Monday, April 6, 2015

District Conference in Likasi

This weekend, March 21 and 22, we went with the President to the Likasi District Conference, a 2-3 hour drive.  The road gets worse each time we drive there.

It's been over 2 months since we even had a day off.  I could use a sleep-in day!  I thought it was going to be this Saturday but early Friday morning President Thomas called and said that he felt like we should be going to the District Conference in Likasi with them.  It's like Stake Conference but they are still a District.  He was kind and said if we had other responsibilities in the ward or if we didn't want to we didn't have to go.  So I guess we could have been excused but to me when the Mission President says he feels like something should happen there is no alternative, so we went gladly.  He also mentioned that he wanted us to speak in the Saturday Adult Session as well as in the Sunday General Session.  He wanted us to speak about temples.  Dad also had to do the training in the afternoon for the Executive Secretaries and Clerks.  

The conference was amazing!!  The Spirit at some of the meetings here is so strong!  They had an attendance of 88.5%.  When do we ever get even close to that?  We arrived for the meetings 30 minutes early and the chapel and cultural hall were already packed with people and the choir was singing prelude music.  

The missionaries waited in the foyer for all their many investigators to arrive.
Some companionships would have as many as 20 investigators coming.
It's like that for Sacrament Meetings too.

Saturday afternoon in the Adult Session, 4 - 6 pm because it gets dark at 6:30 and everyone is walking. I spoke about Temples, the blessings, and about how to prepare now for when they can go.  Many here haven't been to the temple yet because of finances.  The church assists them to go the first time.  Many people here choose to save to go to the temple more than once over buying a car and other things we would consider to be essential.  They understand that the temple is vital to our salvation!!  It is wonderful to see such faith.
Sunday morning I spoke to the Youth and the Primary children about preparing to go to the temple when they are older.  There are many things they can do now so they will be ready.
I wrote my talks and Neil helped me with my translation.
This was a very good experience for me!!  I felt the Spirit!

These are some pictures taken after the meeting Sunday.
People here don't go out and rush off to go home.  It's like they don't want the experience to end so they linger in the parking lot and on the lawns to visit.

This picture I took of the children that came forward to see us.  Their eyes are so bright!

I had to take this picture as I exited the building.  There were so many people standing around to visit and fellowship.  It was nice.

No one was in a hurry to leave.

These are some of the missionaries.  
They are gathered mostly so they can talk with the Thomas' and us and have pictures taken.

I loved this little girls pout.  

They all dress as nicely as they can for their Sunday meetings.
I love this little girl's white dress and the suit on the little fellow behind her.

Some of them arrive in jeans but it is the best that they have and is totally acceptable!
The sleeping babies on their mother's backs is a favorite of mine.

This little fellow is enjoying himself.

I love the colours that the women dress in.  Everything here is so bright and cheery.

Isn't she adorable?  I love their hair-dos for the tiny girls.

This is our Sister Kabangu.  I love the way she has done her hair.  This has a take hours but they really know how to braid quickly.  They an do each braid in 1 - 3 minutes.
She is so beautiful!

Her she is again with us.

Elder Lufuluabo, me, Elder Buba and Elder Draper
Elder Lufuluabo just went home.
Elder Buba is a fine elder.  He is also a body builder.

We were taking a picture of the sisters but the elders thought they would just jump in.
Back row:  Me, Sœur Mbala, Sœur Ndomba, Sœur Kabangu, 
Sœur Thomas, Sœur Lazuala, Sœur Mudila
I'm not sure of all the Elders names.

Me with Sœure Lazuala.  She is a new Sister Training Leader.  She is absolutely beautiful!

Elder Lufuluabo with his arm around me.  He's a very happy missionary.  He loves life.

This is the garden that our guard has planted for us.  Sister Thomas gave him some packages of seeds.  At first, he planted them all together and we thought we would never get anything out of it.
He transplanted them when they got big enough and we were all surprised that they lived.
What do we know?

It is time to clean the streets again.  This is how they do it.
It employs many people where a 'street-cleaner' like we have at home would put many people out of work.  These women sweep with their tiny brooms and do a good job.
Talk about back-breaking work.

This is the little marché we pass every time we go out.
You will notice the round black circle things by the onions.
They are dried eels.  They love them here!!!!
They also sell caterpillars here and other fun stuff.

Here's our little house around the corner.  They have really fixed it up with brass doors and all.

This is our little garbage man pulling load up the hill close to our place.

I had to tease Emmanuel about tanning!!  I thought only white people tried to tan.  
He had to take his wedding ring off because it broke and was cutting into his finger.  
He just smiled and said it looked like he was still wearing it.  
(Emmanuel works in the bureau taking care of all the apartments in the mission.  
It is a huge job and he could use some help but we have no one.)

I had another picture in here showing the crowds at the airport waiting for this woman to arrive.
She is the Congo President's wife.
All these people were her supporters.  There was no one there to protest.

They sure were excited when she finally showed her face.
It made for a long wait for President and Sister Thomas to emerge from the airport 
after a tiring week in the Kasai Province.

While we were waiting a women came to speak with us.  We visited for quite a while and I enjoyed the conversation.  She didn't even ask for money until one of the women that was with her told her too.  That is always such a disappointment but they just feel like they have to ask.

We had a big thunderstorm the other night and the power went out.  
That is one of Elder Draper's jobs .. to keep the power going so he had to run over to the generator and turn it on for us.  When he came home he was absolutely SOAKED to the skin.  His pants were dripping wet.  

The next morning he got dressed up to show the President how he would do that in the future.  He knew he brought hip waders for something!!!!  haha

Enjoy your week and we'll enjoy ours!  Love from the Congo!!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

One of the best days of my life!!!

Yesterday I had another experience that filled my heart with such joy and gratitude!!!!!  It was another one of those moments when I thanked Heavenly Father for letting me come here.  I didn't know of the blessing it was going to be for me when we received the call.  I knew it would be wonderful here but I didn't know HOW wonderful. Operation Smile was here a few months ago and they came to offer a pilot program for women.

These surgeries were for women who should have had C-sections for the birth of their babies but there is nowhere to receive this service.  They deliver their children naturally but are left with holes in some of their internal organs so that they are incontinent.   They are rejected and cast out of their society because of this.  Can you imagine this situation.  You have the most horrid experience of a terrible labour and after who knows how many hours or days this goes on until the baby is finally delivered and does not live.  You had such prolonged pain and lost your baby.  Your husband and family all disown you and you have no where to go and no one to turn to.  You now are a begger for anything you may need.  You have no where to live.  Many of these women are young, very young.

These women also came by the thousands in hopes of being chosen for surgery.  They could only choose 40 women. 

 When we entered their hospital room (20 to a room) they were all smiles!!  They immediately started to sing and dance for us as they carried their catheter bags with them.  As they sang the Spirit in the room was amazing.  I could not keep the tears from flowing.  They had a spirit of gratitude and love about them that was so strong I couldn't believe how I felt.  They were communing with God as they thanked the doctors and nurses and the volunteers that came to help them.  I felt His love for them.

Here is a short video of their singing for us.

We went to the hospital with crafts and things for them to do so they could fill their time while they healed.

This man is a member of the church and he had been coming to the hospital every day to help with serving food and other chores that needed to be done.

This is a picture of the title blankets they were making.

We took plastic bags to teach them how to make crocheted purses 
and took looms for them to learn how to make small blankets for babies or lap quilts for themselves.  
Both of these things could be sold to help them make a living.

These women were working their rooms and were so happy as they worked.

This young girl is so beautiful!!
She had a beautiful smile too. 
 Africans don't like to smile for pictures to be taken.  
So it is hard to get smiles from some.

Here we are crocheting our plastic bags.
I was showing them how to cut the bags soft them to get one long piece to crochet with.

As I was cutting bags I felt like I should bear my testimony to them. 
Humanitarian missionaries are not to talk about the church.  They simply give service.  
So I thought that maybe i should not bear my testimony because I went with them.  
As I thought about whether or not I should bear my testimony I received a strong prompting that I should. 

So I did bear my testimony and felt the Spirit so strongly.  
They seemed to be listening to every word.
That is a fulfillment of a line in my patriarchal blessing.

They visited while they crocheted.  They giggled as they worked.

This is the beginning of a bag.
She is making a nice pattern in hers.
They were all so excited.
This woman picked it up very quickly 
and she will be able to help the others as they learn after we go.

The operating room is brand new with all the newest equipment that any operating room would have.
The rest of the hospital looks like it is in the Congo.
The halls are dark with no light and everything is held together with a lick and a promise.

This young girl was so happy and you heard her laughing from afar. 
She has a hearty laugh that was a joy to listen to.

This girl has other problems to that she has had from birth.
In this country if you are born with a defect you live with it for your whole life.

There is no way to fix even the small things.
These are her legs that are so bowed!

We also took nail polish to make them pretty.
When I asked this woman if I could take a picture of her beautiful toes, 
she giggled and stuck her feet out for the picture.
Then I showed her my polish on my toes and she laid her head on my shoulder and laughed and laughed.

The doctors with Operation Smile are absolutely Christ-like!!  The service they give is miraculous in the lives of so many as they go throughout the world.  The song they sang was interpreted for us.  I wish I had videoed the translation but they thanked the doctors and the nurses, they thanked the volunteers who fed them, the volunteers that came to spend time with them and teach them some skills.  They thanked us for being their friends because before they only had the flies as friends.  It was so sincere but you will have to imagine what it was like to be there! 

Operation Smile will be coming back in a few months to perform more surgeries on cleft palettes.
They have already been here once for that.
I look forward to another wonderful experience then.

These men worked at the hospital but not with Operation Smile.
This man had lots of questions for me and I was able to answer them all in my broken French.
Then he asked for a picture.

He got this gentleman to take the picture and then they switched places 
so they both had their pictures taken.

Even though they never get a copy of the picture they still want it to be taken.  They get to see the picture on the camera and I guess that is good enough for them.

Three hours was hardly long enough but they were getting tired to and needed to rest.
I am so grateful for this opportunity.
We were in heaven, each one of us!!!

To sacrifice to serve a mission, even in the Congo, is no sacrifice at all!
We have been abundantly blessed and I feel like I am getting more than I am giving!!!