a blog for the summer missions training team from Bethel Baptist Church

Saturday, November 25, 2006

So we're into taking mud baths to improve our complexions?

Or we're boasting of the number of containers that we possess?

Maybe we're composing a still life called 'Portrait of Plastic'?

Why not try making money by turning water into oil like the prophet's widow who filled all possible vessels?


It's one o'clock in the morning and the water barrels in the attic have sprung a leak. We're trying to drain the water and prevent the ceiling collapsing while at the same time try and conserve precious liquid. Only now do we appreciate the state of the water. No wonder whites never wash out white even with biologically active Omo!

Showers of blessings,

Bridget Howard


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bridget's Bunia Blog 31

Helping Toloidi

Assa is a small community in the northeast corner of Congo not far from the Central African Republic border. There, there is a CECA-20 centre with primary and secondary schools. Communication between Assa and Bunia, 1000 km to the south, both in terms of telecommunication and transport – is very difficult and irregular. However, the link
between Assa and Zemio, 125 km across the border in CAR, is less tenuous. There’s a 2-way radio link and people quite frequently travel back and forth by bicycle.

Toloidi is the headmaster of the secondary school. He has been there for a short time after training in Bunia. He wanted some school supplies. So he sent a message by radio to Wendy in Zemio. Could she buy some basic school supplies when she next went to Uganda? He sent the available $150 by runner. Wendy emailed me by satellite phone system when she heard I’d be in Kampala. Would I check out the items on Toloidi’s shopping list? So she sent an email message to AIM International Services in Nairobi asking for the accountant to take $150 from her account and to give it to a Congo missionary who was then in Nairobi and who could carry the money back to me in Bunia. The connection didn’t work out but the AIM AIR pilot from Uganda happened to be in Nairobi so he carried the money back to Uganda and then sent the envelope by Mission Aviation Fellowship to me in Bunia. I took the envelope and shopping list with me to Kampala.

So a couple of days were spent checking out availability of items and best prices. How many Uganda shillings was the bureau de change giving for $150? At that rate how many exercise books and boxes of chalk could I get? Where would French dictionaries be available? Volley ball? Basket ball? Globe? The Asian storekeepers are always happy to bargain. The price was much better than in the bookstore.

“32 page cahiers? 96 page cahiers? 200 page cahiers?”
“Yes, but only lined not squared. I’ll give you a good price.”
“OK I can’t spend any more time checking out prices. I’ll take these.”

I was happy to cross something off the list and feel that I was making progress in the task.

“Shall I put them in a box for you?”

Then it dawned on me! 6 dozen exercise books and 5 boxes of chalk weigh quite a few kilos! Hum, there’s a problem. I can’t get a taxi back because I don’t know the address of the place where my friends live. I only know where to get off the bus and walk from there. This was very short sighted of me. Agreeing to do some one else’s shopping is sometimes complicated when there’s no car and no opportunity to pay with plastic. It's certainly not sweat-free.

The purchases were given to Wendy when she arrived fresh from USA and taken back to Zemio. They were strapped on the carrier of a bicycle and peddled the 125 km to Assa. In due time they would reach Toloidi.

20 October
Dear Bridget,
Just to let you know that Toloidi sent a note of thanks to you and me for getting all the equipment for Institut Assa. He was very grateful and wanted me to pass that on to you. Wendy

Bridget Howard