Monday, March 31, 2014

And here is our local Home Depot!  Ha!
Grocery shopping here is kind of a challenge, as it is so limited.  Where's a Costco when you need it?  If you are looking for eggs, don't look in a cooler.  You will find them in plastic bags in groups of 6 or 10 sitting on the shelves.  I have yet to see any beef, and chicken is frozen solid and with limited availability.  No sour cream, no cream cheese, no canned soup. (to name a few of the missing goods) Veggies and fruits are sold in separate little markets or by people in the streets.  In fact we even bought our cheese from someone on the street.  There are also people with multiple cartons of eggs stacked on their heads trying to sell them to passers-by, but I have yet to try eggs from those vendors.  Following are photos of my 2 main sources of food.

This is Chez Shiva, the store where get most of my dry goods.  It is run by a nice Indian woman.  
The other one is Bon Prix which has a fresh fruits and vegetables market next to it.
On Sunday, the mission president came to Bujumbura to split the branch.  Now there are 3 branches in Bujumbura and one across the lake in Uvira.  The Church is so new here that he spent a lot of time teaching about what was going on.  He explained about callings, about keys, about how we raise our hands to show we will support the new leaders, not to vote for them.  He explained how we serve in a calling for a period of time and then someone else is given the opportunity to learn from that calling.  Anyway, it was fun to see the Church growing.

In East Africa, the Church also has a humanitarian arm that works very hard to help the communities.  Right now in our little area the Church's humanitarian division is building new latrines at two schools and teaching basic hygiene facts there.  These are some photos taken at the sites of those projects.

Here are the cute missionaries celebrating birthdays following zone conference.

On Saturday we got to go out to dinner with the Mission president and his wife and the Cahoon's, the couple we will be replacing.  The Cahoon's are a great couple from Canada.  He is a physics professor and his wife is a spunky, politically active, outspoken woman from Australia.  We went to dinner to a restaurant right on the banks of Lake Tanganyika.  It seemed so good to listen to the waves come in and feel the breeze off the lake.  Where we live the air is stagnant, humid and warm.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Somehow Rami's photo didn't post so I'll try again. If all goes well, it will show the picture of a box of malaria tests also.

Following I will show you photos of our kitchen and bathroom  We have not had hot water since we arrived, so showers are invigorating!  There is no air conditioning so we sleep with a fan inside our mosquito netting every night.  The rooms in our place are quite generous in size except for the kitchen.  It is the smallest room and not the most user friendly kitchen I've ever seen!

The next picture makes me laugh because it is what I see when I stand in front of my bathroom mirror.  (That is the top of my head you are looking at!)

Yesterday was a zone conference for the missionaries.  There were 8 of the young men missionaries and 6 of us old whiteys that met.  The young men were sharp---smart, prepared and enthusiastic.  When we sang hymns, they absolutely filled the chapel with sound.  They sing harmonies that are not written 
on the page and with gusto.  It started at 9:00am and went until 4:30pm.  The Church here is in its infancy.  Most of the branch presidents have only been members for 2 or 3 years.But, watching the members and the missionaries makes me remember how lucky I am to have the gospel in my life and how beautiful and simple the truths of the gospel are.

This is a picture of our gate and our gateman, Rami.

Rami opens our gate for us both leaving and returning.  He also takes care of the small front yard here.  We have 4 missionaries who are living upstairs from us.  Gary managed to get Rami a mattress and install a shower head for him out by his living quarters.  

Here are some photos of our place.  It is surrounded by walls which are topped by barbed wire and all the windows and doors have metal bars.

Notice the mosquito netting.  Malaria is a constant threat.  In fact, Rami thought he had malaria so we had to give him a malaria test.  They are small and easy to administer, requiring several drops of blood in the tester.  Happily, he didn't have malaria.  Just sick.
A few words about the hospital system in Burundi.  If someone is in the hospital, a friend or family member must take food to that patient a couple of times a day, as no food is provided.  There is no bathroom for the room, but a communal bathroom down the hall.  There are no showers, and if you should want your sheets washed, you must do it yourself and let them dry on the lawn out front.  If you cannot pay your bill, you are moved to a guarded wing and kept there until your bill is paid in full.  If you should die while in the hospital, they will not release your body to your family until the hospital bill is paid in full.  There is no health insurance, and even if there were, no one could afford it.  Makes our system look pretty good!

Here are some photos of our "estate."  This is a picture of our street, Murembwe Avenue.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The first day we were in Bujumbura, we were walking down the street with the Elders when  a woman stopped us and wanted the missionaries to meet with her to teach her the gospel!  She had heard a bit about the church in Uganda and wanted to hear more.  I think it's so exciting that people worldwide are searching for the truth and are coming looking for that truth in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
On Saturday, we headed to a little town called Uvira which is just across the border inside the Congo.  We had to cross the border between Burundi and Congo, and a border guard gave us a hard time and would not let us pass, telling us there was a problem with our car papers.  There wasn't any problem with the papers---the guard just wanted us to pay him money to cross.  The missionaries and he had some rather heated discussions, and then he let us go across.  While waiting there, we saw a couple of UN trucks pass by and a vehicle from Oxfam. We went to Uvira to attend a meeting celebrating the birth of the Relief Society.  How different than at home!  The celebration consisted of a good video about temples which had to be translated into French and Swahili as it was played.  The questions were good and showed the women were thinking about what was being shown.  After the video, refreshments were served.  Everyone was given a plastic bag that had pieces of potato , a couple of pieces of sweet fry bread, and several peanuts in the bottom of the bag.  For a beverage, we chose a bottle of soda pop.  I had orange Fanta.  Before and after the food was served, a woman came around with a plastic bucket and a bottle of dish detergent.  We washed our hands over the bucket and then she poured clean water over our hands.  The singing again was strong and beautiful.  A simple, gospel
 based meeting.  It was great!  Meetings are always presented in French and then in Swahili.

On Sunday at church, we met many smiling friendly people.  At least 2 of them told us stories about the war in Burundi between the Tutsis and the Hutus.  One old man told us about his 12 year old son who was burned alive in his school.  His wife never recovered from all that happened during the war and died about 3 yrs after her son.  A young man was orphaned during the war.  He was in his mother's arms when she and his father were killed.  He was lying in the road beside his mother when a woman came by and took him home with her.  She raised him until he was 12, at which point she died and he was orphaned again.  This time he went to an orphanage where he spent the rest of his childhood.  While there he met a member of the church and became converted and baptized.  Now he is leaving on a mission in 2 weeks.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The 1st Sunday we were in Lubumbashi was Stake Conference.  We arrived 45 minutes before it was to start and found that the chapel and most of the cultural hall were already full of faithful Saints!  In fact there was a 50 voice chorus who sang as prelude music, during the meeting, and as postlude music with an enthusiasm and volume that would be hard to equal.  The meeting was great!  Here are a couple of photos of the meeting and of the kids on the lawn following the meeting.

After a week at the mission home, we were sent to Bujumbura, Burundi.  It is a beautiful, green country whose people still bear the scars of the massacres between the Tutsis and the Hutus.
We went shopping for fish not long after we arrive.  We found a nice sangala fish from Lake Tangynika.  It was swarming with flies, but fresh nonetheless!  The vendor filleted it for us on the spot.

Monday, March 17, 2014

This is a picture of the mission home in Lubumbashi.  It is in a walled compound with several smaller buildings.  Guards  open and close the gates for you.
Bonjour, tout le monde!  We arrived in Lubumbashi, DRC last Wednesday.  Two days later there was a zone missionary conference here at the mission home.  About 30 missionaries attended.  After the meeting, we had dinner together.  One of the dishes that was served was an African dish called fufu.  Fufu is white cornmeal and water boiled together on top of the stove until it becomes thick enough to form into softball sized globs.  It is then served with a sauce consisting of dried eels and sweet potato leaves. Yum!  Here is a photo of the missionary who helped make the fufu.