Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Getting to Know the Country

This country couldn't be more different than Canada.
It is interesting to see all the sights here.  Pictures do not do it justice.  
You see it but you don't feel it all around you in a picture.

We aren't driving yet because we don't have driver's licences. 
 We don't have to take a test or anything, just pay some money and wait for them to issue one.
The senior missionaries are so good to drive us to the store and around to where we need to go.

The following video will give you a taste of what it is to drive in the Congo.
Can you figure out the rules of the road?

You guessed it!!  There are none!!!
There actually are but no one pays any attention to them.
However, if you are white you do need to pay attention because the police will pull you over for almost anything.
They have a few lights here at intersections but no one pays them any mind.  We have to stop but everyone else just keeps on going.  It is so funny!!
It's amazing that there aren't more accidents.
The rule here in driving is that if there is a space on the road, fill it.  It doesn't matter which side of the road it is on.  Trying to get across intersections with no lights is interesting.  
No one will stop for you to come across.  You just have to inch your way forward until you are so far into the road they have to stop.  Intersections can be filled with traffic moving all over in all directions and then you add people to the mix and you have it;  the Congo!
It's an adventure in and of itself.

This is in the mission home compound.
I didn't realize we didn't take one of the mission home but only got the office and our place.
The office is on this side of the building and our apartment is on the other side on the ground floor and upstairs.  You can see our balcony.  We have one on the back too.
It is a very nice home with 19 stairs going from the ground to the living room and bedroom upstairs.
The kitchen is on the ground floor.
I just think of the stairs as great exercise.
We'll send a picture of the stairs.  They are very funny.  
Every rise is a different height and every run is a different length.  
Some of the treads are not even rectangular.  You'll just have to see.

This is Elder and Sister Clawson.
They are leaving to go home.  We were their replacements but we can never replace them.
They are an amazing couple who were serving in many areas.
They will be missed in this mission by the staff, the missionaries and everyone else.
They were very loved here.

An Exercise Park
It is used by people of all ages.  
It looks like lots of fun.  I'd like to go there myself.

This is a common sight.  There is no garbage dump that we have seen.
The garbage is just on the sides of the road.
Garbage is burned here during the dry season.  We're not sure what they do in the wet season. 
I think they save it up.  We'll have to let you know on that one.

Trucks take goods from place to place to get them to market.
You can't believe how high they pile the goods on top of the truck.
All of this will get into that truck.
This is early in the morning loading up for the day.

They pile the goods and then put tarps over it.
Sometimes they hang things on top of the tarp by just tying them on.

Often we will see mattresses attached on top of tarps with bungee cords.
It is quite a sight to behold.

Here is a truck load on the road.
One or two or many people will ride on top of the whole thing.
Not a good place to be when you tip over.
(Although I think our grandchildren would think this was fun!)

On our trip to Likashi on Sunday we saw a couple of roll-overs.
What a mess!
Lots of people came to look and see.  
After church as we were driving home we saw some other trucks that had come to help.
There were police there so we didn't get very good pictures.  They do NOT like their picture taken.
If they catch you they will take your camera away.

These are some of the sights in town.
Anyone looking for furniture?
Then this is the spot for you.
It's not quite like the Brick.
There is no guarantee for cleanliness and there are no returns on anything here.

This is a little store on the side of the road selling backpacks and TV's and anything else they can find.  You see this everywhere, even in residential areas.

This kiln is baking bricks which they make here by hand like in Nauvoo.
It is all bricks, in and out.  They put charcoal between the bricks and let it burn for a week.
Then they let it cool for a week and then they dismantle the whole thing and use or sell the bricks.
It costs about 15 cents a brick to make and they sell for about 25 cents a brick.
They are many kilns like this in certain areas.

This mound of clay has been used to make the bricks.  
They don't make bricks from the flat ground soil.  
These clay mounds are found everywhere with trees and bushes growing on them.
Sometimes the trees are bigger than this one.
We don't know how these mounds come to be but when you ask a Congolese person they will tell you, "They are a gift fro God."  That is our only explanation.  I guess it sounds good.  They are a gift.

On the road to Lisaki from Lubumbashi we took some pictures to share with you.
It is more primitive outside the big city in the countryside.
Here is a home that people are living in.  It is covered in tarps.

Another home with a thatched roof.
It is made out of sticks and grass.

Many homes do not have a door.  
They hang a piece of cloth over the doorway for privacy.

You can see that many homes are built very close together.

This is charbon.  
They burn wood with very little oxygen so that it turns to charcoal instead of consuming the wood.
This family has made a bunch of charbon to sell.  A truck will come along and buy it from them and take it to the city to sell.

This woman has a clothing business on the side of the highway.
She'll stand out there all day waiting to sell something to someone.
I would like to know how much business she really does.

These are more homes.  
They have tin roofs which are held in place with rocks or bricks piled on them.
You'll notice the cloth door on the middle home.
The home on the right has a wooden door but see the space at the bottom of the door?
It isn't keeping out many little critters.

This family is blessed to have a motorcycle to get around on.
They call them motos.  They are often used as taxis.
Note the clean? laundry drying on the hedge at the side.
Remember the dust is everywhere here.
Many of the senior missionaries have scratchy throats and coughs 
from all the dust and smoke in the air.

This home is a better home.  It is painted.  Note the dust halfway up the side of the building.
I like the bright blanket hanging on the line.
In the Congo people really live outside and go inside just to sleep.
Everything is done outside just like camping. 
They wash outside.  They cook outside on small Hibachi-type stoves that burn charbon.  They do their dishes outside.  They bathe the children outside.  They sit outside all day.  This is all done without any tables.  They work on the ground on the dirt.

This is in town at a roadside market.

Many people carry their goods on a bike.  They load the bike and then push it to where they need to go.  This man has a small enough load so he can ride his bike.  Sometimes the loads are huge and they push them up hills and down.  Sometimes two people are pushing.  It is very hard work.

Here is a fun sight.  This woman is going to church on the back of the moto riding side-saddle.
We've never seen that before.

The children at church are so sweet.  This little fellow was afraid at first to shake Elder Draper's hands.  When Elder Draper caught his hand he pulled back in terror.
He cheered up when he saw the picture of himself.
The children here haven't seen many white people.  They stare at us but are very curious too.  Sometimes they'll come over just to touch our arms to feel the white skin.  It's very cute!!

Isn't she so cute?  I love the third pigtail sticking straight up.
She came over to me to shake my hand about three times as she was just standing, looking at me.
The children do not speak much French.  They speak Swahili but will learn French in school.
Boys are educated much more than girls.

In the halls at church when I wave to a child that child will come over with their hand stuck out for me to shake it.  They will shake your hand over and over if you are standing in a group of children.  It's so adorable.  These three were anxious for their picture to be taken.

These holes are everywhere on the roads.  We drove down one road and none of the manholes had their covers on them.  How would you like to drive there in the dark.  The first time we went to English class our driver hit the hole on the left.  It was a jarring experience.  It destroyed the tire but we didn't know it at first because the roads are so bumpy.  We were luckily just a few hundred feet from the church so we didn't have to change the tire on the side of the road.

We're lucky we didn't lose the whole car in that hole.  I guess we were going fast enough not to get stuck because the tire just went in and right out again.

Missionaries are always eager to serve.  
You'll notice that it took six of them to change the tire.
That was funny!!
Everyone had to go home to change clothes after that!

We are loving our time here serving where we can.
We are enjoying working in the office and helping the President with his job.
All of us in the office are there to help ease the burden that one person couldn't handle all alone.
President Thomas is a wonderful leader and we are so happy to serve with him and Sister Thomas too.  They are wonderful in their callings.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

In the beginning ......

We are on a high learning curve here.  As we discuss the transfers of all the missionaries, the cities, the names of the apartments, it all sounds the same to us.  Here is an example:  Dilala, Kabasele, Dibindi, Laringono, Mutoshi, Mambuku, Rakotondrabe, Laputa, Munama, Kolwezi
Did you guess which was which?  
It is in this order: 
      an apartment, a name, an apartment, a name, an apartment, a name, an apartment, a city, 
a name and a city
Did you get them all right?

In our training they are going so fast with all the names we are lost.  When you don’t know whether they are speaking of a missionary or a city or the apartments they go to it is very difficult to follow.  It won’t take us long when we have some time to familiarize ourselves with the mission.  This transfer is not going very smoothly, even rough for here.  It should have been done in a week and now it could be at least two to more.  The flights are not running properly, the airport here is shut down every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in Lubumbashi.  The  missionaries 14 missionaries being transferred out of Mwene-Ditu were waiting for there plane coming from Kanshasa picking them up and then going on to Lubumbashi decided not to land in Mwene-Ditu but came strait to Lubumbashi so the missionaries were left stranded.  They are now stranded there for a week.  That is just one example of many problems.  The new missionaries from the MTC in Ghana were to come Friday night and we may or may not get them by Sunday night.  There is no way to check when a flight is leaving or landing or who is on the flight.  We just wait for the helper who gets the missionaries on the plane at the other end to text us saying they are on the plane and the plane left at such and such a time.  Does that sound fun?  I think it is a little stressful.  Because of some area meetings here we will just get this transfer completed (hopefully) and the next week we start planning for the next transfer which will be 3 weeks after this one.  YIKES!!  … and we will be on our own, the Clawsons will have left by then.  

Well, we will get eventually but it may be time to come home by then.  (I hope I’m joking)

Here are some pictures from the last week.

We went through the house to show you where we live.  It is a big home but we are moving to a smaller one in 1 week.  We are happy about that.  We don't want to be cleaning all the time.  haha

This is our home.  We live in the upstairs apartment.
Our front door is behind the tree.  
The door behind the balcony comes off the living room.

This is the living room with the dining area.

This is our kitchen.
Note the lovely cupboards are open for the dust to accumulate.
It is a quaint little stove and the fridge is so tiny also.

This is one of the bathrooms.
The showers are very nice and large!
This is one of the best features.

This is an extra bedroom in case it is needed to house missionaries I suppose.

This is also an extra bedroom.
We keep our laundry things in here.

Just outside the kitchen door if you look to the right this is what you see.  
It is a nice balcony.

This is the laundry room we share with the other 2 couples here.
The dryer has a reservoir that collects water from the clothing and will stop until you empty the container of water.  It holds over a gallon of water.
We discovered that by accident.

These are the stairs we climb up and down to get to our apartment.
There are 21 stairs.

This is looking up those stairs.
Note the plants lining the railing.  They try to make it look nice.

This picture is taken from our door.  This is one of the better neighbourhoods here.
Note the mine mountain in the background.  
Many mine workers live in our neighbourhood so we get good power at night and the water is running most of the time too.  
They shut it off during the day but we are not here then anyways.

A close-up of the mine.

This is taken from our balcony.
Our guards stay in this little building.
When you drive up and honk, they open the gate.
It works quite well.  The guards work 24 hours a day and also take care of the yard and gardens.
They wash off our balcony and stairs each day.

This reminded me of Mauritius, Emily.
Remember all the broken tile they used?
It is quite nice.  I like it.

In the dry season it is very dusty.  
The leaves on this tree are evidence of that.
When the rain comes they will all be cleaned again.

These hollyhocks are in our yard.
Note the razor wire on top of the wall.
The guard takes our garbage to dispose of it and washes out the bags, 
then drys them on the line for re-use.

This is the compound out the back of the mission office.
Note the deep gutters for channeling the rain water in the wet season.
You could break a leg if you went out in the dark!!
See the little garden in the middle.
We'll take another picture

If you want to buy fish this is how they some.
These are frozen and you bag them yourself and take them home.
Kind of scary looking, don't you think?

I'm holding a box of tide.  This box washes 15 loads and cost about $10.

Here is a fellow carrying eggs down the street.
He is balancing them on his shoulder.
It would be a mess if he dropped them.

We went for a walk with Elder and Sister Davis.
Here they are holding hands but note the ditch filled with water and garbage.

The sidewalks are built over top of the gutters.  
You can see the sidewalk is broken up and the gutter beneath.
All the garbage in there will be washed away during the rainy season.

A local business.
They don't seem to be working today.

This is a "super" market.  It is very small inside.

We liked this tree.  Note the interesting root system.

This is a close-up of that tree.  
Aren't the roots beautiful?  These trees are all over.

This is a tree we really like.  We saw them in Florida as well.
Here they are all over the place.

This is a close-up of the blossoms on the tree.
They are so beautiful and the colour is splendid.

This woman is carrying all this fruit and you can only imagine how heavy this basket is.
The women here are always dressed up and they dress very modestly.
..... and it is hot here!!!

Here is a new construction site.  Note the brickwork.

These are the bricks they are using.  They are handmade.

This is a flower on a tree but we don't know the name of the tree.
The flower looks like a bottle brush.
Sister McKinley do you know the name of this tree?

This is a bougainvillea tree.
There are many of these as well.

Another one with a different colour of blossoms.

This is Wilson.  I don't know if he got his name from "Castaway" or not.
He is a very friendly dog.  I love him already.
He is so happy to see us when we come down the stairs in the morning and when we return home in the evening.
Although he did keep me awake for most of the night a couple of night ago "barking it up for no reason at all".
We thought of Brian Regan.  haha

Wilson has a dreadlocks on each side of his head just under his ears.
I don't know how he got them but there they are.

These two birds are on the roof of a neighbouring house.
The bird on the right has soothing in his beak.

A picture of our compound and the guard little house.  
He sits on that chair outside and quite often he sits inside too.
They are so friendly and smiling all the time.
They wave to us with two hands all the time.
That is how everyone waves here.
I love it.

Elder and Sister Davis are buying bananas from these ladies.
This is on our neighbourhood walk.  The ladies are always out selling.
They were very kind!!

This is just after church.  We took pictures of this little girl 'dressed to the nines'.
You should see the size of the purse she is carrying.

This little guy was so cute.  
He stood there staring at us and he wasn't too sure about us as we took his picture.  
He changed his mind when we showed him his picture, then he was all grins.

There was another little girl at church.  Her name is Immaculee.
She was very quiet but stood looking at me for a long time while we were talking in the foyer waiting to go in for Sacrament Meeting.  Then she walked over and rested her head against my side.
She was all smiles when I put my arm around her and held her close to me. 
 She didn't speak French, only Swahili.
We bore our testimonies in church so we sat on the stand.  Everytime I looked in her direction she was looking at me.  When I looked at her she opened into a bright smile each time.  What a darling girl.  I could have taken her home with me.

This is a video of Elder Draper showing how our water works.
As you can tell, he did it with one hand videoing and the other demonstrating.  It is quite awkward as he says at the end of the video.  haha

We hope you are not bored with all the photos.  We want to share what we are doing and seeing here.
It is a wonderful thing to be here on a mission.  There is so much work to do.  These people are in great need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as are we all.
We hope we will be able to accomplish what the Lord has in store for us here.