Saturday, April 30, 2011

University of Lubumbashi

Saturday, 30 April 2011

 The Catholic Church in downtown Lubumbashi.  Last week for Easter it was the scene of colorful festivities with mostly women dressed in bright Congolese dresses carrying rosaries.  Tomorrow is May 1st, International Workers' Day.  Despite the high unemployment rate, the celebration will be postponed until Monday.  All the stores will be closed.  There will be parades.  Banks closed early on Friday making it difficult for Elder Wilson (the mission financial clerk) to supply all the missionaries with their "soutien", their monthly living expenses.  There are no ATM's in the Congo so missionaries are given cash each month, usually a $100 American bill with the rest in smaller $ and Congolese francs.  There are money changers on almost every corner.

This morning I woke up to the sound of Christians singing somewhere in the neighborhood.  That was at 5:20 a.m., before the sky started turning red at about 6 a.m.  This is indeed a Christian country.    
 This is the largest store in Lubumbashi: Jumbo Mart.  It is an Indian owned company with about half the employees from India.  The second and third largest stores are also Indian owned.  First floor: food and kitchen; second floor: electronics, bedding, and clothing; third floor: furnishings.  That open place in front of the gray SUV will be our parking spot, a nice one.  Usually we have to hop a 4 inch curb with our 4-wheel drive Toyota HiLux truck.
 On the way to the University of Lubumbashi.  About a week ago the student president of the Economics English Club attended our English class at the Lubumbashi Stake Center.  He invited us to speak at his club, wanting us to tell the 100 members why we were in the Congo and a little bit about our church.  We were more than happy to comply and after bearing our testimonies, handing out Restoration pamphlets, and collecting referral slips, we met the Dean of Faculty.  We now have a dinner appointment with university officials to discuss the possibility of supplying the university with 2 English teachers, much like the Kennedy Center at BYU supplies teachers to Chinese universities.  Everything looks good for starting in October.  A new couple is coming in August.  President Packer will also try to recruit another couple.  Are you interested?
 This is one of the student dorms.  There are 18,000 students at the University of Lubumbashi.  The ones we spoke to were extremely polite and interested.  If we weren't transferring to Mbjui-Mayi is a few weeks, Ann and I would very much enjoy teaching conversational English.  What an opportunity to influence business and economic students and help the Congo to progress!
 This picture is out of sequence.  To the extreme right is a machine gun nest.  Ann was unaware that she shouldn't be taking pictures next to the President of the Congo's southern residence.  There is a little fruit and vegetable stand at the bottom of this street.  We live in the upper right corner of the photo about half a mile away.  
 The pavement ends on the left at the dirt entrance to the university.  The sign on the right says: UNLUM, University of Lubumbashi.  
 This is the basketball court.
 This is the office of the Department of Economics.  Plenty of parking to the right. 
 These are the classrooms and lecture hall.  We spoke in the building to the right instead of the usual classroom because of testing.  
This is the administration building of the university, the tallest building in Lubumbashi at 7 floors.  It is vintage 1960 when the UN had its first African mission.  It was a hospital.  The bus on the left shuttles faculty between campuses.  

Admittedly the campus doesn't compare to a UofU or BYU, but there are bright young, friendly minds there.  A great opportunity to make a real difference in a struggling country.  Let me know if you'd like to spend 18 months teaching English.  

Our passports are in Kinshasa (with the required fees and photos) to extend our visas.  May 15th is the target date to take occupancy of our district office/home in Mbjui-Mayi.  The president will fly our truck and furnishings to Mbjui-Mayi.  We will follow when the landlord finishes the renovations he promised (he hasn't done a thing yet) and our visas are returned.  Of additional interest is the fact that I (Elder Moore) was just set apart of the 3rd mission counselor to the Mission President.  With priesthood keys my role in Mbjui-Mayi will broaden considerably.  No longer only "member support" but now priesthood line of authority.  President Packer asked three times for a 3rd counselor.  It required First Presidency approval.  It's nice to have one's name discussed in Celestial Circles.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Potpourri of Photos

Lubumbashi Stake Relief Society Conference.  These pictures are from Sister Wilson, one of the speakers at the conference.  The Conference started about an hour late and included a meal of chicken and rice.  It’s common to see women of the same family going to any of the Christian churches all dressed in the same colorful Congo fabric.

Sister missionaries.  The sister on the right just finished her mission.  

Children after an LDS service.  (pictures by Sister Wilson)

African sunrise through our bedroom window.

Plaque in the foyer of the Hotel at Mbjui-Mayi.  The Congo is a Christian nation.

Going home after the Adult Session of the Laputa District Conference.

A Casava/corn meal processing plant in Laputa.

A giant moth resting during the day (on our office window)

Two of our prized possessions: our mosquito net and our camp light (with rechargeable batteries)  There are not many mosquitoes but this net treated with permethian kills any that light during the night.  The camp light provides ambiance during the nightly (usually short) power outages.  Handy for doing the dishes after our 6 pm dinner.  It gets dark early here.

Elder Wilson in the “depot” where we store printed materials.  This picture is “BF” (before flood) when the washing machine danced away from the drain.  

April clouds.  April is the last month of the rainy season.  It has only rained for a few minutes all month.  During March we had substantial rain.  In May all the clouds will disappear and the dry seasons begins, the plants turn brown and dust is everywhere.  We will be living in Mbjui-Mayi where it rains all year long.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fufu, (variants of the name include foofoo, foufou, foutou), is a staple food of West and Central Africa. It is a thick paste usually made by boiling starchy root vegetables in water and pounding with a mortar and pestle until the desired consistency is reached. In the French-speaking regions of Cameroon, fufu is sometimes called couscous (couscous de Cameroun), not to be confused with the North African dish couscous.[1]
Western African fufu
In Western Africa, fufu is usually made from cassava, yams, and sometimes combined with cocoyam, plantains, or maize. In Ghana, fufu is mostly made from boiled cassava and unripe plantain beaten together, as well as from cocoyam. Currently, these products have been made into powder/flour and can be mixed with hot water to obtain the final product hence eliminating the arduous task of beating it in a mortar with a pestle. In Central Africa, fufu is often made from cassava, as is the Liberian dumboy. Fufu can also be made from semolina, rice, or even instant potato flakes. Often, the dish is still made by traditional methods: pounding and beating the base substance in a mortar with a wooden spoon. In contexts where poverty is not an issue, or where modern appliances are readily available, a food processor may also be used.

Dried cassava root being pounded into flour to be put in boiling water to make "luku" in Bandundu Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo
In Western and Central Africa, the more common method is to serve a mound of fufu along with a soup made from okra, fish (often dried), tomato, etc. In Ghana, fufu is eaten with light (tomato) soup, palm nut soup, groundnut (peanut) soup or other types of soups with vegetables such as nkontomire (cocoyam leaves). Soups are often made with different kinds of meat and fish, fresh or smoked. The diner pinches off a small ball of fufu and makes an indentation with the thumb. This reservoir is then filled with soup, and the ball is eaten. In Ghana the ball is often not chewed but swallowed whole. In fact, chewing fufu is a faux pas.

The Cogolese are "fou" (crazy in French) for fufu.   Low in nutritional value, it nevertheless fills people up.  One tall-skinny missionary from Kinshasa told me he didn't like rice and preferred fufu for the full feeling it gave him.  

We really enjoy the members here.  At English class one asked me for money because he was hungry.  I asked him if he had visited with his bishop.  He had.  Our office manager is a local bishop.  He just told me that all such requests should go through the bishop.  Money given directly to members tends to weaken their testimonies.

We really enjoyed conference.  Hope you did too.

Elder William and Sister Ann Moore

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Recent Pictures

Mbjui-Mayi:  Elder and Sister Moore sitting on the sideways benches in the back of the Catholic Charities truck.  We will have a our own Toyota truck with forward facing seats and seat belts which will make for a smoother ride.  No bruises.  

Group shot of university students.  The man squatting in front is Christian, the president of the Economics Department English Club.

These two men work as security at the complex where we live.  The taller is Skamo, who requested a Bible but got a Book of Mormon (because we have no Bibles to give away).  I gave him a French copy and he later came back for a Swahili version.  He lent me Histoire de l'Eglise (History of the Church) which very well chronicles the apostasy of Christ's Church and the formation of the subsequent plethora of Christian churches.  Mormons get a paragraph and are listed as heretical Christians.  Skamo liked the pamphlet on the Restoration (re-establishment might be a better understood word).  He has read half of the Book of Mormon and influenced two other workers here to request Books of Mormon, both in Swahili.  The short man is sporting a tie that he picked from the pile of unwanted missionary ties.  Skamo expertly tied it for him.

The lecture room at the University of Lubumbashi.  They asked us to tell something about what we were doing and a brief explanation of our Church.  

A typical picture I borrowed from Sister Headlee's blog.

The LDS chapel in Mweni-Ditu.  After this next week's transfer, there will be 4 missionaries here to complement the 2 branches that meet in this building.  The branch president's name is Wilson.

A fine looking Catholic church on the road to Laputa.  There is also a school here and a nunnery, but no more Europeans.

At the Mbjui-Mayi district office.  We will teach English classes here.  The district clerk on the left, one of the 4 branch presidents with suspenders.  

We have really enjoyed Conference.  President Monson's Sunday morning talk will be the subject of my first talks in Mbjui-Mayi.  One of our assignments there is to prepare a group to go to the Johannesburg Temple on August 20-24, 2012.  On our way home we will attend the temple with them.  

The Conference talk on "to be or not to be" was masterful.  Every parent in Zion should study it carefully, especially those with children in little league sports.  

This African mission is supposed to be a hardship mission.  We're finding that the Lord seems to ease the burdens and prepare the way so that everything is very doable.  Watching the Lord work with these African Saints is amazing.  We're glad we're here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Trip to Fabled Laputa

We left Lubumbashi early on Friday morning.  The airport was … not as chaotic as usual.  Mbjui-Mayi (I say the name without the “b” and people understand me) is 1000 kilometers north, 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Our driver, Cote de Foi, rescued us after buying a case of water we stopped … to show our passports on leaving the city and drove south to Mweni-Ditu (the “w” I also leave out).

Notice the savanna type countryside.  No jungle here.  I met a Zimbabwean farmer who was now farming successfully near Lubumbashi.  He said that the soil in the Congo was fertile.  What potential this country has.
At  Mweni-Ditu the paved ended and we drove much more slowly toward the fabled Laputa.

We paused (for 3 hours at a major river crossing: a truck had blown a tire in the middle of the damaged bridge) and were hounded by this group of very inquisitive children.  Sister Ann taught them the "Bunny Hop" and one verse of "A Soulin" from Peter, Paul and Mary.  They cleverly picked up the tune and words and two days later when we recrossed going north one still had the tune.  The third young man from the right was a good actor.
 President Packer showed his sense of humor entertaining the rapt children with his drinking routine (attempting to drink from a bottle through his nose, eyes, ears, etc.; and then he bartered with the bridge guard for his AK47. 

This little girl, hardly more than a baby herself, had charge of her little sister (brother).

In Laputa we snapped this picture of 12 of the 20 future missionaries.  President Packer had expected 3 or 4 missionary interviews.  Most of these young Saints (men average age of about 24) (and one couple not pictured) will probably serve in the Kinshasa mission in the north end of the Congo.  

Voila, the reason Laputa is fabled: the water project.  Every 500 meters or so, there are water spigots like this one bringing clean water to the people.  Before they had to carry dirty water 3-4 kilometers, of course on their heads.  The Church provided funds and direction to plans made by another, providing water for the 150,000 people in Laputa as well as villages along the 17 mile pipe line.  I believe the local people dug the ditches.  The water is on for a few hours each day at the different water stations.

President Packer interviewing one of the perspective missionaries under the shade of a tree behind the Laputa District offices.  We stayed in the small hotel run by the Church.  When the new stake center is built in the next few years, these buildings might become a store for members to work in.  Can you imagine a stake being created in this isolated, very rural city on a rutted dirt road in the middle of the Congo?  There is no electricity here.  A train sporadically passes through and big trucks loaded with merchandise topped by humanity chug through, north and south.  President Packer inadvertently left his cell phone on the dresser when he changed from suit to short-sleeves.  A young man brought it to him two days later by riding one of the big trucks ($20 American each way).  

I woke up Saturday morning to this beetle on its back (the dying cockroach from Army Basic Training). This young member posed with it, explaining that they were eaten.  This is the wildest animal I've seen in Africa so far expect for a couple of ferocious lizards stalking flies.  

Just before District Conference began.  Inside to the right the room was filled and overflowed out under this canvas (notice the two television sets up front just like back home: there was a generator humming in the back corner of the property.)  Behind these plastic seats were another bank of seats filled (at the first of the meeting) with children.  I talked to one sister who had walked two days (70 kilometers) to come to conference.  These are true Saints. 

During the conference, President Packer spoke of his native Brigham City, population 12,000, with a temple.  Why not Laputa when its 4000 members increases to 24,000 members.  Pourquoi pas? 

Here is the house President Packer leased for us in Mbjui-Mayi.  Nice.  The owner of the house arrived shortly in a black Hummer.  He invests in diamonds which are mined in this region.  

Sunday at noon we headed back north.  This man with bicycle was struggling with a load of dried fish.   

Along the road we saw these typical dwellings under a vast blue sky dotted with clouds.  Just before coming to Laputa it had rained for 4 days.  Now the roads were dry.

This young fisherman waved hello to us as we crossed the bridge.  Typical of the friendliness of the Congolese people.  Congo has a great potential because of its people.  

Our adventure continues.  

We are doing well, well beyond our comfort zone, but we see the Lord's hand daily.   The struggle with the Internet doesn't allow us to tell you all.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Trip to Likasi

6 April 2011

Last Sunday the office couple (Brother Greg and Sister Kathy Wilson) invited us to attend church in Likasi, about 1 1/2 hour northwest of Lubumbashi.  They took along the "soutien", the monthly payments to the missionaries.  Since the Congo doesn't have ATM's, each missionary receives his living expenses in cash: American dollars and Congolese francs.  The average monthly payment is about $125 per missionary.  The apartments are paid for from Kinshasa.  Since the missionaries have no mission vehicles, a stipend is given for public transportation.

On the road we passed many bicycles carrying bags of charcoal.  90% of the people in the Congo cook on hibachis using charcoal.  People in the countryside make charcoal from tree branches.  It sells for $15 about $15 a bag with the bicyclist receiving $5.  
Here are bags of charcoal ready for transportation

People along the road had produce for sale in front of their homes.  Here are watermelon and squash.  It was Sunday and we were really tempted to stop at the tomato stands.  
This is a home made of bricks made with dirt from termite mounds.  I don't know what makes the termite mounds good brick-making material, but to endure the rainy seasons, the bricks must be plastered.

This road was pretty good.  It was a toll road, one-way fare being 4000 francs ($4.50) for our Toyota pickup.  Sunday was a good day to go since there were fewer police to arras us.  Speed limits would drop to 50 kph through the small villages, providing perfect speed traps to those who didn't see the sometimes non-existent speed-limit signs.  The Wilsons were caught at 15 kph over on the speed gun on one trip to Likasi.  The police demanded $215 dollars.  After an hour of arguing, (the Wilsons speak minimal French), the price fell to the customary $10 plus two boxes of malaria pills worth a couple of bucks.  What the police would do with doxycyline I don't know.  Maybe get a stomach ulcer?  We take out doxy with a full class of water before bed.  Some of the African missionaries are having stomach problems.

A typical house.
Another house
We passed this group of men and women jogging and chanting in rhythm.  We assume it was a political rally.

This is a church building along the highway
This is a church building within the city of Likasi

On the way home we saw this bicycle transport.

Sister Wilson's bridge of 40 years came loose a couple of months ago.  Fearing the local dentists, she decided to look for superglue and do the patch job herself.  The paper-goods store didn't carry superglue, had never had any.  Then Sister Wilson saw a small package that had slid down the display case: superglue.  Purchased and applied, her infectious smile is as good as new.  Try to imagine the chain of events the Lord orchestrated to provide superglue for a desperate missionary.  Just circumstantial?

In the next blog I'll include photos of church in Lakasi and women's conference in Lubumbashi Stake Center.  

Elder William and Sister Ann Moore