We have been struggling with several issues the last few weeks that seemed to never have a clear way to resolve. One of the issuers was that we have two Branches in the Congo, Uvira and Kulundu, that are hard to get to because we have to cross the border into the Congo and come back. It usually takes more than a hour and is really a hassle. We also from time to time get stopped by the Police because we are white and are hassled until we give them money. These two branches need our attention as much as the branches in Bujumbura. The second issue has been training for the Branches, especially the Presidents and the counselors in Bujumbura. We have been unclear how to structure the training, how often, subject matter etc. With those two things in mind listen the next story.
We were informed by the Zone Leaders that one of the candidate missionaries was telling members of the Branch that the full time Missionaries are paid and how unfair it was that the candidate missionaries who work with the full time missionaries are not. So this has now spread through out the Branches. All five of them. Apparently he is not the only one that thinks the full time missionaries get paid a salary. There is a lot of misconceptions about the Church paying missionaries and even paying members. So we convened a meeting with the Branch President to discuss not only this person but also on how to address the issue in all the branches. We met at the 1st Branch under a large Mango tree. Now you need to know that the Zone Leaders call this tree a sacred tree, and they always use it to teach the gospel to new members and investigators. The afternoon was beautiful, as every day is here. While we were discussing the purpose of the meeting and building an agenda, the branch president explained some of the history of this particular person and how he had gone inactive and then decided he wanted to go on a mission etc. Again we do not know his motivate for wanting to go on a mission, probably he thinks he will get paid for life, which is what a lot of members think. To the point. President Mabingo recounted a dream he had had not too many days before the meeting. In his dream he wanted to go and visit with his old pastor and members from his previous church, but he could not do it. He was drawn back to the Church, and in the dream was sitting under a tree discussing church issues with friends from the church. So as he recounted the dream he knew there was going to be a meeting before we ever called and set it up. It was just as he had seen it in his dream.
The responsibility of talking to this young, candidate missionary lies with the Branch President, and as he also is very new to the church, and is not completely knowledgeable, we started directing the discussion toward how to teach/instruct the 3 branch presidents in Bujumbura, what criteria to use, times, etc. As we were discussing all the ideas, it became very clear that to me, as in a sudden personal revelation, that we should invite the other Branch Presidents to this meeting and not just this meeting but this meeting should start a monthly training meeting of all the Branch Presidents. Of the five branch presidents, two are brand new, within the last 3 months and both because of branch splits. So they had to start from scratch. Now this in itself does not seem that it is a big deal. In fact it appears that any thinking, normal , intelligent person could figure this out, it is so simple. But keep in mind we were not finding solutions, it took a misguided kid and a Mango tree to set in motion exactly what the Lord wanted to happen here. And a bit of revelation. His people need the training so badly. There are so many misunderstandings about the roll of the church in the lives of the members. And this area is about to explode as far as growth in the church. It is just a small story in hopes you can enjoy a portion of what we get to see. Usually late. But, it is the small things that create large lasting changes. For the very first time all the Branch Presidents will be together, to build brotherhood, to strengthen the members together and to help each other deal with the issues, to have someone to talk to. This will grow into a full scale teaching and training of members in all levels and all auxiliaries. They truly will be able to completely take charge of their Branches and govern themselves. Love to all, we miss you. Hope this does not come across as preaching I just wanted to share this with the ones I love. We know the Lord is in charge here and will see that what needs to be done will get done.