We hit the ground running in Luanda on Friday!

Friday, July 26, 2019
Luanda, Luanda Province, Angola
Entries for this trip will come from both Jorge de Campos and me. I’ll start with Jorge:
Jorge:
After a long two-night flight to Luanda, the Kubik's, Kathy and I had the pleasure and honor of re-joining our brethren in Luanda on Friday July 26, 2019. As we arrived to the church hall a number of ladies sang a lovely welcoming song to us and two lovely young girls dressed in all white dresses gave our wives two lovely bouquets of flowers.
We then proceeded to the hall where the choir sang another lovely song, a prayer was given to God in gratitude for our visit and Pastor Paulino João Foi gave a welcoming visit speech.  In it he mentioned how the church in Angola had passed 20 years in a spiritual wilderness thinking that they were the only physical group remaining faithful to God. They never let go of the hope knowing that God would answer their prayers, sooner or later. God’s answer to that prayer came when they had the first contact with United Church of God in late 2015.
They are grateful for the ‘building of bridges’ that has occurred since then, as the UCG Council Chairman’s letter stated in early 2016. Pastor Paulino referred to “King David’s words in Psalms which ring so true when he stated ‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!’” Pastor Paulino added that the church in Angola was thankful for the spiritual help which was received with great care and sacrifice, as it has strengthened the church in the study of the Word and of the gospel. He also mentioned that we are united through the Spirit in Christ’s doctrine and that the church in Angola is ready to listen to the orientation that Christ will give them though UCG’s leadership with the intended desire of the continued unity of the members of the body (1 Corinthians 12:1-3).  
The President of UCG, Victor Kubik, thanked the church in Angola for their faithful dedication to God all these years and said he looks forward to a continued relationship in the years ahead. We followed with an opportunity to personally greet every single one of the more than 100 members that were there. We took a number of photographs of the various groups of people and had an opportunity to tour the school of ‘Living Waters’ that the brethren run in the local area.
Later in the afternoon we had a meeting with the leadership to discuss the forthcoming activities and to address a number of questions some of the men had about Victor Kubik, particularly about how he came to the Truth and his first few years in the ministry. We look forward to tomorrow’s Sabbath service, a youth Bible activity and a Bible Study.              
END JORGE
July 26, 2019
From Vic:
Today, the real action for this trip begins! We flew all night flight from Frankfurt to Luanda.  8.5 hours on a full Lufthansa flight. 
We left late… about 10 pm and arrived at 5:30 am… and gaining an hour. Since it was all through the night and it was late, most spent their time sleeping as we were wanting to also.  Many people on the flight and some with small children. I couldn’t help but wonder if they were in missionary work. This is the way the flights are to Malawi and Zambia. Sometimes the plane has all kinds of people from Peace Corps to charities venturing into real-life in these countries. There are a lot of people from churches and NGO’s that help with religion, education and health. There were people among them that were sizing us up, too, wondering what are doing flying so far and remotely to Angola.
We arrived on time and were braced for a grueling process of waiting in line with surly people grudgingly allowing us into their country. Jorge had warned us about that.  
The experience, however, proved to be otherwise. The airport was bustling. An Air France flight arrived at the same time as ours and I thought it would be a real jam at immigration with two jumbos being processed at the same time.
But, Jorge has a Portuguese passport which gives him priority status to go through immigration. He was hoping that Kathy, Bev and I could come in on his coattails. His hope was realized. We quickly passed Yellow Fever inspection as we presented our yellow fever documents. Then to immigration officers. A super jolly man quickly attached himself to Bev and me and took us to expedited visa processing. His name was Pedro and he asked us to call him “Pizza.” So we did. Visa processing involves presenting the visa approval to show up at the border… which is what we were doing. Then the process of approving that document upon seeing us. Then parting with $120 each for the privilege of entering their country. All this was done rather quickly by accommodating officials and staff. They made sure we felt comfortable.
Then we collected our luggage. And, now before meeting with our Angolan hosts, we all changed into a bit more formal wear. The ladies changes into skirts… the women here do not wear slacks. Jorge and I changed into suit and tie. We were like Clark Kent changing into Superman in phone booth… except it was in a WC stall. The women exclaimed that they had discovered new men. I told them that the longer we travel with the de Campos’s, the better we look. 
As we exited from baggage claim and immigration, we were met by the leaders of our church in Angola. They all quickly introduced themselves. I have heard most of the names, particularly Pastor Paolino, Avellino Bumba and others. It was good to actually see the people that Jorge has spoken about for years. They were all nicely dressed here at 6:15 AM or so.  Some of their wives were there. They came in three vehicles. Outside there is a lot of traffic as people are being picked up. Traffic was bustling, but orderly. 
We were told it would be about two hours to the church hall where some from the congregation would be waiting to greet us. We made unusually great time and arrived in about an hour. This is the first African country that Bev and I have visited where people drive on the right side, as we do in the USA. All the others have been British influenced and drive on the left side. 
We drove through urban Luanda out to the church hall. We asked a lot of questions about the country and city. Angola is a huge country… about twice the size of Texas. It has suffered through two wars. First, the war for independence that went on for 25 years. Following that there was a civil war that proceeded for another 25 years and continued into the early 2000’s. It was a war that involved the US and South Africa on one side and Russia and Cuba on the other. 
Today, the Communist party is the ruling party. When we applied for visas to Angola online, the opening page had the hammer and sickle symbol that the Soviet Union used for years.
But, Angola is prospering. The country is known for diamonds and oil. I believe it’s one of the few places in the world that supplies chrome. I asked about Russians, Cubans and Chinese that at one time were dominant. Our hosts told us that there are few Russians and Cubans. The Cubans tend to be doctors. The Chinese, too, have receded. This was all very interesting.
When we arrived at the church hall we were met by a singing women’s choir and many members lined up to greet us. We walked into the church hall, which is a very nice. People filed in. This was a Friday morning, but they came. Tomorrow, we were told, there will be a very large contingent of people… maybe upwards to a thousand people. The pastor of this Luanda congregation is Avellino Bumba who also does a radio program. Radio helps keep people focused and draws new people. The main leader of the Angolan church is Paolino Ofi.
A youth choir dressed in uniform was singing when we entered in and sat in special chairs set aside for guests. We were really treated very nicely. 
Pastor Paolina made a welcome addresss. Then I was asked to speak.  I told them about how I had been aware of them from 1994-1995 back in the days of the Worldwide Church of God and how happy our leaders at that time were to find thousands of people faithful to the Word of God. At one point, our relationship had faltered, but now has been reignited. These people found the United Church of God online and connected with Jorge de Campos. And, a new relationship emerged which has now become a partnership, in which they used our extensive literature in Portuguese for their evangelistic purposes. We have a genuine respect for one another.
Then we walked across the courtyard and visited their five-classroom school called Agua Viva, which means “Living Waters. ” It was very interesting seeing classes in session. Then we visited for some time, but Bev and I were greatly hampered not knowing Portuguese. 
Then we checked in at the IBIS hotel just a short distance from the church hall. We rested a bit. We were exhausted from the flights of the past few days… literally walking off the plane after more than two days on the road and then thrust into visiting with the people here.
Then at 3 PM, Jorge and I met with their leaders in a hotel conference room. It was good to be with the leaders up close. We discussed the agenda for the remainder of our visit. Then Pastor Paolino spoke about the challenges they have faced physically and spiritually with the church being challenged to even exist by the government. It appears that they have weathered some of the recent storms to exist. They have had some of their bank accounts frozen, but they are hopeful that that will be sorted out soon. They thanked us for coming.
Pastor of the local Vidral "home office" church Avelino Bumba thanked us for the sacrifice of coming to visit.   They pray for us and are so thankful for the relationship we've had since 2015 with Jorge de Campos.  He reiterated how they found us on the Internet and had thought that they were out there alone with their beliefs, in the desert....with no one else.
By the way, Avelino Bumba has a weekly 15 minute radio program heard in the Luanda area. 
I also spoke and told of our history with these people. I was very involved in hearing about them at the beginning and am so happy to see our relationship flourish now.
They asked me questions about my coming to the truth of God and my history.
I met the person who found the United Church of God on the Internet that led to them contacting us and our recent relationship starting in 2015 continuing what started in 1995. His name is Mesac Catombela.  He is a school teacher who studied in Cuba. We found that Pastor Paolino Foi, who is the chairman of the entire church here, is one of the two original founders in 1983. His wife's name is Sophie.  
I told them about Horasi, the person of Portuguese origin in Zambia who helped start what now had become the Manyinga and Mufumbwe congregations.   I have his and others stories posted on my LifeNets website at http://lifenets.org/mufumbwe/mufumbwestory.html
In Luanda alone there are 15 congregations and each one has a building. They credit their growth to the localized meeting and their radio program.
I was told by this group that many people from Angola fled during the wars....even as late as 2002  There were 66,000 refugees in Zambia.  Horasi may have been among these people who were living in Zambia.  
Key people:
1. Hilário Piriquito -  music director 
2. Felisberto Cassoma - (equivalent to Gerald Seelig -- manages cash)
3. Rufino Chiopio - equivalent to Mark Welch
4. Elizel Gamboa
In Angola the ruling party is Communist, but there are other parties. There is no real "consensus" I am told. 

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2019-11-14