I have had the great privilege of hearing the story of Samuele and Julienne’s trip here to Arua to attend the 2008 CDTS (Crossroads Discipleship Training School), which I would love to share with you. Samuele and Julienne have longed to attend the CDTS since last year’s outreach team went to their home in Isiro, Congo. The way they got here is definitely a story worth telling.
On May 12th, they departed Isiro with their 2 year old daughter, Veronique. Julienne went by motorbike with Veronique and all the family’s luggage along with rice they planned to eat along the way. She traveled 65km to a village called Ganga, while Samuele rode his bicycle. They were planning to meet in Ganga but ended up separated with no way of contacting eachother. Samuele, thinking Julienne had gone on ahead, continued on his bicycle for another 400km! Unfortunately, while Julienne was in Ganga, thieves stole most of their money, so, thinking Samuele had been delayed, she decided to walk back to Isiro in search of him! She carried Veronique on her back and the luggage she could carry on her head.
After a week had gone by and Samuele had not found Julienne, he decided to also head back to Isiro. He arrived back home on the very same day as Julienne, 4 hours after her! Julienne arrived at 8pm; Samule at midnight! The bicycle had been spoiled along the way, so Samuele and his children spent the whole night fixing it, hoping to leave the next day!
And indeed, the very next day, May 19th, they took off again, exhausted but driven by their desire to attend this DTS in Arua. This time they refused to be separated and rode together on the bicycle they’d repaired. Samuele rode, Julienne sat behind with the luggage tied behind her, and the little bit of rice (one or two day’s worth) they were meant to eat along the way, while Veronique rode in front. The motivation to get to Arua drove them without hunger or exhaustion. They would travel 9 hours a day beginning at 7am and stopping at 4pm. They would not stop to eat anything, only feeding Veronique while they kept riding. They traveled through the deep bush spotting wild animals along the way like gorillas, baboons, and water buffalo. During the early part of their journey, they would stop and find churches to sleep in but as they progressed further into the bush they would just rest where they were, trusting in God’s protection. The road was very rough and several times, they all fell into the muddy potholes. Undaunted, they kept on! The rice lasted five days, until they reached Nagero, a trading centre within the park. This is when God took over they say.
It was midday, there was nothing to eat but they stopped to rest. They heard a vehicle approaching. It stopped and the driver came out to talk to them. Samuele showed the man his letter from the DTS school leaders about what they were going to do in Arua and why, hoping to convince the man to take them with him. The driver was moving to a place called Ariwara, a three day trip by vehicle. The man said nothing, but they all slept there that night. The next day, Samuele prayed to God two things:
He reminded God, that He told them if they began this journey, He had promised to take over for them.
Then he asked God to allow the driver to take them.
After 10 minutes, the driver came over to them, told them to bring the bike and enter the vehicle. The driver had realized, this family were servants of God, and Samuele, being a mechanic, would prove useful along the way.
They set off for the three day journey with the driver, who also was kind enough to feed them during the trip. Another woman was also traveling in the vehicle with them. When they got to Ariwara, she welcomed them to her home and took care of them. Samuele and his family, exhausted, were planning to rest there for four days but the woman informed them that the vehicles going to Arua were leaving the next day! She gave them breakfast the next morning and took them to the taxi park were they boarded a vehicle for Arua. They used the reserve money they had with them for crossing the border and for transport to Arua. They left their well ridden bicycle behind and still do not know if they will find it on their return trip!
Finally, after 14 days, and having traveled a total of 1050 km, they arrived at their destination! Arua! The driver of their vehicle rang the base to inform them that their visitors had come! Though they had lost weight and were worn out from the journey, Samuele and Julienne were overjoyed when base staff came to pick them up. But God had not finished showing them His care and provision. They arrived to find two pastors also visiting the base who knew their language, Lingala, and could help them communicate in this very new environment. They believed God had sent them there to comfort them after a very long, unsure, and tiresome journey.
Now, a few weeks into the DTS, Samuele, Julienne and Veronique have gained weight back, have made many new friends, are learning some English and enjoying being the students they dreamed about being in the DTS! And they are thankful that God has also provided for them a translator so they can get everything they can from the teachings!
What an example of perseverance and desire for God! My prayer for this family is that they would grow and be transformed by God’s love during this school so they can return to Congo and be instruments of light and peace in a hostile and traumatized nation!