Sunday, April 29, 2012

Called to Serve in Many Ways


Thierry is our office assistant extraordinaire.  He is unfailingly cheerful and, when greeted each day with the question "How are you?" responds, "Stong and Powerful!!"  He & his wife have three children (the latest, a preemie "miracle baby") and this fall he will earn his Bachelor degree.  He is a brilliant man who knows everything and everyone in our mission (and nearly everyone in Kinshasa) and is a tireless worker.  He makes me look good because of all his help.  Today, he completed 3 days of escorting Elder Tad Callister, President of the Seventy, who was presiding over a Stake Conference in Brazzaville.

Here is Pascal, getting ready to take several newly arrived missionaries to their assigned locations.  
He is our "wheeler-dealer" who knows where to get anything for anyone at the cheapest price (after which he bargains and gets it even cheaper!)  His sense of humor is "British-dry" & hilarious!  
He will make a joke with a completely straight face, but then laugh helplessly himself when we laugh.
You have to be careful of what you say aloud because, if you express a need or wish, he fills it.
 He speaks low, but is often heard humming Church hymns (or something) in a falsetto voice.  He & his wife are saving so they can travel to the Johannesburg temple to be sealed 
"For Time & Eternity"
Quiet and serious and also a gentle, good man.  Aime is one of our drivers and is actually a lawyer and a legal Magistrate in Kinshasa.  To attain that position, he had to compete in a test with 1,800 other applicants for just two openings.  Since we have been here he has been diligently taking an English class, which he passed last month.  We enjoy having him come to us with questions about words or phrases he comes across, but doesn't understand (most recently, "ATM".  How would YOU like to explain that?)  He is also a member of an English Club, which recently asked him to be the President.  He felt so humble about his English that he was going to refuse, but we suggested that he pray about it that night and we would join with him in prayer. The next day, his wife (whom he calls his "best friend") persuaded him that it was a wonderful opportunity for him to bless others, as well as himself.
Our first glimpse of the beautiful Ngaba chapel.  It is located in the midst of the most squalid conditions we have yet seen in Africa, but it stands as a beacon of light to the people.  After the graduation ceremony, we were outside about to leave when Brother Draper came bounding out to the car with a big smile on his face.
A man had come in the front door and walked up to him saying, "How can I become of member of this Church?"  There just happened to be a meeting of some of the young area missionaries there that day (all of whom recognized me and either called out or came over to say "Bonjour, Sœur Smeeet!")
so, he happily took the man over & left him in their hands.

Brother Doucette, who is a retired Obstetrician, is giving Neo-Natal Resuscitation Training to this Congolese woman 
The students were doctors, nurses and midwives and were flown in from all parts of the DRC.
They, in turn, will go back and train an average of ten other people.
Dr. Draper and Dr. Ngoy discussing some of the training.
The official seal of Latter Day Saint Charities on each graduate's diploma.

It's blurry, but I just had to show the happy, proud graduates.
In a few days, a young man who is currently in the Ghana Missionary Training Center will arrive with several other new missionaries to begin his 2-year mission here.  I just heard about his story this week and when I see him, I'll ask him permission to post his picture.  He joined the Church at age 19.  He began working and saving for his mission, which means just the money for his visa & passport (about $150) since the mission expenses are paid by Church funds for most Congolese missionaries.  After six years, he finally had enough, but he had to get his papers in and approved before he turned 25, the cutoff age, which was just a couple weeks away.  To insure that they were in time, he walked to the nearest designated location to turn in his papers.  It was SEVEN miles each way!

Also this week, another young man, who is sacrificing in a different & more familiar way, will arrive in Africa. His home is in Provo, UT... right next door to my very oldest and dearest friend, Trudy Dowling,  Sadly, he will not be in the group that comes to Kinshasa but will fly straight to his assignment in Cameroon, one of the other countries that are part of our mission.  I will see if I can get his permission to post his picture after he arrives.  He and his family have saved, perhaps for years, to fund his mission.  He is leaving a comfortable life, college, family and friends.  He has just completed two months at the Provo MTC to learn a strange language so that he can come to a strange land and share the gospel for two years.  Why?  Because he knows that he has been called serve by our Heavenly Father & that the gospel will bless every individual who hears and accepts it.  What he doesn't fully understand is that the sacrifice that he is making now will be compensated a hundred- fold by the joy of seeing lives changed... and the experiences that he will have, the maturity that he attains & the faith that he gains will bless his own life as well as that of his future wife & children forever.

This was posted by our Mission President's wife and is a sobering reminder of the tragic circumstances which some people have in their lives.  It is also a testimony of the power to overcome, which the Lord gives to all who seek Him.

Friday, January 27, 2012

"Called to Serve Him, Heavenly King of Glory..."

During one of our zone conferences last week we had the special experience of having a young man, who's serving as a full-time ward missionary right now, open his full-time mission call. It was a wonderful event for all of the missionaries there and for us to be his "family" for this occasion.
Yesterday we got an email from our office couple, who have known Christian well, telling his whole story. It's a tender recounting of Christian's story, so with permission from them, I'm inserting this in our blog along with pictures that I took the day he opened his call.

 A Call to Serve, The Story of Christian 
I first meet Christian on a Sunday, he introduced himself in Priest quorum as a new move-in. He was a quiet boy with a ready smile. He listened carefully in class and  offered well thought out responses. He was always  clean and neat.   Sister Hatch and I noticed him next at the weekly dance classes we were giving at the Ngaba Ward house. Again it was the same thing every week, always a smile and a happy face. Knowing that the Ngaba Ward was on the other side of the Kinshasa from his home ward, I asked him once how he was able to get to the dance class every week, and he just smiled and said "I manage."
Christian spoke fairly good English and attended every one of our Wednesday afternoon  English  classes.
Another time, the Young Men of our ward planned a service project to clean up the church house early one Saturday morning. I arrived on time and after waiting for about 15 min. I walked around the building to see if there were any young men already there. I didn't see any one so I waited  awhile longer.  As I walked around the building one more time , I noticed someone sweeping the floor in the cultural hall. It was Christian. I asked him when he arrived.   His answer was simple "At 7 o'clock as we had planned."  I found a broom and the two of us swept the building. As we worked I asked him to tell me about himself.
Christian was orphaned as a young boy in his 11th year. Both his parents were killed in the eastern Congo wars as soldiers raided his village and killed many people, including the women and children. An aunt took him in and gave him a place to sleep and eat. After a few years he was able to save and borrow enough money to pay for the transportation to move to Kinshasa. One day he was walking by the LDS church house in Ngaba when he noticed two young men in white shirts and tie's coming out of the building.  He said his heart told him to ask those two young men who they were, and if they would tell him about the church from which they had just come. He was baptised a short time later, and he has been active in the church since that day.
I asked Christian what his greatest goal was in life was and he told me he wanted to be a missionary. He stated " I have been saving my money from the day I was baptised, and I have almost 100 American dollars. I am saving everything I can." When asked  if he had a job, he said "No, but I try to find work anywhere I can, even if it's for a few hours. I have faith that if I do all I can then maybe I can be a missionary before I am to old to receive my call." His quiet voice was filled power and conviction as he told me of this goal. 
I was humbled by this young man's determination and faith. That day I made a promise to myself that I would do all I could to help Christian. It was not very long after that conversation that Christian found a job cleaning an office. One day he came to us and said that he had saved enough money to pay for his passport and visa, and that he had an appointment with his Bishop for a mission interview. He also had a full set of French scriptures given to him by a returned missionary who spent some time in Kinshasa as an intern for the state department. Christian also said " I now have 3 white shirts, 2 pair of pants, shoes, and a few ties."
Two transfers ago Christian was asked to help out the DR Congo Mission as a full-time ward missionary to fill in where there would otherwise have to be a threesome.  He gladly agreed to serve.
 As many of you know all the American senior couples were evacuated during December because of the political unrest. During this time a soldier shot into one of our missionary apartments and the bullet landed in the bed of one of our Elders. It was early in the morning and he and this companionship were up doing their appropriate studying. Because they were obedient one of our missionaries is alive today.  Christian was the companion to this elder.
Finally his call came.  Because he had no family to see him open it, he waited until Zone Conference which was held  in the Mission home for Zone Conference to open his call. He was so excited and nervous that he couldn't  even open the envelope  and asked President Jameson to open it for him.
 President did and the handed it back to Christian saying" but you must be the one who reads it." 
President Jameson asked Christian to read his whole call to remind  all the missionaries of the similar call and commitment that they had made. His missionary family looked on as he read that he  has been called to serve in the DR Congo Lumbumbashi Mission, in the southeastern part of the DRC and will report to the MTC in Ghana on March 2nd.  Christian's dream is about to come true. May we all have the faith it takes to answer the "Call to Serve" no matter where, no matter when.
 Elder Hatch

To Elder Hatch's final comment, I'd like to end this week's blog with a thought:
"If not me, WHO?  If not now, WHEN?"


  1. The testimony of people like Christian amazes me . Thank you for sharing.

  2. Well I finally had a minute to read the post. It was very moving to hear about someone coming from such a frightning beginning and then being able to reach his dreams. I'm sure he will be able to move many people with his testimony and dedication. I can't wait to hear what will top this blog post next week!

  3. Thanks, daughters... It makes me happy to share these posts because I know they will touch hearts.
    By the way, the man who will become the next Mission President in Lubambashi (in June) was at the MTC with his wife when we were there. We got to talk with them several times. They will be blessed to have Christian as one of their missionaries.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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