The work is progressing and the adventure is continuing. This post covers 2 weeks because we spent a week at a 3-day Couples Conference in the Congo (Kinshasa.) (Travel is slow here.) We had no internet or telephone in Kinshasa, so we got way behind on our work.
We invited Princess Stephanie over for a visit. She was thrilled. She looked at all of the photos we took of our time together. Sister Coleman gave her a piano book because she begged, very sweetly, for it.
We dropped in for a few minutes during Jean Marie Su’s lesson (a guy I met in the airport.) I was hoping to meet his family but he said they are in France for a month. He showed us the book he bought 9 years ago that got him interested in the Church. It is a 1989 Priesthood manual. He has decided to be baptized August 2nd.
Elder Okon got sick again. He wasn’t taking his Doxy so we gave him malaria meds. Then he started coughing up blood so we took him to the clinic. Since it was near midnight there were only about 3 patients and by the time we left he was the only one. Medical staff was sitting around watching TV. I guess if you get sick at night you are supposed to wait until morning. We debated whether we could leave town while he was ill, but finally gave him a detailed regimen of antibiotics and left for the Couples Conference. He got well.
|Some of the Couples at the Fireside|
On Sunday we went to church. I had forgotten how large and nice the chapel is! The meetings were well organized and directed. I wish so much that we had a stake in Douala. Afterwards the couples got better acquainted at a fireside in our apartment.
|Future Temple Site in Kinshasa|
At the start of the conference most of the couples gave presentations on various topics. I ditched my assigned topic and just told stories of some of the miracles we've experienced in the previous 2 weeks. I talked as fast as I could and condensed everything but only had 1/2 hour so I had to leave some out. I also told the group that to really teach the whole city we needed 60 missionaries in Douala. The president said that he would increase our zone to 10.
On Monday afternoon we made girl maturation kits (reuseable sanitary napkin supplies) as a humanitarian project under the direction of 2 ward members. Too many girls drop out of school when they start menstruating, so these kits are designed to help them stay in school. I used a sewing machine for the first time in my life.
|Elder Coleman Sewing on the Hand-Cranked Machine|
On Monday evening Brother Da Tarr told of his life. He was miraculously protected by the Lord during the war in Liberia and escaped with his family. Then he was hired by the Church and has fought constant persecution ever since. Every year people try to get him to "cooperate" and misuse Church resources, then slander him when he refuses. But he holds fast to his principles and trusts in the Lord. Did Jesus cooperate with Satan? Did Daniel cooperate with Nebuchadnezzar?
On Tuesday we met staff members who talked about ordering supplies, meeting houses, records, finances, transfers, cars, and health care. Then four of the men went golfing while the rest of the group went shopping for fabric and souvenirs. Then we watched a movie about Beatrix Potter.
The golf course was nice but seemed to have too many water hazards. The water is always murky, so when the ball goes in, it's gone. We lost a lot of balls and had to buy more from the ball guy that followed us around and waded through the water hunting. We each had a caddy. As we were leaving due to darkness after 12 holes, I noticed the caddies all talking about something in the trees so I inquired about it. "Une bête sauvage" (a savage beast) I was told. A lion? No, a fox coming to hunt ducks.
|There is a Golf Course in Kinshasa!|
|Ducks Came Walking Across the Green|
On Wednesday we went to the Bonobo park, where they keep rescued bonobos. Bonobos are the most humanlike of the great apes and are only found in one area of the DR Congo. We walked about 2 km through the jungle and saw lots of bonobos. Then we went back to the mission home for more talks and had dinner in a restaurant owned by Da Tarr. We went to see the Kinshasa Orchestra but it was cancelled because they were at the British Embassy. Seems like they would have told their patrons.
|They Call this one Arnold Schwarzenegger|
|Bonobo Orphan Babies need lots of Affection|
On Thursday we headed home. We had to spend the night in Brazzaville so President Cook, Elder Gates, and I went teaching with the Brazzaville missionaries. As we drove around, the driver pointed out several Church meetinghouses. Missionary work is booming there and they are about to split the stake.
On Friday we arrived home and joined the throng at Alvine & Dadi’s wedding. We sang in the choir and the branch president held a complete wedding ceremony, even though they had gotten legally married at the town hall in the morning.
|Dadi & Alvine ready to make Vows|
|The Wedding Reception|
On Saturday we had another baptism of just one woman, Ernestine. As we were driving away we were slightly involved in a traffic accident. A motorcycle tried to pass us on a crowded lane but met an oncoming speeding car, which then hit two pedestrians. The driver said he would take the pedestrians to the hospital and take responsibility so we were free to go. Injuries were minor but a big crowd was gathering. We had the branch president with us, otherwise I wouldn’t have known what people were saying. I was afraid that at some point someone would point the finger of blame at the white guy, so I was anxious to leave. But there wasn’t any problem with that, as there were plenty of witnesses.
On Sunday our convert, Noah, gave a talk, was ordained a priest, and was set apart as a branch missionary. Jean Marie Su came to church and said that he wants a D&C and the Joseph Smith priesthood manual. He is very excited about the gospel.
Among other adventures: We had a nice dinner at a member's restaurant (Frere Totto) and were surprised when the bill came to $2.90. It was $1 each for food and $0.90 for the bottle of water. It is true that you can eat cheap here, unless you want American food.
The Elders in Douala get together every 2 weeks for a soccer game. Branch members join in.
|Frère Totto's Restaurant|
|Elders Playing Soccer|
|Grace & Ivye carrying pianos|
|I finally got a good shot of this guy!|
|Hut in the Bonobo Park|
|Would you buy medicine at this pharmacy (the shack in the middle)?|
|"Plate of Raw Veggies" translated funny on the menu|
|Somehow steamed bananas translated as "Hammer vapor"|