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The Thing We Carried: Kilanga 1959
(Cluster 1 Major Event: Arrival in Kilanga, the African Welcome, and Nathanís offensive "prayer.")
The trip from Bethlehem, Georgia to the Congo begins with the voice of Leah Price, one of the twins. After packing all the things esteemed absolutely essential, they had discovered that Pan American Airline only allowed 44 pounds of baggage per person. That did not, however, apply to the actual weight of the people themselves. Thus, in an attempt to take as much as possible, Mrs. Price and all four girls had worn multiple dresses and sets of underwear and then had filled all available pockets with other accessories such as cake mixes and various tools.
The first stop in Africa is in Leopoldville where they meet the Under downs-missionaries whose term had expired. There they have to endure their wardrobes a bit longer while the Under downs fill them in on everything they can expect in their new home in Kilanga. They are told not to expect much in the way of help, which Leah finds disappointing. She also reveals some early insight about her father Nathan by letting us know that he was "peeved" by the informative Underdowns and that while the women were loaded almost beyond endurance, Nathan Price was bringing only the "Word of God" which weighs nothing at all. They leave Georgia in midsummer, arriving in Kilanga near the end of the dry season.
Leah and her twin are both able to see the humor in situations, even while being completely miserable. Leah is compassionate, insightful and genuinely wants to believe in her fatherís mission. Nevertheless, she notes with irony that the weightiest burden also weighs nothing. That burden will become heavier as time goes on and will be one that each of the girls will have to either shed or shoulder. Leah also gives us a little insight into the Underdowns. While they claim to have established the mission of Kilanga and seem to know a great deal about the people, they are also very distant emotionally from those to whom they once ministered. They have retired to a fine house in Leopoldville with all the modern conveniences; in spite of being full of information, they seem to have little information that is actually useful. Leah also comments on the vanity of her sister Rachel who is fifteen and determined to be as painted and dressed up as possible in spite of where they are going. She compares Rachel to the damsel Rebecca from the Bible who was selected to marry Isaac and given golden earrings "right off the bat."