Sunday, August 26, 2012

Wood Carvings

We went to a 'craft mall' and we found a zebra and a giraffe and these are the vendors - we don't think they are who carved them.

Our Mission President and  his wife, Sister Jameson, went shopping with us.  Here is the vendor and Sister Jameson with the Okapi figure she bartered for a good price for me to buy.  The Okapi lives in the wild only in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo).  Its' head and neck look like a giraffe and its' body is plain, with stripes on its' legs.  There are some good videos of Okapi in zoos on Youtube.

This is an elephant carving in front of a hotel along the beach.  It is about 3 feet high.  There are a lot of large carvings for sale from vendors along the roads - but they would cost a fortune to  ship home!
Here is a man doing an elephant carving.  They bring their pieces of wood to this area and carve, then sell them here.  There are some beautiful pieces, like giraffes and other animals.

August 26, 2012

Dear family,
I thought I would write a few lines tonight.  President and Sister Jameson were in town for a visit during the week.  They arrived Monday evening and left Thursday morning.  We always get stressed over their visits, Elder Wheatley has no reason to get stressed, Sister Wheatley worries about meals, worries about whether Elder Wheatley will get the house cleaned and the sheets washed.  When they come we give up our bedroom and Sister Wheatley gives up her
bathroom.  I always shower and take care of other things in the outhouse.  Sister Wheatley moves to what she calls the pretend bathroom – a shower and a pretend toilet, no sink.  Somehow she manages.  She always comes up with different foods and the Jamesons leave amazed at her creations.
This time when she fed all 12 of us it was Hawaiian Haystacks.  One of the Elders from Madagascar made a coconut syrup to go over ice cream for dessert.
The President and his wife always pump us up and leave us re-committed to the work.  We always hate to see them leave.  On this visit Sister Wheatley helped Sister Jameson with some training sessions for the Relief Society, Primary and Young Women.  I sat through a Priesthood Leadership Meeting with President Jameson and understood a few things.  During the visit he approved twelve males to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.   It is my responsibility to see that the ordinations are done correctly.  These people take those things very seriously and they don't hesitate to let it be known if something isn't being done right.  We took care of nine of the ordinations today.  Two of the branches meet at the same time so we will take care of the ordinations in the other branches next week.  I was pleased that only two of the individuals asked one of our missionaries to perform the ordination.  And only a couple requested members of the branch presidency.  I always pray that these people will have opportunities to exercise their Priesthood. After each one was ordained I had them stand in the circle while the next person was ordained. 
We sometimes think the work on this continent is moving forward at a fast pace, but there are still countries where we do not have missionaries and the Church is not established or recognized.  Since their last visit, President and Sister Jameson have visited two of those countries.  Maybe you can get out a map and see where these countries are.  The Central African Republic is just above where we are.  In this country the Church is recognized and we have a small branch of the Church.  The country has not been dedicated for the preaching of the gospel and we have no full time missionaries.  During their visit they met with the President of the nation.  This visit was arranged by the branch president, who is a member of the president’s cabinent  and the Jamesons had to receive permission from the First Presidency to make such a visit.  You will probably notice that only members of the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve entertain heads of states.  The visit went well and a request has been made to send missionaries there.  The next country they visited was Gabon.  It also borders the Congo.  The Jamesons were accompanied by some lawyers from the Church.  Our Church is not recognized in this country and they are trying to find out how we can get recognition.  While there, they met with some members and held a Sacrament Meeting.  If I understood right, the Mission President authorized them to administer the Sacrament on a weekly basis, which is a great  blessing for them.  It is  hard to understand but the laws of that land currently prohibit Churchs whose leadership resides in another country from being established there.  Our lawyers are trying to get a better interpretation of the law in an attempt to move forward.  It could be some time before we will have established units in that country. 
While we pray that missionaries will be permitted to go into the Central African Republic, we can rest assured that our leaders will move forward with caution.  The Church is run by revelation and our Father-in-Heaven has his timetable.  Elder Renlund, the Area President, said something like this: "We don't want to plant a field a mile wide and an inch deep." "Let's plant it a quarter mile wide and six inches deep."  In other words, grow the Church where it is now established.  The nice thing about the atonement is that all things will be made equal.  God knows the hearts of those that desire blessings of the Church but cannot yet receive them.
When Elder and Sister Renlund come they stay in a hotel and not at our humble place.  We only get to have them for dinner and a meeting with the Elders and drive them where they need to go.  It had never occurred to me the great sacrifice some of these leaders make.  Elder Renlund
is a  heart specialist, one of the most respected in the world, Sister Renlund was the head of one of the largest law firms in Salt Lake City.  You can only imagine the life style they njoyed.  They now live in a two bedroom apartment in Johannesburg, South Africa.  A lot of the time
they are living out of a suitcase.  I think they are entitled to stay at a nice hotel.  We have general authorities throughout the world that sacrifice more than we can imagine.  The sacrifice of a senior couple that leaves their home for a couple of years is nothing compared to theirs.
 We hope you are all well at home.  We know some of you face great challenges.  We pray that you will have the extra strength you need.  We share our testimony that we are children of a loving Heavenly Father who knows us each individually.  I'm sure he sheds tears when he watches us deal with some of life's conflicts and wishes he could step in and answer every prayer as we desire, but his plan would come to naught if he did.  When we are discouraged, Section 121 of the D&C always puts life back in perspective. 
 Thanks for your support, we feel of your faith and prayers on our behalf.
 Elder Wheatley

Trees in Congo

Here is a baobab tree that has leaves.

And here is one that doesn't!

These are both along a road out of town.
 This is a grove of banana trees, in the yard of a little wooden home along the road.

This is an orange tree - but the oranges are not sweet like we think of oranges.  One day I bought some because the woman selling them told me they were very delicious and sweet and we couldn't eat them - they tasted like lemons.  The people here love them, and they are sold everywhere.  Many times the vendors will peel them with a knife so they are easier to eat.  They stack them in piles of at least 3 or four and that is how you usually buy them.

Another interesting tree with 'things' hanging in it - not sure if they are nests or what......

More Trees in Congo

Here are some palm trees blowing in the wind early one morning as we walked along the street by the ocean in town.  It is a wonderful place to walk, with clean, ocean air and a paved street and lots of people walking to work in the hotels and homes along the way.

These are some bushes/trees that grow everywhere there is swamp.  They kind of take over.  This is by a river that you can see in the bottom left of the picture.

This is from the same viewpoint, showing more of the river and the bank going down to the river.  There are banana trees on the left, and the hill is terraced with peanuts, peppers, beesap bushes, and manioc trees.  Can you see the tiny plants just coming up in even rows near the bottom-we think those are peanuts.  If you look closely you can see some people in the far right corner, there to wash their dishes.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

This is a papaya tree.  People in Congo eat a lot of papaya and it is a very healthy fruit.  

This tree is down the main road from where we live.  We aren't sure, but have been told that these are bird nests, which makes sense because there are lots of birds in the tree.  I need to do some research to find out more about the type of birds.....

The morning sun peeking through some palm trees.

More Pictures of Life in Congo

It is winter in Congo - sometimes we don't even have to use the air conditioner.  Most mornings many people have winter coats and many wear knit hats, sweaters, layers of clothing.  It has probably been in the 80s (maybe cooler) and it still gets kind of hot during the day.  There is a mist sometimes in the morning, along the ocean, and sometimes a little shows up on our truck.

EVERYTHING here is made of cement blocks, and this is how it is done.  You get a pile of sand and a pile of rocks and a pile of cement and then men mix it up in the dirt and make the bricks in these 'forms' and dump them out to dry.  Then they are stacked until they are used - it may be days, weeks, months or years before they are used.

I asked this man if  I could take his picture - he worked here, across the dirt road from our house for several days making bricks.  I think he thought it was funny that I would want a picture of that!

Until a person can afford a brick house, they live in wooden houses.  These are out of town, up the hill from a river.

These children are carrying dishes that need washed, down to the river.  It is quite a steep hill as they get closer to the water.  A man by the river yelled at them to be careful and not fall in the river because it was flowing pretty quickly.

Missionary Haircut!

Missionaries give each other great haircuts!  The elder giving the haircut also cut his own!