We have had a busy couple of weeks. Terri and I have been shepherding sick missionaries to and from a couple of hospitals here in Lubumbashi. There is a very good clinic called CMC that we use most of the time, and another called Foundation that we use if things get serious and they might need an operation. In two cases it was serious enough to send them to Foundation…but fortunately neither ended up needing an operation, just further treatment with medication.
Since we were driving so much, we were running into police all the time. We have been told that at certain times of the year, the police get rather brutal as far as intimidation and coercion in an effort to extort money from people. For example, just before the school year starts (everyone must pay for the costs of their children going to school, so when the police need extra money… well, you get the picture!)
Last weekend Pres. McMullin held a Zone Conference in Kolwezi. Usually he wants Terri to go with him to deal with any medical issues that might arise with the missionaries. He was flying, but we could not go since our passports are in Kinshasa getting renewed. But the Wrights had the idea of driving to Kowezi—they wanted to go, and would go with us. So with the Pres.’s permission, we drove first to Likasi, then to Kowezi.
We left Friday morning and got to Likasi about noon. We visited all the missionary apartments, talked to the missionaries, and dealt with some issues: Terri refilled medical kits and I reviewed some work being done on the apartments. We also drove by the two new church buildings being built in Likasi (it is close to becoming a Stake). Neither was far along. One had a fence up and was staked-out to begin work, the other was just finishing the exterior fencing on the ground (the fence is always the first thing to put in, as it provides security during construction.
In late afternoon we went to the couples apartment to eat dinner. We had a good time and a great meal, and afterward Elder Billings gave a slide show of some of the buildings that have been erected here in the Congo.
We stayed in Likasi that night (at the same hotel we have stayed in before), and left the next morning for Kolwezi.
For most of the trip it was a wonderful road. There was just a 25 kilometer section in the middle that was still dirt. It was quite the few miles! They were working on the road, so it was one way in many places, and the dust from all the trucks was just unbelievable! There were times that the dust (fine dirt) was so deep in spots it would flow over the front and top of the car! We often had to slow down and stop simply because we could not see anything in front of us (which was dangerous in itself, as we always had some big truck or bus bearing down on us from behind).
At one point we crossed a one lane bridge, but they were in the process of building a huge 4 lane bridge right next to it. From the signs, it seems as though it is the local Chinese mining company that is doing all the work.
Once we got to Kowezi, we went into the LDS church where Pres. McMullin was having interviews with the missionaries. Terri and I started doing medical interviews and exams for all missionaries in the Zone. Each missionary received private time with Terri to discuss their medical issues.
After we were done, we went to the hotel. It was a bright pink in color and reminded all of us of the Flinstones and Bedrock City! The hotel was great, and would be where we would eat dinner with the missionaries that night.
We left Sister McMullin there (Pres. was still having meetings at the church), and a local was kind enough to take us around Kowezi.
We visit both missionary apartments, and all four churches in the City. Like many missionary apartments, there were issues with each one. The first had no water and sewer problems, but the power was ok. The second had a little water, sewer problems, but the power was ok. We pondered about digging a well at one site, and putting a water storage tank at the other.
All the churches had issues as well. The biggest at each one was water problems:
The Kolwezi Ward (the first building we went to, a normal LDS Chapel) seemed to have both water and power, but for some reason the water in their tanks would not flow into the building itself. Part of my work here in the Congo is to work with the FM dept to fix this type of problem.
Kolwezi has a beautiful ward building
it has two water tanks to collect water
and it has a large underground cistern with even more water! The power is on and off, but they have a good generator that they can use when then need it.
In spite of all the water, the ward must use buckets to flush toilets… the Congo is a tough place to keep things running as they should! Something always seems to break down!
The Delilah Branch was actually under construction. They had an old home they were remodeling for classrooms and offices and had begun building another building to be the chapel. It was clear that the chapel would be too small for the congregation as soon as the building was completed!
The new chapel being built. Just the right side is the chapel area, the left is a porch and two small rooms. That chapel is supposed to seat about 70 people!
The back of the house used for classrooms and offices
The front of the house
The inside under construction. They hope to be in the new building in about a month or so.
The Monica Branch was also being remodeled. It is the very first LDS church in Kolwezi. They were replastering the outside. But they still had real problems: the septic system was broken and they had no water. They filled a 55 gal drum with water each Sunday for use in the two old toilets they had.
Front of the branch, which is being remodeled
Since this was the first LDS chapel in Kolwezi, they received permission to continue using it, but it needs a lot of work!
This is the chapel. The first building was classes (an old house)
The septic system is falling in and there is just one toilet– an Asian squat toilet
And an old shower that is plugged
The water used for washing and toilets come from this one barrel, that they fill prior to Sunday meetings. Although under renovation, the building is still being used.
The Matushi Branch was in a nice neighborhood and was just a converted home. We went in through the garage (used as a classroom), and the living room was used as the chapel area. They had little water and no power. The water only comes on once in a while, but they have no storage tank, so most of the time have no water to use for toilets or cleaning. They used to have power, but the local mine (who owns the power generation) needed the power, so they just closed the power to the whole neighborhood!
Front entry to the house being used as a branch church
The garage is used as a classroom
as is the dining room
A sister was there cleaning the living room, which is used as the chapel area
In the back yard is a stand for a water tank, that was once used to collect water from the roof. We hope to put another tank there for them to use for water storage also.
After our tour, we returned to the first church to pick up the Pres. and the District President, who was also coming to dinner at the hotel.
The dinner at the hotel was just great. We had two courses: soup and then a steak plate. The elders had a great time, sang happy birthday to a few (in several languages). After dinner, everyone went their way, and we went to bed.