Monday, December 14, 2015

December 15, 2015 - Off to Mbuji-Mayi and on to Mwene Ditu

December 15 - We are off to the airport to go to Mbuji-Mayi. Will be back on Friday evening. No Internet where we are going so the posts will get caught up on our return. This should be an adventure into the north and west of us here in Lubumbashi.
A little girl and her brother talking to Elder Mbelek, one of  the APs
There doesn't appear to be any kind of organization to the procedures of checking in with luggage. We gave Tom (a man who the mission uses at the airport) our passports and he and his workers take our baggage. It didn't seem like there was a  line of any kind. Other people came in and stood around by us. Some men hauled a large scale past us to the left, and set up a weighing station.

Luggage ready to be checked in
More luggage --not ours
Elder Peterson walking toward our plane
Lubumbashi Airport
Lubumbashi Airport
We stood around for about an hour and a half. Then Tom brought us our passports and boarding passes. We then went through a waiting room at the gate area. There were chairs in there but we didn't have any time to sit in them. We went directly outside where there were three security stations set up to inspect the carry on bags.
Carry on bags search area
 Then we were able to board the airplane We sat on the tarmac for 1 1/4 hours. We don't know why the plane didn't leave on time--probably because they were still checking people in. There were people boarding sporadically right up until a few minutes before take off. The airplane finally took off at 10 a.m.--only one hour late.

We were served breakfast--a ham omelette, a roll with butter and jam, yogurt, and a croissant and cheese, along with orange juice. It tasted very good. The flight was 1 1/4 hours long.
Mbuji-Mayi Airport

 At Mbuji-Mayi it took almost 1 1/2 hours to wait for our passports to be cleared and the luggage collected. A man named Dallas handled everything there at the airport. While he was taking care of the details we immediately were able to go outside.
Dallas who handles our passports and luggage
There we met Godefroid who will be our chauffeur. He drives the land cruiser that the church owns on these trips. He is not a member of the church.

Elder Peterson and Godefroid
 Six missionaries traveled with us and President and Sister Thomas on the airplane. Three new Elders who are assigned to Mbuji-Mayi, the two assistants, and one new Elder who will travel all the way to Luputa to his first area. These 4 new Elders came in on December 8, and have been waiting as we have been for the plane to finally leave for Mbuji-Mayi.

Companions meet for the first time

Two shoeshine boys, also selling packages of tissues, with President Thomas

Mbuji-Mayi Airport

People leaving the airport

Elder going to Luputa and the two assistants

Elder Peterson in the land cruiser

Gottefroid, Sister and President Thomas in front
The first zone conference was to be held in Mwene Ditu, a three hour drive from Mbuji-Mayi. Driving through the streets of Mbuji-Mayi was very interesting. People are EVERYWHERE and little shops lining the streets. As we passed a side street we could see that street was just as crowded. The man road was paved with asphalt; the side streets were dirt. The dirt is actually a red-orange clay, which in the dry season gets very dusty. It is the beginning of the rainy season now.
Roadside bread stand
As we left the city of Mbuji-Mayi it was easier to pay attention to the details of what we were seeing. There were stately women with bundles balanced on their head, some carrying a small child in their arms. Others had babies who are tied on their back using a large rectangle of cloth that is secured in front. The baby's head bobs back and forth from side to side while they sleep. At home we are always so careful to support a newborn's neck. \here it doesn't seem so important.

There are children trying to sell whatever they can--bananas, ears of corn, bread, rolls, small packages of tissues, melons, squash, mangoes, dried beans etc. It makes me so grateful to know that our grandchildren are so blessed to be in school instead of having to be selling on the street so they can eat.

Trucks are loaded high heaping loads with people perched precariously on the top and the back.

We saw many homes made of bricks. Out here we also saw bamboo poles lashed together to make the framework of a building. The mud is plastered on the outside to make a wall.

People use bicycles to transport heavy loads. They will pile the bicycle with bags full of manioc or cassava (Yucca) leaves, which is what is used to prepare sambé. The root is what is used to make fufu. They then push the bicycle to the market. Metal carts with car tires are used as a rectangle shaped wheelbarrow.
It looks like a handcart with the handle and shaft. We see clean laundry set out to dry on the thatched roof, bushes, and even lying on the red clay.

Gas is sold in 2 1/2 gallon containers. Huge plastic containers of sweet potato greens or manioc are carried on the women's head. This is used to make sambé, a food staple. Roofs are made of tin or thatch. Here the roofs have a pitch to them. On the way to Lisaka we saw tin flat on the top of the walls. The tin was held down by bricks. One of Elungu's granddaughters was killed by a brick falling off the roof during a windstorm.

There are bamboo trees. Woven mats are sometimes tied to poles to make walls for a house. Fabric may be used in the doorway. Otherwise, it is open. There were a few wooden doors.

The women are cooking outside over a fire using charbonné (their homemade charcoal). As we got further outside the city children were carrying bundles of sticks. Later on we saw cooking fires made from similar sticks instead of the charbonné.

About halfway to Mwene Ditu we heard the air escape from the right front tire. We all piled out of the land cruiser to see the tire not fixable. Godefroid had just purchased that tire and another one for the spare this morning. Instead of Bridgestone the brand was Brightstone, obviously a pseudo good brand. The church facilities management from Kinshasa had sent them. President Thomas was very upset about the quality of the tire. It was more plastic than rubber. The tire life was 90 kilometers.
Land cruiser piled with our luggage.

Trying to get lug nuts off and jack it up.

Brightstone from China NOT Bridgestone from the US

Bad tire put on the back. Now we have no spare tire.
Children started to appear on the road. They lived in homes a little way off the road. We asked to take their photo. Once taken they loved to crowd around the IPAD or the camera to see the result. They point and smile as they see themselves and their friends.

The spare tire was put on and we were again on our way. The worry was that the other "new" tire would not last either.

We arrived in Mwene Ditu and went to the Carrfour Hotel where we will stay tonight and tomorrow night. We met Beyatrice who manages the hotel.

Carrefour Hotel, our room on the left
Carrefour Hotel Dining Room
Our living room
Our bedroom
Eating area in our room
Note the green water bucket for flushing the toilet and the blue water bucket  for bathing.
The blue mug sitting on the sink is for dipping the water

We took our luggage inside our room and then walked about a block to the church where the missionaries were waiting for us. We were late.

The Mwene Ditu Zone Conference went very well. The two zone leaders and the Sister Leader Trainer taught first. Sister Thomas talked about honesty and the problem we have in the mission. She encouraged the missionaries to confess any indiscretions to the President.

The assistants talked about rules of the mission, how missionaries should act, and loyalty to the President. The culture here is loyalty to their tribe (and each other when they go back home to Kinshasa) not the President or the church. The assistants also talked about how to resolve problems in the mission. The order is to take it to the district leader, then the zone leaders, then the assistants, and only then if it is not resolved, to the Mission President. They were instructed to not bypass district leaders and zone leaders.

The President then talked about Priesthood and faith.

Zone pictures were taken. As with the little children the missionaries want to immediately see the result.
Sister and Elder Mbeye, senior missionaries from Kinshasa

For Zone Conference, companions dress alike

 After the conference our three remaining missionaries (we left the three who are assigned to Mbuji-Mayi) went home with the local missionaries for the night. We went back to the hotel about 8:30 p.m. where Beyatrice had prepared dinner for us. Fried chicken, rice, potatoes and carrots, sombé, fufu, and fresh pineapple. We left the fufu for Godefroid who came to eat after he dropped the missionaries off at their apartment.

The generator that supplied lights stayed on an extra hour because President Thomas paid more money. We went to bed about 9:30. The bed was comfortable and we slept relatively well. The temperature was very nice for sleeping. We were told that sometimes here it can be too hot to sleep. So we were fortunate on our trip to have cooler temperatures.

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