Facing Realty In Congo

I have a small confession to make. I’m having a hard time making the transition to living in Congo. Living on this modern wonder of a ship is not helping me make the transition either. The ship is a veritable microcosm in itself. We have ourselves a tiny, multicultural world with all the amenities one could possibly need. Okay, not all the amenities, but I’m pretty satisfied with what’s available.

The only time I even consider stepping out of this tiny world is on the weekend. But as time goes by, I find fewer and fewer reasons to get off the boat.

Allow me to explain. I don’t feel safe. No, there isn’t any rampant crime to speak of aside from the usual pickpocket and thievery. But there are crowds. I don’t like crowds of any sort in any part of the world. I particularly don’t like crowds in places where I don’t speak the language. I’m painfully uncomfortable.

I’m usually able to compensate for this fear by traveling in a group of people I can understand. But this place is different. The men here are very forward. They are too forward for my sense of well being. I’m not a touchy feely person. Anybody who knows me well knows that about me. I won’t get a massage because it involves a stranger laying his hands on me.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that I had the issue of strange men grabbing my arms to look at my tattoos. That creeped me out enough. Today, I went out for a very short walk with two other girls. We were barely outside the port gate. One girl wanted to purchase a baguette, the other an egg sandwich.

As we stood on the street while the vendor prepared the egg sandwich, someone walked up behind me and ran his hands down my arms in a very intimate fashion. Startled, I swung around to stare into the face of a complete stranger! I moved away from him very quickly. I watched, horrified, as he did the same to my other friend. Finally, my Dutch friend yelled at him in French. He laughed. He moved in on her and touched her inappropriately as well. She kept telling him to get lost. He finally moved away while the crowd looked on. They did nothing to help. All these men and women just stood there saying nothing. All I heard was another man say something very sarcastic which turned out to be why do you come here and not speak our language?

In that instant, it was gone, the illusion of safety. The worst thing is it caused me to flashback to a bad place from many years ago. My two friends think I was overreacting, and maybe I did a little, but they don’t know what I lived through.

I’m not naive. There is no place on earth that is safe. This world belongs to the enemy. But I don’t know how to navigate this new territory of strangers. I don’t know the rules of their game. I don’t know where the good neighborhoods are. I don’t know where the bad neighborhoods are. I don’t have any way to defend myself. I don’t have the language skill I need. There is no 911.

And I don’t know what I’m going to do about it?

Please pray for safety. Pray for me to let go of this fear that seems to be growing instead of receding. Pray for me to stand against the schemes of the enemy because our battle isn’t against flesh and blood.

As always, thanks for listening, for love, support, and prayers.

His… Michelle
Philippians 1:20

I’m linked with Spiritual Sundays.

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10 thoughts on “Facing Realty In Congo

  1. Also I would tell you is to trust your gut. I know that probably doesn’t sound too spiritual, but fear can also be a gift( ever read the book the Gift of Fear? You are already giving 110% of your life by sharing your life w/ these people who come to your ship. If you were my little sister and you shared this post with me asking for my input as your sibling, I would say..sis…whether or not you ever step a foot off that ship the whole time you’re docked there is between you and Jesus..as far as I’m concerned I would not think any less of you if you spent the next 9 months on board..as long as you’re not feeling stir crazy 😉 Your friend DM

    • Thanks Doug. I can’t let fear rule my life. I can’t let that be the reason I don’t get off the boat. I just have to go with a larger crowd. Or maybe I won’t go. Today, I’m going to visit the gorge, a local attraction. I’m going with a bunch of people. It’s outside the city. It’s supposed to be safe and fun. We’ll see.

  2. Here from the Spiritual Sundays Linkup. I’ve never traveled outside of the country, so I can only imagine how difficult it must be to experience a completely different culture and figure out how to handle when it crosses into inappropriate. I pray that you’re able to adjust quickly and learn how to handle the things you don’t want to adjust to!

  3. Dear Michelle
    I am so sorry that you and your friends have been so badly treated by my fellow Africans, dear sister friend. I would suggest that wherever you go to get some pepper spray. I think things start to go a bit better from round about Angola towards Namibia. Please, if you dock in Cape Town, let me know. I want to ask my brother and his wife to take you around a bit. Of course, if you come to either Port Elizabeth or East London, I would love to meet you in person.
    Much love and praying for you!
    Mia

  4. You have every logical reason to be frightened. Any woman alone in a place where she is unfamiliar needs to use common sense and always be aware of her surroundings. The age old question is: where does common sense caution end and fear begin?. Only the Holy Spirit can guide you. Will be praying.
    Cheers

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