Just a Spoon Full of Sugar



It’s no secret that I’ve found our life here somewhat difficult at times… but a couple of weeks ago, as I contentedly sat with some people I love, I heard the voice of Julie Andrews singing in my head, “Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down, the medicine go dowwwn, the medicine go down…”  It’s true that our happiness in life depends more on our attitude than anything else, but sometimes… it’s just staring you in the face and you don’t even have to try!


So, in my last post I said there seems to be only one kind of excitement here.  Turns out I was wrong!  Who knew that Lubumbashi has their own Spruce Meadows?!  Okay… it is on a scale of about 1% of Spruce Meadows… but still!  When Sister Mikesell found out about it, we were all SO excited!  Well, not the Bennetts so much.  Yes!… They have arrived! They were good sports and of course came with us.  Elder Bennett said, “I can’t believe we travelled 36 hours to the other side of the world, and are sitting in Africa watching horses jump fences.”  We assured him that it would be the only thing to go, do or see here, until it comes around this same time next year.  (Besides our one hour “safari” that is.)  Sister Vance was in heaven!

2015-10-23_06.48.04It was mostly kids on some pretty small horses, but Wow!…  Some of those amazing little horses could sure jump!












Well, he said he had a good time but every time I turned around he was doing one of the above.  You know what they say… “You can take the President out of the Mission Office but you can’t take the Mission Office out of the President”… or something like that.  Awww…

I just don’t take many pictures anymore, so here are some random photos from the past.

2015-09-02_09.24.02Three times a year for every second Zone Conference, in one week we feed the seventy”ish” missionaries from Lubumbashi, at the Mission Home.  It’s a snap really.  There are very few things they like, so when I found something they did like, I decided to stick with it. For a group of 25, I cook two large rice cookers full of rice, one large slow cooker full of cut up beef with seasonings, the equivalent of five or six cut up chickens, three or four big packs of spaghetti, bottles of water, and a few chocolates each for dessert.  Easy peasy!


When we have Zone Conference up in Kasai, we have the Relief Society sisters prepare the meals for us.  The missionaries like these meals way better than the ones I prepare… And I’m not offended in the least!  After all, it almost doesn’t count as a meal without fu fu. The sisters in Mbuji Mayi do an especially good job.  I really like the combination of their rice, banana plaintain and a good old American style salad thrown in for good measure.   …And the goat of course!


They pull off a piece of fu fu, work it between their thumb and fingers, scoop up some sombe or sauce, and down it goes with hardly a chew!  Some elders and sisters will eat three or four of these along with their meal!

2015-10-05_07.55.59As usual, Brent was the last in line but this time they ran out of plates.  No problem!  At least they didn’t run out of food!

2015-10-05_07.50.40They always wash their hands just before and after they eat.  Without running water, which there never is, this works just fine.


Thought I might as well throw this in under the “food” theme.  Here’s a P-Day’s worth of baking.  Artisan bread and chocolate chip banana bread.  Delicious!… If I do say so myself!

2015-08-29_00.40.11Okay, I know no one really cares but…  This is our guestroom and the nicest room in the Mission Home.   It is all stuff we brought with us…  From Ikea if you’re wondering!


Okay.  I take pleasure in little things.  This is an old oil painting that I found here in Lubumbashi that goes perfectly with the above bedding.  I love it when things come together!  My sister Jo would call that “separated at birth”


2015-08-09_03.46.20I think I’ve already mentioned how much I love trees, and here they are especially beautiful.  The above is two trees actually!  Unfortunately, as the one on the left grows bigger and stronger, it wraps itself around the original tree eventually strangling it.  I’m sure there is a positive lesson in there somewhere but that’s going to require more time to think about than I have right now. 🙂

2015-08-09_03.46.46All those leaves you see are from the one living tree.  There’s something very cool about this though… right?

2014-10-23_06.23.36Yes… Avacados!  They are quite easy to find, but not as easy as mango trees.  They are everywhere!

2015-10-05_03.04.30We never cease to be amazed at the way they can pack people into the vehicles here.  At least this one has some “air conditioning”.

2015-10-04_03.47.33Believe it or not, we were driving down this street in Mwene Ditu in the Land Cruiser.  I couldn’t help but cringe a little, as the people had to move all their wares to give us room to pass.  I don’t think we would have had the nerve, if one of us were driving but Godefroid didn’t bat an eye!


This is one of the things I actually like about Mwene Ditu.  The Carrfour is full of these little guys.  This one kept peeking into the open doorway of our hotel room and then looking back at his friends.  I know what he was thinking… “Hey Guys!  Come take a look at this!  This one’s white!

2015-10-29_07.48.42_2Our last group of sisters to head for home.  They were a good group and we will miss them. There’s Sister Vance and our new Sister Bennett in the middle.  Our contingent from Alberta is growing!

Yes… life here (and anywhere else for that matter) can be difficult but there are always things to make us smile, if we’re so inclined.  I love some well known advice from our beloved Gordon B. Hinckley, who always seemed to have a positive outlook on life no matter what the situation.

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed.  The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, and most jobs are more often dull than otherwise.

 Life is like an old time rail journey… delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.  

The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”


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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9 Responses to Just a Spoon Full of Sugar

  1. Sergey says:

    Hi Brent,
    Happy birthday to you! It’s a very serious life mark, have long happy days. We wish you all the best.
    Tatiana & Sergey Loskutov


  2. Wes says:

    I’ve always been so grateful for your perspective and optimism. It’s been a blessing to me all the days I’ve known you.
    From this distance, Brent’s huge bowl looks like a meal from the Sliver.
    Hey, did cooking your banana bread in that cake pan help it cook more evenly? It seems pretty ingenious and like it would. It seems every time we bake banana bread, the very center doesn’t fully cook, but you can’t leave it in longer because the sides are plenty done.
    Love you guys!


  3. I was so excited to see another blog post! It always it comforting to read your posts and “talk to you”, or at least hear from you. I am so proud of you and dad, and so so grateful for you both. I can tell how you have become accustom to things over there. Coming home will be a culture shock! That quote from President Hinckley is a great one, and something I needed to hear. Thank you for the great reminder! Love you!!


  4. Stefanie Morris says:

    It was great to read your wise words tonight. I love you both!


  5. Kim Hawryluk says:

    Sister Thomas, I love reading your posts! They make me smile! I love your honesty and outlook on life there. 😉
    The next 7 months will fly by and you’ll be home before you know it!
    Love, Kim


  6. Vickie says:

    Looks like you’re getting used to it ! Did you hear the latest? Mike and Marian Pickerd have been called to serve as mission president of the great Italy Rome Mission! Great for them…and us, we’ll have to make sure we see them when the temple is dedicated. I’m starting to feel left out of this missionary thing! Love, Vickie


  7. Dawn says:

    I just read a book about children in the DRC. He talked about how it was such a beautiful country years ago and how they enjoyed wealth and bounty. I enjoy reading your blog and am looking forward to hearing more stories when you get home.


  8. Sarah Plewright says:

    I love to read your posts and look at your wonderful photographs. They have given me renewed gratitude for Canada (even though I complain about the winters). What a blessing you have been to the missionaries and people of Lubumbashi. Our family looks forward to you returning home and to hearing more of your experiences. We love you and miss you. – The Plewrights x
    P.S. – Hey, we moved to Airdrie!


  9. Kate says:

    I don’t know how I missed this post. How fun it is to read though, even 6 months late! I feel bad for dad and how tired he is. What a hard worker he is and always has been! Your baking looks delicious and I’m glad you can enjoy things like that even though there are so many hardships.
    You both look great. I love you!


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