If Life Were Easy, It Wouldn’t Be Hard


2014-09-17_01.06.09_2This picture more or less sums up how we felt about this past week.  It was… well, yes… Fun!  We travelled to Bujumbura to meet the Ellis’ for the last leg of our mission tour and were able to squeeze in a boat ride on Lake Tanganika to see the hippos.  We returned home via Johannesburg and spent a day there getting some much needed items that we cannot get back in Lubumbashi.  Hey!… It’s been our first break in almost three months!

But I have to mention that I am feeling a little guilty about how my blog entries may have been coming across.  I want to make something perfectly clear.  For those who would like to tell me to stop whining (no one has by the way)… and that it isn’t that bad… I get it!  At home here in Lubumbashi I am quite content and feel like I am living in the lap of luxury (and I am by DRC standards).  I realize that I am being a bit of a princess and that for some people, they would be in Seventh Heaven doing what we are doing right here in the DRC.  I know some of those people and they are the same people who love Trek, camping and anything that tickles their survival instincts.  I just happen to not be one of them.  I have always said, “I can do hard things.  I just don’t like to!”  To quote Sheri Dew, “If life were easy, it wouldn’t be hard!”

Everyone has challenges in life, of one sort or another.  They bring growth!  And as far as lives go, mine has been pretty darn easy.  I was about due for something that would “try my soul”, so to speak.  And as is often the case, the blessings I have received, have more than compensated for the little bit of discomfort I have experienced.  In the words of President Gordon B Hinckley,  “All of us have problems. We face them every day.  How grateful I am that we have difficult things to wrestle with.  They keep us young, if that is possible.  They keep us alive.  They keep us going.  They keep us humble.  They pull us down to our knees to ask the God of heaven for help in solving them.  Be grateful for your problems, and know that somehow there will come a solution.  Just do the best you can, but be sure it is the very best.”  This past week however, hasn’t been hard at all.

2014-09-12_10.47.53Speaking of your very best, Terri and Kevin Clawson completed their mission and flew home this past week.  What an amazing couple!  Between the two of them, there was nothing in the mission they did not know or could not do.  We miss you already!  This is their farewell dinner at a restaurant just around the corner.  You could swear you were in Florida or California!  They have the best steaks and milkshakes, if you can believe it?!!


Elder Atkinson is trying to fix the well at the Mission Home complex.  There is nothing he cannot fix but he and Sister Atkinson will be going home shortly, themselves.  This is their third mission and their second in Africa.  They are amazing!

2014-09-03_04.47.09Our wonderful Sister Training Leaders!  We are hoping they can help bring a much needed change to the mission.

2014-09-07_01.50.53Driving to church in Lubumbashi.  This is a typical Sunday street scene in this city.

2014-09-07_01.50.50This is just down the street and what I call a “drive by shooting”.  Sunday is bath day here and as you can see, some things are the same (sort of) around the world.

2014-09-16_10.33.18_2This was such a fun night in Burundi with the Van Wagoners, the Ellis’ and the Neelys.  We were fed the most delicious italian dinner by John Franco, an Italian speaking french, with Alan Jackson playing in the background.

2014-09-16_11.44.10The Van Wagoners treated us to a dance show to “Mercury Blues”.  They go dancing every Friday night in Burundi!

2014-09-17_01.09.23_2We did not get as close as this picture looks.  Our guides were very cautious.  We were hoping to see crocodiles but our guide said that they were eating too many people, so they killed all of them in the area.  Still… it would have been fun to see at least one!

2014-09-17_01.26.572014-09-17_00.55.05_22014-09-17_01.44.26_32014-09-17_01.44.39_22014-09-17_01.44.24_32014-09-17_01.54.25This is where the water from the Ruzizi empties into Lake Tanganyika.  It was so muddy that the boat got stuck on a sand bar and the guides had to get out and push.  Good thing there were no crocs around!  The whole trip was done in an hour and a half.  We flew to Johannesburg that afternoon, after a couple hours of interviews for Brent.

In closing, I want to refer once again to my previous posts.  I just want to say, that one thing I hope I have not done, is to imply that I don’t want to be here, or that I would go home if I could.  I will repeat something that I have said before, in reference to the other side of the mission.  If this was for some kind of job, you could not pay me enough money to do it (which once again, no one has by the way).  But this is not a “job”.  I know that Heavenly Father is the one that has asked us to come here.  Because of that, I want to do my best, my very best, to do whatever it is He called me here to do, and I am grateful that He trusts me enough to ask me to do it.  Two years will pass soon enough and then I will be back home, in the land of plenty.  But I hope that I will always offer a prayer of gratitude for the many things that we often take for granted – water, electricity and yes… even toilet seats.2014-09-17_01.16.26_2






About carethomas1

Mother to six. Grandmother to nine. Dislikes bugs, camping, sitting and waiting. Likes to talk, eat, free agency, peace and order. Loves dogs, dear friends, and family (not necessarily in that order). Grateful for the trust Heavenly Father has in me, to ask me to come here and do this, with the one I love most.
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11 Responses to If Life Were Easy, It Wouldn’t Be Hard

  1. Anna Jackson says:

    Carolyn, I want you to know that I love your posts – they are real! A mission is not supposed to be a holiday and it’s so good to hear all the little details of the hard experiences as well as the easier ones. I look so forward to reading your news as they lift me and inspire me and even though it scares me to think I might be asked to serve a mission like yours some day, I can’t wait to go. Take care!
    By the way, your photos are amazing!!! So often they tell the story as much as your words do.


  2. Loa says:

    Once again, you leave me in awe at what you are doing. The adjustments must be incredible but I always knew your faith and your strength would carry you through.


  3. marlo brown says:

    love ready your posts an look forward to reading about your journey pictures are great as we can see the country you are in you are doing great things an keep up the great work


  4. Michelle Crook says:

    Hello from “the land of plenty!” Carolyn, thank you for sharing your experiences with us. It’s wonderful to be able to vicariously share this with you. And thank you for your forthrightness and honesty in not sugar coating what is required sometimes in serving the Lord and yet we do it because we love Him. May the Lord bless you with strength to do all that is required.


  5. Winona says:

    You are awesome!!! Personally, I love your candidness, because for us it brings back so many memories of our mission in Yap. Those who know you know that you are a spiritually real woman and that you would go to the ends of the earth for the progress of the kingdom of God…oh wait…that is exactly what you have done!! 🙂 That, however, does not take away from the fact that you are doing a hard thing and gaining an appreciation for those who live it, as well as alerting and reminding those who live in lands of plenty to not take it for granted.
    Thank you so much for all the wonderful photos and highlights of your experiences. You are both in our thoughts and prayers daily!


  6. Joy McMullin says:

    You have done all the hard things already within the first couple of months. You have made it all the way around the mission and to Burundi twice, and completed a mission tour! It was great to see that you took a few minutes for a little fun! As we think back on our mission, we too realize that the blessings more than compensate for the difficulties.
    However, the only thing we miss is the people!
    Joy McMullin


  7. Brittany Rutledge says:

    I loved reading your post this week. (I love reading them period) but this was one of those that I needed to hear
    I love Sherri Dew’s book ” if life were easy it wouldn’t be hard “. What a true statement.
    You’re doing so great! And I love your posts.
    You are doing the lords work and I know you’ve already received so many blessings being there and you’ve blessed so many lives of those that are there. Words of comfort and encouragement: you’re blessing our lives back here at home.
    Love you and miss you.


  8. Dawn says:

    Some people like to give all the rosy details of missionary life, making it appear that it is easy and continually spiritual and that things always work out. I always wonder if that is a cause of a big hurdle for people who struggle as missionaries….they expected it to be all nicey nicey….and when the hard things come up they think something is wrong with them or their mission experience. Truth is, some of the hardest days I have ever had were as a missionary. I appreciate your honesty. I cannot even imagine how hard living there is. You are a hero to me!!

    ….and I hope I can learn from you and not have to experience those hard things! I like toilet seats, myself.


  9. Terry Forster says:

    Carolyn(Sister Thomas)…. Thank-you for this wonderful blog, which I just received the link to from Monte… I had no Idea how accomplished of a writer you are!! I have loved reading through every single part of it and imagining what it must be like to be there…I have imagined riding on those bumpy roads, and dreading driving and getting stuck on them in the rainy season…I have worried about you being so excited to see a crocodile and thankful for your careful guides… I have been impressed by the strength of the voices of your young Elders, and their tenacity, moving chairs even as they sing..( and by their sweet sunny study area!) I have had my eyes opened, and felt a little sad, at the sight of the chapel, with water stains running down the walls; I have mostly been amazed at the beauty of the children and of the love of Heavenly Father in sending you there to serve them. LOved seeing the sweet smiling sister missionaries, your hope…loved your candour in admitting how hard and probably humbling it has been to adjust to the absence of the very basic levels of sanitation that we take for granted…I feel your relief at a bucket of cool water, and only imagine the patience it would develop to have to wait over a week to feel clean (ish) I love that Heavenly Father cares so much for you to have had you find that rose and open that Anne of Green Gables book and receive a message of his love and tender mercy to you personally.. You are amazing and I know why he chose you for this calling! Thanks for sharing; love, Terry:)


  10. Kate says:

    Mom, we all know that despite your hardships over there you are serving with your might, mind and strength. Thank you for your example that we can do hard things!
    I am glad you found some good steak and milkshakes. Do they make them thick but drinkable, how dad likes them:)?


  11. I loved this post, as I did all your others. I love seeing pictures, too. SO cool that you got to see hippos! Kind of scary, though, knowing how mean and dangerous they are. I’m so thankful for your example and your diligence in serving. We pray for you always. Love you!


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