This wonderful man is Willie Binene, the leader of our six congregations in Luputa. He is called the District President. Here he is with his six year old son, and four year old daughter. Their youngest child is six months old. Note how beautiful Gracie's hair is -- and see the detailed braiding in the next picture.
Pres. Binene is a "cultivateur"-- a farmer. He has about 20 acres of corn under cultivation, and raises other crops. He is a wonderful, kind, loving church leader -- and his dedication to the calling is incredible. There are no banks in Luputa, and no Internet cafes, because at this time, there is no power system. The only power comes from portable generators, and the "mazook" to run them is very expensive. One day each week, Pres. Binene rides a bus or rides his bike 45 kilometers to a larger city called Mwene-Ditu, where there is power and Internet. He takes all the tithing and other offerings collected by the six congregations and deposits them in the bank in Mwene-Ditu, then goes to an Internet cafe and checks all the emails for the church. Then he rides back to Luputa. In good weather, he can make the trip all in one day. In bad weather, it is a 1 1/2 day trip. What faith and dedication to do this every week -- not being paid (in the church, it is a totally lay clergy). I marvel at his love for the Lord. And the sermon he gave on the Plan of Salvation -- where we came from, why we are here and where we go after this life, was as masterful presentation as I have heard on this topic.
Can you imagine the time it took Sister Binene to braid the hair of Gracie, their four year old daughter? Their love for their children, and particularly for their children to be specially dressed for the Sabbath Day, is always amazing!!
After the conference in the afternoon, we decided to go for a walk in the village just east of the monastery where we stayed for three nights. Needless to say, the three couples and Bro. Hokansen visiting for the conference are quite a curiosity among the villagers, most of whom have never seen a "mutoka" (white skinned person). You start off walking down the road and soon there are tens, then hundreds following you, as you greet them. You try to shake hands with them all but soon Marsha disappears in the midst of about 50 kids. It is quite an event, but so much fun to try to communicate with them, shake their hands, etc.