Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas 2011

Despite the fact that it was taken before all the gifts were placed underneath, this picture will serve as a reminder of Christmas 2011 & will also help us remember what an evergreen Christmas tree looks like...  It's not beyond the realm of possibility that we will only have a small palm tree to decorate for the next two years.  But, one thing I am sure of, our hearts will be with our family.

In the meantime, we are hoping that the election difficulties in Kinshasa will abate in time for us to leave the MTC and fly there on our scheduled February 20th date.  The Mission President & his wife, as well as the six pair of Senior Missionary couples were evacuated almost four weeks ago and flown down to Johannesburg, South Africa.  They have been trying to coordinate as much of the work as possible from afar, but it is not easy to do and they are very anxious to return to Kinshasa.

Regardless of the situation at this time, there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that there will be slow and steady progress in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  God's hand is over Africa and we believe that He has prepared the people of the DR Congo in a very special way to receive His most precious blessings.  We can't wait to finally get there and be part of that exciting experience.

As we consider the little baby, born in humble circumstances, though He was the son of God, we pray that we may all feel the love which our Savior, Jesus Christ has for us.  We hope that all who read this will feel the peace & joy of Christmas truly celebrated & keep those blessings throughout the year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Grandson, the Missionary

Today (November 23, 2011), I got to spend a few precious minutes with my very wonderful, very tall grandson, Kyle Hudgins.  He has been in the Missionary Training Center for almost two months, learning Spanish and preparing to serve the people of Neuquen, Argentina for two years.

I am currently going to the MTC three times a week to be tutored by Brother Blake Mason, a returned missionary who served in France and Switzerland.  This is preparation for the two year mission to DR Congo which my husband, George, and I will serve beginning in February.  Last week, I had emailed Kyle that I would come early for my lesson and try to be "in the vicinity" of the building where he has a 12:15 pm class.  (Missionaries say goodbye to their family when they arrive at the MTC and do not receive visitors after that, but since I have a valid reason to be at the MTC, I hoped that we might increase the chances of a "chance meeting".)    Unfortunately, I got sick last Friday and had to cancel my class.

Two days ago, I tried again.  Monday was a cold, wet and windy day.  I arrived early and stayed outside waiting until 12:25 pm, only to finally give up and walk sadly to my class, cold and disappointed.

Today, I arrived early once more.  When my watch told me that it was a moment or two past 12:15 pm and the traffic of elders and sister missionaries seemed to have stopped entering the building, I was sure I'd missed him yet again.  It was a very sad feeling to know that Friday would be my last chance to see him before he left the MTC to fly to Argentina on Monday (Nov. 28) and to realize that any number of circumstances could thwart even that last opportunity.

Just as I was considering giving up, I heard a shout and looked up to see someone running toward me.  It was Kyle.  He had a grin from ear to ear and his face radiated with sheer delight.  He was calling out to his companion, "There's my Nana!"  I got up quickly from the bench to go to him and he gave me the biggest hug ever!   Neither one of us was holding back & neither of us was anxious to stop that hug.  We both expressed the love that we have for each other.  It was such an incredible blessing to see him and he expressed the same feeling.  I know that Kyle loves me, but I also know that for that short time we had together, I was representing, in his mind, ALL the people he loves... his father and mother and his brother, Tyler... as well as his other grandparents, among many others.  I told him that his mom and dad were going to be so excited to hear that we had the chance to meet.  Knowing how much his family loves him, he understood and agreed.

He looked more mature, a bit slimmer (quite fit, trim and healthy)... and very, very happy!!  He quickly introduced me to his companion, Elder Kimball, whom I asked to take our picture.  Since they were on the verge of being late for class, he couldn't linger long, but he hugged me again and expressed how extremely happy he was to have seen me; how much it meant to him;  how happy he is that George & I will also soon be experiencing the blessings of a mission; how wonderful his own experiences in the MTC have been; and how anxious he is to begin actually serving as a missionary in Argentina.

We agreed that we can't wait to exchange our very unique stories from Argentina and the DR Congo.  Then we again spoke of our love for each other and had one last, very heartfelt hug and said goodbye.  As we parted, I turned and said "Au revoir" and he laughed and answered, "Ciao"!

Kyle will be an outstanding missionary and will help many people learn about and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.  That knowledge will give them an understanding of The Plan of Salvation which our Heavenly Father established to prepare His children for eternal life.  And the happiness that Kyle will see come into the lives of those people, as they commit to obey God's commandments, will give him the deepest and most profound joy of his life.

Joan Girvin Smith (aka Nana)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Parlez Vous Francais?

French tutoring lessons have begun at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo. This very handsome young tutor is Br. Blake Mason from Orange County, CA who just returned six months ago after serving a two-year mission to France and Switzerland. Lessons every M-W-F for one hour.  He's been very encouraging & helpful (Tres bien!) But then it's about two hours every day trying to do the homework (Je ne sais pas!)

Keeping in Touch

Communication Options...

Pouch Mail:  The BEST WAY to send a card or letter to us in the Congo IF you follow instructions below..
George Ernest Smith Jr
Joan Angela Smith
Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa Mission
POB 30150
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0150

Important instructions for using pouch mail (quoted from our missionary packet):  
"Items sent by pouch mail use the United States Postal Service (USPS) from your location to Church headquarters, where they are forwarded to the missionary by a private courier along with other Church mail.  Pouch mail leaves Church headquarters each Friday.  Items received after the pouch has been sent will be held for the next week.  Only postcards or one-page correspondences (no envelopes) written on one side of the pate may be sent through the pouch.  Notebook or other light-weight paper will not process through the USPS machines.  Photographs are not acceptable.  Pouch mail may also be used by missionaries to send letters home to the U.S."
"You may invite your family and friends to use pouch mail.  Items not complying with the following instructions will be returned to the sender or discarded, if the complete return address is not included..."
"Letter-folding instructions:  Lay the letter blank side down.  Fold the bottom of the letter about one-third of the way up the page and crease.  Fold the top of the letter to the bottom of the first fold and crease.  Secure the long side with two pieces of tape about one inch in from each end, but do not seal the ends.  In the top left corner write your name and complete return address.  Affix first class postage in the top right corner.  In the middle write the missionary address" (see highlighted address above)

Mailing/Shipping address in Kinshasa.  (There is no mail in the Congo and shipping is terribly expensive.)
Elder George Ernest Smith Jr
Sister Joan Angela Smith
Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa Mission
Immeuble Gulf 6347
Avenue de la Justice Zone de la Gombe 
Democratic Republic of Congo

Phone:  International phone number from the United States... 011-243 (815) 016-769 (very high rate)
Phone (Magic Jack):  801-434-4882 (although it is local rates, we plan to use this very infrequently)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Our Future Neighborhood

Our apartment is on the 4th floor of this building, which is owned by the nearby US Embassy and houses the offices and personnel of  We'll have a view of the Congo River and it is only 3 kilometers (1.8 mi) from the Mission Home/Office, where we will be the "Office Couple" and assist the Mission President.  It is located on Kinshasa Blvd. which is the main thoroughfare of the city. (update:  the above picture was posted BEFORE we arrived in Kinshasa.  I copied the picture from another blog, but misunderstood their description.  This is actually the building for the Mission Office (bottom floor) and the Mission Home for President and Sister Jameson (4th floor).  

The Congo.. Seen from one view

Since we will be living in a place which literally overlooks the Congo River many people may imagine our surroundings to look like this.  The jungle is near, and we will venture out on Saturday "Preparation Days" to help the Humanitarian and Perpetual Education missionaries, but we will mostly be working in the Mission Home in the capital city of Kinshasa, a city of 10 million people.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Our roomy, four-bedroom (and very comfortable) home, largely obscured by the trees and with just a small glimpse of the beautiful nearby Rocky Mountains in the background.  In Africa, we will live in a small, one-bedroom apartment.  We will surely miss our home.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Here we are, eagerly awaiting the arrival of all our family and friends so that we can open the envelope from The Office of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints and find out where we will spend two years serving the Lord.