Monday, December 30, 2013

Carrying Water

Our water is intermittent, to say the least, and the Bastos Elder's water is even worse.  We are all pretty used to bucket showers.  As we drove around Saturday morning to deliver Soutien to our Elders, this is the sight you see.  Most Africans carry water every morning from a nearby well.  I can't complain.  We, at least, have a couple of garbage cans full of reserve water.  We don't have to go out and carry it in each day.  I will never take running water out of a faucet for granted again.

We see all the children in the family carry the water.  I didn't get very good pictures.

I added this picture, because we see many chickens for sale around the holidays.  They tell us that everyone buys a chicken for Christmas.  It is a special treat.

December Wedding 2013

Natasha was baptized when we first got here.  She is currently serving as the Young Women's President.  She was married to Zang on Friday night.  As we arrived at the Church, everyone was waiting for the Bride and Groom to come from the Mayor's office where they were married.  The Church was decorated and many people were there.  As we walked in,  they asked me to come and play the keyboard, but they also asked Elder Whitesides to speak.  He did a great job.  He told them they were each like a track of a railroad.  They needed to set goals together for family, Church service and making it to the Temple one day.  He said, if they each went a different way, the train would crash.

Natasha called all the missionaries over and told them she was so grateful for their service and their examples.  She said she knew they would have to leave early, so she arranged to have them fed first.  It was so thoughtful of her.  She had many other things to think about on her wedding day, but took time out for them.

The cars are always decorated for the Bride and Groom.

They took Elder Whitesides and I into President Bala's office and brought in a special plate just for us.  Yes, those are fish heads. They just eat the bones and all.  We picked at the tails and then gave the rest to President Bala and his District Clerk.  They were so happy that we weren't very hungry.

There was dancing afterwards.  They tell me that they danced all night.  They love to dance.  When you hear the music they start to move.

Merry Christmas 2013

We were invited to our friend, Mona's home for Christmas Eve.  She is a member who works for the Embassy.  Her mother was visiting and they served us all a delicious turkey and ham dinner.  She told the Elders they could take one item from her pantry for their Christmas present.  After dinner, we sang Christmas carols.  It was a nice Christmas Eve in Africa.

On Christmas Day, the Elders came to our apartment and Skyped home to their families.  We watched Ben Hur and I made 6 BBQ Chicken Pizzas, Cole Slaw, and Chocolate Cinnamon Cake and Ice Cream.

Our daughter, Stacie, helped us get a package of Reeses Peanut Butter Cups for each Elder.  They were surprised and excited.  Thanks for your help, Stacie.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Tennis Anyone?

This post is for my Tennis friends back home.  Yannick Noah, a former professional tennis player from France, built this sport complex.  His father is from Cameroon.  In fact, we saw him.  It was a beautiful complex, with 3 tennis courts, swimming pool and a basketball court.  We had been invited to watch one of our members play basketball.  I wanted to get on that tennis court.  I can't wait to hit a tennis ball again.

Rendezvous with Elders

This week, we were invited to a few families homes for dinner and a lesson.  Rather than explain about each one, I will just put a few pictures on here.  The members are great missionaries and invite friends over to meet with the missionaries.  
On our way, one of the members has started a new restaurant and wanted us to come and try it.  Here was our "chicken basket".  Chicken, plantains, and carrots.  Yummy! 

Alex had invited about 9 non-members.  Our missionaries were excited to get so many contacts.  

Elder Roth and Elder Zurcher.  They helped this 99 year old Grandmother wherever she went.  What great examples they are!

You can see the open door to this home.  They had lots of rooms and lots of furniture - but no floor.  It was dirt. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Tree

I couldn't resist taking a picture of this humble little Christmas tree in the Bastos Elder's apartment.  This is Elder Hunt's lone present under the tree.  I just thought it was so sweet to see this little tree with one present under it.  It helps me remember the many sacrifices a missionary makes as he "forsakes his net to follow the Savior".  

Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas Zone Conference

We held Zone Conference last Saturday.  It was a wonderful conference.  President and Soeur Cook told of Elder Bednar's visit to Kinshasa.  We in the outlying countries were not able to attend his visit.  It would be too expensive to bring us all in to the mission home, which is a 2 1/2 hour plane flight away.

We had a quartet sing.

We also had a "quartet" play the keyboards.

President and Soeur Cook brought presents for all the Elders.  Their Stake back home had donated a new tie and a new pair of socks for every Elder.  

She had them play a game to choose their tie.

Everyone was happy with their new tie and socks.  Merry Christmas!  Thank you President and Soeur Cook.

Gabon is Dedicated

This is a huge event in our mission.  We will be sending missionaries here, hopefully this transfer.  It is an exciting time for our American Elders.  They will now be able to serve in 4 different places within our mission.

Elder/Sister Moody have been there preparing a place for the missionaries to live.  

Sister Cook told of this dedication.  It had been raining the night before.  Walking along the trail, there were trees strewn along the path.  Elder Bednar mentioned the fact that the adversary was doing his best to stop this dedication from taking place.  As they sang and had a prayer, a ray of sunshine broke through the clouds and highlighted the spot where Elder Bednar was standing.  

Elder Bednar bore a powerful witness to the gardener and botanist who were their guides.  He bore a powerful testimony to them that he was an Apostle of the Lord and invited them to stay and be witnesses to what was about to happen.

Just as he started the prayer, President Cook told us that leaves started to fall from the trees.  At a closer look, they weren't leaves, but butterflies.

Miracles were seen as the government gave permission for this work to go forth, after many efforts for the last 10 years.  We are all celebrating this glorious event.  It certainly confirms who is in charge and that "nothing can stop the work from progressing".  How exciting to be part of that work.