(Mark Nash) While Carmen Jacques and the drill team spent the day developing the well, our team took a side trip down the Congo River. We loaded up this morning and headed out on the river ambulance for a small village called Mpombo located on an island about two hours down river. The trip down was very pleasant and uneventful on the ambulance which is a small building approximately ten feet wide by 20 feet long that sits on a platform attached to the top of three 40 foot long wooden canoes. Each canoe is hand carved out of a single tree. None of us have ever seen anything quite like it.
We arrived to a hero’s welcome complete with song and dance, as almost the entire village of 200+ people was waiting on the shore and we pulled up. I’ve said this a lot on this trip, but there really aren’t words to describe the scene.
After a welcome speech by the Regional Pastor and introductions made by Rev. Bonanga, we toured the village school. Each of the three low roofed buildings is made of sticks, bamboo and mud, with the same thatched palm frond roofs we have seen elsewhere. The gaps in the walls and the open door allow for very nice air circulation through each classroom.
We stopped in each of the six classes (grades) and Rev. Bonanga gave speech to each class encouraging them to stay in school. Then we headed back to the church to wait for lunch. But, before we could settle into our chairs, we were asked to step outside and proceed to the surgical tent where a surgery was underway. Each of us was invited in to watch, and everyone got to see a hernia operation in progress. Amazing that in an open-fly tent in the middle of the rain forest surgeons can still do their work.
We had lunch which had been prepared by the women of the village and then while we were waiting on one of the doctors that would return with us it began to rain. Well, we are in the rain forest aren’t we!?! After a delay of an hour or so, the rain let up and off we went.
Just to give you a real feel for how the day ended, we came to shore about 30 minutes after dark with no lights on the boat. One of the two deck hands stood in the bow and blinked a flashlight looking for a return signal. When he found it, we headed that way.
As if by magic as we got closer two men on the shore turned on LED lamps marking the outside of the space where we were to beach the boat on the shore. After a few shouts and adjustments we were in. I’ve got friends at home that can’t park their much smaller boats that good in broad daylight.
I am positive that other members of our team will blog about this day as well.
And, not to forget the drill team, they are close to having the well clean. Only two more days on site. Let’s get this show finished!