This past Sunday we traveled about 45 minutes to attend church in Kipushi, a small branch just outside of Lubumbashi. We really like this branch of the church. It is in a very beautiful and peaceful setting, and the people are wonderful.
Not long after arriving, Terri and I were asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting. After being in one of their meetings, I understood. This is the first branch of the church here in the Congo that was not packed to the rafters with people. There were only about 20 adults, mostly men, and about the same number of children.
It reminded me of our time in South Dakota, on a small branch on the Rose Bud Indian Reservation. We traveled an hour each way to go to church, and then, rather than the standard 3 hour meeting block (Priesthood/Relief Society, Sunday School, Sacrament Meeting), we just had a two hour block (P/RS or SS, then Sacrament), due to the amount of travel time for people. The branch had about 20 people attend each week, so everyone got to speak quite frequently at church…which meant that anytime someone new came, they were invited to speak, just to have someone different to hear from!
So Terri had her first chance to speak, in French, to a congregation of people! She did really well, and everyone seemed to understand her (I worried, because I understood her talk…and I don’t understand French very well! But she got good comments afterward, and we quizzed the missionaries as to whether they could understand us)
After Terri, I gave a short talk (my second on this mission). I felt comfortable, amazingly enough, speaking French. Of course giving a talk is simple: you simply take all the words you know in French, and then scrabble them together into a talk of some kind! What else can one do? [EDIT by Terri] Kevan’s talk was merveilleux (marvelous)! We had had a great 5th Sunday lesson on tithing (la dime) and Kevan wanted to continue that theme. It is difficult to teach the doctrine of tithing in a country that has very little money, so Kevan wanted to teach more of the “why” of tithing to these wonderful people. What most amazed me was how he moved from point A to point Z, very difficult when speaking a language with which you are not truly facile. As Kevan said, you have to figure out the words you “know” and then put them together into sentences, and sometimes you’re working so hard on making those words work that you lose your way on the path . . . but Kevan was really, literally transformed. Call it the Gift of Tongues, call it the Holy Spirit, call it whatever you want, but the Spirit was so strong in that room, everyone could feel it. He taught an amazingly difficult concept in a truly simple way and lifted everyone around him at the same time. I was very, very impressed! [End of edit – Terri]
Here is a picture of the Kipushi branch. Quite lovely, don’t you think?
The office used by the Branch President and his secretary
Room used for Sacrament Meeting, Priesthood Meeting, and Sunday School
The Primary Room where the children learn
The central hall
The Relief Society room
They have plenty of water, and good electricity (a rarity in the Congo)
Their baptismal font