A Three Part Story
Part 1: 6 Congos, Which One?
Part 2: In Congo 4
Part 3: Getting Back Home
Part 1: 6 Congos, Which One?
"Can you please build a church for the members in Congo? It's a village
not too far from here, about 20 kilometers," asked the local church
elder. We were in Kelo, Chad, at the time, and had just finished
building a One-day-Church for the members there. The members in Kelo
were very happy and excited and were now asking if we could build
another church for the members in Congo. We had heard about this need
before and how the church members there needed a building and how they
had already prepared the land and gotten sand and gravel ready for us.
My husband and I, Matthew, Dani, and Franco were happy about the request
and very willing to build another church. Right away we began making
plans to go to the village of Congo the next week. My husband started
making arrangements for all the equipment to be transported to Congo.
Since we don't have our own truck we have to arrange for locals to
transport the things by cart. While inconvenient at times, this option
is far cheaper than owning and operation our own truck. With a prayer we
sent things and hoped that nothing would get stolen or damaged.
The day came quickly that we were to leave and the 5 of us started off
Tuesday morning for Congo by motorcycle. The One-Day Church supplies had
been arranged to arrive the day before so it would be ready for us to
use right away when we got there. Franco, Jonathan and I, and all our
personal belongings for the 3-day trip were on one motorcycle. Matthew,
Dani, and a hired klando man were on the other motorcycle with their
supplies. We were quite loaded.
As we began our trip we had no idea of what really lay before us. "There
is no reason to worry; after all, Franco knows the way," so we thought.
After a while we turned off the main road onto a more direct, but
smaller road. Not long later we had to get off our motorcycles and start
walking because there was too much water in the road for the motos
to drive with us on them. We walked for a while in the sometimes cool
and sometimes hot water and then got back on the motos. Everything was
so beautifully green around us because of all the water.
After some time we arrived at a village. The klando man and Franco begin
asking, "Where is Congo?" Jonathan said to me, "I thought Franco knew
the way." So I guess none of us knew exactly where we were going. The
people of the village pointed us down another trail and so we continued.
The problem was that the roads/trails here split into all different
directions so we were soon asking some more people where to go.
At another village along our journey we asked, "Where is Congo?" They
answered, "Which one? There is more then one Congo." "What!" we thought,
"we didn't know there was more then one Congo and the people in Kelo
didn't tell us." Since we didn't know which Congo we were supposed to go
to we just kept going toward "Congo" not knowing if it what the right one!
Arriving at another village after walking through more water we started
asking again which way to go. A lady there just looked at us like, "What
are you talking about?" Maybe she didn't understand our question. Then
an old man appeared. He said, "I am the chief of Congo and I haven't
even heard of any church or church members. Maybe they are just fooling
you." Surprised, we started asking more questions. "There are several
Congos," pointing toward another village he said, "I think you should
go to that one."
Getting tired and pressing forward, we continued. By now it seemed we
were stopping and asking just about everyone we could about which Congo
needed a church. "Have you seen a cart caring lots of supplies on this
road yesterday?." "Do you know of any Congo where there are church
members?" We asked lots of questions. Then, one man said he knew just
what we were talking about! Pointing toward the village we were headed
toward he said, "Just over there, that's the right Congo and they have
land there for you to build the church on."
Happily we continued, this time with more water in the road than before.
We got off the motorcycles and walked most of the rest of the way to the
village. I was actually enjoying myself a lot. This was a great
adventure and I like water, not that I would ask for water to be in the
road but if it is there then we might as well enjoy the journey anyways.
As we walked we were surrounded with beautiful lush green rice fields.
The water rushed around our legs.
The land sloped upward as we entered the long sought for Congo. Driving
up to a big mango tree we stopped, tired and hungry, and got off our
motorcycles. The people greeted us and showed us the land for the
church. "We were really here," we thought. My husband asked one of the
locals who was sitting close by on a bench, "Which Congo is this?" They
answered, "Congo 4." "How many Congos are there?" was the next question.
"There are 6 Congos" answered the men. "Wow, there
sure are a lot of Congos," I thought. It took us about 3 hours to travel
20 miles but it was worth it because the people here needed a church to
worship God in.
Part 2: In Congo 4
"Where are the rest of the One-Day Church supplies?" my husband asked in
French. (He speaks a lot of French now.) "They are still coming on a
cart. There is so much water in the road it still hasn't arrived yet,"
they said. It was getting to be mid afternoon and it was very important
that we put the foundation in that day; otherwise, we would be delayed a
whole day. The cement footings needed to be put in that day so they
could harden overnight and be ready for us to use the next morning. What
could we do? We decided to just do what we could with what we had and
started marking out the foundation and digging the holes. My husband and
I were praying that the materials would come. With relief, not long
later, we saw a cart pulled by a two bulls with church material on it!
When my husband looked at the materials more closely he said to me,
"This is not all the material, I'm concerned that some of it has gone
missing" (meaning stolen). Upon further questioning Jonathan found out
that the bulls couldn't carry everything on one load so they would go
again that night and get the next load. They reassured us that the rest
of the materials would come that night so we could put up the church the
next morning. 10 out of the 16 foundation stakes were in the first load.
The rest were coming. There was no other choice but to put in the 10 and
wait for the rest to put in first thing in the morning. It was okay
though, because the rest could harden in the morning while we started
putting up the church on the stakes from the day before. By the time
that was done the rest would be hard enough to use.
We hadn't had much to eat all day since breakfast at 5am. Hungry and
tired, but happy, we finished for the night around 6pm and waited to see
what would happen next. "Should we just start putting up our tents right
here close to the church? Or are they going to have a hut for us to
stay in?" we wondered. We didn't want to be rude and put up our tents if
they were planning on giving us a place to stay.
After a little while the people told us to come into the village. They
spread a big mat out for us to sit and rest on. My husband and I and the
others of our group just sat there wondering what was going to happen.
Some time went by with not much happening. The moon was out. On every
side of us, around the mat, sat curious locals staring at us. There were
children and adults alike. Jonathan and I were so tired that after a
while we just decided to lay down right there on the mat. An old man sat
close beside the mat with a little boy close beside him. He started
telling Franco about the history of that village and Franco translated
it into French for us.
"My father hated Christians," he said. "If a Christian ever came into
this village he would command that the Christian be tortured, cut, and
put to work as a slave." The old man got up from where he was sitting
and went into his hut and came to us with a picture. He said, "This is a
picture of my father." His father looked very stern and unhappy. Going
back to his chair he continued, "My father was a big man (meaning
important person/leader) and tortured and cut all Christians from this
village all the way to Bere" (the village where we live). The story
about his father went on and on and I couldn't understand most of it but
I got bits and pieces here and there. Jonathan understood more and
translated a little here and there for me. Being interested in the story
Jonathan asked, "How did things change here and the people begin to like
Christians?" "The people just started to become attracted to the Word,"
the old man answered. We had learned earlier that this old man was a
Christian and the chief of Congo 4. I was especially thankful now that
he was a Christian after hearing that his own father tortured
Christians. My heart felt a little fearful inside, "I sure hope this
place is truly friendly to Christians now. I hope that we are safe
here." Then I thought about God's protection, "I know that God can keep
us safe. We are here doing work for Him." "How did you become a
Christian?" Jonathan asked the chief. "I just started being attracted to
the Word" he replied.
That night Jonathan and I crawled into our mosquito tent close beside a
little hut that they had given all 5 of us to sleep in. It was so small
and we preferred to sleep outside in the cooler air. Franco told us as
we all were preparing for bed and making sleeping arrangements, "I'm too
scared to sleep outside, I'm sleeping in here." I was a little scared
too after hearing the scary story about this village that we hardly knew
anything about but yet were staying in. My husband told Franco, "Well,
if we have any trouble we will just make lots of noise so you guys will
hear us out here."
During the night it rained very lightly off and on. Our tent doesn't
have a rain fly so the rain just came in on us. At 4am it began to
rain hard enough that we started to get uncomfortably wet so we quickly
got up and packed ourselves in the little hut. There was just enough
room for us to lay down along one wall in front of the door. It rained
on and on.
After a long time of sleeping off and on I looked at my watch, "Oh my,
it is already 8am," I thought, "I had better take this opportunity to
have some devotions since we can't work on the church right now."
Jonathan and I enjoyed reading a little but soon everyone was awake. As
we all waited for the rain to stop Franco (he is a native to Bere) asked
Jonathan some questions. "Jonathan, some people say that I am not a pure
Christian because I don't come from several generations of Christians.
My father wasn't Christian and his father wasn't Christian. I don't like
it when they say that. If it is true that I'm not a pure Christian, then
I don't want to be a Christian!" We were surprised that people had been
saying these terrible things to Franco. "What they say is not true!" I
thought. Jonathan replied, "The several generation Christians are
actually often worse off then new Christians because they often think
they have it all together already. They think, 'Since my father was a
Christian and my grandfather was a Christian, I must be a good man.'
This is dangerous thinking because we all need God's help equally. Just
because their father was a Christian doesn't mean that they are a good
Christian." My husband encouraged Franco in this way.
We were all hungry so I decided to share our "bush bars" with everyone.
I had made them for this trip in case there wasn't much food to eat. It
wasn't a lot but the 5 of us enjoyed at least having something.
Around 10am Jonathan looked out the door again. "Well," he said, "the
rain is letting up a little, I think we should just start working
otherwise we won't get much done today." Matthew headed out to see if
the second load of supplies had arrived the night before. He was already
back by the time we were ready and leaving the hut, "Yes it came," he
said. A feeling of relief went through us because we couldn't continue
with construction without it.
As we were carrying steel to the church site I noticed that some little
girls were eager to help too. They picked the long pieces of tin up and
carried them with pride as they walked. One especially little girl was
trying to pick up a very long and heavy piece. I was worried she might
cut herself and so I gave her a smaller piece that better fit her size.
The work went well and fast even though we got such a late start. At
12:00 noon we were surprised and happy to be called away to have a meal
prepared by a caring local. With our stomachs full we started work
again. I noticed that the old chief that told us the story of his father
the night before was close by. He sat, for most of the day, on a log not
far from the church eagerly watching the church go up. Lots of locals
eagerly helped us also and by the end of the day most of the church was
already up. Praise God! What was left we would finish in the morning.
That night Jonathan and I decided to put up our tent in the hut right
away. It started to rain an hour later. Just after crawling into the
tent some women came hurrying to the door in the rain, "Good evening,
we have brought you some food!" they said. We actually couldn't
understand what exactly they were saying because they spoke in their
local language. "Merci, merci," (Thank you, thank you) we said.
Gratefully, we got up and began to eat. While we ate, some more women
came hurrying to the door, "Good evening, we have brought you some
food!" they said. "Wow, what a lot of food, that is so nice of them," I
In the middle of the night I awoke to a man's voice calling through the
rain, "I need of you!" Sitting up quickly in bed I saw a figure of a man
in the doorway. Turning around I felt for my flashlight and found it. My
husband was already sitting up next to me trying to figure out what the
man needed. "What is wrong?" he asked, "Is someone sick?" "Yes," the man
replied. "The lady that cooked for you last night is sick." "What kind
of sickness does she have?" Jonathan asked. "We think malaria," the man
answered. After a few more questions and answers the man, without
notice, just ran away. "Is he crazy? I wonder why he just ran away like
that?" I said out loud to my husband. "If someone is really sick it
seems like he would stay and show us where she is and what is wrong.
What if someone is sick though and needs us? I think we should go and at
least see if there is something we can do." My husband thought we should
go too, so we walked with Franco out into the rain. Which way to go? We
didn't know. Shining our flashlights around we hoped someone would
notice us. After a short while someone did and called out, "Over here!"
As we walked into the hut, the heat hit us as we saw lots of people
crowded around a lady laying in the middle of the hut. She looked very
sick and was crying out. Immediately, I knelt down and started to try to
find a pulse. Strangely, I couldn't feel one. She was moving around so
that didn't help and she was making so much noise. Before being
successful, a man that was holding one of her arms down said to me, "Get
up or she might bight you!" I got up and then noticed that she was being
held down by about 5 guys! She starting thrashing around more and crying
even louder. Over and over she said the same set of words and then she
would try to escape from the men. It was clear that she was out of her
mind. My husband began asking questions, "What kind of sickness do you
think she has?" "Malaria." they reply, "We gave her 5 quinine 1 hour
ago." "5 quinine! that's a lot," I thought, "way more then she should
have taken. Maybe that is why she is thrashing around like this. She is
most likely poisoned." Jonathan explained to the people there that 2
quinine is what is normally given at a time and that 5 was a lot. What
should we do? There was no good medical facilities close by and it would
be impossible to transport her in this condition. We couldn't even give
her charcoal to drink (this absorbs the poison) because she might inhale
it. The only thing we could think to do was the most important thing to
do. Bowing our heads my husband prayed aloud in English as everyone
listened quietly, "Dear God, we don't know what we can do to help this
lady but we know that you can heal her. Please help this lady get
better. In Your name, Amen." Then Franco prayed another prayer in the
local language so everyone could understand.
I said to my husband on the way home, "Maybe she is demon possessed, who
knows." The people had told us that the sick lady had acted this same
way two times before in the past. We both thought it could be demon
possession, but we also thought it very well could be malaria or
something else. As we got into bed I kept trying to think of something
more we could do for her. "I'm a nurse, I should know of something to
do," I thought. I still have so much to learn. Everything is so
different here in Africa from what I learned back home.
In the morning Matthew announced to us that he had been throwing up for
hours. "I think it was the bird I ate last night," he said to Franco.
Franco replied, "No, it wasn't the bird, I like bird! I ate the bird
last night too and I'm not sick." Jonathan and I hadn't eaten any bird
(we are vegetarian) and Dani had only tasted a little. Matthew had eaten
a lot of bird. I told Franco this but he continued to laugh saying, "No,
it wasn't the bird, I like bird!" A little later, feeling a bit sorry
for Matthew he said, "Matthew, I'm sorry you are sick."
That morning with God's blessing we finished putting up the Church. What
a joy it was to see the locals stand in front of the sign for a picture.
They looked so happy, especially the old man, the chief. He gave us a
long speech telling us how much he appreciated us coming and building a
church for them. He said, "Before, when people saw us gather together
and worship God they would think, 'Who are they? I don't see any church.
They must be just a little group of their own.' They wouldn't respect us
as a church." He continued joyfully, "Now people will see us in this
church and see the church sign and know that we really are a church."
After we were packed up and preparing to leave the village, I noticed
the old man sitting under the church all by himself. He was weaving a
mat out of grass there in the shade. When I looked at him he smiled.
"What a wonderful sight." I thought, "He looks so happy and must be so
excited about the new church that he decided to sit under the church
while he wove."
Part 3: Getting Back Home
Getting back home actually proved to be a lot more challenging then
finding Congo 4. As we left we were well aware that we were headed into
a water land of the rice fields. It had rained a lot since we had
arrived on Tuesday. Now it was Thursday and there was no way getting
around it as the village of Congo is like an island in the wettest part
of the year. Every road around the village sloped down into very watery
roads for several kilometers.
Before we left the locals cut an inner tube and put it on the exhaust
pipe at the back of the motorcycle. This tube then looped up and was
attached up high on the bike. They told us that this prevents water from
getting into the exhaust pipe. "How neat!" we thought.
Off we went but it wasn't long until we saw water ahead, and lots of
water! Getting off the two motorcycles, Jonathan and I, Matthew and Dani
begin walking while Franco and the other motorcycle driver tried to
drive through the water. They were brave and had hopes to get through
but soon both motorcycles died and wouldn't start again. Then they too,
had to walk pushing the bikes through the knee deep or deeper water.
It was so hot and the water looked so attractive to me (I like water!).
In a deeper section I gave my backpack to my sweet and unselfish husband
and jumped in and begin to swim down the "trail"! That was so much fun
and refreshing. Matthew decided to swim too. Why not? I could hardly
Jonathan and I started to wonder if we would even get home that day.
"Would we have to go back?" we wondered. "I think we will just travel as
far as we can today even if we don't get all the way home," Jonathan
Getting to a little village where there was higher land Franco and
Jonathan and some others picked the front of the motorcycle way up so
the water would hopefully drain out of the pipe. Franco and the other
motorcycle driver tried and tried to get the motorcycles to work again
but couldn't. At one point while they were trying to get the motos going
I stopped and pumped some water out of the road through our water filter
for us to drink. It was hot water but we were so dehydrated we didn't
care. (Don't worry our water filter filters out everything!)
On and on we walked through water carrying our heavy backpacks.
Sometimes the water was only ankle deep but other times it was above our
knees. My husband and I started to lag behind while everyone else went
before us. After a long time I asked my husband, "How are you doing, are
you feeling okay? You are so quiet?" He replied, "I'm so tired, I'm just
not feeling well. I shouldn't be this tired from just walking through
water. I think I probably have malaria." "I'm so sorry Jonathan, you
have been extra tired for several days. When we get back we'll have to
make sure we get you tested." I replied.
Ahead we saw the land slope upwards and lots of trees. "Good" we
thought. I had actually really enjoyed the walk but I was getting tired
and my husband wasn't feeling good.
After walking about 5 kilometers we reached a big village and caught up
with the rest of our group. In this village there was mechanics who
fixed our motorcycles. Also, the road from here on they told us was not
Happy to be back on motorcycles we left that village. It was true the
road, for the most part, was a lot better from then on, although we
still had to walk a few times. One time they even picked up the
motorcycle and carried it over the really deep water.
About 5 hours from the time we left Congo 4 we arrived home! What a
blessing, praise the Lord. Later Jonathan's malaria's test was positive.
He started medication right away, didn't get very sick, and got better
We find great satisfaction each time we leave behind a new One-day
Church building. Not only does the structure give a boost of courage to
the local church here, it helps the village people realize the greater
extent of our church. They are not an isolated group but part of a world
Even though we enjoy putting up these churches so much and would like to
do more of it, it is not possible for us to do this all the time. There
is a lot of other important work that we are involved in also.
Missionary life here is often a lot less exciting in the day to day
routine as compared to the great adventure described above. In the times
of less exciting work I have to remember that I am still working for the
Lord, whether I am cleaning the house, cooking, or putting up churches.
Please pray that God will give us courage, wisdom, and strength for each
In His Service,
Melody and Jonathan Dietrich
P.S. For those of you who haven't heard of One-Day Churches let me tell
you what they are. These simple, robust, and quickly erectable
structures are manufactured in Minnesota and shipped all around the
world. If one doesn't use cement for the foundations, the structure can
be erected including roof sheeting in one day. It is up to the locals to
put up the walls under the structure.
Note: If you would like to see some pictures of our Chad project you can
view some on Melody's facebook. Her facebook name is: Melody Dietrich.