Monday, March 28, 2011

Visit to Kapushi Branch

LDS Chapel in Kapushi, Congo
(click on images to enlarge)

27 March 2011
Sunday Trip to Kapushi,

President and Sister Packer picked us up at 7:30 a.m.  We had the egg salad sandwiches and cookies; they had the chips, drinks and ice chest.  The Branch of Kapushi was 40 kilometers south towards the Zambian border.  We drove
--past the Presidential Palace: no pictures please, guarded by soldiers and a machine gun nest
--past the Lubumbashi Zoo
--past the smelter processing a mountain of black ore (copper and cobalt)
--and turned right to Kapushi, the left fork goes south to the Zambian border

Houses and small stores along the highway.  I rained hard yesterday.

The road was crowded with cars and pedestrians and bordered by shops amid mud puddles.  Many people were on their way to church.  The road was paved but narrow and pitted with chuckholes filled with muddy brown water.  It rained heavily several times yesterday.  Starting in May everything will turn brown and dust will dominate. 

Village home (bricks made from ant hills but deteriorate unless plastered)

Village home (notice the plastic bucket)  The Congo is the 2nd poorest country in the world but home of friendly, humble people)

Log jam of trucks (out the back window of President Packer's 4-wheel Nissan)

Mud along the side of the narrow road.  This road was/is paved but many big trucks use it.

After passing through a village, we slowed to a crawl: two large dump trucks had slid off the road, resting at precipitous angles up to their axles in mud on opposite sides of the road.   The 18-wheel flatbed directly in front of us edged slowly between them.  20 or so other big trucks (mostly ore trucks) lined the rutted road.  Ann and I were nervous as cats that we would get stuck.  The Packers were un-phased, having driven on much worse.  After negotiating the logjam, we passed large front-end loaders from the mine sent to free the trucks and repair the road. 

Notice the hibachi under this truck.  90% of all cooking is done with charcoal, even the young missionaries use it.

 There are many small Christian churches in the Congo.  Many families were on their way to church, the men in suits carrying their scriptures, the women of the same family dressed in the same bright Congolese fabric.
A roadside market in the center of Kapushi

The city of Kapushi has a small branch and 4 full-time elders.  The church building is a converted Belgian house.  The 9 o’clock meeting started at 9:30 with Priesthood and 10:00 Relief Society.  There were 7 men, 4 elders (in and out because of interviews with President Packer), 2 investigators and me.  The women’s meeting started later because they had dressed and herded all the children.  The priesthood lesson was #13, but after an hour of discussion about why the branch members were inactive, time ran out.  Next the Sunday School lesson was impressively presented by one of the elders in French and Swahili: Christ Giving the Keys to Peter.  I thought the elder’s lesson incredible but President Packer considered it just a good talk: a monologue without any audience participation.  President Packer is adamantly against missionaries taking over local member responsibilities.  The elders also dominated the blessing and passing of the Sacrament.  Interestingly, the bread was broken from one loaf, not slices.  The hymns were all sung with full-voiced enthusiasm. 

An Elder one-finger practicing on the electronic organ (with the rhythm going)

The assigned high counselor led the music in Priesthood, gave the talk in Sacrament meeting and gave the closing prayer.  Part of his well-prepared and delivered talk concerned a hungry fox coercing a crow to throw down her babies one-by-one under the mistaken belief that the fox could cut down the crow’s tree with his tail.  This he likened to Satan being able to trick us. 

Sister Packer and the outdoor baptismal font
A sister and her daughter  There were lots of well-behaved children

Before the meetings started, the elders started filling up the open-air baptismal font.  The brother baptized last week was confirmed and given the Aaronic Priesthood.  Hopefully next week they will ask him to pass the sacrament. 

We prayed for a safe return to Lubumbashi and were surprised, amazed and incredulous that the truck logjam had completely disappeared without a trace.  One large rut required that the 20+ passengers of a taxi had to unload to allow the van-sized vehicle to pass safely through.  You should have seen the shoving match as the passengers struggled to regain their cramped quarters. 
We arrived back to our apartment at 1:30 p.m. and with nervous stomachs shared the leftover egg salad sandwich. 

The Congo reminds us of what Utah must have been like in the 1850’s:  mud and dust and crude houses.  Won’t it be wonderful when the Congo (along with its incredible people) also blossoms as a rose! 

Elder and Sister Moore

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