The past week has been another series of adventures.
Baptisms by Skype: There were three more baptisms in Bonaberi. Baptized were three children living with their mother here while their father works in Texas. The father joined the church in America and referred his wife and kids. Some sister missionaries in Utah started teaching his wife over the internet/telephone before she made contact with our Elders, so those sisters wanted to be here for the baptism. I contacted them via Skype and turned my laptop so they could watch the baptisms. The sad thing is that the wife can’t be baptized because her marriage is tribal, not legal. The missionaries living in America didn’t know the difference and baptized her husband, but until they get together and make their marriage legal his wife can’t be baptized. We don’t know when that will be since the husband has been away for 6 years so far.
|Elder Muamba, Leonel, Awatcha, Michelle, Stephan, Gregoire, mom, Elder VanAusdal|
We went to Marché Centrale where Sister Coleman got her nails done at Marianne’s boutique while I walked around talking to people. The most interesting was a long chat with an open-minded Jehovah’s Witness. If everyone who promised to come to church actually came, there would be a big spike in attendance. But I planted a lot of seeds.
|Big traffic jam in Marché Congo street|
I got my first traffic ticket (convocation)! It was for running a red light. I was totally innocent but the policewoman wouldn’t give us a break and confiscated my international driving permit as collateral. We needed a miracle and the Lord came through. Waiting for us at our apartment was Princess Stephanie and her sister. They came with us to the police station where Stephanie greeted the man in charge, Roger, like an old friend. She explained all of the good things we have done here and he told us what a good Christian he is. The next morning he sent his colleague with us and we drove out to the policewoman’s corner to get my document. Except she wasn’t there and she hadn’t left it with her supervisor. We waited a while but finally gave up and returned to the police station the next day to get it. Officer Roger said that they had to fight for it because the corner cop really wanted a bribe, and he recommended that the next time we just pay it.
|Traffic ticket with explanation on back|
A funny thing happened on our way across town with the plainclothes cop in our back seat. We got stopped by police for no reason. Our cop just told the other cop that he is a cop and the cop let us go.
We had to live about 28 hours without electricity due to some crazy coincidences, during which we discovered that in the overcast, rainy season the light from our windows is inadequate. First, there was a power outage in the morning. I asked around and saw that our neighbors had no power either so we just waited. While it was out, the power company came to disconnect our neighbors for non-payment, but they disconnected us by mistake. Later, power came on for everyone else but we didn’t know it. The next morning I probed around outside and found that our power was cut. We drove to the power company. They refused to believe it until I went home and took photos to show them. Then they made us wait a while before reluctantly agreeing to send someone to fix it. They seem to hate customers.
We agreed to hire 5 more young people who want to earn money for their missions, 4 men & 1 woman. But only 1 has actually started work. And $4/day is pretty good pay for around here.
|Prospective missionaries filling out forms at our table|
We went to a “Levée de Corps” for a branch member’s mother. It was an open casket and she looked so natural. That is the first of 5 funeral/burial ceremonies planned for her, not counting the 3 weeks of visiting that just ended or the ceremonies in future years. When someone old dies here their body gets treated like royalty, in the hopes that the spirit will come back and help the living, instead of coming back and creating mischief. We don’t plan to attend the rest of the ceremonies since most are in the distant village.
|Open casket ceremony|
|A Very Nice Hearse|
|A Budget Hearse (Taxis will carry anything.)|
We visited 2 more architects, one of whom is an 80-year-old prince, brother to the royal head of the city. He seems like an accomplished architect, but not a fan of computers. He prefers a pencil. The other architect uses AutoCad.
The Relief Society had an activity to visit a sister, Ouanko Sorele, who recently gave birth. Her son is named Lehi. Now we have Lehi, Nephi, Alma, & Moroni in that branch.
|Mother Sorele & 3-week old baby Lehi|
|Sister Coleman and Lehi|
|Handcarts (pouspous) are everywhere, carrying anything|
|Trike & moto on the left side heading toward oncoming traffic|