Sunday, May 26, 2013

Visiting a Family

We love this little family - three of their 4 children.  The little boy next to Elder Wheatley was recently baptized by his father and so we took them some pictures we printed of that special day.  Pictures are treasures.
Here he is, showing us the pebble game that is like jacks.

May 26, 2013
Dear family,
We have enjoyed another week here in the Congo.  It has actually been a very peaceful week.  Other than finding no water in the tap when we went to wash dishes we have had life pretty good.   We found out earlier in the week that the water to this part of town has been shut off  (we think it has been four weeks since we have had water in the line, but just kept hoping it would start again, since we had a technician come and look at it and said nothing was wrong).  We go to the Church and fill containers to put in our reservoir.  When the Elders come over like they did tonight and we use extra water the reservoir  has a tendency to go dry.  Since its Sunday we will bucket bathe and flush toilets with buckets and deal with refilling the reservoir tomorrow, by buying water from the well across the street.   
We made it out to visit a few members during the week and didn’t get ourselves lost.  The biggest challenge is figuring out which alleyways won’t come to a dead end.  It’s never fun to have to reverse out of some of these places.  One of the places we visited we found the sister sick.  Since she doesn’t speak English she crossed herself to indicate she would like us to have a prayer with her.   I think she was just trying to communicate with us and was not resorting to an old habit.
A little about the culture:  We have found it interesting that most families have a niece or nephew live with them, especially the young couples.  These don’t appear to be orphans, just family members that are sent to help when a family has a new baby or needs someone to tend their house when they go to work.  On Monday we visited a young doctor who was baptized about a year and a half ago.  He and his wife have a three month old baby.  When we entered his home he introduced us to two young men, each about ten years old.  He indicated they were nephews.  We inquired if they were just visiting and he said “no.” “They live with us.”   Recently we needed the birthdate of a sister, and we found out that she is only thirty years old.  As long as we have known the family we assumed a girl that is about age nineteen that lives with them was their daughter.  When we do the math we realize that she belongs to someone else.  It is difficult to determine age here, because most people just don’t look as old as they are.  Maybe it is the nice, moist air that keeps their skin so young looking?
During the week we visited a young man who has been struggling to come to Church.  We read with him from the book of Mosiah where Abinidi is chastising wicked King Noah and his priests.  He reviews the Ten Commandments, one of which is keeping the Sabbath Day holy.  As the Elders teach investigators it is so important for them to commit the investigator to attend Church on a regular basis.  My observation has been than among those who espouse a Penticostal religion, church attendance is very important and meaningful (I think the Baptists also fit in with this group). Those that espouse the Catholic, Anglican or Luthern Churchs have become very casual about the Sabbath Day. I remember a cartoon I once saw.  Two ladies with their Easter bonnets on were standing in line waiting to enter a Church. One said to the other, “I don’t understand why those who attend every week don’t stay home so that those of us that  attend only on Easter will have a place to sit.” It has always bothered me that Notre Dame and Boston Collage  compete in athletic events on a Sunday.
It is interesting that most holidays here are tied to religion.  They have holidays on Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension, (the day Christ ascended into heaven), Assumption (the day the Catholic’s assume Mary was taken into Heaven) and Pentecost.  There are probably others that we are not aware of, and country holidays like New Year’s Day and Independence Day. Most of the converts here were first baptized into the Catholic Church.  It is important that they understand that our Father in Heaven expects that they will attend Church every Sunday, not just on holidays.  I don’t want to preach to you about keeping the Sabbath day holy, but I have learned that attending Church and fellowshipping with the saints and partaking of the Sacrament is a commandment. We can’t be casual about its observance.  When you ask people what is the first saving ordinance we participate in during our life they will say baptism and confirmation.  If you ask what is next ordinance?  For a man they will say receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood, for a woman receiving her temple endowment.  They always overlook the sacrament.  After baptism and confirmation (and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost), the next saving ordinance we participate in is the sacrament. Partaking of the sacrament weekly is a commandment (Preach My Gospel p. 64).  For most of us, the sacrament is only offered during sacrament meeting.  Under the Bishop’s direction it might be brought into our home if there is a special reason.  We partake of the sacrament to renew our baptismal covenants. We partake of the sacrament to be reminded of our Savior’s atoning sacrifice. The sacrament renews the process of forgiveness. “Every Sunday you cleanse yourself so that in due time, when you die, your spirit will be clean.”( Boyd K. Packer p.196 “My Errand From the Lord.”)  
I have never liked to travel on Sunday, but have been guilty on occasion.  When we have traveled, we have always tried to stop along the way and find a Sacrament Meeting to attend.  I will always remember the Sunday morning when we were in KayCee, Wyoming.  We justified not coming home on Saturday because we needed to be at a family reunion.  There were those that needed to be home on Monday. So we would be traveling on Sunday. I remember suggesting that maybe we could stop at Martin’s Cove and partake of the special spirit one finds there and that could be our Sabbath worship.  There seemed to be agreement, but then my son in law, Austin, indicated that he didn’t feel right about it.  Through the marvels of modern technology the younger generation found an address, and a meeting time in Casper.  They estimated the distance, the time we would have to leave KayCee and the speed we would have to travel. We pulled into the parking lot of the Casper 6th Ward with five minutes to spare and enjoyed a wonderful sacrament meeting.
I will always remember being in a little logging town called Morton, in the state of Washington.  The stake president was visiting the ward that day.  The Bishop, an elderly man, appeared to be very nervous.  He welcomed the congregation, then began to do some ward business presenting several ward members who had been called to serve for a sustaining vote.  One of his counselors came to the pulpit and encouraged him to have an opening hymn and invocation before having a sustaining vote.  He never seemed to regain his composure throughout the meeting.  The stake president sat with a smile on his face and we all enjoyed the meeting.  I’m not sure where this information came from but we were led to understand that this man and his wife had come to that area on a mission as a senior couple.  After their mission they decided to move there  and retire.  He hadn’t planned on retirement including being called to be the bishop!  As we prepared to eat lunch that day, my mother in law was called on to bless the food.  In a tender and sincere moment she asked our Father-in-Heaven to bless this good bishop in his calling, then she asked for a blessing on the food.
It’s good to periodically read from D&C 58:9-24 and evaluate how we are doing in our Sabbath day worship.
Each morning and evening, as we kneel in family prayer, we pray that our Heavenly Father’s blessings rest upon each of you.  Once again we express our appreciation for your faith and prayers on our behalf. 
Love from Pointe Noire,
Mom and Dad, Elder et Sœur Wheatley

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