Thursday, May 2, 2013

Children in Pointe Noire

The house whose fence is pieces of cloth, is where a man lives who made a table for us.  This little booth is where the family sells food.  The children are there with their mother and were watching us in our truck.

We didn't get them to smile at us, although we tried.  We are so different looking than they are used to seeing.

I just thought this little man is so cute and so serious, he looks like he is getting ready to tell us something important!
This table is set up across the little dirt road from one of the missionary apartments.  There had been a recent rain, so the street has lots of puddles.  The little girls are selling a manyoke paste/log that is wrapped in leaves and is a staple of Congolese diet. Notice the woman who is trying to pass has a baby on her back.

Weekly Letter:
19 May 2013
Despite a few days of bucket baths, when we discovered a leak in the water line going from the pump to the house, we have had a good week.  A little about the culture:  We arranged for a plumber to come on Saturday to fix the leak.  He said he would come at 9:00 A.M.  He arrived at 11:00 A.M.   We showed him the problem; he indicated he will have to return to his home for tools, even though the problem had been explained to him by our interpreter, so we think he should have known what tools to bring.  Fortunately he didn’t ask us to supply them they don’t have vehicles so if a ladder or something like that is required you improvise.  We offered to take him home, because we have been through this routine before so we know where he lives and it takes less time to just take him so he doesn’t take all day to come back.  We lose an hour, returning at about 12:00 P.M.  It takes only a few minutes to chip away concrete and discern what needs to be done.  We need to go to town for parts.  It is expected that we will buy the parts since they have no cash, if we don’t drive him he might go to the market find out the cost of the parts and return asking for the amount of money he needs so he can return to the market to buy the parts.  We learned the hard way its best to take him to the market.  The traffic was bad and the market crowded.  We find and purchase what we need and return home about 2:30 P.M.   He replaces a piece of hose and a few connections, mixes some cement and covers the hole in the wall back over.   At 3:00 P.M. we have running water again.  We have learned that for any repair job you plan on being home all day, and even into the evening.  Actually, we can’t remember anyone ever coming within 2 hours of when they said they would – and our life here has been full of problems that have needed to be fixed.  Usually it isn’t more than a few days before something else breaks or quits working.  Sometimes the cost seems a little high when compared with what people here live on.  But then you realize that maybe this is only job he has all week.  So much for a lesson on the culture.  We have been so blessed to live in the U.S.!
On Friday one of our Elders completed his mission and we put him on the plane for his long ride home.  A great Elder, he was in the shower when we went to pick him up at 5:30 P.M.  He had been out working all day and wanted to leave feeling clean.  His companion said he worked and acted all day like it was just another day giving no indication that he would be leaving in the evening.   He told us that he is concerned about the future and being able to maintain the standards he has been living for two years.  We have two more Elders leaving in six weeks.  We felt impressed to share with them the story of Lot and his wife from the Old Testament.  It used to be just a story of a lady looking back and turning into a pillar of salt.   It probably goes a lot deeper than that.  It is conceivable that Lot and his wife left Sodom and were gone for some time, but she didn’t have the faith needed to change her life.  The friends, the activities, the social life of Sodom were not available in their new surroundings.  She was probably like the people in Lehi’s dream who were influenced by those in the great and spacious building.   And so she returned to Sodom and was destroyed with the people there.  We talked openly about the fact that returning missionaries are challenged.   A couple of incidents come to mind.  Legend has it that a man who was born and raised in Clinton, Utah returned from his mission and a few weeks later he was putting his skis in his car on a Sunday morning to head for the slopes.  The Bishop happened to observe this and came over to tell him to forget the skiing and get to Church.  This man is now an Emeritus member of the Quorum of the Seventy.  (If you want to know who he is I guess you can do some research.)  Fortunately he listened to his Bishop.   At work a man who had fallen into inactivity had a son who was pulled in by the ward members and served an honorable mission. He returned home and married in the temple.  The man said to me one day, “My daughter-in-law just doesn’t understand why my son wants to go hunting with me on Sunday.”  “We hunted for years on Sunday and it’s what he wants to do now.”  Unfortunately this young man, like Lot’s wife didn’t have the faith and courage to move forward as he knew he should. His desire was to return to his old ways.    For two years these young men haven’t had the challenge of a “Super Bowl Sunday.”  They haven’t had to choose which movies to watch or what music to listen to.  What friends to hang out with or what books to read.   Many never fasted for twenty-four hours, or paid fast offering before their missions.   Many never had a job that paid enough to make the payment of tithing a real sacrifice.  Some have never dated and this will be a new experience as they seek a mate.  Some will return to homes where church attendance, family prayer and other gospel centered activities are not the norm.  Many African missionaries don’t even have a home to return to. 
We will always remember these stalwart young men in our prayers.   Here in a third world country they have lived without a lot of luxuries but never complained.  They have walked through mounds of garbage and waded through the mud, been soaked by the rain and burned by the sun.  Ridden in crowded taxi’s.   Eaten pig noses, pigs feet, fish heads and a variety of other foods claiming they were all delicious.  They have taught people the gospel, witnessed miracles and had their prayer answered on numerous occasions.
When you pray each day for the missionaries in the field we hope you will also pray for and remember and reach out to those who have just returned home.  Please be sensitive to their needs as they move forward during one of the most challenging times of their lives.
Once again we express our appreciation for your faith and prayers on our behalf.  We feel of the strength of your united efforts.  The work moves forward here.  It moves at our Heavenly Father’s pace and according to His plan. Patience is the watch cry.
We remember you in our prayers each day.

Love Elder and Sister Wheatley

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