Sunday, January 31, 2016

January 30 - 31, 2016 - P day and Bongonga Ward

January 30, 2016 - Spent the entire P day in the office working. 
Finished Order Manual with numbers and French Names.

Went to the Food Court at the Hyper Psaro for a Pizza.

Elder Peterson's Contribution:

We have been provided a pickup to use for mission errands and personal use.  It’s a 2015 Toyota Hi Lux, it only has 350 kilometers on it.  Hopefully, we have more time next week to get out and venture around town.  We have a GPS on our telephones that works really well.  It doesn’t give you a route to follow but shows you where you are and the destination point on a map with all the roads.  You have to figure out which roads to take while you’re following the dot that indicates the current location.  We’ll get Mom behind the wheel too.

In September, just before we arrived, the President was out jogging and came across a gentleman from South Africa.  Turns out this guy, his name is Graham, is the general contractor for a huge project that a South African company is investing in here in Lubumbashi.  The project has just begun and Graham was telling President Thomas how difficult it was to do business in the RDC and that he was having a terrible time finding enough skilled workers for the project.  They struck up a close relationship over a short period of time.  The Church has a well-developed Self Reliance Program for members, particularly returned missionaries.  The program has been able to teach and certify workers as masons, plumbers, carpenters, painters, tile setters, and others.  The problem has been that as soon as the members completed the certification program they would go back to doing what they did before, which was usually nothing, because there were no jobs.  Well, you can probably tell where I’m going.  It’s because of this trusting relationship that Graham and the President developed, that made all this happen.  Very few people actually have jobs here, maybe less than 10%.  The big concern of the Church was the returned missionaries going back to nothing and wallowing around in generational poverty.  There is little hope for them which stymies the progress of the Church.  As you would know the progress of the Church will be in these returning missionaries learning a skill, being able to support a family and contribute as a leader.  

Anyway, without getting into very much detail, an arrangement was worked out where, to begin with, we would provide masons and mason helpers for the project.  Graham would access the percentage completion of each project twice per month and pay a third party company (in this case, a company owned by a stake presidency member) for the work completed.  We then distribute the money after taxes, a percentage to the stake presidency member, and up-front money providing shoes, hard hat, and uniform and based on hours worked and work classification.  The success and amount of pay hinges on everyone pulling their weight and contributing to the completion of projects.  Laggards slow the progress of projects and diminishes the pay of everyone.  In October, they started with 10 masons and 20 mason helpers.  All returned missionaries hand-picked by the President and Bishop Mbidi, the Self Reliance Administrator.  Long story short we are now up to the 30 masons, 15 carpenters, and just this week added 15 plumbers.  Graham has already asked for more carpenters and plumbers, and wants us to supply painters and tile setters in the next week or two.

You can only imagine the excitement this has created among missionaries.  Unfortunately, there are many more missionaries needing jobs than what we could ever think to provide.  But it’s hope and a future for a few.  We’re really banking on this working out but in the DRC everything is tenuous and things can fall apart very fast here when someone gets greedy.  Congolese do not trust each other which is the result of their culture and if someone feels slighted or wants to exert pressure on fellow clansman or tribesman to perform a certain way problems begin and can mushroom quickly.  That’s where us white guys come in.  They trust us where they don’t trust each other, and those that value their jobs there are hopeful that we can keep the peace and prevent mettling by others.  President Thomas is turning this project over to me.  I’ll be doing my first distribution on Tuesday the 2nd to masons, carpenter, and plumbers.  This is truly a God-send to these people.  The chance meeting of Graham and the President was simply an intervention on the part of Heavenly Father to give hope for the future to many who saw no hope.

January 31, 2016 - Attended the Bongonga Ward. Two brothers were leaving on a mission and gave their farewell talks today.

Sister Vance and Sister Peterson with Relief Society sisters

Sister Cook and Sister Peterson with Relief Society sisters

Elder Patient Mutonyi and Sister Peterson

Missionary brothers with their mother

Young girls carrying siblings on their back

Brothers leaving at the same time for missions

Our grass is planted

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