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Saved by a Sawmill in the Congo

Monday, September 24, 2018

Saved by a Sawmill in the Congo

By Glen Chapman – Missionary, pilot and teacher in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for 30+ years. More information about Glen and Rita Chapman.

The night was dark and stormy. August is still the dry season, but a tropical thunderstorm accompanied by lots of wind was bearing down on Kikongo, a small village deep in Congo. I was far away in the capitol city of Kinshasa that fateful night, so my wife Rita alone worked to close all the windows and put the barrels out under the water spouts to capture the precious water after months of no rainfall.
  

In the midst of the storm, she heard a tremendous earth shaking crash outside the house. A tree had fallen close by, she knew that right away. She heard a panicked voice at the door and her heart jumped into her throat when she saw who it was.

Watch this video to see how Glen has used a Wood-Mizer sawmill in the Congo. And then keep reading the story below!


 

While we were recently in the US on furlough, we allowed two of our neighbor boys use our outdoor storage shed as a bedroom. The agreement was that we would help them out with school fees if they provided a presence around our house and yard. Upon our return, we had been reluctant to send the boys back to their own home, considering how overcrowded their home was with so many relatives living under one roof. Our shed was a convenient bedroom for the two boys, and helped our neighbors manage their overflow.

 

When Rita opened the door and saw that it was one of our young neighbor boys, she quickly let him in and learned that the tree had fallen directly on their shed and he didn’t know where his roommate was. Fortunately only a few minutes later his brother appeared at our door as well. Their parents heard the crash and discovered that the fallen tree now blocked our yard from theirs.   They were very relieved to discover the boys alive and well in our house.   

 

In the morning light, everyone could assess the damage.  The tree had fallen directly onto the corner of the shed.



Only a couple weeks before, I had taken the retired Wood-Mizer sawmill carriage (an LT25) off of our porch where it had sat for about 8 years, and moved it right next to the shed. Now that we have the LT15, we weren’t using the LT25 anymore.
  The Wood-Mizer sawmill helped block the tree from doing more damage to the house and the boy’s shed.  The mosquito net they had been sleeping under also helped to deflect the brick wall that came crashing down on them.  They escaped with bruises but nothing worse. The Wood-Mizer sawmill resolutely took the brunt of the crash. 


The original LT25 in use in the 1990's. 

Lunch for the sawmilling team (Glen second from right) on a cant on the LT25 sawmill.

Everyone who came by to look at the site walked away in wonder that two boys had survived such a near disaster, and gave thanks to God for His watchful care for the two.

 

For a couple of years we have not run the Wood-Mizer sawmill because it was too complicated and expensive to get government authorization for cutting trees. As I explained to the police a few days ago, we didn’t chop down a tree, we had a tree fall on its own.  No infraction there! 

 



Since we were providentially provided with a good tree trunk for lumber, and we have construction needs, we decided to put the LT15 to good use to process the tree into usable lumber. We are excited to have lumber again.

It gives us the opportunity to talk about taking out the old and replacing with the new.   Along with Rita’s nursery of fruit trees, people can decide what sorts of new trees we want around.  


 



The log has barely been turned into boards and even this evening as I write, people are showing up here to buy lumber.  In the next village, someone recently passed away, and there was no lumber to build a coffin. The needs are great around us. Our own needs for producing lumber is to build desks and tables for new classrooms for UNIBAC (Congo Baptist University).  We also are building a women’s dorm and we need all sorts of wood for concrete forms, doors, windows, and roofing. 

 

So thanks to the Wood-Mizer sawmills which churches in the States helped us purchase, we averted disaster, and have the unexpected blessing of jump starting the new lumber projects again! 




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