Tuesday, December 30, 2008


We shouldn't be given to "hero worship" -- and so we won't be. But if we were, here are 4 of them....
On the left are Elder Charles and Sister Anna Wassum, our senior couple missionaries in Lubumbashi. The Wassums met in France many years ago while at summer school. Anna was from Sweden, Charles from Virginia. Their courtship took several years to develop, but eventually Anna moved to the U.S. and they were married.
Shortly after finishing medical school, they met the missionaries in central California, and after taking the lessons received their testimonies and were baptized in 1969. His career as a doctor and other interests eventually took them to Marion, VA -- a small community in the southwest corner of Virginia.
We found out about the Wassums in Feb. 2007, shortly after our call to serve here. Acutally we found out through two sources. One was the CEO of a microchip manufacturer in Silicon Valley, whose board I served on. The other was through Jim Engebretsen, an associate at the Marriott School of Business at BYU, who had been a partner at Goldman Sachs in Philadelphia, but retired to serve as a mission president in Oklahoma and then came to BYU to do a great job in placement for the MBA's who graduate from the business school. (Jim has organized an annual event where 30 or so MBA's are privilege to fly back to Omaha, spend a day with Warren Buffett including a steak dinner at a steakhouse Warren owns, and have even larger servings of his wit and wisdom. How's that for connections.)
The Wassums were very interested in coming to our mission, but Sister Wassum found out that she had breast cancer. After some treatment and a relatively miraculous cure, she was pronounced "ready to serve" and they came in October 2007, assigned to labor in Lubumbashi.
Lubumbashi is the 2nd largest city in the DRC, located about 1,000 miles from Kinshasa.
Originally they served there with another couple, but for various reasons, including the challenges of serving in Lubumbashi and continual harassment from the police, the other couple was reassigned to Johannesburg. The Wassums said, "we can handle this" and have been in Lubumbashi for 8 months now by themselves.
But that's not the half of it. Throughout the spring, Sister Wassum had a slowly but ever enlarging open sore on her tongue, and was continually losing weight. Not a good sign. After a trip to Johannesburg, it was diagnosed as malignant cancer. They stayed in Johannesburg for several weeks while a skilled surgeon operated and took out part of her tongue. As soon as they were cleared to come back to Lubumbashi, that they did, where they have served diligently and opened many doors for the church. They have a continual positive attitude and help watch over our 14 young missionaries in L'shi. It is always a joy to visit them and share their great attitude.
They went back down to Johannesburg in November to check up on her tongue, and everything is doing fine. We are so grateful for their friendship, their faith and their diligence!!!
The couple on the right are Elder Paul and Sister Ann Koelliker. I wrote a little about Elder Koelliker in another post (see Touring Churches in Kinshasa), and his work for the church in overseeing the building and dedication of so many temples prior to his call to be a General Authority of the church. His work took him to many different countries throughout the world during a time when President Hinckley more than doubled the number of temples operating throughout the world from 50 in 1996 to well into the 120's by the time Elder Koelliker was called to his present calling.
He has worked his entire adult life for the church, in a number of challenging callings. His work experience and travels make him a very well-educated in the ways of a modern dynamic world. Sister Koelliker was a great mom to 7 children, supporting her husband in his career working for the church, and in the calls he received to serve as a leader in his ward (bishop in his late 20's), stake president, etc.
The interesting thing about Sister Koelliker is that for her entire life up to July 2007, which took her into her mid 60's, she lived in the same zip code in Salt Lake City. Raised in it, lived there while attending school, bought a home and raised their children there. Never lived anywhere else -- just in 84109, or whatever the zip code was. And the first time that she lives outside of it, it is in Africa. Although their "home" is in Johannesburg, they travel throughout Africa, including some of the crazy places like the Congo. And she does it with a smile and a grace that silently tells others of what a daughter of Heavenly Father should be like.
Great people. A wonderful privilege to know them, learn from them, and admire them.


One day during the mission tour with Elder Paul Koelliker, a General Authority of the Church who is one of the three leaders of the overall church in Southeast Africa, he wanted to see some of the buildings that the Church has erected here in Kinshasa. The new buildings are magnificient -- the nicest structures for miles around, and they really identify the church in the minds of the Congolese. We visited about 10 buildings during a 5 hour trip. So come along.

As you can see above, the weather was rather wet. When it rains in Congo, it pours -- with no apologies to Mortons' Salt and their slogan. We started off going to the west end of Kinshasa and then working south and east.

This is the road to Kinsuka and Malueka (just pronounce these like Hawaiian -- sound every syllable and you'll do great!!). There's no pavement here -- just dirt roads with 12 - 18 inch undulations in them that turn pretty muddy and yucky quite quickly.

Good thing that our Toyota SUV is part vehicle and part boat!! This was only about 12 - 15 inches deep. Elder Koelliker just said, "President, I trust you." So it was a trial of my faith, as well as his. Fortunately we navigated the waterhole and around the trucks pretty well. Note the licence plate -- KN3563 BH -- just painted on the back of the truck.

The Congo is estimated to only have about 700 miles of paved road in a country with over 60 million people and about the size of the eastern half of United States. Believe it or not, this is one of them -- it just has some rather significant potholes and riverbeds running through it.

But eventually the paved road runs out and we were slithering up a slippery path. Thank heavens for 4 wheel drive!!

Most of the older chapels were homes that were purchased, converted and added onto. Here is the Kinsuka chapel -- typical of those older chapels. You can squeeze about 130 people into the large room used as the chapel, and it has 6 classrooms. The rain was pelting down, but we opened the doors, opened our umbrellas, shouted "Geronimo" and dashed into and around the building. Elder Koelliker was pleased to see the care that the Saints take into their facilities.

Here we are approaching the Malueka / Kimbwala building. It is a modern new stake center-sized building, at the end of a dirt road as you can see. The trees are hiding a beautiful white steeple and much of the building is hidden by the block wall on the perimeter, but you can see the right hand side of the building with a beautiful green wrought-iron fence.
The important thing is the Gospel that is taught and practiced -- not the buildings. The buildings are the hardware -- the Gospel is the software that changes peoples' lives. Could we operate in Africa without these buildings? Yes. But they are a wonderful gathering point for the members and the pride of their communities. The Church has built 8 of these buildings in the last 6 or 7 years, and three more are under construction right now, to go along with the approximately 10 older buildings that we have. And we hope and pray that one day soon, the Prophet will announce a House of the Lord -- a holy temple for this city, country and the great people.
Elder Koelliker was a good sport about traversing through the rain and mud. The leaders of the church are such great people. Always up to facing a challenge, smiling, laughing and then respectfully thinking about how to support the church and its members. The last stop of our trip was at a 10 acre site that the church owns in a commune (section of the city) called Kasavubu. We have a beautiful full-sized chapel, are building a large building for the Seminary and Institute program where teenaged and college students go to attend one hour classes in religious instruction and also to "hang out", and the site has a large corner adjoining a busy road that is a "special site" -- the place where the temple could be built.
When we arrived, Elder Koelliker noted the existing building and the one under construction. But his interest was clearly in the "special site" -- with good reason. For 10 years from 1996 to 2006, Elder Koelliker was in charge of the construction of all the temples the church built during that period. I think he said that he oversaw the construction of 67 temples during that time, from the initial site selection through the construction and the dedication. So he has a very special feeling for temples. He walked out onto the special site, stood and just meditated for a period of time, slogging through the wet dirt in his suit and penny loafer shoes. When he returned, there was a contented smile on his face and a knowing look that didn't have to be explained. It was a joy to be there just to see the expression on his face. One day, soon we hope.......

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


The problem with working with and loving missionaries is that
they have the audacity to think they should go home to their
real parents and/or family after two years! This was a great group
and they are returning to their homes with honor. We are
grateful to have had the opportunity to have served with
Front row: Elders Kazadi, Lubangakene, Ibombo, Kufuana
Back row:me, Elders Tshimbombo, Mampouya, Yengo, President L.
They took a little bit of our hearts with them when they left today!

Sunday, October 5, 2008


front row: Elders Mulunda, Kalabela and Sabue
Back row: Elder Kisase, Ilunga, Lukasa, Don, Sr. Ngindu, Elder Mulaji, Elder Kisala, Me, Elder Tshibandu (Andre), Elder Nkishama, Tshibandu (Tito)
Since last February, the Democratic Republic of Congo quit issuing new passports.
They said that there were no passport booklets available. There were many missionaries
who had their papers ready to submit, but who had to postpone sending them in
because they didn't have passports. We were receiving other missionaries who
had their passports previously, but these 10 missionaries kept hoping to be able to come. We finally decided to give them a short MTC experience here in Kinshasa and then let them begin to serve. When passports become available, we will send them to Ghana where they will
have a "real" MTC experience and, more importantly, be able to go to the temple there.
I had the fun experience of being the cook for the MTC and we had some of our
wondeful seasoned missionaries be the teachers and trainers. It was a wonderful and exhausting experience for all! !


Welcome to Elder Ritchie--from Florida.
When he arrived, his french was already great. He is laboring in a new area in
Douala that is just opened and with his trainer, Elder Neilson, they are doing a great job of
introducing the gospel in that area.

Elder Hunter comes to us from north of Salt Lake.

He is excited to be in Africa with

his trainer, Elder Archibald, who will help him

adapt to Africa and all of it's exciting

new things.

Welcome to Elder and Sister Baker from Bountiful. They had been home for a year from a mission to Romania (where they didn't know the language) and have just come to Cameroon where they are not fluent in the French language--she has had some french in school when she was a young woman. They are enjoying working in the two branches in Yaounde and with the young missionaries there. She is a gifted music teacher and is helping many in the branches to play the piano/keyboard.


PPPlease meet Elder and Sister Motshikana. I don't know about other countries in Africa,
but this wonderful couple is the first African couple missionaries to serve here in
the Democratic of Congo. He has been a bishop and they are just so wonderful
and anxious to be about our Father's business--and go to Likasi to preach
the gospel to the people there. We are excited to begin a new
era here in Congo with seasoned couple missionaries serving and blessing
the members, preaching the gospel, aiding the leadership and serving
diligently. History in the making! !


Girls and women are the same all over the world. When they haven't seen each other
for awhile, and they meet again, they squeel and smile and hug each other with big hugs.
These wonderful 14 sisters are our young sister missionaries, plus 4 adult sister missionaries, plus two Congolese women who were my helpers and planners for this conference
had a wonderful day together.
We started with a yummy breakfast of Christmas quiche and fruit and muffins.
After introducing the theme, "...who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom
for such a time as this..." the story of courageous Queen Esther,
we made cute Congolese greeting cards.

Sister Barlow introduced the family health guide that the church has produced to
help African women to understand better ways to keep themselves and their
families healthy and free from disease. We are hoping that these lovely
young women will implement the principles from the book and then teach
them to their families, to their wards and neighborhoods when they
return after their missions.
After lunch, Sister Moon, President Livingstone and I spoke
about the theme of this conference.
We challenged them to be courageous like Esther in obeying the
Lord's commandments and be the pioneers that they are
in raising up a righteous generation here in Congo. I'm sure that they will.
They are amazing young women.
front row--Sisters Besolo, Nlombi, Ngandu, Mukaz, Buekazebi, Mujinga, Lukonga
Back row--Sisters Evelyn Muadi, Lengelo, Barlow, Moon, Mbessie, Mycadeau,
Kayembe, me, Gweth, Motshikana, Kakudji, Tshipamba, Ngoie.

This is Mycadeau, me and Evelyn--we planned this day together.

Mycadeau is a wonderful seamstress and she made us matching dresses! !

They are wonderful and fun and we are the three muskateers! !

We love each other and giggled a lot as we were planning this day! !

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

We gratefully announce the recent call of our son, Andrew Jon Livingstone to serve as a full time missionary to the Chile, Santiago East mission. We are proud of him and the steps he has taken to be able to serve. We know that he will labor diligently under the able leadership of President Sofocles E. Moran. He is praying for a South American trainer so that he can quickly immerse himself in the Spanish language. He enters the Missionary Training Center in Provo on November 19th. All of his siblings are trying to get there to send him off. I am trying to be brave. So many of our missionaries here don't have any support from home, so I know that it can be done. He has MANY people in Provo and Utah, plus his family that are there to help him get off on the right foot! ! If you want to see him open his call, check out the blogsite of his sister, Heidi www.dawgeatdawgworld.blogspot.com.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Weddings are such happy occasions! ! !

Ok, lame blogger that I am, my friend told me that when you load the photos you load what you want last to be first, etc. but it didn't work that way, so this is backwards, but you don't care, do you?? This beautiful bride is our recently released missionary, Sister Nancy Mpemba. She was an incredible missionary (do you remember I posted about her with her release photo?) and this is her handsome husband, Willy. Just weeks after she was released, they were married at the Ngaliema Stake center. This is what I wrote about the wedding in my journal.

We met in the chapel and waited. There was a choir of young people who were singing hymns while we waited. The girls all had red shirts and black skirts on and the boys had white shirts, black pants and ties. They looked really great (a bit better than they sounded, but what they lacked in harmony, they more than made up with enthusiasm and joy! ! !) Then the back curtains opened and on one side Willy came up in a black suit with a lavender shirt—very stylish looking. On the other side was Soeur Mpemba in a beautiful white wedding gown with her face fully veiled. It was rather low in the back, but she had her garments on and so it was great! ! They walked slowly and sedately up the two aisles—there were several “attendants” for both of them—four girls in matching dresses---two were long and the other two shorter skirts—a man with Willy and a lady with Soeur Mpemba—I’m not sure what their relationship was. They came up the aisle, and at the front they met and the attendants took their seats on the front row and Willy and Soeur Mpemba went to the front and turned and sat facing the audience. Oh, yeah---Soeur Mpemba’s veil was very long or the dress had a train, I’m not sure which, that was carried by this darling little sister of Willy. She was also dressed all in white and she also had a veil over her face. I’m not sure when her veil was changed, but after the ceremony her veil was also pushed back over the back of her hair.

This is the photo of the attendants leading them into the cultural hall after the ceremony! ! This is when it got really fun! ! !

This is the quote from my journal about this adorable couple--he is the Patriarch of the Ngaliema Stake:
Several of the priesthood in their wards and stakes spoke about marriage and family—all wonderful talks and very sweet. The final speaker was the patriarch from the Ngaliema stake. Just a side light about him—several months ago Don asked him how he was getting along with giving some of our missionaries their patriarchal blessings. He said that he had given all the blessings, but the stake didn’t have sufficient money for batteries for his recorder, nor paper for him to print the blessings out on. Don immediately got some batteries and paper for him and he was extremely grateful! ! ! So back to his talk. He is this darling man—greying hair with huge glasses! ! He told the story of how he and his wife were first “culturally” married---50 years ago this December. Then he told us how many months, weeks and days that they had been married. Then he told that they had been “civilly” married several years after that—then told us how many years, months, weeks and days they had been married civilly. Then he said that they joined the Catholic church and were married again! ! and repeated how many years, months, weeks and days they had been married. Finally he told of their marriage in the temple! ! ! and repeated the same about length of marriage. Then he called his wife up to stand before everyone and expressed his love and admiration for her. (something very unusual for Africans to do in public! ! ). She has born him 14 children—2 have died, but 12 are living---6 of them are married and they have a goodly number of grandchildren. They were so darling and cute together.
And here is the wonderful photo of the beautiful couple! ! They are saving their money so that they can go to the temple soon. We hope that it is very soon. He is a counselor in the Bishopric in his ward and she will be an asset wherever she serves. This is why the church is growing so magnificently here in Congo--dedicated and wonderful young people like this who love the Lord and want to serve Him all of their days! !

More new missionaries! ! ! and one release! !

Back row: Elder Ilunga, Don, Elder Mulaji, Me, Elder Tshibanda (Andre), Elder Nkashama, Elder Tshibanda (Tito). Middle row: Elder Kisase, Elder Lukusa, Sister Ngindu, Elder Kisala. Front: Elder Mulunda, Elder Kalabela, Elder Sabue.

Just 5 days after we arrived last year, we received 12 new missionaries! ! We were thrilled and overwhelmed! ! That brought our numbers up to 66. We had 5 sisters at the time and 5 couples. We have had a little "problem" lately because the country of DRC does not have any passport books--you know those little books with your picture and you get a stamp every time you come or go somewhere. They have been without passport books since last February. We have MANY prospective missionaries who have been waiting and waiting to come, but if they can't get a passport, they can't go to Ghana for their MTC experience and go through the temple. So last week we had 10 of these missionaries who have been waiting patiently for the opportunity to serve come here to Kinshasa and we had our own MTC for them and they have started to serve as full time missionaries. Two in the photo had passports and were able to go to Ghana. When the country finally gets some passport books and begins issueing passports again, we hope to be able to send these missionaries to Ghana for a real MTC and especially for the opportunity to be endowed in the temple! ! They were well taught by our experienced missionaries and had a really wonderful experience. They will be awesome missionaries! !
And by the way, that brings our numbers up to 90 young missionaries--14 are sisters.
We have also received permission from Salt Lake to send senior African couples into some of our areas where we can't yet send American couples, and the first couple have received their call and will begin their service later this month in Likasi. As soon as they are established, we will add young missionaries there to help with the teaching in Liksasi. Likasi has a beautiful new building and we believe that this will help the church to really grow there in that beautiful little city.

This is Elder Kayumba. He was released last Friday. He returns to Lubumbashi where he is a carpenter and cabinetmaker. He will take over the care of his elderly mother so that his younger brother, who has been caring for her, will be able to serve a mission.

We welcome Elder Kashama. He was teaching institute in Munama (in Lubumbashi) before he came. His parents are not members of the church. He was in the Young Men's Presidency of the Stake. And now he is serving as a full time missionary! !


One thing about the Congo. They have GREAT bread!! You can find almost any type of bread here, very well done and at a reasonable price.

We buy a bread called "Pain au Cereal" -- a reasonable translation would be 9 Grain Bread at one market and often take it on extended trips. It stays fresh and moist even for 5 days.

But a favorite, if you want to lather it with butter, (and who doesn't??), is Pain Victoire. It's just a white bagette, baked at a huge bakery, with 8 or 9 bakings a day. It's very reasonable -- about 18 cents a bagette, and since you can always buy it fresh, it's great when loaded with saturated fat (a.k.a. butter). The missionaries can down several of these every meal -- in the morning, they dunk them into hot chocolate.

How is Pain Victoire distributed throughout the vast city? Well, for faroff places, they have a very efficient truck distribution system. But in the main part of Kinshasa, it is distributed by mammas, who come to the bakery with huge baskets on their head that they load up and then walk back to their neighborhood. The picture above is one of the smaller baskets, that a mamma will carry on her head.

You see them gracefully striding along the street, basket on top of their head. Some mammas buy a homemade peanut butter -- fresh ground on the street right outside of the entrance of the bakery, and you can have protein with your carbohydrates. I've tried to estimate how many bagettes they might have in a big basket. With the pieces of cardboard to create a taller sidewall, this mamma has two rows of bagettes around the circumference, with lots more stuffed in the middle.

Bon appetite! And now you know how Kinshasa gets its daily bread.

Love - Don and Marsha

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


So here I was driving down a street next to the train track (there is only one train track leading into Kinshasa) about 10 to 7, and I ran across the daily commute train (there is only one commute train). In an earlier post I had a couple of pictures of the train going home at night, but these possible pictures were too good to pass up. As you can tell, since there is only one train, everybody possible is going to be on that train. And when you say "on it", we really mean that. They are on top, on the engine, in the windows and the doors. Everywhere. The train was stopped here to let more people crowd onto it. I can't imagine that there is ever any accounting for revenue -- how would one possible push through the crowd to collect fares or tickets. You might try to set up a "toll booth" at the station downtown in Kinshasa, but they jump off the train before you get to the station, as it only ever moves about 10 - 15 miles an hour.
No space goes unwasted -- even the engine is a place for riding, or standing. Note the people standing on the front of the engine.
So here's the morning commute -- Kinshasa style!! For years I rode BART in the San Francisco Area -- sitting in a comfortable seat, going 80 mph between stations. And to think that we used to grumble a little about BART. Now in our home in Utah, we have two systems -- TRAX, which is a light rail system in the Salt Lake Valley; and FrontRunner, a heavy rail system that does now, or will cover a distance about 35 miles north and 45 miles south of Salt Lake. The name comes from the Wasatch Front -- as our mountains are called.
FrontRunner takes on a whole new name when you're riding on the front of the locomotive for the morning commute!!
And they combine commuting with their morning exercise. A lot of those surfing on top of the train dance as the train rumbles along the tracks. Makes even the morning subway train that our New Yorkers (Seth and Kendra) ride, seem tame by comparison!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bienvenu and Bon Voyage! ! !

I realized that I have not posted photos of the new missionaries when they arrive,

or the missionaries who are being released. I will try to remedy that with the missionaries

who have come and gone since the first of July.
Above is the picture of Stephen and JoAnn Hanks
They served for 23 months in Yaounde, Cameroon.
When they arrived, they didn't speak any French at all,
but took classes for most of the time that they were in Cameroon
and were both fluent by the time that they left.
They add such wonderful things to the branches in Yaounde.
Elder Hanks was a wonderful priesthood mentor for the leadership in
Bastos I and Bastos II branches.
He helped them create a wonderful meeting place of a rented
space that was pretty bad the first time we saw it.
Elder Hanks saw the vision of what it could become and worked very hard
to make it a reality--a lovely building for the church to have their meetings in
and to be proud of.
Sr. Hanks added much to the lives of the members with her musical
talents. She taught several to play the keyborad and helped both
branches with their Primary music.
And the young American missionaries will forever remember the Hanks
for the fun meals they shared, the laundry done, the great lessons learned
from the Hanks and the fun and laughter that they shared.
We love and miss the Hanks! !

Because I am a lame blogger, I can't figure out how to get rid of this
extra picture of Elder Lubumta! ! Sorry! !
Elder Lutumba just returned to his home in Mbuji-Mayi. He is the youngest of 10 children
and has I think 2 brothers who are members.
He will always have a special place in our hearts, because we almost lost this
young man. He kept complaining of chest pain and a couple of other symptoms (starting in the MTC in Ghana), and went to 3 or 4 doctors while on his mission. Finally one day
after a series of tender mercies with a new hospital and doctors, we got some
real answers and discovered that he had an extreme case of Tuberculosis and Aspergulosis.
The day he was finally admitted into the Biamba Marie Mutombo hospital, he could hardly walk and had serious problems breathing. They started with some serious medications and got him healthy enough so that we could send him to South Africa where he had one of his lungs removed. We are so thankful that he was able to get the treatment that he needed
and that he returned and finished his mission.

This sister is Sister Mpemba. Sister Mpemba was asked by Brother Willy Lumala Mulambo to be his wife. She said Yes!, but I want to serve a mission first. They agreed that it would be a good thing, as it would give him some time to prepare financially for their life together. He worked at the distribution center for the church near our office. Each time I would go into the center, Willy would smile and say, "Sr. Livingstone, how are ALL of the missionaries in the mission doing??" I would always assure him that they were doing very well! !
Then I would promise that I would give a special greeting to Sr. Mpemba the next time I saw her. 4 week after her release, we attended their wedding! !
That is the subject for another post soon! !

This is Elder Freddy Mol. Elder Mol came to serve in Cameroon from Vanuatu--a series of very small islands in the South Pacific. Elder Mol's father died just shortly before he came on his mission, and after he had been serving for about 8 months, his mother passed away, also. What faith for him to continue his mission and serve with honor. His voyage home took about 48 hours with 4 -5 plane changes. I'm sure he was one tired guy when he got home.

We welcome Elder Wigginton. He just arrived from Southern California. Elder Wigginton has greaduated from UC Irvine and worked and was accepted to law school, but felt the tug of the Lord that he should serve a mission. When he arrived, his French was incredible! ! We are sure he will be a fabulous missionary.


It's summer and we decided that we needed a little summer fun--actually, here is the "dry season" which is their equivilent of "winter", but we aren't letting them kid us that it's "cold"! ! It's just a little less hot than usual! !
In any case--it is time for a play day for the missionaries! !
This one was held on August 2nd at the Kasavubu chapel for all of the zones in Kinshasa.
We had one in Brazzaville the week before, and will have the one in Lubumbashi next week.
Cameroon will be soon after that! !
Here is a photo of all the missionaries after lunch.
They are full of delicious Hawaiian Haystacks and Pain Victoire.

Do these look like happy campers or what??

We divided them into three groups played lots of games in the morning--

We had some relay races, did the human knot, played fruit salad mix and the animal game.

This missionary is doing the noise and action for the monkey! !

Here are our two Assistants, Elder Kenakuta and Elder Yengo.

They thought the play day was a huge success ! !

This missionary is also playing the animal game, and I'm not sure what animal he is

making the noise and action for, but they sure had fun! !

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


notice where this man's shoes are?? He's been walking like this for a long time, I think!
This cute "mama" was all smiles when she got her chair! She had such a sweet attitude

Posted by PicasaOk, so I admit it, I was having a bit of a pity party the last few days. I'm ashamed of myself, but I was doing it. This morning I have snapped out of it and I will show you why! !

See the man and woman above. they have great smiles, right?? Well the photo doesn't show the bottom half of their bodies which are deformed and shrunken. This morning the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated another 21 wheel-chairs to 21 handicapped persons here in Kinshasa. This is the second such morning that I have attended to watch people receive the life-giving gift of mobility. One of the things that has touched my heart very much is how many. many people here are physically impaired. Apparently some of them have withered or mishapen legs because well-meaning nurses have given injections improperly when they were babies. Many have incured injuries from the war. Some have been injured from accidents. It is heart-breaking to see so many who have difficulties. But most of them have found ways to continue with their lives and most have a great attitude and smile.

Below (or wherever it happens to pop up--I'm still a novice at this blogging thing) will be a few photos of some of the people as they made their way to receive their wheelchair. The routine that they have to go through to receive a wheelchair is that they come and request one from this

"Centre de handicappe". Their social service people interview them, then visit their homes to make sure that they can use a wheelchair in their homes and also to make sure that they won't just take the chair and sell it for profit, etc. After they pass that test, then the center chooses those to coordinate with the number of chairs that will be donated that time. The church is able to have a nice plaque on the back of each chair that it gives which says, "Gift of the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints". So the church is widely recognized as a charitable and giving church.

Ok, so the pictures are loading in ascending order, so you'll see the ones I wanted you to see last, first--but as the scriptures say, the first shall be last and the last shall be first....so you'll just have to figure it all out, because I'm not smart enough to figure out how to move them.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


This is an "incomplete post" -- there are many more things to add to it. But here's what we have for right now.

Wanna buy a used car? There aren't more than 4 or 5 car dealerships in Kinshasa, and not one of these has a used car department of any consequence. Most used cars are sold off of "used car lots" along the side of the road. Here's a used car dealership alongside Mulumba Blvd. -- each morning about 50 or 60 cars appear alongside the road -- there are occasional lookers and buyers, and then at night all the cars get driven somewhere to be stored overnight. Almost all the used cars here come from Europe, and still have their identifying European country sticker on them -- "B" for Belgium; "F" for France; "CH" for Switzerland; "D" for Denmark, etc. Someone buys them in Europe and ships them down here. The process of licensing, registering, reporting sales to the government, sales tax -- no clue what happens. But the inventory always changes and cars are being sold from under the trees.

There are gas stations, although probably not more than 100 for the 8 plus million people in Kinshasa. All the petroleum products are distributed by a government entity called "SEP" -- you see their big tank trucks. I guess the major oil companies have their additives blended in at the SEP tank farms. Diesel is by far the prevelent fuel -- at about $ 6.50 - 7.00 a gallon, government price controlled. Our SUV takes about 200 litres, or about $ 250 a fill-up.

Far more interesting are the street-side vendors who sell diesel by far smaller quantities, as people can't afford a $ 250 fillup. They fill containers and put them on these racks by the side of the road. Here you see everything from 4 litre containers -- the large blue containers in the top right, to litre sized plastic containers, to used Coke bottles, which hold about .3 litres. A guy with a moto may wheel in for a Coke bottle (about 50 cents) or a plastic one litre bottle (about $ 1.30). The bigger 4 litre fillup ($ 5) would be took big for his tank -- those are reserved for cars or combies that need to go another 20 miles. There are similar sized containers of oil -- very handy since most vehicles here belch enormous quantities of blue smoke. For some of them, I think the consumption of oil equals or exceeds the consumption of diesel fuel.
Here's your "one stop" shop for athletic equipment -- soccer balls, an exercise bike, etc. But if you injure yourself by exercising too vigorously, we have crutches, canes, etc. If you really overdo it, we can sell you a wheelchair. All out in the open, under a tree. Each night the inventory disappears to somewhere, to be carefully restocked in the morning when the store opens for business.

If you get thirsty during the day, particularly as you ride in a non-air conditionned combie, there is the "O - P" man ready to slake your thirst. On top of this vendor's head is a plastic sack about 3 feet tall (when it is full) and 1 1/2 feet in diameter. Filled to the brim with plastic bags of "eau pure" -- French for pure water. (Except that most eau pure comes from taps and non-filtered sources -- we would never dare drip out of an eau pure sack.) It's a lot easier to just shout "O - P", or as they do it, "O-P, O-P, O-P". A bag of about 300 mililitres costs 50 francs or 10 cents.

They run along the street next to the combies, shouting "O-P, O-P". A hand thrusts a 50 franc note out the window and the transaction is consummated. Unfortunately about 1 minute later, the empty bag will fly out of the window to settle on the roadside somewhere. Trash is a major problem here, particularly the millions of O-P bags that will never decompose. So they get burned, leaving an oily black plume of smoke boiling up into the air.
A very large bakery called "Pain Victoire" sells bagettes to mamas, who carry these large plastic basins of bread on the their head as they walk down the side of the road to where they will set up and vend them. Right next to Pain Victoire, the vendors sell plastic sacks of 5 or 10 bagettes at a price of 100 francs per bagette (about 18 cents for a bagette about 18 inches long). They are baked continuously during the day so they are fresh and warm, and very tasty (particularly if you slather them with butter). These ladies are selling bread (in the two large plastic basins) and hard boiled eggs -- sitting on the black plastic milk milk crate.
I'm not sure which furniture store "by the side of the road" sold this gorgeous sofa and chair set, but you can see the "pouse-pouse" delivery truck that is delivering it. Off to the side of the road, you can see some bunk beds which are being sold.
Here's something else that sadly is being sold. In the interior of the Congo, there are huge trees being harvested for their gorgeous mahogany and other hardwoods, and sent to places like China where it will be made into furniture. The logs are floated down the Congo River to Kinshasa, and loaded onto these big trucks for the 110 mile truck to the coast. Unfortunately the rapids in the river just downstream from Kinshasa prohibit floating them the rest of the way to the coast. Each log is about 50 feet long, and three of them make a truckload.

And that's how things are sold -- with the exception that we will add some more in a couple of days.

Love to all - Don and Marsha