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.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully put. Your description touched our hearts. When I think of some of our singing in our wards here we could use a good infusion of some of the African people's enthusiasm. As I read your description of their lives I almost feel like a fat ungrateful beast. We have so much and really don't fully understand all of our blessings.