It was a big weekend here in Lubumbashi. Two General Authorities visited to create a new Stake here. Elder Renlund, the Area President, and Elder Hamilton, his second councilor (Elder Cook, who has visited before, is his first councilor), and their wives, came.
Two Stake Conferences were held, as they were making a new Stake out of two others. We attended the first Conference in the Katuba Stake building. The new Stake is called Kisanga, while the other Stake is Lubumbashi.
One of the local men that works in the Mission Office, Justin, was called to be the new Stake Pres. of the Katuba Stake.
You can see how full the meeting-house was! In addition, sound was piped into the Relief Society room, and a large tent was set-up outside to accommodate the crowd. Terri and I ended up getting there late… (late being 1/2 hour early)… and could not find a seat! To our surprise, they put us up, in a corner, on the stand! Perhaps they thought I was one of the General Authorities? Who was I to argue? I sat next to the two men assigned to say the opening and closing prayers (one was blind, and took notes on a braille machine), and right in front of the choir.
The other couples and Pres. & Sister McMullin are sitting on the second row. Pres. McMullin was asked to speak briefly at the conference.
They had a wonderful choir, all dressed in native clothing.
Pres. McMullin speaking
Sister Renlund speaking. She also spoke the day before to a combined Priesthood and Relief Society/auxiliary meeting– in fact, she taught for 1 1/2 hours, teaching people about the new teaching method and curriculum the church is bringing out next year. She spoke French very well (she speaks French better than her husband!), and was a wonderful teacher. I was very impressed. It is difficult to get Congo members to participate in class, as they grew up with strict rote learning. But she was able to get them completely involved and participating. It was great.
Brother Renlund speaking
As conference ended, people began to mill around and talk. Terri and I sat for a long time, and continued to listen to the choir, as they continued to sing for the crowd.
Once outside, people did not want to leave, and stayed to visit for quite a while. Of course, there is the travel situation… Most came to the conference via transport or walking. So they had to wait for rides, or the energy to walk home.
This is the tent set-up outside for some of the overflow crowd on hand
They had a closed circuit TV set-up for the tent, but not sure how well the system worked for them!
We were able to go home and rest, but Pres & Sister McMullin and the other General Authorities still had another two hour conference to attend!
That night we had the privilege of eating dinner with the Renlund’s and Hamiton’s. The Renlund’s are leaving tomorrow, but the Hamilton’s are here for the long haul: they travel with Pres & Sister McMullin to Mbuji Mayi, then to Mwene Ditu for Zone and District Conferences. I believe they will also visit the Tshitenge branch on the way back.
R to L: Pres & Sister McMullin, Sister Renlund, Brother Renlund, in the back are the Hamiton’s
Tomorrow Emanuel and I leave early to drive to Likasi. There is a new apartment opening up there that we have to move beds and other furniture into so 6 missionaries can move in and begin working, the next day! It will be a long busy day for us.
Terri stays in Lubumbashi and gets to have a meeting with the Hamilton’s (they are interviewing all the couples while here). We hope to return the same day, but may have to stay overnight in Likasi.
This last week was a busy one for everyone, as new missionaries came, and transfers occurred, as well as opening new apartments, moving missionaries and furniture, etc. It is amazing the amount of logistics that are needed in running a mission!
We are officially 6 months in (one third of our 18 months), and it has gone by like the blink of an eye. Weeks tend to pass like days, as there is so much to do.
We also had a death of a return missionary this week. There is a great mission program here in the Congo run by the Billings, where they teach return missionaries about construction and have them aid in building churches. After they finish the class, they often are able to find work with their new skills. We hire them as often as we can to do work for the mission. In one case we hired Brother Heritier to do work for us in Mwene Ditu. He is a return missionary with a new family. We were all struck with sorrow when we heard he had died following what seemed to be a minor illness.