Thursday morning, 6:10am. The neighboring market begins its mornin’ rumblings, soon erupting into full life. A cacaphony of sounds, mostly women jabbering and chatting - buying and selling charcoal. Outdoor stalls omnipresent: dried fish, cassava leaves, cassava roots, onions, potatoes, palm oil for cooking, and one-of-kind vegetables and sundries found here in central Congo. Directly in front of the church, on the main road, towards of the edge of town, stand and sit men and women in a sea of yellow jerry cans, emanating the distinctively potent and effusive odor of “malavu a kapia” - “drink of fire” (whiskey!). Ironically, the #1 distribution point for whiskey in a city of 1 million people stands on the doorsteps of the church.
6:45am. A dozen women and men and a handful of children gather inside the still-dark church. A lantern sheds light upon the frayed pages of the holy book. The elder reads words from a man named Paul to the humble gathering of simple, God-fearing Congolese women and men, and a handful of children. An old woman stands to pray and the fellowship closes singing an old hymn. They sing the colorful chorus “munya muimpe, munya muimpe, wakunsankisha bulelela”- “good sunshine, good sunshine, you have blessed me, it is true.” The title of this hymn is, “There is sunshine in my soul today.” This sing-songy hymn describes Jesus as “the chief of heaven” and as “the sunshine in my soul.” The humble gathering closes with smiles, hugs and handshakes, stepping out into the sunshine of a new day.
7:30am. Black charcoal begins to grey upon the babula stove. Directly behind the pastor’s home, adjacent to the church, we sit in a semi-half circle around the babula to get a little warmth. Mama Bampende thrusts the the large silver colored pot of water onto the babula. Mulami (Deacon) Michel Miteba takes the bright yellow Nido can and skirts it on the edge of the babula, edging out just enough space to warm the thick, black, Kasai coffee. The children sit across from us: playful, innocent, curious. Kristi helps wash dishes and I sing hymns with Mulami Muamba.
7:45am. The thick black Kasai coffee finds its way down my anxious throat. Warmness blankets my belly. Sweetness remains in my mouth. The thick, cool air of the morning begins to abscond. Rays of sunlight begin their beaming. The cacophony of the neighboring market continues. Men and women with the bright yellow jerry cans continue plying their wares. Our semi-half circle behind the pastor’s home adjacent to the church remains unbroken. Mulami Muamba and I continue our singing. The good sunshine of Jesus fills my soul. Contentment and peace are mine. There is sunshine in my soul today.