Monday, September 27, 2010

African Paradise Found

On Sept. 22, 2010 we finally left Lubumbashi. We were delayed for one final day because of visa problems and only by a miracle (and a crazy one at that) were we able to leave when we did. On Tuesday, which was the day we were originally scheduled to depart, our passports were still in Kinshasa and we had no visas. We knew that we wouldn't make it on Tuesday and weren't sure when it would happen. It didn't look promising!

Pres. Packer tenaciously kept calling the travel department all day. Finally, Vincent reported that he had the needed documents and would send them on a plane to us Tuesday afternoon.
He told us the name and phone number of the man who would bring them, who he described as an East Indian friend wearing a blue shirt and black suit. He was coming on a private African airline. Any other information kept changing hourly as we waited. The arrival time of the plane was reported to be anywhere from 4 pm and 9 pm. Our tickets were for 11 a.m. the next morning, so it was getting scary. We waited anxiously for word from the East Indian man. Finally at 9 pm we got a call from him. He had arrived at the Lubumbashi airport.
The Jamesons hurried to the airport to meet him. They had to wait outside the doors this time and watching for the East Indian friend in his blue shirt and black suit. It seemed that all the people were off the plane and they hadn't seen him. They were getting a bit panicky.
Then a man came up to them, stared at their tags and asked if they were from The Church of the Latter-day Saints. He was a black man dressed in tan pants and no jacket. He did have a blue shirt. They were confused that he didn't fit the description Vincent had given us, but relieved to see him. He handed them the package and assured them that he had not looked in it. As they eagerly opened it, there they were,passports, visas and airline tickets for the four senior missionaries and 6 of our eight elders. Two were not able to come because of passport problems and will have to come a week later.
Pres. Packer had promised a ride home for our helper in return for his kindness, so they put him and his friend in the back seat of the truck and headed for the city. It turned out that he lives on the other side of the city. He lead them around for 20 minutes through unfamiliar dirt roads almost too small to pass, around piles of dirt and garbage half the height of the truck, over bridges and all in total darkness. He and his friend were talking together in a language we didn't recognize most of the time. During our travels Brent asked the man how he knew Vincent. His answer was "Vincent Who?" Vincent had given our documents to a complete stranger because he felt like the man looked like an honest man. Thankfully he did turn out to be honest and we got our things.
Our trip to Burundi was saved with the help of "an honest man" and we could actually find our way home so that we could go. We were relieved that it had all worked out and our documents were in hand. Finally we knew that we were going to Burundi in just a few hours.
Wednesday we left our home on Avenue Gambela in Lubumbashi for the last time with very mixed feelings.  We were excited about this opportunity, but sad to leave behind people whom we love so much and will, in all probability, never see again.
Our departure will leave Pres. and Sister Packer there without any other couples and we know how difficult that can be. Our AP's, Justin and Serge were all there to see us off. It was a tender parting. But we were off to Burundi.
Burundi is about 600 miles from Lubumbashi, but you can't get here from there. So, our journey took us 18 hours of travel. We spent an 8-hour layover in the Nairobi airport where we took up residency in a cozy little corner at the end of a hall.
We arrived in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi and our new home at 2:00 A.M. on Thursday . We had landed in five countries on our journey-Lubumbashi in the Congo; Ndola in Zambia; Nairobi in Kenya; Kilgali in Rwanda; and at last Bujumbura in Burundi. Our adventure in the establishment of the church in Burundi had begun.
Recently we saw the video Pioneers in Africa. In it there was a map of the Church's presence in Africa at the current time. All the countries where the Gospel has been taken were in red. In the middle there was what appeared to be a tiny little heart that's white. No church presence!
With our landing in Bujumbura that white hole was filled. What a privelege it is to help take the Gospel to a new land. At 2:00 a.m on Thursday, September 23, 2010 the dot was filled.

It took flying through five countries to get here but we made it: We started in the DRCongo and flew to Ndola, Zambia with an hour layover, then to Nairobi, Kenya for an eight hour layover, then at midnight we flew to Gilgali, Rwanda for a 45 minute layover and finally we landed in Bujumbura, Burundi. We were met by our faithful Taxi Drivers and driven to our new apartment.


This isn't Lubumbashi anymore, Dorothy! We are in the upper right circular apartment. From our from patio we see:





             The  "street" in front of our house... we will watch it change as this is all new construction.

Inside it is just as nice:

We are most grateful to work where we are comfortable.


  1. I am so glad you made it there safe and sound. What a blessing. That is amazing that you are filling in that one spot where the gospel has not been. How wonderful! Take good care of you. We love you so much!

  2. The two of you are an amazing team! So glad you made it safely!! xoxox

  3. This is so strange...I found your blog through some google site. I'm also from Sandy (live on Dimple Dell Road but the stake furthest east) and just wanted you to know some of our best friends got called to the Lumbumbashi mission yesterday! They will be leaving here in just a few weeks....WONDERFUL people so the Packers will have a new couple! Greg and Kathy Wilson. I hope you get to meet them sometime!