Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mont Ngafula - Kimwenza 4 springs & school latrine project

Without his own little mundele grandkids to walk with, Elder B was adopted as mundele Grandpa by these two little Congolese boys.

A Congolese family plus Dede in the village of Kinsiona, where we have a clean water spring project.

Some very cute kids in Kinsiona.

This is our newest and best latrine, with Felix, our interpreter. The school latrine was part of a 4-spring project done in Mont Ngafula-Kimwenza area outside of Kinshasa. (You pronounce that Mong-ah-foo-la). The sign says, "Project financed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, realized (built) by GAKI", the organization who did the construction work.

Elder and Sister B with the village chief of Kinsiona. Where are his African robes? His spear? But note that in his hand he is holding a short fur-covered stick, which is the official token of his position in his village.

This is the other side of the new latrine with the ribbon that was later cut after the ceremony, when the latrine was officially 'handed over' from the Church to the school. All our Humanitarian projects are handed over to the communities for them to 'own' and take care of when the construction is completed.

Funny Elder B inside the boys' latrine waving to the camera.

Two more village chiefs and a vice-chief, waiting for the closing ceremony to begin.

A very sweet family who seemed to be too shy to look into the camera. Notice their clothing is made of the same fabric. The man is part of the organization, GAKI, who constructed the latrine and springs, and all the GAKI employees and family had matching clothing that day. Even the baby girl had a dress made of that fabric under her striped shirt.

We are on our way to one of the 4 springs where there will be another ribbon cutting ceremony and then the water will officially be turned on for the population to use.

Elder B assisting at the spring ribbon cutting - turning over portion of the closing ceremony.

One of the chiefs turning on the faucet officially for the first time. Clean water for the village!! It's moments like these that hit us with the realization of how important our work can be for people who do not have clean water. We love this mission!!

We will be spending the remainder of our time here getting things ready for the new couple, and then a very tearful goodbye to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Counting Down....


Our time here is quickly disappearing and there is nothing we can do to stop time! It is very strange -- anxious to go home, sad to leave. We can't believe we will not ever be seeing, hearing and experiencing the Congo in a few short weeks -- unless we are fortunate enough to be called again to serve in this amazing place. But life goes on, and we feel we must do something about our grandchildren growing too tall, too big, too smart, without us. How dare they!!

As for our pictures of the week, below is an interesting little story. We visited one of our new spring catchment projects, and were invited to hike up over the hill and see the "gas plant". So not really understanding what we were going to see, we followed, and lo and behold, in the middle of a remote village of Kinsiona, we find a methane-producing site, complete with a buried brick underground tank where the chicken manure is collected to ferment and create the gas, which is then piped out to various cooking stoves. This is a picture of the small hut where this man, the plant supervisor, lives and has piped the gas into his 'kitchen' stove. The plant is only 6 months old, but they have big plans to charge a small amount to pipe the gas all over the village. The gas will replace the cutting down of trees and bushes to burn for their cooking fires, which will be a good thing. They use the left-over manure waste to fertilize their crops. Let's hope it catches on and can become self-sustainable. Another African country is funding this start-up business. We wish them luck!

On our day off last week, we traveled about 3 hours out of Kinshasa to Tifie Farms, a huge project that is the brainchild of a wealthy Church member from Utah. The farm grows mostly cassava root, which is the staple here. Different village people are assigned to work on the farm each week, and for pay they get $4 per day, plus they can take home some of the smaller cassava roots for their own eating. This little lady below took a liking to Elder B, because they both have white hair and she immediately wanted him to marry her. She did a little dance with him to show him her interest.....

Below are some school children near the Tifie farm. It was the day the children received their school certificates and grades. They were very excited to see all the mundeles suddenly appear in their midst, and of course, pictures were the order of the day as a result.

The tree below is a typical African tree, the baobob tree. Immense and sturdy, unusual in shape.

These little guys were having a sweetie snack, and needed to have their picture taken.

The birds below love sitting on this same branch every day around 4 pm. Wish you could really see them - they are so much more colorful than the picture shows. We can watch them out our kitchen window. They are blue-breasted bee eaters. They actually have green backs, a stripe of orange and black around their neck and a yellow belly. If you zoom in on the photo you can see some of that color. Congo has a wonderful assortment of birds, but no bird sanctuaries that we have found to visit. Elder B has gotten quite a bit of use out of his binoculars here though. And many Congolese have had their first lesson on looking through them.

Last Sunday we attended Church with one of our Engineers, Albert, who was having his baby blessed. Her name is Esperance, Espè for short. Babies aren't taken out at all until they are three months old. This was one of Espè's first outings.

Elder and Sis. B with a new interpreter, Aime, at one of our sites near a spring.

We look forward to a new week, new adventures, new work, old work, and getting things in place for our new couple to arrive.

Thanks to those of you who tolerate long blogs. Most of the time 'you just have to be there' but we want to TRY to share what we have here.

Have a happy week, and we will too...

We love you.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Congo's Fruit and Crawly Things

The picture above has nothing whatever to do with fruit or crawly things, but it was a fun picture because we love when this happens.....we were visiting one of our projects and took a new translator, Aime, with us. He has recently returned from serving in our mission in Cameroon, where the missionaries all speak English. and he had companions from the U.S. As we were walking from one of the springs we went to visit, this woman told us she would show us another spring. We followed her, and on the way back she began asking questions about our Church. Of course, we couldn't communicate with her, but Aime could! Here he is giving her the first discussion. She was very interested, and we gave her a Book of Mormon and some Missionary pamphlets that we always carry in our truck. Humanitarian Misionaries are not to proselyte, but we sure can answer questions and, more commonly, refer those questions to our translators, site monitors, or engineers. Most of them are LDS. They love having those missionary experiences, and we love watching them and feeling the Spirit.

Elder B was trying to show all of us that it is no big deal to carry a full bucket of water on his head just like the women do here. So ok, he got it on his head, with some help, but he didn't do any walking....that was another thing entirely!

Excuse me, what I meant to say was "with a LOT of help, he got it on his head".

Here is the owner of the bucket, showing how it is really done. After the picture, she just casually walked off as if she were strolling through a park without a care in the world. Hopefully our newly captured spring with spigots has simplified her life somewhat. Before the construction, the only way the women could get water at this spring was to scoop it up and pour in into their bidons - a backbreaking and slow process. Now those bidons are filled more quickly and easily.

Above is an amazing papaya tree. We have never seen such huge papayas, nor so many on one little tree. They won't be ripe for another month. (Elder B's favorite fruit here).

This is a Congolese watermelon. I think they all look like an old fashioned bomb with the stem sticking up like that. They aren't seedless, but if you're lucky, you can get one every bit as delicious as the ones back home.

This is what they call a pumpkin. I am going to bake it and freeze the meat to make into pumpkin bread (with chocolate chips, of course).

Here is our little friend who lives in a tree. While visiting one of our water projects our translator saw it up in the tree overhead and shook it down. After we 'played' with it for a few minutes, a woman came along and took it home to cook and eat. No kidding!

Happy little caterpillar!

That's all for this week. We are winding down, and are beginning to understand just how much we have learned here. We don't regret it for a moment. It has been an incredible journey. For those of you who can, start planning your own mission. We highly recommend it!

We love you.