Monday, July 26, 2010

Even in the Congo, Signs of His Forever Love!

Even in the Congo, where things are very third world, our Father in Heaven makes Himself known through the beauties of the earth.  When you least expect it, even out in the  bush, there will be a lovely flowering tree or an amazing butterfly.  He always wants us to know of His Love!





Our First Lubumbashi Zone Conference

We are apart of the Lubumbashi Zone.  The center front couple is President and Sister Gary Packer.  Seated to the left is Elder and Sister Brent Jameson. These couples are gifted amazing people. We are to the right.  There are 28 young missionaries in this zone.  There are 59 in the entire mission.  Within the next 3-4 months, there will be 32 more coming.  This is the time for Africa!  The gospel is really growing here!.
These missionaries are very versed in the scriptures and have deep, abiding testimonies.  They travel everywhere without cars.  They have cell phones but people here in the Congo have few. All of the young missionaries are native Africans. The come from the Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Cameroon, Bmuji Maya, Kinshasa and other neighboring areas. They are extremely effective in their teaching.  They love their Savior and are anxious to share the gospel wherever they go.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Our First Lubumbashi Zone Conference


We are a part of the Lubumbashi Zone.  These are photos taken at our first Zone Conference.  The center front couple is President and Sister Gary Packer.  To their left are Elder and Sister Brent Jameson and then we are seated to the right. There are 28 other missionaries in this zone pictured. There are a total of 58 missionaries in this mission currently.  In the next 3 or 4 months, there will be 32 new missionaries sent here.  The gospel is growing in Africa.
The young missionaries are all native of Africa. They know the gospel well and are very effective teachers.  They have impressed us very much! There are many baptisms, confirmations and ordinations happening each week. They are called from Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Kinshasa, Mbuji Maya, Madagascar and other neighboring communities. They are wonderful representatives of Jesus Christ.  They have powerful testimonies and great understanding.   The Congo is now  two missions: Kinshasa and the Lubumbashi.  

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blessings in Lubumbashi

This is the new Democratic Republic of the Congo Lubumbashi Mission Home!  It is really a treasure in this city! This is where President and Sister Packer live. They have a mission office that should be finished in the next month or so. The outside wall is shown in the right hand photo. It is built in the tradition of the many Belgian homes that were built in Lubumbashi in th 1940's and 50's.



On the outskirts of the city, most homes are very humble, most without running water and without power. Many have tin roofs that have bricks to hold them into place as you can see. You can see power lines (left), so this village has some power. In another village market, pictured below, they have no power lines over them.  Many of the children do not have the opportunity to attend school. They usually learn survival skills and the ways of their parents in trying to earn livings.  There are many, many single mothers, widows, and orphans eeking out their existence.  There are also many, many aids victims, many born with the disease.  The life expectancy in the Congo is 50-54 yrs.
In this land, where water (especially through the dry seasons when they get no rain for months) is difficult to find, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a blessing. The left photo above, shows a well that the church put in for the people nearby to use. This little family allowed us to take their photo. The church has many, many more wells.  It has been calculated that they have saved over 240,000 live in the past two years just providing water.  The people walk from many distances to this new source of water. They fill their bidons (pronounced bee-doe) and carry them home.  We have a bidon in our place which saved us when the water went off for a week.  It weighs about 50 lbs. when it is full and they carry them on their head with no hands, which is how they seem to carry everything: ON THEIR HEADS. They daily have to fill their bidons. It is just part of the daily routine.
The Congolese people are resourceful, caring and as industrious as they can be.  They love their families very much. They also have deep belief in God.  Many are raising neices, nephews and other orphans.  To quote Elder Glenn Pace, "We must accept some things on faith.  We can be absolutely certain that the bounds of our habitation have been set by a God who knows this was the next step in the Master's plan to give all that He has.  Each of us as a daughter or son of Heavenly Parents have received the genes of godhood.  Irrespective of our place of birth, a plan is in effect to bring those genes into full maturity, even if this earth life never exposes us to the complete truths we learned in our premortal state."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

OUR SABBATH DAY in the KIPUSHI AFRICA BRANCH


This past Sunday, July 11th, 2010 we traveled 30 k from Lubumbashi to the small chapel in Kipushi.  It is a converted home where a chapel has been built on the back.  The members are so very proud of their building. They are grateful for anything they have to worship in.  They live so very humbly and yet are so very happy to have the gospel in their lives.  The man on the left, Stake President Mugumbu is looking over at Pres. and Sister Gary Packer.



To the Congolese people, time is really relative. I am seated with some primary children waiting for it to start, even though it was already 15 min past time. Luta, is the older girl holding her little sister.  She spoke Swahilli only but she and I became "smiling buddies".  All through Sacrament Meeting, if I looked her way she smiled so beautifully at me. While we waited for others to come, we sang hymns.  Hymns are memorized in French and  can the Congolese sing!!!
As the Sacrament Meeting began, there were 47 members there. The spirit of our Lord was strong and pure. This little Branch sits right on the border of the Congo and Zambia.  Those who taught had a great understanding of the gospel and their fervent testimonies were born with zeal and strength. None of the members own a car. (The car is ours.) They all walked long distances. One severely crippled man walked for miles to and from to attend church.
The Branch felt the need to have their own baptismal font. Here it is not quite finished. They explained that there will be bars to hold on to as you go up the stairs and then down into the water.  They are so thankful for this new font. The main road out to this branch is very rough and so they are quite isolated.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is very important to them.  The gospel is spreading through their valiant efforts to live it correctly.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Streets of Lubumbashi

There is no place on earth like the Congo.  Each city has millions of people.  So to help you picture this, I have tried to take photos and a video or two of the Lubumbashi roads, most of which are unpaved.  Keep in mind, there is 90 % unemployment and maybe 3% own cars.  The old VW bus-like vehicles are called transports and they are like the bus system.  They are vehicles made for 8 at the most but the Congolese pack in 20 at least.  The drivers are crazy.  There are no lines on the roads, so if traffic is heavy in one direction the two way roads all of the sudden have four very tight lanes with three going one way.  Drivers don't stay in the imaginary lanes anyway. They knock each others rear veiw mirrors off to go faster. The moneychanger inside of each one jumps in and out whenever someone needs to be let out.  There are no set stops.  You take your life into your own hands.  The Police officers are to be feared and only seem to cause alot of trouble.  They love to stop white people but thank goodness they respect the "missionaries". The majority of people walk everywhere. Bicycles are usually used to transport goods, a business vehicle much more than it is for transportation.
People are dressed in all types of attire from modern to traditional African clothing.
video
Each individual you see here is a beloved child of our Heavenly Father.  They are searching for the truth, just like each of us are.  They want to know who they are, why they are here and where they are going.  Never take for granted the love you have been given. Share it generously.

Friday, July 2, 2010

WE ARE IN THE CONGO!



    At this part of our journey, we had arrived in South Africa at the Sun Hotel. After a pleasant night sleep, shower, etc, they brought us breakfast at 4:30 AM, insisting on a credit card and signature. As we wrestled that through our wake up call came at 5 AM so we could catch the six oclock shuttle for the airport and our 9:00 flight to Lubumbashi. This young greeter in the lobby shared his African hat with Elder Frogley and then posed for the picture.

Here we are with Sister and President Packer, along with Sister and Elder Jameson.  For now, we are the only couple missionaries in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Lubumbashi Mission.  We all get along just wonderfully! Craig and I are definitely the rookies.  This is the Packers third mission in Africa and the Jamesons have been here for 10 months. We are so thankful for their experience.  There is so much to learn in every aspect of living here! We are trying to be patient with ourselves.  Just getting through the aeroport was a shock!  The reality really hit us as we went to get our luggage and men started to argue over picking it up because they wanted a tip!  They will open your car door even when you don't want them to, to get you to offer them anything, a coin if possible. The photo on the right is a typical street scene.  These are the shops the average storekeepers run.  Most streets are not paved. The day this photo was taken, was a holiday, the 50th year of Independence from Belgium, so there were not many people on the street.  This a city of 2 million people, with 90% unemployment, so most of them are just trying to survive.
We are also trying to adjust to the language differences, the money exchange differences, the cultural differences, the constant power outages, and much more!

This is the wall that surrounds where we currently live. Inside is where we spend much of our time.  Pres. Packer has been meeting with us and many young black missionaries to give us his vision of the missionary work that needs to begin in this area. There is a new mission home being set up, which we will help alot with. Below you see the new Seminary and Institute Building that was just dedicated a few weeks ago.  We are there with several of the church employees.
There are many beautiful black people that are very family minded and loving Jesus Christ.  The man in the first photo saw our name badges and before even meeting us said, "Oh, Jesus Christ is my King!"  There are so many people who are looking for the truth.  We are honored to be here even though it is challenging in many, many ways! Please keep us in your prayers! We love and miss you all deeply!