Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Thank You!

Thank You!

I am always amazed when I get a Christmas letter in February or March: this is not a Christmas Letter. It is a simple thank you letter in which I hope to express my deepest gratitude to those who have helped support our mission to The Congo through prayer and finances. See:

A little history, in 2011 two Pastors and an Attorney, met in a pizza parlor and we formed what came to be known as Compassion For Congo.  All we had was a vision and willingness to sacrifice. Shortly thereafter I was appointed Vice President and knew that I had to make a trip to Africa to see the seeds of our Mission. I went to Africa for three weeks to teach Pastors and to strengthen the local church.  I was not disappointed.

In 2013 I spent seven weeks in The Congo during this time my computer died and so I gave up on blogging.  Later the computer was lost/stolen in the airport in Ethiopia.  I am back to my Blog saying:

Thank You From 

  • Two of our Pastors (Mickey and Peter) who are in seminary because of your generosity. They repeatedly expressed their gratitude and wanted me to say "Thank you."  And they were thrilled to get bicycles.  Bikes are small trucks in The Congo.

    • Approximately 300 people living in the bush who received medical care from our medical doctor. They also received vision care from five ophthalmologists who traveled with us.   Twenty seven people from the bush were transported to Lubumbashi to receive free cataract surgery.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             The man standing is Dr. Alain MD and the man in the red shirt was our chief ophthalmologist. Yes, the little girl seated to the left of her mom was blinded by cataracts.  Numerous people received glasses and/or medicine.  
Our mission was deeded four acres of ground on which we hope to dig a well, build housing for our Congolese missionaries, establish a church and an orphanage.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Maybe we can even send Dr. Alain and his bride to be into the bush to provide medical care for the approximately 26,000 people living in this war torn area.  The violence of war has swept through the area three times since 2011. The last time was about seven or eight months ago.  Most of the men were killed.  The women of the village first told us that there were over 600 orphans there and have now revised the estimate to over 1500. Ten of whom are now living in our orphanage in the Lubumbashi area.  For this I want to express my gratitude.

We now have three churches in the Lubumbashi area and the fourth will be in the bush approximately 400 kilometers north of Lubumbashi.  For this we are grateful.

We Are Still Dealing With:

  1. Hunger and mal-nutrition 
  2. Bad water 
  3. An over crowded Orphanage
  4. The need for a  new car to get Pastor Didier and a work crew into the bush
  5. The building of a new structure for church number three
  6. The ability to get orphans out of the country.

May I Say "Thank You" again. 

I can not get this software to format correctly.  I am sure the mistakes are mine. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


September 10th 2013


It is time for me to continue my online diary.  If I go for more than two days things are already beginning to get foggy in my memory as my whole sensory organisms are constantly being over whelmed.  I remember on my study tour of Israel visiting site after site and then becoming so tired that all I wanted to do was just stay on the bus and rest.  I just could not absorb another Biblical site.  Someone with the group had completed a historical tour of Europe and he called it the, “castle complex.”  You had seen so many castles that you did not want to see another one at least on that date.  Every day is so different; there is nothing familiar and my senses can only take so much and then I just want to withdraw.

What happened on Monday?

If you have been following my blog then you know that when I arrived Didier’s car was in such bad shape that he had to have a friend bring him to the airport.  He managed to get the car going and to keep it going, but I was never sure that when we left that we would make it home.   Monday was the day dedicated to having the car worked on. 

Didier and Annie dropped me off at the most expensive hotel in Lubumbashi, probably at about 10:00 am.  He was going to take the car to the shop and Annie would do some shopping for food. He told me that he might be as late as 1:30 before he would be back to get me.  That was fine with me as I would be very comfortable in the lobby of The Grand Karvia (sp).  I had previously purchased a block of internet time and still had plenty of unused time so I would access the internet and drink a cup of coffee and just wait.  I had some Cliff Bars so I was not worried about food. 

Before long my computer battery was depleted.  Remember the rest of world operates on 240 volts and my tablet on 120 volts so I could not just plug it in and recharge it as I needed a step down converter which would take the 240 and convert it to 120.  Fortunately I had a theological book written by one of my favorite authors to pore over, but even that can go for only so long. 

I found myself continually checking my watch and looking out the door after 2:00 pm.  I had finished my lone bottle of water and needed another.  Yes, I finally gave in and bought a three dollar bottle of water. I ordered the bottle from a coffee bar assuming that it would be in the frig behind the bar.  The man had to go downstairs to get the water.  As he was departing I gave him a five dollar bill.  In his absence I realized that there were lots of people standing around in the hotel lobby doing nothing.  He was one of those who seemed to serve little earthly purpose, but was patiently there in case of being needed. It struck me he was dressed in his shiny black official looking clothing hoping to do something which would bring him a tip.  The price of my bottle of water went from three dollars to five. 

It Was About Five PM


Two men approached me and inquired if I knew Pastor Didier.  They explained in their best broken English that they had been sent to take me home.  This did not make me comfortable, as a child I had read the book, Arabian Nights, in this book the way I remembered it someone was always being kidnapped.  I did not hear an audible voice, but had a sense of being directed to “go with them asking no questions.”  As we departed the parking lot the first thing they did was turn the wrong direction.  I knew the way back to the mission and they were heading the opposite way.  They drove about one block and purchased some fuel and then we headed home. What a relief.  They delivered me to the door and to express my gratitude, I gave them a pound of beef jerky.  I can remember few times when I was happier to arrive at my stated destination. That is enough for one evening.  I hope to write more in the AM.  And get this in the mail tomorrow.  By the way I preach tomorrow, Thursday and again on Sunday. Oh and yes, Didier got home some time after 8:00 pm.

Wednesday Morning


I was up about 5:45, breakfast was a banana, slice of bread with peanut butter.  Before six am the community is busy, water is being moved to Didier’s house.  Women are at the well drawing water as they do 365 days a year.  Clothing is being washed.  At about 6:45 hot water is delivered to me from Didier’s house by one of his daughters so I can make my coffee.  Via—Starbucks instant coffee—is my mainstay.  With brown sugar and then some milk from the local store; milk which does not spoil, should anyone consume anything which will not spoil?  Well it certainly does taste good and it brightens my morning.  I love sitting in the breezeway of the guest house and watch morning arrive while sipping my cup of coffee.

I go out with my Bible to read and to meditate and am driven back in by the cold.  I sit at the table with a light on and then the sun begins to shine through the dusty air and it is warm.  I can move back outside and smell the dust and the burning of trash.  To say that there is air pollution is a mild understatement.  Dusty air is a way of life here.  Reminds me of the dust bowls in the history of the Midwest where the sun was not seen clearly for days.

I put out my plastic container—about three gallons-- of water on the cement where solar heat will provide me with my shower water for this evening.  I always feel so rich when I get my warm shower.  It is so pleasant to dump water over you body, soap up and the rinse off the soap.


Back To Yesterday


Again we were off to Lubumbashi about ten o’clock.  Annie must do her shopping to keep thirty mouths from going hungry.  Didier and I are off to shop for a generator.  We must get a reliable source of electricity to the station so that Annie does not have to go to town and spend hours shopping daily.  We have a freezer but need a diesel powered generator.  We want to buy a diesel powered generator because Didier hauls the fuel to the mission station in his vehicle.  The roads during the dry season are about six inches of powdered dust.  The windows can be open allowing the gas fumes to escape until you meet another vehicle and then they must be closed.  At that point the van becomes an un-improvised explosive device or a rolling bomb.  I   do not want to think about what would happen if one spark were to be introduced into such an environment.


My Personal Agenda


I am shopping for two bicycles, a bike for Pastor Peter and a bike for Pastor Mickey.  They need them for personal transportation as they must travel by foot now.  Their efficiency will be greatly improved by the addition of bikes.  Bicycles can be described as the work horses of the poor.  They are used for public transportation.  I have seen three people—the father riding, the mother sitting side saddle behind her husband with a child on her lap--being moved on one bike.  You can use one to haul lumber or a half dozen bags of cement to a work site.  I have seen one being used to haul bricks.  Yes, bricks each one stacked on top of another with nothing to bind them together.  The ability to balance things is unbelievable among the Congolese people. When they are being used to haul things, they are not being ridden, but pushed.

 I think I have found the spot to purchase the bicycles. 




Monday, September 9, 2013


This is very important issue to me.

  • Before I left the U. S. Pastor Paul admonished me to make sure that Pastor Didier ate good food and drank lots of water.
  • Upon arrival I was very surprised at how thin he had become.
  • He told me that he had lost 20 pounds since returning to The Congo.
  • Before we went to the Mission, we traveled to the Jambo Market and purchased at least six gallons of water.
  • Every place we go, he carries water.
  • He eats meat, carbs, and green veggies daily since I have been here.  In the past he told me that he did not eat meat except when there were guests at the Mission.
  • He does not appear to be any healthier.
  • He is working very hard as well is Annie.

There is the possibility of European Medical Care

  • His sister whom he has not seen in twenty years has sent him $700. to fly to Belgium.
  • She has told him that she will be able to get him necessary medical care.
  • The $700.00 will pay for half his fare there so he needs more money for the fare plus spending money while away from home.
  • I presume that prescribed medicine will be on him.




I Have Now Been Here One Full Week.


This is my first Sunday preaching assignment for this trip.  We are prepared to preach to and then to feed some 450 people.  This is the new norm for the church here which has more than doubled in size in the last two years.  Usually the church meets in three locations with three pastors on as given Sunday and then the church meets every third Sunday at the central location every third Sunday for Communion.  Today we meet for a combined Service.  I assume that it is because I am here as a guest.


The scheduled starting time was 10:00 am, but the singing started a 9:45.  Pastor Peter explained that we would start early so we would have more time to glorify God.  I did not try to keep up with the time, but I know that the singing went on for two hours or maybe more.  We had six choirs doing their best and they were nd very well appreciated as measured by the applause.  I preached for more than an hour, but keep in mind that a 20 minute sermon becomes a 60 minute sermon by the time it is translated twice once into French and then into Swahili.


After the Service was over then I had my picture taken so many times with so many people and in some cases holding their baby.  I thoroughly enjoyed it but was totally exhausted by the time people began to settle down with foo foo, beans and cassava greens.  The beans were flavored with fish.  We had planned on chicken but it was to expensive.


At the close of the Service Didier and I escaped to the guest house for our meal as we were both exhausted.  I believe that it was about 2:30 by the time we got to sit down for our meal. After that I rested but poor Didier had an errand to run and then ended up counselling with two couple who are planning forthcoming weddings. He came by to see me about 8:00 pm and was so tired that his skin tone was grey and his perpetual smile had been erased. We visited for a short time and then I urged him to go home and go to bed.   He did not need much encouragement. 


I went to bed and read for awhile with the aid of my flashlight.  I found out later on during the night that I have exhausted the batteries.  I hope I can find new ones today.


Didier’s van is in bad shape so it goes in for repairs today.  I will be dropped off for internet access while he is getting the repairs done and Annie is shopping.  Write more later.



Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Greetings From Lubumbashi

It is Sunday September one and I am on Ethiopian Airlines traveling so it seems half way around the world, actually the first leg of my flight will only be some seven thousand plus miles which will take me to Addis Abba, Ethiopia. But I am ahead of myself.
I was up and dressed by about 7 am, amazed that I had gotten a good nights sleep because usually I do sleep well before such a momentous event. My son in law took me to the airport and planned to see me off but the waiting time to get checked in and ticketed was about 90 minutes so had to go off to work.
I am traveling with four bags.  Much of the baggage relates to gifts and supplies for the orphans and the poor. It seems to me that shipping charges have been outrageous--$750.00. Does it make economic sense to send so much at such a price—probably not. But then I ask the question, does it make emotional sense?  My answer, is a resounding ‘yes’ because it is a concrete e expression of Christian love from one part of the family to another part.  I am remembering that the Apostle Paul went forth eager to remember the poor.  Like Paul I want to put a face on God’s love for the poor. So do a lot of others who sacrificed monetarily to send gifts of love to the church family in The Congo. Thank you, I cannot imagine what happiness is in that baggage.
Upon arriving on the plane, it seemed as if every baby (and there are many) was crying. Before we were aloft, they were quietened. Mothers should be declared to be an International Treasure.
We were more than an hour late getting off the tarmac, but that does not bother me as I have more than three hour to wait for my next flight in Ethiopia.  It did bother my stomach because it was around 2:00 pm by the time we were served lunch—mashed potatoes, green beans and carrots, beef and gravy, ravioli salad, bread, carrot cake and marvelous Ethiopian coffee.   Wonder why I like to fly Ethiopian Air?
 Ever notice that after lunch everyone on a plane has to make an excursion to the bathroom? On a large international flight such as this oft times the bathrooms turn into disaster areas. Went to the bathroom and on the   way out, I noted that there was soon going to a shortage of T-paper. Expedited the matter by stealing a small remnant. Ashamed no!
Current time is 7:10 pm, according to the video map which I am watching we are about half way or more across the Atlantic.
There is a group of 16 from a United Methodist Church in Texas on this plane headed to Ethiopia to do micro-finance--which is teaching small business--and helping in an orphanage. Hope to visit with them before the trip is over.
Monday September the 2nd.
Arrived in Addis Ababa, we were unloaded on the tarmac and trucked into the airport.  I was exhausted on arrival as I probably did not get an hour of sleep during the flight.  Adrenalin was flowing, I was super-charged and was very nervous hoping that I would not miss my next flight which was on to Lubumbashi. 
Another four hours on the plane if I remember correctly. I would have preferred a beating.  We traveled about 3 hours and then set down in a place which started with the letter N.  We  were there for about an hour and then off for a 45 minute flight to Lubumbashi. 
Unloaded on the tarmac and then walked maybe ¼ of a mile into the airport.  Breezed through customs without a problem. Went outside looking for Didier.  But there was no Didier.  I am starting to get scared because I am trying to figure out what I would do, if he was sick or in an accident.  All of the incoming passengers have left the airport and I am in a sea of black faces.  Some of them want to help.  Questions are being asked of me.  I have no answers except to say that I am waiting for my ride.  Didier shows up all apologetic, the van is having clutch problems.  He had to get a friend to him to the airport. 
My luggage did not arrive with me.  No Cliff bars, no dried meat, no clean clothing and I have been traveling for two days.  We have gone  to the Jambo Market for bread, fruit, clean shirt and underwear.  Hopefully  things will come in on the next plane which is 2:00 pm today.  If I understand correctly a special plane will bring in the luggage. By the way that meant no Via, Starbucks instant coffe, for me this morning. 
I enjoyed a special meal of wild chicken, rice, fu fu, green beans, and  boiled potatoes with Didier and JP—the man who drove us.  JP is a Christian man who works with the Methodist here in Lubumbashi and is apparently self=employed also.  He gave me two of his company’s polo shirts.  How nice it was to get cleaned up.  Felt like I had washed off at least five pound so dirt.
Before dinner Pastor Peter came to visit, with moist eyes he told me what a blessing I had been to him two years ago.  Compliments on a sermon on Sunday are pretty much to be expected even if the person never comes back to Church.   A compliment a week later is wonderful.  But two years later….During dinner Judge Phuna—the judge who is responsible judgments for problems relating to children—phoned to welcome me to  his country and to tell me that he wanted me to come for a visit today.  Apart from the judge’s signature we would never be able to bring a child into the U. S.   I certainly feel welcomed Didier is trying to protect me until I can get some rest.  I had 7 visitors before 9:00 am.  All I have to do is open the door and go out on the breeze way. 
Hopefully I will get access to the ‘net today and you will find this on Fbook.  Please overlook errors and poor grammar, etc.
Yesterday afternoon we had great plans, I was going to visit the orphanage, call on Judge Phuna, our attorney wants me to come by for a visit.  I have not seen Pastor Mickey and his wife Saundra yet.  So many things to do that we planned on and what did I do?  We took Annie to town to buy food which is an everyday occurrence. Imagine if you had to buy for about 30 people daily and had no refrigeration.  While she made the necessary purchases, Didier and I hashed out some plans about getting electricity to the Mission Station.  By noon I was absolutely exhausted, so tired I could hardly keep my eyes open. I came back to the guest house, grabbed some squirrel food, a banana, drank a bottle of water and off to bed I went.
About two hours later I woke up looked out the window, saw the sun was shining and thought that I had slept all night.  I went back to sleep for about two more hours.  Then I got up went to Didier’s house, the doors were closed, thought maybe he was napping so back to the guest house.  About half an hour later he came in and told me that he had come by, seen how I was sleeping and did not want to wake me up. 
For our evening meal we had goat stew, okra, potatoes and rice.  It was all very flavorful but I find the meat a little chewy.  The sauce over the potatoes or rice is excellent. 
I went outside this morning as I like to watch the morning arrive: women are carrying water, children are on the way to school, etc.  But it was so very cold out that I was driven back in.  We are South of the equator so summer is arriving, by noon it will be so hot that I will not want to be outside.  Fortunately the guest house provides a break from both the heat and the cold. 
I mentioned that I  have not been in the Orphanage yet.  Plans were that I would go yesterday afternoon, apparently the workers need all morning to get the place cleaned up and ready for a visitor. I did get to peek into the Church in the morning to see the children being taught French.  They were learning body parts: eyes, ears, mouth, etc.  Stephan a Christian man who teaches in the local school was working with them.  He was enthusiastic and they were so excited as he pointed to a part and they all shouted out the name of the body part.  I have yet to have the Browns’ children pointed out to me.  Hopefully today.
Again today there is shopping for food and I hope to get my luggage as this is the fourth day in these socks.  
More later as I need to get this in the mail.


























Sunday, August 25, 2013

Church Services Today


  • Spoke twice today  once in Sunday School  and then in the main service.

  • It was in Mineral, VA which is a two hour drive from my daughter's house.

  •  I was being guided by a GPS unit, but I was beginning to distrust the thing because I kept going, going and going South.

  • I thought I was going to end up leaving the state, but finally arrived at the Church.

  • A dear friend  is the Pastor in Mineral,  the last time I had seen him was many years ago.

  • We were re-united by Facebook.

  • After church I had a great visit with a couple--they are thinking about adopting a child.

  • That excites me.

  • I am suire that does not surprise me.


  • Is this not what Pastor do when they are on vacation?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

It Is An Overwhelming Event

The Process has Been Long and Exhausting


  • I have prepared at least a 50 page syllabus for teaching pastors and church leaders.
  • Packing has been a very demanding process. How do you prepare to live on the road for about 80 days?
  • Once you figure out how much of many things you think you will need, then it has to be packed and weighed into 50 pound bags.
  • How are bills to be paid and mundane things like that?
  • How much money will I need and how is the safest way to carry it as it has to be in cash (one hundred dollar bill no older than 2006).
  • How much food should I take and how is it to be packed? (Cliff Bars, dried meat and military Meals Ready to Eat are on my list)?


  • I travel to three banks to take care of financial arrangements, the money can have no marks, tears or signs of aging or a hundred dollar bill may be discounted up to 30%.
  • Then off to Elk Grove so I can spend the night with dear friends and be closer to the Sacramento Air Port. 

  • Up at 3:20 am, showered shaved, re-packed because more items are given to me to take to the DRC.
  • About 4:00 am  we head out to the car and I discover that I do not have my cell phone. It is found and off we go.
  • I have over 200 pounds of luggage for The Congo, most of it is to left there for the mission: (
  • I would never have been able to escort all my baggage without help from my friends. Getting baggage checked in and clearing security leaves me both stressed and exhausted.
  • On the plane I am seated across the aisle from a Catholic Priest--not a Father, but a Mother--note that I did not say a Roman Catholic Priest.  She came from a liberal Catholic group
  • I had the most delightful time visiting with her, she attends a Methodist Church and works in a hospital as a Chaplain. 
  • Flew into Chicago and was delayed about an hour--my connecting flight to DC was late.
  • Ann and Hannah met me at Dulles Air Port--my how Hannah grown since I last saw her. Delightful granddaughter.


  • To tired  to accomplish anything this morning.
  • I am in much better shape this afternoon
  • Terry is busy this evening
  • Ann took Hannah and me to a Viet-Namese restaurant this evening.
  • I had to much good food--feel like  just going to bed and sleeping.


  • Time to post.