Thursday, April 19, 2012

I think the Elders told us this is a Baobab tree.  I took this picture on our way to an investigator's home to help the Elders give a lesson.  I looked it up on-line and found the following information at

Common Name: Baobab
Genus: Adansonia
Species: digitata
Parts Used: all parts of the tree are used

The baobab is found in the savannas of African and India, mostly around the equator. It can grow up to 25 meters tall and can live for several thousand years. The baobab is leafless for nine months of the year. If I were to describe the baobab, I would say that it looks like it has been picked out of the ground and stuffed back in upside-down. The trunk would be the tap-root, and the branches the finer capillary roots.
The Arabian legend of the baobab is that "the devil plucked up the baobab, thrust its branches into the earth and left its roots in the air". Another legend describes what happens if you are never satified with what you already have;
"The baobab was among the first trees to appear on the land. Next came the slender, graceful palm tree. When the baobab saw the palm tree, it cried out that it wanted to be taller. Then the beautiful flame tree appeared with its red flower and the baobab was envious for flower blossoms. When the baobab saw the magnificent fig tree, it prayed for fruit as well. The gods became angry with the tree and pulled it up by its roots, then replanted it upside down to keep it quiet." The baobab looks like this for a reason. In the wet months water is stored in its thick, corky, fire-resistant trunk for the nine dry months ahead.
The baobab's bark, leaves, fruit, and trunk are all used. The bark of the baobab is used for cloth and rope, the leaves for condiments and medicines, while the fruit, called "monkey bread", is eaten. Sometimes people live inside of the huge trunks, and bush-babies live in the crown.
Nirvana H. 2000

One day Elder Wheatley told me to get my camera and come outside because there was a man up in a tree.  Some men working on a house next door told us the man was cutting palm branches off so he could collect palm oil - which is used to make an alcoholic drink.  The tree is just down the lane from us and you can see that I took the picture from my yard, through the barbed wire on our wall.

 Elders showing off their African haircuts - you can tell the elder on the right, Elder Prince, quickly said, "no, not that short!"
Every time Elder Wheatley said with his thumb up, this is good, the barber thought he meant do it shorter.  Elder Hoiland (on the left) wasn't quick enough to say 'not that short' - as he was saying it, the barber already had started and it was too late!  Well, no more haircuts needed for a while!

Just in time for  Easter, one of the hens across our dirt road had her little chicks.

The Elders working on an activity during Zone Conference.  President and Sister Jameson always have so many great ways to encourage and uplift us.  We all look forward to their visits.

Our Mission President, President Jameson and Sister Jameson and our wonderful Pointe Noire missionaries at the end of our Zone Conference on April 12, 2012.  The image is a little fuzzy - it was just getting dark.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Lunch at the beach - I couldn't believe how happy they were to have peanut butter and jam sandwiches!  One elder said he hadn't had one since he left home.  I made cookies and brownies, we had apples and pears, and lots of cold water!
If you look closely you may be able to see HeMan...

Our elders - some of us got our feet wet, but that is all.  We took lots of sand home, though! The Atlantic Ocean is very warm here.
Left to Right:  Elders Rokotoarisoa, Andriamamonjy, Prince, Waite, Hoiland, Graham, Garner and Lamb.

They were  VERY careful to not kick the ball into the water because they knew they couldn't go in after it!
G.I. Joe appeared in the sand, so now HeMan has a companion!!!
 This is where the river meets the ocean.  In the upper right of the picture, there is what appears to be a man-made dike, then in the picture below, you can see to the right of the dike, where the ocean is.  We were told we could not take pictures of the bridge, because of security.  We had been told it was a suspension bridge, but it looked like a cement bridge, about 1/4 of a mile long, across this area.  This picture is so real because it shows the wooden canoes that we saw two men standing in and pushing with a long wooden paddle (my pictures of them didn't turn out), then there is a modern boat in the background and a bright pink plastic bucket and plate on a table to the left.  Just above the water level, there were vendors selling fish and vegetables and drinks.  Then, under the bridge there was lots of people with their 'beetles' (yellow plastic containers that they haul water and fuel in), loading them and lots of other things into the little Toyota taxis.  There were several other barge type boats, one with  large tree trunks and another that looked like it carried passengers. 
While we were at the bridge, we noticed a European looking man in an area next to the bridge, who appeared to be the foreman of some type of project.  We waved at him and he came over to talk to us.  He is Italian and he has lived and worked for a construction company all over Africa and the middle east.  He said they were building a base for the project of re-doing the cables inside the bridge, some of which have broken.  The bridge was build in 1985.  He said he speaks 8 languages.  He spoke English very well.  He said he was born in Kenya and his first language was Swahili because his nanny was Swahili.  We didn't think of taking his picture - we try to be very careful to only take pictures of people if we ask them first, out of respect for them.  The elders asked him if they could give him some church literature and he accepted some and then he gave us his business card.  It was really fun to meet him.  We also talked to some of the local people about their fish and why we were there. 
 Our trip out to the bridge was another adventure!  I hoped this picture would show how bad the road got, but it really doesn't!  We stopped here because it appeared impassable.  But, the elders walked ahead and told us they thought we could make it - we were almost to the summit of the hill and almost to where they thought the bridge would be.  We stopped several times on the way to ask people who were walking along the road if we were on the right road to the bridge.  They all said yes, but they also said we should have taken the other road, which is paved all the way and is the one we thought we were taking when we made the turn to enter this road.  It was a good road for a little while, then it got progressively less drivable.  However, we would not have experienced all the fun and excitement of this road and the beautiful panoramic view of the valley if we had been on the other road.  We DID take the good road back!

Along the way we saw several small villages and this village that was much larger, but further off the road.  They are small wooden houses and buildings and some have thatched roofs.  The villages and homes closer to the road were of the same construction and appeared to not have any water or electricity, as most villages.  This village is not far from the ocean, though - it is less than a mile to the left of the road.
 This is taken from the road we traveled on P day today with the elders to see a large river which empties into the ocean and a bridge over the river.  You could see for many miles into the distance.  On the hill on the right you can see some buildings, but there was no other evidence of people, except a foot trail that went down into the valley.  It was very beautiful.  We hoped to see some gazelles but saw no animal life at all.

Here are the elders - they really enjoy getting away from the city and we all had a great time.

This is a very small termite hill.  It is about a foot high and a foot wide - I didn't get up close enough to see if there were any termites in it.  The elders say that most termite hills are much bigger than this.