Friday, November 11, 2011

Join the Pilgrims via Video

It's been months now since we returned from Congo, but I've finally found time to edit the video footage that we took.  Here are links to 4 videos, if you'd like to get a better sense of the experiences we had along the way.

1.  Morning In Mampoko
A six-minute video that will provide a look at a journey by boat on the Congo River, plus a look at life in the village of Mampoko, 60 miles upriver from Mbandaka.

2.  Congo Nutritional Clinic
A 16-minute video about a nutritional clinic run by the Mbandaka District of the Disciples of Christ in Congo, where they are treating malnourished children and educating their parents.

3. A Musical Evening with Congolese Choirs
A lively one-hour video where you can experience the amazing energy and uplifting singing of several choirs from the Mbandaka District of the Disciples of Christ in Congo.

4.  Indiana Pilgrims in Mbandaka, Congo, May 2011
An overview of the time the pilgrims spent in the Mbandaka District of the Disciples of Christ in Congo - 25 minutes, many pictures of Congolese life and worship.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

To Touch the Congo Sky

Today's blog is a poem (perhaps someday to be a song?) written by Rev. Vernon J. Stover, who was a pilgrim on the journey to Mbandaka, Congo.  He speaks with a beautiful voice about how deeply we all were touched by our pilgrimage.


To touch the Congo sky,
To breathe its reddened past,

To see what it will be 
        In ev'ry child I've passed,
To hear its odes to joy
  Phrased by the river's word, 

To savor fruit and fish
        As presence of our Lord
Does make my heart brim full
With cane juice dripping sweet,

Does make my soul sing out
In song of pulsing beat,

Does make my mind unwrap
The gift of dancing friends,
Does make my arms embrace
The changeless God-filled winds.

Your will, O LORD, calls forth
All those who will but try
To fill the world with love
Or touch the Congo sky. 


"The Things We Didn't Know"

Notes from May 28

One of our goals for the journey was to learn what it means to "walk in another's shoes", and to share what it means to walk in our shoes.  This Saturday was certainly a wonderful opportunity to accomplish that task.  Scott Seay, a professor of Global Christianity at Christian Theological Seminary, had the opportunity to visit the faculty and students of the theological faculty at the Protestant University of Equateur (Equateur is the province in which Mbandaka is located).  Bob Shaw went along as interpreter and, as chair of the Congo Task Force, interested party.  According to all reports, they had an exciting morning sharing information about theological education in both countries.  Scott reported that although their library was, of necessity, small, its contents were very impressive.  The depth of the curriculum was likewise very impressive.  Knowing that there will be few opportunities to share much of the material in the churches the students will serve, it is nevertheless considered important that the pastors' own faith be grounded in a deep understanding of the Bible and Christianity's greatest thinkers.

The rest of the pilgrims spent the morning with Disciples women and female pastors.  The study was led by our own Rev. Toni Colbert, who spoke deeply and movingly of the meaning of a Bible passage for all Christian women.  She was presented with a gift of cloth that is worn by many Christian women in Congo.  Both Congolese and US women shared stories of their vision for their role as women in the church.  The whole group broke out into spontaneous song and dance, accompanied by enthusiastic women drummers.  Surely a morning to remember.

During the afternoon, most of the group journeyed down the Congo River by pirogue to Ikengo Farm, a model agricultural project that is sponsored by the Disciples of Christ.  This project (Centre Agro-Pastorale) is both teaching the Congolese how to improve their own agriculture and providing a much-needed source of income for Disciples in Congo.

Vernon Stover spent the afternoon working with the choral directors of the Mbandaka parishes, sharing western four-part harmony versions of hymns that are traditional both in Africa and the USA.  I was privileged to help with translation (and when necessary, demonstrations of directing techniques, but certainly not with the singing).  It was amazing to hear how quickly tunes could be learned by a people where music is simply a fundamental part of their being.

Saturday ended with some very welcome rest, after four very intense and exhausting days.  Besides, all of the pastors needed time to prepare for their sermons, to be given at five very diverse parishes, the next day.