Sunday, November 13, 2016

October/November 2016-Brazzaville, Congo

Dearest Family and Friends,

I am sure no one has been holding their breath, but I am finally getting around to writing the October blog,  but now will also have to include some of November.

Our days in Brazzaville are quite different than those spent in Cameroon.  We get up, go walking (which is the same) but then spend the day "at the office".  I do have to make a comment about our walks.  When we began, we received some pretty "strange" looks from the local people.  I am certain they had never seen an old white couple, holding hands, walking in the morning.  Due to Elder Call's friendly nature, we began waving and calling out a hearty "Bonjour" to all we passed.  Now as we walk, we receive friendly smiles and an energetic "Bonjour" in return.  The other day, we heard some commotion coming from a local school across the street.  As we looked over, we saw school children hanging out the windows of the second story building waving and yelling to us,"Bonjour".

When we came to Brazzaville, President Monga said a couple of times, "One thing I know, things are going to change around here."  I did not understand what he meant until Sister Monga also mentioned it and said they had noticed a change in both the apartments in Cameroon after we moved in, so I guess, they expected the same to happen at the office.  Well, I had not planned on doing any changing with the office since I felt the move was so temporary.  However, after reflecting on it, I wondered if President Monga WANTED me to make some changes.  One week in October, when he was traveling  I decided to "make the move".   (I had told him beforehand that I did want to make some changes). So, to start with, one morning Elder Call and I went looking for a rug for the office.  We went to several shops, but I was unable to find the "right one".  (You shoppers out there know what I mean).  After leaving another shop empty handed, a man tapped on our window.  After a time, I realized he was trying to tell us he knew where we could find some "tapis" (rugs).  He literally ran down the street and we followed him in our truck to a rug store.  They had several at the shop, but also were bringing them from somewhere else and would roll them out for us to see.  After rejecting many, they finally came out with just the right one.   We purchased it and brought it to the office... and it was perfect.  However, it made the rest of the office "furniture" (which consisted only of 6 uncomfortable and partially broken chairs) look out of place.  One of the office workers, Santie, said, "I know of a couch, chair and table that used to be in one of the senior couple's apartment.  They took our truck, brought the furniture and "voila", things began taking shape.  With a couple of plants and a little rearranging, we have a "new" office.

I wish I had a "before and after" picture, but since I do not, you will have to settle for an "after" and use your imagination about the "before".  We have received many positive comments, especially from the missionaries who often visit.   I must agree that I am much more pleased with "my view" of the room since my desk is the one you see on the bottom of the picture. Fortunately, President Monga also likes it

Since being in Brazzaville, we decided to do a little site-seeing.  There is not much to see, but we did take a couple of pictures that I wanted to share.  The Republic of Congo and the city of Brazzaville, is separated from the Democratic Republic of Congo and it's capital city of Kinshasa by the Congo River.  Following are a couple of pictures of the Congo River and Kinshasa.

Looking east across the Congo River to see the tip of Kinshasa.

Looking slightly west across the Congo River to the other end of Kinshasa.  Kinshasa has a population of over 10 million which is considerably larger than Brazzaville with a population of 1.7 million.

We also went to the bridge that you see pictured in the first photo.  It is a bridge completely contained  in the Republic of Congo and crosses over a small part of the Congo River.  It is beautifully lit up at night with various colors of moving lights. There is no bridge built over the Congo River to Kinshasa; one crosses over by boat or ferry.

At the end of the bridge, where I took the picture, is a monument with a mosaic-type of compass showing the direction and distance to various important cities around the world.

Elder Call standing at the monument with down-town Brazzaville in the background.  Next to the tallest building you see pictured, is the most fantastic boulangerie (bakery). The desserts look fabulous (but don't  taste as good as they look). However, the bread, baguettes, and crescents are "to die" for.

In the mosaic are important and famous cities like Jerusalem, New York, etc. We were surprised to see a mosaic of our beloved city Douala.  I suppose, it is not so much the city we love, but the people we are anxious to see.

Speaking of being anxious to return to the people we love in Cameroon, we did take a quick trip back to Cameroon the end of October-beginning of November.  It is one reason for the tardy blog.  We paid bills, meet with the missionaries, looked for new apartments and generally had a world-wind eight day long trip.  After getting home, I realized most the pictures I had taken were of apartments being considered  for the missionaries, which are NOT the most exciting
things to see. Unless however, you happen to be a junior missionary....or....
this darling little boy who found an attraction
to Elder Call while we were checking out
new apartments

There are two other pictures I do want to share.  We visited after church with the new branch presidency of the Village Branch.  As we met with them, we were impressed with their dedication, humility and desire to do the right thing.  One of their greatest desires is to be trained.  We told them, "Hang in there, we will be back in December!"

As we left the meeting to go home, we noticed the first counselor was also leaving with his family consisting of his wife and three children.
I asked if I  could take their picture...they consented.

As we visited, he told us he was one of the very first persons to be baptized in Douala. He told us the ordinance was performed in a nearby river.

If you wondered, the family feel very blessed to have transportation and thus don't have to pay a taxi each week to get to church.

One last event happened in November which contributed to the lateness of the bog.  An apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ visited the Congo and is going to Cameroon!!!! His visit also coincided with new missionaries arriving from the MTC and thus also transfers, which is the busiest time for the mission. To add to the confusion, plans kept being changed.  But the time did arrive and Elder D. Todd Christofferson, along with his wife and Elder Soares and his wife, visited our mission.  What an outpouring of the Spirit it has been.  He flew in early Saturday morning (1:30am) and met with the leaders of the stakes in Kinshasa and Brazzaville Saturday morning from 9:00am until 12:00 noon.  Then he had a meeting with the missionaries (that included us) from 2:00pm until 4:00pm.  You could tell he was exhausted, but it was still powerful to hear from an apostle.

                                Waiting to hear from an apostle of the Lord.

After Elder Christofferson came into the room, he asked Pres. Monga if he could shake hands with all of the missionaries.  Pres. Monga agreed that he could and asked if we would all come up in a single file to shake hands with Elder Christofferson and the others with him.  So that is what we did.

Shaking hands with Elder Christofferson.  His wife is on his right hand and Pres. and Sister Monga are on his left.

Sunday, which is today, was a meeting for the two stakes here in Brazzaville.  What a powerful meeting.  Afterwards I said to Elder Call, "He wasn't dramatic, just humble and powerful".  Elder Call added, "Yes, and pure".  The messages he taught were simple yet profound.

After the meeting, Elder Christofferson came down from the stand and again starting shaking hands with the members of the church.  People flocked around him, but the smile on his face indicated he did not mind, in fact, he was pleased to meet them.

The messages given by the words of an apostles were powerful.  But to me, his personal example and the fact that he was even willing to come to Africa and meet with the members here was even a more powerful message.  It was a message that God loves ALL His children and that they are ALL important to Him.

The Church is true and is governed by apostles and prophets who follow the Master, Jesus Christ, who ministers to the one.