The meeting with the 5 branch presidents was really LONG, but very good. It was the first time all 5 presidents have ever met together, and I think important bonds were built. They discussed issues that are important to all the branches. Gary and I each gave a short presentation as part of the program. Afterwards, we went to dinner at Gian Franco's Italian restaurant. The 2 presidents from Uvira spent the night there at the hotel and returned to Uvira the next morning. The whole evening was great!
Not all meetings are so successful. For example, Branch 1 asked me if I would teach English. I said I would and showed up at the appropriate time to have an English class. Unfortunately I was the ONLY one who showed up. The next week I tried again, and again I was the only one in the room. I figured the third time was a charm or three strikes and you're out. This time I had two people show up. We went ahead with the class because they made the effort to come. Now I am having trouble getting Branch 1 Primary to come to training. Their training meeting was scheduled for 2:00pm on Thursday. Sadly, not one of the presidency came. So I talked to them and told them to come to Branch 2,3's training, which was Friday at 2:00pm. The presidencies of branch 2 and 3 were there, and we had a great meeting. So much fun with the Primary music! Sadly, once again there was no one from Branch 1 who attended. As you can see, serving here is a series of ups and downs! You feel good about how things are going, you feel bad about the way things went. I guess that's life!
It has been 5 weeks since we've had power during Church on Sunday in Branch 1, so I was pleased when we had power last week and Elder Kapata could sit down at the keyboard and play some prelude music. Seeing that it's July, I was a bit surprised when he started playing "Away in a Manger." This week we enjoyed "Far Far Away on Judea's Plains". Christmas songs are enjoyed here year round. Adam will appreciate that!
Monday night we were invited to dinner at the home of a family who is just here visiting. They are originally from Burundi, but when the war started, they were able to get out of here. They told us of their experiences. He was a professor at the University of Burundi and she had a 2 week old baby when the trouble began. They could hear the violence going on throughout the city and sometimes passed bodies on the street. Killing was going on indiscriminately. Grenades were thrown into classrooms full of students, teachers were murdered. They were able to escape and flew to Belgium where he had earned his doctorate in engineering. Eventually they settled in Canada, which is where they live now. They have a beautiful daughter who reminds me of a young Diana Ross (lead singer of the Supremes for you youngsters out there!)
Yesterday we returned to the school we had previously visited, only this time with an engineer whom we hope will be able to give us direction on how to help the school with their water run-off issues. There are so many needs here it is overwhelming. There are 2500 students who attend elementary school here.
We got word that we are to find a building that can be used as a church building for the newly split off Branch 3. We drove the area and there is one really promising possibility. The president of that branch is not excited about this particular piece of property. It has been used as a reception center and has been the site of lots of wild parties and drinking. He fears that his members will not go there because of the bad reputation of this building. We tried to explain that many changes and renovations
will be made to the property and that it will be, in the end, dedicated as a church. He is unconvinced.
I am going for a record! Yesterday morning I got 50 bites (I counted them) on my right leg from the knee to my toes. That doesn't count the other leg. I look like I've got chicken pox!