Sunday, July 29, 2012
This Saturday, we had a bed and clothing party at the orphanage. The little orphanage needs so much, and has so little. The owner of the orphanage has a heart the size of the continent of Africa. Earlier this year when we first visited the orphanage, we assessed the great need. One of the adoption agencies from the US was with us on that trip. We knew that we wanted to do something. As missionaries we are limited in the scope of what we can do. The adoption agency representative, a truly wonderful women, took it upon herself to raise money to repair the building so a school could be maintained in an acceptable room. She is continuing with that project. She was at the orphanage on Saturday, and we met the engineer who is competing her project who was also there. During our first visit determined at that time to do something. Since the children were sleeping on the ground, we thought we could make beds for them. Elder Billings, the construction program missionary said under his direction, we could make beds for them. The sisters decided to make clothing for the kids. Saturday, the beds and clothing were finished and we took them out. Five bunk beds and a new outfit for each child. The following is a pictorial glimpse of the project. Under a separate correspondence, we have thanked those who generously gave of their money to help finance the project. We thank them again.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
Many basic infrastructure necessities are missing here. We are constantly amazed at the resilience and creativity of the Congolese. Mass transportation is one of the elements of the infrastructure that is lacking. In a city of 10 - 15 million people, the vast majority of whom do not have automobiles, getting from the outlying neighborhoods into the city to work or sell their wares must depend on some sort of transportation. The free-enterprise entrepreneurial spirit has somewhat solved this problem. In Kinshasa there exists an informal or parallel economy. That is to say, with 85% unemployment, people must find ways to feed themselves and their families outside of the normal job market. Transportation is one of them. Since the government has not provided mass-transportation, the entrepreneurs have. There is one very very old train that runs from Masina, the highly populated suburb, into down town Kinshasa. It comes in about 8 am with several thousand people jammed into it, and then goes back in the evening. Most transportation is provided by old beat-up vans. The owners remove the seats and replace them with 2x4 slats. That way they can get 20+ people in a 9 passenger van. It costs about 500 Congolese Francs to ride across town. (that is about $1). There are no set times or routes, they follow the crowds and come and go as they please. For these "transport" drivers, traffic rules are more suggestions than rules. They will come down the wrong way on a street, run red lights (well, anyway, the four traffic lights in the city.) A good rule of thumb for driving among the transports is to ask yourself, "what is the absolute dumbest, most dangerous thing that transport driver will do next?" Then, he will surpass your expectations. Sidewalks are fair game for the transport drivers. Anyone who owns an automobile is automatically a taxi. People line the streets and cars will stop and pick them up to take them on their way for 500FC. Goods are often moved around the city on "Pus-Pus" carts, they too can be a challenge to ones driving. Big trucks (Poire Lourd) are interesting. Some I think were left behind when the Belgians left 50 years ago, some I think, are world war two left overs. All in all, driving here is somewhat like bumper cars on steroids. Suzanne says that I must go to driving detox before I can drive to Safeway when we get home.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
This week we took a Senior Couple field trip to TIFIE farms. This is Robert Workman's humanitarian project here in the DRC. (Google Robert Workman, TIFIE) TIFIE stands for Teaching Individuals and Families Independence Through Enterprise. This facility is about two and a half hours outside of Kinshasa.
Monday, June 25, 2012
Suzanne has coordinated the Harmon Music Grant in the DR Congo since we arrived. The Harmon Grant provides keyboards/pianos to those who will learn basic music conducting skills and how to play the piano. Basically, if a person will agree to learn music, and then be willing to share their musical talents with others by playing for Church meetings or teaching others to play/conduct,the Harmon Grant provides a keyboard for them. The Congolese love music. They love to sing the hymns of the Church. They have a natural ability to sing on key. Example: recently, one of our volunteers in the office had a birthday, Suzanne made a birthday cake (perhaps his first cake ever) and there were several PEF applicants and other students in the office. They sang "happy birthday" to him in perfect harmony. They did it once in French, then regrouped to determine who would sing what parts, the sang it again in French, then English, then Lingala. We have never heard such a great version of Happy Birthday. Wherever we go, people seek out Suzanne and ask for music lessons. Many wards do not have pianist. In fact, many wards do not have pianos. From young children to even the Area 70 are numbered among Suzanne's students Here is a Member of the Quorum of Seventy learning simple hymns with Suzanne. One of Suzanne's early students. This young sister was asked to lead the music in Sacrament Meeting. She had never led music and did not know how to lead music correctly. Here she has just finished the conducting course and is very proud of herself. The Seminary and Institute Secretary taking lessons. At Suzanne's discretion, students may receive a keyboard - on loan - with which to practice. Then, when they have completed the music courses and demonstrated their willingness to serve others or play for meetings - and when their bishop and stake president have signed off, they may receive the key board to keep. One of Suzanne's students had never played piano before starting lessons. He was given a keyboard on which to practice. He took it home and practiced tirelessly. We attended a stake conference, and there he was, playing prelude music. This is a great program. Joseph is a very musical young man. He and Suzanne have worked together with choirs and the like. He has been teaching several people in his stake to play the piano. It is important that good efforts continue after we are gone Suzanne and her legion of fans..
Monday, May 7, 2012
Greetings from Africa. It has been a while. The Perpetual Education Fund is progressing. These kids are awesome. We love working with them. We are seeing young adults who are progressing in school, finding jobs, and changing their lives. In our spare time, we have been to a couple of orphanages to play and visit. Our French friends, Eric and Chantal invited us to go to an orphanage of older children to play one Saturday. A young French man is here teaching at the French School. (his wife lives in Geneva and is friends with Eric and Chatal - who live in France, but just accros the border from Geneva - are friends with his wife. His wife's ward in Geneva had sent some money to buy food and stuff for them. We went out, organized soccer and frisby games and visited.
Monday, April 9, 2012
This was sent to us. We do not have TV here, so we did not see it first hand look at the street scenes. That is how it is here. The walk those boys take to rehearsal look just like the trails we go on with the Humanitarian couple when they show us well sites. The boys house is pretty nice and far above the standard place to live. The conductor has a really nice place! Way, Way above standard. We wanted to share this as it is very true to life Congo. http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7404678n&tag=contentMain;contentAux Or 60minutesovertime.com
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
In the DR Congo, the two missions realize approximately 500 convert baptisms per month. That amounts to almost a ward a month. The retention and activity rate remain high. The Congolese people are very spiritual, open, and love the Lord. They have very few books to read, however most have a Bible. They read the Bible, are conversant with the scriptures, and easily accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They live in great poverty and difficulties. Unemployment, disease, and poverty. However, one of the favorite hymns that they sing whenever hymns are sung is, "Count Your Many Blessings." A joy comes into their lives with the Gospel. Temporally, it remains difficult, but the hope, faith, and promise of eternity fills their hearts. A dual problem arises with high growth rates and unemployment. 1. What do we use for meeting houses if we convert a ward a month? I recently saw retention figures showing 95% retention over the past 13 month period. Many wards have 110% attendance at sacrament meetings - high activity rates and many non-member visitors. 2. How to we help provide opportunity for members to gain the requisite skills to find work. This question has pre-occupied the thinking of the Church, as the member population grows rapidly in developing countries. BUILDING CONCEPT