Sandra Gourdet Leads Critical Presence Visit to DRC and RC
On February 10th, GM Africa Area Executive, Sandra Gourdet will begin a Critical Presence Visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo with 6 other “pilgrims”: Nicholas Hood III – Pastor of Plymouth UCC, Detroit, MI, Robert Learned – Retired, Phoenix, AZ, Linda McCrae, Co-chair of the Common Global Ministries Board and Pastor of Central Christian Church, Indianapolis, IN, Darla Schaffer, Common Global Ministries Board Member, Bismarck, ND, Sheila Spencer – Program Director/Merger Staff of Office of Disciples Women, Indianapolis, IN, and Jeffrey Whitman, Conference Minister, Missouri Mid-South Conference UCC.
The group will travel first to Mbandaka and will be present at the dedication service of the Pediatric wing of the Bolenge Hospital on Sunday, February 14. They will also visit other ministries at Bolenge as well as the Headquarters of the Disciples Community in Mbandaka. A trip to the Ikengo Farm and to the village of Boyeka is also planned.
On February 19, the group will head back to Kinshasha and cross the river to Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo. There they will meet with the leaders of the Church of Christ in Congo as well as the Women’s Department. They will worship in Brazziville on the 21st and then embark on the long journey back to the U.S. the following day.
Please pray for this important journey in the life of our two denominations and return to this page regularly for trip updates that Sandra and the team will send from the two Congos.
February 14, 2010
After many anxious moments, we have finally arrived in the Congo and in the 24 hours that we have been here we have been mesmerized by aerial views of the stunning natural beauty, the many ways we have been welcomed, and the dedication of the Bolenge pediatric wing.
We arrived in Kinshasa last night (Saturday evening) two hours later than scheduled due to weather-related delays. Exhausted, but grateful for safe arrival, we were taken to the Church of Christ’s hotel/guest house. There we mananged to get a hot meal and a few hours of sleep.
Although we had barely enough time to sleep, everyone was awake at 5:30 am and ready to start the 2 1/2 journney to Mbandaka in the Missionary Aviation Fellowhip aircraft. Shortly before our pilot Rod, lifted off, a prayer was offered. The closer we got to Mbandaka, the more turbulent the weather became. An outward appearance revealed that we were all calm. Once we landed safely and shared impressions, we understood the meaning of the expression “looks are deceiving”. The church official were certain that they would have to cancel the dedication because they feared we would not be able to travel on such a small aircraft in the rain.
After airport formalities, we went outside to be received by a most extraordinnary welcome on a Sunday morning.Youth choirs and the very talented dance team sang and danced joyfully as we stood watching them. All too soon it was time to leave and meet other obligations on the program. We went briefly to the guest house to leave our luggage. Arrangements had been made for us to pay our respects to the Vice Governor. After a brief visit we went to the home of Rev and Mrs Eliki Bonanga for a wonderful buffet lunch.
The afternoon was spent at the dedication celebration. Significant time was given to the speeches delivered by the American delegation. Sandra gourdet introduced the delegation and brought greetings from Global Ministries. She encouraged the government and the church to work hand in hand with the hospital staff. The hospital has a grand role to play as the country celebrates its 50th year of independence. She presented the a Global ministries plate to Rev Bonanga for the hospital on behalf of David Vargas and Cally Rogers-Witte as a sign of the partnership and a reminder of Global Ministries’ constant presence with the Disciples in Congo. She also presented a check for $5525 as a special gift from a Bolenge Hospital supporter designated for equipment for the pediatric wing.
Linda McCrae spoke on behalf of the Common Global Ministries Board. She reminded the audience that Jesus desired for everyone to have wholeness of life. She presented a quilted banner made and sent by the children of Central Christian Church in Indianapolis.
Robert Learned thrilled the audience with his greeting in Lomongo as well as the song and a story taught to him in early childhood by his mother. He felt honored that a plaque was placed on the building in honor of his deceased sibling.
The Vice Governor and Provincial Minister of Health presented their greetings and words of encouragement. These were followed by the ribbon cutting ceremony and inspection visit through the new building.
What a long but wonderful day!
Feb. 12, 2010
The 7 participants in the Congo trip are all gathered at JFK airport and just beginning their orientation meeting. Their luggage is all checked in with Air France, except for Darla Schafer, whose luggage did not arrive with her today. They are hopeful that the luggage may arrive at the airport before their 7 PM departure tonight. Weather in NYC is clear and they anticipate that the group will fly out tonight, after days of delays and struggles with the weather.
Mission Aviation Fellowship has reluctantly agreed to fly them from Kinshasa to Mbandaka on Sunday, leaving at 6 AM. MAF does not usually fly on Sundays. Thus, the group surprisingly may be in Mbandaka and Bolenge for worship service on Sunday morning, which will be an incredible experience for them.
The inauguration of the new pediatric wing of the Bolenge hospital will be the highlight of this visit.