Ruler supreme, who hearest humble prayer, Hold our Dominion, in thy loving care.  Help us to find, O God, in thee, A lasting rich reward. As waiting for the better day, We ever stand on guard. God keep our land, glorious and free. O Canada, we stand on guard for thee! O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

Did anyone recognize this as the final verse of “O Canada”?  I have never thought of myself as a patriot but nothing seems to bring it out in me more than living in another country.  In the past couple weeks I have found my thoughts drawn towards home and all that that word conjours up in my mind.  I think I could mostly sum it up in just one word.  “Freedom”.

As long as I can remember, I have been told that I am too independent, too strong willed and too opinionated.  It’s true, I am, and I am now in a place where I have the opportunity to learn something about submission.  I just begin to think I’ve got the hang of it, and there I go again!… the fight for freedom!  (I LOVE William Wallace.)  “Freedom to do what?”, you ask?…  Just about anything.  The freedom to go for a walk, by myself if I want, and see clean roads and a world of order, not chaos.  The freedom to feel cool air on my face and breathe what my father called, “That good Canadian air”.  To hop in the car and go for a drive anywhere I want.  (Costco would definitely be somewhere near the top of my list.  That, Cafe Rio and a fabric store:)  The freedom to be able to speak my thoughts to the young missionaries under our care, that I love, but can only let them know by a smile and a hug.  The freedom to choose for myself, what I am going to do and when I am going to do it.  (We can probably all identify with that one, right?)  There are others, but right at this moment, the freedom I would most enjoy is the freedom to hold my new grandson and spend a few hours with family.  Thank goodness for the internet, Skype and Vonnage!!!  (When it’s all up and running.)


Okay.  So we were walking down the road by one of our chapels and passed this group of children playing.  This cute little girl had her eyes closed and was so intent on her little prayer, that she didn’t even know we were there.  She was praying for help from above, to jump the chasm in front of her.  …Her prayers were answered.  …She landed safely on the other side.  🙂







Our Humanitarian couple, the Davis’, invited me along with our senior sisters Riendeau and Anthony, to an orphanage of sorts.  It is run by some catholic nuns, for young girls they rescue from the streets.  Here, Sister Riendeau is giving them a lesson in art, which is a form of therapy for them.  I had no idea that Sister Riendeau is an artist!  Among other things, she has been our resident french teacher for the women in the church, who want to learn to read and write.  Sadly, this is her last week with us.  She will be missed by so many.


This is our group of 11 new missionaries, along with their trainers.  It was touching to see them greet each other, as we read out the names of each companionship.  They touch cheek to cheek on each side, and then touch foreheads.  Some of them walked off hand in hand.  We discovered that the elder from Ivory Coast, actually grew up and has lived in France his whole life.  That is definitely a first here.  I hope he makes it!

2014-10-22_06.33.162014-10-22_06.32.42This is a neighbourhood dress shop.  Elder Draper inquired about the cost of making a dress, for Glenda, his wife. –  $10.00 if you supply the fabric.  $25.00 if they supply the fabric.  I think an African dress might be in order, before we return.  Speaking of fabric… I went looking for fabric, with the plan of hand-piecing a quilt out of a variety of African prints.  (The idea was that it would help me pass the time as I sit and wait for Brent during his many interviews.) Would you believe they sell fabric in 6 metre pieces only!  So much for that idea!


Katuba Zone Conference and the sweet sisters that prepared our food.  The missionaries LOVED it.  Nothing beats food like Mom’s!  I have tried cooking for them, but they are certainly less than enthusiastic over the food I cook.  It’s quite discouraging actually!  I must admit, it was very good.  I just can’t do the fu fu though.

So, this is fu fu on the left, and cassava leaves and beef on the right.  They eat all of it with their hands.  They pull off little pieces of fu fu and work it between their fingers and then use it to scoop up the cassava and sauce.  And… down it goes!

2014-10-17_09.45.04This is one of our guards, Frere Joseph.  He nearly always comes to work in a suit jacket and tie.  This particular jacket has pants to match, but he has the good taste to never wear them together.  It truly warms my heart to see this good and humble man value his job enough to dress with such care.  I think he makes about $4/day, and he is grateful for it.


This is one of the better parts of town and a somewhat progressive scene in a very unprogressive country.  These motorcycles are used as taxis.  You can see the electrical lines in the background but very few people here have electricity.  When the sun goes down, about 6:30 or 7:00, you go to bed or you pay someone to charge your rechargeable flashlight.  Most of the little stores at night are lit by one or more battery operated lights, or candles.  I am always amazed when I see people walking down the dark streets.  They must have eyes that are better able to see in the dark than mine.

2014-10-22_01.54.34_2Babies carrying babies.  You see this all the time.  She may be five or six years old and will have the responsibility of caring for her little brother all day, while her mother works.  Once, I watched as a little girl of about eight or nine who had carried a toddler on her back for at least the three hours we had been there, bend over to pick up another toddler who was begging to be held.  She hesitated for a moment as she realized she couldn’t put them both on her back, and thought for a second before picking up toddler #2 and gently rocked her back and forth in a bent over position, so that #1 wouldn’t slide off her back.


A happy bunch of kids, free to do what they like some would say, but totally unaware of the freedoms they don’t have, that most of the rest of us take for granted.  Freedom from poverty, disease and ignorance, as well as the freedom to choose our own path in life.  “Freedom to choose.”  That’s what our Father in Heaven wants for each of us and what our mission here is all about.  It’s true.  Line upon line and precept upon precept, the truth really will set you free!


There is some truth to the old saying that, “You never miss what you’ve never had.”  That is definitely a blessing to the people here.  For my part however, I know some of what awaits in Canada and for the first time in a long time I feel real gratitude for the country of my birth.  You know what Canada?…. You really are glorious and Free!




















































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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5 Responses to Freedom

  1. Trudy says:

    I love reading your thoughts and the way it causes me to think and reconsider priorities. This past week in Canada has given us all reason to appreciate the freedoms we have here and to reflect on what we individually and as a country need to do to preserve them. Miss your both and think of you often.


  2. Ben Thomas says:

    I love the photos and the experiences that they represent. I love you guys so much and am so eager to visit!


  3. tclawson says:

    Carolyn: Go to the tailor’s shop you have a picture of and purchase some of his scraps for your quilt. I’m sure for a few thousand franks you could get some scraps. Just do that once a month or so for your mission, and you’ll have a wonderful quilt with great memories!

    The reason there are only 6-8 meter pieces of fabric is that each piece of one’s “outfit” uses 1.5 meters – the skirt, the top, and the overwrap with which you carry your baby.

    Love reading your blog. Miss you much. Terri


  4. Dan Smith says:

    In the past little while, 2 soldiers were attacked and killed in Canada and it has been pretty hard for people to deal with. Having lived in Ottawa and hearing about that man storming parliament makes me sad that such a peaceful place I lived in for 4 years may never be the same. Then you hear about the villages of people being slaughtered by machetes in NE DRC and it puts everything into perspective. The people where you are seem to be pretty calm and quiet! So is your new grandson, hopefully he’ll still be that way when you get back 🙂 We always pray for you both, for safety and spiritual success!


  5. Love you, mom! and dad, of course. I miss you and wish we were able to talk more, but I love reading your posts and knowing that you are doing well. Seeing the pictures and hearing your stories just confirms what I already know-that you and dad were called there for a reason. You are doing the Lord’s work. Such a special(though challenging) experience you are having. The people all look beautiful and good. The picture of Frere Joseph is very humbling, and a great reminder. There is a lot to be learned from him! A great reminder for me, too. This was great for me to read, and really put things into perspective again. Thanks for posting! And I wish I could visit!! Really. Love you!


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