First Night in Kasenga

The sun began to lower in the horizon, ushering in the silver-gray cast that falls on Africa before the black night. I commented to Sylvain how this was one of my favorite times of day. It was calm and soothing, a foreshadowing of the evening rest to come. The dim grays faded to black around 6:30, and yet we were only about 90km from the city.

 I was unable to see down the road due to the headrest in front of me, but the rain began beating the car roof again. I could hear by the loud splashes that it had been raining here for quite some time, and the familiar gulley-washes and ruts jarred the car from time to time. My mind raced back to the frequent night-time journeys in Zimbabwe from campus to LaRochelle. Overhead thunder rumbled and lightning shook the ground at the same time it was visible. It was a close one!

 My mind wandered to seeing the pastors and church members again. I thought about my deliverance from Johannesburg and all of the hundreds of details in that process. I thought about seeing my new home for the first time. I thought about everything that had been done for the ministry in Africa since I was there 16 months ago. I didn’t know when I would see the pastors or church members, but the questions kept popping in my head “Mon Dieu, q’uest ce qu’il a fait?” (My God, what is he doing?) and “Mon Dieu, q’uest ce que vous avait fait?” (My God, what have you done?)

 On our way again once again, the pastor struggled to speak English and I struggled to speak French. Sylvain and I decided on a new name for my adopted language- “baby French”- or “francais bebe”. I indicated to Sylvain that he would be the one to notify me when I had graduated. The pastor in front laughed and said “I speak baby English!”. I said “We are equals then!” and we all had a good laugh. The pastor said that he was very happy.

 Sylvain continued to receive calls. Dorcas, the district pastors, and lay leaders were all asking “Where are you?” and “When are you coming?” He explained that the rain had slowed us, never mentioning all of the unscheduled stops we had made along the way. It was now just after 7pm, and some had been waiting since 2:30pm.

 The rain continued in the blackness, and we arrived at Sylvain’s house just before 8pm. The bags were pulled off the top of the Land Rover and our hosts departed. I was shown to my room (which I’m sure was Sylvain and Dorcas’ room) and they explained because of the rain and the time of night that they wanted to have me in their house that night. Just as we returned to the front room, the pastors of the District began to file in! All of the parishioners who had waited so long were now headed home. Sylvain told me that the pastor of Jerusalem parish had prepared a short prayer service for us. He opened with “It is Well With My Soul”, one of David’s favorite hymns, and I could barely keep back the tears. Even in this dark night he was with me. The pastors offered prayers of praise for safe arrival. They informed me that they (and all of their churches) had been praying for me unceasingly since I had “gone missing” in Johannesburg. They asked me to tell the story of what happened there and I obliged, ending the narrative with Psalm 62 which sustained me during that time. One pastor said for the group “we are grateful that God gave you such peace during this trying time”. We sang two more hymns, prayed together in unison, and we parted for the evening.

 After the prayer session I was offered a “splash bath” with warm water, and a small meal of rice, chicken and cooked cabbage. While the heat in the bedroom was suffocating, I was grateful to be using my own pillow for the first time in 2 weeks and to be clean! The power had been out most of the evening due to the rain, so even my fan purchased in Lubumbashi could not be a comfort. I lay inside my mosquito net, listening to Sylvain and the children going up and down the hall getting ready for bed. I listened to a new sound of an African frog species in a puddle in the yard, the chickens settling in for the night, and the dog barking. And finally, the last candle in the hallway was extinguished and it was quiet. I was in Kasenga. I was now “home”.

 God’s grace is the gift of “home”, wherever that may be…

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