Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mental snapshots of our first week back in Kananga….

We are back in Kananga! Last week was a flurry of settling back into our apartment, reconnecting with friends and colleagues, and trying to get figure out where to pick up with projects and work that had to be put on hold when we left. We are waking up with the roosters, taking bucket baths, and making bidia again. As we transition back to this very different world, there are a couple of stories that stood out to me from our first week:

I went across the street one day to buy a bar of dish soap. Tatu Martin has a little stand on the street very close to our house, and I could see that he had some soap. However, Tatu Marten was nowhere to be seen, and there was no one to take money in his stead. A girl of about fourteen walked by, perceived my question, and wondered aloud “Where is Tatu Martin? What are you trying to buy?” She told me the soap was 100 francs (about 10 cents). I got out the money, but was still not sure who to give it to. She took the money, tucked it under some of Tatu Martin’s merchandise on his stand and went on her way. I returned home, and as I entered the gate I saw Tatu Martin returning to his stand. I was struck by this small example of trust and honesty in the midst of this environment where so many Congolese are struggling right now just to have food to eat.

We arrived in Kananga about 10 days ago. We had told very few people the date we would arrive, but word travels quickly. We have been blessed by all the people who have come by to say hi and rejoice with us that we have returned. Every single person who has come to see has, first thing, wanted to pray with us to thank God for answering their prayers for our healing and return to Congo. What an inspiration…that our friends in Congo consistently put thanking God for his help as a top priority.

We had lunch at a local neighborhood restaurant, “Mamu Annie’s”. Mamu Annie has become a friend, and we love her exuberance whenever we stop by to eat or just to greet her. This week we ate our lunch at a table near a few young, well-dressed Congolese professionals. An older woman came in with a pot on her head, and offered the contents to them. One young woman bought a bowl of the mixture, and gracefully put a spoonful in her mouth, just as if it was ice cream. The older woman offered the pot to us, and we were impressed to see that tomatoes and onions had been mixed in with the termites this time! We declined, and the people at the next table encouraged us to try it, thinking perhaps we did not understand what it was. “Oh, we know. We have eaten termites…just not today,”  we replied. When I saw that woman savoring her spoonful of termites, I was struck by the difference in food cultures. Somehow, my mouth does not quite react that way to those prickly, crunchy bugs!

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