Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Jamesons, Our Amazing Companion Missionary Couple!!

Elder and Sister Jameson are really ' on-the-go people!!  They have been here in Africa for 14 months and their sincere kindness, their knowledge of Africa and the workings of the church here have blessed our lives, even before we arrived.
Before their mission call, they were recruited to serve a mission in Geneva, Switzerland but they were in for a big surprise when they received their mission call to the Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa Africa Mission!!!

Father in Heaven knew where he could best use their many strengths and qualities.  They both have such wonderful experience in the church and they have and are blessing many, many lives (including ours) with their testimony and diligent service!!
As they first arrived, they spent only three days in Kinshasa and then were flown hundreds of miles away to the city of Lubumbashi!!!  They were the only missionary couple serving there for over ten months. It was a "do-it-all" mission and they rose to the challenges with much hard work and dignity!! They took care of all the young native missionaries in several cities.  Those missionaries love them like their own parents!
 The branches and people flourished and grew under their care!  They traveled long hours and visited many out of the way villages and cities!! They took assignments from President Headlee and followed through with precision.  The members and non-members grew to love and respect them for their honesty and  love of this restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are African PIONEERS in every sense of the word!!

When the Kinshasa Mission was split, the new Democratic Republic of the Congo Lubumbashi Africa Mission was created.  They were excited to have other senior missionaries come and help!!  On June 30th, 2010,  President and Sister Gary Packer, the new Mission President and Matron arrived along with one missionary couple,  Elder and Sister Frogley!!
 For the next four months, we all worked hard to set up the new mission!!! The Jamesons had layed a strong, firm foundation for this new mission.  They had arranged housing and worked on getting the new Mission Home built for the Packers and the New Mission Office!  Every time that we looked in a new corner of the mission, their love and handiwork appeared!! They LOVE Lubumbashi and the Congolese people!!

In September 2010, the Jamesons and the Frogleys, along with eight young native missionaries were sent to Bujumbura, Burundi.  It is still in the same mission but about 600 miles away from Lubumbashi! Many tears were shed by Sister Jameson as she left the city of Lubumbashi that they had learned to cherish!

Here in Burundi, the gospel had been established in 1992 but a horrific war tore the city and government out of stability.  The church sadly pulled out in 1996.  So, HERE WE ARE trying to reestablish the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints again!  ElderJeffrey R. Holland even flew here to offer a Dedicatory Blessing on this land. The blessing was truly  from a Heavenly Father who loves his children here in Burundi and very applicable to the needs of the people and the country.

 The stories and history of the past are heart-wrenching but many new stories of joy and happiness are miraculously occuring each hour, each day and each week!  We are grateful to our companions, the Jamesons, for their leadership, friendship, example, encouragement, service and love!

ps.  Sister Jameson also writes a creative and amazing blog about the mission here. With permission, I give this for you to view........................... http://www.grammyandpapas.blogspot.com/   It is really worth a look!!:)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

If Ye Are Not One, Ye Are Not Mine

 How does one thankfully celebrate by feasting when surrounded by desperate poverty without repulsively standing on one's own Rameumptom saying, "We are thankful that we are so blessed while others, not as deserving as us, are selected to suffer..."For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there-- and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just? ...Be one and if ye are not one ye are not mine! DC38

So Thanksgiving became, for us, both a dilemma and an opportunity. To give to all isn't possible with the small means and short sighted vision we have.  Will the gift bless or hurt? Who is honestly in need? What would help most, money, food, teaching (most don't speak anything we can understand or speak), what precedents will be set for the next time we pass along their way or for those missionaries who follow us? Etc, Etc.  Then to complicate our feelings the turkey we were to eat was given to us... (Are we not all beggars...? Mosiah 4) Indeed we were!

After much prayer and counseling together a plan was hatched which by no means solves all the questions. We will continue to wrestle with these issues for the rest of our lives. Of course we have been conscious of them for years and occasionally were confronted with them on the streets of Salt Lake City; Phoenix, Arizona; New York City; etc but now they swirl around us daily and even from moment to moment. 

John, Sylvestre, Kevin, Anita, Alene, Fulgence, Jackson

After being confronted by one of our favorite apartment staff members who smiles all the time and leaps to help us carry things in. Though he is always working, he pauses to wave or open the gate for us. So when I asked him, the day before Thanksgiving how he was doing, "Ca va?", and his answer was "pas bien"-(he speaks a little  French which means here, "not good") I asked him why, I was really concerned since he was always so happy. He said, "I am hungry". I asked why since you have a paying job? He shook his head no. 
I wondered whether he 
Jackson, Isaac, Sylvestr
didn't understand or wasn't being paid for his yard work. I promised to talk to the apartment manager. I then shared the situation with the Janet and the Jamesons. We had been confronted by both guards for money as well so suddenly the swirl of poverty was intimately and directly around us. We told the group that we couldn't celebrate a Thanksgiving by consuming, there had to be a better way and all agreed. Now that said, it is a reality that a harvest celebration is had in most countries to give thanks to their deity for the harvest. Here, it is in December and called Umuganuro. So celebrating by consuming is ubiquitous but then everyone is celebrating together and we would not be. So between the four of us we decided to have the Apartment manager gather all the staff together and translate our words as we shared some of our resource with them. You see them smiling holding their white envelopes. We explained that just one time per year we give gratitude to God by celebrating the harvest bounty and wanted them to partake with us by using this money to eat better. They were so happy they applauded and have greeted us with even bigger smiles.

The rest of the day was spent trying to be thankful for a gifted turkey that proved to be a real challenge. The landlord's chef cleaned it...mostly... pliers and a knife finished the pin feathers. We washed and washed until we were satisfied. Grammy stuffed it with some of this wonderful whole wheat bread crumb dressing and popped it into the little toy oven.  

Trying to determine time and temperature with a toy and no meat thermometer was guess-work at best. We waited then removed the dressing and checked the meat on the inside... still pink. Another hour and it was time to cool and carve. I don't know what those butter-ball guys do but this was not your father's turkey...maybe it was great grandfather's because I dissected more thick skin, blood vessels and endless facia from layers of muscle and tendon. When we finished the brown meat looked and felt raw...kinda purple but the white meat looked good...until you chewed it, and chewed it, and chewed it. Tough old bird, as the saying goes... but we were thankful. The fresh green beans, fresh fruit and yogurt salad, sweet corn and croissants.

 Then came the banana cream and apple pies with whipped cream- Sister Jameson's specialty (but then everything is her kitchen speciality).

When we finally got the word from our Embassy employee that he was here, we warmed it all up again... and then to add to the giving part of the thanks he brought a fellow worker, an African named Caleb. It made for an interesting history lesson on the wars and conflicts of his life in this area... How do you spell

T H A N K S G I V I N G ?

With a Smile!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Joy of Missionary Work

Sunday, Nov 21, 2010 was a very warm and humid day in Bujumbura but it was also a grand blessing in the lives of six new members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! After sacrament meeting, we all traveled to where we have permission to use a pool for baptism.  These new members are pictured here along with the Elders that taught them true principles
.The three young ladies are sisters.  They were raised here in Bujumbura in orphanages.  Their mother died many years ago.  They are delightful and darling! They have an Aunt who is attending BYU-Hawaii!  When their Aunt found out the church had returned to Burundi, she contacted them and told them to come.  The missionaries have been teaching them for 6 weeks.
 There were 25 other people who attended the baptism in support, who sat under the shade of a very  large, beautiful,  flowering mango tree.  As they were getting ready, we sang the hymns together! 
There are four companionships of the young native missionaries! You can see that intown there are many very nice areas to tract! One of their frustrations is none of them speak Kirundi, so they can only teach those who speak French or Swahili!

For now they must stay in the city proper to tract and teach!  They are such fine young men with powerful spirits and strong testimonies!  They are an inspiration to be around!

Each sabbath day, we are anxious to see the new members and those who are friends of the church.  The speakers in Sacrament meeting teach in French and a translator stands next to the speaker translating it into Kirundi! Many times the missionaries are also translating the French into Swahili!  There are actually many languages here. One of the new converts told me that he spoke 5 different languages.
  Kirundi is only spoken here in Burundi, nowhere else in the world!  It is a very complicated language! Craig said that whoever developed Kirundi had lots of fun with secret codes because each letter in the verb complex seems to be a code for it's tense, it's person, it's mood and it's tone and it's relative position with  the next letter.  Every word ends in a vowel!  Craig is attempting to learn it! Tough language!

 We often get visitors from Uvira at the Sacrament Meeting.  They travel a long way, on a difficult road and continually plead for the church to be established in their city, which is across the Burudian border into the Democratic Republic of the Congo! The first sacrament meeting that was held,  over 70 came! None of them own cars. They many times arrive very early and just patiently wait!!!  They have had a few copies of the Book of Mormon for at least 15 years and have been patiently waiting for the arrival of the restored church here! They meet on their own to study the Book of Mormon each week.  They have developed the great virtue of PATIENCE!!
They are not complainers!  They always come with kind and loving hearts seeking the truth! There is always a spirit of love and acceptance when we gather together!! Father in Heaven freely lends His spirit!

 When we commissioned the chapel to be remodeled (two rooms into one large room), we didn't know that it would fill up so quickly.  This little chapel is nearly full each Sunday and we always have new, smiling faces!!  Father has been preparing many of His children for a long time!!  This IS the time for Africa!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


We are very thankful for a COMPLETE roof over our heads!
 THANKSGIVING IS A HOLIDAY THAT IS ALL AMERICAN!!! Since we are Americans, living in Africa, we will be celebrating the holiday with the only five Americans in our little group (which we are hoping and praying will be a branch, soon).
We are very fortunate because the wonderful woman who owns the building that our chapel is located in raises turkeys and is giving us one!! We are thankful for her kindness.  She told us her Cook would have it ready on Wednesday, "...in the flesh"!  We are not sure what that means but I KNOW we will find out!!!
We are thankful for FOOD to eat!  These are the pinto beans!

We are thankful for an actual floor, not dirt! We are thankful for walls that stay up in the storms of Bujumbura!     The longer we live here, we see how very much we have taken for granted in our lives. I read a great thought that could make a big difference in many people's lives.
"Live more simply so others can live."

I was amazed to see the variety of colors and zebra-like designs!  They really are African beans!!
 When they are cooked up, they make terrific refried beans or just really delicious beans with a few onions and spices.

We are very grateful for RUNNING WATER!  This is our sink and as you can see there is a hose that hooks up a water purifying system.  The church makes sure that all missionaries have this filtered water.  We are so thankful! There are so many illnesses and deaths caused by the unfiltered water.  Such things as intestinal illnesses, like cholera and parasitic infections and a miriad of other life threatening problems occur with land water.  In Luputa, the church has saved over 240,000 lives in the past two years by having the members dig ditches and then providing pipes and water systems for many miles.  The whole story is in one of our past blogs.

I am thankful for FLOWERS and all the BEAUTIES OF THE EARTH!  I am thankful for my  Husband! HE IS WONDERFUL, TOO!                                           He walks each morning at 5:45 and after a big
 wind storm, he will pick up the beautiful flowers that have blown off and bring them home for me to enjoy!

I am thankful to have a safe, warm bed to rest my body on.  As you can see in the two photos below, there are many here without that blessing. The park on the left always has people sleep there.You can see three .    The next photo I took from our vehicle, she was there the next day, too.  The following day she was sitting up with her feet in the rain gutter with outstretched hands, pleading for help. I saw passers-by giving to help her.  May Father bless her and the many more like her.
 I  am thankful for FAMILIES.  In the proclamation on the family, it states, "The family is ordained of God.  Marriage between a man and a woman is essential to His eternal plan."

We miss our family so very much that it hurts!!!!  We realize more and more what grand and amazing individuals each of them is! We are so thankful for their many right choices and the beautiful families they have begun in the proper ways!!! Each one is cherished and loved more deeply than we thought possible.  Absence DOES make the heart grow fonder!!
 We are thankful for transportation, in many forms.  We see these large tricycles all over Bujumbura!

This man has legs that are not functional! So the chain to the trike is up on the handlebars so he uses his arms instead of his legs to power the trike. There is no motor, it is arm powered! Ingenious and such a blessing to so many!!

We are thankful for DRY, PAVED ROADS! No explanation needed!
                                   Sorry for the bad photo...we are thankful for CAMERAS, too!
We are thankful for CELL PHONES!  This is a Telephone Public as printed on the side.

We are thankful for WORK!  It is always a blessing to see people working!  There are millions here who just wait around on the streets with nothing to do!  Work is such a blessing to assist in caring for their families!

We are thankful for CLOTHING!!!  There are all kinds of styles here, with many different meanings!  I thought these were very beautiful!  In an African Stake Conference  broadcast Elder Oaks mentioned that unfortunately Africa was a more modest country than his homeland.  Sadly,  we have found that to be true, as well.

 We are thankful for GARBAGE SYSTEMS!  Here, as you can see, they make a pile of their garbage and then burn it.  Every household and business burns their own garbage!
 We are thankful for a 14 year old boy who pursued the questions of his heart and was an instrument in the hands of Father and Son to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth!
 The infinite blessing is that of our SAVIOR, who fulfilled the Plan of Salvation through his ultimate atonement for ALL mankind.  It is a blessing to have the agency to follow Him!
In this land, we are thankful that Father in Heaven sent an Apostle to bless this land and dedicate it for the establishment and spread of His gospel to His children.

We are thankful for TEARS OF JOY by those who will recieve these great blessings!

We are thankful that the Priesthood of God has been given to all of His children!

We are thankful for the ordinance of Baptism!
We are thankful for the patience of those in outlying areas who are pleading for the church to come to their village!

                     We are thankful for the blessing to be able to renew our covenants each week!
 Prayer is the miraculous blessing to communicate with our Heavenly Father and hear His answers.  We are grateful!
We are grateful to have found an inside FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLE MARKET with great produce and great prices!
We are thankful for the interesting ANIMAL LIFE that Father has given all of his children to enjoy.  It is a measure of His love!

We are thankful for DIFFERENT CULTURES that we can learn about, enjoy and appreciate!!

We are thankful for the one-on-one teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by all of the many missionaries all over the world (including our own son), that carry the spirit of the Savior's love into the lives of  seeking, listening hearts.

              We are thankful for the eight fine young missionaries that serve with us here in Bujumbura!!
We are thankful for Sister and President Packer as our Mission President and for the Jamesons and the amazing individuals that each of them are.  We appreciate their fine leadership, testimonies and counsel....and it helps alot that they like to have FUN, too!

 We are thankful to be able to GIVE to those who are hungry!  Everywhere that we go, people are in need.  This little boy came begging, telling us he was hungry.  We made a deal with him...if he would let us take his photo, we would give him some money!   He liked that idea and we liked the idea of helping him eat!...................His shirt really told the truth!!!  He IS an "original, vintage, greatest quality"....Because He IS A CHILD of GOD!!!                                                                           

 May we not take for granted ALL that we are blessed with...........................................and may we remember to "live simply so others can live!"