Last week, we had a seminar for 6 young Congolese men training them how to be preachers. I won’t write much about that experience, but you can see Jason and Erin’s blog as they tell more. However, one thing that happened proved to be very memorable. The last day they were here, we took them out to a Bible study in Mushingashi that go to every week. They were going to get a chance to practice preaching for this small congregation. So we all loaded up in the truck and headed off for the 40 minute journey. As we turned off the tarmac onto the dirt road, winds started picking up and lightning was streaking across the sky. Our destination was 8 km away through the forest. As the storm got bigger, the rain became heavy, the trees were swaying back and forth, and limbs were flying everywhere as I was driving on this now very slick mud road. We finally made it to the church and the storm had passed. We had a great Bible study and the young men did well.
However, it was the return trip that proved memorable. We made our way back down the muddy road with debris on either side of us. Half way out of the woods, we came upon a tree fallen across the road. So me and the six guys jumped out of the truck and were able to move this tree to the side for us to pass. About a minute later, we came upon another tree blocking our path that was a bit larger. However, with some effort we were able to relocate the obstacle. With only about a quart of kilometer left to the exit, we were stopped yet again by another tree. This time there was a truck loaded with people coming the other direction that had begun to chop away at the tree as it was quite large, about three feet in diameter. So after about 30 minutes the tree was finally chopped in half and it took 15 of us to push the huge trunk to the side giving just enough room for our truck to pass. We decided to let the other truck go first. As the truck maneuvered its way towards the opening it veered to the side of the road just a bit and both tires on the left side of the truck just sunk straight down in the mud.
So the next 30 minutes we spent putting tree bark under the tires and all 20 of us pushing on the left side of the truck as it slung mud all over us to get unstuck. After several attempts it finally made its way out, and then I received one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever had here. They called me a “muntu”, which when translated means “man”. This is a compliment because usually I get called “mzungu” meaning “rich white man”. However, all the Kaonde people call themselves “muntu” and make a clear distinction between the whites and the blacks. I guess since I was in there getting just as muddy as the rest of them, they for just a moment viewed me as one of them. Truly a memorable moment. Thankful though for four-wheel drive as I did not get stuck when passing!