Arrival in Kinshasa

I traveled to the Congo with Peter Nugent, the retired pastor of St. John Eudes Catholic Church in Chatsworth, California.  We wanted to attend Albert Shuyaka’s ordination and to experience the life of the Diocese of Tshumbe.

A Brussels Air jet carried Peter Nugent and me to Kinshasa's Ndjili Airport.

We arrived in Kinshasa, the capital of the Congo, on July 12, 2011.  Albert and Father Floribert Omole, a priest of the Diocese of Tshumbe, met us at Ndjili Airport at 9:00 PM and drove us 30 km. to downtown Kinshasa.  For a long time we drove along an unpaved highway, weaving in and out of taxis, and passing many small shops lit by a single bulb or even by candlelight.  Eventually we got to downtown Kinshasa.  We stayed at the Centre d’Accueil or hospitality center for Caritas, the Catholic relief organization.

Albert Shuyaka, Peter Nugent, and Father Floribert Omole in front of the Centre d'Accueil.

The Centre is a large property, enclosed by a ten-foot wall.  Father Floribert honked and a watchman opened the high steel door.  Inside we found a residential hotel, dining facilities, meeting rooms, and warehouses.  Preparing for bed during my first night in the Congo, I unthinkingly ran my toothbrush under the water tap.  Then I remembered that the water might not be safe.  So I dug into my luggage and found some water purification pills.  I put two of them in a pitcher and filled it with water.

In the Caritas center, I unfurled the mosquito net.

The pills began to dissolve.  Taking my toothbrush, I stirred it around in the water until I couldn’t see the pills any more, hoping to kill whatever bacteria might have become attached to my toothbrush.  It seemed a silly thing to do, but I was that frightened of getting some water-borne illness.  Luckily, I never did.  Maybe those pills really worked!  Or maybe there was nothing to be afraid of.  I’ll never know.  I was glad to climb into bed beneath a mosquito net.  I woke up in the middle of the first night, wondering if I had gotten myself into more than I had bargained for.  The next day, we learned what the Congolese bishops were doing, and I felt better, and ready to move on to Lodja.


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