Greetings and Bonjour from Congo,
We have arrived in Congo! Firstly we want to thank each of you for your continued prayers. God has been so good to us on every leg of the journey. We are safe, have had a fair night’s rest, eaten several times, did some shopping, and are resting again. Let me tell you how the travel went for us:
We began in Chesapeake, VA, where we said our tearful “so longs” to our family and cats around 12:00 noon. Terry and Connie Brew, Cindy’s brother and wife, carried us and our 9 pieces of luggage, including 5 excess pieces, to the airport in Norfolk. We got there early expecting long lines and a lot of hassle with the baggage. We prayed over our bags to be low in excess fees and to arrive with us when we would eventually land in Kinshasa, DRC. We were second in line at check in and Terry lugged each piece to the counter while we conferred with the clerk. Each bag weighed in slightly below the limit of 50 lbs, save one at 50.5 which the clerk said, “I only see 50.” Now comes the time for the excess fees for the 5 extra bags. This could run as much as $250 per, but we know that God’s favor is going to be upon our trip, because each of you have been praying for us. The clerk states the price to be $150 per bag. That is 3/5 the max, so we said “AMEN!, and let it be done.” TSA scans each bag. They open three for good measure. Then they install the zip ties on the final bag and we are on our way to the gates, bags checked through to Kinshasa, via Brussels, like us.
We have lunch with Terry and Connie, express our gratitude for all that they have done and will continue to do as a part of our mission team, we go through security and find our gate. The Chicago flight before us is delayed so we find an open spot on the floor and sit against the wall. When the gate clears, we are able to find some chairs and wait the next thirty minutes before we can begin boarding our flight to DC. Our plane to DC is a small one, so Cindy must stow her carry-on below. A quick prayer that this will not happen on the International flights, I hand off my laptop case for her to carry and we board the plane.
In Dulles, our arrival gate is only 14 gates from our departure gate, so we are not rushed and have time to purchase some reading materials, a candy bar, and a soda to share. As we finish our energy boost of a snack, our flight begins to board. All hand carry items are welcomed on the plane. We trek to the 47th row of the 777 to Brussels. Can you guess how many rows there are? The correct answer is 48. So we are in the back. It’s a short walk to the toilet. Fairly uneventful flight. Was able to get some rest and watch the movie “The Blind Side”. I almost bought the book in Dulles, thankfully I reconsidered, as the movie went much faster.
We arrived in Brussels around 0630 hrs local time and waited about an hour and a half before we could board our final leg of the flight to Kinshasa via Luanda, Angola (about 350 miles South of Kin). Brussels Airlines has checked twice with us to make sure we have paid the excess baggage fees in Norfolk. We cringe at the thought of them wanting to charge more, but they seem satisfied and at least we know that our bags have made it this far. We board the plane and proceed to row 17. Not quite business class, but in front of the wings where there is less “fish tailing” during the flight, making it a smoother ride. The plane is only 1/3 full, so everyone shuffles to their own row to enjoy a bit more leg room. Good thing, too, because there is a lot of turbulence and the “Fasten Seat Belt” lamps threaten to melt their covers for being on so long. In other words, getting up to walk around the plane for circulation is very minimal. Cindy and I both wore compression socks so the swelling in our ankles was better than past times of travel, but Cindy still suffered a bit. We landed in Angola around 1900hrs and sat for about an hour waiting for a gate open up for our arrival. Finally, some folks deplaned and we were joined by others who were headed to Kin or continue on to Brussels. We sat for another hour while the airline worked out some baggage issues, then we were able to continue on to Kin.
Upon landing in Kinshasa, we were the second people in line at the immigration booths. With my extremely limited French, they encouraged me to “stand over there” while Cindy got us both welcomed into the country. We met our protocol agent, Mukila, who escorted us to meet with Larry and Inge Sthreshley in the parking lot. Then Mukila went back in to the baggage claim with the claim tickets to collect and clear our bags to bring them to us at MPH. It made us both a bit uneasy to leave the airport not knowing if our bags had accompanied us the entire way, but God is always in control. Less than an hour after we arrived at MPH, Mukila delivered our bags to us, intact and seemingly unopened since Norfolk. Praise the Lord for His hand of favor.
With bags safely tucked into our apartment at MPH and close to 30 hours of traveling behind us, we each shower and lie down for some horizontal shut eye. I will close this post now by repeating how grateful we are to have each of you readers praying for us and supporting us. Our mission in Congo has only begun, but you have helped us prepare for the past several months, with you generous financial gifts, with encouraging words, but mostly by continually lifting us up to the Father in your prayers.
It is time for bed again, so I will tell you about our first full day here another time. Blessings to each of you.