Kinshasha is a city of 9.5 million (the third largest city in Africa) situated on the banks of the mighty Congo River. As our plane flew down to land at the airport, this city of 3,848 square miles seemed endless. Les and I deplaned and processed through customs but as we headed to pick up our luggage we were stopped and asked to produce shot records. Les had his and was waved forward. I did not bring my record and was therefore motioned to go sit in line with others of the same plight. When it came my turn the medical official asked me why I did not bring my card. I explained my reason and he said I would have to pay a fine of $60. This seemed not only excessive but ridiculous since I had already mailed it in to the Democratic Republic of Congo Consulate as part of the process for getting my visa.
Warm Indian air enveloped me as I walked towards the last gate that separated me from the Cochin airport and Silas and Sam who stood ready to greet me. Just as I thought the long journey was about to end, a customs official motioned me to his table.
“Please open your suitcase,” he said. So I complied. Immediately the inspector’s eyes locked on the contents of a large cardboard box. “What are these”, he asked.
“These are my CD’s,” I replied.
He looked at me skeptically and was quickly joined by more curious officials.
“These are commercial products, and you will have to pay a duty tax.”
“Oh Lord,” I uttered a silent prayer. “You know these CDs are to further Your kingdom. Please help me.”
Eighteen of us sat around the circular table in the conference room of the Military Academy located in Gori. For several hours we met with different deputies from the Ministry of Defense and listened as they shared the challenges of living within field artillery range of Russian guns. Their fear of angering their neighbor and again losing their freedom is fueled by Russia’s occupation in 2008 of Abkhazia and South Ossetia—two secessionist territories within Georgia.