Monday, February 28, 2011

Public Affairs Begin

This week we had an invitation by this extraordinary couple to be their guests at the Rotary International of Burundi Club Meeting. At the encouragement of our Mission President, we accepted the invitation.  This exceptional  woman  is the landlord of the chapel that we use each week.  She has been a great blessing to us as well as the people in Bujumbura!  She is known by everyone for her excellent business and people skills. Her husband was so interesting to visit with. He is an international businessman having helped 29 countries with their economic plans.  They are both very intelligent and involved in improving the conditions of the country of Burundi. This night also happened to be their 29th Wedding Anniversary!
This was a special Rotary Dinner with the Second Vice-President of Burundi as the guest speaker.

This was a well attended dinner with many honorable guest speakers.

At our particular table, we also had another couple that have lived in Bujumbura for 20 years. She was born in Russia and he in Germany.  Needless to say, the conversation was very interesting.  We enjoyed their company very much!

The buffet that was prepared was delicious with Sangala (the fish from Lake Tanganyika that is excellent), roast beef, potatoes, rice, many cooked and fresh vegetables and fried plantains.

Then the Burundian dancers came!  The style of their dancing was different than any I have seen.  It was in the tradition of the ancient dances of this country.  The upper body stays almost motionless except for the arms extended in very slow motion .  The hips are still but the legs tapped quickly with bells on their ankles.  The third part of the dance was the extreme joy on their faces. It was almost like watching a bird in flight.

There were two young men and a young woman.  Here the young woman isdressed in gold with a gold headband and her arms are extended. It was truly beautiful and peaceful to watch. The musicians played a song with words that EVERYONE but us knew.  The entire audience began singing this slow, soft chant.

Then they began to pull people  from the audience to join them.  Guess who was the very first draftee???  You guessed it, Elder Frogley!! He wasn't sure what was going on but he did his dignified best.  Soon there were many, many people dancing. It was a unique look into the culture of Burundi.
When we went to church on Sunday, several people mentioned that they had seen us last night.
When we asked, "Where?" 
They answered, "Well, Rotary."
We answered, " Oh, were you there?"
They answered , "No! But we saw you on National Television ." 

"....I say unto you, and this is wisdom, make unto yourselves friends with mammon..." (D&C 82:22)

Monday, February 21, 2011

"...all thy children shall be taught of the Lord.."


This past Sabbath Day, in the Bujumbura Branche, many new blessings were occurring in the lives of these brand new members.  There were 104 members and friends of the church which attended the sacrament meeting today. Relief Society, Sunday School, Young Men's and Primary were all functioning with new leaders.  Here in this photo, at the baptism following the block of meetings, Thaddee (dressed in white), who is our new branche Mission Leader is conducting his first baptism.  He did such a wonderful job! 

A wonderful new member entered the waters of baptism. This is Merkiade (on the right).  His baptism in itself was a great blessing.  But another part of that blessing was that Methode, who was baptized  just five weeks ago himself, was the worthy instrument, with the proper authority, who baptized all of the candidates on Sunday.

One of the "rocks" of this little branch is Annie!  These are five of her granddaughters. They are all in Primary and very bright and adorable!  As each of the girls came up out of the waters of baptism, Annie welcomed them with a kiss and an embrace. Elders Kizimbou and Diazola have taught them the truths of the gospel!
Methode is a dear friend of Annie and her family.  In fact, Annie had a messenger come to her and tell her the name of the church that she should find, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  She was told it would involve "whites" as teachers.  She even tried to start the church on her own with that name because she was unable to find it.  Methode was the man who told her that he had found the church by that name and that it was brought to Africa by the "whites". They both came from Baraka  to Bujumbura specifically to become members of the restored gospel on the earth!    It has taken much sacrifice and determination.   Have you ever seen such happy, contented faces? 
The very best part, however, was when Methode baptised his wife, Adidja, and his son, Laaca, and his daughter, Mauwa.  This is what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about.....UNITING FAMILIES!!!

"There never was a happier time among the people...." (Alma 50:23)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

English Classes for our Young Elders!

We have finally begun!!! Our amazing Elders have been asking for months for us to teach them English classes. Well, we have had our first two weekly sessions and they have been so fun!
It is good to laugh together and succeed together!

We began with vowel and consonant sounds.  Did you know the soft sound of the letter "i" (like it or itch) is not in the French language??  Neither is the sound of the letter "h".  These sounds are a challenge to pronounce if you have never heard them before.  Even when you take the french pronunciation of the letter "r" and try to say the English sound, it is tricky! We were crowing like roosters on that one!

During the second session, we livened it up a bit with a digraphs and diphthongs video.  It was very catchy and really helped the missionaries.

We also gave them a printed copy of the digraphs, diphthongs and blends.  Next week, we will start on suffixes.

Do you realize how many suffixes there really are?  We are only teaching the most common ones.

The best parts of the class are the smiles and the laughter!"
"To everything there is a season...and a time to laugh." (Ecc 3:1,4)

Some of the Elders know quite a bit of English, but love the review. They had studied English in school.  They told us today that it had been a long time since they had really used  their English.  It is coming back to them well. They have great questions and really have a desire to speak English! Gaining the use of the English language will greatly enhance their future job opportunities. 
This morning, Elder Frogley had them role play " meeting for the first time " and using greetings with responses.  I was very impressed.  They are fast learners and can put things in context well!

One of the Elders had never attempted learning English.  He was actually reading sentences today!!! When he read his first sentence last week, he jumped up and ran around the table clapping and laughing his very own unique chuckle! We all cheered right along with him!.   It has been a joyous blessing for all of us!
"See that ye love one another; ...learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires." (D&C 88:123) 

Thursday, February 17, 2011


This week has been “blessings with opposition” week. The blessing of the Sabbath day was 97 people attending sacrament meeting! We have been anxiously awaiting the completion of our baptismal font!

As it neared completion, we were all very excited! After talking to the construction manager, we were ready to begin using it.  He told us we could go ahead and use it, filling it slowly and watching it.

The Saturday before, the members cleaned it spotless.

This meant no more traveling to a hotel for the use of their pool.

Then arriving early on Sunday, the water was turned on to fill.  When it was 3/4 ths filled.  The city water shut off.  We decided that we could still manage the baptisms, so we went into the last hour of the block meeting.  The missionaries called Elder Frogley out of the meeting to report that the font was leaking heavily!  He told them to drain it immediately. Here is our new R.S. Presidency mopping up a good inch of water all over this floor. The font was behind the photographer. Needless to say, the baptisms were postponed. :(
Little did we know, that we were not the only ones mopping up water. Many gallons of water flooded the business below the chapel.  Our baptismal font leak had caused damage to the neighboring business just below our little meeting house. We could not have the candidates baptized with the font not holding water. We tried to call the Building Owner and Construction Manager to no avail, so we had to be satisfied to send them texts.
When we returned to our apartment after church, we had no water in our sector at all. For 30 hours, we had no water. Do we realize what a great blessing water is?? Do we take this for granted?? The blessing was that the apartment has a storage tank of water and a pump for emergency water needs. We were excited, but being in an upstairs apartment, the not-so-powerful water pump sent water that just drizzled about 5 tablespoons a minute. The challenging adventure was trying to shower and also wash dishes with that amount of water in that amount of time. We had filtered water storage for drinking so we were just fine.
 I could not feel sorry for myself when the picture of the young, visibly homeless african girl (about 12) flashed back into my mind that I had seen in the streets of Lubumbashi, and will never forget.  She was using an old, empty, crushed water bottle she had found and began filling it from a murky puddle and was pouring it on her head to try and wash. Tears flowed.  She is a daughter of God, too!

We were so thankful for water, when the water began to run freely again. Oh, what we take for granted.

Tuesday morning, I hurriedly refilled all the water storage containers.  Then, I started washing clothes, since we had water!  What a blessing! Craig met with the Zone Leaders while I worked on recommends and Baptism Certificates and Ordination Certificates. At around noon, Beatrice and Egide, our new Burundian native friends, came over to spend time with us on memberships from sixteen years ago.  Their visit to Bujumbura is a blessing to this little branch because they know the history and they know the people.  They went visiting and have found some of the people we have been looking for to inform them that the church is reestablished in Bujumura. 

 After their visit, Craig drove down our favorite road, “Mission Street” to trouble shoot some electronics; a hand held microphone and a computer. They all work now.
 Later that afternoon, Craig met with some men to begin to resolve a past problem from 16 years ago . I was trying to finish laundry, hang some clothes on the line to dry, iron and alter some clothing. I was also preparing a special Valentine dinner for my husband.

.                                              It was Valentine’s Day, even if Africa doesn’t celebrate it.  

After the dinner, we had just a half hour to watch a quick episode of Monk on our computer, that Elder and Sister Jameson had left for us. It was part of the Valentine evening.  I even popped popcorn!

 We didn’t get to finish it because the Elders popped in for supplies and also needed a ride to an appointment that they were late for and it was raining hard.

   We rushed off to an 8pm appointment with three investigators. We took The Restoration DVD to show them. It went very well and appointments were made for them to be taught. The young Elders were going to be late getting home so we drove them, barely making their curfew!

Wednesday at noon, the POWER went off! It remained off for 28 hours. There was no internet, which means the mission recordkeeping stops since we cannot scan or communicate with the mission president in Lubumbashi or Kinshasa or anywhere else for that matter. Phones lose their charge. I-Touches lose their charge. There is no way to keep cool. No fans. Sadly, there was no breeze that day. No washing machine. But we could wash by hand in cold water (Hey, saves color in your clothing, right?)

 However, the bright side was showers (just cold),  and washing dishes (cold water, again). We made “lemonade out of lemons” by going out to an open-air restaurant for dinner at Khana Khazana in a sector of town with power (and mosquitoes).  The food was delicious!  We got home at about 8 pm, flipped on our flashlights and pulled out another DVD left by the Jamesons. We used the one computer with 65% power left.  We even popped popcorn on our gas stove in the dark, but our little computer battery died and we couldn’t finish the movie.  So with our flashlights,  we counted our blessings.  We had water so we could wash up and brush our teeth.  We had a comfortable bed with a mosquito net. We left the windows with screens open for a cross breeze that never showed up.  It was a very long night.  But as we prayed, we truly thought of those who are homeless and who never have power, who sleep in the night air every night, even in pouring rain.
Thursday morning, the power was still out.  It was a bit cooler 76 degrees.  That was a blessing! We took our morning walk, came home sweaty but still had no power.  We were so blessed to be able to take our cold showers that actually felt good! No hair drying, just air drying.  We started worrying about our refrigerator food because after 24 hours it is very “iffy”.  We hoped it didn’t spoil.  So we just didn’t open the frig and ate the fruit on our counter….pineapple, banana, passion fruit all cut up and with granola (from a more European store).

Then, Craig had a great idea!  We will go to the meetinghouse and there, we will have power!  We can charge our phones and computers that by this time were all maxed out. That building has internet, too! We were excited to send our emails to the mission home and get our own! When we arrived, the power was on!!!...................for 5 minutes and then it went off (before we could get all plugged in). L 
The workers that built the baptismal font were there tearing it all apart to find out why it had leaked and caused all that damage.
After a half hour, the power came on and then went off.  Then, it came on and stayed on!!! We were so excited!!  Prayers of thanksgiving went up! Craig got started on the mission business for about an hour, while I was typing up the Branch and Mission inventories we did yesterday to see what needs to be ordered. Then a man came into the chapel.  He was working for an organization than looks for the youth to get involved in activities.  Craig visited with him for about 30 minutes and told him to come back in an hour to see a video about the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  He came back and brought a friend.  We had other members and one man that will be baptized this week attend the video. The video, “Legacy” was shown.  They all really enjoyed it and made appointments with the missionaries.  Then a new member, Prospere, came in and brought a new investigator for the missionaries to teach.  As we left them to go to our apartment, we hoped to find POWER ON!

When we arrived at our apartment, there was no power.  When I checked the freezer, the frozen chicken and fish were all thawing. Craig called the Landlord and told him, “If the power is not on by evening, I am moving out!”And he began preparing to do so!  Beatrice and Egide had a place we could stay. Craig arranged for us to sleep there if the power was not on by evening. Then we could hopefully save our refrigerator food and take clothing for a day or two. At 4 pm, the electricity came ON!!!! It felt so good to have a fan blowing on us! I was able to cook dinner and the food miraculously survived the ordeal!

We spent the evening trying to catch up on emails, records, scanning, etc. Power is another thing we take for granted!

At 9pm, we finally stopped and went into the bedroom only to have………………………….you guessed it, the power go OFF! It was another time to count our many blessings …………….and “name them one by one”. I still remember my father playing that hymn on our piano at home. I guess he was preparing me for times like this. I love you, Daddy!

Friday morning there was still no power. Another call was made to the Landlord’s boss! By 9 AM, we had POWER!! It has been wonderful to wash (in a washing machine), wash dishes with hot water,  iron, make handouts for our English Class for the missionaries tomorrow.  What a blessing to merely use a hairdryer, have our computers and phones back, email family back home, be able to email Lubumbashi and Kinshasa and have responses! It felt like Christmas all over again. Gifts from heaven!!

Even with the understanding and sure knowledge of the #1 Rule..........................
..................."Nothing is easy in Africa!”
This scripture rings true, "....and ye cannot bear all

things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer and I

will lead you along." (D&C 78:18)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"To Be Your Friend and Brother through the Grace of God in the bonds of Love"

We had the opportunity to meet the first church leader in Bujumbura.  Over 16 years ago, Egide was the first Branch President.  They currently live in Canada and the reason is, after fleeing Burundi for their lives, they finally settled there. They shared  harrowing stories of faith and protection and generosity of friends. When they flew back to Burundi this week for a visit with family in Bujumbura, they were surprised to find that the church was organized again and functioning.  It was such a blessing to meet them and feel of their excitement and gratitude that missionaries had once again come to Burundi. They have strong, vibrant testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  They also have a son serving a mission.

Beatrice loved our new little meeting house and she was happy to see the CTR shield on the children from Primary.  She is a CTR teacher in her home ward in Canada!

She immediately bonded with these beautiful, brand new converts.  You can see which sister has not lived in Africa for years.  For you see, the Africans rarely smile for a photo. I am not sure of the reasoning, but right after the picture, they were all immediately smiling.

Later in the week, we were invited to their home for a traditional african meal.  It was delicious. This is the same home they had built just before the war broke out over 16 years ago,which they have never sold.  The home was damaged during the wars, but not destroyed like many of the homes here in Bujumbura because it was large enough to be used as an orphanage for the refugees children of Rwanda and Burundi. After being in Canada for the first seven years, they flew back for the funerals of Beatrices parents.  They have since, slowly restored the home.  It is really very beautifully done.

We had an exceptionally interesting visit with Egide's uncle who was a professor at the University of Burundi.  He shared alot of Burundi's ancient religious history. Craig was taking notes as quickly as he could. There were many correlations between those historic beliefs and the restored gospel. We had a long and memorable discussion wondering about an ancient history of a God, Imana, his Intermediary, Kiranga, who lived on earth as a man then died on a red flowered tree.  We left him with the question, "Is there a record or story where Kiranga returned to teach His people after his death on the tree?"  He promised to search deeper for such a story and accepted hungrily the Book of Mormon as one such story.

Then we had Beatrice's brother and his wife who came with their very special bundle of joy! Desire is a business man and Eveline is a doctor specializing in H.I.V.  They were such delightful people to be with along with their several other children.

Eveline is a very busy mother and doctor.  I was so impressed with her medical knowledge and compassion for people.  She has a great desire to bless the lives of her patients.  She enjoyed learning what a Chiropractor is. She had never heard of Chiropractic. In all of Africa, there are only a very few.  There are none in Burundi. She and Elder Frogley had a very interesting conversation.  She was very open to the ideas of chiropractic. It is very evident that she has strong faith in God.

This is Eveline's little daughter.  I cannot pronounce or spell her name yet but it means, 'Tender mercies of God".
I have not had the chance to hold a two day old baby for months now.  It really made me miss my little grandchildren.  It gave me great memories of holding my own little granddaughter, Siri, when she was two days old.

 "..and (Jesus) took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them." 3 Nephi 17:21