Saturday, March 29, 2014

Instruments In the Hand of the Lord

As a Senior Couple here in Pointe Noire, we were given the call to be.... "Member Support, Leadership Missionaries" by a prophet of God.  We love the trust that Heavenly Father has given us to be here, and we rely on Him each day to know what it is we need to do. Many of you might wonder how you can be called to a mission where you do not speak the language. It just works out!  Every day we get on our knees and we ask for help. We ask for personal revelation, we ask for inspiration and guidance, and we pray that we will be blessed with the "gift of tongues" and the "interpretation of tongues".    And then we get up and go to work!
Every mission is different for Senior Couples.  This mission is different than our mission to Cote d'Ivoire.  We were called to be the "Office/Proselyting" couple there and worked under an Ivorian Mission President.  It was the hardest thing we have ever loved!  But we learned to just TRUST in the Lord and as we relied on him every single day, we made it through.
So besides being a support for the 8 Elders here (which we truly love),  we are trying to prepare ourselves to be "instruments in the hand of the Lord" for the three Branches.  We had an experience this past week about "instruments" and how valuable they can be.  This is a picture of a carving we saw as we traveled home one day last month from the market.

We drove by very slowly and admired the work of the "artist".  I loved the chiseled lines that all came together to form the eyes, nose, lips, which turned out to be this magnificent "bust" of an African.   All of this was inside of a block of wood, it just needed the skilled hands of years of experience and the tools to bring it all to pass.

This is "Giscard" who is a "carver".  We found out that he did not carve the African bust, but that it was one of his "colleagues".  As we talked with him we found out that He has had many years of experience in his trade.   Notice the wood chips all over the ground and notice the elephants by his side. These are all evidences of his work that he takes so seriously.  

This is his "workplace".  This is where we first saw him and talked with him about his work.  We asked him if he could carve us a "Crèche de Noël" which is French for "Nativity".  He got a huge grin on his face and told us that he knew how to do this.  He went over each piece with us... Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus,  the wise men, shepherds and lambs.  He told us he would make it out of a special wood called "Gris", and that it came from up north.  We gave him our telephone number, and told him to call us when it was done.    

Last Wednesday, which was about 1 month from when we talked to him, he called to say our Creche de Noël was ready to be picked up.  When we arrived he was putting the final polishing on.  He took an old paint brush and dipped it into a neutral shoe polish.  Then he "dabbed" each piece.

Finally, he "buffed each one.  Here he is buffing the manger.

Giscard is chiseling out four "tusks" here, to put by the elephants. trunks.   When we went to pick up our "Creche" he had two elephants that he was taking to market.  We fell in love with them so we added them to our Nativity.  

Here is one of the Wisemen.  I fell in love with his face and the beautiful lines that are so African.

Mary's hands were folded in prayer and her head was bowed.  I saw purity, and reverence in her face and the serenity that only the Mother of our Savior would have.  She was beautiful !

This is our beautiful Nativity. If you will notice, there is one extra person.  We haven't quite figured out who he is, but we are not complaining.  We couldn't help but admire the handiwork of a "Master" carver whose tools were used to create a masterpiece!  

These are Giscard's instruments. By his hands he used each one to make our Créche de Noël. 

Elder VanAusdal with Loubecki

Intruments for the Lord.....
On Saturday, March 29th, Elder VanAusdal baptized Loubeki.  It was a speciall baptism in spite of the rains that threatened.   These young Elders have been called to be "instruments in the hands of the Lord," and through their obedience and faith the Lord uses them as remarkable tools to gather His people.  They are helping to "carve" within each and every convert a knowledge of who they really are.....  sons and daughters of God.  We are thankful to be part of the "Hastening the work of Salvation and Instruments in the hands of our Savior. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Day With The President ~ March 25, 2014

We have had a busy week here in Pointe Noire....
President flew in on Saturday March 22 at 5:30 P.M.  We headed to the marriage celebration and the greeting of all the Missionaries.  They are always so happy to see "their" President.  Sister Cook knows that her time is short with these wonderful Elders and got "teary-eyed" knowing that come July we will be another mission.

Elder Hatch, Elder Rakotonindriana, Elder Wright, Elder Johnston, Elder Garland, Elder Gelinas, Elder Ndayizeye, Elder Van Ausdal, and President & Sister Cook

This is President Caillet from the Aeorport Branche, officiating at the reception of Allen and Bijou (Not sure how to spell her name?)  Allen is the Ward Mission Leader and served his mission in Burundi.  Bijou was the Young Women's President of the Pointe Noire Branche.  We are so happy for another marriage and the example it is for all of the young people.

 This is Elder Rakotonindriana.  He celebrated his birthday this week and received his "birthday pillowcase"!

This is Elder Ndayizeye.  I still can't say his name, but we will keep working on it. He is a wonderful missionary and working hard with Elder Van Ausdal

Elder Johnston is doing a great job as the District Leader in the Foucks Apartment.

Sister Cook is always telling Elder Hatch that he reminds her of her son Clayton.  She loves talking with the Elders.

Elder Ndayizeye, Elder Johnston, Elder Hatch, Elder Garland, Elder Van Ausdal & Elder Gelinas

Sister Cook showed the Elders of a family in Douala that is going to be baptized.  Elder Garland was so excited because he had taught that family when he served there.

Elder Garland helping with the dishes.

This is Elder Wright. He was helping me to know how to use my camera. This picture was taken without the flash which he showed me how to do.  These young Elders know their technology stuff, and can show us "old people" so very much.  We sure do love and appreciate them.

The kitchen help.  Elder Garland, Elder Bailey & Elder Gelinas

President and Sister Cook with the Missionaries.  

President taught the Missionaries from the New Testament.  He asked us to "put our nets on the other side of the boat", or in other words if things aren't going how we want, try another approach and see if that won't work.  We love our President and Sister Cook.  They work so hard for the Lord and for us.  They will return again next month to teach and train us again.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Marriage ~ African Style ~ March 17, 2014

     This past Saturday, we celebrated the marriage of Arnauld and Lydie Mayinguila.  This was such a wonderful occasion.  All three Branches came together to support the beginning of this new family.  There will be another marriage this Saturday where they will do this all over again.
     President Cook is thrilled to see young couples choosing to be married and setting an example for others to follow.  This will help greatly in the missionary work, because they cannot be living in a "traditional marriage" and be baptized.
     It is so hard for many of the men to pay the "dote" for their bride, that they simply just live together and raise a family.  
     We served with Elder Mayinguila in Cote d'Ivoire where he was a faithful, valiant missionary for the the church.  We were so happy to be able to be with him on his special day. 
Arnauld and Lydie

They have to be married civilly first to be recognized by the country, and then they can go to South Africa to be sealed in the Temple.  This is the dream of every couple in the church here in Pointe Noire.   It cost $240.00 to get a passport for them to go to Johannesburg, and many are saving every penny they can so that their dream can come true.  We have one family that has been saving for years just to earn enough money for their "journey to the temple".   

The Bridesmaids and Groomsmen

This is President Sombo of the Pointe Noire Branche who married them.

The rains came, but it didn't dampen the spirit of the day.  

The happy couple!

This is Ketsia and Jessica.  Ketsia was a Bridesmaid and is our dear friend.  She has been a member of the church her whole life (she is 16) and is active in Young Women.  She loves music and many times leads the singing at the baptisms and Sacrament Meetings.  Jessica is President Sombo's daughter.

Elder Hatch, Elder Ndayizeye, Elder Van Ausdal, Elder Rakotonindriana

Yesterday, was Preparation Day, so after a couple of hours of playing basketball, the missionaries headed over to get haircuts from Soeur Bailey.  President Cook comes this Saturday, so they wanted to look their best.  

     It has been a great week.  The missionaries are working hard and having success.  Our Heavenly Father has prepared many to hear the Gospel and recognize "truth" when they hear it. Elder Bailey and I are so happy to be serving here and learning what the Lord needs us to do.

Monday, March 10, 2014


We just found out that our mission....The Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa Mission will be divided July 1, 2014.  Our mission will be called The Republic of the Congo, Brazzaville Mission.   It will include the countries of Cameroon, Gabon and Republic of the Congo.  

We will also be getting a new Mission President to be announced soon!

The church is growing as evidence of this wonderful news!  More updates as we get them.......

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Week Not for the Weak ~ Mar. 10, 2014

This past week was a very intense one.  We prepared as best we could for what we knew was going to happen, but it is in the unforeseen things (which is Africa's world) that really show you what you are made of.  

Or in other words, we relied on our Savior a lot!!

We made it through a flood, four trips to the Airport, new missionaries, saying goodbye and our first mouse (?!) in the house!  As we look back on everything that went on, we have to say that, like always, everything turned our fine.  It always does when you are on the Lord's errand, and doing His work.  One of my favorite sayings is:   If the Lord brings you to it....He will bring you through it!

We love being a Senior Missionary Couple here in Pointe Noire.  We are praying everyday to know what the "will" of the Lord is for us while we are here.  We know our first concern is to lighten President Cook's heavy load by being here for the 8 wonderful missionaries.  These fine Elder's are working so hard to find those the Lord had prepared.   We love them! 

This is our Zone Meeting we had on Wednesday.  We woke up to 8 inches of water around our house, but were able to still have the meeting.  It took the Elders an extra hour to get here from their apartments because of the rain.  This was an extra-special meeting because it would be the last for three of our Elders.  Zone Leaders Gelinas and Morin taught us and then we had a powerful testimony meeting.  The Spirit was very strong and the love these Elders have for each other, the work, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is amazing.  

We said "good-bye" to these three fine Missionaries.  Elders Lundberg and Elder Morin returned to their homes on Saturday.  Elder Baker (the one in the middle) left for Douala in Cameroon to finish out his mission. 

This is Elder Johnston from Oklahoma.  He is Elder Wright's new companion.  We picked him up at the Airport at 8:00 P.M. Thursday and dropped him off at the Fouck's Apartment.  They will be assigned to the Pointe Noire Branche.  We attended church there yesterday, and must say that the Saints in that Branche are faithful and strong.  Elder Johnston bore a wonderful testimony of the joy of missionary work and of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is Elder Rakotonindriana.  I think his name is longer than he is tall!  He is from Madagascar, and came with a smile that would light up a room.  He is Elder Hatch's new companion and they will be with the Mpaka Branche.  

And last we have Elder Ndayizeye who will be Elder Van Ausdal's companion.  He is from the African country of Burundi. Out of the 11 people in his family, he is the only member.  They will be assigned also to the Mpaka Branche.

And last but not least...

A new week is here and we know that many opportunities to serve will come our way.  Missionary Work is flooding the world and we are grateful to be a part of it here in Pointe Noire. 

 We just wanted to add one more picture.  This pictures is of our family, all 32 of us.  This is our "Ohana" picture taken last July in Heber, Utah.  We love and miss them so much but know we are not "leaving" them, we are "leading" them by serving as a Missionary Couple for 18 (now 16) months.  We thank our Heavenly Father for watching over our family while we are on our mission to help "His".

                                                                  Ohana 2013

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Worth of a "Soul" ~ March 2, 2014

These are Elder Morin's basketball shoes.  Do you think they will last for five more days?  We hope so!  

 We had some sort of "Duct-Tape" at the apartment, which he wrapped around his shoes to hold the "sole" on until he goes home.  I think it is safe to say that these have been put to great use..... as well as Elder Morin's service as a valiant and honorable missionary.  Because of his great example and love, many "souls" were baptized into the Church here in Pointe Noire.    Truly the "Worth of a Soul Is Great!"

Elder Morin's basketball shoes


Today the Elders received their transfer letters that will take place this week.  Everyone is very excited about the "new" adventure that President Cook is trusting them with.  They are as follows...

  Elder and Soeur Bailey did not get a transfer.  President felt like they were working well as a team and will leave them together for the time being!! YEAH!

Elder Garland will now serve as the Co-Zone Leader with Elder Gelinas.
They will be serving in the Aeroport Branch.

Elder Baker is heading to Douala, in Cameroon, to serve as Co-Zone Leader with 
Elder Ntambwe.  They will be serving in the Sector - Bonaprisa.

Elder Van Ausdal's new companion is Elder Ndayizeye who is coming from Kinshasa.  They we be serving in the Mpaka Branch.

Elder Hatch was made the District Leader and will have as his new companion
Elder Rakotonindriana (say that three times!) They will serve in the 
Mpaka Branch.

Elder Wright's new companion will be Elder Johnston who is coming from Yaounde, Cameroon.  They will be serving in the Pointe Noire Branch.

So that leaves Elder Lundberg and Elder Morin who will leave on Friday at 1:15 to "Return With Honor" to their very excited families.  

Elder Lundberg and Elder Morin

One last "group hug"..... The Pointe Noire Zone!

We are grateful to have served with these Elders, even if it has only been two months.  May the Lord's blessings be with them all in their new assignments.