Count Your Blessings

2015-06-12_06.24.03So…. I think my posts have been heavily weighted on the side of our trials here.  Sorry about that!  (I readily admit I am a bit of a whiner.)  Today, I am dedicating this post to the things I am thankful for on our mission here in the DRC.  I will even count them… One by one.

  1. Every day is a beautiful day.
  2. I have never seen a snake here.
  3. We rarely see spiders or insects.  (Okay…  There are some mosquitoes.)
  4. We never have meetings after dark.  (No electricity for most of the people.)
  5. We have a very comfortable bed.
  6. Brent and I eat three meals a day together.
  7. We are able to eat well here.
  8. We are able to exercise.  (Run, weights, yoga and walking)
  9. Elder Davis makes great cinnamon buns almost every Sunday afternoon.
  10. We have a Mission Medical Specialist, who works tirelessly to keep all of the  missionaries healthy.
  11. When the above Dr. Mikesell has a minute of spare time, he’s busy perfecting the art of baking with orange.
  12. I found some really good Canadian bacon at Hyper Psaro.
  13. Solange irons Brent’s white shirts.  (This is a big one.)
  14. It may be slow, but we have internet!  (most of the time)
  15. The people here, for the most part, are warm and friendly.
  16. We have some wonderful young missionaries, who are trying to do what is right.
  17. Our senior missionaries are amazing!  (We are in desperate need of more.)
  18. We feel Heavenly Father’s patience and love for everyone… including us!
  19. We feel the love and prayers of family and friends on our behalf.
  20. And most importantly… I know Heavenly Father wants us here at this time.

Two of our biggest blessings, came to visit us back in July.

2015-06-10_05.37.40Zach came to stay with us for two and a half weeks, while on break from school.

2015-06-11_12.25.50He had barely walked in the door before challenging Dad to an arm wrestle.  You can see the result.  Zach redeemed himself somewhat with his left arm.  Dad may no longer be the fastest, but he is still the strongest. 🙂


We warned Zach ahead of time that there is really nothing to see here.  Thanks to Elder and Sister Davis and Elder Mikesell, he was at least able to see some of the various hospitals here in Lubumbashi.  This was a brand new hospital that we were all impressed with.  Of course, you have to have money to come here.  Understandably, it was pretty empty.


This is the maternity ward at a pretty good hospital.  They didn’t mind a bit that we were all in there walking through and snapping pictures.

2015-06-12_01.38.58This little babe had been “thrown away” as they put it.  She was born with three fingers per hand and three toes per foot.  She was brought into the hospital and was being well cared for until they could find a family to adopt her.



2015-06-12_02.11.21This is how they get all of their water at this hospital.  Remember… this is one of the nicer ones.

2015-06-12_02.06.26Here is how they do all of the hospital’s laundry.  Can you imagine doing all this bedding by hand?!!! … And they seemed to be happy doing it!  I am constantly amazed by the happy, hard working women of the DRC.


This was the most interesting one by far.  As I understood it, the doctor (the beautiful woman on the far right) studied modern medicine for six months, followed by some months of traditional medicine.  She now practices a mix of both.  There was a whole crowd awaiting our arrival, including living testimonials of her amazing success… And I mean amazing!  I could use the word “unbelievable” but she had pictures to prove it.  (I won’t even try to describe the pictures.  Let’s just say that they were a little disturbing to innocent eyes.)

2015-06-12_06.30.50This is her stockpile of herbs used for treatment of all kinds of maladies, everything from breast cancer (you should have seen the pictures!) to helping a young girl who had never walked… walk!

2015-06-12_06.10.10Here is the girl and her mother for proof!


This is the sweet little woman who grinds up all the herbs, so they can be used as poultices or put into water to drink.

2015-06-12_06.41.34A parting shot with the hospital staff.  They were hoping for some funding from the Humanitarian side.  And though that probably won’t happen, they really seem to do some amazing things to help the people here.  I wish we could help everyone but of course, there is just no way.

2015-06-22_06.52.21Brother Mwamba acted as Zach’s interpreter and guide, and with him Zach saw a part of Lubumbashi none of the rest of us will ever see.  Brother Mwamba is about Zach’s age, returned missionary, husband, father and entrepreneur.  He and Zach shared some fun experiences and though they come from two different worlds, there was a little bond there. I will leave those stories for Zach to tell, but I will say that in true Congolese culture, they even did some hand holding.  I think that’s great!

2015-06-24_08.05.52Ben showed up two weeks after Zach, on the same day as three new missionaries.  We tried to make the most of the four days we had with them both.

2015-06-27_04.09.39_22015-06-27_04.21.05The best we could do as far as animals go, was to take them on a little safari (and I mean little) just outside of Lubumbashi. It is a little plot of land someone has created to be like a zoo or a little reserve.  They only have hoofed animals but these guys were pretty cool! We were hoping to catch sight of the giraffes, but our driver was driving so fast, he pretty much scared away anything and everything in our path.  I have no idea what he was hurrying back for, but less than an hour later we had finished the circuit and had apparently seen everything there was to see.  Oh well.  It was short… but it was sweet.  (This is as good as it gets here.  It is the ONLY thing like it in our mission.)

2015-06-27_04.41.12The Mikesells were good enough to accompany us, even though this was their third time there.  Like I said… It is the only thing to do here!

2015-06-27_11.20.18_2We invited all of the senior couples over for dinner and some unplanned entertainment.  It was a lot of fun for Brent and Zach…


As well as the rest of us, who got to see a rarely seen side of President Thomas.  Sister Vance is one of Brent’s biggest fans, and we are her’s.  She brings a lot of fun to the mission as well as a lot of love.

2015-06-29_03.56.29It was sure fun to have them and let them see first hand a little of what our life here is like, but all too soon it was time to say good-bye to these two.  They were off to climb Kilimanjaro!

We really do have a lot of things that we’re thankful for here, but it’s just so easy to let the hard things crowd out the good, isn’t it?  It really is wise counsel… When you’re discouraged… Count your many blessings and name them one by one…  And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”


Boy!  Do they look alike or what!













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 Count Your Blessings

  1. Margaret Bennett says:

    Excited to be joining you in October!


  2. Susan says:

    Another remarkable post – and what a treat for you to have your sons there for a visit! Too short I am sure, but happy no doubt! Just about to head out on our own adventure here as we travel 3500km to Gillam, Manitoba to begin teaching there. Ray is acting as happily retired house husband – thank goodness he can cook. 🙂 We are in the final throes of packing the truck and trailer and taking everything we can think of that can fit in – the nearest place to shop for mor than groceries is 4.5 hours down a gravel highway. I am sure the roads there are MUCH worse, but in Canada, the 280 is at the top of the worst roads in the country!

    It was so great to have Dan and Kate and the kids and Tyler here for our wedding along with Jen and Jordan and Alicia! it was a great day and so much fun. I will send you some photos a friend took. Wait til you see the cakes – the pink one was for our little flower girls! they were So beautiful!

    All the best to you both, you always have such a wonderful story to tell and it sure helps me realize how fortunate and blessed I am to live the life I have been given. We can learn a lot from those who are so happy with so little. Nothing to complain about here – except maybe the weather in Gillam when it is -45’C!! But that’s what Canadians are best at, eh?

    Take care,

    Love Susan


  3. I LOVED this post!! It also made me really anxious to see you, though. But, I am so so happy that you were able to spend some time with Zach and Ben. That would be so fun. I wish I was in a position where I could visit. I want to hear more about what Zach did there and Brother Mwamba. The little dinner and entertainment would have been so fun! And that sweet, sweet baby girl. How often do people there adopt? Are foreigners allowed to adopt babies from DRC? I wonder. Such precious babes. It really is such a great reminder of how good we have it. Love you so much. Cal.


  4. Sarah chute says:

    Sister Thomas, it has been a treasure to see Africa through your eyes. I LOVE reading your blog & you sharing your feelings. You have GREAT messages to share of hope & love & sometimes to show too that it’s ok to feel down but to get right back up. You two are awesome!!


  5. Rose Travers says:

    Dear Carolyn, such an interesting and lovely post that has reduced me to tears. All your posts are oozing with feelings, observation and personal struggles that bring me from Alberta right to your door with me being anxious to experience more with you. The pretty much non-existent medical conditions especially interested me. Wherever you live, health is a precious commodity, Health delivery is a privilege, and recovery of or maintaining health is a blessing beyond comprehension. It is so nice to see little snippets of Sister Heather V. I send hugs to you and her and look forward to more blogs.


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