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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mennonites in the Congo

The following is the account of Mennonites Bud and Clement Kroeker who are transporting a truck to Congo for to transport goods to the needy ... 'Bud' Kroeker takes us along for the pickup in Port Boma ... 
D.M. Stearns Missionary Fund
P.O. Box 1578
North Wales, PA 19454
Greetingsfrom Kinshasa.  
July 3, 2013

I landed here in Kinshasa safely Tuesday night, July 2. The pilot said that it had been perfect weather for flying, and our arrival was right on time. Just the same, it was midnight by the time I got to the home of Dan and Christine Grings who are giving me lodging.
Thank you for praying for this trip. All the last minute details were taken care of last week in spite of many unpredictable events.

This morning I woke up early. Erik Kumedisa came and we had a long conversation, discussing the plans for the coming days. The ship arrives tomorrow at the Port of Boma so the truck will be unloaded that evening or the next day.  Erik will come pick me up at 6 a.m. tomorrow and we will go by bus to the Port.

Two Congolese men helping us with customs documents are already there. We'll need to get the other papers for the truck, insurance, immatriculation paper, etc. in Boma once we get there.

Please pray that the customs fees will not be too high. Normally, non-profit organizations don't have the same tax fees, but it takes many months, even a year to get this exemption paper.

I will be meeting with pastors in a few minutes.

Thank you for your encouragement in preparing this trip. God is good. We thank Him for providing and for guiding us day by day.
Bud Kroeker
D. M. Stearns Missionary Fund
P.O.Box 1578
North Wales, PA 19454  USA
Clement & Charlotte Kroeker
15, Ave. des Mésanges — BE-1480  Tubize Clabecq, Belgium
Tél. +322 355 99 06 — E-mail:

07 July, 2013
Dear Friends,

We are here in the city of Boma for the first time, arriving last night. A Pastor welcomed us at the bus terminal and took an old taxi to drive us over dirt roads to the Hostel of the Old Port. As he showed us our room, he told us that the river was right next to us.

What a delight the next morning to rise and look out the window over one of the largest rivers in the world flowing right next to us with one of the many islands out in the middle. In the mist one can hardly see the other side,  Fishermen in their pirogues skim over the water seemingly without effort with the oarsman standing up in back.

Out in the distance one can see a ship in the ocean waiting his turn to enter the port, and we can’t help wondering if it isn’t the ship carrying «our» truck, but then we find out that it isn’t. From where we are eating we watch several ships pass by us heading up the swift current towards Matadi. Finally around 4 p.m. we see the large ship coming in to the Port of Boma which is the one carrying the truck. Normally they will unload the truck tomorrow and go through customs on Monday. We appreciate your prayers for these two Christian men helping us with customs formalities,  helping to get the taxes cut. During the day we had several talks with them and they are trying to defend our cause.

The trip down here from Kinshasa began early yesterday morning. Mrs. Grings made me some sandwiches and we took off to go into the city just in time to catch the bus leaving at 7:30 a.m. Fortunately our bus was a newer one (brand name Tata) and a good driver. I am traveling with Erik Kumedisa, Jacques, the truck driver loaned to us for the return trip,  and Erik’s daughter Gertrude who is an announcer for TV but out of work just now.

The highway to Boma is the same National Highway #1, but heading west from Kinshasa towards Matadi it is blacktop that is much older and worn out, narrower and more congested with traffic. Every few minutes we pass a large truck loaded with containers coming from the Port of Matadi.

Around noon we pass through Matadi. Matadi is the word for «rock». It sits perched high up on the hills and rocks overlooking the river and the port. Because of the over-population and congestion, the rugged terrain, lack of urban planning, order and cleanliness, the city is over crowded with millions of people trying to live, walking along the road without sidewalks, crossing everywhere. Shops are crowding the sidewalks even into the street. Taxis parked here and there, big trucks come down this same road.
Finally we cross the big suspension bridge which hangs between the two cliffs high above the river. At first the road is quite good, but little by little gets worse, and soon we pass villages completely covered in a red dust from the road.
This part of the country is very good for agriculture. People spread out their bananas, eglantine, oranges, madrier and other fruits and vegetables along side the road. Unfortunately the transport system is so poor that the produce doesn’t profit the rest of the country.

We thank God for the safe arrival in the Port city of Boma, where we will be staying while waiting the truck to pass through customs. We will be in Church tomorrow with friends who love and worship the same Lord, trusting Him as we are, and singing His praises so much better than we could.

Thank you for your prayers.

Bud Kroeker

Clement & Charlotte Kroeker
15, Ave. des Mésanges — BE-1480  Tubize Clabecq, Belgium
Tél. +322 355 99 06 — E-mail:

11 July, 2013
Dear Friends,

Finally yesterday around 5:30 p.m. customs officials cleared the truck and it could be driven away from the Port to where we are staying at the Auberge along the river. We praise God together with all of you who prayed and gave so generously for this vehicle. Six days of waiting have come to an end. Erik Kumedisa had been negotiating three days at the Port before they finally let it go. We arrived at the Port city of Boma Thursday night. The ship arrived Saturday July 6 in the late afternoon and they unloaded it that night. But customs formalities couldn’t begin until Monday morning.
The truck has been given a name: Metanoia, since it was previously a military vehicle and now is transformed to bring service to the needy in the heart of Congo.

As a non-profit organisation, we’d hoped for a reduction in taxes. Though some were actually lowered, there were so many others that we ended up paying as much or more than we’d expected.

While waiting all day Saturday, we did a little sight-seeing along the coast at the mouth of the Congo River. At the Berlin Conference on Nov. 5, 1881, the then World ruling powers divided Africa arbitrarily. King Leopold had the vast interieur of the Congo, but the French and Portugese only left him a very small passage from the ocean with the Congo River. There is still a part of Angola (Kabinda) on the north side of the River.

Sunday we were able to go to Church with a new little group of around thirty people in a new building. One of the elders of the church is a customs officer who, along with another Christian took care of our customs declarations for us and tried to help us through. After the service the young pastor Bazinga walked with us across the city to show us a few historical sights. This city of Boma on the Congo River was une of the first places to be settled by Europeans as far back as the 16th century. In fact the little meat market next to our Auberge was the actual site of the slave trade market during the 17th and 18th centuries. And the city was the capitol of Congo from 1886 until 1929.

Our Auberge was simple but nice. A small breakfast of bread and coffee was served. We had one other meal each day, usually fish and rice in a red sauce. The rates were low, but they still add up and now we are happy to be on our way. 

Today we bought the license plates and got the other things taken care of so that we can leave for Kinshasa tomorrow morning. We are very grateful to the Lord that we will at last be able to continue west towards our destination. We’ll be in Kinshasa a few days for errands, meeting a few people and to check the truck over before going to Matende. Please pray as we drive tomorrow on the difficult stretch of road between Boma and Kinshasa. I need to get used to driving this truck and to the roads. A fine truck driver has been loaned to us for the hard parts.

In Him,

Bud and all the team

Clement & Charlotte Kroeker
15, Ave. des Mésanges
BE-1480  Tubize Clabecq

D.M. Stearns Missionary Fund
P.O. Box 1578
North Wales, PA 19454

Greetings from Kinshasa. July 13, 2013

We arrived here at 3 a.m. this morning, Saturday, thanks to God’s grace and protection. I’m happy to be back at the Grings home where I found my bed at 4:30.  But morning came quickly and I was up by 7.

Yesterday we didn’t get off as quickly as we’d hoped from Boma. We had a truck driver we didn’t really know, and a truck we’d never really taken out on the road to try out. And there wasn’t much money left after paying customs, plus the fact that we didn’t know how much diesel fuel would be needed for the trip nor how much toll would be demanded... 

Actually the truck reservoir holds 150 liters and we didn’t use it all up after 432 kilometers yesterday. Toll roads, the Maréchal Mobutu bridge at Matadi and the fee for weighing the truck (9.970 kilos) all added up to $100.

Someone stole the key to the truck at the port and we had to go out and buy a new one (which may have been the original one) but it doesn’t work too well. We need to get another one.

The driver, Jacques, did a great job of driving and I was very happy to let him do it. The trip was extremely tiring with no assisted steering and bad roads. Driving at night was dangerous because as we headed into the poorly adjusted headlights of big trucks headed towards us and the port of Matadi, we were blinded. Sometimes trucks had no tail lights. Of course no street lights or freeways lit up as they are in Belgium. The villages were packed with people, goats, all walking along the narrow roads.

So we really praise the Lord for caring over us during this part of the trip. We hope to leave Wednesday for Kikwit.
In His name,

Bud Kroeker

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