Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Rainy season in Africa. The roads become mudholes (see the posting "The Trip to Luputa"). Little creeks that were trickles of water in August become roaring torrents that jump their banks and almost come up to the deck of the bridge, in February. I remember this bridge when we crossed it in August -- why was it about 20 feet above the little creek? Now we know. And every creek, every river in a country that is 1,500 miles by 1,500 miles eventually drains into the Congo River. By the time the Congo River reaches Kinshasa (still 110 miles from the ocean), it is several miles wide, and the flow of water is exceeded only by the Amazon River.
An "not uncommon" sight in Africa are missions that the Catholic Church built to serve people and also to bring them into their faith. Here is a large church -- the anchor of a mission that was built over 100 years ago. We received a pamphlet on its history when we were warmly welcomed by the prelate now in charge of it. The names of the leaders up through the early 1960's were all Belgian or French -- when independence came to the Congo in 1960, these people unfortunately were not well treated by the Congolese and so they left. Their structures - both buildings and infrastructure have been sadly neglected -- but there is still a majesty to what they left behind.

This mission had a compound of about 6 or 7 large brick structures that the Belgians had built. It was probably about 20 kilometers in either direction from Mwene-Ditu or Luputa -- out in the middle of Africa where the fathers and nuns served the people because of their love for them. There must have been a very large collection of people here, as you can tell that this is a good sized structure.

Now this is a colorful dress!! The collection of fabrics was a little more kalideoscopic in this dress than others, but you can see that they love their colors. Our wardrobe when we return might be a little noticeable in Provo!!
We pulled off the road (see the segment of "The Trip..." for one of the vehicles getting stuck), and after our lunch talked to and visited with the several families that lived in this little 2 - 3 house group, about 5 miles away from anything else on the road. They were most willing and happy to help us see where they lived and what they did.

We walked up the path to their little collection of several living places. Note the gardens on the left and right -- they were growing manioc (which gives them a white floury substance that they mix with dried ground corn to produce a carbohydrate goo that they eat with every meal), and corn. Behind the structures were the fruit gardens, the kitchen, bathroom (no pictures of that0 and the family room -- all outdoors.

Here is the kitchen -- notice how neatly the dirt floor has been swept with their straw brooms. The black container holds water that is caught from rain run-off; there are several cooking stations which use charcoal that they produce to heat their food.
The view from the family room (outdoors of course) shows the backyard, about 20 or 30 miles of open vista, with not another human or structure in sight. It is a big wide open continent, with lots of open space!! America, China, Russia, India and many other countries would fit in the confines of Africa, with room left over for Europe. It is huge. Our mission along covers the western half of the United States.
We might focus on what they don't have -- a TV, Internet, garage with a couple of cars, etc. Their live is very simple, but it has its own beauty and bounties as well. In back of the house is their little garden -- lots of pineapple plants all if a row. You can see next week's fruit sitting all ready to be harvested, and there were probably about 50 plants in their garden in various stages of bearing fruit.

Their life has a simple beauty to it -- the sun comes up, you get up, you work, you produce your food, you do whatever else kind of work you can, you eat, the sun goes down (same time every day all year around), you sit around a fire with your family and then you go to bed to get ready for the next day. For those who are members, you throw in the daily scripture reading and teaching of your children, and church work as necessary during the week and Sunday services.

Sometimes, less might be more....

Love to all - Don and Marsha

1 comment:

The Jorgensens said...

I want a dress like that! How beautiful. We actually have a member in our ward from the Ivory Coast, and I always ask her to dress in her traditional wraps -- when she does, it reminds me of you.