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.
Posted by DocFrog1 at 9:34 PM