Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Birthday

I took this picture at about 8:30 on the night of my birthday.  These 4 elders jumped out of the back of the truck in the pouring rain and sang Happy Birthday to me on our way to their apartments,  It was quite a day.  We had 3 missionaries transferring here from Cameroon.  Their plane was delayed, so Elder Wheatley came home from the airport alone the first time.  The 2nd time, the plane was still late arriving and then one of the elders couldn't get through customs until he provided a bribe, because they said his yellow card (immunizations) stamp did not have an expiration date.  So, when they finally got through customs and got their luggage, it was getting late.  We had invited all the missionaries over for dinner to celebrate the new arrivals and my birthday, so when we connected with the rest of the missionaries and everyone got into the truck, there were 4 in the backseat and 4 more in the back with all the luggage.  Then we hit the worst traffic jam we have yet experienced in Pointe Noire, and we were going nowhere..........after about an hour, we all decided it would be best to retreat and take the elders to their apartments.  They had a few snacks with them, and Elder Lamb had made birthday cake (wonderful banana cake) which he generously shared with all of us, and some of them jumped out of the truck and went into a store as we sat stuck in traffic.  Of course, that is when it started to move again as we headed in the direction of their apartments and so we had to start shouting at them to get back in the truck!  In the meantime, it started to rain, then it started to pour, and we handed them out two umbrellas and they played a game in the rain all the way to the first apartment, where they said they would make hot chocolate to warm up.  We finally got home about 10:30 at night and now we are still eating the loaves of french bread we had for the elders and their spaghetti dinner that didn't happen.  They were all so good about the experience and what a welcome to Pointe Noire for the transferring elders!

I tried to get a picture of the rain, but this doesn't tell the whole story very well.  It really is an experience for us to remember.
Moving day!  All 8 of the elders helped, but my camera battery died and so I didn't get more pictures.  They are such a blessing to us - every day we thank Heavenly Father for them.  They work so hard doing their missionary work - in the heat, the torrential rain, the humidity and the long walks.  We were blessed that the day we moved it didn't rain.  Since then, it has poured several times and it is unbelievable how much water can come down in just a short time! 

This man is right outside our home.  The power went out one afternoon (it goes out almost every day) and here he came, climbing poles as he came down the little road we live on, saying the power would be back on in about 10 minutes.  If you look closely at his feet, you can see the metal 'claws' he has on them, that enable him to climb the poles.

Here he is at the top.

And here he is, with his tools, cutting wires and working with them with his bare hands and scaring me to death - I wonder how he keeps from getting electrocuted!  The power did come back on in just a few minutes......I wish he would come down our lane every day when the power goes off!  This is the only time we have ever seen anyone working on one of the power lines close to where we have lived.
Women taking their food to sell in their booths along the steet.

There are tons of these kinds of trucks carrying cement all around the city - every building appears to be made of cement and cement bricks.  The men who work in the cement usually wear covering over their faces to protect themselves from inhaling all the cement dust.  They are usually covered in the dust from head to toe and are white like ghosts.

There are as many men as women who carry their work on their heads.  This man has eggs and often they are hard boiled and there is a knife on top so he can cut them open for the people who buy them.  He walked behind a pole just as I took the picture.

Sometimes they are just plain eggs and that is scarey - but we have never seen anyone lose a load!  No one refrigerates their eggs here, except me!
The longer we are here, the more gardens we get to see.  This one is out of town a few miles.  Usually there are tomatoes, onions, peppers, potatoes, peanuts, and I am not sure what else.  Yesterday we met a man and his wife when we were out for a walk, who have a farm.  As we walked by his home, the man was outside his wall, and when we greeted each other, he asked if we were Americans.  He looks like he is about our age, and he said during the war in Republic of Congo in 1997, he took his family to America, to Lincoln, Nebraska, where they lived for 10 years.  He and his wife have now moved back here and have a very lovely, large walled parcel with several buildings, some of which are still just bricks, like the one in the background here.  He introduced us to his wife and 2 nephews.  He appears to be financially well established because there was also a nice SUV outside his gate.  He and his wife are going to Lincoln in May to the marriage of one of their 7 children, all of whom live in Nebraska.  He said he is an American citizen now, so maybe we has dual citizenship.  They had a lot of papaya trees in their yard and they gave us two.  We haven't ever eaten one.  They told us how to eat them and when they ripen in another day or so, we will try them.  They are sold at almost every booth along the streets and seem to be one of the staples of diet here.  They asked us to stop and visit them again and we told them we would like to do that, and that after we are settled into our new place, we would like them to come and visit us, also.  It was really wonderful to meet them and we hope we can become friends.

Elder Wheatley is in the well reservoir again!  When the electricity doesn't work or the pump is broken, there is no water for the baptismal font.  So after hauling water in garbage cans and 'beetles' the first time, an elder showed us the well reservoir in the corner of the church yard.  The more water taken from the reservoir, the further down into it he least he gets nice and wet and cooled off!

A quick 'help' call to the missionaries brings them to the rescue, and in this picture, a branche member is also helping.  In fact, although I didn't get a good picture of it, we have had a whole line of people from the well to the church, including young children who all want to help.  It takes a lot of buckets of water to fill the font......especially for tall people!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Primary Nursery - singing and doing actions

Primary Nursery - these toys are a big hit, and so are the bread and drinks.  One child said what he likes most about Primary is the food!

This is an elementary school just up the road from our home.  The children we see when we walk to the ocean mostly go to this school.  They walk most or all of the way, so it must be about 3 miles for some of them, and even the young children walk, some by themselves.  People seem to be very protective of the children and will stop traffic to help them cross the street.

While President and Sister Jameson were visiting and Sister Jameson and I were preparing dinner for them and the Elders, a hot water hose exploded and steaming hot water started pouring out under the sink.  Luckily Sister Jameson, who was standing at the sink, did not get burned.  Elder Wheatley and Elder McGrath are working here at trying to fix it.  It took a couple of days, a new hose and finally a plumber to find and fix a second leak, to get it all fixed.  And as soon as that one was fixed the one in our bathroom exploded again........ :) 

Our wonderful Mission President and his wife, President and Sister Jameson, and our Elders.  We love them all and are so very grateful for them.  Heavenly Father has blessed us with the best Mission President and wife and the best Elders in all the world!
Today, Elder Wheatley was supposed to take several Elders to get more Visa photos.  The truck wouldn't start, so they hoped in a bus and came over to help jump start it - and they were HUNGRY!  Monday is P Day/shopping day, and they said they had no food in their apartment.  Elder Tshibindi said, as he came in the door, "I need to talk to Sœur Wheatley."  I wondered why - it was to tell me how hungry he was.  I had little food because I need to shop, too - but there was a loaf of bread in the bread sack, which I know was not there earlier when I tried to find something for our breakfast, peanut butter and jam, a dozen eggs, leftover pasta and baked beans - and homemade frozen yogurt!  What a feast, they said and I believe they all left with full stomachs and there was even some pasta still in the bowl.

This is the Branche President's family, who came for the Open House.  His name is President Sombo, and he is the man with the dark tie, in the middle.  His mother is behind him with the green headdress, and his step-father is to the left in the white shirt.  His wife is to the right in the blue and he has 5 beautiful children scattered in the picture.  His extended family may not all be members, we are not sure, but his mother is and his step-father will be baptized by him soon.

President Sombo is a wonderful, delightful man.  He wanted a picture with us, so as Liz requested, here is another photo of Elder and Sœur Wheatley.  He is very enthusiastic about the church - I think he told us he has been a member for 6 years.  He studies the church Branche President instruction manual and asks for help because he wants to do everything correctly.  We love him and his family!

The following pictures were taken at the Pointe Noire Branche Open House on Saturday, March 10th.  There was a large crowd which included members, investigators and dignitaries.

Friday, March 9, 2012

 This is the newly rented and remodeled Pointe Noire Branche building.  It is in a quartier in a part of the city that is much closer to many branche members, so they are now more able to get transport or walk to church.  There are also many investigators who come each week.  The branche is so big, it fills the building and the Primary has to do some of their activities outside in the fenced yard area on the other side of the building.

This is the chapel.  The wood stand in the front was just finished.  It looks very nice.  The Relief Society also meets in this room for now, because it is next to the Primary rooms, which are already too small for the number of children coming.  There are 3 floors to the building, and you have to go outside to the area where the stairs are. Sometimes there is no water, and that is a challenge for both church buildings - pumps that don't work, electricity not working, or no water available.

Elder Nash and Elder Hoiland helping me figure out how to make an Open House invitation to the newly rented and refurbished building for the Pointe Noire Branche.  I have permission for them to help me when I get really stuck - and that is  such a blessing.  We have reports in Excel, requests for things like an invitation for the Open House or a picture handout for Relief Society, and I do all of the distribution ordering of supplies for the 3 branches - all in French, of course.