Saturday, December 3, 2016

Brazzaville - November 2016

Dearest Family and Friends,

Since I was so late posting last month's blog, and included part of November, I decided this blog would be quick and short.

The biggest holiday in November is Thanksgiving, but since it is not celebrated here, I felt we would have a rather un-celebrated holiday.  However, an American couple who attend our same ward and work for the U.S. government, asked what we were doing for Thanksgiving.  We told them "Nothing".  They asked if we would like to come to the American Ambassador's home for a Thanksgiving dinner.  We told them we would love it.  They received permission, and voila, we were invited.

We arrived in the afternoon and had a delightful time.  After the Ambassador read the proclamation from Pres. Obama,  a prayer was said (yes you read correctly) and we began a sumptuous Thanksgiving feast.  Just before dinner, I asked the Ambassador if we might take a picture with her.  She seemed delighted to accommodate us.

In front of the U.S. flag with Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan

After getting a plate full of turkey (from Ghana, by-the-way) mashed potatoes, yams and all the other trimmings, we sat down next to a younger couple we had met as we mingled before dinner and another couple more our age, John and Benin Newton.  Benin (not sure that is how it is spelled) was originally from Iran; I immediately felt a connection to her.

Dinner at the Ambassador's house.

We had finished the main course and were beginning to eat some of the many plentiful and delicious  desserts.

Though John Newton was from the States, neither of them worked for the U.S. government.  He and his wife had come to the Republic of Congo to help spread and teach the Baha'i faith.  Elder Call and I have been to the Baha'i Gardens in Israel, so we had that connection, but really didn't know anything about their beliefs, so it was interesting learning from them.  The most fascinating belief was that they feel Jesus Christ has come the 2nd time in the form of a man born in Iran named Buha'u'llah, which literally means "in his glory".  Since the scriptures teach that Christ will come again "in His glory", they feel that this man was indeed Jesus Christ, of which he also proclaimed to be.  My curiosity led to asking if they had any literature we might read.  They said, "Yes", and I believe out of politeness, they asked us if WE had any literature.  We of course said that we definitely had something we could give them.  Since neither of us had the literature with us, we set up a time to meet again.

Thus, the next Tuesday evening we met at the building owned by those of the Baha'i faith, where there are also two rooms where John and Benin live.  They have a large room, which they call their "reading room" with a large table.  We sat around that table and they brought some of their literature, and we of course, brought a Book of Mormon with our picture and testimony.

                                    A picture in the "reading room".

The Newtons did most the talking and explaining about their faith...which was fine.  I learned long ago, if you show interest in others, they just might show interest in you. We came to the conclusion that we had more of the same beliefs than differences.  We kept saying, "Yes, we believe that too, with some small differences."  Though they did most of the talking, we could not leave until we showed and explained a little about the Book of Mormon.  Neither one of them knew anything of our religion.  In their reading room, there are some shelves with a few books and pamphlets.  Benin did say that sometimes people donate books to their "library" and they lend them out. So...we are hoping some day, some one will see that Book of Mormon and be curious enough to pick it up and read it. :)

In November, on our trip to Yaounde, Cameroon, I noticed some few Christmas decorations that I decided needed to be in Brazzaville.  Thus, with a little tinsel and some red paper, I put up some decorations.  It's not much,  but I figured it was something. While decorating I sang, "Yes, we need a little Christmas, right this very minute".  It truly is "a little". I hung some decorative balls on the fabric flower on the end table as a Christmas tree.  But as we learn from Charley Brown, it is not about the tree, it is about the message of the season.

The door with the small Christmas decoration, leads to President Monga's office.  Also note the cork board by my desk.  The small picture at the bottom is grand child number 20!!  Hudson Hatch Call born to Joseph and Ramie October 5, 2016; both mother and son are doing fabulously.  Just another of those mission blessings.  To add to those blessings, we have learned that number 21 and 22 will also be born while on our mission.

November ended with a Zone Conference for the 28 missionaries serving in the Brazzaville area.

Eight of our ten beautiful sisters.  The sister missionaries here have a great deal of success.  We only have sisters in Brazzaville.  The President wants to keep them close by in case of any problems.  So unfortunately, there are no sisters in Cameroon.  They are a delight to visit with when they come to the office.

Sister Monga always makes a delicious lunch.  She is being helped by one of the Assistant's, Elder Scofield.

President and Sister Monga with the missionaries in the Brazzaville area.  I don't think you will have a difficult time recognizing the senior missionary couple on the end.

As our time quickly comes to an end here in Brazzaville, I have to thank my Heavenly Father for the great gift it has been to serve here.  Though I left Cameroon with a heavy heart, I now leave the Republic of Congo with a piece of my heart in Brazzaville.  The work of the Lord is a joy no matter where we have the privilege to serve.