And when they get that vision, they are tremendous. For the first four months of 2009, we are reading the Book of Mormon together as a mission. We prepared a schedule for them which if they will follow and read between 5 and 7 pages a day, they will finish the Book of Mormon at the end of April. In our zone conferences, we are asking each of them to share a scripture that has touched them in some way from the pages they are reading.
Here's the Lubumbashi zone. Last Friday, we just had a marvelous experience for two hours as each of them shared their scripture and why they love it. These missionaries are great because they are serving about 1,000 miles away from the mission headquarters, and I can only get to see them every six weeks. They serve faithfully and are going great. The Sunday before, they had baptized 16 people -- a great harvest of souls for the Lord.
Now a story about two missionaries that brought tears to my eyes. In early January we went across the Congo River to Brazzaville for a Zone Conference there with the 14 missionaries. When it rains here, it really comes down -- in just sheets of water. The result is what you see here -- the road on the way to the building in Brazzaville where we hold our Zone Conferences. As you can tell, it isn't raining today -- this is just the accumulation of the last couple of days of rain. The road has disappeared. There are no sidewalks. Pedestrians are reduced to walking alongside the wall on the left.
The day I did interviews in the afternoon, it started to rain like crazy halfway through the interviews. I had scheduled the missionaries to arrive on 30 minute intervals, giving me 15 - 20 minutes with each missionary to discuss their mission, how they are doing, what I might do to help them, etc. When it started to rain like crazy, I thought that now I would have a time with no interviews, since who would go out in a rainstorm like this.
I was wrong -- as it started to let up ever so slightly, I ventured out of the building and onto the road. There, about 50 meters away, I spotted two missionaries -- Elder Mukamb and Bro. Moselle (a ward missionary who is helping out while we are uneven numbers at the moment), walking towards the building. In their bare feet, with their pant legs rolled up, carrying their shoes so they wouldn't get wet. When they arrived their clothing was soaked, but their shoes and socks were dry. They quickly rubbed their feet with the standing water on the paved stones in front of the building to get rid of the mud, put on their socks and shoes, and came for their interviews.
I just sat by the side of each of them with my arm around their shoulder as we had our interviews. My clothing got soaked as well, but how could you not love them!!! I wish that I had had a camera and had been able to catch the picture of these two elders, resolutely walking in their bare feet, pant legs rolled up, coming for their interview.
In the last picture in this posting, Elder Mukamb and Elder Moselle are on either side of Sister Livingstone. (Somehow I have misposted the Brazzaville picture so it is the last picture and I don't know how to change its position.)
OK -- here are the six noble missionaries who went to Likasi to open that city for missionary work in December 2008. In front kneeling down are Elders Tshibangu and Kalulambi. The four young missionaries on the back row are from left to right, Elders Okiery, Kisala, Poutance and Mbambu. Elders Okiery and Poutance are the two Asistants -- you can read about them in another posting today. The senior couple are Bro. and Sister Motshikana. We wrote about them in an earlier blog -- they are a wonderful African senior couple that some of you are helping to support (if others would like to also help support them, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll tell you how to do it).
So once again, here's the Brazzaville Zone. Elders Mukamb and Moselle, the "walk in the rain and carry your shoes missionaries", are on either side of Sister Livingstone. Sadly, we are missing one set of missionaries from this picture. Elder Mavambu, the leader of the missionaries serving in Brazzaville, had been seriously ill for several weeks, and the doctors had been desparately trying to diagnose his problem. On the day of the conference we found out that he has tuberculosis, so we brought him back across the Congo River with us at the end of the day and had him admitted to the hospital, where he has been for the last 10 days. I visit him often and he is doing much better. Tuberculosis is one of those things that you don't think exists in the world anymore, but nearly everyone here carries the TB virus in some form, and if their health gets run down, the virus becomes active. I saw him today at the hospital and he is doing much much better (and I hope that I haven't caught the virus).