Sunday, June 17, 2012

"Clothes Quote"

Felix, our translator, told us that this man was probably crazy.
He had barely more than a loin clothe and "pants" that consisted of seams & hems only.
I guess he never heard Mark Twain's comment,
"Clothes make the man.  Naked people have little or no influence on society."

Sometimes we have nicknames for people that we see frequently.
This man has been spotted from one end to the other of the five miles long Boulevard.
He is always just walking.  We call him "Street Man".
Congolese men LOVE bright colors and especially PINK,
while you rarely see the women in that color.
This is a two-fer showing the man AND a woman in pink.
Despite the dust and mud that is everywhere, clothes and shoes are kept clean.
Men with portable shoe-shine kits can take care of someone right on the sidewalk.
While shades of pink and purple are pervasive, 
you can always find someone who stands out in a bright way.
Not a good picture, but it shows what Congolese do when the "Dry Season" comes.
This is the closest thing to winter that you can get on the Equator.
This street seller has a faux-fur collar to keep him warm.
And THIS guy has a sheepskin coat with faux-fur scarf, a hat AND ear muffs.
It was a frigid 80 degrees.
You think it doesn't get cold in the Congo?
This one-of-a-kind directory just came out from the DR Congo Church Employment Office.
It is a very comprehensive list of major employers in Kinshasa and a great resource for job-hunters.
(There is no telephone book in this city of 10-14 million people)
But, some day I want to find out WHY they chose penguins for the cover.
My grandson, Kyle Hudgins, is serving a two year mission in the lower part of Argentina,
where it would be much more appropriate.
Lest I leave the impression that Congolese are the only ones who are sensitive to temperature,
two of our young girls at the Service Desk last year were "freezing" when the rest of us were fine.
Now, they are both expecting babies in the fall and are probably telling the boss
 (and their husbands) to get that AC cooler!
Just a few examples of the lovely flowers around the chapel.
No idea what they're called, but they're bright and beautiful.

George & I waved at these two young men (Mervyn & Steve) who were watching us from a distance.
But, I forgot that opening and closing your fingers means "Come here" in the Congo.
When they suddenly sprinted toward us, I realized what I'd done.
But, they happily followed along with us while I took pictures of the flowers.
Imagine my surprise to find that the chapel grounds had LOTS 
of the "dreaded & deadly" OLEANDER!
This was especially funny because just last week I spent a great deal of time proving 
to Elder Bingham that.. along with raw cashews.. oleanders are poisonous.
A very oft-seen flower here.  Sorry I haven't looked up the names, but I will.
At the back of the Church grounds is the location for Elder Billings' construction training.
The outer part was done before he came, using inferior materials and methods.
When this class is finished, it will be torn down and the next class will begin to build again.
In the background is the first of the several bunk beds my husband and the other men are making
for the children's orphanage in Kimbanseke.  It is good, HEAVY wood and weighs about 200 lbs.
ANOTHER Oleander!  What shall we do?  What SHALL we do?
Vivian.. a kind, older sister who speaks a little English & always makes me feel welcome.
Next to her is Marceline, who is our Relief Society president and works at Temporal Affairs.
There is no end to the styles, beauty and creativity of Congolese dresses. They are so feminine.
As Marilyn Monroe said, "Your clothes should be tight enough to show you're a woman,
and loose enough to show you are a lady."
Just a random picture of a new trick I learned in the Congo.
Fact #1.. Ziplock bags are hard to find and expensive.
Fact #2.. It is expedient to be frugal and recycle when possible.
Fact #3..  Tile is used extensively in most kitchens here.
Fact #4.. Washed bags will stick to the tile walls and dry nicely (AND out of the way).
Outside on our 4th floor wrap-around porch/roof George planted a garden.
At the bottom of the picture, you see almost the whole harvest.
Also in the picture are my two intended-to-be avocado plants for the house.
They grew so high before I could get potting soil (well, horse poo really)
that we are now going to  plant them to make trees.
George is already fixing a new "winter" garden and hoping that the "cooler" dry season
will be kinder & gentler to the next crop.

My current collection of masks.  The one just above is  three times bigger than the others.
Most are Kasai Occidental (west) and a couple are Kasai Oriental (east).
Some people do not like African masks at all,
and at first, I didn't either.  But just as I came to appreciate Egyptian art
after seeing the King Tut Exhibition in New Orleans years ago,
  I'm now learning about African tribes, their cultures, the reasons for certain types of masks,
& how they were used.  I'm loving it and will share some of that information in the future.
Another nick-named person... This is "One Belt Man".  Most other street sellers have multiples,
but he always has just ONE belt.  Pascal tells us he thinks it's a marketing ploy...
"Hey, look!  I have just one of a kind here.  Be the first to get it!" 
Then, after it's sold, he pulls out another one.
In the DR Congo, Clorox is your best friend.
All fruits and vegetables are washed in a bleach & water solution after purchase.
In addition, we have anti-bacterial soaps and hand sanitizer, which I use all day,
as well as a triple system water filter.
Sooo... how DID I get that parasite?   :(
The small size of the first harvest from George's garden has not deterred him from starting anew.
The good news is that he said it was one of the best tasting cucumbers he's ever had.
Preparing for Kabila's big birthday celebration on the Plaza w/ TV cameras at the ready.
At one point later in the evening the band members sang "Happy Birthday"... but in English.
The first to come and be seated in the VIP section were several tribal chiefs.
Most were in their ceremonial clothing and the group included one woman.
A pile of wrecked cars, trucks & even a bus stacked in front of the police station.
It doesn't seem to have been a deterrent.  The drivers are insane & test my faith every day.  
 I don't actually scream, but tend to "suck air" or emit an involuntary "wooo wooo wooo!"
This is "MaMa's" where we get bananas & sometimes other fruits or vegetables.
She often pops a new, un-tried (and sometimes unidentified) fruit into our bag.
See for yourself the trajectory of this truck and the amount of lane space available.
It's seems that an inevitable collision course lies ahead.
I don't know how they do it, but we see this kind of scene a hundred times a week
The "pous-pous" guys will sometimes even come down the wrong way on the 8-lane Boulevard.
With NO-RULES drivers, jaywalking pedestrians & these push carts, we are always on alert.
Two of our sweetest missionaries.  Sister Razafindri and Sister Flagbo.
The former is from Madagascar.  Like most Malagasy, she had to shorten her name for the badge.
Sister Flagbo, by all accounts, should not be physically able to handle a mission.
One of her legs is almost a foot shorter than the other, which makes walking hard & painful.
But she fought hard to be able to come and she has been a wonderful missionary.
Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture downstairs in the dungeon like office of  Ministère de la Justice,
 but after initial questions and filling out of forms, we were led OUTSIDE for finger printing.
I can't remember what Thierry & George were kidding about, 
but Thierry is pointing to the ink pads.  This picture makes me laugh.
First the right hand.... no problem.
Then the left hand. At first, she didn't notice George's amputated finger, but when she got to it,
she didn't even bat an eye... just inked it and put it on the paper... as if it had fingerprints.
And, how do you clean up after all that?  A water bucket on a ledge, of course.
Amazingly, the woman who seemed so unfriendly at first, became more comfortable as she saw
that we were friendly to her, laughing & having a good time.
She even smiled for this picture and then insisted that George take a picture of her with me.
No two dresses alike.  Sometimes the differences are subtle, such as these layered sleeves.
The fabrics are also seemingly endless... mostly found at "The Beach", not far from our apartment.
It's outside, a narrow dirt (or mud) "aisle" for 1/8 mile with hundreds of fabric samples on either side.
A sweet Sister Missionary who was just completing her mission and going home.
Another example of a different dress treatment with raised collar, waist band and lower flare.
(Not all that baggage is hers... the departing missionaries line up all their baggage in the hall) 
Another two-fer... portable street shoe-shiner AND pink shirt.
This is "Dry Season" and you can sure tell it.  It was in this same area (Masina) 3 months ago,
that we saw a car almost disappear in a shallow looking pool of water which disguised a giant hole.
This may be the man whom I once saw from our 4th floor and thought  had no legs.
He has legs, but they are useless so he can't stand.  He mostly uses his arms to move forward.
The only person in this group that can see is the first.
The rest are blind and are connected to each other and to her.
I think this is a great visual lesson that, in this life, we all need each other
and should help each other.


  1. I love your African masks and little garden and flower pictures and fashion pictures too. The figerprinting just cracks me up. I'm sure they are more use to dealing with disabilities than we are. Sorry I didn't write this week. We have been enjoying some vacation time with D which always keeps me busy. I hopefully have more time to write next week. God bless you both and keep up the wonderful work! <3 Jules

  2. Gardens, flowers & even fashion pics are mostly universally liked, but I'm so glad you like the masks. It was an acquired taste for me, but now have fallen in love with them. I have been given some background from a man who deals in them and speaks English. Have also done some internet study. Africa is a VERY complex & curious continent with fascinating history. And, yes, I did think later of how many people with diverse problems that woman must deal with. Glad you had some vacation time.. tell me all about it, soon! <3