Saturday, October 6, 2007


Welcome to Kananga -- a city of over a million people in the middle of the Congo. We are here for a District Conference of our 4 congregations in Kananga. There is an "ebola" outbreak about 60 miles to the northwest of Kananga, and the U.S. Embassy issued an "Extreme Travel Advisory". (Ebola is not a nice disease to contract and 150 have died from it in the outbreak.) But after prayers and a confirmation feeling that we should go, and knowing the great efforts that the members had made for the Conference, we felt that the Lord would bless and protect us.

There's only one place to stay in Kananga -- in a brewery. (It's the only place in town with reliable electricity, because it has its own generator.) The sign on top of the guard shack says "Brasserie de Kasai" (Kasai Brewery), and there is a 10 feet high "Skol" beer bottle on top of the shack. The rooms are very spartan, and it's another city in Africa where we buy bottled water, and bring our REI freeze-dried backpacking food as the primary food source. The water in the bathroom is in a 30 gallon plastic barrel and you pour water into the sink or toilet as needed. So between staying in the Catholic monastery last month is our trip to Luputa, and the brewery in Kananga, we are truly "ecumenical stayers". One night, I looked at Marsha and asked, "Can you remember six months ago when we stayed at the Grand Wailea in Maui in such great room overlooking the blue Pacific?" Her response was, "That was then and this is now -- aren't we lucky?" And she really meant it.

This is one of our chapels in Kananga -- an old Belgian colonial home, that the Church purchased and remodeled into a chapel. The main chapel only holds about 200 members, and there are only six classrooms, so classes meet out on the lawn, on the patio outside, etc. I stood here (in the back yard) and envisioned how we could build an addition, coming out towards these palm trees, that could have a cultural hall and then a chapel, so that 600 people could be here for District Conference. We could divide the existing chapel into more classrooms. But, in the meetings we had here, there was no electricity. How we take things for granted.

This young couple is a great example of the future of the Church in Africa. He is a returned missionary, although he served before we had temples in Nigeria and Africa. They hope to be able to save some money, get a passport and go to the temple to receive the blessings we obtain there, and to be sealed together as a "forever family". Don't they look great??

Here is the District Presidency of the Kananga District -- Pres. Kapanga is third from the left and his counselors are on the left and second from the right. Elder Kola, the member of the Seventy is third from the right and Pres. Muliele, my first counselor in the Mission Presidency is on the right. He is a distinguished medical doctor, but gave up three days of his practice to come speak and serve in the Conference.

District Conference on Sunday was held in this building -- an old Belgian movie theatre. Very limited lighting -- the church has a diesel generator that it uses to power a few light fixtures and the sound system. About 2% of the chairs had backs on them, and it was very hot. But it was filled with 650 people of the 900 in the District for our conference. A little different from our chapels in North America.

The District Conference was a wonderful experience. Members of the district furthest from the buildings walked two hours each direction to attend. What great faith. And the reverence of the 100 of so children down in the front was truly amazing. The talks given by the African Saints are marvelous stories of faith, dedication and encouragement to do our best in this life. In the Bible, there is a parable about a master who gives three servants differing amounts of money, with the expectation that the servants will work hard to multiple their talents while the Master is gone. These African saints may not have received five talents, but I am sure that the Master will be pleased with how they developed and lived their lives while on this earth, and they will receive a wonderful and the highest reward in the life after this. What an example to ponder!!
Love to all - Don and Marsha

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