From Archdeacon Patrick
We have been in Kindu for one week. Staying with Archbishop Masimango and Mama Naomi we have been very well looked after. Their spacious home is in a compound just outside the centre of the city. We are very comfortable here, but there is no running water and only partial mains electricity.
The first four days was taken up with a youth convention held in the Borea Bible School, about 5 km away on the other side of the wide River Congo. The first day was a 3 1/2 hour open-air robed service under waving palm trees. It’s huge length was because of multiple youth choirs. I preached, with translation into Kiswahili.
The second day was a gathering of more modest length. This time both Tammy and Gus shared, which was a delight to hear! I preached again. The third day, Saturday, we brought our huge haul of generously donated football kits from a Calry parishioner and his club (over 8 teams’ worth). There was great excitement as these were distributed. Two intense football matches followed to general delight!
The final day of the convention was a closing service of Holy Communion that lasted a mere 3 hours. The Archbishop asked me to issue an appeal at the end of my sermon. It was the final installment of Acts 16 – Paul & Silas in Phillippi and the jailer’s conversion. 40-50 people came forward for re-commitment or first time commitment. It was very moving.
Unfortunately, neither Gus nor Tammy were able to come on the Sunday as they were both unwell. By Monday Gus was much improved, but Tammy less so. A doctor was quickly found from the local general hospital. He prescribed some medication and she responded very positively.
A few other events since have been a gathering of youth leaders, a visit to a Mothers’ Union basket making group and several runs around the town to cries of ‘Wasungu!’ (white people!).
The climate is hot and humid. People are friendly and keen to exchange a few words of conversation. And we have experienced some tremendous generosity.
Today we made our first parish visit. This was to the Elila Archdeaconry (about 30 km from Kindu). We were given a typically enthusiastic welcome before eating something in the Archdeacon’s home with other clergy and their wives. Visits to several schools was encouraging as I could see what improvements have recently been made, while recognising what more needs to happen. There are a whole variety of potential projects to support when we return. We will have to choose wisely!
The Archbishop has been an excellent host and has fascinating stories and insights into the context in Congo and the wider Anglican Communion.
Thank you so much for your prayerful support and interest.
By Gus and Tammy
It’s still hard to think we’re in the heart of Africa. Congo has welcomed us with open arms. We’ve been introduced to families, meals, culture, and to their very hot weather. We’ve seen and been through so much this past 10 days we don’t know where to even start.
The Congolese are so diverse, but wherever God’s people are, God’s love is so evident in their lives. Being among them is such a tremendous privilege. That goes from hearing what their current struggles are and praying with them to running and laughing with the town kids.
Something we won’t forget in a hurry would be just that; the kids; especially at the youth convention. On the third day, a football tournament was scheduled. Prior to this, unknown to the youth, we gave out a full team worth of football kits to each Archdeaconry. When the youth found out they were overjoyed. They tried on the kits, took pictures of each other, sang and danced in celebration. Also we repeatedly heard them chanting, “We love you wasungu (white people)”. While this was happening it was hard not to have an ear to ear grin on our faces. The football matches that followed did not disappoint either. They contained dance routines during the warm up, a full stand filled with fans chanting, kids running through the pitch every time something happened and a motorbike going through the pitch in the middle of the game. Very eventful to say the least.
We could keep going on and on with all the experiences we’ve had here. We’re thankful to God for all we’ve been through here and can’t wait to see where he guides us this next few days.
Gus and Tammy <3
This has been an eventful fortnight in Kindu. We leave tomorrow (Wednesday 2nd) for Goma and spend two nights there before starting the long journey home on Friday.
Some thoughts on our last few days: on Saturday we visited the University of Kindu. All of us were impressed. The general condition of the well maintained site, the size and layout of the buildings and the number of students all gave the very positive impression of progress. In the medical faculty the dean, who doubles as a Baptist pastor, invited us to pray for him and the University while standing as a group in his office.
The same day we visited a huge football stadium on the edge of town and a luxury hotel. Both looked neglected and seemed to characterise unfulfilled potential. This is reminiscent of the many half-built houses dotted all over the city with no sign of the work being completed.
On Sunday we attended Sainte Trinité church, very near the Archbishop’s home. It was an encouraging service of Holy Communion in a parish church, with a really mixed congregation, including a lot of children and youth. I preached on the lectionary gospel of the day from Matthew 13 including the Parable of the Yeast – small things can have a big influence over time.
After the 3 hour service people stayed to chat, and we were with matching garments by the Union des Mères (MU). One church member made an especially moving speech about how much our visit means to them.
Finally, yesterday we had a special visit to the Diocesan women’s centre. In 2015 when I last came we made a similar visit. It was very good to hear how the project has continued in a similar vein, helping disadvantaged women with training and a sewing machine so they can set-up their own small business. It is open to all women regardless of their background, guided by Christian principles and practice.
This seems like a youthful and energetic country. In places there is disappointment and sadness, but there are many positive signs of progress and of hope spreading through the community.