Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Unto the Lord ~ May 26, 2014

UNTO THE LORD ~ Our work in the Branches

Alma 37:36

Many times, when things are hard, or we have had a day that has taken everything we have, Elder Bailey and I think about the expression..."Unto the Lord".  Somehow, this gives us the courage to keep going, the faith to keep trying, and the joy in the journey.  We have, over the many years that we have been in the service of the Lord, learned that everything we do is really because of our love for our Savior Jesus Christ and our gratitude for what He has done for us that we could never do for our ourselves.  Thus....our blog title for this week.....Unto the Lord!

These two beautiful "Sisters in the Gosple", Natacha and Pauline, are my friends.  We needed to be at the Pointe Noire Branche at 2:00 on this past Saturday, May 24, 2014 to be a part of a huge celebration for the Relief Society.  We had been at the Mpaka/Aeroport Branche watching Conference and they asked if they could get a ride.  I love these dear sisters even though we can't carry on a conversation that has more words than a 3 year old vocabulary ( on my part) we get along fine.  When we arrived at the church, no one was there, so we sat along side the road and ate some cookies....because we were starving!

Natacha, Pauline, and Soeur Bailey

Varnish, Ketsia, Eloise, and Soeur Bailey

For my part on the program I had a quartet that sang "Daughters In His Kingdom" in English.  They wanted to sing it in French and when we couldn't find the written words we just decided to do it in English.   We had Elder Hatch translate the words into French and passed them out for all the Sisters to read.  What would a quartet be without "matching outfits?"

Part of the Celebration consisted of a "Relief Society Choir.  We sang: "If You Could Hie to Kolob", and "Holy Temples on Mount Zion".  They were both in French and Elder Bailey said they sounded beautiful!

Elder Bailey was the piano player for the night.  He learned of his part when he came!

President Sombo, President Cook and Sister Sombo.  We had a dinner on Friday night for all of the Branche Presidents and their wives.  President Sombo is the President of the Pointe Noire Branche.

UNTO THE LORD ~ Our Work with the Elders

     Elder Wright, Elder Rakotonindriana, Elder Twenenboah, Elder Garland, Elder Ndayiezye, Elder Johnston
Back row:  Elder Etherington and Elder Hatch

These are the Elders of Pointe Noire as of last Friday.  President and Sister Cook came in for one day to have a Zone Conference.  Transfers were today so this was the last time some of these Elders will be together.

President Cook instructing the missionaries!

Elder VanAusdal and Elder Garland practicing teaching from the the Book of Mormon with just using the pictures.

Elder Tweneboah is from Ghana and speaks beautiful English.  He has been here for a week and is studying so hard to learn French.  Elder Johnston is his teaching companion who is also teaching using the pictures from the Book of Mormon.

Elder Hatch and Elder Ndayiezye

Group Picture!  Yep, these are the ones the Lord has put His trust in to find those He has prepared!


Transfers happen every 6 weeks and that was today, Monday, 26 May, 2014.  All of the missionaries wait to see if they will stay here, get transferred to another country, or who their new companions will be.  Sometimes they just have to trust in the Lord that what has happened is His will.  

Elder Garland, Elder Hatch, Elder Johnston, Elder Rako, and Elder Tweneboah read what there transfers will be.

Elder Rakotonindriana reacting to his new call as District Leader.

Elder VanAusdal, Elder Ndayiezeye and Elder Etherington read about their transfers.

Elder Etherington and Elder Garland who was his trainer, give a tender goodbye hug, as they now will have new companions.

Elder Garland and Elder Hatch will now be companions and the Zone Leaders of the Pointe Noire missionaries.

Elder Johnston will have a new companion that will arrive on Friday named Elder Bybee.

Elder Wright will be the Senior Companion to Elder Etherington.  They are assigned to the Mpaka Branche.

Elder Rakotonindriana and Elder Tweneboah are now companions and also assigned to Mpaka.  Elder Rako will be his "Father".... in missionary terms.

Elder VanAusdal will be the Senior Companion to  Elder Ralison who arrives on Tuesday.

And Elder Ndayiezeye will be leaving us to return back to Kinshasa.  He will be the new trainer for Elder Randriatsarafara from Madagascar.

UNTO THE LORD... our everyday experiences!

These are the Young Men and Missionaries that Elder Bailey plays basketball with every Monday morning.  He purchased a "real" basketball for all of them to use from the Sports Store we found in the city.  

Mondays are Preparation Days, and haircutting days for the missionaries.  Sister Bailey cut four missionaries hair yesterday and Elder Bailey's.

Elder VanAusdal, Elder Johnston, Elder Wright, and Elder Hatch with their new haircuts.

These are our faithful,  weary to the bone, valiant, Zone Leaders at the General Conference we showed last Sunday in the Mpaka/Aeroport Branches.  They work so hard in their calling.   Everything they do is motivated by their love of the Lord and what He has done for them. We sure do love and appreciate them.  

We know that when everything that we do is "Unto the Lord", we are on our way to being truly converted to the Gosple of Jesus Christ.   We are so grateful for our "Missionary Experiences" here in Pointe Noire, and the opportunity to serve our Savior, Jesus Christ and hopefully one day become like Him!

Until next week.....

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Saved by Water ~ May 19, 2014

The Saving factor of Water

Water is a powerful source throughout the world, but here is Pointe Noire it is life-saving.  Everyday you see people selling it in little bags along the roads.  You see it used to sustain the crops that yield food to eat and incomes for homes and families.  You see the bottles of filtered water sold in little markets everywhere for those who have a few more cifa's.  But mostly you see the water being "drawn" from "wells" throughout every sector to be used to sustain life.   

Water not only "saves" us physically, but also spiritually through the ordinance of Baptism.  As we are immersed in the waters of baptism, it represents the end of our old life of sin and a commitment to live a new life as a disciple of Christ. It is an essential ordinance of salvation and Jesus taught that we must be baptized by immersion for the forgiveness of our sins.    So we are saved by water!

We have two churches that our "Saints" meet in here in Pointe Noire.  This past Saturday was a big day where 6 people were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  To get the Aéroport/Mpaka church ready, we just turn on the water and it flows directly into the font.  But, to get the Pointe Noire font ready, we have to fill it by buckets.  
Elders Johnston and Wright have great attitudes about filling the font, but this past Saturday, the Zone Leader, Elder Garland and Elder Etherington his companion, plus Elder Bailey, decided to come and help.  Elder Bailey had a great idea, of bringing our "coveted" hose and hooking it up to the spout and having that help fill the font.
It was a brilliant idea, except for one factor, we had no power, and therefore no pump to get the water to the spout.  So we resorted to "Plan B", which is to "lower the buckets into the well-water, and one by one, pour it into the font.  

It started out pretty easy as the "well" was full of water.  We just put our buckets in and poured it into the font.

And so the process begins..........

Elder Bailey dipped, while Elder Garland poured

Elder Etherington takes his turn

Ketsia, who leads the singing at the baptisms, came early and she volunteered to help

The ties came off and they got down to serious business.  

As the well-water diminished, it became a "labor of love" to reach down and pull the full bucket of water up.  Elder Garland was up to the task.

After about 40 minutes the font was almost ready to be baptized in.

Elder Wright, Elder Johnston, Claude and Ulrich prepare for the ordinance.  The ward mission leader, Fermes Ngakali, went over everything to make sure we had all information about each candidate correct.

One last check...

You cannot take pictures of the actual ordinance, but this is Elder Wright giving instructions to Claude before he begins.

Elder Johnston and Ulrich

Claude and Elder Wright

At the Aéroport/Mpaka building, Cedric was baptized by Elder Etherington

This is 'Lovely' with her family

This is "Lisa" and her neighbors.  She was baptized by her uncle Frére Ndinga.

 Wall of Fame 

Elder Etherington celebrated his birthday on May 6, and was grateful for the gift of his pillowcase.

This is our new missionary, Elder Tweneboah from Ghana.  Elder Hatch and Elder Rakotonindriana will be his "trainers" for two weeks until transfers.

Elder VanAusdal is waiting patiently for his turn to call his mother on Mother's Day.

Sister Bailey is leading the "Children's Choir" in "I Am A Child Of God."   They knew every word and loved to sing.  All of their parents were in meetings, so this kept them from running through the church.  Music and love are the universal languages!

This week we have seen how water "saves" us, both physically and spiritually.  We are so grateful to be here on our mission where we are surrounded by wonderful Elders and Saints who are all trying to do their best to keep their covenants they made at the "Waters of Baptism".

Until Next Week.....

Monday, May 12, 2014

We are One ~ May 12, 2014

We Are "One" In Our Purpose

Being a "Senior Missionary Couple" involves many areas.  There are the emotional, social, spiritual, and physical parts.  Today on our blog we will see the "whole" picture and how each of these areas become part of the "one" purpose we have, which is spreading the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Pointe Noire.  That is why the heading for our blog this week is "We Are One". 

With Sunday being Mother's day, Elder Bailey set out to find a restaurant that we could go to and have a nice sit down dinner.  Leondre suggested the "Sea Club" and it was wonderful!  We have not had a "date-night"  for 5 months and it was such a welcome relief to not have to cook.  The Bybee's were with us and because they speak beautiful French, it even worked out better.  
The first reservation that they take started at 7:00 p.m., so we were right on time and the only ones there for a good 1/2 hour.  Our waitress was "Verda", and she was delightful.  We started with baguettes and butter.  Then the salad was brought out.  It was a work of art, and very French inspired.  For my main course I ordered "Sea Bass".  I am not a great "fish" lover, but this was the best I have ever eaten.  Sister Bybee had lamb, Elder Bybee had a steak, and Elder Bailey ordered the combination seafood.   Then for dessert we had the "triple~fruit sorbet" and the Bybee's had the "apple-tart" with whipped cream.  I have never had such a wonderful meal anywhere in all of my travels.  We loved it! I wished I would have taken a picture, but you will just have to take my word for it.  If you are EVER in Pointe Noire ROC, be sure to go to the "Sea Club".

The Emotional Part  .  .  .  "Filling our Wells"

Behind us is a "Banyan" tree.  This is the biggest tree we have ever seen.  It's branches cover the whole "parking lot" and gives much needed shade to everyone who comes to the Sea Club.

The Social Part

We are getting ready for a meeting with the "Director of Infants and Youth for the Republic of the Congo, Rufin Kifouti.  The person washing the motorcycle is the supervisor of the crew sent to fix the parking lot "cobblestones".  He decided to take advantage of the "free water".   

President Caillet, Sister Bybee, Elder Bybee, Sister Bailey, Elder Bailey, Sheriton, and Brother Mabiala

President Caillet gives us a "thumbs up" that everything is on schedule for the Saturday, May 11, 2014 inner-faith meeting of all the churches to discuss the "Youth" of Pointe Noire.

Elder Rakotondriana, Sister Bybee, Elder Bailey, Elder VanAusdal and Elder Ndayiezye are the greeters at the front door of the church.

Elder Hatch and Elder Wright will greet all the visitors coming through the front gate.

Elder Johnston and Elder Garland will make sure everyone parks where they are supposed to.  Elder Etherington was playing the prelude music and was not in the picture.  Paco is from the Aeroport Branche and is preparing himself to be a missionary.

These are representatives of the Kimbangui faith.  You will have to read about them on the internet.  Their story is very interesting!

Some of the beautiful flowers that surround the church and a butterfly (papillion).

The Spiritual

Elder Garland, Armel, Elvis, and Elder Etherington with their baptism candidates for Saturday May 10, 2014

Paco is one of the only people in all of the Branches to play the keyboard.  This is one of our "new" keyboards that we received from the Harman foundation.  He is going to help us teach 12 students how to play the keyboards so that each of the Branches can have someone to play for them.

After the baptism, the Elders teach an English class.  These three young men were there for that.  We decided to practice "singing" while everyone arrived.  They had NEVER sung from a hymnbook before.  It was a very different experience to sing with someone who had never sung before.  I was touched by their desire to want to learn to sing.  It will take a few more lessons to be able to recognize the song they were trying to sing though!

The Physical 

This is where the "bar people" used to live.  Last week they moved out and Anicet, our night Guardian, moved in. He is thrilled for his new home and cannot wait for his wife and twin sons to come from Brazzaville to move in.  It is right next to our home, so we are neighbors.  The sign by the door translates "pig meat for sale".

As you enter the door, there will be two families that live there.  Anicet's home is behind the wash, hanging on the clothesline.

The neighbors furniture

Anicet inside of his home.  There are no electrical outlets and no inside plumbing or kitchen.  He pays $30.00 a month and thinks this is the most wonderful place on earth and so very grateful for the opportunity to finally have a place to live.

These next pictures are taken right outside of our home.  This young man sells eggs etc. and walks by everyday for anyone that needs to buy eggs.  The family behind him is Ndinga who sells the oranges and mandarines.  She had two little daughters and one baby.  She is among the poorest of the poor, and so I buy her oranges so she can have a little money to buy food.

This is our friend who serves chicken, fish and kabobs.  She makes these every single day to sell to provide money for her family.  Fish is in the wrapped up leaves.  

These sugar cane grow across the street from our home.  The young man told us that he uses the leaves to make medicine for "high-blood pressure". He said he "boils" them in water and then drinks the water to help him.

This is "Piggy" the neighborhood dog.  He is the funniest dog you would ever meet.  

Jean-Pierre, Sister Bailey, Anicet, Sister Bybee and Elder Bailey

 Jean-Pierre runs the "Well" across from our home.  He sells roasted peanuts in the little bucket to help him earn some money.  Each little bag of peanuts sells for 10 cents.

Sister Bybee, Patrice (our day Guardian) and Sister Bailey

This is the gate to our house, and this is the street where we live.  We love our mission here in Pointe Noire, and love the trust that Heavenly Father has put in us to be here.  All parts of our mission....the emotional, the social, the spiritual and the physical are used for the "One" purpose of spreading the "good news" of the Gospel to those that our Heavenly Father has prepared to hear it.

We love it!

Until next week.......