Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Temple in the Congo

Bonjour du Congo We are very excited here in the DR Congo. As you probably know, President Monson announced that there would be two new temples in Africa and one in Paris. We Francophones are very excited about that. Our dear friends and fellow Greshamites who serve in Durban are also very excited about the temple in Durban. We listen to General Conference via the internet. However, the internet is very slow here, and sometimes intermittent. So, we were hearing about every other paragraph. But, we had connection when President Monson announced the Temples. We were beside ourselves. Then, the emails and Skype started from our friends and family, who were also excited. Most people here do not listen or watch conference. 1. it is in English, 2. few had electricity, 3. no one has internet at home. The Church sends a translated CD to the stakes, and they have conference weekend a few weeks after conference. So we started calling our friends. We called one of our friends, who started to cry and then shout for joy. We could hear noise in the background, he said that the church employees were having a meeting when everyone's cell phones started to ring. They were getting calls from those who had been listening or watching - mostly they were missionary couples calling. So, it was a great day (actually evening here) in Kinshasa. Currently those wishing to go to the temple must travel to South Africa. This is very expensive, and complicated to obtain passports, visas, etc. The church has a "patrons assistance program," (President Monson mentioned it during the announcement) which provides financial assistance for one trip to the temple for a family. So, most people only get to the temple once in their lives. We have several friends who have made the trip to Johannesburg to the temple recently. It is really difficult on them financially. Our friend Mardo, the sec. to the Institutes and Seminaries will go with her husband and two children this month - they have saved for several years. Rusell, our friend and associate manager of Employment, will take his wife and two children to J'burg later this month also - they have been saving for two or three years to make the trip. Now, they will be able to go frequently to the Kinshasa Temple. It will take two or three years to complete the Temple. We do not know the exact location for the temple yet, but will know soon. It will certainly be built in the center part of Kinshasa. It will serve the DR Congo, Republic of Congo-Brazzaville, Cameroon, Burundi, Gabon, Central African Republic, and probably other Francophone countries. There are 5 stakes in Kinshasa, 1 in Congo-Brazzaville, 4 in the other mission area of Lubumbashi, soon to be one in Cameroon, and probably one or two more in Kinshasa by the time the Temple is built. Cameroon and Burundi have districts. Gabon and Central African Republic does not yet have a church presence. Gabon has many people waiting for government approval for the church to operate there - probably before the temple is complete. This is my opinion only that with the Temple coming to DR Congo that the Church will then establish an Missionary Training Center here. Currently missionaries who will serve in on of the two Congo Missions, go to Ghana for the MTC because Ghana has a Temple. It is very expensive and difficult for missionaries who are from the DRC to get visa and passorts and to travel to Ghana. Of the 300 plus missionaries serving in the Congo, 95% are from the Congo. Most missionaries from Kinshasa area go to the Lubumbashi mission and the Lubumbashi missionaries come to Kinshasa mission. As I have said before, they do not send white missionaries to serve in the countries of DR Congo and Burundi. There a a few white missionaries in Point Noire in the Republic of Congo, but none in other Republic of Congo cities. (get out your map if you are completely confused.) So, my take is that they will put a Missionary Training Center next to the new Temple along with patron housing, like they have in Ghana and South Africa. All in all it is very exciting. The temple is coming not only because of the number of members, but they are spiritually prepared for the Temple. Now, there is a renewed excitement to really prepare for going to the Temple. Family history work will take on a greater sense of urgency We feel very blessed to be here at this time.

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