Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy here in the Congo!!

Here we are with another few pictures.
We are getting to know the Elders a little better now.... I mean with their names.
The names are very different.  There are names that are so close to each other but different.  For example, we have Mbaya and Mbayo, Ndomba and Ndombo and Ntondo.  Ngoy and Ngoyi.  Elder Draper speaks with the missionaries quite often - he's the only one who really speaks french in the office so he is our communicator.  I am learning their names because I do transfers and write them over and over again in their new areas and on different documents.

These are three fine missionaries.
Elder Tshimpe, Elder Lono and Elder Kalala
Elder Tshimpe and Elder Kalala just went home before Christmas 
and Elder Lono will be going home in February.
Elders Tshimpe and Lono were the APs.

This is Congolese money.  We can use American money here but there can't be any tear of any kind or they will not accept the bill.
The Congolese Francs however can be hanging on by a thread and it is still circulating.
This is a fairly new 200 franc bill and then some older ones.
They can be ripped, holes in them, taped together and it is all good money.

This is one of the nice buildings that I like.  It is beautiful!!!
The tiles on the roof are staring to decay so they have put tarps on the roof.

Isn't it beautiful?

Another flamboyant tree that I love so much.  
The flowers on these trees are now gone.  I wished they would last forever.

This is at the hotel in Mbuji Mayi.
President Thomas is there with the APs and Elder Mikesell, our doctor, is in the background.

Here is Elder Draper standing at the bottom of the outdoor stairs going down to where our rooms are.

Our rooms are on the sides of the picture and this is looking down the hallway.
It is a beautiful building.

Here is the living room in the hotel.

This is the bathroom. Notice that there is no toilet seat.
They have all the facilities but no water..... well, 2 buckets!!  :)
We just have to smile and be grateful!!

I do love this art work that is on the wall in our room.

We are driving down the road in this picture.  You can see all the congestion and this poor fellow carrying this big sack that looks like it weighs a ton!!
You just wonder at how far he has to carry it.
It could be for miles.

Sugar cane is in abundance here.

It's just interesting to me to see all the packages that are balanced on heads.
This man in the brown t-shirt is carrying something  
with a young boy carrying his load in front of him.  
Look behind at the plastics bottles in the red tub.
They balance them all!!!

These women are selling flours of all different kinds.
At places like this the ground is covered in a white mist of powder.
This woman sitting with her legs straight out and her back straight can sit like this all day.
it is amazing to me.  They work so hard to make a little money.

This is one of the sweetest faces I have seen.
He's certainly looking intently at something.

The other fellow here with thumbs up was pleased to see us.
We waved and he waved back and then gave us the thumbs up sign.  Cute boy!!

This woman is carrying two wooden tubs that I think they make the foo foo in.
It is hollowed out and they mash the foo some how.
I don't know exactly how it is done and I don't like the foo foo either.
It doesn't taste too bad, kind of bland, but it is just like raw dough.
They absolutely love it here.  They have it at every meal.
Neil tries to eat it and the Elders laugh at him as he tries to roll it in his hand.  
I guess they are trying to get it the right consistency or something.  It is fun!!!

This is a catchy little shop to buy a coffin from.
They are not your ordinary caskets either.
How would you like a window in yours?
They are quite fancy ... you must admit!!

I loved these children.  We had so much fun with them.
We were in the truck waiting for quite a while earlier in the day.
The two little boys came to beg for food or money from us.
The taller boy was acting like he was in such need while the smaller boy was using his charm to charm our money out of us.
They would do their thing and then they would laugh hysterically!!!
The smaller boy had such great dimples and I LOVE dimples!
When we started to act like we were begging for something from them they really laughed at that.
This is at the airport while we were waiting for our flight to come.
I was so surprised they found us there and then started their ritual all over again.
The little girl came to watch what was going on.
She is only about 9 years old and that is a heavy bowl on her head.
She acted like she didn't even know it was there.
She would move around like there was nothing there.
Before we got on the plane we gave them our water bottles with water and some cookies and they were overjoyed!!

This is Solange our sister that cleans the office complex and our homes.
She is a very nice woman and a good member of the church.
Her little boy's name is Joseph Smith.
He is so adorable and is starting to walk around.  Mostly he is still on his mother's back.

We lost another sister on this day.  Sister Riendeau left to go home.
She left early because her sister had cancer and she was going home to help tend her. 
 It was terminal but before she could leave her sister passed away.
It was a sad parting.  She was our French lady who did all the translating for us.
She was from France and now lives in the States.  
She is the one in all black, a very classy lady!!
The rest of us are:
Back row left to right:  
Elder Davis, Sister Davis, Sister Mikesell, me, Elder Draper with Elder Mikesell behind.
Front row left to right:
President Thomas, Sister Thomas, Sister Anthony and Sister Riendeau
She is still going to do some of the translating from home. 
She types up the missionaries conversion stories for them and for the church.

Isn't this a great load?  That is all charbon for cooking and a few passengers.
Can you even imagine riding like this down the highway at home?  haha

This is after a Zone Conference.  These sisters have made the meal for the missionaries.
The dishes are so beautiful.  I don't know where they would have gotten them.
So for dinner we had rice, in the middle at the front, foo foo is the white balls of dough, 
matebele is the green vegetable dish with fish in a sauce. 
chicken pieces, bananas and apples with water to drink.
Missionaries love this meal.
The matebele (spelling?) is a leaf that grows on the ground 
and then other things are put in it too 
like fish which is most likely eel that they buy all dried up and rolled in a circle.  
That's a bit much for me!!!

This is celery.  that is what it looks like here.  ... very small stalks that often are very limp.
I needed it for the dressing I made for the turkey dinner at Thanksgiving.

Here is Thanksgiving dinner at the mission home.
It was a wonderful meal.
It was nice to all share it together.  We have lots of fun with these friends.

Here is Sister Anthony, Sister Davis, me, Sister Mikesell waiting to open the bundle of clothing we bought to divide up and give to the orphans that we were going to visit and give  them gifts.
The bundle is on the ground in front of us.  It holds about 250 articles of clothing.

The mission office is on the other side of the fence and our office is in the front corner there.
The house on the right is where Sister Anthony lives and where Heather Vance will live when she gets here.
Our house is on the other end of the office building upstairs.  We have a huge staircase to climb (19 stairs).  The kitchen is downstairs but the rest of it is up.

Here we are looking through it all the clothing and dividing it up into sizes etc.
We had a great time.
Going to the orphanages was a great Christmas gift for us!!!
We felt so good afterwards and our hearts were full with the Spirit!
We are so blessed to be able to love others, even those we don't know, and share time together.
It was a marvellous Christmas indeed!!

The weather continues to be so nice here.  Today it was 88 F.
The rainy season is the summer but when the rains come it cools things down a little.
It is so beautiful when that happens.
I love the thunder and lightening we get too!!!

There will be more soon!!  Love you all and thanks for your prayers.
We feel them.  Serving the Lord is the best thing we can do in life.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Northern Tour - part 2

This is a continuation of our trip north.
I love all the lush green that we see out in the countryside.  
It shows a beautiful country that you don't know is there when you just stay in the city.

This is a beautiful illustration of that beauty!!
This is a garden that is in a little village on the road side.

These women are at the church water site getting water for the day.
This is just outside the church building in Lusuku.

This is the church in Lusuku.
Both buildings belong to the church.  
The building in front holds the chapel, the Priesthood room,
the Primary room, Relief Society room and the bathroom.
The building on the left side is the Young Womens and Young Mens rooms.
They often have overflow people who sit outside and try to hear from there.
The week after we were here the church was going to build Lusuku an outdoor bowery 
for them to meet in.  It will be so, so much nicer!!!!

This is inside the building.
Lusuku is the end of the road, a little town that belongs to the Luputa Stake.
We have 2 missionaries here.
This room is the chapel.  It's not like any chapel we would see in America!!
The room behind through that little opening is the Primary room.  
The window is the only light they get in there.

This is another shot of the chapel. They do have a chalk board for teaching.
This room of course will also function as the Sunday School room and the Priesthood room.

This room is for Relief Society meetings.
Behind there is another room for Sunday School youth classes.

Elder Draper is in the bathroom.

The construction of this building is interesting. 
Did it pass the building code inspection?

Here are President and Sister Thomas with our 2 Lusuku missionaries.
What fine missionaries they are.

Here we have the Relief Society President with her husband and twin girls.
The babies are always adorable.

Elder Draper is waving to those who have gathered to watch us while we are there.

This little group has assembled to see what is going on at the church.
There are little groups like this at every turn.

Elder Draper and President Thomas standing by the sign directing us to the hospital.
We have the medical couple with us.  
They need to check out the hospitals to see where he can send sick missionaries and be confident they will receive good treatment.

As we walked a little around town we saw this nanny goat with her two little kids.
They are twins and so cute.  The people here do not value animals in the way we do.
They think nothing of them except that they are for food and nourishment.
When we pay attention to them the people laugh at us for caring for an animal.
A difference in cultures is all it is.
I love the light kid with the rings around his legs.
They aren't sure about people but President Thomas was able to touch them and pet them a little.
We had a crowd watching, laughing and wondering what on earth we were doing.
It was fun!!

Darling little kids!  I love animals as do the Thomas'.
Is that not sweet?

Children play hopscotch here.
Everyone wants to see the white people.  
Sister Thomas surprised them when she jumped down there hopscotch markings.
They all thought that was very funny to see her hop along.

Here we are in the waiting room at the hospital.
There are many people needing a doctor and not many doctors around.
I love the girls hair-dos in the back!!
That is Sister Mikesell taking a picture at the back.
She is  the wife of our medical missionary.

This mother was happy to stop for a picture with her family.  
Do you see the baby on her back?  I love their love for color!

The children of the Congo are beautiful!!

Aren't they precious?
They love to shake my hand.  I always go around and speak to each of them.
I have very limited French though and they mostly speak Swahili anyway 
but they smile just the same.

They love to see their pictures when I take them.
I would like to gather them all up and bring them home with me.
They all seem happy with their lot in life.
We certainly don't need 'things' to be happy.
The gospel will bless this land.

This is a little church down a little lane.
When they come to church here they all bring their own plastic chairs.

We have a wedding this Friday for several couples needing a legal marriage so they can be baptized.
We, the senior missionaries, are going to support this big event.
We have been told that we need to be there at 2 pm with a plastic chair.
Someone giggled that in the Congo for a wedding you need nothing 
but a plastic chair and $35 dollars.
The price of the marriages is much higher but we have bargained with them that when we have a group like this they will perform the marriages for a good price.
We are so happy they are doing this so these people can finally get married and be baptized.
They faithfully attend church all the time, member or not.

This is a great African hair-do.  This woman was happy for me to take her picture with her baby.
Isn't she cute? ... her little scowl is adorable.

We are at a hospital in Luputa now.  This is the doctor facing us.  
The other guy is Elder Draper.... he's the white one.
To have a consultation is costs 1000 Congolese Francs.
That is a little more than 1 dollar.

This is the hospitals pharmacy and their 2 pharmacists.
As we entered the room these two lovely women stood up immediately to greet us.

This is one of the wards they have there.

This woman wanted us to come to take her picture.  She was quite ill.

This little girl was there with her mother and then I saw her dad with her too.
I'm not sure if she was the patient or her mother but she caught my attention.
Her mother had been watching me and was so happy that I went to take her picture.

This was quite a heavy load for these men to push.
There are carts of all kinds being pushed along.  
It is their only method of transport for their goods.

This is a store on the street in the city of Luputa.
I love how they display their goods but think of the work to put them out every morning 
and then put them inside every evening.
Those five strips of metal standing in front are the lawn mowers.  
They hold on to the other end and swing it back and forth and hack the grass off.  
You see the cutting the grass on the boulevards like that.

This business was close by.
They sell all sorts of different things here as you can see.

In Luputa we had that wonderful rain downpour in the afternoon that cooled things down nicely.
We weren't sure how we were going to sleep in the heat.  We were blessed indeed.
This pathway to the church was dry just a few moments earlier.
Now it's a challenge to cross the road.
There was quite a good current going here.

This young girl thought she had a better idea.
She also knew I was there taking pictures.
We had had some interaction across the creek.  
She just walked in shoes and all as if she was saying, "That's how it is done!"

This young girl graciously went back to carry her younger brother across.  He was concerned about doing it alone and he needed help.

It never ceases to amaze me at how they pile into and onto a vehicle for travel!!

It is always amazing to see how they travel on the highways.
The speed doesn't matter ... just hang on!!

This is another picture of the beauty of the countryside.
It is spectacular!!!

You will never see this in Canada!
They just pile everything inside and then climb on top.  
Can you imagine what would happen if this vehicle ever rolled?
I guess they think about that even though there are quite a few accidents on the highways.

This is the way they go from city to city.
It takes us about 45 minutes in the car to go the distance.
They sure work hard to get around.
Some of those loads are heavy.  
It's hard to push them up the hills 
and then even harder to keep them from getting away from them 
going down the hill on the other side.

These people were happy to pose for us to take their photograph.
They were laughing at us for taking this picture.  
They are a happy people.

It is common to see people carrying chairs around from place to place.  
If you want to sit you bring your own chair in many instances.

I hope you notice the beauty of the roadside as well as the people in their travels.
The stream of people never ends.

The loads are varied as well.
They will carry anything that they need no matter the size or the shape of the load.

These tubs must be so very heavy.
The women work while the men do their own thing too.
Notice the man on the right side of the picture under the tree.

Isn't this woman beautiful?  Her posture is perfect.
I love the bright colors they wear.
They certainly have their own style of African cloth.

There is a lot of diversity in the loads they carry.
This woman carrying sticks on her head also helps to push the fellows bike.
How does she balance that load and push too?

It is so nice and green everywhere.
These women on the right are carrying some flour of some sort.
I'd be hanging on for dear life for fear I would drop it all over the road and then have nothing to eat.

More road and more people.  Looks like a traffic jam in front.

I'm not sure what is under the fabric that this woman is carrying but you see many large loads like this.  The fabric is to keep the sun off of their head.

Here is another sample of the quality of their roads.
You have to slow down for this!!

You can see the exertion that this man has to get his load up the hill.
It is miles and miles that they push these loads.  Unbelievable!!

Grains and flours for sale.
All you need is a tarp and a small piece of dirt to lay out your goods.
They sit in the dirt selling what they have day after day.

Here is another large load being carried.
I like the target on her head.

There are many little villages like this one along the highway.
I think it would be nice to live in such a place except for the lack of power and running water.
Do you see the pig roaming in the middle of the picture?
The women on the right are selling their greens.  Don't know what it is though.

Getting into town it all changes.  
There are the crowds and the traffic jams as everyone crowds into the streets.
How do you get through all these people?  ... just honk and go.

This is at a watering place.  Everyone is here with their bidons to get water.
Some of those bikes are going to have a heavy load as they leave here.
Even the children work to carry big loads.
See the little girl on the left?

Three on a motorcycle is nothing.  I saw a family of 6 on one last Sunday.  They were going somewhere dressed in their Sunday best.
The father was driving with a little one about 4 on his lap in front.
The mother was on the rear with 3 other children squished in between.
The children were all small and had to hang on for themselves.
That is a scary sight for me!

I love the beauty of the Flamboyant tree.

Driving through town.
I don't even notice the garbage all over anymore.  It seems normal now.

Another beautiful tree driving through town.

Women with their loads

This is to show how the children work as a member of the family.
He probably doesn't get to go to school either.  So sad!!!

Here is another young boy helping his father push the load.

I'm lucky to get a picture of a policeman.  
They get very mad and will even take your camera if they see you take their pictures.
You can see all of the transports lining the road on the other side waiting for people who need a ride.
The transports are everywhere!!!!
Here the policemen can be a real help getting you through the people.
Even after they help you get by the crowds and they see our white skin 
they often have their hands out for money.

The roads are always busy.  It is often hard to get through it all.
The bikes will ride in and out of the vehicles.
Remember, here if there is a space you just fill it 
and often it doesn't matter which side of the road you are on.

This is a young girl with her load.
They learn very young how to do it.

Another picture of the decaying road.
It's a rough ride!!!

We drove down this street!!  Yup.... it is a street.

This building is the courthouse and there is a trial in session.
Lots of people interested in the case.
I guess anyone can listen.

This picture shows the feathery leaves on these trees.  
It is beautiful and the color of green is fabulous.

The flowers are beautiful everywhere.

I'll post again soon.