Sunday, November 18, 2012

Kinshasa Fun & Fashion


Having decided to take more pictures of the many
nice looking Kinshasans dressed in business-attire,
I took this picture of a man crossing in front of us.
It was only on the larger view at home that I realized
he has blood coming from his ear &/or head onto his collar.
We'll never know why?
I am from Florida, where logging is a big industry.
But, the trees they have in the Congo Rain Basin
are bigger than any I've seen outside of the Redwoods in CA.
A two-fer...
business man to the right and
a casually dressed man getting a shoe shine.
How often do you see the latter?
It's common here.
This is a "Medicine Man" with his bag & staff, etc.
Many in the Congo still rely on them
and often believe myths about medications.
On reflection, knowing how taking one drug usually requires another,
making so many Americans into walking pharmacies,
maybe these guys "do no harm".
I LOVE this dress!
Plaid hat?  Not so much.

If the short video works, great.  (the picture-taker pushed the wrong button)
but if not, we have the still shot of "Rami", my Lebanese son.
When he went back to Beirut recently for his sister's wedding,
the radical Islamists killed several people in the city with a car-bomb.
It makes him sad to see his country threatened.
Color and style!
Apparently, she wanted to get somewhere fast,
so she took off her shoes.
But, I don't think that is why the young man is looking back at her! 
This lady finished the ensemble with hat, purse AND shoes to match.
Another woman in a hurry, but with shoes.
I soooo wished to have been closer for the lady on the right.
She was quite beautiful and the dress likewise.
Our latest fun "Patisserie" where the couples enjoyed a light dinner
(I had a tasty chicken & mushroom fajita packed in a deli bread... I know!)
and fabulous French pastries for with dark chocolate on them.
Because there was a problem with one of the orders,
the desserts were free...  THAT is customer service!
With many of the businesses, you have to go drive down the sidewalk
 to get to the parking.  These means "Double Jeopardy" for pedestrians!
Not enough zoom on my camera,
but this guy in purple was my "Pajama of the Week"..
We happened across this plastic shopping bag
with an unusual Italian city called LDS (for short).
I know that we are preparing to build a temple in Rome,
but had no idea things had progressed this far in Italy.
Another well-groomed business man.
This hotel is our view just before we turn into the Misson Office entry.
An unusual sight... a building under construction with actual
protection in place all around to keep falling items from hurting people.
Typically, for pedestrians, it's a matter of "Hurry and cross your fingers!"
Another uncommon style because all of the pattern design is on the font.
Wish I could have been quick enough to capture it all.
Since we are not supposed to take pictures of the police,
I just had to do it.  Two of these guys had guns, but WE had a car.
The extra swath of material over her shoulder is used in all kinds of ways.
Most often, it's wrapped around a the waist like a sarong over the basic dress.
It can also be tied so that a baby can ride in the back
or made into a sling to hold the baby in front.
It is also used as a shawl or even a head covering if it rains.
Some guys really DON'T have a clue!
An older business man.  When I see someone his age,
I know that he has seen many difficult things in his lifetime
and applaud him for coming through it all.
This is one of my favorites... the close up detail was lovely
and the fabric quite expensive looking.
A shiny, silky pink shirt... 
All business and brief case, too.
A handsome shirt in teal and puple.
And, pink again in a smock top.

Sort of Zebra-like, but also modern looking.
Could it be that NANDO'S of grilled chicken fame in Johannesburg
is ready to open their newest franchise in Kinshasa?
Swirling pattern and bright, contrasting colors.
Hand signals are given by taxis and by the waiting customer.
They communicate where they are going &/or where they want to go.
Do not ever mistake this for a traffic signal!
Taken from our roof/porch...
Two older  mothers, wearing traditional Congolese dresses
and carrying a baby & little boy on their backs.
These are the Congolese women of today.
Right after the picture above was taken,
these two young women crossed the street.
Hair, nails, jewelry all perfectly done & in place,
with short-shorts & leggings, mini-skirt and very high heels.
This is the younger generation coming up.
Today's Congolese woman, with her distinctly feminine
and very modest dress, will soon be extinct.
I'm glad we are here now... before that happens.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Laughter... Good for the Soul

To find humor in life is essential.  And it is even more critical
if you are going through more than the usual challenges.
Here's a few things to enjoy and laugh at, along with us...

Out of 347 missions in the world, DRC is one of the top 3 most expensive.
It's ironic, because the average Congolese lives on so little.
But, to get any of the food or things we are used to in the USA,
costs a lot, because there is no manufacturing here and
virtually everything is imported (except beer, unfortunately).
 Look at the bottom line of this grocery receipt: "Only"... Really?
Wouldn't your heart skip a beat if you read this on your receipt?
Because we're given shorter office hours on Mondays and Fridays
to allow for shopping, we go to a different store each of those 2 days.
(Therefore, this is just half a week's worth of food.)
So...many of our family & friends in Utah are posting pictures of themselves
playing in snow levels of anywhere from 12-16 inches.
Well, WE had an African snowstorm, too!  If you enlarge the picture,
you can see what appear to be dark spots.  They were actually white
and there were THOUSANDS of them as far up as you could see.
 I have to admit they were not giant snow flakes, only giant seed pods,
blown off their trees & pulled over 100 feet up in the air as a storm approached.
It may not have been snow, but it sure looked it & reminded us of home! 
But, when it started to rain, the fluffy seed pods began to drop, one by one,
from their beautiful, soaring flight to plummet down onto our porch.
(where they just sort of went "splat!")
We were disappointed to see the end of their swirling sky ballet.

One day, George & I walked out on the roof-porch and looked down
with amazement.  The new & everlasting construction of the
updated security entrance on the south side appeared to be done!

We took these pictures in hopes that the sun would not set
on another day of having to weave between high curbs,
tire-swallowing holes and craters which are part & parcel of the north side.
We also wanted to give a sense of hope to the many missionaries
who came and left Kinshasa without ever seeing this thing finished.
SO, here is the proof.
It was so fun coming in the first day.
We didn't have to wait (previously, the gate at the far end was both entrance & exit
and we had a never-seen-before view of our roof-porch & apartment.
My cute guard, Laurent (with the dimples), said he liked it very much..
I guess so... the guards won't have to stand in the rain now to do car checks.
Last Sunday, I began having a very bad sore throat,
followed by sneezing & coughing.  Stayed home the rest of the week
and finally got some decongestant.
We thought the labeling was funny, so I took a picture of it.

I read the dosage instructions very carefully
 (and was thankful that 1 of the 4 languages was English)
Now, tell me what YOU think "taken away from mealtimes" means?
Yeah... that's what I thought, too.
So, when I began to have some problems unrelated to a cold,
I got on the trusty internet to look up the product.
Please note "Administration" and "Adverse Drug Reactions"
This information wasn't on the label.
I have a lawyer Son-In-Law... Justin, can I SUE?

One day, it began to rain...
Then, it began to rain even harder.
Finally, I was forced to admit that the deluge was on par
with some hurricanes I'd gone through in Florida!
Outside our bedroom window was our brand-new clothes drier.
The laundry room was too small & also didn't have a vent.
Since I could reach the drier from my sliding glass south bedroom window,
we decided to put it there & leave it in the original wood & styro foam
base to keep it higher off the ground.
Was that inspired or what?
Seeing that the drier would be OK, we then turned our attention elsewhere.
This was the view of our patio off the east side of our bedroom.

The water kept rising, which presented a serious potential problem
because our apartment floor is actually lower than the outside
 and the level of water was coming close
to the level of our sliding door.
At one point, the whole roof looked like an indoor swimming pool.
But, at last the rain subsided and we were left "high and dry"..
A GOOD thing in this case!
This is the new stove, which replaced the old monster,
food-eating, rack-falling, circuit-breaking one we had before.
This one still likes to make what George calls "burnt offerings",
but the blame for that has to go on me for never being able to
figure out the Centigrade translations correctly.
This is a magic, all knowing socket.  If you try to fool it
 by putting your  hair dryer on the "High" setting,
 it will shortly blow a fuse.
Sometimes, if I'm late, I try to do get away with it... Then end up
 calling George to go out in the hall & re-set the breaker.
These are the triple filters we use for all missionaries, young and Seniors
(even though all the Senior Missionaries live in places that are already filtered).
There's a complicated formula involved in the replacement schedule,
for each individual filter, but no one is complaining.
These are the keys on our closets.
 (I know what you are thinking.... I don't know the answer.)
They may LOOK innocent to the casual observer.
In fact, they.. along with the long-ago-posted picture of the huge
column in our kitchen.. are actually devious arm  & body attackers.
But, THIS is the worst of the culprits, along with his cousin
who lives on the LEFT side of another door.
From the first day we arrived, I've not missed a chance
to hit either my right or left arm.  My poor arms have had bruises
on them for almost nine months now without interruption.
Another pretty fabric and style, even if the pink purse doesn't match.
Ever had a light that wouldn't come ON?
This one won't stay OFF.
So, it's just routine for us to lay the hammer down
on the ironing board when we want to use the laundry room,
and prop it back up when we leave.
Two interesting features... we set the fridge coolness level
digitally on the outside of the appliance.  When the power
goes off (which it can do 10 times within a short time)
the huge apartment generators kick in and we get our lights.
But we have to get up to re-start the 2 A/C units and re-set the fridge..
Notice the key receptacle on the bottom part.
(I know what you are thinking... I don't know this one, either)
You may remember that I once posted a picture of a gaping hole
in our ceiling where repairmen had tried (and failed) to find a leak.
Eventually George put the square back up and we had to put a
pail underneath to catch the sporadic, unpredictable episodes.
That red pail looked pretty odd sitting in our living room.
But, I decided to use a little ingenuity and make lemonade 
out of a lemon....

VOILA!  As the French would say!
The tile floor is still an old, worn and ugly grey,
and the ceiling is looking worse by the day.
But if you come at night, when the lights are low
(and you don't look UP.) there's a certain glow.

That became a poem without prior intent! :)
But, anyway,  the truth is, it's not a bad place to be!  It's HOME.