Friday, September 20, 2013

School Starts in October

Just like in the U.S.A., when it's time to prepare for school, the merchandise is everywhere.....the children here have to provide all their own supplies - mostly books of paper and pencils.

One of our branch members is building this school.  It will be a wonderful school if it truly has all it says it will - computers, English as a 2nd language, etc.  It also says it will have grades pre-school through what we call Jr. High and what is 'college' in French.

Many of the schools have painted blackboards on the outsides of the buildings with school information.  This information tells about the school schedule.

We have learned from experience looking for a place to live, that if a building looks like this, but you want to rent or attend school in it, it will only take '3 days' and it will be ready.  We hope the 3 days (about 2 weeks) until school starts is enough time for the school to be ready!

These desks are new, and look just like the older desks in other schools we have seen. If you look closely, you will see Elder Wheatley looking into the room.

We think this will be the Headmaster's Office because of the desk and even a phone (don't see many of these) instead of a cell phone, on the desk.

We were so surprised to see real toilets over in the corner of this room.  None of the schools we have seen before have indoor plumbing. 
We're pretty sure they won't be installed in the Headmaster's office!

Oct. 6, 2013
Dear Family,
We are sorry we didn’t write last week.  We seem to be very busy.  Lots of things to take care of before we leave.  Our Mission President and his wife are coming to Point Noire tomorrow.  Maybe they will have news about a replacement or what they have planned if there still isn’t another senior couple to come here.  We  were able to watch  the Priesthood Session of Conference on Sunday night with the Elders at our home.  Getting conference live or even being able to download it seems to be a real challenge.  Sister Wheatley has been trying to download some individual talks (to do a whole session is impossible – our system can’t handle it) all day and it takes hours for each talk.    It’s interesting to hear the young Elders talk about how their feelings about conference have changed and how much they miss being able to see it live.  I don’t think I attended a Priesthood Session until I returned home from  my mission.  Just something we didn’t do in my youth.  Once we get the conference edition of the Ensign we read the talks over and over, as do the members here – they treasure their LeLiahonas and many families order more than one subscription.  The branches will schedule a Saturday and Sunday to watch the conference DVDs in French as soon as the DVDs arrive.  We will be looking forward to April of 2014 when we can partake of it live.
We recently were invited to a closing ceremony for the well the Church drilled here in Pointe Noire (we went to another ceremony for the same reason/same well about a year and a half ago – but then it was cancelled because the generator/pump etc. didn’t work after all).  It will provide water to about 50,000 people.  I think that means water will travel to their parcels or a neighboring parcel or into the few homes with indoor plumbing.  Many people just have a tap in their yard and that is a great blessing to them.  The ceremony consisted of a few talks by dignitaries such as the mayor and the director of the water company.  They did acknowledge the important role of the Church Humanitarian funds, although one of them had a hard time remembering the name of our Church and had to get prompted each time he said it.  They cut a ribbon and the mayor had a drink of water out of the tap on the well.  We have had a few people indicate that they saw us on T.V.   Sister Wheatley will post some pictures on our blog – but every time she thought she was getting a good shot, one of the camera men  would step in front of her.   Before the ceremony a young man from Spain (it is so interesting to see people from around the world in this city for various reasons) who is here doing an internship with the water company told us that when they pressurize the system they have a lot of leakage because they are using old water lines.  These pipes could have been put in by the French eighty to ninety years ago.  He said they have hired a company to help take care of this problem.  As he talked with us we were reminded of the scripture in Matthew 9:17 “Neither do men put new wine in old bottles, else the bottles break and the wine runneth out,..”  For this well to be effective they probably need all new pipes to carry the water.  This is very like the restoration of the gospel.  God and Christ chose to appear to a young unlearned boy who was not tainted by the precepts of man.  Someone not trained in a theological institution, a young man they could train and mold line upon line, precept upon precept.  As we follow the life of the Prophet Joseph we see that they were very patient with him and that many of the lessons he learned came as a result of his mistakes such the manuscript that Martin Harris lost.  There were periods of time when the power to translate would be taken away.  Like us, he grew as he was challenged.  Our challenge to you is for you to sing the song “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” with all the fervor of your heart (also called “Oh How Lovely Was the Morning”).
Another happening here has caused further reflection on the restoration.  The key to our outside gate is a skeleton key.  When we were young most locks on homes were opened by a skeleton key.  Until we moved here we hadn’t seen one for many years.  We were given only one key.  We thought it would be nice to have another one.  At a place where they duplicate keys they said they could do it.  Not unlike Wal-Mart back home you stand about a 50% chance of getting a key that works when they duplicate them.  We left the key and returned the next day.  While we were there they decided they needed to show some effort.  We watched a man take a  bolt and bend the end around until it formed a circle on one end.  Next they were grinding the bolt down to size.  Not wanting to waste a day watching and waiting, we returned home.  The next day the bolt had been ground down to size and a rectangular piece of bronze had been welded onto to the end opposite  the circle.   The man was taking a hacksaw and was starting to cut teeth in the piece of bronze.   The next day they were filing the bronze end by hand.  They had a pair of calipers  and kept taking measurements.  File a while, measure, file a while, measure.  Finally it was ready.  It even looked a little like the original.   Sadly after all that effort it doesn’t work.  It won’t go into the keyhole.  We have a file, so  maybe, Elder Wheatley should file on it a little more.  When the Church and  the Priesthood were restored God didn’t create a Church by taking bits and pieces from other existing religions.  He restored the Church and Priesthood according to the same plan and organization that has always existed..   That is why the Church is able to grow and function as it does.  If the key that was made for us was an exact copy it would work.  Since it isn’t quite the same it fails in its mission of opening our gate.  Hopefully we will appreciate that we belong to the true Church and that it is patterned after the Church that Christ established when he was on the Earth.  If we magnify our callings as intended we along with those we serve and serve with will be blessed.  We always marvel at President Eyring’s talks.  Especially when he talks about the training he received in his youth.  His talk in the Priesthood sessions was so inspiring.  Many former Bishops probably thought, “ If only I had it to do over again.”
We hope you are all happy and well.  We once again thank you for your faith and prayers. Please know that your prayers on our behalf our answered many times each day.  We love you all.  Mom and Dad,  Grandma  and Grandpa, Elder and Sister Wheatley

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