Life Is A Journey




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.

2015-03-22_00.49.09_2Here 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.

2014-12-20_09.38.45I think this is a restaurant but as we have never been inside, I can’t be sure.

2014-10-19_04.52.24I don’t know why it surprised me to see a dancing club, but it did.  Possible P-day activity?

2014-12-20_01.32.35Di,…  I thought you might be able to use some of these ideas for your next salon.  🙂

2014-10-19_04.49.082015-03-09_02.28.01This one might be especially good for Salt Lake.

2014-12-20_00.53.22Actually, this one looks pretty good!  Maybe I’ll try it out next time?

2015-03-12_03.10.43I 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!

2014-11-09_00.23.11Apparently, there has been some problem in the past with people selling property that is not theirs to sell,… and then the real owners have to move out!

2014-11-09_00.35.45Come to think of it, hasn’t there been a similar problem at home?  Well,… Here is the solution!  THIS HOUSE IS NOT FOR SALE!!!

2015-03-19_01.39.17This doesn’t have a sign, but it is a store!  And the wheelbarrows?….  Those are to rent to carry home your purchase!

2015-03-21_01.21.57Okay!  There may be something not quite right with the name of this store, but no one here would notice.  It’s still cool!

Now on to the medical section…

2014-10-19_04.49.46Count your blessings girls!  I wonder what the feminists would think about the name of this hospital?

2014-12-20_01.25.49_2Jess, 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.

2014-12-20_09.39.19Zach and Nin?  You will be setting up practice in a few years…  I thought this was quite an eye catcher!  In fact… if you look more closely…

2014-12-20_09.39.19_2Zach!!!  It’s you!!!  There might be some copyright fees, however.  I LOVE IT!!!  🙂

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.




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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6 Responses to Life Is A Journey

  1. Jessica says:

    You look great Mom. I’m sure that you don’t give yourself enough credit and that the missionaries appreciate your efforts to speak French. I’m so proud of you and grateful for you! I most definitely would not want to have to seek dental or health care of any kind over there! Love you!


  2. You do look great. And I totally agree about the missionaries appreciating your effort. I would have loved that and really admired that. Even when Sister Everett would just say “Нет” or “Да”(yes or no) the members would be SO excited. Haha. I know the missionaries and especially the members will appreciate you making the effort. And not least of all, Heavenly Father.
    Those places were pretty sketchy looking, at least if they were over here. It makes me even more grateful for the medical care available here, especially considering all the Ruby needs. And that is crazy that they can fit 7 on a bike! does it actually drive?! crazy. Love you!


  3. Rose Travers says:

    Love your entries …. I anticipate each one wondering what adventure or insight you will be sharing next. You might not be so great with French, but you are exceptional with a pen! Your entries would be amazing to share with the publishers of the Ensign, or made into a book of little vignettes. 😉


  4. Terry Forster says:

    Thank-you for documenting your wonderful adventures in Lubumbashi! I have spent this Sunday afternoon reading your blog, viewing your amazing photos and feeling transported into your world! Your faithfulness in doing the work, even when it is far short of glamourous is a strong example of what can be accomplished by efforts of a righteous person, or group of persons with the help of the Lord. The people there are truly blessed to have your example and service among them, and it is easy to see that you have grown to love them too!


  5. Cathy E says:

    Your photos and text help me to get a taste of the challenges and wonders that you are experiencing on your mission. Another world…you’re in Africa! You and Brent look great and I have a renewed appreciation for your dedication and desire to serve. Brent is a work horse and truly a dedicated servant of the Lord. It’s hard to imagine the hours that he puts in, just in interviews alone. I would have a hard time being in charge of the cooking or at least responsible for it as I’m afraid that I would be a “Martha” and complain about the tasks at hand. Amen to feeling older with less stamina and energy. Lot’s of rambling words on my part, but thank you for what you both are doing. You are truly the facilitators of a great work taking place in Lubumbashi!


  6. Louise Va nce says:

    SO wonderful and Fun to read your Blog love you both


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