DR Congo: A Memorable Visit
This is the second installment of General Councillor, Philip Adede’s, Visit to DR Congo
Launch into the deep. Stan Bondoko MHM was keen that I get time to visit his quasi-parish community in Ndeke to have a taste of the mission he is engaged in. We got our motorbikes ready for the journey very early. As usual one of the tyres was down so we needed to pass by the garage for some mending works. It had rained during the night and the clouds were cast low, so we were ready for further rains during the journey. The journey took two and a half hours through the muddy forest roads. The road was busy with people going to their farms.
Some distance away from the parish centre we were welcomed by a group of very cheery people. They even laid a carpet for us! The quasi parish is in a palm plantation scheme owned by CCP Ndeke and nearly all people work for them for a very meagre salary. I was informed the average monthly salary is about $50. Of course, the company makes huge profits from the sweat of the local people.
We were treated to lively music, dance and a very sumptuous meal at Stan’s place. Our members working here are so glad to be part of the life of the people and try to live as simple as possible to give a witness. I was reminded that mission calls us to be where people are to journey with them in faith and a joyful and life-giving presence of God.
As we got ready to head back, again one of the motorbikes needed some urgent repairs. It took us an hour to get it sorted out and ready to begin a journey back to Mill Hill house, Basankusu. We could not be lucky twice, so we had some showers on the way back. After all, rain is always a blessing! We took shelter in one of the houses by the roadside and we were much welcomed and made to feel at home. We were glad to be back before dark and glad after a very successful day.
Saying goodbyes. It was time to say goodbyes to our members in Basankusu and begin the journey back to Kinshasa. We had a lovely mass at the chapel and by nine, the boat was ready for a 6-hour journey down the river. Having grown up along the shores of Lake Victoria and fond of water and swimming, it was a pleasant journey. The view of the river and forests are just a spectacle. This is a blessed county with beautiful nature and natural resources. Going down the river, gave me a further glimpse into the lives of the people; houses along the riverside, and canoes or just joined pieces of wood for transport.
We managed to get a flight from Mbandaka to Kinshasa. Despite being at the airport in the morning, the flight was only after three O’clock. We are glad to be back in Kinshasa. We journey about 80 km away from Kinshasa city to visit St. Francis Mose, our newest Mill Hill parish in DRC. The night drive over the road proved more dangerous than the boat ride on the river Congo.
Mose parish was opened in 2019. This opened a new chapter of our presence in Kinshasa. It was necessary for creating a base and presence before we can start a formation program in Kinshasa. I was moved by their simplicity of life in choosing to live within the community and in one of the houses of the Christians within the area. There are activities targeting young people. One notable is the training centre for teenage pregnant mothers. At the centre, they learn new skills that enable them to start their income-generating activities while at the same time building their confidence and self-esteem. Due to the long distances, young people have to travel to reach schools, the parish currently has two hostels to enable the children from far areas to live nearby as they attend classes in the parish secondary school.
Sunday celebration at the main church was just electric, full of life and celebrations. After a relatively short mass of 2 hours, we set off on a journey to the further outstations for mass. The journey took considerable time, but we arrived at 11 o’clock for mass in a makeshift church. The community was overjoyed, and we all had a wonderful celebration led by Jean Louis Lekandome MHM, one of our recently ordained Mill Hill priests from DRC. While on the way to the outstation, there was a concern that if it were to rain, we would struggle to get out of the place. Thank God there was no rain, but as fate would have it, I had a chance to experience what is a common experience for our missionaries in these kinds of areas. The car broke down and we had to walk part of the journey back home before finding motorbikes. We were lucky to be back before dark, however, the priest in charge had to travel back with a mechanic to try to repair the car.
As I return to Kenya, I am filled with joy and admiration for witnessing our small number of members give in Congo. It is a true witness of love and service. Despite the challenges, they are full of joy and enthusiasm. They give it all without counting the costs. By the way, I nearly missed my flight today, not because of bad roads or lack of transport but simply because I overslept! God’s sense of humour.
Philip Adede MHM