Sunday, December 20, 2015

December 16, 2015 - To Luputa and back to Mwene Ditu

December 16. This morning we used a flashlight for a little while until at 5:30 the generator came on. The bathroom looks well equipped. The only problem is there is no running water. There is a bucket of water used to flush the toilet. The larger bucket in the bathtub is for washing your hair and your body. There is a cup at the sink so you can pour water over your head. Elder Peterson had the experience of shaving using cold water. There was one towel provided and soap. I was glad I had packed two washcloths as Sister Thomas had suggested. A sponge bath worked just fine.

We left for Luputa at 6:45 a.m. It is a 50 kilometer drive. There is no asphalt between Mwene Ditu and Luputa. It is only the red clay roads. The sky is overcast, threatening to rain. We pray for the car and tires. Last night Godefroid ws able to purchase one good tire. That is all he could find in the entire town. The good new one was put on the front. The bad "new" one that we put on yesterday was moved to the back. We need to get to Luputa then all the way back to Mbuji Mayi with these tires. There is no spare.

Sister Thomas took pictures out the windshield for us. It had rained earlier this morning. There are pictures showing the problem during the rainy season on this road. We pray that the rain will wait until we return to Mwene Ditu tonight.

A bicycle loaded down

Deep ruts in the road

Women carrying loads balanced on their head

Taking goods to the market

Catholic church and school

Muddy road

River is high and swift

Bridge over river

As we pulled into the church grounds a group of children followed us in. There is a school close by. The loved having their picture taken.

Notice the grandpa in Elder Peterson as he interacts with the children. We are instructed not to give them ANYTHING. That is so hard because you want to give--but where can you stop. The best thing we can give is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church can help them realize how to become self reliant.

Missionaries started to arrive and the Zone Conference began about 8:30. The agenda is the same as last night with the zone leaders and the assistants teaching. I didn't follow much of what was said except the honesty talk Sister Thomas gave. President Thomas talked about the Holy Ghost. I didn't understand very many words but I felt the power of what he was saying and his testimony. Did Jesus Christ need the gift of the Holy Ghost? Yes, the Holy Ghost testifies of the Father.

Luputa Zone

After the conference Elder Peterson and I walked to the center of town to see the water project the Humanitarian missionaries worked to put into place. We met Elder and Sister Barlow in Utah before we came. They are the parents of John VanWagenen's colleague at Fidelity who were on a mission in Kinshasa. The Barlows were given permission to go out of their mission and come into the Lubumbashi Mission to complete this project. Thirty miles of trench was dug by the local people. That was their part. It took two years. The Church then supplied the pipe and the water holding tank. 

The church left pipe and other supplies to help maintain the pipeline, but true to the corruption of the people in this country, the pipe was sold and the money pocketed by someone. So if there is a break in the pipe, there will be nothing to fix it.

Walking up the road from the church

Water Storage Tank

Downtown Luputa

Water Storage Tank

Downtown Luputa

Notice the Mobil Oil sign on the left; church building at right

The water station is on the road by the church. The water is turned on between 5:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. and then again from 3 - 6 p.m. The women come with their plastic water jugs, wait their turn, fill up the water containers, then carry it home. We all should be sooo grateful for clean running water in our homes.
Church Buildings with water station in front

The President was busy conducting interviews with each missionary. Sister Thomas and Elder Peterson listened to the missionaries as they passed off scriptures they had memorized. I passed around our family pictures and was talking to some of the missionaries. I used my limited French and they used their limited English to converse about family. As they looked at the big family photo, they wanted to know how many of the people were church members. I told them "toute le monde" (all of them). They were amazed. One missionary said he was the "premiere" (first) and "seulement" (only) member of his family. As I pointed to Elder Peterson in the picture I said "un" (one) "plus" (plus) "un" (one), pointing to me, "sont" (makes) "quarante-sept" (47) pointing to all of us in the picture.
Then with my limited French and gestures, I helped them understand that years from now if they marry someone in the church and have children, they will have a picture similar to this and "everyone" will be a member of the church. Un plus un sont ???(number of children). That made them smile.

The Kinshasa Temple will be such a blessing to the members in this country. So few can afford to fly to Johannesburg to be sealed.

The marriage customs are very different from what we know. For example, there is a Bishop in Luano whose wife died in childbirth two years ago with their 6th child. A sister missionary from Kinshasa returned home recently after serving her mission. Sister Thomas dreamed about the two of them and mentioned it to President Thomas. He approached the Bishop and asked what he thought of this sister. After two phone calls they were engaged. Now comes the customs of the country. He needs to have money to pay $400 clothes for the father; $250 for the mother; a certain amount for the "dote" to the extended family; a certain amount for the magistrate; a round trip ticket for him to go to Kinshasa to be married; a one way ticket for her to come here, etc. etc. So now before he can get married he must "find" about $2,500 and he has been unemployed for two years. In the meantime his children need a mother now.

Church complex consists of three buildings

Dining area in chapel complex

Long hallway leading to the other rooms

Bathroom facilities - a barrel of water to wash and flush

Ron noticed a woman next door to the church sitting outside her home sewing dresses. Her daughter was using another sewing machine sewing a shirt. They turn the handle on the wheel with their right hand while using the left hand to guide the fabric through the presser foot. When they want the machine to stop they put their right hand on the wheel.

Next door a woman and her daughter sewing

Singer Sewing Machines powered by hand

As we sit outside in Luputa children just come and hang out at the church. At one time Sister Thomas counted 60 children. They sky kept getting darker and darker. The raindrops started to fall and the children ran for home. We went inside a building to a bedroom to sit and read in the chairs there. It had rained hard for a time and Sister Thomas was worried that we wouldn't be able to get out of Luputa. If it rains too much the road is closed and no one can travel to Mwene Ditu.

When the President finished the last interview, we ran for the land cruiser and began the 1 1/2 hour trip to Mwene Ditu. The rain stopped. We reached the gate to let us out of the city. Godefroid spoke to the guards. I held my breath. Would they let us through? Then there were smiles all around and the guards opened the gate. "Merci" and "Au Revoir" were said and we were on our way. I expected the road to be gooey mud from the red clay all the say. But it was not. It is a good thing it wasn't dirt or it would have turned to mud. There were places along the road that worried me; we slipped around a few times but Godefroid handled the land cruiser with an experienced hand. We were in four wheel drive at various times along the way.

Crossing the bridge again

Beautiful Sunset

Once we arrived back at the hotel in Mwene Ditu the heavens opened and it began to rain hard. Beyatrice had dinner ready for us. Elder and Sister Mbeye, a couple from Kinshasa who have been here for a short mission to help in this area, as well as the second counselor in the Mission Presidency, President Mukandi, and his wife ate with us and Godefroid. President Mukandi works for the Church in facilities management. his job required him to move from Mbuji-Mayi to Mwene Ditu. For dinner there was chicken, french fries, rice with carrots, baked beans, fufu, and the delicious fresh pineapple.

We had electricity as we got ready for bed.

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