Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Let every man esteem his brother as himself!"

There are several homeless people that I have witnessed on route to the mission office each day. I do not know how they survive  No one seems to worry about them or avoid walking pass their "places".  They are harmless and penniless. They are simply ignored.

 One is a young woman who basically walks the main road that this man lives on.  She has chosen one corner as her own. Her "place" is a shabby blanket that she spreads over herself at night.   One day, I saw her bent over a muddy puddle filling an old used plastic water bottle with the mucky water and pouring it onto her head.  It is the closest thing she has to washing her hair.  I cried when I saw her doing that. I pray for her.

There is another man on a side street that basically is not mentally sound.  He will walk out to the main busy boulevard and walk the wrong way into traffic stretching out his arms and twirling sometimes.  People just tolerate him.  He does not really have "a place".  He roams and then sleeps uncovered on the curb wherever he ends up.  He carries nothing with him.  He owns nothing.  One day when we passed, he was asleep sprawled on the sidewalk with his legs sticking out into the road.  I cried when I passed him that day. I pray for him.

The man in the photos has built "his place" as you see it. He lives in old plastic and wood that he gathers under the tree.  On the top photo, you see a sidewalk in front of his place. Our car was stopped in heavy traffic right next to him.  He lives there on that busy boulevard.  At the time of the top picture, he was trying to break the wood with his strength.  You can see he is covered in plastic and an old gunny bag.  He must have found an old hood from a sweatshirt.  He always is dressed just like this. The bottom photo was taken on another day.  You can see where he climbs into "his place"on the hard ground.  It is rare that it is opened up so far. Every time he sleeps, he gets inside of his pile of stuff and buries himself.  He cannot be seen at all. It looks like a pile of junk on the side of the road.  No one bothers him or helps him.  When it is cold or rainy, he stays in his pile "place" and he doesn't come out until it is warm or dry. I have seen him start a small fire with his wood and heat a small kettle of water. I have never seen him interact with anyone. I cry often when I pass him. I pray for him.

I know my prayers are heard.  They are Father's children, too!  I know He looks after them in ways unknown to me.
  Each time we go to the grocery stores, there are always beggars.  It is truly heart breaking.  There is a young man with legs only to his knees.  He crawls everywhere he goes. We share. He smiles.  There are the elderly and blind, following behind and holding the shoulders of their young grandchildren.  It is good to see them smile. There are malnutritious widows with ill babies tied onto their backs.  They bow.
"If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, "Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled;  notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?"(James 2:15-16)
 We desire to help. We are trying to help as many as we can ultimately to find out who they are, why they are here on this earth and where they are going.  We all need a deeper understand!
Our Savior, Jesus Christ said, "And let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practice virtue and holiness before me. ....I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one, ye are not mine." (D&C 38: 24, 27)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

An Excellent Experience of Exploration

For several months we have been working on a plan for our new assignment after the Lubumbashi Mission got up and running. It was not something that we could discuss, but it has been our project for some time. We have been working on plans for bringing the gospel to BURUNDI.
On Aug. 12th, 2010 Pres. Gary Packer, Brent Jameson, and Craig Frogley went to Burundi to evaluate conditions & determine if the country was ready to be opened to the preaching of the gospel.
They flew to Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, which is about 600 miles from Lubumbashi. That normally would be about a one and a half-hour flight. The trip took them 16 hours since you "can't get there from here." It was a pretty difficult trip from Lubumbashi to Ndola, Zambia; then to Nairobi, Kenya; and then to Bujumbura, Burundi. On their 8-hour layover in Kenya they were joined by, Eustache Ilunga, a stake President from Kinshasa. The flights in and out of Burundi happen between midnight and 3 am. I'm not sure who thought that was a good idea, but flights are only available then. So, it's not an easy trip.
The first day they met with people at the American embassy, including embassy security personnel. They made arrangements at the hotel for events of the week and explored the city.
Their taxi in front of the American Embassy, Hotel du Nil and a Bujumbura street
They were impressed with the city. It's streets were generally asphalted or cobblestone and without many pot holes. It was clean and seemed to be moving forward. People were helpful & interested in their missionary message. They spent the week investigating things in Bujumbura and had a wonderful experience.
They went into the hillsides overlooking the city, which they said reminded them of the Salt Lake Valley with its east bench mountains...
to the enormous open air market...
and to see stores, houses and apartment buildings in town.
It appears that Bujumbura is a progressive and growing city with many things to recommend it.

On day two, they held an exploratory conference. We have been in touch with a few members in Burundi and some pastors who use the Book of Mormon in their churches and have been asking us for some time to come to there. In planning the conference they decided to make the meeting by invitation only to keep the size manageable. They could have had many more people, but felt it best to just have a small group. They tried to include some members of each congregation and all of the actual members of the church that they could contact.
All those who attended the Conference
Informal discussions were enjoyed at lunch
One couple, the Malabis, wrote to us just before the men left for Burundi. We had seen their name in paperwork from earlier visits by leaders, but thought they had moved from Burundi. They are members and had just heard about the conference. They have been waiting five years for the day when the church would come to Bujumbura and they wanted to be at the conference.
As the people at the meeting introduced themselves, Brother Malabi, said that he and his wife and four children where all members, but some of them were just not baptized yet .
They had moved to Burundi from Tanzania and had found no official church unit in Bujumbura, so their younger children were not able to be baptized when they reached the age of 8. They had no permission to do the sacrament either, so they obediently and faithfully held only Sunday School each week for five years. Each month they took a portion of their money and used it to help somebody in need, since they couldn't pay fast offerings. They put their tithing in a special bank account and have saved it for five years, waiting for the time when somebody from the church would come to Burundi & accept it. What an amazing example they are of how devoted and self-motivated we should all be.
Several of the "pastors" introduced themselves by saying that they had been "in the church" since 2001 or some other time, but had not yet had the opportunity to be baptized. It was quite a remarkable experience.
The Malabis, missionaries and Pastors who attended.
On Sunday they held a Sacrament meeting in the hotel for the members only. There were 15 in attendance. In this meeting these wonderful members were able to have the experience of blessing, passing and taking the sacrament for the first time in five years. It was a very special experience for all who attended.
The rest of the week was spent looking for possible church sites, apartments and at the general living conditions in Bujumbura. There are many factors to consider when looking at this country.
We are excited to see the future of Burundi.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Our Sabbath in Kasabelesa

Kasabelesa is a city just inside the southern panhandle of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It sits right on the border of Zambia.  Elder and Sister Jameson took us to one of their favorite little congregations here. They are not yet a Branch but only some paperwork is holding that up.
 We drove through about an hour and a half of very poor villages that are the humblest of homes.  When we arrived into the city, it was still very much village-like with a few larger brick buildings.  We drove off the main road onto a dirt area between small homes and walls into a gated walled area that looked much like an old, abandoned, shabby prison.  Little did we know that it is a fully functioning grade school.  Each school day there are 1000 children that come to learn french, writing and arithmetic.  500 children come in the morning and 500 come in the afternoon.  There were only 15 rooms just like the one you see us standing in front of.  The buildings were all facing into a dirt courtyard. The director/teacher is a member of the church and since there is no chapel for the members to meet in, he has allowed them to meet at the school buildings.  As we began the meeting, and sat on the benches pictured, we sang acapella 6 hymns and they love to sing!!! The priesthood leader then announced an opening hymn that we would sing and then a prayer.  The 20 primary children then left the main room pictured above and went with the only young woman (14 yr. old Rachelle).  She was the primary leader.  The children were all very well behaved and respectful to her.  Rachelle knew a little English and was really adorable. The Priesthood leader taught our Sunday School lesson on the Gifts of the Spirit.  He was a good teacher.  After the first hour, the children rejoined the adults for a Sacrament Meeting. Oh, before the meetings began, two men wanted to wash their hands before they prepared the sacrament.  They went out into the middle of the courtyard and began to pull and pull and pull a long rope out of what looked like a large bucket.  It was a deep well!!  After all of the heaving, up came a bit smaller bucket of water from what seemed like the center of the earth!  They poured it into their bowl and washed for the preparing of the bread.  They used bottled water for the sacrament water thank goodness!
We four missionaries were asked to share our testimonies for sacrament meeting.  I was first.  My french is improving but I still have to write it down and then read it.  I also shared  2 scriptures from 2 Nephi.  I can read french aloud quite well now. The other 3 missionaries are speaking french naturally.
While the sacrament is passed, you can hear a pin drop inside the room.  But outside the compound, it was very, very noisy.  Over one wall, there was another congregation singing loudly, trilling and playing drums, which was their worship service.  Over the opposite wall, there was a pastor with a loud microphone system, yelling his sermon very loudly.  And every little while there were sounds of chickens and an occasional rooster crowing.  But the contrast did not stop the sweet spirit of the Lord that we felt as we worshipped.   In this little congregation, there were 28 adults and 20 children. The African people are very religious mostly but there are many pastors that make their living and take alot of money from these people who have so little and who love and wish to worship Christ.  While we were there, three people were interviewed for baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  They were worthy to do so.  There are no full-time missionaries in this city.  The gospel is spread by the members who live the gospel and love it.  Hopefully, soon, native missionaries will be able to serve here. Here in Africa, the gospel is growing "poley-poley" which is slowly-slowly in Swahili, BUT it is steady and such a blessing to the people.  After the meetings were over, every adult and child came to shake our hands and thank us for coming to their congregation.  We are honored to be able to serve these kind and tender brothers and sisters who love their Savior and choose to follow Him.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Termite Mounds

There are termite mounds everywhere in Africa.  The fact that termites have lived there and then vacated makes the mound very fertile and trees and bushes grow readily on them.  The bigger they are, the more likely there are no termites living there any longer.  The mounds can be anywhere from one to 15 feet high. They also can be 10 to 12 feet across. They are all shapes and sizes.  In some places, there are many in one mile square.  Yes, the africans eat termites.  I understand they are a good source of protein.  These are not small termites, they are about the size of a bee. This may be a great blessing to the bush people for a source of food in the dry season. Blessings come in many ways.We are in the dry season now.  The dry season has no rain for six months. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

More Scenes from "The Bush" on the way to Likasi!

Here is another family getting ready for the day. Their home is made of brick walls and a grass roof.

Here is a family in a mud walled home and grass roof.  Notice the lashing of the walls on the left, the cloth door, the young boys washing their faces, the wooden clothes line, and the black chicken in front.  Since the inside of the hut is used mostly for sleeping, their utensils and outside.  They live mostly outside their huts if the weather permits.
May these children of our Heavenly Father be blessed.  The more we get to know, the more we find that they are truly our Brothers and Sisters.
I apologize again for the mixed up photos.  The weak link on the internet here makes posting very difficult.  I hope you can see the small photos.  I tried to enlarge them all but they would not.