Elders listening to Sœur Jameson tell about Elder Holland's visit to Kinshasa, and going to Central African Republic with him to dedicate that country for teaching the gospel. Our resident Okapi is standing guard.
Two elders helping Elder Wheatley negotiate for a piece of rope to keep in the truck. It took a long time..... The man selling it had to measure it by estimate and then the negotiations began.
We celebrated Thanksgiving on Sunday, the 25th - the elders didn't want to miss another day of their work in the same week President and Sœur Jameson came. I forgot to take a picture during the meal - we had two roasted chickens(no turkey available), jello, rolls, mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh pineapple, green beans, and pumpkin and banana cream pie. This is after dinner, when they ALL wanted a nap! Notice the big toe peeking out?
Letter to Family
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Today we met with President and Sister Jameson and the Elders. They had been to the two cities in Cameroon and were going home after staying with us for one night and meeting with the Elders for President Jameson to do one-on-one interviews with the Elders and for he and Sister Jameson to tell us about the visit of Elder Holland of the 12 Apostles for a conference in Kinshasa and also to go to the Central African Republic to dedicate that country for preaching of the Gospel.
All the branche Presidents and District/Stake Leaders were invited (the Church paid for the ones from ouside Kinshasa to travel there) and all the missionaries from Brazzaville and Kinshasa were invited to attend. However, they couldn’t afford to bring any of the missionaries (senior and young) from Pointe Noire or Cameroon to attend, so we have waited patiently to hear about it. There was also a write up in the Church News and Sister Jameson wrote about it on their blog. The visitors/General Authorites, were Elder Holland (Sister Holland was unable to come), Elder and Sister Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder and Sister Renlund of the Seventy, who are over the Africa Southeast Mission Area, Elder Soirez, who is one of Elder Renlund’s counselors. President Jameson said there was also the man over all of Temporal Affairs in Africa and 2 security people who travel with Elder Holland.
We thought they were coming to dedicate the land for the Kinshasa Temple, but President Jameson said they came to do a yearly review. The Church isn’t ready to dedicate the place for the Temple yet, he said. The people who attended the difference conference and training sessions were amazed that so many General Authorities would come at once to visit them in this part of Africa. Elder Holland took the time in at least 2 sessions (with the missionaries and with the branche and Stake leaders) to shake hands with every single one of them. He also attended the first graduation of a new program to show men how to ‘plumb, level and straight’ construction projects and talked at it and then had each graduate stand with him and get a picture. This program is designed to help not only them, but in his talk, Elder Holland said it would help their children and future generations, to raise out of poverty. The church has brought in a program manager who has many years of experience in teaching in this field, and a teacher from France to do the teaching. The hope is that with this kind of quality training and certification from LDS Business College, an American college, companies will hire the men to work for them and they will do such quality work that the companies will want to keep them and hire more graduates, etc.
While President Jameson interviewed the elders, Sister Jameson began telling us about what it was like to be so closely associated with General Authorities. She and President went to CAR with Elder Holland and Elder and Sister Clayton to dedicate the land. They hired a small plane to take them there and stayed one night and while they were there, they had a wonderful experience attending the dedication, then they met with the members of the church there (one small branche) and then with local dignitaries, to promote PR, and then came back. It was a 4 hour flight over the Congo River because the plane was so small, and in a big plane it would have taken less than an hour. You can’t fly into that country on a big plane unless you stay at least 4 days. For the dedication, Sister Jameson said they used several cars to drive up on a hill behind the hotel they stayed at. The hotel was very fancy and was built by Mohamar Gadafy, the Dictator of Libya, for a summer home, before he was killed in a revolution recently. They think some of his wives may have lived there for awhile. From the hilltop you could see the Bangui River, which the town is named after. Banqui is the capitol. The Jamesons had visited there not too long ago and with permission from the First Presidency, had arranged, through a member of the President’s Cabinet, who is a member of the Church, to meet with the President and do PR for the Church and tell him about the Church and what we teach and why we want to come into their country – and read the Article of Faith about supporting your government. They said they were asked by Elder Holland to join in a circle for the Dedicatory Prayer. The actual prayer is an ordinance of the Church, according to Elder Holland. The Jamesons were also present when the country of Burundi was dedicated and they opened it with 8 hand-picked Elders and lived there until they were called to be the Mission Presidents of this mission.
Sister Jameson said that during the time that they spent with Elder Holland, they found him to be very down to earth. When he was conducting the training sessions with the Missionaries and the Leaders, he walked off the stand and interacted with those attending, which amazed them. Africans are very much into power and authority and he was trying to teach the concept that it is important for Branche Presidents and Bishops to give some of their administrative responsibilities to their counselors and to get out and visit the inactive, the widows, those who are struggling in life. That is a foreign concept to them, because the ‘chief’ is in charge and he is the one who sits in front and tells other people what to do and when and how to do it. In fact, it is very difficult for ‘chiefs’ to be released from their callings, because as the saying goes, ‘once a chief, always a chief.’ President Jameson has made it a practice to always release his Assistants to the President and Zone Leaders, before they finish their missions, so they can experience getting released and how it is not a bad thing. It has been quite a learning curve for the African Elders. There is one place in Africa, I can’t remember where, that the real chief was converted to the gospel and he brought his tribe with him. A nice chapel was built there and the church was flourishing. Then after several years, when it was time to get a new Bishop, when the presiding authority went to release him, he responded that he was not being released because he was the chief. He was told that is not how things in the Church work, and he left the Church and took his congregation with him, because no one dares to not follow their chief. It appears to be much less like that here, in the city, but it is also true that the current Branch President was told by the previous one that, ‘once a Branche President, always a B.P.”…. and he would speak as long as he cared to during a meeting, when it was time to close the meeting. That wasn’t too long ago, but it was before we came. Sister Jameson said that as they flew to CAR, Elder Holland sat in the front of the plane and no one sat by him, by design. She said that he was very quiet and didn’t want anyone to talk to him – he was meditating and preparing for the dedication. Even when they got to the place, he continued to be very quiet and set the atmosphere for the dedication. He said things in the prayer that were very different than when the prayer was said for Burundi. He said that there had been many violations of human rights in that country. He said that the work of the gospel would go forth and that if the government did anything to prevent the work, the Lord would replace them. She said it was very powerful.
(another subject: when the Jamesons attended the Dedication of Burundi, they said that in the prayer, Elder Holland said that there were angels in attendance who had given their lives for the gospel. One of the members, who is now the Branche President, had a son killed during the genocidein Rwanda between the Hutus and Tsutsis. The son was 14 and was attending school one day when the headmaster, who wanted to gain favor with one of the tribes, locked the doors of the school, lit it on fire, and killed over 150 children. At that time, the Church pulled their presence out of Burundi because of the danger. The man felt the Church had abandoned them and he had never been able to forgive and heal from the death of his son. When the Jamesons told him what President Holland had said, he was able to know that it would be OK, that his son was one of those present, and that it was time to heal. )
The Jamesons were able to have Elder Holland into their home for a meal and to go with him and the other authorities to dinner Saturday night, then spend Monday and Tuesday with him going to CAR. Elder Holland asked them to speak at some of the meetings and President Jameson presided at some of them.
Mom and Dad/Elder et Soeur Wheatley