As per usual, Katie and I have been encumbered by a few unexpected twists and turns. In the last month we’ve spent almost as much time away from our beloved Congo as we have within its borders.
The first time was for the Hands at Work Celebration in Zambia, April 11-16. The most interesting part about that trip, for me, was the opportunity we had to spend time with some of our Congolese friends away from their familiar surroundings. Traveling to another country for a week is almost unattainable for many of these people even though the border is a mere taxi ride away. It put us on a level playing field in some ways. We were no longer the only ones feeling out of our element and we were no longer the only ones that needed a translator. That week away impacted our relationships in a special way that was not lost upon returning to the Congo together.
Then, a few weeks ago, Katie was feeling weak and uncomfortable in numerous ways. We found a doctor to come to the house to do some tests and found that she had contracted malaria. Some friends in South Africa encouraged me to bring Katie back there for a short time to allow her to be near a reliable clinic in case her sickness escalated. When we left, we didn’t say goodbye to any of our friends because the decision to leave happened so quickly. We felt like we left our relationships, and our work in Congo, unresolved. Being pulled away without warning uncovered our true feelings to return to Congo as soon as possible.
These relationships are interesting in that some days, when they are readily available, we take them for granted. We sit at home feeling like we don’t have the energy to walk across town in the African heat to go and visit these lovely people and their families during our free time. Now, we see that even though these people tell us that we are an encouragement to them, the reward is most always our own when we spend time with old friends and new ones, hearing their stories of life in this country. Although the Congo seems polar-opposite to Canada, it follows the rules of magnetism perfectly, because we are tirelessly attracted to it.
(We arrived in the Congo at 3am on Monday, 16 May, after our plane was delayed by four hours. A few friends from Canada were here to welcome us back. It’s good to be “home”!)