A few choice memories

Thought I would go through my pictures and bring out some choice memories of our time here (in no particular order:


This is a picture of my son’s celebration of his wedding to Jackie, with their son (our grandson) Logan. It reminds me of the things we sacrificed to come and serve in the Congo.

Bag ladies 1 Bag ladies 2

The ‘bag ladies’ remind me of the difference one person can make in the lives of people. Sister Wright taught the women of the Congo how to crochet bags using available plastic sacks. This has spread, and given them the ability to not only create useful things but able to make money doing so. Such a simple thing that has changed many lives!

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This picture reminds me of one of the great blessings of coming on a mission: the chance to meet with many General Authorities. How cool is it to have been able to sit with Brother and Sister Bednar for an hour or more at dinner and talk with them one on one? He shared some astounding messages and ideas that will stay with us and inspire us the rest of our lives!

Ben Kael Josh

A picture of three of our grandchildren: Kael, Ben, and Joshua. Yes, going on a mission is a sacrifice…but the rewards obviously compensate for what ever we may have given up!

boys on a ride (2) Carrying car

Two main ways to transport goods here in the Congo: overloaded trucks, or handcarts

charbon truck (1)

Charcoal is what fuels the Congo. Almost everyone cooks with it.

child funeral (2)

Death of young children is common here, but no less painful…

CMC Clinic

Our local medical clinic where all our missionaries (and Terri) spend time when they are sick.


I read an article recently about a mother who was put in jail in Florida for leaving her 9 year old daughter alone in a public park…hmmm… children here are found everywhere attended by, at most, a sibling that is two years older!

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One of our favorite member families in Mwene Ditu

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One of the most common sights in the Congo: women waiting in line to gather water for their family

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Children are very inventive here–they make their own toys

Elder Bednar Zone Conf (5)

Terri talking in a Zone Conference. She spent a lot of time teaching the missionaries about medical and health issues.

Elder Renlon & Hamilton (2)

Did I mention you get to meet a LOT of General Authorities? President and Sister McMullin, Brother and Sister Hamilton, Brother and Sister Renlen

Emanuel Clawson

My companion and friend, Emanuel, who I worked with side by side the whole mission. He had a meeting after work, so I let him borrow a shirt and tie: the new and improved Elder Clawson!

Flood Golf bridge (1) Flood Ruashi (2) Flood Ruashi (30)

And the rains came…

Gecamine market (14) Gecamine market (16) Gecamine market (65)

Another familiar sight is the numerous roadside markets, where most commerce is done

gravel (2)

The gravel makers. These bags of gravel were all hand-made: by the side of the road with a hammer and rocks from the fields. They use the hammer to beat on the rocks to make them small enough to sell as gravel for driveways and for use in concrete.

helping woman (4)

This is an incident at the check-point in Mbuji Mayi. A woman with a child on her back was carrying a large load of grass on her head as she passed us. The load fell off and she was not strong enough to lift it back to her head. After a few moments watching her struggle, we simply couldn’t stand it anymore and jumped out to help her. Once the load was balanced on her head again, she walked off to her destinations,

helping woman (6) House falls down (8)

A common tragedy in the Congo: after a severe storm a family’s house fell down, killing a member of the family. Even though they had good bricks, they had not put enough concrete into the mortar between the bricks. Over time, as the (mostly) mud between the bricks eroded, the walls became weak–just waiting for a strong wind to blow them down.


Terri in the hospital. She was down for about two weeks with…something…we never discovered what it was, but it was bad. She had been hallucinating and perhaps near death, but with care from the hospital she came around.


A common sight along every road in the Congo: people on bikes with enormous loads of wood, charcoal, etc., traveling to the nearest town to sell.


The Catholic theater used in Kananga for Stake Conference


Terri practicing with a small choir in Kananga

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This is how they cut hair in the Congo: using a razor blade to scrape the hair off your head! And it is not a ‘barber razor’ but simply a two sided razor blade that one would normally put in a personal razor. They just carefully hold it in their hand to shave the head. You see discarded razor blades everywhere!


The Lubumbashi ‘Eiffel Tower’ (as reported in a magazine): the tailings from a mine adjacent to the large pile. They now have a second mound beginning just to the right. Soon the ‘Eiffel Tower’ will be the ‘twin towers’ !

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The most common transport used in the Congo


The wonderful spring at Tshitenge where they get their water, and where they go to be baptized. We always think of the Waters of Mormon when coming to this area.

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Another common sight: foot-powered sewing machines (my grandmother had one…) With the lack of power available here, they have no choice

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Bus? Who needs a bus? They can get more passengers in this way!


The real Congo; wide-open spaces with nothing but grass and a few trees. No farms, no cattle, no animals, just open land


In-between the open spaces, are small villages where people live. When they need something from a city, must walk the distance to take something to sell or trade. The next picture gives you a feel for the distance they have to walk to get anywhere (notice the woman on the side of the road!)

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A local garage. We got lots of flat tires on the rough roads, but there was always a small local garage in the towns where you could get your tire fixed. All it takes is a small gas powered air compressor, a long iron bar to get the tire on and off, and some help from your young son.


Women always take their children to work here. Very seldom will you ever see a woman working without at least one child with her!

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A typical Congo village made of the local earth, and the brick pit where the bricks were made

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A typical Congolese Relief Society meal for Zone Conference in Luputa. It included rice, foo foo, spaghetti, and perhaps some vegetables and/or fish


Her is a woman using a mortar to grind chili peppers to put in the meal.

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This is foo foo: water and flour, made into a ball with the consistency of play-dough. They NEVER put in salt or flavoring of any kind. You eat foo foo by molding it in your hand and making a small ‘scoop’ out of the foo foo. Then you pick up some other kind of food: kasaba leaves, fish, vegetables, etc., with the foo foo and eat them together. It is the food you eat with the foo foo that gives it its flavor.

Foo foo is very heavy. It sinks to the bottom of your stomach and makes you feel full quickly. When people here have eaten enough, or are full, they say they feel ‘heavy’


We may leave our children and grandchildren, but there are plenty of others we tend to adopt to make up the difference!

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A typical scene for Terri anywhere and everywhere she traveled. She would sit down and people would come to seek her advice and counsel.


Their shirts may be in tatters, but their spirits were high and they acted like children everywhere: they wanted attention and to play. We could always recognize the children we had seen before because they were wearing the same clothes every time we saw them, even if it was months apart!


When members had to travel to come to Stake Conference (some traveled several days on foot!), they would gather to make and share food.


The scene at the Stake Conference in Luputa. There was not a building big enough to fit all the people, so they created some shade for those who sat outside.

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The typical Congo house; mud adobe with grass roof on a wood stick frame


The Congo coffins are very colorful


Another foot-powered sewing machine


no trip came and went without picking up a chicken for dinner. Since there is no electricity, and therefore no refrigeration, they have to be kept alive


mile after mile of open land, with a few villages between, and always, walking along the roads, people traveling miles to sell or buy a few things at the larger cities

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The roads are traveled by large trucks, full of goods and on top of the goods, people. Trucks NEVER traveled empty. If they dropped goods at a city, they would bring people back. Or if they dropped off people, they would bring goods back. You never saw an empty truck traveling the roads of the Congo!


The men of the Congo work hard. It was simply incredible to see the loads they would put in their handcarts or bikes!

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In the cities there are the transports: these small vans can carry up to 25 people at one time. You can see the ‘helper’ actually push people to fit them into the space!


The transports had two people: a driver and a helper. The driver had one job: to get to where he was going as fast as possible. The more customers he moved, the more money he made–which made them crazy drivers! They would make incredible risks to get around traffic or through intersections ahead of others. The helper took the money, gave change, hustled customers (when there was more than one transport they would try to convince them to get into their taxi), and often act as a traffic police–getting out of the transport and directing traffic so that they could get moving!


You can find everything you want along the road, you just have to keep your eyes open!


A typical kiln used to bake bricks. If you are poor, you use adobe. If you have more money, you bake the bricks to make them stronger. There were two kinds of kilns: wood and charcoal. This is a wood kiln that must be watched and stoked all the time. The charcoal kind was only lit once–the charcoal laced between each row of bricks heated every brick inside. The wood was less expensive, but you had to watch it for a week. The charcoal cost more, but once lit, you simply left it until it cooled.


One of the favorite sights and memories: Brother and Sister Wright entertaining the children. Even months after they had gone home, if we drive down this street, the children begin singing the songs they taught them! Jambo Jambo!

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Before leaving the States the woman who does Terri’s hair taught me how to cut her hair. This is the first of many hair-cuts I have given her here in the Congo!


My friend and mentor, Elder Eastman, at a farewell party. Words fail me…


One of the great men of the Church here in the Congo! Emanuel worked for FM in Mbuji Mayi, and spent a lot of time with me aiding the President and looking at buildings and apartments. He was transferred to Kinshasa with his family.

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A local water source and baptismal site in Kakanda.


Terri and I with the children of Tshitenge, with the ‘sacred grove’ of bamboo in the background. The chapel here is so small they usually hold church under the grove of bamboo. There is a sacred feeling here that is hard to describe! It comes from the fact that the owner of this home gave his home up to become the local church building. His act of sacrifice has sanctified this ground in a way that anyone who visits the place can tell.

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No one, but no one will ever forget the roads of the Congo! These men got out of the vehicles to decided what to do: they test the depth of the holes filled with water and decided whether we can get through them or we have to find a way around them!

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And the paths around the water holes are not much better!


The most remote outpost of the Church in the Congo/Lubumbashi mission: Lusuku. This is their chapel. The recently were made a branch, after about 200 members (who came into the Church without missionaries!) begged to become ‘official’. We have many ‘groups’ of members in the Congo in the same situation; too far from an established Ward or Stake to become an ‘official’ branch…


Terri standing in the room where they hold sacrament meeting in Lusuku. Keep in mind they attempt to put over 100 people in this tiny room to meet each Sunday!


President McMullin overseeing the mornings water run…the work of a mission president is never ending! Most missionary apartments here have poor, or no, water. This means that they had to buy water, or walk to find water (just like everyone else!)


the local wildlife….


Yet another view of the Congo’s favorite food: foo foo (eaten for almost every meal)


Terri with the children of Ngandajika, after a church meeting ended


OK…someone has to know what this is! We have seen thousands of these shirts all over the Congo, and have tried to find out where they come from, and what it means…with no luck!

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did I mention you could buy anything along the roads of the Congo? And some are simply desperate to make some money…we had seen people trying to sell ONE shoe!

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As we travel down the roads of the Congo we always hear: Mutoka! Mutoka! as the children run out of their home to wave at us! Mutoka means ‘white person’

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Many, if not most, live the same way they have for thousands of years. It truly is like going back in time!

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Ever wonder where the rainbow ends? We found out on our mission…it ends here in the Congo, at the Mission Home in Lubumbashi. Anyone want a pot of gold?


I have yet to discover if these passengers get a discount…

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The Congolese are resourceful: they use the tools they have to get the job done!

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A local tire shop

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The roads between large cities have many places that produce charcoal. If you travel out to the frontier, you can buy it very cheaply. If you buy it in town, it is 2 to 3 times more.

John Clawson 1

This is my uncle John Clawson. He has been in poor health, so my brother and nephew traveled to see him and video-tape his oral history. I can’t wait to see it!

Justin pics 2

Try this at home! Everyone is sitting on chairs to begin with, then once set, you pull out the chairs from under them!

Kananga stake conference (129)

Terri with just a few of her friends in Kananga, taken after the Stake Conference there

Kananga stake conference (171)

Terri learning Chiluba from the local children in Kananga (she tried…they laughed!)

Kananga stake conference (197)

After Stake Conference at the theater in Kananga, the members had to return all the chairs to where they took them.

Kasumbalesa road (215)

One of my favorite pics: this is the Congo: children and water…lots of one, not enough of the other

Kipushi brick making (2)

Men making bricks for a new home. You put mud into the mold, pound it with a stick, then set it aside to dry.

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Terri and Sister McMullin share a quiet moment at a local restaurant.

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What can I say about the police of the Congo? We have all been chased, stopped, harassed, extorted for money, and been a source of fear for all of us (Elder Atkinson would rather walk than drive, just to avoid being stopped by the police!). But, what is it the scriptures say about an opposition in all things?

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Terri teaching one of many English classes. The missionaries who go home from their mission knowing a little English have a huge advantage when looking for work.

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Another common sight on the road: wrecks. With the loads they place on these trucks, and lack of training, trucks breakdown and crash all the time!

Kolwezi trip 1213 (4) Laputa (3)

Needs no comment, eh?

Laputa city (7)

Who needs a grocery store, when you can get anything you want on the street?

Laputa city (8) Laputa Hospital (9) Laputa Hospital (11)

Terri visiting a local hospital in Luputa

Laputa Hospital (13) thiLaputa Hospital (23)

this is the lab

Laputa Hospital (35)

this is the birthing table (yes ladies, this is where you come to bear children!)

Laputa Pharmacies (6)

the local pharmacy

Laputa Zone Conf (14)

People gathering to obtain water near the end of the day. It is the first work, and the last work women must accomplish each and every day!

Laputa Zone Conf (24)

This is a typical scene in missions around the world: missionaries gathered at a Zone Conference. This one is in luputa

Likasi car wreck (6)

What did I say about common sights along the road?

Likasi wood shop (2)

These are for my woodworker son. This is one of the best woodworking shops I found in the Congo…

Likasi wood shop (4) Likasi wood shop (7) Lita bday 4th (3) Lub Zone Conf (3)

Every Zone Conference must include food for the missionaries!

Lubumbashi city (19)

Scaffolding anyone? Where is OSHA when you need them?

Lukusa baby (6)

Never before seen picture: Terri holding the baby she delivered on her mission

Luputa 2 (14)

You really can get almost anything. The hard part is finding the thing you want or need!

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Terri awarding a missionary with a certificate of completion of their English course.

Luputa to Ngandajika (95) Lusuku (52)

A picture of us with the children of Lusuku, in front of the missionary apartment

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Terri teaching the Elders of Mwene Ditu how to handle stress on their mission

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You see a lot of fathers and sons working together in the Congo

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The local dentist in Mbuji Mayi. With a small 60 watt bulb and a few instruments of ‘death’ he treated our missionaries teeth.

MM hotel (5)

We all spend a lot of time riding in cramped quarters on bumpy roads to get to our missionaries. Brother and Sister Thomas have many, many miles to go before they are through!

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Terri singing with a choir of Elders in Mbuji Mayi

MTC McKensie

And this is where it all began: with our French tutor in the MTC!

Mwene Ditu (11)

Terri with the local member children in Mwene Ditu

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The ‘sacred’ seat at Ngandajika. Everyone who was ordained or set apart would be brought out back of the chapel and sat on this…engine block? to perform the ceremony

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The outside of a missionary apartment in Ngandajika

Ngandajika to MM (4) Ngandajika to MM (14)

The machine in back is a gas powered grinder. The villagers bring in their manyok roots from the fields and have them ground into flour here.

Ngandajika to MM (15)

The typical framework for the houses in the Congo. Over this wood frame they will place mud for the walls, and grass for the roof. Keep in mind that they do NOT live in their homes, as we do. They live outside all the time. They only sleep in their houses.

Ngandajika to MM (16) Ngandajika to MM (39) Ngandajika to MM (59) Ngandajika to MM (64) Ngandajika to MM (67) Ngandajika to MM (163) Ngandajika to MM (164) Ngandajika ward (1)

Such a typical scene wherever we went! Want to know what Terri has been doing? She has been ministering to the members…at each stop she would spend hours talking to the members about their health and the health of their children. She would examine each one and give them advise and counsel. When she could she would give them medicine, or direct them as to which medicine to buy at the local drug store.

Relief Soc meal Laputa (1)

The typical Congo kitchen

road to Likasi (8) Road to MD (1) Road to MD (3) Road to MD (4) Road to MD (86) Road to MD (103) Road to MD (111) Road to MD (113)

I just can’t understand why these trucks break down so often…

Road to MD (116) Road to MD (124) Road to MD (127)

Notice the stick holding up the bike? every bike had a stick with a Y so that they could rest from their long walk without placing their bikes down on their sides. If one of these bikes loses its balance and falls, it takes two to three people to pick it up again!

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When water is scarce, people have to come to where the water is available.


The only monkey we saw was a pet

stake conf general session (4)

Terri having fun with the primary children before Stake Conference began in Kananga. All the children were put in a separate room…where they took care of themselves!

Tavel to ngandanjika (14) Tavel to ngandanjika (16)

The faith of President McMullin was a driving force, and comfort, to us in our journeys. He always knew things would work out, even when it looked as though we would be spending the night in the bush (and eaten by wild animals…).

Terri bday party (5)

And when we got back to the Mission home, it was party time! The Eastmans and Wrights made our lives filled with joy and fun as they played and sang songs both to us and with us!

Terri in Kananga

Terri sitting by the pool of a hotel in Kananga. It had great food, but I broke a tooth eating my first goat meal…

Terri teaching english (1)

Terri passing-off a missionary in English

Terri teaching malaria test (2)

Terri reviewing the contents of a medical kit with the missionaries. Each apartment has a small medical kit for when they get sick. They call Terri, she finds out what is wrong, then sends them to their box to get meds for their illness.

Tire repair shop Lum (1) Woman and baby teaching (2)

Moms everywhere, what do you think? Women work, teach, walk, etc., all with a baby on their back–all the time, all day long.

wood bowl

Mortars used in cooking. They grind their peppers, vegetables, spices, etc., before cooking them over their charcoal stoves.

Wright farewell (26)

Perhaps the most memorable and moving events we have witnessed: the missionaries lined the driveway and sang for the Wrights just before they left on the plane to fly home. There was not a dry eye to be seen.

So, there are just a few of the things we have had the privilege to experience while serving in the Congo, with a few more to come…

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2 Responses to A few choice memories

  1. Alt Email says:

    Love those memories…it takes us right there!!!

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Katie Hornberger says:

    I’ve enjoyed your blog for several months now. My parents are the Drapers who should be arriving there in about 12 hours. And President Thomas was our Stake President up until a few months ago when he was released earlier than expected to go serve in the Congo. We love President Thomas! We were very sad when he was released as our Stake Presdient! We’re envious of all the missionaries and people who will undoubtedly be so blessed by the Thomases over the next 2 years (and for many years after they leave I’m sure). Your blog posts have been very informative, enlightening, eye-opening and entertaining and have helped to propel the excitement my parents feel as they head over to serve their mission in the Congo! I’m sure they look forward to finally meeting you both!

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