The noise of big engines disrupts the usual calm by my house in Quéssua. I go out to see what the problem might be, and lo and behold, Chinese men are driving trucks, bulldozers, and other heavy machinery up and down the road! They shave-off the surface of the street, remove dirt, bring new dirt—heavier and resistant to the elements—lay it down, and level it out with more heavy machinery. I try to talk to them, but since they have no Portuguese (or English), I end up talking to the few Angolans who assist them. It turns out that they are preparing the road for asphalt!
This is the first time ever that roads will be paved here. For a compound that was left in ruins during the war, paved roads are prominent signs of hope. Before 1963 there were over 1200 intern students at Quéssua, spread over 5 different schools. Quéssua was a Garden of Eden, both because of its natural beauty, and for the ties of friendship and Christian love that grew between Angolans and missionaries from the USA, Germany, Britain and Norway. However, during the independence war, the Portuguese colonial authorities blamed the Protestant missionaries, Methodists included, for instilling ideas of freedom onto the Angolans. All missionaries had to quickly leave Quéssua. Later, during the civil war of 1992-2002, Quéssua fell under the hands of the opposing guerrilla. It is rumored than Jonas Savimbi himself, the leader of the opposing UNITA, had his headquarters here for a while. As a result of the ensuing confrontation, every single building was destroyed. The accompanying pictures at www.pbase.com/arodri3/quessuaruins show how most buildings lay in ruins even today. These pictures are offered in homage to the many men and women, pastors, teachers, doctors, nurses, who gave their best years to the service of God at Quéssua.
On the other hand, the new Quéssua is beginning to emerge. At present the asphalt already leads to the church doorsteps, a project supported by the Angolan government. The pictures at http://www.pbase.com/arodri3/quessua show that already 3 schools are functioning (Elementary, High School, and Theology). In addition, our presence here is a message to Angolans that, after 45 years of the departure of the former missionaries, the United Methodist Church in the United States has not forgotten their partners in ministry at Quéssua. Now I know how important it has been for the East-Angola Conference to receive the help from the Florida Conference, a testimony of love and support. From the bottom of our heart, many thanks to all who are giving sacrificially for brothers and sisters far away in distance, but who share our common faith.