Our trip to Burundi

President Thomas asked Terri and I to travel with him to Burundi, even though we had never been there before. Rather than taking the McMullin’s normal route through South Africa we decided to travel to Kenya and then to Burundi (you cannot fly directly to Burundi from Lubumbashi). This would have worked out fine had not the airlines (and church bureaucracy) messed things up for us.

The local airlines began switching their flights around, and even cancelled all flights from Mbuji Mayi to Lubumbashi for a week! Of course we had missionaries sitting in MM doing nothing instead of arriving and getting settled with their new companions, etc. Then South Africa delayed buying the tickets for President Thomas, Sister Thomas, and the Assistants—which meant that Terri and I ended up flying to Kenya and then to Burundi a day ahead of them! We had the good flight, leaving mid-day and getting to Kenya that afternoon, staying overnight, and then flying to Burundi the next day. They left late, sat in the Kenya airport for the next flight, and then got in about 2 a.m. We had the better deal there…but we had our own problems.

Seems as though we had/have a problem with our visas. They stopped us as we went through the final checkpoint in the airport as we left for Kenya and said my visa was out of date. This seemed odd as Terri’s was fine, yet mine was not, and we got them at the same time. We think they dated mine wrong or something. Anyway, after a lot of arguing, we ended up having to pay them about $90 to let us through to the flight. We continued to have visa issues throughout the trip as we had to cross numerous borders.

When we arrived in Kenya we had to get a temporary visa to go out to the hotel and back. Terri had found a hotel close to the airport, but it was full the day we went (it had rooms for everyone when we returned), but they gave us the name of another hotel called the Athenian. We could not find the place on the internet, but got a phone number to contact them. They seemed very happy we were coming and sent a car for us. When the car arrived…well, it was not what we were expecting! Kind of a run-down taxi (only it wasn’t a taxi, it was just the owner’s friend who was helping out). It made me a little nervous, but we jumped in for the ride. Then we came to a rather seedy neighborhood…hmmm. But to our surprise, the hotel was quite nice, and was very nice inside. It had just opened so they only had a few rooms open (soon to be 75), and had a large restaurant and bar. They treated us like royalty, the owner showing us around personally, and even sat with us for a while during dinner.

Athena hotel Kenya (6)

Our hotel in Kenya

Athena hotel Kenya (13)

The owner of the hotel with us before leaving for Burundi

We slept well and when we got up they had a fabulous breakfast waiting for us (so large neither of us could finish it!). Then it was off to the airport. Kenya is known for bad traffic, and this was certainly true! We left an hour early to get there on time for a trip that should have taken about 15 minutes.

Bakuva

Wednesday we traveled to Bakuva, another small town on the other side of the border, in the Congo. Only this time, in order to get there, we had to drive from Burundi through Rwanda, then cross a rickety bridge into the Congo. Again, more visas, paperwork, and problems. What we thought would be a 2-3 hour trip took over 5 hours!

It started two days before as we went to the Rwanda embassy in Burundi to get visas to travel through their country. For most of us (US citizens) there was no problem. But for the Thomas’ (who are Canadians), there were problems. I guess Rwanda did not recognize Canada!? Who knew? So they kept the Thomas’ passports and promised to get them visas. Two days later, they still did not have the visas…

They went to the embassy to get it resolved only to find that they had lost their passports! After several hours (including getting the ambassador involved), they finally found the passports and (perhaps due to being embarrassed) gave them visas to travel.

This meant that we were late getting started. Then, once at the Rwanda border, the Canadians had problem getting out of Burundi and through Rwanda, and out of Rwanda and back into the Congo. By the time it was all done, we were 5 hours into a 2-3 hour trip. The good people of Bukuva who were waiting to greet the new mission president had been waiting at least 3 hours (we don’t know how early they came, but we were 3 hours late!).

This whole area was very mountainous and every part of the land was being used: farmed with rice, cotton, and other crops; and lots of cattle. The roads were great—regular highways. Then we came to the Congo boarder…there, over a rickety wood bridge, was a dirt road leading up a small hill and into Bakuva. You could stand at the border and look one direction and see modern roads, buildings, etc.; then look the other direction and see…nothing but a dirt road and adobe homes and buildings.

Bakavu (5)

A woman picking out something to eat from the hillside as we entered Bakuva

Bakavu (38)

There was a beautiful lake near the town, and the hotel we would stay at bordered the lake.

Bakavu (57) Bakavu bridge (1)

The bridge coming into Bakuva. We were asked to get out of the car and walk over. You can see the makings of a new bridge to the right, but it was not opened yet.

Bakavu bridge (2) Bakavu hotel (1)

This is the villa/hotel we stayed at that night. Hard to believe that this was in the Congo!

Bakavu hotel (2) Bakavu hotel (6)

Eating breakfast the next morning before leaving

Bakavu hotel (8) Bakavu hotel (13)

The road leading to the hotel was steep, narrow, and rough

Bakavu hotel (15) Bakavu hotel (18)

This is our room, and the view from our room

Bakavu hotel (19)

Getting through the border on the Congo side was a problem, again, with Terri and my visas. We thought for a minute we were going to have to pay again (there was a lot of loud arguing between two or three boarder workers as to whether they were good or not). Finally, they decided they were okay, and let us go through. But the biggest penalty was time—people were waiting!

Bukavu is a small town with a small group of members of the church. There is not an official branch of the church there, but there is enough interest to perhaps create one. We expected about 20 people. One of the members met us at the border and we followed him to where the members were waiting. After a short drive over rough roads we stopped at a hotel. They had rented a meeting room big enough to have a small meeting with President Thomas. It was located at the top of a 5-6 story building. After climbing the stairs onto a landing, the door opened into a large attic room…filled with people! There were at least 60 people there waiting for us, including 6-7 young men who wanted to prepare to go on missions! And this is not even a branch of the church. There are no missionaries here; they have no organization, no supplies, and little contact with other church members. Yet here they were 60 plus people who had waited more than 3 hours just to have a few minutes with President Thomas. How does one possibly explain or express the emotions, the dedication, and the faith that flowed in that attic room?

Both President and Sister Thomas spoke, along with a couple of the members. Since there are no ‘leaders’ here, those that spoke were members who had been on missions, or had the priesthood, etc. In fact, there was one man who was a High Priest! Very interesting since there was not a single High Priest in all of the Burundi branches!

Then the other shoe dropped. I did not know that at least half of the people had come over the border from Rwanda! In order to get back over the border before dark they had to leave after a short time. The meeting was called early so they could go home. The rest of the people who lived in Bakuva stayed behind and we had a short question and answer session. President Thomas had several of the couples answer questions as well as himself. Finally, as darkness settled in, it was time to call an end of the meeting and go to our hotel. We said goodbye to everyone and went back to the truck, where we gave them two large boxes of church materials (Book of Mormons, hymnals, pamphlets, etc.), with the promise that we would send more (we were told to bring 20 of each…who knew there would be 60!).

After a long winding, rough dirt road we entered some gates to the hotel. It was dark so it was hard to tell how nice (or bad) it was. The room was great, and then we went into the restaurant to eat, and it was very nice. Hard to believe a place like this was in a backward place in the Congo like Bukavu.

We had a great meal, and then had to get to bed to get up early and head back to Burudi. We assumed it would take about the same time getting back as it did to come, so we left early as we were flying out that day to Kenya. To our surprise, getting back was very easy and we had very little trouble at the borders. It only took about 31/2 hours to get back (still not the 2-3 hours we were told!). Because we got back earlier than we thought, we stopped to get some fruit and then went to the Neeley’s to have lunch. While there Terri spent some time downloading movies for the couples to have.

Bakavu meeting (1)

This is the hotel in Bakuva where the members gathered to greet us

Bakavu meeting (4)

The upper room where we held the meeting

Bakavu meeting (5) Bakavu meeting (8) Bakavu meeting (10) Bakavu meeting (11)

Burundi

The Burundi airport was nice and almost empty. Like in Kenya we had to get a temporary visa to enter the country—we would need to go in and out of Burundi a lot on this trip.

We had a great hotel to stay in, with a wonderful view of the whole area. Burundi sits on the shore of Lake Tanganyika and has miles of great beaches, beach-front restaurants, etc. We even saw some hippos that graze near the shore!

On Saturday we traveled with the President to several meetings and visited two branch buildings that housed the saints. Both buildings looked great and there were members there to greet us.

At the first building, Bujumbura 2&3, they had a ‘sacred tree’ that was used to hold meetings under and receive revelation. A few gave instances of having problems and issues that were resolved quickly when they held the meeting under the tree rather than in the building.

The missionaries also used the trees as cover when they taught their investigators the gospel.

Bujumbura 1 branch  (1)

The first building for Bujumbura 2 & 3 branches.

Bujumbura 1 branch  (5) Bujumbura 1 branch tree (5)

We waited and talked while the President held meetings and interviews with the missionareis

Bujumbura 1 sacred tree (2)

One of the trees with the missionaries teaching a prospective member.

The second building, Bujumbura 1, was a two story building off of a main street. The choir was practicing when we arrived, so we had beautiful music and singing while we toured the building. They also had kept on tree on the grounds for use as shade and a meeting area.

Bujumbura 2 3 branch (1) Bujumbura 2 3 branch (2)

The second building where Bujumbura 1 met

Bujumbura 2 3 branch (11)

The choir practicing for the sunday meeting

Bujumbura miss teaching

Typical teaching scene for the missionaries here

Here are some pics of the city of Bujumbura:

Burundi (1) Burundi (9) Burundi (10) Burundi (11)

Lake Tanganyika

Burundi (12) Burundi 2 (10) Burundi 2 (11) Burundi 2 (15) Burundi 2 (20) Burundi bats (1)

Those are hundreds of bats hanging from the trees. At sundown they come alive and fly out to feed at night!

Burundi bats (3) Burundi church signs (1)

Typical board at an LDS church in Burundi

Burundi church signs (2)

Sister Neeley’s teaching board–used to teach English to the missionaries

Burundi dinner at Neeley (1)

Lunch at the Neeley’s

Burundi dinner near lake (1)

Our first night out at a restaurant by the lake. Not bad, eh?

Burundi dinner near lake (4) Burundi dinner with Zone (1)

Dinner with the Burundi missionaries

Burundi dinner with Zone (5)

Real ice cream!

On Sunday they held a 3-branch meeting so President Thomas could meet everyone and so they could talk about becoming a District. President Thomas also had meetings with the local leaders to discuss the problems, concerns, and issues they had as individual branches, and as part of becoming a District.

Monday was kind of a rest day for Terri and I as everyone had meetings, so we stayed at the hotel while others ran around. It was almost like a mini-vacation (although Terri was busy working on the next transfer and the Leadership Conference coming this week).

Burundi district meeting (1) Burundi district meeting (4) Burundi district meeting (7) Burundi district meeting (10) Burundi district meeting (15) Burundi district meeting (16) Burundi district meeting (21) Burundi district meeting (24) Burundi district meeting (26) Burundi district meeting (34)

Some pics of our trip to Bukavu:

Burundi from Bakavu (18) Burundi from Bakavu (24) Burundi from Bakavu (26) Burundi from Bakavu (27) Burundi from Bakavu (45) Burundi from Bakavu (76) Burundi from Bakavu (99) Burundi from Bakavu (107) Burundi from Bakavu (143) Burundi from Bakavu (161) Burundi from Bakavu (205) Burundi from Bakavu (238) Burundi from Bakavu (247) Burundi from Bakavu (252) Burundi from Bakavu (255) Burundi from Bakavu (261) Burundi from Bakavu (267) Burundi from Bakavu (282) Burundi from Bakavu (289)

Here is yet another very large subdivision of homes built for the local people–completely empty, except for the cows

Burundi from Bakavu (294) Burundi from Bakavu (305)

Behind and next door are the adobe homes they choose to live in!

Burundi from Bakavu (306) Burundi from Bakavu (308) Burundi from Bakavu (318) Burundi from Bakavu (321) Burundi from Bakavu (328)

All the land in Burundi, Kenya, and Rwanda is being cultivated. You will not see any of this in the Congo.

Burundi from Bakavu (353) Burundi from Bakavu (357)

A empty cotton field that has already been harvested.

Burundi from Bakavu (361) Burundi from Bakavu (368)

We ran into a very large/long funeral along the way

Burundi from Bakavu (374)

a load of pineapples, that are really good!

Burundi from Bakavu (377) Burundi from Bakavu (378) Burundi Hippos (2)

a couple of local hippos seen along the shore of Lake Tanganyika

Here are some pics of the hotel in Burundi we stayed at:

Burundi hotel (1) Burundi hotel (3) Burundi hotel (6) Burundi lake restaurant (1)

Dinner as a group at a resort by the lake where the VanWaggoner’s come to dance

Burundi lake restaurant (4) Burundi lake restaurant (9) Burundi lake restaurant (10) Burundi lake restaurant (11) Burundi lake restaurant (14)

Pics of a local market we stopped at after returning from Bakula:

Burundi street market (7) Burundi street market (9) Burundi street market (11) Burundi street market (13) Burundi street market (15)

Uvera

Tuesday we all traveled to Uvera, a small town on the other side of the border, in the Congo. This meant that we had to cross the border…again.

Uvera is a nice little town that reminded us of Mbuji Mayi (just smaller). There were plenty of nice buildings, hotels, homes, etc., and lots of people walking the streets.

The Uvera branch is located in a residential area just below a small mountain (this whole area is very different than the Congo (which is very flat). Like most chapels in this part of Africa the branch was a converted home. There was the home (used for classrooms and offices), an annex (used for classrooms), and a tent! In lieu of a bowery or building they are using a tent for the chapel area. The floor was just dirt covered with rolls of linoleum. It would be very easy for the local people to build a small bowery out of local material…but the Church just isn’t quite there yet…

The President was going to meet a few of the members…and about 150 showed up! I don’t think they planned to have an ‘official’ meeting, but with so many people there, they held one anyway. The President and Sister Thomas spoke, and Sister Neeley spoke also.

After the short meeting the President and Brother Neeley had some meetings with the leadership, and then interviewed 10 prospective missionaries (including one sister).

While they were busy, we were outside getting to know the members. Sister Thomas was ‘holding court’ with the Relief Society sisters. Sister VanWagonner was dancing with the children, and then took some time to draw a few of them (she is a good artist!). Brother Van Waggoner was inside teaching a few members how to play the piano (he had brought a portable keyboard). Terri and I talked with the children and took a few pictures.

Then it was time to go back to Burudi. It was a one-day trip for us and the border crossing was taking up more time than we expected.

We ate out several times in Burundi: once at a small restaurant next to the water, and another was a great restaurant downtown with the entire Zone, and also at a fancy resort next to the lake where the Van Waggoner’s go dancing every Friday night. The food in all the places was very good, especially local fish from Lake Tanganyika!

Some pics of our trip to Uvira:

Burundi to Bakavu (28) Burundi to Bakavu (33) Burundi to Bakavu (38) Burundi to Bakavu (75) Burundi to Bakavu (87) Burundi to Bakavu (94) Burundi to Bakavu (126) Burundi to Bakavu (181) Burundi to Bakavu (295) Burundi to Bakavu (299) Burundi to Bakavu (310) Burundi to Bakavu (323) Burundi to Bakavu (327) Burundi to Bakavu (330) Burundi to Uvira (2) Burundi to Uvira (17) Burundi to Uvira (36) Burundi to Uvira (38) Burundi to Uvira (42) Burundi to Uvira (43) Burundi to Uvira (50) Burundi to Uvira (57) Burundi to Uvira (60) Burundi to Uvira (65) Burundi to Uvira (74) Burundi to Uvira (78) Burundi to Uvira (81) Burundi to Uvira (94) Burundi to Uvira (95) Burundi to Uvira (100) Burundi to Uvira (102) Burundi to Uvira (107) Burundi to Uvira (108) Burundi to Uvira (116) Burundi to Uvira (117) Burundi to Uvira (118) Burundi to Uvira (119) Burundi to Uvira (121) Burundi to Uvira (128) Burundi to Uvira (154) Burundi to Uvira (159) Burundi to Uvira (167) Burundi to Uvira (168) Burundi to Uvira (177) Burundi to Uvira (179) Burundi to Uvira (195) Burundi to Uvira (203) Burundi to Uvira (214) Burundi to Uvira (231) Burundi to Uvira (235) Burundi toilet project (3)

This is one of the projects the Vanwaggoner’s finished recently: toilets for a local school.

And who knew there were Tuk Tuks here in Africa?

Burundi TukTuk (3) empty subdivision (7) empty subdivision (8)

Kenya

We all flew out Thursday afternoon for Kenya. While the Thomas’ and the Assistants went to the hotel, Terri and I stayed at the airport for the chance to see Terri’s sister Kim, and her family, who were, by chance, on safari in Kenya!

We waited for a long time, not knowing that there were issues at the airport entrance (we found that out the next morning…). But eventually Kim and crew showed up, running late for their flight home. We had a few moments to say hi and take a couple of pictures together. That’s okay: we will be home in six weeks anyway!

The hotel was okay, but as it turns out, the ‘second” hotel we found earlier was better. We got in late, and went to bed to get up very early for our flight to Lubumbashi.

After getting up at 430 a.m. we traveled to the airport to find a mess (what we missed the night before). It seemed as though there was a higher risk for something to happen as they were stopping all cars before they even got into the airport, searching under and in the cars, and even having us get out of the car to be checked with wands, etc. The traffic was backed-up for miles. But we got into the airport in time and were ready for the plane…yeah, right. The plane was late, then, after getting on board, it broke.

While in the airport we met several missionaries traveling from Sierra Leone back to their home countries. The Church had pulled all missionaries out of the area due to the Ebola epidemic that was happening. They were nervous and were not sure what was going to happen—they decision had been made quickly and there had not been a lot of time to explain everything to them. The President sent some time with them to help them overcome their fears and anxieties.

We got on the plane and it had an issue with the luggage bay door. They got it fixed…and just as we were taking off, they powered down again, same problem. After taxiing back to the corner of the airport we were told that the plane was broke and we would all be getting off. So they brought a bus out to gather us all in and take us back to the building. They gave everyone a free lunch and then told half the people they would be leaving tomorrow. We were in the group that would be leaving later that day.

Instead of waiting in an enormous line to get a cheesy lunch, we all went to the other end of the airport to buy some lunch. Desperate for some Mexican food, I bought a burrito. Bad decision. It was terrible. I sent it back… Oh well, guess I just have to be patient and wait for Jackie’s!

We finally got on the plane and got to Lubumbashi. It was dark (remember, up at 430!) and rather than wait for the bags, the Atkinson’s, who came to get us, took us back to the Mission Home. The Assistants had to come back to the airport to get the bags and to pick up 7 elders who finally came in from Mbuji mayi. The sisters (Anthony and Reindeau) had made us soup for dinner. We ate in our kitchen with the Thomas’ and talked about the trip and the upcoming week. Then we finally got to bed.

Kim & Terri Kenya (1) Miss meeting with GA (1)

Where did this come from? hmmm…anyway this is Elder Hamilton who came to visit with the Thomas’ prior to our leaving for Burundi. They held a special meeting for all the missionaries in Lubumbashi.

Miss meeting with GA (2)

The missionary homes where the couples stay are terrific, although they still have some power and water issues. The Neeley’s have a gated home and have some prospective missionaries staying with them prior to going on their missions (they earn money by acting as gate-guards). The Van Waggoner’s also live in a gated compound with four of our missionaries. There are two apartments: the Van Waggoner’s take the lower apartment and the missionaries live in the upper one. They also have a guard that opens the gate for them.

Neeley apt Burundi (1)

the Neeley’s home

Neeley apt Burundi (8) Neeley apt Burundi (9) Neeley apt Burundi (10) school desks (4)

Here are some desks that the VanWaggoners are making to give to schools in the area

Sister Miss luggage

Hmmm…more odd pics. this is the luggage for ONE sister we moved recently…

And a pic of Terri testing an elder on his English at the Lubumbashi Stake center.

Terri teaching english (1) US embassy Burundi (2)

The US embassy in Burundi

Uvera

Tuesday we all traveled to Uvera, a small town on the other side of the border, in the Congo. This meant that we had to cross the border…again.

Uvera is a nice little town that reminded us of Mbuji Mayi (just smaller). There were plenty of nice buildings, hotels, homes, etc., and lots of people walking the streets.

The Uvera branch is located in a residential area just below a small mountain (this whole area is very different than the Congo (which is very flat). Like most chapels in this part of Africa the branch was a converted home. There was the home (used for classrooms and offices), an annex (used for classrooms), and a tent! In lieu of a bowery or building they are using a tent for the chapel area. The floor was just dirt covered with rolls of linoleum. It would be very easy for the local people to build a small bowery out of local material…but the Church just isn’t quite there yet…

The President was going to meet a few of the members…and about 150 showed up! I don’t think they planned to have an ‘official’ meeting, but with so many people there, they held one anyway. The President and Sister Thomas spoke, and Sister Neeley spoke also.

After the short meeting the President and Brother Neeley had some meetings with the leadership, and then interviewed 10 prospective missionaries (including one sister).

While they were busy, we were outside getting to know the members. Sister Thomas was ‘holding court’ with the Relief Society sisters. Sister VanWagonner was dancing with the children, and then took some time to draw a few of them (she is a good artist!). Brother VanWaggoner was inside teaching a few members how to play the piano (he had brought a portable keyboard). Terri and I talked with the children and took a few pictures.

Then it was time to go back to Burudi. It was a one-day trip for us and the border crossing was taking up more time than we expected.

We ate out several times in Burundi: once at a small restaurant next to the water, and another was a great restaurant downtown with the entire Zone, and also at a fancy resort next to the lake where the VanWaggoner’s go dancing every Friday night. The food in all the places was very good, especially local fish from lake Tanganyka!

Uvera branch (1)

This is the LDS building in Uvira

Uvera branch (4)

the tent used as a temporary chapel until something better can be built

Uvera branch (5) Uvera branch (6) Uvera branch (8) Uvera branch (12) Uvera branch (14) Uvera branch (16) Uvera branch (17) Uvera branch (19) Uvera branch (22)

Sister Thomas and President Thomas spoke to the group

Uvera branch (26) Uvera branch (28) Uvera branch (30) Uvera branch (33)

Sister VanWaggoner dancing with the children

Uvera branch (40) Uvera branch (42)

Sister Neeley handed out stickers to all the children

Uvera branch (43)

Sister Thomas talking with the Relief Society sisters

Uvera branch (44) Uvera branch (45) Uvera branch (46) Uvera branch (47) Uvera branch (48) Uvera branch (49) Uvera branch (50) Uvera branch (51) Uvera branch (52) Uvera branch (53) Uvera branch (54) Uvera branch (55) Uvera branch (56) Uvera branch (57) Uvera branch (59) Uvera branch (60) Uvera branch (61) Uvera branch (62)

Sister Van Waggoner drawing some of the children

Uvera branch (63) Uvera branch (64) Uvera branch (65) Uvera branch (66) Uvera branch (68) Uvera branch (69) Uvera branch (70) Uvera branch (71) Uvera branch (73) Uvera branch (74) Uvera branch (77)

elder Van Waggoner teaching some of the members how to play the piano

Uvera branch (79)

Ten young men waiting to be interviewed by President Thomas for missions

Uvera branch (81) Uvera branch (83) Vanwagoner apt Burundi (1)

The Van Waggoner’s home

Vanwagoner apt Burundi (14) Vanwagoner apt Burundi (18) Vanwagoner apt Burundi (19) well hand pump

Typical water pump used in Africa…broken, of course!

Aftermath

Saturday (our normal prep day) we washed clothes, went shopping, went to the new Kisanga Stake building open house, and prepped for the week. We have a leadership conference this week and a week later a General Authority is coming to do a ‘mission tour’ with the Thomas’ (Elder Ellis). A new missionary senior couple, the Drapers, arrive while they are all gone, so Terri and I will be here to welcome them and start training them (they will be doing the transfers and coordinating with President Thomas that Terri is doing now).

Good news for our family at home: we finally have a set date and tickets to go home! We leave September 16 and arrive home in Salt Lake the 17th. After settling in at home for a while we will be traveling to PA to see Terri’s parents and other relatives. There is actually light at the end of the tunnel!

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2 Responses to Our trip to Burundi

  1. Joy McMullin says:

    We listened to a children’s version of Homer’s Illiad and the Odyssey driving to Canada with our grandchildren. Reading your account of this trip reminded me of some of the adventures of the ancient Greeks! What an trip…. Especially for someone who doesn’t like surprises! You are all such good sports. You have now been to every corner of the mission. How wonderful to have the experience of being in Bakuvu as well as Uvira. We never made if to either Bakuvu or Baraka but kept being pressured from both places to come and create branches.
    It sounds like your vacation in England on the way home got cancelled due to you putting in some extra time?
    Thanks so much for writing about your activities. You are in our thoughts and prayers constantly.
    Joy

    • tiniantimes says:

      The trip was great, more like a vacation. The small group in Bakuva is just a taste of many groups around the Congo (and probably all of Africa!). The hard part is knowing what to do with them. The Church wants to expand from ‘centers of strength’ so that new members can be supported and aided in their new faith. But there are many groups, like those in Bakuva, who do not live near a stake or district…so what to do? Do we refuse to baptize them? Do we baptize them and then leave them on their own to flounder? It is all part of the discussion we have been having about how to deal with church membership as it grows into the tens of millions. We have been told there at upward of #200 people in Baraka that are ready to be baptized! We could create a branch in one day! But then what? Glad I am a peon and don’t have to make those kinds of decisions! We just work hard and keep our heads down…

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