Saturday, October 29, 2011

All of Heaven was Smiling! (1st Baptism in Uvira RDCongo)

In April 2011, when there was no established church branch in Uvira DRCongo, twelve friends of the church decided that they would not wait any longer to be taught the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  They along with others, in their Uvira community, had been gathering for many, many years each week to read the Book of Mormon and study the principles of the gospel together.  Their desire to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and be baptized, drove them to sacrifice the money, time and effort to travel by transport bus on extremely rough roads for an hour and half (one way) into Bujumbura, Burundi and back, crossing over the country borders multiple times, attending weekly sacrament meetings in the new branch in Bujumbura and being taught by the full-time missionaries.                                                                                     
   On May 14, 2011, they were all baptized in Bujumbura, Burundi.  However, they and others in their community continued to plead for the establishment of the church to come to their homeland city of Uvira.
ALL OF HEAVEN WAS SMILING on this long awaited day and the threatening skies did not give up a drop as the first of many baptisms, which are sure to come, began to finally occur in Uvira, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa.

On the 23rd of October 2011, just weeks after the first church Branch of Uvira DRCongo Africa was established, the first baptismal service in the actual city of Uvira was held in the nearby waters of the beautiful Lake Tanganyika. With two witnesses in place, the newly called Branch President lovingly walks hand-in- hand with his young son to perform the first baptism in Uvira. 
            This photo shows how far it actually was for each candidate to wade out. You can barely see the city of Bujumbura, Burundi  across the lake on the far upper left at the foot of the hills.
After each sacred ordinance was performed, the next candidate would anxiously wade out.........
........while another joyously watched and waited.
Each taking their turn.
The last two to be baptized, were a husband and wife who have just had their first little one. What a blessing for them to begin their family knowing, loving, teaching the gospel and serving in the true church of Jesus Christ.

And they were “buried in the water; and they arose and came forth out of the water rejoicing, being filled with the Spirit.” (Mosiah 18:14)
After these worthy men had served their fellow beings by witnessing and baptizing, in the name of their Lord and Savior, their joy could not be hidden!
“…and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.” (4 Nephi 1:16)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The people have begged for 15 years. Uvira RDCongo has a branche!!

Who were the first people to sacrifice so much to come across country boundaries, pay for the transport and be at the first sacrament meeting in Bujumbura????  The devoted, Book of Mormon loving,  sincere people of RDCongo Uvira!
 These people have been requesting the church headquarters in SLC through email for the gospel to come to their area for over 15 years.  They have been teaching each other with a couple of Books of Mormon that they were able to obtain in Swahili. They continued to ask for missionaries and leadership to come and establish the church in Uvira.  A year ago, when we first met them, they were asked to be patient.  They said, " Patient?  We have already been waiting for 14 years!"" When the missionaries traveled to Uvira this month to establish the first branche, these are some of the scenes they saw on the way there.

 Grass is a big seller here in Africa.  It is used for many, many things: roofs, baskets, furniture, charcoal wraps, for sleeping on, etc.
 One of the members said, "Oh, we find many uses for domestic animals, including cows!"
Gatumba is one of the cities we pass on our way to Uvira.
 You can always see a gathering around a village water source.  The yellow containers are called bidons and they are really heavy.  But they carry them on their heads as if they were light.
 There are many businesses like this along the main roads.  Avocados are so plentiful and delicious here.  Some of the best in the world!
The streets are always busy and not just with people!
There are many people with disabilities that use what abilities they have very resourcefully! This is a tricycle wheelchair that is powered with the arms.  He is transporting his water on it.

Just as we get to the border of Burundi and DRCongo, there is a brick making kiln.  It is very picturesque.
Finally, we arrive at the border.  We have a Burundian office to take our passports with visas in to to be approved and stamped and then a DRCongo building.
Life in the villages, contain more domestic animals and many foot paths.

                                                        Dinner is cooking at this home.
                                        What a good boy to bring home the water for his family!
A few minutes past the border, you get a great glimpse of the beautiful Congolese mountains.  This bicyclist is transporting more bidons.
 Most of the ladies in the villages have the colorful and beautiful traditional Congolese clothing.
We passed several rivers on the main road.  The rivers, as you can see, are used by many for many different reasons. Uvira is a city of 375,000 people. This is only a little corner canyon of the city.
When the missionaries finally arrived at the rented home that is being used as a chapel,..........................................................
..................the people had been patiently waiting.........and............
.....waiting...but then they had been for 15 years.
The music that the missionaries heard as they drove up to the building was a rousing version of "How Great Thou Art"!  No one sings a hymn like the African people!  It was heartfelt and powerful!!
Much planning and preparation and prayer was given to the organization of this branche in Uvira. The leaders came prepared to establish and "Do It Right" as Elder Holland had admonished.
The branche callings were established on a firm foundation of good, diligent, God-fearing men.
As the people exited the building they just kept coming.....

.....and coming!!  There were many, many espressions of gratitude for the gospel being brought to their land.
While one sister is embracing a Book of Mormon, smiles were everywhere!
If you really think about it, this small and simple handful of children out of the many children that will be taught the gospel of Jesus Christ in their homes by loving, new member parents will have a huge impact in the next ten years.  What a great blessing the gospel will be in this city!!

"Behold, I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls." Alma 37:6-7

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Members Celebrate One Year in Burundi

 Sunday, 25 September 2011, marked one year since the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints was re-established in Bujumbura, Burundi.
President Gary L. Packer, Mission President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Lubumbashi Mission, after much research, preparation and direction from the First Presidency of the Church, sent two missionary couples and six young missionaries to begin to fulfill the pleas of many who have been petitioning for the church to come to their area.

Attending this first Sacrament meeting in over 16 years, were 8  members, who had joined the church in other parts of Africa but awaiting the return of the church to Burundi. There were also 37 friends of the church who were eagerly looking forward to the opportunity to learn more and be baptized. (not all pictured)

At this one year anniversary, there are now 194 members which are organized into two separate branches.
The truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ are spreading quickly. Many neighboring areas are now pleading to have the church established near them.

To celebrate this year mark of the presence of the church in Burundi, Africa, the members of the Bujumbura 1 Branch organized to give service at the nearby hospital, Prince Regent Charles.

The Executive committee of the branch planned and prepared for the members to spend time with the sick and the needy.  They shared food and gave personal items along with words of hope in Jesus Christ, the words of Christ in scripture and literature of the Restoration.

From broken arms to parentless infants, much love and concern was shared with all ages. Prayers were also offered and shared by many individuals.

The offerings of love, friendship and service by the members of the church were well received.
Members were joyously enriched in giving and ministering as the Savior exemplified.

And athese signs shall follow them that believe—in my name shall they …lay chands on the sick and they shall recover;
And whosoever shall believe in my name, doubting nothing, unto him will I aconfirm all my words, even unto the ends of the earth.
Mormon 9:24-25

Elders Quorum Activity

Click photo to enlarge.
The Bujumbura 2nd Branch recently planned an activity. We went on a hike! We went up about two miles from the chapel at the base of the foothills in Quartier Mutango Nord.
To get there, we walked through a nice neighborhood. As you can see, in the nicer neighborhoods which are left over from the Belgian colonization period, it is a pleasant walk. Burudians take great pride in striving to keep their streets swept and clean, even though they are dirt or stone. Bujumbura has won the distinction as the " Clean City of Africa".
Elder Frogley, along with other branche members, are walking along a main route in northeast Bujumbura. It was a beautiful, sunny day in the dry season. There was no threat of storm or rain.
These two sisters, who have now been baptized, were investigators at the time. They were two of the first to arrive to the shady spot. Their names are Jeanne d'Arc and Jacqueline.
Soon, everyone arrived and this group photo was taken.
We then hiked up higher into the foothills for a beautiful view of the city and of Lake Tanganyika.
After enjoying the view and pleasant conversation, we began the descent.
We took a break at a home, as we passed a member's home who was ill, to wish her well and greet her kind husband. It was a shady place to rest, as well.
Then, the group continued on.
As we returned to the chapel, we met upstairs in a classroom and had two spiritual thoughts. Frere Thaddee and Frere Jean Rene shared uplifting messages of hope in our Savior, Jesus Christ and encouragement to follow His ways.
Then refreshments were served, which were a refreshing "Fanta" drink and a fresh bread roll, which is nothing like an American bread roll, but tasty!
There was much love between the members...lots of hand slapping, hand-shaking, pats on the back and sharing uplifting conversation!
"A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." John 13:34