, is a different story. If you have ever wondered what holding onto a steel re-bar for 10 hours feels like, try rubbing your hands with sand paper while trying not to be flung 15 feet to the ground off of a 5 ton bull. What a welcome to Africa! ha. After 5 hours we stopped in a village called Bao for some food and rest- just long enough for our hands to stop burning and our heads to stop bouncing. The food was a good mix of meats, fruits and veges (2nd meal of goat, bananas, rice and spinach) and we were off on the bumpy road again – but first we added a few more people to the back to join us – just to make it comfy. Then nightfall came and there was nothing to look at other than what could be seen from our single headlight. No one really talked – in English or Lingala – and we were alone to our thoughts. I wondered what they were thinking about – if they were having the same thoughts we were having (good Lord, when will we get there??) …or if they have done this trip so many times that it’s second nature for them. The problem was we couldn’t talk with the language barrier and even if we could the engine of the giant truck would have drowned it out. So we guess it was a good time for all of us to ponder about the past, think about the present and wonder about the future – whatever nationality we where. We finally rolled into the compound around 12:30a.m. from a journey that began at 8:30 that morning – if this is how this trip will begin, we’re excited to see whats next!

We just want to say thinks for all your inspiration and blessings in the encouragement letters. We have been reading them and find each one a reminder of why we are going to the Congo. We will continue to open them everyday to not forget our purpose!

We are staying in a hotel by the airport again tonight because our 11:30 p.m. overnight flight to Bangui was delayed until 8 a.m. tomorrow morning. It has been a blessing in disguise because we will get one last night of sleep in a hotel rather than in an airplane before we get to Africa.

It’s a beautiful city with so much to see but we cant wait for the Congo!

Thank you for your continued support and prayers!

Below are a few photos from the first few days.

dave

nate

mike

tower

notre_dame

triumph

la_defence

7a.m. Sunday morning we arrived in Paris dreary eyed and dazed from the long day of traveling but very happy to have made it safely and all of our luggage arriving in one piece. We soon were met by our friends Fatmat and Mudu who gave Dave a ride to the hotel to meet up with his daughter Amy and Nate and I to their house where we will be staying during our time here. It was Mudu’s birthday and he was planning to have 30 people over to celebrate, and so we were invited to the part too! Fatmat, Mudu and many of thier friends are originally from the Comoros Islands near  Madagascar, Africa. It was great talking to them and learning about Paris and Comoros!

For our remaining time here in Paris we tried to see many of the famous landmarks of the city: Notre Dame, the Eiffle Tower, the Louve, and the Arch de Triumph to many a few. It was an overwhelming experience as well as triring, but we are now packing qnd getting ready for our flight to Congo. There, we will try and put up some pictures.