Saturday, September 8, 2007


Well, this picture is "out of order" -- it should be on Monday, but it shows how you eat lunch in the middle of Africa. Pull over to the side of the road, have Marsha open the suitecase commissary and it's time for sandwiches. Here are Elder and Sister Kola, along with Omer. The big sack is 30 kilos of corn which Omer purchased to take back to his family. Later this afternoon, he stopped to look at the biggest catfish I have ever seen -- about 3 feet long, and bargained whether he could purchase it. Fortunately no deal was struck -- we weren't keen about sharing the back of the truck with a smelly dead catfish!!
So back to the District Conference in Luputa on Saturday and Sunday. We had three meetings on Saturday -- Marsha and Sister Kola taught the female leaders for the church organizations for the children, young women and the ladies, while Elder Kola and I taught the men in leadership positions. Then we had a meeting for all the adults. Sunday, there was a two hour meeting for all members and their families.
During the Sunday meeting, there were about 250 children in attendance. They were amazingly reverent. After the meeting -- it was another story. Mass chaos!! Everyone wanted to shake hands about 3 times with a hearty "Bonjour", or reach out and hug us. Here's Marsha in the middle of a mob. I think that some of them enjoyed shaking hands to see if our skin felt different than theirs. Most crowded around, but a couple of little babies shrieked in fear whenever they came close to us.

Monday morning, it was up early for a two hour trip from Luputa to Ngandajika. It had rained during the night for 2 to 3 hours, so the roads turned to mud and we slithered down the trail. Not tropical here -- high African highlands with vistas where you can see for 20 miles in many directions. An amazing country.

Here's a typical African village -- abode brick houses about 12 by 12 or 16 by 16, with thatched roofs. The women cook outside using charcoal to cook their meals. Everyone has a great smile and a big wave as we drive by.

In Ngandajika, we met with 50 incredibly faithful members who have moved here during the last couple of years. About 30 of them rode their bikes 35 miles to Luputa for the Sunday morning meeting, then rode back in the afternoon. We gave them approval to have the Sacrament in their weekly meetings here (as in Mwene-Ditu), while we apply for approval of a branch in each of these cities. The fellow in the green in the front row is the territorial governor. We met with him when we first arrived, and several minutes before the meeting began at 10 am, he showed up. Several members gave great talks, and Elder Kola and I both talked about the Book of Mormon and its truthfulness, and how it can guide our lives in today's world as a second testimony of Jesus Christ, together with the Bible.

After the meeting, the territorial governor came up and we shared a nice chat. Then he asked, "Where could I get a copy of the Book of Mormon?" Darn -- we had left about 25 copies with the district in Luputa, but didn't have any with us now. But I had my leatherbound edition -- so now the territorial governor has a Triple Combination with the name of Donald Livingstone on the cover. He said he will be a friend of the church and help us do anything we need -- will come in handy when we build a chapel in a couple of years.

Once a Grandma, always a Grandma. Marsha will hold any baby, anywhere, anytime. Here she is getting a love from a little six month old son of a sister in Mbuji-Mayi on Tuesday morning (this picture is a little out of order as well, but I can't seem to correct its placment, so pardon my technical ineptitude). Since our plane back to Kinshasa turned out to be five hours late (not an uncommon experience), she got in a lot of baby holding. What a great companion -- it's easy for me to say "I LOVE my companion!!" She always smiles, does whatever is needed, and when we get lemons (like late planes) , she's great at making lemonade.

Here Marsha is with some of the ladies who came to a Monday afternoon meeting for all the members in the Mbuyi-Mayi branch. 200 came on a Monday afternoon at 4:30 -- great dedication of these wonderful African Saints.

We were so amazed and grateful for the faithful example of these wonderful church members. They have such a great spirit about them, and are so greatful for anything and everything that you do for them. While they may be "young in the Gospel" as far as their years of membership are concerned (many of them have just been members for two to five years), they have so loving hearts. And they are happy with their circumstances in life, even though they have so little in comparison with us. When we take a picture with the digital camera, and then immediately show them what the picture looks like, they clap their hands with joy and crowd around to see what they look like. And then immediately want to pose for another picture.
Where else would people be willing to wait for three hours or more in the dark for someone to show up? Where else would people ride bikes for 35 miles each way -- taking three or four hours in each direction, to attend a meeting? Surely there are other places in the world where people make sacrifices. But in North America, we are so privileged and spoiled to have what we have. And we take it for granted.
Over the next two months, we will visit three other "districts" of the church here, along with smaller congregations scattered over the Congo, Republic of Congo and Cameroon. What a joy to serve these people.
Love to all -- Don and Marsha
P.S. It's 4 am on Sunday morning and I just finished listening to the BYU-UCLA football game on the internet. Rats -- we lost, but the game was a good game. You gotta have time for a few diversions in life, don't you?? Off to bed -- bye for now.


Sally said...

Wow! Wow and Wow! Thank you so much for sharing! I appreciate your stories and experiences that help me to be more appreciative of my knowledge of the Gospel. It is very humbling to hear about these members who are making such great sacrifices to hear the leaders. And very insiring for me to be more diligent in study and service.
Thank you, Mary Ann Watanabe

chloe elizabeth said...

I second the "Wows"! What an amazing experience. It's nice to be reminded of how really easy we have it, not only as members of the church, but as people in general, in the U.S. Unfortunately, sometimes the easiness of the way makes it not so easy to be humble and grateful. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

P.S. I get to see Heidi everyone so often when I have lunch at J-dawg's. She is always so nice!

k e n d r a said...

Wow from me too! It's such a pleasure to read all about your adventures- and the see all of the photos. Does anyone care if you take photos in Luputa? Can't wait to read more.

Lots of love,


Mimi and Papa in Provo said...

I really loved to read about the dedication of members in these small villages. Can you imagine keeping the faith without a church meeting being held for over a year? I can hardly wait from one Sunday to the next. We are so proud of all you are doing and know that these great but challenging experiences will be warm memories for many years in the lives of the members you meet besides your own. Love you both, Linda Rich

David Lisonbee said...

Great stuff President! Thanks for your blog.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is such a comfort to me. It is so wonderful to see the gospel bring happiness to people in all parts of the world. You inspire me to be a better example to all who I meet. Thank you President and Sister Livingstone!

Anonymous said...

Dear Professor Livingstone:

When you return back to Provo following your mission, I'd like you to teach my class for a semester since you now understand, first-hand, the truth about "celestial," "terrestrial", and "telestial" lifestyles :) ...

What a great pleasure to read about your experiences with the wonderful people of the Congo. I'm jealous! I'd like to serve their someday (and I mean that from the bottom of my heart).

Sincerely, Craig Wilson

PS -- we're having some wonderful experiences in the Tanner Building, making differences, changing the world ... thanks, in large part, to you creating a place for "enduring happiness in the BYU Entrepreneurship Department."

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