Behold, I will hasten my work in its time. I give unto you... a commandment that you...prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts ...before me, that I may make you clean...Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly...That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you. DC88:73-80
Sunday, August 1, 2010
At the Open Air Market
Our first experience at the open air market was a real eye-opener. This is huge and extremely busy. It is the usual way that the Congolese shop. We were the main attraction as we drove and got out of our car. First, because we were white people or "muzungus"(moozoongoos) (in Swahili). Secondly, because we drove a car (which is rare). There were literally thousands of people on every block with their goods for sale. On some blocks, they had clothing, baskets, hats, most of them piled on the ground on a cloth.
You can see they have potatoes, garlic, onions, beans, cracked wheat, cassava, cassava powder, leeks, green onions, bananas, apples, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, spices, rocks that they put in their mouths and hold in their cheeks to get calcium. You will never guess what is in the middle large pan that looks like it might be beans. It is actually termites, large termites dried and crunchy. They also had dried catepillars, in different sizes; many types of dried fish, some very scary.
Most people live in one room homes with no running water and no power, so the sanitation standards are very low. The sights, sounds, smells were amazing. I did buy some beans (by the bucket), cracked wheat, tomatoes, green onions. We paid by Congolese Franc. We wanted bananas but they were sold by the crate. We had to boil the beans and cracked wheat for hours to sanitize. The product was delicious and we were not ill. The tomatoes, green onions were soaked in soapy water and bleach, then soaked again in bleach water.
Most of the people at these markets are the uneducated so they speak Swahili. So as you an imagine, the communication is very limited. Once in a while, someone would say, "Bon Jour, Madam" and we were excited! Most of the women are in traditional African clothing but some are just in anything they have. The Congolese try to dress as nicely as they can. Because so many do not have jobs, they wear whatever they can get. Only a few major roads are paved and all the rest are dusty, dirt roads with many potholes. Most people are on foot.
Most of the goods are brought by bicycle with a rare truck or two. The bicycle is the basic mode for carrying goods. I am not sure why but they do not use animals. They carry most things, if they do not have a bicycle or cart to pull, on their heads. They are masters at balance. The sizes, weights and huge amounts they can carry on their heads is astounding. Most of the women, with those loads on their heads, also have a baby on their back and hold another child's hand.
One of the things we are trying to teach the members is that men and women work together for their families, that they are equally yolked. The culture in the Congolese has the women doing everything. They take care of the children, the buying, the carrying, finding food, cooking the food, the laundry, getting the water (which is huge). Men have the tradition that unless they have a regular job, like carrying goods on bicycles, they just watch. Many of them are unemployed. The men in church rarely even sit with their wife and children at first, but they are learning and changing. It's good!
To the left, you will see an inner-city market. It is a little nicer with purses, backpacks and luggage. If you look directly behind it, you will see the spire of the newly dedicated Seminary and Institute building. Sister Julie Beck was here about six weeks ago, just before we arrived to help in its dedication. There are many students anxious to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is also a chapel in that building. Our temporary mission office, that Craig and I serve in to organize the mission is in that S & I building.
It is a cultural adjustment to be in this culture of the Congo. Each day we go by faith and know that He we will bless us in our efforts to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ more fully to this area. The members here are truly dedicated, loving and accepting. They love Jesus Christ, as their Savior. They love their families. We miss our home, family and friends and thank you for your love and support, but we are truly grateful for this challenge in our lives. You are in our prayers and we hope we are in yours!