Just another day in the DRC

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Beautiful!

I’m so far behind in posting.  I’ve been slowly adding pictures to this for weeks, hoping for some inspiration.  Nope!  Nothing!  So… Here are just some random photos.

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So, I guess it was time for the Mission President to get a new car!  Unfortunately, just one week after, we had our first real accident in the DRC.  It was no big deal really.  We were just inching our way through a busy intersection downtown, in bumper to bumper traffic as usual, when a car came from the right and hit us, right in front of the front tire.  People were everywhere of course and very helpful.  As luck would have it, it happened right in front of one of the many police stations, and so of course they were there in a flash.

2015-09-12_01.42.49Once again, Justin came to our rescue.  We never know what to expect, but this time everything went surprisingly well!  In fact, I thought it was quite a nice experience!  No one yelled or got mad.  No one blamed the white people, and the driver of the other car unexpectedly accepted the blame.  We all went to the police station where they took down everyone’s information.  The other driver’s car was not damaged (at least nothing you could recognize that wasn’t already there) but was impounded until the repairs for our car were paid for by him.  Of course he had no insurance and as a taxi driver, needed his car to make what little living he could.  Brent told him not to worry and that we would take care of the repairs.  He was very grateful of course.  So grateful in fact and so relieved, that he thought he might as well ask if we would throw in a few extra $ just for good measure.  It never hurts to ask!… Right?

2015-09-12_01.30.05Taking pictures of the accident gave me an opportunity to take this picture without anyone really noticing.  As a rule, the police don’t like to have their picture taken…  At least not for free.

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I thought I might as well throw in a couple more pictures of our mission fleet.  About a week ago, our Assistants were broadsided by a drunk driver.  Aren’t there supposed to be some lights in those little holes?

2015-10-20_03.32.56And then a few days later, the Mikesells and the Sisters had quite the experience, in the newest and nicest truck in our shrinking fleet.  You could call it a “Hit and Run”, only Elder Mikesell was the one “hit” and the one that “ran”.  Such is life here in the DRC.  Well, Elder and Sister Davis!… Are you missing Lubumbashi driving yet?  Your truck is definitely looking a little worse for wear!  But hey!  It’s a little over a year old now and it was just a matter of time. 🙂

2015-08-27_04.47.26  This was so exciting!  Two beautiful, big, new buildings in Likasi that have just been completed.  We were invited to be part of the final inspection before handing over the keys.  We had no idea these buildings were being built and we’re up there all the time!  We knew nothing about this when we decided to put the Bennetts, a new couple that will arrive next week, up in Likasi with the role of member support.  It was one of those moments, when the pieces of the puzzle all fall into place.  I think they will come to love Likasi and I know the members are going to love them!

2015-08-27_05.23.43This is one of the bathrooms, with granite counter tops and all!  Of course it hasn’t been used yet.  I’ll be interested to see if it looks anything like this in a few months.

2015-08-27_04.53.07Some of my favorite women in the mission.  They are truly amazing!  Zach, there’s your future sister-in-law!  The members of Likasi were out in full force to take a tour of their new buildings.

2015-08-23_00.58.39And of course, our cute sister missionaries were there to do their part.

2015-08-27_05.39.47They really are easy to love.

2015-08-27_06.13.54The streets of Likasi.  Not bad right now in the dry season, but in another month it will be another story.  No one thinks a thing of it though.  It simply is, what it is!

2015-08-27_08.28.44I think we are all really looking forward to the rainy season.  This is what the roads are like right now, after almost seven months with no rain.  That is a truck we couldn’t see until we were right behind it.  All of us, the missionaries old and young, are suffering from the dust in one way or another.  The young missionaries all complain of their eyes hurting from the dry weather and the dust.  They are convinced that all they need is a pair of sunglasses to cure the problem.  In fact, they can even back up their claims with signed notes from the optometrist, stating that without sunglasses they will go blind… adding, “Please allow him to buy some glasses from me.”

2015-08-27_08.31.29Driving through one of the many little villages, I spotted this man getting a haircut and a shave.  They do it with an old-fashioned razor blade that they attach to a little piece of wood.  I don’t know how they manage to get it so short and so even, but they do!  By the looks of that roof, they’re not taking any chances with the wind!  Thankfully, it doesn’t get very windy here, at least not by southern Alberta standards.  Strong winds do occasionally come though, and with it, injury and death.  One of our guard’s little grand-daughters was killed when a brick from the roof fell on her head.  So sad.

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District Conference in Likasi is just like Stake Conference anywhere else.  It’s a fun time of gathering together with members from other Branches.  This van pulled into the parking lot and all these people in the picture got out.  Brent counted 29 passengers.

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That’s right!  29 people in this van!

 

Back to Kasai once again.  Getting through the airport here is quite the ordeal, even though we have someone working for us, to smooth the way.  It quite literally takes hours and I will never again complain about the airports in North America.  (Okay.  Don’t hold me to that.)  Anyway, there is no such thing as an actual line to wait your turn because there is no such thing as “waiting your turn” anywhere in the DRC.  You may think you are the next person, but that can and usually does change in a split second, when someone either pushes you aside to get in front of you, or is quicker than you in putting down their passport or handing over their money or ticket, etc.  (Remember to float, remember to float.)  On this particular trip, we had finally worked our way through the crowd to one of the wickets.  We then had to wait for another ten or fifteen minutes, while the woman working there decided to slowly make her way through a stack of Passports sitting to the side.  When she finally got to us, she casually informed us, with a certain amount of satisfaction I might add, that we would have to go to another wicket.  It took close to another hour to finally get everything back into our hands.  We were later told that she just didn’t want to help us because we didn’t give her any “sugar”.  Such is life in the DRC.  However, I have seen some very real improvements in the fifteen months we have been here, and that bodes well for the future.

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Here we are safely on the ground in Mbuji Mayi once again.  As I have mentioned before, I am really not a fan of travelling.  The good news is…  now that Bujumbura and Uvira are off-limits, we only have to fly to Kasai.  The bad news is… CAA is the only airline that goes there!  I’ve got a few stories but for now, suffice to say that when you land, the passengers erupt in applause.  Our wonderful and trustworthy assistants (I think these two really are), Brent’s first councilor and his wife, as well as the Drapers accompanied us on this trip.  You know the old saying… “Misery loves company!” 🙂  Actually, it’s getting to be old hat!

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Welcome to Mbuji Mayi… again!  Nine down and just three more to go.  …And so begins the tour.  Mbuji Mayi, Mwene Ditu, Luputa… And then back the same way we came.

2015-09-30_09.31.34This time, our old standby The Carrfour”, was already booked.  We spent one night in this hotel, and though the people were wonderful, we realized how great The Carrfour actually is!  Everything is relative…  Right!

2015-09-30_12.04.52This bed pretty much filled the room.  Getting into our suitcases and moving around the room, reminded me of those little plastic puzzles, where you have to keep moving the numbers around to get them in the correct order.  However… I think we were lucky enough to get the Honeymoon Suite!

2015-09-30_11.51.46This gives you an idea of the space we were dealing with.  I told Brent… This is the first bathroom I have been in where you can sit on the toilet, soak your feet in the tub, and spit in the sink all at the same time.

2015-09-30_09.43.07What a fun dinner this was!  Brent’s second councilor in the Mission Presidency lives in Mwene Ditu, just down the road from the new hotel.  His wife had worked hard to provide us with a delicious meal in their home.  (Yes… It is always the same menu, but it really has begun to grow on me.)  The best part was the mother hen and her chicks, that came walking into the room as we sat down to eat, and having two cats fighting between our legs for scraps under the table.

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This was an eventful day for us and the members of the church in Mwene Ditu.  Brent released the District Presidency and four Branch Presidencies.  He then called a new District Presidency, created two new Branches and called six new Branch Presidencies. Whew!  It was a busy few days for him, his two Councillors and Elder Draper.  This picture was taken about an hour before the meeting began (in a rented building which is much larger than it looks here).  By the time the meeting started, the room was packed with two to a chair, in some cases.  They had tents and chairs set up outside that were full, and people standing outside by all of the windows.

A couple of months ago when we were here for District Conference,  I was assigned to train the Women’s Auxiliaries for 45 minutes on Saturday afternoon.  I will never forget the feeling I had as I walked across a field, to the building where the women were waiting.  I felt so alone.  Different culture… different color skin… different language.  And yet I had no choice!  I simply had to do it… In French!  As I walked across that field, the words came into my head, “Like a lamb to the slaughter…”  Well… it wasn’t exactly a slaughter.  It actually turned out better than I thought it would…  The slaughter was yet to come.

That same evening I had been assigned to speak to the adults in one big meeting held in the above building.  I was told I had ten minutes, so I prepared a talk to read that would take pretty much exactly that!  What I didn’t know was that they were translating the french into Tshiluba….  Okay…  So now my ten minute talk was a twenty minute talk! No big deal Brent said.  He always ad libs and he would just make up the difference!  So I take a deep breath and stand up to the pulpit, just as I hear the pitter-patter of rain begin on the TIN roof.  (Check out the roof above!)  That can’t be rain!… It’s the middle of the dry season and it NEVER rains in the dry season!  Suffice to say that the pitter-patter turned into twenty minutes of torrential rain accompanied by crashes of thunder.  There I was yelling my feeble french into a mike that really doesn’t work, followed by my translator yelling into his mike.  They still couldn’t hear me… and if they could, I’m sure they couldn’t understand me.  I kept turning around looking at Brent, hoping I could just stop and sit down.  Nope!  My patient translator just kept smiling and nodding at me to continue on.  I seriously just wanted to cry.  Once again, a lesson in humility and submission.  No sooner had I finished my talk and sat down, when the rain stopped as suddenly as it began. Seriously!  Well, tell me… What would you think if that was you?  Do I say or do anything that matters?!  It was not a great day over-all.

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Thank goodness for sleep and the new day that follows!  After Sunday’s District Conference, everyone stayed around visiting and taking pictures.  This sweet sister certainly has a style of her own!  She followed me around for awhile before asking if she could have her picture taken with me.  As soon as the picture was taken, she whispered in my ear her real reason for following me around.  “I really like your I-Pad and I really want it.  Will you give it to me?”  I tried explaining that it has all of my important things on it, and that it would be useless to her anyway without either electricity or internet access. This is nothing new.  We are routinely asked for just about anything and everything…  our watches, our cameras, our glasses, our shoes and one time I was asked for my skirt.  I think they figure, “What have I got to lose?”  “The worst she can do is say no.”  The simple rule is… never lay anything down you’re not ready to part with.

2015-10-04_00.09.09My friend Janet and her darling daughter-in-law.  She is always there to greet me and give me a kiss, when we come to Mwene Ditu.

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Janet and her husband are strong and faithful members of the Church.  Is it just me, or does this picture remind you that famous American painting of the farmer and his wife? All he needs is a pitchfork!

2015-09-03_09.05.00Clean-up after one of our Zone Conference dinners at the Mission Home.  I am SO grateful for all the help of our amazing Senior Sisters – Sister Mikesell, Sister Vance and Sister Cook. I don’t know why Sister Draper is not in this picture, because she is always there to help out whenever we need her.

So… this is our life in the DRC Lubumbashi Mission!  For the most part, one day is pretty much like the next and that’s okay!  There seems to be pretty much only one type of excitement here, and we like to keep THAT kind of excitement to a minimum.

2015-08-30_05.44.49Sweet Sisters

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 Just another day in the DRC

  1. Winona Sheppard says:

    Wow…my dear sweet sister…how I love your posts!!! Oh how the Lord loves your willingness to do His will! I so look forward to the ‘in-between’ stories that beg to be told! We love you both and pray for your success. I do remember thinking, when we left Yap, that we had not made any difference and things would continue as they had for many years to come. I came to realized later that one of our purposes was to sustain the faithful and that turns out to be huge! I also love your candidness with this very real adventure!! ❤

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  2. Terry Austin says:

    Thank you and bless you for sharing. I love your posts, and the insight you provide.So proud of you, and humbled by your willingness to serve. You will love the Bennett’s as I do! Big hug to you and Pres Thomas

    Date: Sun, 25 Oct 2015 17:55:24 +0000 To: auntie_terry@hotmail.com

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  3. Jessica says:

    I want the dress worn by the sister missionary in the last photo with the yellow collar, waist etc. I love it! The people there are so truly beautiful. I’m so proud of you for all that you are doing. The effects reach farther than you will ever know in this life. I love you!

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  4. I love seeing all these pictures and hearing the stories, even if it’s just day-to-day stuff. That lady in the top pic is beautiful! So exciting about that new stake building! what a blessing. What’s the story with Zach’s future sister-in-law?? I’m jealous that he and Ben go to visit. Anyways, I can kind of relate to your experience with giving the talks, at least the nerves and everything. I remember my first couple of weeks and months when I was assigned to talk, teach, etc, it would get me so nervous. But you are amazing that you do it! and in French! So proud of you. Love you!

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  5. Donna says:

    Your writings need to be published Carolyn! You make me laugh one minute and cry the next with your vivid description of 24 months in Lubumbashi!
    Please don’t ever think what you have to say isn’t important. I was laughing so hard the way you were telling the story of the sudden rain storm until I saw how upsetting it all was to you and I hated to see that you could actually feel that way. I was like, maybe she doesn’t realize how many fans she has here at home hanging on her every word and checking for her updates. You are speaking for Brent through this too, he couldn’t possibly fit in a blog to keep everyone up to date on top of everything else he’s doing so I hope you will never feel that way again and own it that you are ALWAYS making a huge contribution out there. Your contributions to this mission are probably in the thousands by now ! I’m honored to know you and can’t wait to hug you some day for all that you do to help in this world. Donna

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