Sunday, February 24, 2013

Buying New Mattresses

We are adding 2 new Elders in the Ekounou apartment, which meant that we needed to buy 2 new mattresses.  How we long for RC Willey's where we could just go pick out our new mattresses.  Our first stop, we got out of the car and I was surrounded by 15 men trying to get me to come to their shop.  After about 15 minutes, Elder Whitesides motioned for me to come to the car.  We drove to another shop.  It was pretty quiet and we soon learned why.  The man was asleep on his mattresses.  I woke him up and we started to barter on the price.  I'm sure he was happy with the final price and I was happy that I talked him down some - even though I know we are charged a lot more because we are "white".  He was happy to have his picture taken as he helped Elder Whitesides load the mattresses.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Welcome Elder Hatch

We picked up our Elder Hatch, our newest Elder.  He arrived a day late, after missing his flight in Brussels.  His plane landed late, so they put him up in the Sheridan Hotel there.  We were happy to finally get him here.

President Jameson was scheduled to Skype with Elder Hatch, so we invited them to dinner.  Of course, the Ekounou Elders were packed and ready to move into their new apartment, so we invited them as well.  It's always a party when they come.

Elder Hatch

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Senior Couples Conference - Sunday

On Sunday, we attended Church in one of the Ward buildings.  They have 7  Stakes in Kinshasa and beautiful buildings for most to attend.  We were quite the crowd of Seniors with there being 16 of us.  The Church is doing well in Kinshasa.

We were also able to visit the future Temple site.

I took a picture of this little tree.  I am wondering if it will be here, once the Temple is built.  I'll be watching for it in the finished pictures of the Temple.
That night, we had a dinner and a fireside.  President Jameson taught us from the  scriptures.

At the end of the fireside President and Sister Jameson gave each couple a statue. They were made by an elder's quorum president in Kinshasa. It took him several months to get them all made because during that time his young sister died and then his young adult daughter drown when her boat capsized while crossing the Congo. They gave us each a copy of the picture of the carver sitting in the Mission Home with all the statues. The  statues are of priesthood holders blessing a child. Since almost all couples have a grandchild born while they're on their mission, they thought this was fitting. Even more meaningfully, they wanted the figures to represent the blessing that senior missionaries are to the infant church in Africa. As missionaries we have the opportunity to bless the infant church using our experience, knowledge and love for those we serve.

It was a wonderful Conference.  It took us 3 days to return back home again.  One to cross the Congo River, one to fly from Brazzaville to Douala, then a 4 hour drive to Yaounde'. Our plane landed in time for us to make the drive and save a night in Douala.  It was good to be home again.  The best news was that our new water pump had finally arrived and we now have consistent water.  We'll keep our fingers crossed.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Humanitarian Water Project

Elder and Soeur Moon, the Humanitarian Couple in Kinshasa, took us on a field trip to see a water project that the Church completed in 2006.  The water looked very clear.  It was probably the most "needy" area we have seen.  The children were so excited to see us.

Thank you for all the donations you make at home to the Humanitarian Fund.  You can see first hand, how valuable those donations are.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Senior Couples Conference - Wednesday thru Saturday

While the husbands did some IMOS training for the budget, Sister Jameson introduced us to her new hairstylist, George.  We all enjoyed a little pampering and had our hair cut.  

Sisters Whitesides - Yaounde, Wheatley - Pointe Noirre, Gailey - Douala
Ready to face the world again.

That night, Sister Jameson served us a beautiful and tasty Valentine's dinner.  We played a "Newlywed" game.  It was a  night filled with good food and good friends.  We laughed and laughed as we learned what we didn't know about our spouses.
We visited some of the "markets" for souvenirs.  These birds were just roaming the premises.  We even saw this white "albino" peacock.  It's a first for me.  I have only seen one in "Harry Potter" and thought they didn't really exist.

There are many beautiful birds here in Africa.

On Saturday, we visited the construction site.  Elder/Sister Billings are Construction Missionaries.  He is teaching his students good construction practices for future Church buildings.  They are also making an office and storage facility for the brick making project.  It's a great program.  Some of our Seniors were given the chance to make a brick.  They learned that it wasn't as easy as it looks.

We went to lunch at the dining room in the Hotel Royal.  We were so pampered and buoyed up by the company and food.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Senior Couples Conference - Tuesday

President Jameson invited the three outlying couples to come to Kinshasa for a "Couples Conference".  We started by driving to Douala and spending the night with the Gailey's.  Then we flew to Brazzaville, with a "short" stop in Pointe Noirre.  It ended up being 3 hours, while they waited for another flight to arrive and fill up the airplane.  They had us wait in a little cafeteria and gave us free drinks and chips.

We arrived in Brazzaville and stayed in the Adonis Hotel.  It was very nice and the food was good.

It was nice to be traveling with President Kola, President Jameson's 2nd Counselor.  He had been staying with us and was returning home.  He helped us get through the airports.

  The next morning, we crossed the Congo River.  It is very swift and very dirty.  It took us about 15 minutes to cross.  There were Church employees helping us on both sides.  Still, it took us 2 hours on each side to get through all the paperwork.  Elder and Soeur Wheatley, from Pointe Noirre, joined us to cross the river.

Once we landed, we went to visit the Mission Office and Mission Home.  They are right next to each other.  The Mission Home is on the 4th floor of a large apartment building.  It was beautiful.

This is Pascal.  He said, "You are Elder Whitesides and I am brother black-sides". 
President Jameson in his Mission Office

Monday, February 11, 2013

District Conference

We had the 3rd Annual District Conference over the weekend.  President and Soeur Jameson weren't able to come, so they send President Kola, the 2nd Counselor in the Mission Presidency.  He stayed in our apartment, which was another adventure.  He only speaks a little English, so there wasn't a lot of conversation going on.  We did learn that he has 12 children and was a former member of the Area Seventy.  
The Africans are very obedient, so wherever Sister Jameson's name was on the program, they would switch it to Sister Whitesides.  I ended up speaking in every meeting.  I kept telling them to just skip it, but they wouldn't do it.  On Sunday, President Bala said afterwards, "I didn't tell you, because I wanted you to be surprised."  Here are a few pictures.

CLB Rings

We had a woman in the USA who wanted to do a service project for Africa.  When people ask what they can do to help, we them to use their tithing donation slip and put it under "Humanitarian Fund".  We did tell her that she could send CTR rings, so she had her children earn some money and other families in the ward helped her.  They sent us 100 French CLB (Choisir Le' Bien) rings.  The people here love them.  Here are a few pictures of them with their rings.

We thought it was so sweet to see our Ekounou Branch President wearing one the next time we saw him.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hygiene Kit Distribution

Today was the hygiene kit distribution for street children at the Ministry of Social Affairs.
Preparing for the Distribution
President Bala, the District President spoke.
It's the "dry" season, but you can see in the background that it poured rain.  Everything had to be moved to the porch and the refreshments were served inside.

These street children had families that came with them and were awarded hygiene kits.  Here are some of the happy recipients. Other "street children" came without families.  They were encouraged to leave the streets and go back home and they would also receive a kit.

Emmanuel (Public Affairs for the District), Elder Whitesides, Regional Delegate of the Social Affairs Ministry and President Bala (President of the District).
"Light" refreshments were served.  Chicken, fish, beef and plantains.  We were excited to be involved in a Humanitarian Project again.  The Humanitarian couple, Elder and Soeur Moon, are in Kinshasa, so they asked us to oversee this project.