Friday, August 26, 2011
Helping Hands in Bujumbura
Throughout Africa on August 20th of this year, was the Pan African "HELPING HANDS DAY". Many countries in Africa participate and have for the past 5 years. "HELPING HANDS DAY" has become a tradition in the church in many nations on other continents as well, but we were able to experience it first hand. This was the first opportunity that Burundi has had to participate. These yellow vests tell the community who these "yellow vested" laborers are, members and friends of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!
The new members and many friends of the church were eager and excited to serve in their communities.
In this photo the tools are being loaded into the mission trucks by Elder Frogley and Elder Evanson.Elder and Sister Evanson really spearheaded this day for Burundi. They are serving in Public Affairs and helped the branch leaders, who worked with city officials to choose projects they could partner together and complete. The people were eager to serve but really had no tools and so Elder Evanson encouraged them to rent what they could, borrow what they could, and then helped provide more tools so, as branches, they could really work and complete a civic project.
Our dear companions, the Evansons, are being transferred to Lubumbashi. This was a monumental way to leave their mark on Burundi. We will miss them soooooo much!
The rakes, shovels, and hoes were all marked with red and numbered so they could be reused over and over on this day and in future work projects.
Here are the tools as they were drying from the paint markings. We were thrilled because during the projects these tools really held up, well even with hard usage.
The Bujumbura 2 Branch chose a difficult project of cleaning out the grey water sewage canals in their own community of Kamenge. These are deep canals that people (who should not but do) throw their garbage into. These canals are extremely important in the heavy rain season to keep the heavy waters moving along. With all of the garbage and muck, it can overflow and cause health problems for the community.
This branch partnered with the city to work together. Between the two branches and missionaries, there were about 75 representing the church and about 12 from the communities that partnered on the two projects.
The canal was about a half mile long and the brethren even had to remove wooden bridges and walk ways to get to some difficult areas.Men and women alike worked very, very hard. This sister in front is one of our Primary Presidents. I love her!
Here you can see the back of the branch president , President Johnson, with the TV news camera on him. The local radio and TV newscasters came and President Johnson explained in Kirundi, the national language, what church they belonged to and that they were doing this service free of charge and to improve their community.
This is an example of what the canals look like after being cleaned. They were cleaned out clear to the bottoms.
This photo shows just how FULL they are of trash, uck and muck!
The members were not afraid of hard work. They got down inside these canals and got plenty dirty!
President Johnson told us today that there have been many, many questions by people about the project and many more who have expressed interest in the church. The two missionary couples went walking this morning, as usual, and one man stopped us and said that he had seen a good news report that we were on. I guess we were seen in the news clip. Our white skin really "sticks out" here. After visiting with Elder Frogley and Elder Evanson, this man walked to our apartment building and asked for a Book of Mormon, which he was happily provided.
This is the Bujumbura 1 Branche project nearing the end. They were on the other side of town from Bujumbura 2 Branche and had also a smaller but very long ditch that had become extremely over grown with plants and garbage. With all of the rain and the humidity, the plants grow profusely!!! Again in the rainy season, these ditches are very needed to carry alot of water down to Lake Tanganyika.
Here are our some of our valiant young missionaries who came to help as well.
There was much over growth and as you can see way down the ditch, there were many anxious and willing
to help in this branch, too! There were "coup coups" in use which are machetes bent like a golf club. They are used here everyday by thousands of people.
So the project went from this.............................................................................................to this.
These yellow vests were seen by many on that day, and those who were wearing them were very proud to serve their community and fellow neighbors.
"And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." (Mosiah 2:17)