Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Meeting under a Mango Tree

 Following the Cahoons.  We have a Toyota truck just like that white one ahead of us.  Toyota moves Burundi.  85% of the cars, maybe more are Toyota.
 This cute little girls is a dancer.  She is babysitting this little boy whose mom teaches school.

 Like David's hat? The Bananas behind him are beautiful!  This one tree has two or three of these big bunches. 
We could save a lot of money on fancy back packs and front packs if we could learn to use a simple blanket like this.  The cute little mom leans over and tosses her baby on her back and wraps him up.  I have never seen one of these little ones crying and they are tied on tight. I love to see the little feet on each of her hips.

 Some one should do a painting of this beautiful Grandmother.

 Meeting underneath a big Mango tree.  What a way to do business!

I loved this truck.  This is a load and a half!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

 Brother  and Sister Van Orman took us to the airport.  He is a master at tying trunks and luggage so tight it doesn't budge even though the trunk is wide open!  
 Here we are waiting in the Airport at Johannesburg. Someone forgot we were coming - it was an oversight, but after three hours of thinking they would show up any minute, we got some South African money,  bought a phone and called them.  They felt so bad, but all was well.
 They put us up in the beautiful Sunnyside Hotel and we got some great sleep.  The 30 hour plane ride wasn't bad and we did fine as far as jet lag was concerned.  The ride from the airport was 400.  Thankfully not $, but in Rand.
 Our training was in the LDS complex in Johannesburg.  The Temple is on the same property.  We get to go there again in May and go through the temple!
 Our next destination was Lubumbashi to meet our mission President and his wife the McMullins.  We had a nice visit and met some great missionaries - including one sister who had served in Richmond with Deanna and Gerald.
 Finally HOME!  This is our Apartment in Bujumbura, Burundi.  It is a two story house, but we have only the ground level.  There are four wonderful young missionaries who live upstairs.  They have their own entrance.

 We went to Uvira in the Congo with the Cahoons and the Neeleys and met with the Branch President there.  He is an amazing man.  He held the church in that part of the Congo together through difficult times when Missionaries could not be sent there.

 These are a few street scenes.  It is a very bustling busy place.
 Here is our apartment which is located about a block from the US Embassy.

 Meet Remy.  He is our guard, gardener, helper.   He is so cute and nice.  He speaks Kurundi, little French, and no English.  I am teaching him a word at a time.  He runs to open and close the gate for us when we drive in and out.  He washes the truck every day and mops the floor.  He makes 90,000 a month.  No, not $ but Francs.  That means about $60.  We try to give him more for extra things he does. There are many big homes like this and they all have a guard.  Most of them make less than Remy.  He has a wife and I think 2 kids who live in a village.  He stays here 24/7.  Except he has been coming to church. He may go home for three days occasionally. When he is gone, the gate is locked and we just have to open it ourselves.  That hasn't happened yet.  I call him Magic.  He seems to sense when we are coming. 

 These two elders with the Neeleys are so talented!  When they sing, it makes you cry!
 We went to see a latrine project at a school.  The kids came and crowded around us two old white folks, but when I brought out a camera, they all turned and ran. We have six latrine projects underway at schools here in Bujumbura.  Below are the men responsible for building and supervising the projects.

I love this!  These are two members, about the same age.  The one on the right is the branch President of one of our three branches.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bujumbura finally!  We Have Been hopping all over Africa this week.   We flew into Johannesburg on April 9 and HAD Some training and stayed at the beautiful peaceful Sunnyside Hotel.   We met every day at the church offices on the same property as the temple.
Then on Monday we flew to Lubumbashi.   How wonderful That the Mission President and his wife Were there waiting for us.   They Had Some young men, one in a yellow "Helping Hands Shirt" grab our luggage and head to the truck.   Would Have It . beens without upsetting the yellow shirt   . While We Were There, we stayed at a little bungalow called Expired Bougan Villa within walking distance of the Mission home    We met the Sister missionaries. - so many beautiful girls from all Kinshasa   We had a chance to meet with . the President and talk about what he Would like us to do   . He is amazing   He Has Worked all over Africa in His business - used clothing dirty.   He is very comfortable here. 
The same cute boys with the helping hands shirt got us on the plane.   countries the Church The one young man to take the passports, and the money to pay for everything you need.   He jumped through all of the hoops for us.   All We had do to get on the plane WAS.   We flew to Nairobi and sat for 7 hours before the short jump to Bujumbura.   Cahoons The were here waiting for us and Brought us to our apartment. 
It looks like a palace.   It is a two story building with apartments on the top floor for four young missionaries.   Ours is ground level, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a small kitchen built for a short woman, a washing machine and a clothes line , king size bed, cicada's in the trees at night and Some beautiful birds in the morning.   There is a high fence all around with a solid metal gate and a guard.

This is a beautiful city and we-have-been ble to go to with Cahoons Some stores today and stocked up on food.    The mango We had for breakfast was sublime!   WOW!   Never had better!   We ate lunch at the one little shop - lots of choices in meat, produce, household items plus a small luncheonette Where We Bought Some Spinach soup and a cheese quiche.   Yummy.   There is lots of work to do, we are getting adjusted purpose and Trying to remember to ask all of the issues we can before the Cahoons go home.   Thankfully the Neeleys are coming on Saturday.   It Will take two couples to do what the Cahoons-have-been doing here by Themselves for the last 18 months.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

“Resistance is an inner contraction, a hardening of the shell…You are closed.  Whatever action you take in a state of inner resistance (which we could also call negativity) will create more outer resistance, and the universe will not be on your side, life will not be helpful.  If the shutters are closed, the sunlight cannot come in.  When you yield internally, when you surrender, a new dimension of consciousness opens up.  If action is possible or necessary, your action will be in alignment with that whole and supported by creative intelligence…(You experience) a state of inner openness.  Circumstances and people then become helpful, cooperative.  Coincidences happen.  If no action is possible, you rest in the peace and inner stillness that come with surrender.  You rest in God.”  Eckhart Tolle

I found this quote from Echart Tolle on a crumpled piece of paper in my pocket yesterday and remembered how it had played out in the last few months.

 This first picture is like the way I did not accept this opportunity at first.  Life in general was “not helpful”.  I prepared two Lessons that I didn’t get to teach.  People we called weren’t home.  Nothing was working.  When I decided to trust in the Savior and let myself relax in his care and show confidence in Him, things began working in crazy ways.  Coincidences I couldn’t imagine began to happen.  Lexi, my good friend from High School, sent a blanket email to friends and family from Warsaw Poland.  The Smiths in Ghana picked it up and wrote to Lexi asking if the David mentioned was the same one she knew.  Lexi forwarded it to us and we wrote to them.  Then they mentioned our call to the Congo to their friends who had left Ghana and they mentioned it to their neighbors who were going to the Congo, and (following this?) the “neighbors” happen to be the new mission president over our mission as of July!  So crazy!  Another similar one—Kent mentioned to a Dr. friend that we were going to the Congo.  The Dr. had a client who had a son who was going to Africa and said that a certain couple, who had been there, had been a great help to them.  When we received that couple’s name, we were actually able to meet them, talk about Bujumbura, the capital city of Burundi, and even see pictures.  They were in Bujumbura when the first branch was formed 3 years ago.  Now there are two, almost three branches.
I can honestly say, Echart Tolle nailed it with this experience.  So unbelievable!
The next picture is Garth and Wendy with us at the Map in the MTC.  As “coincidence” would have it, they entered the same day as we did, but they are going to the Philippines.  It is fun sharing the experience with them.  They flew 30 hours one way and stayed in April 7.  We flew 30 hours the other way and went from April 7 to April 9.

 We were told we would have no language training these two weeks, but we have met a wonderful couple from Quebec who have been helping us with our language adventure.  They are delightful!  In Romania one of my much used terms was, “am uitat”.  In French it is “j’ai oublie”.  So happy to know how to say, “I forgot.”
Our French Tutors at the MTC

We watched it, I bought it, I gave it away, borrowed it from someone else and watched it again.  Yes, a movie, Ephraim’s Rescue.  It was inspiring.  I was impressed with several quotes in it, but one that hit me was when the men were in the freezing snow storm, not sure if there actually WAS a handcart company lost out there, and some were ready to go back.  Erastus Snow said, “I will find that company or die trying.”  Devotion and integrity are sometimes overlooked in this world of materialism and “take care of me” attitudes.
In the Cafeteria one day I saw an elder who looked so very familiar.  I told him that he looked so familiar and asked him where he was from.  He said, (I forgot where), but then smiled and asked if I had seen the movie “Ephraim’s Rescue” then it hit me that he was the boy!  He was the boy who was in the handcart company and his feet were severely frostbitten, but he was healed.   He is here in the MTC also learning French. He is on his way to Paris. 

It is always a secret who is the devotional speaker.  And always a wonderful experience.  Tonight we were thrilled to hear the tabernacle organist bear testimony and perform some pieces on the beautiful organ in the Mission Training Center.  Richard Elliot was an organist when he heard about the church as a young man.  He describes himself as a long haired rock musician, but he had read scripture and had noticed some things missing from churches he had visited.  He was looking for a missionary church who had prophets and apostles like the primitive church in the bible.  He told about a mother with two sons that he met in the Argentina Rosario mission field.  The boys had become members, but the mother seemed an unlikely candidate.  She smoked and kept a very unorganized and not so clean home.  He overlooked the potential she had, but a new native elder came to be his companion and he suggested they go help her.  While helping her clean the house, they came upon her cigarette stash.  The elder took two of the cigarettes and play acted with them as if they were talking to each other. “Oh Michella, you are our slave!” they said.  She cried and Brother Elliot was worried that she would be offended, but instead she admitted that she needed to stop smoking, came to church and eventually was baptized.  When he saw her months later, she was transformed – so happy and physically looked like a different person.

Another wonderful surprise was that Brother Elliot brought with him David Archuleta who has just returned home from a mission to Chili.  He actually gave his homecoming speech today.  He was glowing with the spirit.  He told about a time in Chili when he felt so strongly he should give an invitation to a young woman on the bus to come to a young adult activity.  He fought with the prompting that came to him three times, because she looked so hardened with piercings etc.  But, just before they were to get off, he went and sat beside her, visited briefly and gave her an invitation to the event.   Months later another elder asked him if he knew an Ingrid.  He learned that she went to the event and later met with the missionaries.  Eventually he heard that her family had also joined the church and that she was planning on serving a mission.  He sang two hymns, so beautifully it would make you cry.  “Be Still My Soul” was first, then he told about his Mother’s conversion.  She always told him, she didn’t remember what the missionaries said, but she could never forget how she felt.  He expressed gratitude to her for accepting the gospel and teaching him.  His grandmother also joined the church and she told him how she had heard an angelic choir singing the morning before they were going to be baptized.  Then at the church she wept when they sang the same song she had heard, “Come, Come Ye Saints”.  He sang it with one verse in Spanish.  He followed all of this up with two verses of Hark all Ye Nations and invited us to sing with him on the last verse.  I can say I sang with David Archuletta and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Organist!  MTC Devotionals are superb, that’s no secret!