Sunday, August 18, 2013

Views of Pointe Noire

When we drive away from the city, we pass this agricultural business called 'AgriCongo.' It is so refreshing to see land that is good enough to grow crops in.  We don't know if the produce is all used locally or not, but we can call in an order and then pick it up the next day.  We did this once, but it wasn't really a better deal than just going up to the big marché where we do our other shopping....and since we don't speak French well enough to be understood, it's easier to just enjoy the view when we pass!

Elder Wheatley has been wanting me to take a picture of the car repair shops - because wherever a car or truck breaks down is where the repair shop is, most of the time.  This was fortunately on one side of a road, and not in the middle of a busy intersection!
And..........speaking of repairs, here is Elder Wheatley trying to stabilize some of the chairs in one of the Elders' apartments.  Remember how, in elementary school, teachers are always telling their students to stop leaning back in their chairs?  Well, wonderful, grown up young men still like to 'lean back' and pretty soon, the chairs just can't handle it anymore!  It's also important to know that these chairs have been through a LOT of elders, in all shapes and sizes, so it's actually not surprising that they can need repaired or replaced at some point in time!

Children are able to find places to play, no matter where they live, and so this old taxi is keeping these young boys entertained for awhile.

We saw these children caring for their goats, on a street we drove down to buy some plants for in front of our parcel wall. It looked like the baby was very new, and they had the mother out to eat the foliage along this wall.  Looks like mommy goat wanted to get her face in the picture, too.

Patrice, our daytime guard, loves to take care of our flowers and has planted many out in front of our wall.  When we first moved in, he took cuttings from some flowers inside the wall and nurtured them so that they are now growing well outside the wall.  There were still some areas that needed more plants, so he was happy we brought more for him to put in.  He has tomatoes planted in several of the planters inside the wall, along with the flowers.  

Views of Pointe Noire

These next few pictures were taken in a typical city neighborhood.   Off of the main streets, the roads are dirt and sand and pretty much rarely if ever maintained. 

This sweet little girl is returning from a trip to the candy lady in the previous picture.

This little one appeared to be the 'little sister' of the girl above.

This is the same street, a few minutes later, with more people walking through.  This man is wearing typical Congolese men's wear, when not in western clothing.

These two views are from a balcony on one of the missionaries' apartments.  This is their neighborhood, and as most neighborhoods, there is a mix of wooden and cement block homes with tin roofs and a few nicer homes and apartments here and there.  Zoning is not used here, although there are some areas where there are mostly nicer homes and mostly humble homes.  An American who works for an oil company and lives here, said that there are more middle class Congolese now than when he was in the county in the1980s. 

This view is looking toward the main, paved road.  The pink boutique across the street sells meat, canned food, soap, eggs, rice, soda, etc.

Weekly Letter:

Aug.  11 2013
Dear family,
We are alive and well here in the Congo.  We continue to stay very busy and the days are speedily passing.  We appreciate knowing that you are all happy and well and have been blessed in so many ways.   We are happy that Katie (Sister Johnson) has finally received her visa and is now in Brazil.  We enjoy her letters.  We also appreciate the updates from Elder and Sister Wheatley in Germany.  If only the saints here could go to the temple.  These have to be the most patient people in the world.  We keep hoping that they will move forward on the temple in Kinshasa but after the announcement in Oct of 2011 no ground breaking has yet taken place.
We just got off the phone with President Cook.  He says Sister Wheatley is not replaceable.  We still don’t have a replacement and our time is growing short.   As we think about this situation we think of the times during the history of the Church when members have heeded the call of the Prophet and stepped forward.  We all know that the Church has sent missionaries to the four corners of the Earth.  For many   it has been a great sacrifice.  In the early days of the Church it was especially a sacrifice for the families left behind to care for the farms and the businesses.  My Uncle Ross left on his mission to Mexico shortly after his marriage.  His wife Shirley worked and supported him.  Years later their marriage would end in divorce.  We were naturally critical of her, but my heart was softened when only a few years ago I learned of the sacrifice she had made as a newly married women.
When I think of rescue efforts, I think of Zion’s Camp, a march of over 2000 miles by Saints from Kirtland Ohio to restore the Saints to their property in Missouri.   Their land had been taken by jealous and suspicious inhabitants of that state.   Although the Camp was eventually disbanded, it gave many of the early leaders of the Church an opportunity to be instructed daily by the Prophet Joseph Smith.   These men would eventually lead the Church during very trying times as they were forced from Missouri and then from Nauvoo. 
The next rescue effort I think of is the Mormon Battalion.  While the members of the Mormon Battalion did not physically rescue anyone they provided needed cash for pioneers struggling to purchase materials for their move west.  The men were paid in advance but turned all of the money over to the leaders of the Church.  Our ancestor, Newman Bulkley,  participated in this battalion. At the completion of his deployment it would take him several years to retrieve his wife and children from the plains of Iowa and bring them to Utah.  These were men and women of courage who sacrificed much to help the main body of the pioneers to move westward.
I next think of the  “Valley Boys.”  When Brigham Young stood up during a meeting on a cold October day and said we need able bodied men to go to the plains of Wyoming and rescue members of the Martin and Willy Handcart Companies, it wasn’t easy for them to leave the comforts of their homes in the Salt Lake Valley, but they, too, went willingly  (it has never been an easy ride in a car!).
In each of these events in Church History there were those who chose to stay behind.  In each of these events it was necessary for some to stay behind and take care of the home front.  Being here and anxiously awaiting news of a replacement,  has  allowed us to think and ponder on these important events in the history of the Church.  We now live in a time when missionary work is being emphasized and expanded.  President Monson has called more people to the rescue.  In this somewhat unknown and remote part of the world, a couple will be blessed and will bless the lives of many by answering the call to serve here.  As we contemplate returning home we can only wish that everyone could participate and receive the enjoyment that is found in this great work of harvesting souls.  We pray each day for that special couple who will open an envelope that says you have been called to serve in the “Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa Mission.”
Love from Pointe Noire,
Elder & Sœur Wheatley/mom and dad/brother and sister

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Around Pointe Noire

We followed this huge caterpillar up the street - there are supposed to be two lanes on this paved road (there are usually at least 3), but it was so big that all the trucks and cars coming from the other direction had to move off the road to get past.  The main road on one side of us is being worked on and soon the main road on one end of our little road will be closed also.  We are a little worried about getting in and out of our house!  More roads get torn up but it takes years for them to get finished....

This billy goat was in the yard of one of the families we visited - and we weren't sure if the way he 'talked' to us the whole time meant he was welcoming us or telling us to get out of his space!

This wonderful family gave us some papaya that you see them picking.  It is a very healthy fruit and we are growing to like it the longer we are here.  Almost every house has papaya trees in their yards.  

While we were waiting for a couple of missionaries, these children saw us and came over to wave and talk to us.  The children love to have their pictures taken and usually laugh and laugh when they see what they look like in the camera when we show them.

Elders Johnson and Baker are knocking on the door of a little house where an older man who is receiving follow up lessons after his baptism lives.  He can't afford the cost of a bus so he walks to church, which takes him quite a long time because he walks slowly, but he still comes!

Below, are some young men pushing and pulling a load of cement into the cartier.  No matter how far off a main street it is, there is always a boutique that sells cement.  When a missionary told a young person last week that we build houses of wood and not cement, he asked why we would do that!  Here, people usually live in wooden homes only until they can afford to make homes out of cement blocks.  You can see some stacks of blocks in this yard.