Sunday, August 17, 2014

8/17 - Couples Conference, Baptism, Audits

We got hit by a taxi.  We were stuck in traffic and suddenly we felt a hard impact from behind.  A driver pulled up alongside us and pointed to the car behind.  In my rearview mirror I saw a taxi.  Then traffic started to move so I just drove away pretending not to notice while two guys got out of the taxi to assess the damage to their Corolla.  Our truck has a heavy-duty pipe bumper, so I figured that we were probably not damaged.  And I know that they had a much greater chance of getting money out of a white guy than I would have of getting them to pay for damages, so I didn’t want to risk a confrontation.  White people are always assumed to be rich.  Later I found a lot of yellow taxi paint on our black bumper but no other damage.

This week was mostly spent in the Congo at a couples conference.  The eight senior couples flew to Brazzaville for meetings with the mission president.  Even though we come from different backgrounds we all feel like family and have a great time together.  We toured the new mission offices and home and one possible home for the future office couple.  We received instruction on mental health by Elder & Sister van Gass, who came from South Africa for the event.  Most importantly we were able to get answers to some of our pressing questions and have long discussions of issues with our president.
The Dimonds, Moodys, van Gass's, us, Mongas, & Baileys
Looking over the Congo River.  Notice the boys fishing.
A Brazzaville Restaurant for Lunch

President Monga’s family has sacrificed a lot to serve this mission.  He had just bought a farm, so he left his farm, home, and cars, not knowing what state they would be in upon his return.  They are living in a very nice mission home but their four children cannot go outside of their guarded, walled yard to make friends for fear that the police will catch them without passports and deport them.  (Brazzaville has been notorious for that lately.)  And of course, you can’t let kids carry their passports around.  Maybe when school starts it will be better.

But we really need the Mongas.  They have a lot of insight and understanding of the problems in Africa that Americans will never have.  Where the American leaders often say, "Things are different in Africa," President Monga will say, "That should not be different."  He knows which things are vital to African culture and which things can be changed to conform to a higher standard.  Even though he has only been here a month he has really made a difference.
Elder & Sister van Gass

Blaise, The Inter-Regional Auditor

Santie & Gaetan, The Mission Staff

We had one baptism in Bonaberi.  A young man named Jean Baptist.
President Ngueti & Jean Baptist

We started the branch financial audits and found that there are some problems.  Just imagine what it is like to keep records in a society where everything is done with cash and most purchases don’t give receipts.  Then put a lot of unemployed and poor people in charge of making purchases.  Everyone seems to be trying to do right but the new clerk and inexperienced branch president have their hands full.  We’re going to be doing more training.
Go or Stop?  When the light is green AND red you are truly free.

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