Thursday, February 4, 2010

Greetings from Bukavu!

So, here I am in Congo and I have much to say about my trip here… First of all, in case any of you have gotten the wrong impression, let me start off by saying I am not brave or strong or special in anyway. I am just an ordinary person with a list a mile long as to why I am the wrong person to be doing this, one of which being that I have for a long time struggled with what can sometimes be extreme anxiety in situations I’m not familiar with, with people I don’t know, etc. I’m telling you this because I want you to know that the peace that I have been feeling does not come naturally to me, it is God and God alone working in me that has allowed me to feel such peace leading up to this trip. That said, I’m going to be honest and tell you that once I was settled in on the bus Tuesday night I started freaking out. It was squishy, the lady beside me was taking up more than her share of the seat, no one on the bus was speaking either English or French and most were not even speaking Luganda, I was about to go 20 hours away to a place I had never been, surrounded by people I had never met, etc. I was ready to cry (which on a bus full of Africans would not have gone well) so I decided to start reciting the scriptures that God has given me over these past two weeks that I had memorized for such an occasion… By the time the bus was moving God’s peace had returned to my heart and has been there ever since.

Like I said, the bus was pretty squishy but the seats themselves were nice and although I wouldn’t say I slept well, I managed to get comfortable enough to drift in and out of sleep all night which made the time pass quickly. The daytime hours were actually great and, believe it or not, the 20 hour bus ride did not feel long at all. I realized that it’s about the same amount of time it took me to get from Montreal to Uganda and I would take driving along the road watching African life and beauty go by over flying any day.

I debated whether I should share this next part or not but how can I not tell of how good and faithful God has been to me??? We arrived at the Congolese border and everyone got off the bus to go and have their passports stamped. They hassled me a little, which took some time, but it actually went better than I expected. I walked out of the immigration office however just in time to see the bus full of people heading off down the road. My first thought was, “you’ve got to be kidding me…” and I headed off on foot figuring they would be letting people off just around the corner as they had done in Rwanda. When I made it around the corner however the bus (with my bags on it) was not there. Generally I’m leery about talking to African men but I needed to ask someone so I looked around trying to decide who seemed to be the most trustworthy. There was a guy walking towards me who, instead of arrogance or the look of, “Oh, a muzungu I can make some money off of…” that I’m used to seeing he looked genuinely concerned so I asked him (I started in French but he replied in English)…

“The Ideal Express bus, do you know it?”
“Do you know where the Ideal Express bus goes?”
“Just up that hill.”
“Is it far?”
“So I can walk?”
“No, you should take a taxi.”

That would have been a fine idea except that at that point I had no Congolese money and no way to pay for a taxi. So, I decided to call Dechi, the guy who was picking me up at the bus stop, and ask him to come get me at the border instead and then we could go for my bags. The problem was, I had a Ugandan SIM card in my phone and while people could still reach me, I could not call anyone with that SIM card. At that point I was still totally at peace, not afraid or nervous at all and I just kind of laughed to myself and prayed, “Ok God, You got me this far… now what?”

The guy I had been talking to early said to me, “So, did you call?”
“Yes, but I couldn’t reach him.”
“You should take a taxi.”
“I know but I have no Congolese money to pay for a taxi.”

The guy told me he was a security agent and took out his ID to show me as proof… “Let me get a taxi and I’ll go with you to where the bus parks. Don’t worry about the money, I’ll pay for it.”

I shot up a quick prayer and the overwhelming peace in my heart was my answer. He got a taxi and off we went to the bus office. It ended up being about ten minutes away and the whole time I just shook my head rather disgusted that the bus would just leave without me (I was the only muzungu on the bus and I was sitting right in the front, there’s no way they didn’t notice I wasn’t on board!) while at the same time shaking my head in awe at this guy’s kindness to help me out. We got to the bus office and the guy paid the taxi and I told him if he waited for my lift to get there I would get the money from Dechi and pay him back. So he waited meanwhile I went inside to get my bags and when Dechi arrived he came in and met me. When we went back outside Dechi greeted the guy and said to me, “Is this the guy that helped you?” It turns out the guy works for Dechi! They laughed and Dechi paid him back and I just stood there blown away. When Dechi dropped me off at the guesthouse all I could do was pace back and forth praising God for what He had done. Out of all the people that could have been standing on that street corner, God sent me an English-speaking security agent who works for the guy I was coming to meet! One of the verses God gave me last week was Psalm 91:11 – “For he orders his angels to protect you wherever you go.” Well, today, whether literally or figuratively I don’t know, I met one of those angels. How can there be any doubt that I am exactly where God wants me and that He is with me every step of the way?

Today Dechi has been showing me around Bukavu and tomorrow we will leave for the village where the orphanage is, about one hour from here. With all the ways I have been seeing God’s hand at work the excitement has just been growing inside of me to see all that God has in store. I don’t know what the internet situation will be like in the village but I will try to post again soon.


Jenny said...

Yeah! God is good! Glad you are there safe! I am waiting to hear more stories of God's goodness!

Jenny said...

Has anyone heard from Andrea?????? If you have leave a comment here so we know how she is.......