We are finally here in Mulongo!! I am happy to be here but very tired. It is worth saying up front that for me this was two journeys: the literal journey, taken by car and experienced with the five senses, and the figurative journey that was happening within, as two days on the road gives one quite a bit of time to think. As for the literal, I can say that it is NOT a journey for the faint of heart! While taking a car is kind of wussing out compared to Bob’s trek across the region on bicycle, I will say that it was quite enough adventure for me! Even though Mulongo is only about 300 kilometers from Lubumbashi, it is a 2-day journey by car, longer if you have to stop for any length of time. In total, we spent 19 hours in the car. The first 4 hours from Lubumbashi to Mulongishi was the “easy” part. By easy I mean that it was on paved roads and everything went pretty smoothly. However, I was already thinking that that part would have done in my mom or my sister who get easily carsick! It was really HOT, and we were crammed in the back of a car with our luggage. So, when we got to Mulongishi I felt like we had really made some progress! (Little did I know….) I should say, also, that I pretty much just “go with the flow” when I’m here. My lack of fluency in French prevents me from asking a ton of questions, which I find to be a good thing most of the time. But when it comes to the practicalities of logistics, like, say, how long a trip is going to take, well you can just count me out!
So anyway, when we got to Mulonguishi, which switched to the Land Cruiser/borrowed ambulance to make the rest of the journey. Leaving Mulonguishi, the road is pretty rough from there on out. So for the next 15 hours, we were in the land cruiser. That first night, we stopped in Kumbo, which is a village in which there is beautiful hotel and waterfall. I took a lot of pictures which I will hopefully post on facebook. The next day, it was on, up over the mountains and down into the valley, and on to Mulongo. So glad we finally made it. I have been praying fervently every day that I will not get sick, because a lot of our work here is dependent on Mary and I both remaining well-enough to travel, so being ill could seriously delay us. I have no doubt that they would take very good care of me, but who wants to spend their adventure time lying around sick? Anyway, so far, God has blessed me with wellness, I feel very strong, and I want to say that it is truly a miracle for me that I was not carsick at all. I know that probably sounds silly, but I get carsick easily, and the only way I can imagine that I was not ill on this very rough and bumpy trip was the God saw to it. Because even though I took Dramamine—it’s pretty much impossible NOT to get sick if you get sick easily. For you Americans reading I can tell you it is like riding a jerky motion-simulator ride at a theme park for 15 hours in a row. But I was very well the whole time.
I saw so many things on the way here that I was rarely bored at all, I was just looking out the window drinking it in, lost in thought. Through all of my time here and what I have experienced so far, I will tell you that I am truly humbled—when I first dreamed of coming here, it is within one’s nature to think of all that you will “do” and how you can do good things to “help” people. Maybe others can maintain that air of confidence, but I certainly can’t—being here, in a strange country, with such gracious people makes me realize my utter humanness, how I am at the mercy of those who are helping me to travel, and in the end it is often they who help me instead of the other way around. It really struck me as I was traveling in the car, that this is really not “my” journey—this is Mary’s journey. She is the one who will do the work. I don’t really have a goal or a job here, except to write everything down, share it with all of you, and take lots of pictures. My secondary goal is to not do anything too stupid that it gets in the way! I know that sounds funny but it really is true and it’s the way I see it. It’s the same as being a therapist. When I am doing therapy with a client, I really believe that they are capable to their own growth and change. My only goal is to be present and provide a good environment for that, and not do anything too stupid to get in the way. Not every therapist works that way, some truly come into the therapy room with the belief that they can “fix” their clients and the tools to do so, but that is not my style. (Sorry to burst your bubble for those of you who want therapy to “fix” everything.) I just want to be present, to provide support, and then essentially get out of the way so the client can achieve the potential that is already within them.
It’s the same way here, for me. This is really Mary’s journey. And it must be this way, because I won’t be here forever. When I leave, she will continue without me. And so I can be here to document what we are doing, the “help” in little ways by providing the (k)nowing that I have when it appears necessary, but mainly I try not to do anything too stupid that it impairs what we are trying to do. (When I have more time to write, I have some funny stories about this—many cultural snafus that illustrate my attempts to be gracious and un-stupid.) Anyway, I have many more thoughts that I will share later, but the important thing is that we are here now, we are safe, in the gracious hands of our hosts, our family. I have to go, because I have another “cooking lesson” for the afternoon—off to learn to make beignets. :)