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Jay | Susan | Alex | Beth | Samantha
June 15, 2014 1:46 pm
Published in: Flying

We carry all sorts of strange things in the airplanes.  The last three days in South Sudan it was 50kg sacks of sugar, salt, 10kg bales of tea and 30kg bales of flip-flops.  That’s a LOT of flip-flops.  They’re called pata-pata here.  Mike and I flew from Arua on Thursday to Juba where we picked the first of four such loads we were taking from Juba to Jaibor, way up north of Juba.

We loaded the plane and checked the weight and balance, all good, so we got in and flew. I’m in the right seat these days, helping Mike with his 20140530_113230Caravan checkout, so I watched while he ran checklists and prepared the airplane to fly.  The flight was straightforward, with no issues, and we spent the two hours talking about airplane systems, standard operating procedures, emergency procedures, and the like.  Unloading at Jaibor was quick…put the tailstand on the plane, open the cargo door, unstrap the cargo net, and then haul the sacks and boxes to the cargo door.  The villagers unloaded from there, eager to get the supplies.

Back to Juba for another load, and again and again.  Juba is a very busy airport, lots of people trying to talk to the one controller in the tower.  It can be very hard to get a word in.  The controller scolded us, “You call 50 miles out, not so close in (it was 20 miles when we finally got through to him).  “We’ve been calling since 50 miles.  This is the first time you have answered,” I say back.  While we were fueling, a Russian IL-76 landed.  Still nose high his engines ran up to max, a deafening shriek from the four old turbojets.  I thought he was going around, then I saw the thrust reversers deployed.  Stopping.  He still rolled to the end of the runway and had to turn around and taxi  b20140614_095408ack.

The first three trips to Jaibor went very well. The fourth, Saturday morning, was a bit in question. We had word that they’d had rain the night before, about 30 minutes of heavy rain.  ‘The runway is wet but landable’ we were told. The soil in Jaibor is  mix of black cotton mud and sand.  Very sticky, very slick.  On arrival we did a couple of passes over the runway. There was still standing water but it looked doable.  We landed, and sprayed the plane liberally with mud.  As we slowed Mike added power to keep us rolling in the muck, and the torque from the engine made the plane twist, and we skated sideways in the mud.  Finally, some firm ground.  We straightened out, and taxiied to the parking area and shut down.  I unloaded while Mike washed the windshield.

Back to Juba, for fuel, then on to Nairobi to bring the plane for inspection. We’d run it out of hours, about 20 hours in 3 days.

 

PS:

We’re still heading back to the US in July.  And we still are working on the budget for the trip.  If you’d care to donate to our travel you can go to the AIM International’s website. Their page on giving is http://aimint.org/usa/give  Or more directly, the link for online giving is https://www.egsnetwork.com/gift2/?giftid=BA2CB0A93B314EC  If you go there click on the ‘Search for Designations’ tab and then put Mundy in the search box.  Choose the home assignment designation and continue on from there.  Thank you!

October 27, 2013 3:29 pm
Published in: Flying

20131025_075719At eleven-five the air is smooth and cool.  The Pratt & Whitney PT-6 whirrs contentedly, the big prop pulling the plane through the air at 125 indicated. The GPS says we’re going one sixty two across the ground.  I look back to check on my passengers.  They’re mostly asleep, one is reading, two others are talking. From this altitude the ground is a paisley of greens and browns beneath the plane, spread out in front of us.  Up close, on the ground, I know that the light green is grasses, some scrubby and short, some elephant grass nearly 10 ft tall. The dark green spots are trees, and lines of them wind, snake like, across the green and brown where dry stream beds hold moisture longer.  Most are thorny acacia trees.  The brown is either light tan or red-orange, depending on the type of soil.  We’re on the way to Juba from the north of the Sud, the enormous marsh from which Sudan derives its name.

The last time I was in there it had just rained, and the plane got liberally coated with black cotton mud, looking more like a four wheel drive than a plane.  Today the airstrip is dry and hard. It’s been over a week since they last had rain and landing and take-off are both routine.  I run through the before take-off checks, making sure flaps are set and the transponder is on, condition lever high idle, lights and ignition on…take off briefing, full power, abort point is the funny clump of bushes on the left three hundred meters down range. 20130905_101050 As the plane turns to align with the runway I add power and the caravan lumbers forward, clumsy on the ground but accelerating rapidly.  There’s 45 just short of the abort point, continue the takeoff….67, ease back on the yoke, the wheels break ground and we’re flying. The plane transforms from an ungainly tricycle to a graceful machine. I tap the brakes to stop the main wheels from spinning, ending the vibration they bring.   I call Nairobi on the HF radio, speaking across more than 600 miles with Moses.  He doesn’t part the waters that I know of, but I do ask him to call ahead to Juba to part the red tape by having our linesman and the fuel  truck ready.

The missionaries in the back relax, contemplating a couple weeks’ break in the big city where there is electricity and running water and shops. They’re continuing on to Nairobi for a rest before going back out bush.  Life in the bush is difficult.  Water is hard to get and usually dirty, needing to be filtered or boiled and treated before it’s safe to drink.  The only power is what’s available from a couple solar panels and a pair of batteries. And it’s hot.  On takeoff I looked at the OAT gauge and griDSCF0616maced at the ‘40’ under the needle.  That’s Celsius, so about 104 F, and humid enough to compare well with a sauna.  I keep the plane at maximum climb, leaving the heat and humidity behind, and the sweat that slicks everyone’s skin with water and salt.

AIM Air’s unofficial motto is ‘Hauling Salt.’ Jesus says “You are the salt of the earth,” to his disciples in Matthew chapter 5 verse 13. The people in the back of the airplane make it harder for rot to set in. How often do people apologize for coarse language around a pastor?  They make people thirsty for Jesus just like salt makes us thirsty for water.  Salt brings out the other flavors of the food.  The missionaries I’m flying flavor an otherwise dull village life.  What’s the taste of love?  Love is often described with words like ‘sweet.’  Maybe love is salty.  When we taste it we’re thirsty for more.  “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth; bears all things, believes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails. … And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

August 31, 2013 2:20 pm
Published in: Flying

This would make a really cool pop-up book, I thought. Doro, ROSSDSC_0081

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the fuel service at Doro.  Delivery is occasionally an issue if the donkey goes on strike.

 

 

Other fueler in Doro

 

The next picture down is the other Doro fuel service. We were a bit delayed when the tractor wouldn’t start.  That’s Jerry Hurd pumping gas.

 

 

 

 

 

Next is flying from Doro to Nasir.  That huge thunderstorm had clouds right down to the ground. Fortunately it stayed a few miles off to the west and 20130821_160107I was able to get into Nasir.  If the storm had come over , no Nasir, and probably no for about a week so the runway would have turned to goo.  MAF recently had a plane get stuck there for about 3 weeks.  Stuck as in stuck in the mud stuck.  Nasir, when went, turns into the gooiest, stickiest glop you have ever seen.

 

 

20130821_164230

 

 

 

 

Of course, the beauty of airplanes is that you get to soar with the eagles sometimes, above the weather and clouds like I did coming back home from South Sudan…..

 

August 31, 2013 1:45 pm
Published in: Flying

I’d like to say the day (22 August) started smoothly but that would be less than truthful. The primary disaster of the morning was my carefully prepared thermos of hot water springing a leak in my backpack.  The clothes mostly stayed dry (let’s hear it for good packs), the real tragedy being a sudden, unplanned reduction in the my coffee ration.

The first leg of the day’s flying went well enough, Lokichogio Kenya to Keew in South Sudan. Landing at Keew was exciting.  The runway at Keew was still wet from rain the afternoon prior and the mud was slippery as grease.  Taxiing to the parking area after landing was interesting, as the plane wanted to weathervane into the wind, so I ended up going a bit sideways down the runway.   Unloading was fast and I took off for Rumbek, and fuel. The fuel truck was waiting so that stop was brief.

Next was Arua, Uganda, where I picked up a load of freight to take to Banda in DR Congo.  The freight was mostly foam for a radio studio…not much weight but it sure filled the airplane to capacity.  The stop at Arua was also fairly quick, and next was Isiro in Congo. Isiro is a port of entry into Congo so there for customs and immigration.  The stop at Isiro was as fast as I’ve ever had….our helper there had everything ready to go so I was on the ground for less than 10 minutes.  However the weather around Isiro convinced me that the rest of the day was not going to happen.  The plan was to go to Dungu next, pick up people and more freight, take them to Banda, drop the people and cargo off, pick up more people then go to Isiro for immigration and then home to Arua.  It was a bit of a fight getting into Isiro due to weather…storms in the area, with a huge area of weather moving toward the town. So I called the charterer and told them I could do Dungu and Banda, but that was it.

Arriving at Dungu also put paid to any thoughts of getting home to Arua.  The cargo and passengers weren’t all ready.  I’d have needed to be less than 30 minutes on the ground there. As it was, I was an hour..  Much of the confusion was due to the change in plans caused by the weather in Isiro.  Still, it reinforced that the decision to not try for Isiro and Arua was a good one.  I made it to Banda…a half hour on the ground, and back to Dungu just at the limit of my daylight reserves.

I spent the night in Dungu with Yannic, the ASF pilot from Canada.  We talked late. Yannic has been in Dungu about three months, with no visitors and not much contact with the outside world.  He had a lot to say.

The next day we went to Isiro and then to Entebbe, and after I had some lunch, I returned to Arua.  The flight home was uneventful, the weather good, the landing smooth.  I taxied to parking, secured the airplane and went home.

December 8, 2012 12:45 pm
Published in: Flying

Seems to be the theme for the last couple months.  This is good, however, since it was the point of moving to Arua in the first place.  Flights to Congo, flights to Central African Republic, flights to South Sudan.  Monday I’m off flying again, to  Congo and C.A.R.

I’ve rediscovered the joy of flying after driving to and then from Nairobi at the beginning of November.  Two days there, two days back a week of meetings in between.  Getting there was not half the fun.  I was delayed every step of the way…a flight was delayed two days which meant my driving departure was delayed two days. I finally was able to leave Arua about 11 on Friday the 9th of November,only to get an hour down the road and realize I’d left important papers at the house.  Sigh.  On the road again, about 12:30 now.  Get past the next town and get caught in a speed trap. 2km/hr over the speed limit.  Go back to the town (10km back) to the bank, pay the fine….  The next day things went better until I got past Eldoret.  Stopped for 2 hours because the road was closed after a huge accident.    So I make it to Nairobi Saturday night for the meetings that started on Friday.  Oh well.

Tuesday was fittingly the 13th.  Malaria decided to ambush me again.  This time however, there was no chance to rest and let the drugs work.  Plus the strain I had seemed to be resistant to the normal treatments.  So I got to deal with malaria for the rest of the week and the drive back to Arua. Fortunately Mike and Ana Palmiter were with me on the drive, and Mike did most of the driving. They came to check Arua out with an eye to moving here.  Mike’s our newest AIM Air pilot and in the 2 1/1 weeks they were here he racked up 45 hours as we got him route checked into Congo and CAR, and as he did his first solo operational flight with AIM Air into Congo.  Mike did great.  Our first stop out bush in Congo was Ango, where we got hassled by an unknown government official who said he would ‘control the flight’ (right….)  and then got to watch as another government official, this one known to our passengers, lit into the first guy and chewed him out, up one side and down the other.  Very educational.  Mike’s second solo flight was Arua to Entebbe to Bunia and back. But he went to start the airplane and found the battery had gone flat.  He managed to complete the flight, with help from the German missionaries of Diguna who charged the battery, and MAF Uganda who got us a new battery.  Off into the deep end for Mike.    He did great and I really look forward to he and Ana coming back full time to Arua.

Sometimes the old cures are best.  since my malaria wasn’t responding to the usual artemethrin drugs the doctor set me up with quinine via IV. I’m not keen on the side effects…dizziness, metallic taste, hearing impairment (it was like having your ears filled with water or something).  But.  The malaria is gone. Hallelujah!  And within a day the side effects were gone as well. It’s great being healthy again.

So now that I’m healthy, it’s fly fly fly.

September 10, 2011 9:19 am
Published in: Flying

We get to do these from time to time, though we wish we didn’t.  I’d flown in Congo earlier in the week for Samaritan’s Purse, hitting the usual spots of Banda and Faradje, then overnight in Bunia, and then taking the airplane to Lokichogio, Kenya, to fill in.  We’re down one Caravan at the moment due to engine difficulties, so the two flying are swapping around quite a bit.   I flew from Loki up to Longchuk, where I got stuck in the mud.  Trying to dig and pull a Caravan out of the mud is quite a chore, let me tell you.  Fortunately I had about 50 helpers.  I rigged cargo straps around the main wheel hubs and we put about 20 people on each strap, and pulled.  An hour of digging and pulling later, the plane was on solid ground again.  That’s my “pit crew” there in the picture, and the mud covered pilot off to the side.

After getting unstuck I headed back to Lokichogio for the night. I expected to spend the next day doing paperwork while waiting for a flight down to Nairobi.  Wrong.  A bit after 5am Jon Hildebrandt woke me up (our visiting pilot quarters are the Loki program office, next to his house).  New plan, we’re going to Sudan to pull Samaritan’s Purse and SIM missionaries out of the area of fighting that flared up in the night.  So, off we went.

Jon flew the plane, I handled the radios.  On the ground at our first pickup Jon kept the engine turning while I went out the back and got the passengers on board.  Two minutes on the ground to load 6 adults and one infant. Not bad.  Then it’s off to the next spot to get the SIM guy.  Same drill.  One minute on the ground this time.

Airborne again we started for Loki.  A bit less than 10 minutes later we got a call on the radio…”Run a parallel course and standby, we might have you go back and pick the others out of that last spot.”  A few minutes later it was “Head for (a nearby mission station) and fuel and wait while we coordinate.”  So we went there and waited.  I talked with AIM Air ops on the phone once there and we started making plans to go back and pick up two more missionaries.  Here’s their recap of the events (edited for names):

“Greetings from Nairobi. Here is a brief account of our evacuation.
Yesterday, God has once again shown his great love and faithfulness to people like me and my wife despite uncountable shortcomings that we have, for which, we thank God and praise him with all our hearts, may his name be glorified. In the morning as we were busy doing our own works, news came about a town, the next town from our station that there was problem and the missionaries would be evacuated from there, so W, our dear missionary friend also got ready to go by that same flight since he is going to America. But we were not ready to go because the bombing was in that town not in ours. However, as soon as the flight took off from our airstrip within a minute a plane came in and bombed the airstrip area two times. When we heard the sound everyone ran to different directions like frightened animals, trying to hide in the bushes holding grab-and-run bags. While running I prayed, Lord, please look at us and do what is best for us.

God did not fail us; He protected us and brought us safely to Nairobi. And I know that all these are possible because of your sincere prayer and tears. Thank you so much may God bless you all. We still want to request you to pray for our fellow workers, the teachers and staff left behind in our town, for God’s protection and help. Our hearts pain when we think of them. Please, please pray for them for their safety. For everything, we really thank God and thank you, the authority of SIM, Chris and all the staffs in Nairobi, different SIM bases and SIMNEI for your concern, love and prayer. May God bless you. Also we thank all our supporters and friends for constant prayer and support
Thank you
God be praised
H & R

In short, we went back and picked up H and R.  We left our other evacuees where we fueled and once we’d gotten H and R we went back and picked every one up and went to Lokichogio.

The flights, as far as the flying went, were routine.  As far as the reason and situation around the flights, those things were tense.  As far as serving brothers and sisters in Christ were a huge privilege.  To God be the glory.

July 14, 2011 5:04 pm
Published in: Flying,Ground

Airplanes get them too.  My last day working for Suburban Air Freight in Omaha, in fact, I got to fix a flat tire on a Caravan at Omaha’s Epply airport, in the freezing cold. It was early December 2006, and in the single digits Fahrenheit.  I had to get in the truck every few minutes to warm my hands back up.

The flat tire I had last week in Obo C.A.R. was, possibly worse.  We eventually got it fixed, but it was almost a $1500 event.  In the process of patching the tube, which had developed a hole right at the base of the valve stem, I removed and replaced the tire something like 4 times.  After getting the tire patched, I flew back to Zemio (where we enter and exit the country).  AIM Air used to have a plane based there in Zemio, and so we still have some supplies. Including a new old-stock tire and tube of the right size!  So I replaced the tube, changing the tire yet again.

Practice does make perfect. Or at least faster.  The first tire change took me about 45 minutes.  The last one took about 15, not including working the little bicycle pump we use to inflate the tire. The last tire change in Obo took place during a rain storm, I should add.  I got filthy.  Just ’cause it’s an airplane doesn’t mean you stay clean.

If we, and I say we because I was talking to the maintenance department back in Nairobi getting advice on the issue, hadn’t been able to get the tube fixed, the next option was to fly one up.  Thus the $1500 event.  Fortunately, we didn’t have to.

Other than the tire, the trip went smoothly. The tire was quite adventure enough.

October 21, 2010 4:51 am
Published in: Flying

September was fairly quiet, flying wise, I think I only flew about 20 hours. October, so far has been busy. I’ve flown almost 40, and will probably do another 10 or more before the month is out. The flights have all been pretty routine, though a couple have been interesting.

On the 6th of October I flew AIM’s eastern region director, and most of the AIC bishops to Kalokol, Lokori, and Lodwar up in north Kenya to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the AIC Mission Board. We visited churches that had been started by AIC MB pastors and the bishops met with and encouraged them in their work. These are some very remote, difficult places, very hard to penetrate with the gospel. The pastors will often go years with little evidence of success. Pray for them, and for the Turkana, Pokot, and other tribes in the area that they will receive the gospel.

Another interesting flight was to Tanzania. We don’t fly a lot in TZ anymore, and last Saturday I flew to Kigoma, way over in southwest TZ, on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, then down to Mahale, and from there to Mwanza, and then back to Nairobi. OVer 8 hours of flying. I was picking up a team of doctors in Mahale who had been there a week to do eye surgeries, particularly cataract treatments. The area around Mahale is largely muslim. Imagine the impact of a group of Christians coming in, and the doctor removing the bandages after cataract surgery and presenting the gospel…and now you see for the first time in years. Christ came and gave sight to the blind, and declared the gospel to those in prison. It was exciting to be able to play a little part in continuing that work.

August 19, 2010 5:40 am
Published in: Flying

I have a bit of time this morning, so it’s time to try and finish this tale.

Flying around CAR and Congo was amazing. How did guys do this before GPS?  I’ve never been lost in an airplane but I can sure see how it could happen here…. There just aren’t any landmarks, except a handful of major rivers that are a long way apart.  The visibility the day I took this picture was amazing, frequently it’s very poor there due to fog / mist / rain.  Let’s hear it for GPS!  But the flying is really a means to an end. For our pilots, the flying is our primary ministry, and how we accomplish the end goal.

The end, of course, is to take the gospel of Christ to people who have not heard it, and to make disciples, a long process.  And one that requires pastors.  As I mentioned in the previous post we brought people up to Zemio for the ordination of four new pastors.  It was quite the production! There was a brass band, and singing, and dancing, and…. Let’s start at the beginning.  The four pastors being ordained lined up to march into the church…then the procession began.  They took about 30 minutes to go about 100 feet, dancing all the way while the congregation sang.  It was quite the production.  Then the service really began.  All the senior pastors we’d brought in spoke.  The CVs of each of the candidates was reviewed. It was amazing how long all of them had served in the church and how much schooling they’d had.  It is not an easy process to get ordained in this church!

And then, the candidates came forward and knelt for the formal ordination. All the senior pastors gathered around to lay hands on the  candidates: The widows’ choir sang , and then communion was served.  And then, after 6 1/2 hours, the ordination service was complete.

The missionary and Ron and I went back to the mission then and rested a bit, and Ron and I began to plan our return trip (Tuesday).  The missionary and the pastors organized some big meetings for Monday, which they did, and which went into the night, late, so that Boligihe could get back to Isiro on Tuesday and fly on to Kinshasa.  Monday Ron and I prepped the plane and otherwise made ready to travel.  Tuesday morning….

I see I’ve left alot of things out of this post.  Well, I’ll just have to post again. There was the little girl who followed the missionary  and I around the refugee camp in Rafai.  There was the women’s choir practicing in the church in Zemio. There were the “Good News Comedians Troop” following the ordination service. There was the young boy playing the big drum in Rafai. There was the visit to Obo and walking around AIM’s mission station there and imagining it when it was fully operating with a technical school, a clinic, a big church, and a Bible school and about 30 missionaries.

CAR and Congo are hard places. The roads are bad, the LRA is a major threat and there is no security. The governments are ineffective or in the case of Congo almost non-existent.  Yet there is life, and the people sing and dance and praise God for His goodness.  How can we not go and join them?

August 6, 2010 2:53 pm
Published in: Flying

Last Monday I flew from Nairobi to Entebbe on the DC-3, spent the night with the Pontiers, and then bright and early the morning of the 27th of July, Ron and I loaded up in the Caravan, and headed for Zemio, Central African Republic (CAR).  We stopped first in Bunia, Congo, for fuel, and to pick up a senior pastor, Lalima.  Next we went to Dungu, Congo and picked up another senior pastor, Mboligihe.  Then on to Isiro where we picked up pastor Toloidi and his wife Ngbabino (no, I have no idea how to pronounce her name).  Finally, after dealing with incredibly greedy officials….it cost us $200 in fees in Bunia and nearly $600 in Isiro, we headed for Zemio.  Our hostess is the AIM missionary in CAR (yes, singular).  Less than 20 years ago there were about 40 there…a dozen plus in Zemio, and another 18-20 in Obo.  The church is, amazingly, strong there, though it is ripe for heresy to creep in.  The church in CAR lacks Bibles, Bible schools, trained pastors, teaching materials….you get the idea. Anyway, on arrival at Zemio with the missionary and these three senior pastors we  got the full African greeting.  The people were lined up in front of the hangar (AIM Air used to have an airplane based here) singing and dancing to welcome them.

BIG Welcome.  Oh, the reason for the big trip:  Two men had graduated from the Bible school in the Congolese refugee camp in Zemio, and four men were being ordained as pastors in the Congolese church.  I know this risks putting a lie to what I just said about the church in CAR and Congo lacking so much, but these are the first two graduates in over four years, and the first four men to be ordained in about the same length of time.  The need is definitely there.  But that’s for later.  Ron and I put the airplane away, getting it prepped for the next flight.  Then we went to talk to the Ugandan soldiers there at the mission.  The UPDF (Ugandan Provincial Defense Force) is chasing after the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), Joseph Koni’s band of thugs.  Part of Ron’s and my task during the week we’d be in Zemio was to do a security assessment for Central Region, to see if it was reasonable for the missionary to stay.  The UPDF is pretty well trained and equipped, especially for Africa. It was very comforting to have the guys there at the mission.

The next day Ron gave me the tour of the mission, and we did some repairs to the missionary’s motorscooter and the solar system in the guest house.  Mostly a quiet day.  I looked at an old BJ-45 very similar to Mr Zebra and was able to help the owner, Franga, who is a transporter in CAR that works with the mission regularly fix a couple things.  I’m getting some parts together for him now, for it.

I should take a minute and talk about food.  We ate African while there. The missionary doesn’t have a refrigerator and so relies heavily on the local market.  Rice was a staple, as were peanuts and peanut butter.  We also had greens, and matoke (plantain) and manioc (cassava).  The greens were usually served with a peanut sauce….very good.  For breakfast there was oatmeal (with peanut butter mixed in) and pancakes and peanut butter, and granola.   We ate well….  The other local staple I forgot to mention is palm oil.  Lots of palm trees here, and the nuts produce lots of oil.  A local export from the area is soap.  Soap from CAR gets exported all over Africa.

Probably the highlight of the trip was the next flight we did. Ron received word that a couple of children who’d been taken by the LRA as slaves had escaped and found their way to an airstrip.  The local guards were taking care of them, but could we get them, and get them back to their home village?  Yes, we could, in fact.  We flew to the airstrip where the kids were.  I stayed at the controls and kept the engine turning while Ron, who speaks the local languages (He speaks about 6 languages: English, Kiswahili, French, Lingala, Zande, and some Luganda) got out to unload some food we’d brought for the guards, and to get the kids on the plane.  We were on the ground less than five minutes all told…..  The reception back at their village was amazing…everyone was crying.  Given how few of the kids taken by the LRA get away, and the traumas they were subjected to, the reception they received was very understandable.

On another flight we took the missionary with us to the village of Rafai, just to the west of Zemio.  She wanted to meet with the church leaders there, and to meet with the people in the refugee camp there.  I walked with her when she went through the camp. Camp, however, is not very accurate, it’s more like a village.  The folks there are settling in for the long stay.  These folks didn’t flee an actual LRA attack, they left ahead of the attacks, and so were able to bring most of their things with them, and so are fairly well supplied and equipped.  In their minds at least.  Of more worry is the fact that they’re settling in for the long stay.  They’re Congolese, and while they’re all Zande like the folks in CAR this isn’t really their home.  The Red Cross is there providing some aid and mostly some advice (they have the villagers digging good long drop toilets, for instance, in an effort to head off disease).  It was an experience getting to the village…the airstrip is on the other side of the Chinko river (a branch of the Mbomou which defines the border between Congo and CAR) from the village. So we took the ferry.  Then  walking through the village was it’s own education, as I’ve hinted at before. 

It was, as I said, educational to walk through the refugee village.  The people were so amazingly glad to see us.  The missionary translated for me a bit, and most of the translations boiled down to “We’re so glad you came to see us.”  The people aren’t asking for help, other than getting rid of Koni and his goons, but they are very glad to have people from outside come and see.

I see that this post is getting long, and I’ve barely scratched the surface.  It’s quite a task to pack such a full week into a few words and pictures.  In fact, it’s a task beyond me.  So….stand by, there’s more to come.