Tuesday, February 10, 2015

We're enjoying the Congo!

The work continues to move forward here.  
The missionaries are working to bring people into the church.
We are loving the missionaries more and more as we get to know them individually.
Their desires are to serve the Lord.  They know the gospel and they know their scriptures.
It is a privilege to serve with them in the work of the Lord.
Elder Draper is able to help in so many ways because of his French.  He is the only one in the office who is French-speaking, the rest of us are all English-speaking with a very little French.
We all rely on him for help to do our work.
The doctor gets phone calls from the missionaries with health problems.
He likes them to text and not call because then he can figure out what they are saying (mostly) and can text back his reply relying on the on-line translation.
We just had our internet shut down in the whole country because of some political unrest so we had no communication outside of the country.
The texting was out for about a month or so.  Elder Draper was very busy then.  
He got ALL the phone calls for everyone and had to relay messages and then return the responses.  His phone rang all day and all night.  We all are so happy he is here to help.
We would be lost without him.
The whole communication system in the country has been interrupted for over 3 weeks.  
It came back a bit at a time and now we have it all back so I am able to blog again and we can text here in the country.  It feels so good.
It was hard to be cut off from the world.  It didn't feel like the freedom we come from.

We have been attending the Luano Ward in the Lubumbashi Stake.
It has been a good ward for us.  The people have welcomed us in and are very kind.
The women are now beginning to have Relief Society start on time.  I'm not sure what has made the difference but when I first went I was the only one in the room for 20 minutes.
Priesthood always starts on time.
I am still having a hard time understanding Relief Society and probably never will because it is given mostly in Swahili.  It is very entertaining to listen to but I don't understand.
Once a teacher asked me a question out of the blue (I'm sure to include me) but I didn't know anything about what had been said so it was hard to answer.  I did answer in French and just hope it was applicable to what they were discussing.  .... no way to know for sure!!
We have both borne our testimonies in church but Elder Draper was asked to speak in church this next Sunday.  I told him that he needs to say a line in French and then translate for me.  haha
Actually, a couple of weeks ago in Sacrament Meeting I understood 2 of the talks.  Understood, meaning that I got most of what they were saying and felt like I got something out of the meeting.  
It is hard to sit through meetings not understanding anything!  It is interesting how I can sit and listen not knowing what is said and then I can feel the Holy Ghost bear witness that it is true.  
I feel His presence in the room.

I play the 'piano' in church for Sacrament meeting.  It is one of the small, small keyboards.
I do not know how to play a keyboard!  The first week they set it up and I played the beginning part of the meeting.  When I went back up for the intermediate hymn the machine was turned 'off' and I didn't know how to turn it 'on'.  They just sang without me.   haha
After church I thought I learned how to turn it back on.
The next week when I went up and it was off it didn't come on the way I thought they showed me.
At home I might die if I made these errors but here they don't seem to be bothered by anything.
They just continue on as if nothing was out of the ordinary.  Maybe this is ordinary for here.
Now I know how to turn it back on and I know how to make it sound like an organ or a piano.
Now the other problem is that the bass notes don't always sound and sometimes when they do I feel like the left hand is playing in a different key than the right hand.
Oh well.  I just do the best that I can with a machine that only half works half of the time.
After all, if doesn't really seem to matter to these people.  They carry on!!

We went back up north again to Mbuji Mayi, Mwene Ditu and Luputa.  It was the same interesting trip as we had before.  The roads were worse because of the rainy season so we really bounced around.  I even got bounced right off my seat a couple of times.

We went to a village called Tshitenge. (t - she - ten- gay)
They have a good branch there.  We went down to the spring where they get their water from.
There is a little lake there and you can see the springs bubbling up in the water.  It was so beautiful and so amazing.  As we were going down (and I mean down) to the lake I looked around and there we were in the middle of the countryside where you could see nothing but wilderness.  I thought "I can't believe I'm here walking down this little lane in the middle of the Congo in Africa!!!!!"
We are all enjoying it here so much!
It was a steep descent and I kept thinking about how I was going to get back up.  The road was slippery in places so one of the local women came to hold on to me and help me down to the water.  I was very grateful.  While we were there we found beautiful rocks.  (I happen to like rocks.)  As we were looking at them, the branch president came and told us that where you can find these kinds of rocks you can know there are diamonds there.  We thought that was cool!
He had found many diamonds there but as luck would have it, we found none.  haha
Going back up the hill was hard enough but to try to imagine how the women did it with 50 lbs or more of water on their heads was beyond what I could even imagine.
The women in this village do this trip 3 times a week and everyone in the family goes together.
It is about 2 km. one way.  I am so impressed with the women!!
At home this would be work a man would do but here it is woman's work.
A man might be walking with a woman but she carries the load.

Now for some pictures.  I was trying to put more pictures on but then it fails and I had to start over.  So there are not as many pictures.
I took from 8 pm last night until 7 am this morning to load these few pictures.
That shows you the speed of our internet.

This is a local gas station.  In the city there are bigger ones like at home but out further this is where you get gas.  Sometimes on the road out in the middle of the wilderness you find a little village with only a couple of cans on the road for getting gas if needed.

This is in Gecamines.  This is the big market in town.
On Sundays they sell clothing.  They get their wares in big bundles not knowing for sure what is in the bundle and open it up on tarps and blankets on the ground and they are swarmed with people.
It is not busy in this picture but it will be.  You'll notice that there are puddles from the rain the night before but that doesn't interrupt them.  They work around the puddles.

Another picture of Gecamines.  (said with a soft G)
People rummage through the things while those selling their goods sit on the ground all day long.
In the front the are selling charbon. (Shar-Bone)  It is made out of wood and is burned in their little Bar-B-Q type stoves for them to cook over.  Everything is done outside here.

Here we are driving down this street in the rain and the mud.  This is not very bad but enough to make you slide around on.

This is a clay mound that they make bricks from.  After the brick is formed they put them into a kiln to fire them before using them.  The kilns they make are amazing.  You can see that they have used part of this mound already.  Right now you cannot see the mounds very well because they are totally covered in green with the rainy season.  It is amazing that green will grow out of this but it does.  We see no brown out in the countryside right now.

A beautiful yellow flower out in Kipushi where we went to church one Sunday with the President and Sister Thomas.  This spot was so beautiful for the church to be built on.

This is also at Kipushi.  We find these flowers everywhere and they are so beautiful!!
I have more pictures of Kipushi that I will send next time.

This is one of the choirs that sang at church.  This is in the Kisanga Stake Centre.  This Sister does a very good job with her choir.  It is one of the best I have heard here.

I had to take a picture of this little girls hair.  They put extensions in the hair of the little girls at such a young age.  It looks so cute for babies to have such a huge head of hair.  It is so cute!!

Here is another style for their hair.  Any way the hair is done, the children are just as adorable.  These are sisters.  It seems that here the bigger siblings care for the younger siblings like they are their own children.  This big sister is helping the little sister be comfortable while we take her picture.  Afterwards when we show them the photo, they are all smiles and laughter.

This mother was pleased for me to take a picture of her sweet little girl.  I love her hair.
I like the pattern on the mother's dress too.

This little girl is sitting up by the piano listening to the choir practise.

They do like to wear bright colours here.  One of our guards has a bright pink satin suit. 
It is different from what we are used to but here it looks really good.

I took this sunset from our balcony one evening.
We do have beautiful sunsets!!!  I love the sky!!!

I'll write more later.  Love you all and hope you enjoy the post.
Sister Draper

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