Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Excursion to Kinshasa market

Today Kristi and I took a break from the lunch-time meal at MPH (Methodist Presbyterian Hostel) where we are staying.  We walked down a long hill and around the bend and up another small hill to the closest market.  We enjoy the sights and sounds of a large, bustling African city.  We first haggled with a ten year old vendor of kleenex; we eventually agreed on 500 francs (roughly 50 cents) for two kleenex pouches.  He made out with his original selling price!  (good for him to stand his ground).  We were looking to buy “pain” (bread).  A nice Congolese man saw that we were looking for something and led us to the nearest bread/grocery store.  The bagger at the store introduced himself as “Mr. Sony,” and we were able to greet him in Lingala, “Mbote” (hello).  We were also able to say “Zambe aza malamu” (God is good). 

After buying our bread and some juice, we stopped to buy an avacado from some women on the street.  Again we haggled, amidst great laughter and fun.  They out-negotiated us, and we walked away with a ripe, delicious avacado that was still a fraction of what we would pay in the U.S.  On our way home we stopped at a small air-conditioned restaurant and each ordered a coke.  As we threw back our first swig, two Congolese men with guitars entered the restaurant and began serenading us in French.  Lovely!  I (Bob) felt like this was a grand welcoming party, blessing us in our new country.  One of the guitarists even looked like Paul Kagame (the President of Rwanda) with a cowboy hat.  We paid for our cokes, gave a tip to our entertainers, and walked up the big hill to get back to MPH.  We made a futile attempt to find some hard boiled “amagi” (eggs, same word in Lingala as Kinyarwanda) before entering MPH and making our spread for a wonderful lunch. 

Oh yeah…one more thing.  I (Bob) went out to buy some peanut butter from a street side vendor who is positioned just outside our compound.  In my belabored French, I asked for peanut butter for our bread.  Celine, the vendor, pointed at the tub of peanut butter to confirm my desired purchase.  I responded, “yego (Kinyarwanda), “si” (spanish), “yes”….and finally, “Oui!”  I finally got it right after responding in three languages!  Celine laughed and gave us the peanut butter for free.  :) 

A fellow missionary staying at MPH made the off-hand remark this morning at breakfast about the “work ethic” of the Congolese.  He seemed to insinuate they don’t have one.  Our excursion today confirmed the opposite.  These people work very hard, and do the best they can to make it through each day.  They are an inspiration.  Cheers to bread, avocado, and peanut butter for lunch!  Hmmn...hmmn.   



Journey to Kinshasa

We made it! Last Friday, we finished our frantic packing and sorting, and left my parents to pick up the pieces from the ‘storm’. It is so much easier to throw or give things away when you know it will not be nearly as important 3 years from now.

Kristi in airport with ice cream  We drove up to Chicago, and only had to do some minor rearranging to make the 50 lb weight limit on our 4 bags.  We went to the gate to settle in, and then realized how strange it was to finally have TIME on our hands! We could read a magazine, or a book, or look at pictures…for fun! We enjoyed a McDonalds ice cream cone as a last American treat. :)

 Bob in airport cropped


Our flight to Brussels arrived about 1 1/2 hours later than scheduled, so they announced when we landed “If you are going to Kinshasa, HURRY to gate T72, or you will be stuck here for a few days!”. It was our first time in the Brussels airport, and it was a long hike between gates, but fortunately our connecting flight was delayed also, and we made it with plenty of time. On the flight from Brussels to Kinshasa, we made a brief stop in Duala, Camaroon. We noticed that the mood in the airplane seemed to be a little more ‘relaxed’ when we departed Duala, since there were passengers still standing when we were taxiing on the runway.


We were very grateful that we had been forewarned by some friends that the Kinshasa airport is ‘bedlam’. We reminded ourselves to be patient and calm, and to make sure that we got the right stamps in our passports. A security person at the airport had a sign with our names on it, and led us to the person who was picking us up (for a tip, of course!). I stood by the side with our bags while Bob dove into the fray and retrieved the pieces coming off the belt. There seemed to be a lot of young men around the luggage belt, who we did not recognize from the plane. We learned later that they were probably ‘baggagiers’ (people hired to retrieve or carry luggage) or protocol agents. Bob encountered a little animosity when we was retrieving one bag…perhaps because we had not hired someone to do it for us!

Our protocol person was helpful, even dragging some of the heaviest bags out to the car. Our first view of Kinshasa was at about 9pm on Saturday night. The city was still busy with activity, as you can imagine! The vehicle did not seem to us to have any front headlights, but the driver seemed to have found some good adaptations. Yellow and Blue bus-taxis were everywhere—usually with a back door propped open with someone standing in the door recruiting more passengers. We made it to MPH (Methodist Presbyterian Hostel)—our home for the next couple of weeks until we go to Kananga. Whew! We made it! (at least into Congo!)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bob's Ordination Service

I (Bob) was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA) on Sunday, February 7th, 2010. It was an incredible day! In the words of two pastor mentor/friends, it was “God’s Divine YES” for me and my ministry. It was wonderful, feeling the warmth and support from so many friends and family members. Thank you! Below are some pictures chronicling the ordination day. Enjoy! Feel free to leave a comment at the end.

It was a beautiful winter day in California

Menlo Park Presbyterian Church (my home church!)

Stained glass in sanctuary

The Administrative Commission of pastors and elders who led us in worship, from left to right (Elder Linda Lee, Rev. Doug Nason, Rev. Karl Shadley, Rev. Debbie Whaley, Elder William Coker, Rev. Rick Langeloh, Rev. Mark Swarner)

The Call to Worship, Menlo Bell Choir

Kristi leads us in prayer from the Kasai (Congo)

Rev. Doug Nason preaches from Isaiah 61 and Luke 4

Elder Linda Lee asks me the constitutional questions

Presentation of symbols and gifts for ministry (robe, stole, annointing oil, Bible) by Rev. Debbie Whaley

Rev. Mark Swarner and my nephew Dylan, with my sister Tiffany, present the stole for service, a gift from Menlo Park Presbyterian Church

Laying on of hands and prayer

Rev. Rick Langeloh gives the charge from John 5

Congregational responsive hymn, "Here I am Lord"

Brief statement and Benediction


Amazing cake!

Food and flowers

Africa table (headed for Congo!!)

Bob and Kristi with Mom and Dad Rice

Chuck and Joan Brown, Sam Bertolet, Jim and Sherri Bertolet (Kristi's family)

Bob with close friends, Todd Olson and Peter Galbraith

Brother Steve with Todd

with Chris Page, missionary friend from our time in Rwanda

"Come to Me, all who are weary and I will give you rest..."