These last few days I have had a couple of expressions running through my mind. One, was one of my dear mother’s favorites, “Bloom where you are planted”, and the other we have all heard, is “Life is a journey.”
The past few weeks have been nice, for the most part because we have been working from home (Mission Home of course) and like my mother, and her mother before her, I am basically a “home-body”. I actually like things quiet… and I love routine! Life at “home” however, is never boring. This week, Brent has interviewed over 70 missionaries, held a 7 hour Zone Conference, and spent three separate evenings in gospel discussion with the aforementioned missionaries, all in a language that is not his own. He seems to take it all in stride and I am always amazed by what he is able to do. He never wastes time wishing things were different or wishing he was somewhere else, doing something else. He just digs in and does what needs to be done. In short, he is a master at “blooming where he is planted”.
I prepared dinner for and cleaned up after those same missionaries on those three evenings, (with some much appreciated help)… and just that, just about did me in! Now, don’t misunderstand… I actually enjoy feeding the missionaries, especially if they like what I feed them, but this week reminded me that I am getting older, and some things that I could easily do before, are not so easy anymore! I discovered earlier in this mission that I am not a good “sitter” (all that time sitting in meetings, sitting in cars, airplanes and airports, sitting at my desk, or sitting waiting for Brent while he is in meetings, has been hard on my body, as well as my sanity.) I discovered this week that I am not a good “stander” either! (Standing for hours in a very hot kitchen, preparing food for a crowd, and then standing for more hours in an even hotter kitchen, washing dishes and cleaning up, has also been hard for me.) It looks like there is just one thing left that I am good at and there are just so many hours of the day (well, night actually) when that is acceptable.
The other thing that Brent and I have done a few times over the past few weeks, is speak/train church members in various local Stake and District Conferences. Again, Brent just takes it all in stride. He doesn’t need to prepare, he just stands up and speaks! I on the other hand, get all knotted up over it! I have done this six times in the past few weeks and just found out I “get” to do two more this weekend. It would be hard enough to say something worth hearing in English, but the real thing that stresses me is that the language of our mission is not English,… it’s French ! I either speak in English and have someone translate for me or I stumble over my very limited and poor French, and watch them scratching their heads trying to figure out what-in-the-world I am trying to say. The easy answer seems to be to speak in English, right? But the question is… Is the easy thing the right thing? If I try speaking in French, am I setting a good example for our missionaries and others? Are they warmed by my efforts to speak to them in their own language? (French isn’t their own language of course but is the best I can do.) Or, if I speak in French, is it all about me trying to do my best? A couple of weeks ago, I was talking this over with some of the senior sisters and made the statement, “I don’t care if I look like an idiot. I just don’t want to waste valuable conference time. I want to say something worth hearing!” Pretty noble right? (I think I was hoping for the gift of tongues.) Well,… turns out that when crunch time came and I actually did look and sound like an idiot,… I cared! The day after the disaster, I had to speak again to the same crowd. Boy!… I had to think about that long and hard. If I spoke in English, would everyone know I had given up? But… if I tried French again and did no better, would I be doing more harm than good? In the end, the simple answer I received was, “French is the language of our mission.” And once again, in the time since we arrived here, I learned something about submission,… and about the journey. (Remember?… “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”)… This weekend I will try again.
Here is one of the Likasi District Presidency and some of his children, arriving at District Conference today. (Count them. There are seven on that bike!) This is the most common form of taxi service in the DRC, and though it looks terribly unsafe and irresponsible, there is little choice. Besides, the kids look like they are having fun… and isn’t that all that matters?!
The rest of the pictures in this post will be dedicated to what I think, are some of the noteworthy store fronts and buildings we have seen.
I thought I’d throw this guy in the middle. We pass him every time we go to the grocery store (which is way too often). We assume he’s had a rotator cuff problem with his right arm for the past week, as he is no longer able to lift it, like he is in this picture. (Two weeks ago he had nothing but his legs!) There he is though… rain or shine, doing his best to direct traffic. They are very proud of him, as you can tell by the printing on the box he stands on. (No. I don’t know why they have written it in English instead of French!)
House of Sewing! I am actually quite impressed with what they are able to do, with nothing but treadle sewing machines. However,… Haute Couture they are not!
Now on to the medical section…
Jess, Ben and Wes… This one is for you! Is it just me, or could this gentleman use a little orthodontic work to correct the placement of his upper anterior 7 through 10? It’s apparent he has more immediate problems however, by the look on his face.
So!… What I learned this week about my ability to speak French, (or not) is that “my ability to speak French” really doesn’t matter. Heavenly Father can take care of the message and the spirit, no matter how well I speak or what I speak about, and in whatever language. What does matter is that we all keep moving ahead,… learning, growing, and trying to do our best and be our best,… even if it is difficult and we risk looking foolish. After all, “Life is a journey.” And one day, when we finally do arrive at our destination, we will realize that it is not so much about the actual ups and downs of life or our achievements, but everything about the person we have become.