Sunday, May 1, 2011
Posted by Kriss Gates
April, 2011: About a month ago President Headlee arrived in Pointe Noire and mentioned to us that his plane had stopped in a small city called Dolisie. He asked if we knew anything about this town. We didn’t. However, Ed kept thinking about Dolisie and asked a few people about it. Our interpreter, Leon, told us he had a cousin, Jean Marc, that lived there with his family. He said they were members of the church. Our branch president said the drive to Dolisie was a dangerous 5 hour drive through the Congo jungle, with very, very steep cliffs and drop offs. He was serious. Then someone told us that there were Pygmies, in that part of the jungle, that are still cannibals. He was not serious, but it still made me nervous. We were also warned by our predessors, the Baxters, that the only time they left town and went for a drive, they were robbed. We were warned that there would be check points, with people with ropes across the road. Some would be legal and some would just be people who set up a rope and wanted money. Even after all the warnings, Ed felt very compelled to drive there. He was determined to find out if there was a chance for opening the town for the gospel, and eventually missionaries, in the near future. Ed called the mission president and asked for permission to drive there. The president was thrilled that we were willing to make that drive. We packed our overnight bags, and took our interpreter with us. We headed off through the rain forest and the jungle not knowing what to expect. I was a little nervous, but had faith in Ed’s inspired determination to go. It took four and a half hours, including a couple of pit stops for Ed to try out his new toy... a GPS one of our elders gave to him. There are no regular pitstops, because there is nothing between here and there. There were 6 tiny villages... no electricity or running water or fast food restaurants. Not even a public outhouse. Previously there wasn’t a real road between Pointe Noire and Dolisie…. Only a dirt path. We felt that we were really traveling in style. We didn't pass many other cars, but once in awhile we saw some public transportation. This guy must have a little more money. I wonder how much he paid for his seat for 5hours. No kidding! The government is building a road through this rugged terrane, which will be wonderful for the Congolese. The road was fascinating! They are literally building it one bucket at a time. Look closely at this picture. There is a line of natives passing the buckets up a cliff to make a wall to keep the dirt from falling down onto the new road. The road is about 25% completed, but the 75% that isn’t complete was like the Raiders of the Lost Ark ride at Disneyland. I was very happy when we spotted Dolisie... What an adventure! We had a great hotel while we were there. It was strange because it was like a nice hotel 50 years ago. They had no internet or hotel brochures, but they had beautiful linens on the beds... including feather duvets. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! The ride home was also great. Both ways we were stopped by 3 different road blocks. However, when we said we were missionaries and showed them our badges, they just let us pass through without paying anything. There were steep cliffs, but they were no worse than cliffs on the way to Lake Arrowhead... but without side rails. We didn't see any pygmies, and we weren't eaten by cannibals. We didn’t see any wild animals, except a few goats. But we saw lots and lots of beautiful jungle rain forests in the steep mountains. The dirt was red, like southern Utah… but it was intermingled with the stark green of the rain forest. It was amazing. When we got home, all was well. We are very excited to return to Dolisie. P.S. Details on the members and meeting will be on our next blog.