This weekend we made a trip to Likasi and Kakonda (on the way to Kolwezi). We had two Zone Leaders from Likasi we were returning home after the Zone Leaders Conference here in Lubumbashi this week, we were taking books and other materials up to the elders in Likasi, and we had two apartments/homes to look at in Likasi to see if we could rent them for some additional sister missionaries that may go up there.
From there we traveled up to Kakonda to look at a house to rent there. The Zone Leaders in Likasi have been traveling up to Kakonda to work (a rough one hour ride each way), so we have been trying to find a home to rent so we can move two to four elders up there permanently.
The trip to Likasi was without incident. We stopped at Panda apartment to see some painting work that had been completed, and give out some medical supplies. We had a great time with the elders, and really had a laugh. This morning I put on my last clean shirt, which was rather wrinkled. When we got to Likasi the elders were still ironing their clothes, and Terri was telling them how bad a missionary I was for going outside in a wrinkled shirt! That is when the fun began… as the elders began telling Terri how it is HER job to iron my shirts, and how could SHE have let me go out looking like I did! Well, you can imagine how that went over with Terri! She started teasing them about the fact that they ironed their shirts, so Elder Clawson could iron his also! But they were not having any of that, because once you are married, the wife is supposed to do all that housework stuff… It was fun on both sides and we were all laughing quite hard by the time we ended the discussion (without resolution, I might add!)
We did find a great place for the new missionaries to stay in Likasi, so now we just have to negotiate the price and get things moving along (there is a little work to do before moving in).
The trip to Kakonda that afternoon was tough. After leaving the main road, which is good, the rest of the road is a broken up asphalt road with lots of holes and ruts—very tough to drive. I would rather drive on a dirt road than an old asphalt road. This is surprising since this is a big mining town and has lots of big trucks moving up and down the road (the mining companies usually fix these roads). Once we came over the hill we saw that the whole side of the next hill had been mined. It was a BIG operation with lots of busses carrying men to work, huge trucks and earth moving machines, etc. (very unusual in the Congo to see this much equipment in one place). All of the nice homes in the town had already been taken by the ‘Boss Mining’ crews, so it has been hard to find a place to put the missionaries.
The whole side of the mountain has been carved up
Once in town we were met by the local Branch President, who went with us to the house we were looking at, and later took us on a tour of the local ward building. The house was an old building once used as a market that someone was remodeling to be used for a large home. It was in a good location, and when done will be a good place to stay…but it wasn’t near completion, and they needed money up front to complete the work! We have done this in the past in a few instances, but I don’t think this will be one of them—just too much work left to do.
The Kakonda branch. This old home was remodeled for use, and is used for offices and classrooms
A second building was recently completed to be used as a chapel
They need to fit almost 100 people in here for Sunday meetings.
They have a small annex also, that is used for socials
The local ward building was actually quite good. As usual they had found a large home to convert to the use of a church. Recently they had built a separate ‘chapel’ building to use for the sacrament. So now they had the old home for classes and offices, and a separate building for the chapel. They had a water tower and plenty of water and electricity, so they were in good shape. They only had two toilets, but both worked well.
The only issue for them was that the ward was growing so fast, they would soon be out of space again. This is the common thread in the Congo: not only is it difficult to find and/or build buildings here for churches, but as soon as they are built the local ward outgrows the building due to the fast growth of the church here. It is a big problem, and just gets bigger as the growth of the Church is exploding. Just think of Central and South America 20-30 years ago—it was the same situation.
We drove back to Likasi and visited with the two senior couples there for a while (we had some meds to give to them also), and then headed back to Lubumbashi. We got back just in time to go out to dinner with all the senior couples in the Mission home: McMullins, Eastmans, Wrights, Clawsons. We went to eat at a favorite Indian restaurant.
Next week we all get a short break in preparation for the Pres. to resume his grueling travel schedule, starting with going back to Kananga. We are hoping our passports arrive in time to go with him, but it doesn’t look good.