I have written about the Tshitenge Branch before. It is a small branch just outside of Mbuji Mayi that has a lot of members, but nowhere to meet (they meet in the home of the Branch President, but seldom fit inside!).
Last week Elder and Sister Wright traveled with Pres. and Sister McMullin to Mbuji Mayi. While there, they had a spectacular opportunity to visit this branch, attend meetings, and witness the baptism of a family (?) of 14 in the local river/spring. They have given me permission to show you pictures of their trip, and write about it. It is inspiring.
In addition Sister Wright and Sister McMullin showed their pioneering spirit as they went on splits with the local sister missionaries!
This is Sister Wright and her ‘new’ companion, Sr. Kalema. They went out tracking for the day, with great success, visiting with three amis de l’Eglise (investigators) in four hours. Sister McMullin was last seen on the back of a moto with her companion, heading off to their sector to work! (Sorry, no picture of that but one I’d pay money for one – Terri)
Time will tell if they will join the church, but these sisters have planted the seeds, and watered them well!
We have been surprised at how many albinos can be found in the Congo. We see them all the time, everywhere we have traveled. There does not seem to be any stigma for these children in their family or communities.
There is no municipal water or electricity in most place. All water must be carried from the local spring. The green bucket is used for carrying water. People often use these instead of bidons (bee-dah), as they can be used for two purposes: carrying water and for a basin for washing.
The pictures following were taken in Tshitenge.
The primary did not meet inside the building often used for sacrament– in fact, the entire meeting was held outside, due to the fact that there are just too many members to fit into the home used as the church building.
You can see Sister McMullin sitting down with the Primary children at the beginning of sharing time.
The Relief Society met in another little grove of bamboo.
Here are a few pics of the Primary children:
The children brought their own chairs to sit on, carried on their heads from home. We have seen this everywhere we have traveled– children carrying chairs on their heads when they went to school or church! Otherwise, they would not have a place to sit…
Just like the other meetings, Sacrament meeting was held outside. Here is Pres. McMullin helping to set-up the pulpit and sacrament tables prior to the meeting beginning (mission presidents do everything!)
You can see how many people were here for Sunday services! They have no building to meet in other than the small adobe home of the Branch President, who moved out so that his own home could become the church building . . . yet the church in this area continues to grow very quickly! Pioneers anyone?
Here is Elder Wright posing with a few of the members just prior to the baptism– oh, I forgot! Right after the Sacrament meeting, they all gathered and then traveled a mile or so to the local spring to baptize 14 people!
President McMullin is admiring the baptismal clothes that were made by the sisters of the branch.
The yellow containers are called ‘bidons’ and carry about 5 gals of water (about 40 lbs) and are carried by young and old alike to transport water to their homes from local water sources.
So, they are off to the baptism. They put as many as they could in the trucks along with the bamboo poles they used for the dressing room while others simply walked (or ran) the mile or so to the local spring.
This is the home often used for church meetings.
The large bamboo poles were taken to the baptismal site to create a make-shift changing room by the water.
Shoes? We don’t need no stinking shoes!
The trail through the brush to the local water source. There is a long sloping hill down to the water, that everyone has to trek each day to obtain water for their homes.
The sticks were placed in a rectangle and orange plastic was put around them to create a dressing room.
Those being baptized gather prior to the baptism for pictures.
How inspiring is this picture! Every missionary in the world has a knot in their throat seeing this!
Interestingly, Sr. Wright said that while this is the local swimming and bathing spot and many people were engaged in those activities on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, when the baptisms began, even those not involved gathered themselves on the shores and were quite reverent, stopping their activities and noise. It is not unusual here in the Congo to drive past rivers and see many congregations baptizing new members by immersion, so it is well accepted.
A job well done by the local missionaries in serving the Lord here in the Congo!
After the baptism, there is the long climb back up the hill. Just think, as you see these pictures, of the many women from the village that must climb this trail every day, several times a day, to get water for their families…
President and Sister McMullin say goodbye to the Branch President, and take one last picture before they go.
Always remembering those that serve the Lord.
Oh, and one last little item:
The sewing machine donated by the church (Sr. Moore do you recognize this?), that was used to sew all the baptismal clothes worn by the family baptized today.