CongoWill you be posting about your trip to Congo?

Several people asked this question when I returned.

Only I didn’t know how to answer.

I thought I would write. I thought I would fill a whole journal with words upon words after returning. Writing is how I process, after all.

But every time I sat down and picked up a pen, I would stare awhile at the blank page.

Then I would set the pen down and close the empty journal and do something, anything else.

Because how does one put into words all that is Congo?

A place wholly broken and wholly beautiful.

Where corruption and redemption are so inextricably entwined, telling them apart is a complicated, messy business.

Where an abundance of the world’s coveted resources exists right alongside a poverty so abject it could rattle a person’s soul.

Where men with crippled legs sit outside a Fondu restaurant serving $40 meals, beating on drums for money.

Congo is a walking contradiction.

A lively one, too.

With its cacophony of sounds and its mishmash of color.

Beeping horns.

Crying babies.

Mmmbote Mundeli! and Bonjour!

Children’s giggles and that adorable way they say madam, like ma-DEM. Oh, I could melt.

The lush vegetation.

The bright oranges and yellows, purples and blues of fabric that women stitch into dresses and shirts.

The darkness of skin and the whiteness of smiles.

Children in uniforms walking to and from school and children without uniforms, sometimes without any pants at all, walking the streets, tapping on car windows, begging for money because they have nowhere to go and nothing to eat.

Rains that flash and flood all within the time it takes Shakira to sing Waka Waka.

A sun that rises and sets at six o’clock, on the dime, every single day.

Heat and dust and humidity and bugs.

Women and men carrying eggs and water and towers of whatever else atop their heads.

Orphanages overflowing with bald, big-bellied children, their lips quick to smile, but their eyes?

They tell a different story.

One of sadness and injustice and a whole world of heartache.

Little girls walking around with even smaller children strapped to their backs.

Because while childhood is almost a given here in America, in Congo it is a precious, rare commodity.

I visited a country saturated with resiliency, love, passion.

It’s a country that has not received a fair shake, not then and not now, but marches on because what else is there to do but keep going?

How does one write  about a trip such as this?

There aren’t words to do it justice.

Let’s Talk: Have you ever gone on a life-changing trip or had your eyes opened to something they can never be closed to again?

10 thoughts on “Congo

  1. jenny marrs

    beautiful description. really poignant and perfectly written.

  2. Your misgivings allowed you to give a remarkably poignant picture of the Congo, Katie. Beautiful.

  3. Pages and pages would not of done justice to what you wrote. Your few words told a lot. Thank you.

  4. Beautiful. Sometimes, I don’t think we adequately see beauty w/o first seeing brokenness. Or, at least beauty is magnified by brokenness. Had a lot of those feelings in Ghana on our most recent trip to meet our daughters. Painfully aware, now, of the bubble in which i live. The bubble which often – too often – allows me to pretend that Ghana, DRC, Uganda, Cambodia, India…aren’t real and their people not as precious.

  5. I went on a mission trip to Brazil. Flew into Sao Paolo.

    While I’d heard of homes made of corrugated metal, I wasn’t prepared for homes of cardboard boxes on the shoulder–shoulder!–of the highway. Where people were driving fifty to seventy miles an hour. I watched them fly by and knew that any time there was an accident, someone living on that shoulder might die.

    Sobering. Go back to America after that and complain about what you have.

  6. Love this! Last year, went to Ethiopia and Uganda. That trip changed my life… so much that now I’m adopting from DRC. Thanks for this post!

  7. Beautiful description, Katie. I think picking out the details like you did was a perfect way to describe it, because in those details is the essence of the place.

  8. This was a beautiful peek into your trip, Katie. Thanks so much for sharing. As for my own life-changing trip: London. Probably very, very little in common with a trip to the Congo…but it was definitely a “spiritual awakening” season for me. 🙂

    1. Those are the best kind of seasons, Melissa!

  9. I’m seeing this, Katie. Thanks for this glimpse.


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