Thursday, January 29, 2015

     Our good friend Jean Paul and his wife Eugenie were expecting a new baby girl the end of January.  On about the 15th of January, she woke up one morning badly swollen.  They knew they needed to see the doc who immediately hospitalized her  (that was on Thursday, the 15th).   We went to the hospital to see her on Saturday, the 17th.  When we got there, we were surprised and happy to discover that Jean Paul and Eugenie were the proud parents of a new baby girl!  After trying unsuccessfully for a couple of days to bring her blood pressure down, they took the baby by caesarian that morning at 11:30 am.  Yay!  Mom and baby doing well!

     This is baby Priska, sleeping so peacefully.  Notice that her skin is more the color of Gary's than of Jean Paul's to start out.  Babies that will have very dark skin do not always look "black" when whey are born.  This is because the melanin or the body's natural pigment is not present in their skin immediately and can take weeks before the final shade is present.

Here is proud papa Jean Paul.  Eugenie is out of it, still under the effects of the anesthesia.  She was lying flat in her bed fairly unresponsive,  as it was just 1 1/2 hrs after she had her caesarian.

Some more good news concerning babies.  The little girl who was named for me suffered a traumatized nerve during the delivery as they pulled on her arm to help get her out.  Consequently, she was unable to use her right arm.   With therapy, she has now regained the use of her arm, and we are delighted!

Elections are coming up both in the Congo and in Burundi.  In Burundi they will take place this spring, in the Congo, in 2016.  In both countries,  the incumbent president  has served his constitutionally allowed 2 terms, but neither president wants to give up power.  Last week the president of the Congo tried to change the date when a census will be taken.  He wanted the census to take place before the elections.  Why?, you may ask.  Because the census takes 2 to 3 years to complete and that would allow him to postpone the elections and remain president.  The people objected to this change, and protests broke out in the Congo.  Over 50 people were killed in Kinshasa, the capital.  The government shut down the internet and phone lines to try to stop university students from communicating.  Our missionaries from Uvira (Congo) who were in Bujumbura for a training meeting had to leave early to get to the border because the border was going to close at 2:00pm instead of 6:00pm last Wednesday. Internet is still down in the Congo.

Here in Bujumbura we have had some excitement as well.  The last week in December, 120 armed men crossed the border from the Congo into Burundi.  They were not doing anything actively violent.  They were, we believe, Burundais rebels who had been living in the Congo and who returned to their native country of Burundi.  However, government soldiers frowned on their presence and promptly slaughtered 110 of the 120 men.  Seventeen were beheaded.  These rebels were against the current administration.  We have heard that the president wants to remain president by changing the constitution so as to allow himself the privilege of running for a third term.  We have also heard that the president and his administration don't want to give up power for fear they will be arrested by the World Court for wrongs they have committed while in power.  No one knows who is going to run for president yet, even though the elections are to be in May.  So different from home where campaigning starts the minute the election is over.  Here with just 3 months til the vote, no one knows who will be on the ballot.  It makes me so grateful for our democracy in the U.S. where we do have a peaceful transfer of power once the election is over.  Plenty of fireworks during the election process, but nobody dies.

To leave you on a lighter note, here is some toothpaste you can buy here.  With a name like "Crust", it makes me want to put it right in my mouth and start brushing!  How about you?

Friday, January 23, 2015

    Last week we had a couple of surprises.  Gary went out to look for something in a little room out back where we keep tools. etc.  He came back in to tell me to go out and see what was in our tool storage room.  I went out and imagine  my surprise to find 2 little red hens, pictured below:
Our gate guard Dieudonne got them about 2 weeks ago and neglected to tell us about it.  He hasn't decided whether to eat them or to keep them for eggs.  You never know what you will find!

Two more surprises.  Saturday night, the 10th, we left the house a little after midnight to go to the airport.  After we left, our other guard, Fabrice, saw 2 monkeys in our front yard!  I would have loved to have seen them!

Second surprise was not nearly as fun.  One of the guards saw a red snake in a tree that overhangs our yard.  A venomous snake.  He asked permission to lop off the fronds that overhang our yard so the snake cannot "drop in " on us.  Permission granted.

At the missionaries apartment, they killed a bright green snake, a viper,  that was about 4 feet long.  That is the second snake in the last few months so I think we will look for them a new apartment.  They back up on a wooded river area that is probably a great habitat for the snakes.

Gilbert, the last one of the orphans we brought to Bujumbura, was baptized last week!  We are so happy for him---he is a really a likable young man of 18.  He and his sisters have been a blessing for the branch.

One of the sister missionaries got ill,  and we had to take her to see a doctor.  She became quite melodramatic and had to be helped to the car.  After tests at the clinic, we discovered she has a parasite.  She is now on meds to kill the "beasts."  We learned that when we leave the mission, we will be given a combination of drugs lovingly called "The Bomb" that will kill any inner critter we may have picked up.

Monday, January 12, 2015


     Usually we wake up in the morning to the sounds of roosters crowing, one who lives next door and then others at varying distances calling out to each other in the wee hours of the morning in a crowing contest.  With the holiday season (and holiday meals!) over, we find we no longer hear any roosters.  Hmm.  But we have a new warbler to listen to!  Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we started hearing the dulcet tones of a turkey gobbling during the day.  We were sure his gobbling would end on Christmas or New Year's Day, but still he gobbles on.  We'll keep you posted.

     This is a photo of our truck.  You will notice there is an empty hole where once there was a little light that blinks, signaling a turn.  We are currently missing this little light on both sides of the truck.  They disappeared several weeks apart.  The other missionary couple, the Van Wagoner's , is also missing their little turn lights.  I understand there is an area in the city where we could go to find second-hand parts  (read that, stolen parts.)  We could even buy our own lights back if we are lucky!

One of our branch presidents carries with him a small wooden baton about 10 inches long.  We asked him why he carries it, and he explained that there are wise men in the country called "sages", and they always carry wooden sticks with them.  He explained to us that he thinks people will see him carrying this baton,  and they will think that he is a wise man.  

Wildlife alert!!!
For the second time since we arrived, I have seen monkeys wandering the streets of Bujumbura.  This last time, as we were driving down the street, I saw 2 animals dash across the road and couldn't tell what they were.  When we got to the place where they crossed, I looked to the side and there were 2 monkeys, one atop a wall and the other on the ground at the base of the wall.  It all happened so quickly I didn't have time to get a photo.  But I hope to see them again before we leave and be able to snap a picture!

For Christmas, theVan Wagoner's gave us each a coupon for a massage from a man named Terrance who gives massages in the only park in Bujumbura. This park is totally walled, and there is a small entrance fee of 500 francs.  (About $.33 cents)
This is Gary getting worked over by Terrance.  Cirque de Soleil, here we come!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

     On Saturday morning following Christmas,  Odette, another one of the orphans we brought to Bujumbura, was baptized, along with a couple of other people.  One of the others baptized was the wife of the 2nd counselor in Branch 3.  That was also a special occasion, as the 2nd counselor has been trying to get his wife to come to church with him for 4 years.  They both used to be Muslim.  The first time we saw her come to Church was for the big joint meeting when the Mission President came to town for the first time and spoke to all the members.  I guess what finally convinced her that the Church was something to be taken seriously occurred when she was ill, and her husband gave her a priesthood blessing.  Obviously it worked, and she is now a member of the Church.

 This is Salvatore and his wife at her baptism.

Gary, with Gilbert and Odette (brother and sister) at Odette's baptism.

     This afternoon (Saturday, the 27th) we picked up the Mission President and his wife, President and Sister Thomas,  at the airport and headed straight to Branch 1 where they were having their Christmas activity.  It started in the chapel with singing and a nativity play presented by the Primary.  Then the activity moved out onto the lawn.  President Thomas gave a short talk, and then they served a delicious meal.

This is the decorated chapel for the Christmas activity.

Here are the Primary children sitting in their seats patiently waiting for their Christmas gift from the branch.

Their "gift" was a round lollypop.  Here the gifts are being distributed.

President Thomas addressing the group at the Christmas activity.  Does this vaguely resemble anything you experienced during the Christmas holidays?  Green grass, no coats, no snow and lots of sunshine.

The next day was Sunday, and we attended sacrament meetings in branches 2 and 3 so the President could speak to them.  Following those meetings and several hours of interviews, we had dinner at our house with the Thomas's and the Van Wagoner's.

On Monday evening, we treated the missionaries to dinner at an oriental restaurant named Shanghai.

I think everyone enjoyed the Asian cuisine except one poor elder who was flummoxed that there was no fou-fou on the menu!  He was a little pouty and a lot hungry when we left the restaurant!

The next day 36 members were bussed in from Uvira to attend a training meeting with the other branches here in Bujumbura.  The 1st 11/2 hour was a training with all of the presidencies from all of the auxiliaries given by President Thomas.  The second hour we divided the sisters from the brothers, and Sister Thomas and I did a separate training for the sisters.  I got to give a training on "Women, Men and the Priesthood,"  based on an article in the Liahona by M. Russell Ballard.

On the 31st we had a 5 hour zone conference with the full time missionaries.  Next day, after arranging repairs to electricity in 2 apartments, changing out and replacing the gas for the propane stove for the sisters, testing one of the sisters for malaria, exercising with the President and the Van Wagoner's, and getting the President and Sister Thomas to the airport, we took a deep breath and things went back to normal.  Whatever normal is!