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Ready to return: the Boyds back in DR Congo

CMS missionaries David and Prue Boyd have served in DR Congo over several decades. They have lived through the refugee crisis following the Rwandan genocide, outbreaks of Ebola and cholera and natural disasters. Despite the unknown status of Coronavirus in DRC, they were eager to return and continue their ministry.  

When David and Prue Boyd returned from DR Congo in October 2019 on medical leave, they imagined they would be back on location soon after the required medical treatment was concluded. In this article for Checkpoint Winter 2021, they explained how COVID and resulting restrictions enforced a longer than planned stay in Australia. 

We find ourselves still in Australia after an unexpected year and a half out of DR Congo. Several times, we have started to make plans and bookings to return, but signs of new COVID spikes in DRC and Rwanda (through which we travel to reach Bukavu), with their threat of lockdowns and border closures, have caused caution and delays.” 

After more than a year of thwarted plans and frustrations, the Boyds were able to return to Bukavu in DRC at the end of June.   

The familiar and the different

“We expected to be away for three months and it ended up being twenty. Some things have changed, some things will never change.

We had forgotten about the dust and the noise, the jostling and the need for vigilance, the traffic jams, the rich flavour of the bananas …. but we quickly remembered, and before we knew it, we were back into the rhythm of life which was so familiar before.

But some things have changed – motor bikes have multiplied, newly built houses jostle for space and perch precariously on steep slopes daring the rainy season to begin, even the cemetery has been built on now. One house has been positioned so that a stone grave top can double as a table!

The main road which snakes through the whole town from the border has also been resealed and is now quite comfortable to drive on. And electricity – before, we were lucky to get power for more than a few hours a day, and it was often (much) worse than that. Now, prepaid power is available for some areas, and is extremely reliable.”

COVID in Congo

“Apart from the very rare mask, you forget COVID is around. But we know it is, or expect that it will be very soon, because it’s on the rise in neighbouring Rwanda, where provincial borders are closed, curfews have been imposed and mask wearing is mandatory. Mask wearing is also mandatory here, but no one complies.

Although vaccines are available free, there is very low take-up. Many believe that there is no COVID in DRC. We do not engage in arguments but simply say we’ve been vaccinated.”

What’s next?

“Our plan – God willing – is to stay long enough for Prue to finish up projects like setting up the audiology clinic at Bukavu General Hospital and a sound-proof room at the School for the Deaf in Goma. David will continue with Bible teaching and leadership training. 

“A two-week ordination course began 19 July with candidates coming long distances. David is teaching a few subjects including ‘The Pastor in the Bible’. There is plenty of scope for clear practical teaching and discussion about how candidates can apply this when they return to their churches.

“Please pray for the ordination course, for Prue’s work at the hospital and for the containment of COVID-19.”

PRAY 

Give thanks that the Boyds have been able to return to Congo. Pray for God’s protection for them and for his mercy and kindness to the people of the DRC.