Saturday, October 6, 2007



You never cease to be amazed by how things move in Africa. They are the most amazing and creative people in how their country operates. No space on a moving vehicle gets wasted. Here a truck coming from the provinces into Kinshasa is loaded with big sacks of charcoal, which nearly everyone uses to cook with. Electricity is very unreliable, and most homes don't have the wiring to be able to use a stove. (Most rooms have one light bulb in it, and no outlets.) So they burn wood in the provinces and create these huge bags of charcoal to sell in Kinshasa. But there's always room for passengers to ride along with the cargo.
But you'll see that trucks are just the start of the delivery process in the Congo.


Meet the Kinshasa "delivery van" for lots and lots of stuff. It's the noble "pouse-pouse" -- French for "push-push". It's a car axle with car-sized tires, with a metal cargo box about 3 1/2 feet wide and 5 feet long, and a foot high. Usually the axles have been "sprung" from carrying enormous weighty loads, so the tires wobble as they roll down the road. We've seen them with all types of imaginable loads -- sand and cement, barrels or foam mattresses stacked up 10 feet high. Although we're seeing more and more pickup type trucks, there are still thousands of "pouse-pouses" that ply their trade everyday.

"Pouse-pouses" roll right along with all the traffic in Kinshasa. At least they don't go in the far left lane, which is supposedly for the faster traffic -- which means you might get up to 30 mph on a good day. This "pouse-pouse" is rolling along Patrice Lumumba Boulevard, the main artery in Kinshasa. It's loaded with all kinds of metal that has been salvaged from abandoned cars -- on its way to somewhere. Some "pouse-pouses" are used as delivery vans for materials -- others are just for entrepreneurial type people that are using them to pick up something somewhere and sell it somewhere else.

I guessed that this pouse-pouse must have had about 900 - 1,000 pounds of corn on it. Maybe this is a husband-wife business -- he was really straining, pulling the pouse-pouse and the lady on the back was working just as hard. Note the "combie" just pulling into the road. Many combies don't have windows in the sides -- and must have been used as delivery vans in Europe before they arrived in the Congo. So they cut a hole in the side of the van and presto -- you've got a passenger vehicle!!


Why go to a fun park like Lagoon or Six Flags, when you can have a thrill ride on the highway??

We never cease to be amazed about the transportation system in the Congo. This truck was rumbling along the road to Kinshasa, loaded with bags of charcoal, at 30 - 35 mph. There were about 5 young men in the back of the truck, and another three riding on the bumper, hanging onto doors or the roof rack. We implore our children to "be sure to buckle your seat belt" as we start on a trip. Over here, it's "be sure to securely hang onto the door or the roof rack"!!

How about these for electric smiles? These two young men are 12 and 10. When you're around these people and see how happy they can be without so many of the material things of life, it makes you wonder about what we really need to be truly happy in life. You should have seen the joy and smiles on their faces when they saw their picture on the display screen of the camera.

And how can you not love these wonderful kids. Their faces are so pure and sweet. How I wish that their adulthood is going to be as untroubled and happy as their childhood. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ gives them hope. Here Marsha and Sister Kola (wife of one of the church's leaders here in the Congo -- he is a member of the Seventy) smile with some of the 100 children or so who sat down front and were so reverent during the District Conference in Kananga.

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