Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mid-Winter in the Congo

Time continues to pass quickly.  We are over the coldest part of the winter now.  It did get a little chilly in the mornings so that we had to break down and wear a sweater a few times, not Neil though.  For the Congolese people it was very cold.  Many were wearing heavy coats and hats throughout the day even when it was very warm in the afternoon.  It's all what you get used to.  The change in temperature is interesting.  Our warmest to coldest at home is far greater than the warmest to coldest here but this is all they know.  In the summer we are so hot here and the Congolese are loving it.  Many of our missionaries want to serve up in the Kasai Oriental Province because it is much closer to the equator and much warmer.  They like the feeling of being wet with perspiration.

This first couple of pictures is from the rainy season.  
Here they don't refer to the seasons as winter and summer, spring and fall.  
We simply have two seasons - wet and dry.

This is a road that you normally would walk down but the rains have caused the flood.
It gives these people an opportunity to make some money 
by getting the travellers across the water remaining dry.  
The boats are interesting.  
There is a range of different kinds, 
right from quite well built to the hollowed out log that you see in the front of the picture.  
You'll notice the man with the bicycle who has his friend sitting on the seat 
with his feet on the handlebars to keep dry.  
This is how our missionaries crossed over this street each day.

Elder Amia is standing in this boat.  
He is such a good missionary.
He is a really good young man.  
He is in our English class and has been for a few months now.  
His mother can be proud of him!!
You'll notice that the boats all take in water that they have to empty out with buckets.

No matter what season we are in there is beauty in nature.
The colors in the flowering trees and bushes are so beautiful!!

We went out for dinner at this hotel restaurant one evening.  
This is during the winter so you can see how cold it is for us.
We are sitting across from our companions at this table.
It took about 2 hours to get our food.  
By the time our food came I was so hungry I would have been glad to go home 
for a peanut butter and banana sandwich.  :)
The food was good when it came.
Seating around the table from the left going clockwise:
Elder Davis, Elder Draper's empty chair, Sister Thomas, Sister Vance, Sister Anthony, Sister Cook, President Thomas, me, Sister Davis, Sister Mikesell and Elder (Dr.) Mikesell.
We love this group of missionaries!!  
We feel it is such a blessing to be able to serve with these fine people.

We found this caption.
There is so much truth in this.
Here the children run and play with their imaginations.
They are happy and have so much fun together.
Life is simple.

This little fellow on my back is Joseph Smith.
His mother, Solange, works here in the mission compound.
We all love Joseph!!  
He is growing so fast and it's fun to watch him play.  
He loves to be with the guards and they love to have him too.
The women here do not have to hunch over like I am to hold their babies on their backs.
They have strong backs and strong bodies from all the physical work they do to live.
Solange will strap him onto her back and work all day going up and down stairs 
and doing all her cleaning.

Here is Solange with Joseph on her back while she is working in the bureau.
She is a beautiful woman and is as nice as anyone could be.
She always has a big, beautiful smile.
I look forward to seeing her each day.

This is a rare sight here but it felt like we were home again 
at our Mountain home driving through the cattle on the roads.
It was just a fun moment for us.

We have not been able to find anyone who can tell us why they paint the tree trunks white.
Is it to keep the bugs out of the trees?  Is it to make them look nice?
We have no idea but they do look nice as you gaze down the street full of them.
Most trees along the streets here are painted like this.

This picture was taken inside one of the missionary apartments.
You can see the things they exercise with.  You have to be creative.

I think this is in Kolwezi when we went up for a District Conference.
We were going to see an apartment and this is the street we traveled down.
The big trucks at the top of the street were stuck there and so were just sitting as they were left.
The ruts in the road are bad so you just have to drive the best route you can find.
Some places there is only one lane of traffic that can move.

Who is to say we don't have swimming pools here?
We have seen a few just like this one.
Even at the hotels where they advertise a swimming pool this is what you find.
They also advertise running water but that doesn't mean that you'll have it during your stay.
They may turn the generator on for a couple of hours a day.  haha

Here is an example of one of those ruts in the road.  
You don't want to drive over that.

I love to see the different plants that grow here.
This one is so colorful, I think it is beautiful.

This is a tree that has been pruned?  ... hacked?
Well, it will continue to grow.  
I love the shade of the new green.
Here you can't keep things from growing.
Even the dead little twigs we used to mark the rows in our garden sprouted.

These women and children are on their way to church on Sunday.
They do find such beautiful little dresses for their girls to wear.
They find them mostly at the bundle mall.
The bundle mall is where they get second-hand clothes that have been shipped here 
from other countries and they are all tied up in bundles.
The vendor will buy a bundle, not knowing what is inside exactly, 
and open them up on the ground at a marché for selling.
Sundays is the day for buying clothes 
and there are many, many, many people selling their bundles 
that are laid all over the ground.
Gecamines has a great bundle mall.  
The term 'mall' is used loosely.

This is Ilonga.  He is our gardener at the compound.
I have never seen a harder worker.  
He is always working at keeping things looking their best.
On our drive-way we have pressed rocks to drive on.  
About four times a year he digs through the rocks 
to get out every little bit of green that are tiny weeds growing.
It will take hime about 3-4 full days of back-breaking work to do as he just bends over to do it.
Our grasses and gardens are edged and he keeps the grass from growing into the flowerbeds.
He is so kind and such a happy man.
He only speaks Swahili and French so it is hard for me to have a conversation with him 
but we do communicate through any way we can.  
We love this man!!
He is so helpful with anything we might need.

These two young missionaries are about to begin their missions.
They are leaving from one of the Districts in this area.  
They came so President Thomas could set them apart as missionaries.  
While they were here they joined in on one of our choir practices and they came up after to thank me.  They loved the rehearsal. 
 Such good young men will make great missionaries! 
 I felt such love for these two young men about to begin their full-time service!!

Here Sister Thomas and I are in the arms of Sister Lazuala, 
one of our Sister Training Leaders.
Isn't she a beautiful missionary?  
She always has a warm welcome for us.

I enjoy spending time with the missionaries even though I cannot understand everything they say.
It is great when you can speak heart to heart.  We only hope that we are fulfilling the things Heavenly Father has sent us here to do.

When I was in Elementary School, one year our class studied about the Congo.  Who would have ever guessed then that I would be living here now?  The Congo will always have a special place in my heart.  We are all children of our Heavenly Father and He loves us all!!!!  How grateful I am!!

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