Get ready for a real road trip — Congo style

We did two road trips while we were in DR Congo. The first was going from Gemena to a small town called Bili, and then back to Gemena. Google maps estimates this 181 mile (291 km) trip should take four and half hours in each direction.  It took a full 12 hours, each way.

The second was our road trip from Gemena to Zongo, which is the last city in DRC before you arrive in Bangui, Central African Republic. Google maps estimates that this 155 mile (250 km) trip should take just over three hours.  It took eight hours.


Google maps calculates travel time on the average speed limits for the roads, but on these roads I don’t think it’s possible to even approach the speed limit, let alone exceed it.

Not all the roads in DR Congo are bad.  But, like in many places, development can sometimes be limited to only certain areas of the country.  I’m sure there are lots of nice roads in the capital, Kinshasa.  But, cities far from capital cities, and many rural areas, can sometimes miss the benefits of infrastructure funding.




One of the more adventurous aspects of our road trips was crossing bridges.


Many of the ones we encountered were made from large logs, and only a skilled driver would be able to navigate them well. Thankfully, we had a fantastic driver–Luka; he also had an assistant that helped with the most difficult parts of the road.

We often clapped and cheered when the truck made it across one of the challenging bridges. Yes, it was THAT exciting!  I don’t think I could have successfully navigated so many bridges like that.

At one juncture we had to drive through a stream because the bridge was not passable.


Having had to go over a lot of challenging bridges made us really happy when we crossed a good one like this.  I have a new respect for the importance of good roads and bridges.  I was also really thankful that JAARS donated this great truck to ACOTBA-SUBO.  It’s necessary, and it’s being put to good use.

JAARS is an organization affiliated with Wycliffe.  Learn more about their important work in land transportation.

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Nighttime Traffic in Benin

I took this short video from the hotel where I stayed for several days while I was in Cotonou, Benin in August.  You’ll notice that there are a lot of motorbikes on the road.  This is one of the most popular means of transport.  The motorbike taxis, called Zemijans, will take you just about any where.  Two years ago I road on one. Not this year.  Leaving the hotel to go somewhere wasn’t a problem, but figuring out how to get back would have been challenging.

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On a mission for missions


This is Rob.  He was our pilot for our domestic flights in Cameroon. He’s just a little older than me, and has been serving as a pilot in Cameroon for a few years.


Some areas of this country are quite remote, so pilots like Rob provide vital transportation services to the staff working in those areas.  In addition to transporting people, they sometimes transport mail, and medical and food supplies.  They also may assist with medical and emergency evacuations.

IMG_2685-smPhoto by Zeke du Plessis

Rob flys and maintains a five-seater helio courier airplane. He is one of small team of pilot/mechanics assigned to SIL Cameroon (SIL is a partner organization of Wycliffe).  One person on that team flys a helicopter in order to transport staff in areas where it is not possible for a plane to land. Training for pilots who want to serve in a role like Rob’s is extensive because pilots must learn to take-off, fly and land in unconventional environments.  They also must be thoroughly trained as aviation mechanics.

Moody Bible Institute is one school that offers a missionary aviation program. But, even with this training often additional training is required before a pilot is ready to fly in remote areas where Wycliffe staff serve.  JAARS, a partner organization of Wycliffe, provides testing and training for pilots desiring to serve with Wycliffe abroad.  More pilots and aviation mechanics are needed in Cameroon and elsewhere around the world. Learn more about transportation needs and careers in Wycliffe.

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