Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Youth - Pioneers in the Congo

Pioneer is a great word to describe the youth of the DR Congo. On 23rd, 800 young men and young women gathered at the Kinshasa Stake Center for the first ever youth conference. Three stakes, Kinshasa, Mont Ngafula, and Ngaliema, participated in phase-one of the combined stake youth conferences. Because of the distance and numbers of youth, the other two stakes in the area: Masina and Kimbanseke will meet on Saturday, July 30th.

The Bishops were asked to provide the number of youth attending from their wards. The number came back that 900 youth would attend the July 23rd conference. When several bishops were asked if that was the number of youth on their ward rolls, they responded, "yes, those are all the youth on our membership records." When asked, how many they think would attend the said (in typical African style), "most of them."

So, Saturday morning, we began registering youth. Now, you need to understand that African time in very unpredictable. We knew that the students would travel by transport from their wards. Example: there were only about 6 vehicles in the parking lot. Four of them belonged to the missionary couples. In other words, no one has cars. The kids boarded transports to get to the stake center - some taking up to two hours to travel to the conference. Many just walked.

A Sister from D.C., who is here on temporary assignment at the U.S. Embassy on a temorary assignment, was conscripted into helping. She was a great help at the registration desk.

At 9:00, start time we had about 100 youth signed in. That we thought was good. Then, they started ariving in groups (transport loads). By 10:00 am we had 300 hundred, by 10:30 it was up to 500, and they just kept coming.
The youth were divided into six groups. As the morning continued, the groups grew in size, chairs were added to classrooms, more snacks were prepared, and everyone was accomadated.

By the morning break there were over 700 young men and young women ready to eat a snack. Our final count was just about 800 youth. AMAZING.

The conference included, classes (1/2 hour each), music (Suzanne played the piano all day long - note the picture of her and the young men at the piano - she is like the pied piper of the Congo, everyone wants her to teach them to play), games, and a dance. At the end the entire group sang the two songs they had learned. The host stake president and the Area Seventy closed the meeting with very stiring (and short) talks.

Two young men, who are summer interns at the US Embassy led the games - which were played on the basketball court behind the church. One is a returned missionary who speaks French and the other is a good Catholic boy from Virginia. The kids loved them and they had a great time doing it. I asked the Catholic kid, "did you ever dream that during your Congo experience you would be teaching a bunch of Mormon kids how to play "tag?" His response, "no way, but this is the highlight of my trip."

A young couple taught the Temple mariage class. Other classes included missionary preparation, importance of being on time, Book of Mormon, etc.

It was the first time the youth of these three stakes had ever met together. It was an awesome experience for them. And for their leaders. The office missionary couple, who are very vested in the youth, were the advisors to the stake and ward young men/young women leaders.

All in all it was an awesome experience for everyone.

These young people are literally the future of the Church in the Congo. They will break old tribal traditions such as the dowery, tribalism, and lead a generation of strong leadership in a country that Heavenly Father is blessing every day.

In a country with poverty, illness, strife and a million other problems, these youth found an island of peace, safety, and the Spirit of our Heavenly Father.


Sunday, July 17, 2011



Help, sister missionaries held by pygmies

Well, at first we thought they were pygmies, but it turned out to be a group of children in native tribal costume who preformed at the grand opening of a new clean water well.
You know that water is critical here. The Humanitarian Services Couple have been working on a project to bring clean water to a major hospital. This hospital is located in an area of Kinshasa called Liberte. It is a very populous area, probably 5 to 6 million people. This hospital delivers 80% of the babies in the area.
The project includes a well, pump station, water holding tank, pipes leading into the hospital, and a public water spout with a concrete gathering area.
Our friend Doctor Ngoy, who gives so much of his time to the neo-natal resuscitation project, practices at this hospital. It is primarily a OB GYN hospital.
The clean water well will serve the hospital and surrounding neighborhoods.
I had a conversation with Dr. Ngoy at the ceremony. He said how thankful he was for the clean water. They deliver several thousand babies a year. With the neo-natal resuscitation principles, they save many lives. But still without clean water many mothers and babies die needlessly from water borne contaminants and general lack of sanitation.
He said, "can you imagine doing surgery with no clean water in which to wash your hands?" "This is a great gift from God, now we will save even more mothers and babies."
The Church is so awesome in its scope of assistance to those who need assistance.
Saint Joseph's hospital is run by the Catholic Church, they have done great humanitarian activities in the Congo. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has teamed up with them on many issues.
The hospital administrator and the Catholic Priest who is responsible for the hospital praised the Church's efforts and thanked the Church for its contribution to the health of patients, staff, and others who will enjoy the clean water.
The ceremony and ribbon cutting was well done. It started on time and was well organized. The troop of African youth performed several dances. I will try to upload a brief video, but generally the internet is just too slow to be effective.
All in all, it is a heart warming and heart changing experience. We are so grateful for the direction of the Prophet to render assistance to those in need.
We do not know how many lives will be saved by the simple addition of a clean water well, but certainly many will be.
Anyone who gives to the Humanitarian program or LDS Charities, has to receive blessings vicariously for their contributions.

Help, sister missionaries held by pygmies

Monday, July 4, 2011



We celebrated Congo Independence Day on June 30. This marks the day that the DR Congo gained its independence from Belgium.

It, of course is a national holliday, and we had the day of. Today is July 4th, and we are working. We are glad to be Americans and enjoy the freedoms of the USA.

We are also glad to be temporary Congolese, and love this country and its people.

On 30 June, we had a BBQ on the deck/patio/roof of the Hatch's downstairs from us.

In additon to the the couple missionaries, we invited the new mission president and his wife - really good people - he is a retired College French Teacher from Arizona. They previously served as a missionary couple in this mission, so he can hit the ground running.

Also, we invited our next door neighbor, a young women with USAID from Washington DC, and two young men who are here on internship with US Dept of State (one is a returned French Missionary entering the Masters of Public Administration at UofU, and his roomate, also on internship, and a grad student at William and Marys College.

Two women are here from SLC adopting orpans from "our little orphanage," and they and the children were also there.

We made blue cheese hamburgers (Karven style) and made kabobs of pineapple with "limoy" powder (I really have no idea how to spell it) and chicken.

It was almost like home.

We ate, talked, and had a good time.

We thought you might enjoy the pictures.