“I can speak Swahili”

On Friday on the flight from Kisangani to Goma we flew the Mosier family (American missionaries) that survived the Hewa Bora crash in Goma a little while ago.  I had spoken to the father of the family earlier in the week about the flight.  Their three year old adopted son had his pelvis broken in the crash and was in a cast that covered half his body.  He wanted to know if we would be able to get him in the plane and strapped in somehow.  I figured we could lay him down across the back row of seats as it’s basically a bench three seats across.  I didn’t know his exact size, but I figured someone could also sit back there with him.

When we got to Kisangani I got the fuel order in (fuel can often take a bit of time there) and sent my poor FO off to deal with the RVA (Congolese equivalent of Flight Service/airport authority) and file the flight plan to Goma while I went in to meet the family. 

When I was on the way in to meet the family, I talked to the first officer of a Congolese DC-8 (four engine jet) on the ramp.  He was asking about working with Air Serv saying that he was fed up with his current job.  He told me that they had to take off ten tons (!?!?) overweight on the last trip and that he needed to find another job.  While we were waiting for fuel, I watched as they drove trucks onto the plane along with about every sort of animal and plant you could find around there. 

They were pretty easy to spot in the passenger area, a bunch of white people that looked like preachers.  I made a bee line towards them.  I introduced myself and told them that we would be ready to leave in about a half an hour when we got fueled.  The mother of the family said, “I don’t know if you know, but we were on the flight that crashed in Goma a couple of weeks ago.”  I told them that I knew who they were and that they were practically celebrities. 

Our manifest listed six of them including the three year old and I counted seven of them.  I figured that one of them drove them to the airport, but the father told me that he was told that they were all headed for Goma but that they were told that there was only room for six and that their oldest son was going to fly on Hewa Bora. 

I am sure that my jaw dropped to the floor when I heard that.  Why in the world would they dare to fly on that airline again when they barely survived the last flight?  To me that crosses the line between a strong faith and testing God.  I said that we would have room and that I would not allow any of them to ride on that airline again.  I made a phone call to the Air Serv manager to let him know that we would have another passenger.  They were all very happy that all of them would be on a safe flight and that they were able to get a refund for their ticket on the other flight. 

Once fueling was done, I went back in to help the family to the plane.  One of them carried their injured son under his arm in a horizontal position.  It looked really funny in sad sort of way.  The boy seemed really happy and cheerful.  As we passed him up the stairs into the plane he said to me in English, “I can speak Swahili.” 

I couldn’t help but laugh a bit when I heard that.  He was just so happy and cheerful as he was being carried like a bundle of wood under the arm of his brother.  They were all really happy.  I guess I was expecting them to be a bit more somber for some reason. 

They were the last ones off the plane when we got to Goma since they were sitting in the very back of the plane.  We laid the boy down on top of a bunch of luggage in the shade under the wing.  Papy (Congolese Air Serv ramp worker in Goma) was talking to the boy and was astonished that he spoke English.  He asked, “Why does the black boy speak English so well?”

They told him that he was their son.  Papy didn’t believe them.  They told him that he was adopted and that he had lived with them since he was nine days old.  He still had a strange look of disbelief. 

Tomorrow, we fly back across the DRC to Goma again with a stop in Kisangani.  I think the plane knows the way by now.

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3 Responses to ““I can speak Swahili””

  1. mormor Says:

    Patrick, I am proud of you for taking care of the missionaries…God has put you there for a purpose….!!!!! mormor

  2. Heather Says:

    Wow. It’s great that you had that priviledge. I also heard from someone that you had the luxury of having some brunch involving champagne….am I jealous? maybe a little…

  3. nikolas Says:

    hi gonno (ican callyou that since your gone again)hi.bye.

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