International Ministries

Raymond Bunn, Serving in DR Congo

July 26, 2011 Journal

Note:  Raymond served as an American Baptist pastor in Indiana and now serves in the Virginia Baptist Convention in Boykins, VA.  This is his fifth summer of service in DR Congo with ABC IM missionaries and partners.

Raymond Bunn's letter to the churches, July 2011

Our projects this last year were the new water project at the hospital, solar lighting at the hospital, expansion of the water system into the Pastoral Village, funding of the women's school and restoration of the church tower and building. In addition, our plan this trip is to establish a medical account at the Vanga hospital for the Kikongo hospital. This account will be used for the purchase of medicines and medical supplies. The German Brothers administrate the business affairs of the Vanga hospital. They will keep and provide documentation of account activity for CongoMission.

Katherine Niles, Mr. Isaiah/solar technician, and I flew to Kikongo on Tuesday for a brief half day visit to inspect completed projects, check on the progress of continuing projects, and receive new requests for projects. I must admit error. I should have scheduled an overnight trip. We were rushed. It was hot. I found myself making three trips up and down the riverbanks to inspect new cisterns and check on Mazu. This is the very thing that created great problems for me in CongoMission2009. Mazu is the rare, clawless African otter the Chapman’s inherited from some hunters over one year ago. She has become more attached to Rita than Rita's own skin. We have had great anxiety about how she would make the transition of the Chapman’s being in the US for one year of furlough. We found Mazu doing well and in control of her keepers! 

I was overjoyed when I went to the hospital and visited the wards. CongoMission 2010 contracted with Mwenimanu, the Kikongo waterman, to do the new water project. Our purpose was to bring clean, running water into the nurse’s station on every ward. The hospital has water at the cisterns, but no water faucets or running water in any buildings. The project was begun shortly after I left last August.  It was funded entirely by private donations from you, our partners. In every ward the nurse proudly turned on the water faucet of her newly installed sink. It is the first time clean, running water has been available to the nurses in all hospital wards. They were truly grateful. I just stood there and looked at their beaming faces. Water! Just a faucet and water. Katherine Niles beamed with them and pronounced them "Blessed." We also added two showers in an outbuilding on the hospital grounds. The hospital has never had showers. They are for patient use and, believe me, they use them. Mwenimanu has done an excellent job and takes such pride in each project.  I repeatedly praised him in front of the people. Our plan is to install two additional showers on the other side of the hospital compound. I want only Congolese to do the work. Mwenimanu is the man who saved the ram pump project two years ago. He began this project shortly after I left last year. It was extensive. Thank you for clean water in the Kikongo hospital. You are the instruments of God.

The Kikongo hospital has had lighting on and off again. The reality was that babies were being birthed with the use of flashlights and one fluorescent light. Night time emergencies were usually held off until morning light. Emergency C-sections at night were challenging. Mothers in maternity were afraid of the dark that some evil spirit would come and take or kill their babies. How basic are water and lighting for a hospital!! The Virginia Baptist Mission Board was our primary partner for this project. Holland Baptist Church in Suffolk, Virginia and Brush Creek Baptist Church in Springfield, Kentucky, plus Paul and Kim Lewis of Springfield, Kentucky were also major contributors to the solar lighting project. The solar lighting has been installed in the Operating Room, Pediatrics Ward, and Maternity Ward. We have contracted with a solar technician from Kinshasa who Dr. Bill Clemmer highly recommended. Mr. Isaiah is now installing solar panels on the Emergency/Outpatient ward and will follow that with the Lab ward. When I entered the Pediatrics ward, the head nurse showed me lights in every room. The new mothers and their newborns do not have to fear the dark as before. New lights are installed in the delivery room. The same was true when I went into the Operating Room and Maternity ward. The hospital can be a frightening place at night. They can now dispel the darkness in Jesus Name. Thank you! You are His instruments of Light.

The water system we reconstructed in CongoMission2009 has been expanded this year to take clean, running water to the twenty five families of the Pastoral Institute. This is the largest Pastor training school in the heart of DR Congo. We have run water lines across the village and installed three public faucets. The women and children do not have to climb up and down the steep river gorge to get water. This year we have been asked to extend the water system to doctors and pastors homes. It will require a third ram pump and costs. We are studying the request. Wayne Niles was born at Kikongo and grew up there. He remembers that the water system, drawing from the same water source as the one today supplied all of the mission station. Hopefully, the Virginia Baptist Mission Board will agree to fund this project and we can continue to serve those who serve many. 

Last year I personally committed to the restoration of the church. It was built by Rita Chapman's grandfather. Rita and Glen Chapman serve as missionaries to the Kikongo area today. The church tower, as the church building itself, was in a state of deterioration. The tower had had large windows on three sides with large red painted crosses in their center. The large wooden window frames were painted green. Around the crosses, stained glass let colored light into the sanctuary. The windows were rotted, the glass broken out and the front window had been covered with ugly roofing tin. The building has not been maintained or painted since the 1960's. I will try to send a picture. It gives a dark, ugly, negative look to the church and, therefore, to what goes on in the church. I was excited to see the new tower windows installed. The bright red crosses can be seen from a far distance. This work is being done by an elderly man, Tata Mpati. He is the chief of a village just across the Wambu River and was trained as a carpenter by the Belgians. He will make new church doors and window shutters. Our plan is to paint the whole church building inside and out after the Chapmans return. We plan a rededication celebration next summer. The Pastor and people were so grateful for our concerns and proud of their new red crosses. Glen says it has sparked new interest in the church and its appearance.

Last summer Rita talked with me about the women's school losing their funding for this year. The wives of the pastoral students attend the women's school. They are the ones who do literacy work in the villages where their husbands are called as pastors. I agreed that CongoMission2011 would underwrite the women's school this year. Our mission’s partners, the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville, Kentucky, have agreed to fund the school for the coming year. The women were quiet, yet grateful for their school. I felt we had done something right.

I returned to Kinshasa anxious to see the pictures of Kikongo and begin to plan the book for this years' trip. What I discovered is that at some point the "record" button on my camera had been hit. Of 56 pictures, over half are not photos. I recall a similar thing happening with CongoMission2007. That first trip, I used disposable cameras and nothing taken inside printed. It will be necessary to make another, unexpected and unbudgeted trip to Kikongo for another picture taking. God has the most unusual ways to teach us the lessons He knows we need to learn!

As from the very beginning, my response to the gratitude of the people is, "The people who sent me do this for you, in Jesus Name." Pray for me this weekend as I will be housing sitting for Wayne and Katherine who will be in Vanga. I will home again from July 31 - August 10th.


Thank you for the way you "do love" in His Name.

Grace and peace,

Raymond, At home in Kinshasa