Thursday, February 28, 2013

A New Year in the Congo

This blog will feature many of the familiar and funny favorites (pretty dresses, men in pajamas, etc), but you'll also see the children who followed us to the water project that blesses families in what many consider to be the poorest part of Kinshasa.

For every new & beautiful Congolese dress, there are a hundred that the camera doesn't capture...
A man in a nice suit & pretty pink parasol.
This is just 1/2 of the view of the plaza on New Year's NIGHT.
No signs of rowdiness or drunkenness..
just music on loud speakers, fireworks, and families having FUN!
A higher, wider view facing downtown Kinshasa...
from our new location on the 4th floor
Not sure how well you can tell, but the matching turban
is knotted in a different style than most of us imagine.
Here again, is creativity.
Just a random picture to prove an amazing solitaire hand.
As for the "casino" cards...I never did that and it was a long time ago.
(In reality, there were a "give away" at a car show in California)

Starting out the drive into Camp Luka or Ca'Luka, as it's called.
I used to think that people just didn't care about throwing trash
on the streets... and there may be truth in that.
But I've been told it also helps fill in the craters in the roads,
which no politician is even going to promise to fix.
You often pass displays of plastic flower wreaths,
used to adorn the hearse & casket for funerals.

In the midst of extreme poverty and ugly surroundings,
these amethyst-colored bouganvilla flowers brought a bit of  beauty. 
Three big trucks full of white faces was enough to evoke much interest.. 
... And for some, distrust.

Another view of the trash-filled dirt "street".
Hard to imagine a street where you need 4-wheel drive.
Our first view of the large water tower which provides
clean water for thousands of people in the area.
There are actually five other Church wells in Camp Luka.
The humble little Congolese man who owns the property
became a member subsequent to the well construction.
He was SO happy to see us and came to greet all of us
with a firm, sincere handshake & a big smile.

The writing states that the well was donated by the Church.
I guess someone decided that it was easier to just abbreviate
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Look at the different personalities!  Aren't they cute?
The little girl with the stick-out hair did not get an electrical shock.
That is the style that comes from Luputa,
the location of the LDS Church's largest water project.
Ownership of a completed well is turned over
to the community where it is located
 & a "Water Committee" is elected to oversee it.
The woman with the white flowered dress is one
 of the committee members and is tasked with
collecting a few pennies from each person.
This is put aside and used for upkeep and repairs.
Having cut off half her face in a previous photo, I just had to
take another picture of this little cutie.
Here, she had a bit more serious expression.
Again, the children... almost always smiling and happy!
In this picture, Sister Jameson was getting them to count with her..
in French, then Lingala and finally Swahili!

Continuing with the count.
Like the teacher that she was pre-mission,
she soon had a hundred children joining in the fun.
Apparently, in THIS school yard, Mary had a little goat...
The Gailey's, showing the latrine built for the school.
Laughing at the antics of the children.
At one point, several were showing off.. singing, chanting, dancing. 
This little "HAM" kept doing the salute, every time he saw me
aiming the camera & was delighted that he got in this picture!
You can just see Elder Moon & his safari hat in the back.
George always attracts the kids.  Not sure what he was doing,
 but there's a good chance they were all wanting to shake hands.
But, who wouldn't want to shake the hand of a BYU fan!
"Talking" with the kids... Somehow communication happens!
"Big Sister" taking care of her little brother... a very common sight. 
Leaving Camp Luka with two of the six literal "hangers on".
They latched on to our group, uninvited, when we arrived
 & tried to act as self-appointed "guides".
But, they kept shooing the children away,
which we told them not to do.  These two were more than a little
inebriated, but somehow managed to hang on to the Moon's truck,
even when he tried to sling them off.  Each of the three trucks had
 a couple guys hanging on, wanting to be paid for "helping".
At one point, our driver, Elder Billings, put the truck in neutral,
jumped out with a GROWL and, with a fierce wave of his hand
and a short few words, told our two to GET OFF!
He's a very large man... So, they did.
A view of the corrugated tin shop walls on the side of the road. 
A woman selling food, amidst the trash, and a little boy...
doing the natural thing for a Congolese, putting his pail on his head.
His belly is distended, which is not a good thing.
When we leftCamp Luka, we slipped some money
 to a horribly disfigured young woman
who saw the look of sympathy in my eyes when we first arrived
 and silently followed me from start to finish.
It appeared that she had a huge tumor the size of half her face
 which was partially wrapped in a bandage with blood on it.
I wanted to treat her with dignity and didn't take her picture.
Just had to take a surreptitious pic of a really good pajama guy.
The fabric is a celebration cloth for the 50th anniversary of the
République démocratique du Congo (RDC in French)
A recent addition to the streets of Kinshasa is what might be called
the "Ground Traffic Controller".. complete w/ megaphone to
help both drivers and pedestrians follow safe routines...
The riot-geared policeman next to him is the "Enforcer"
(just kidding!)
Some little folks just have the cutest heads~


Entering the garden.
Flowering plants everywhere.
A dragon lizard with his tongue 1/2 out...
Glad we he's on the other side of a cage.
Exquisite, colorful orchids.
Equally colorful peacocks.
The path to the main building, lined with vines, trees & plants.
Look at these vibrant colors... Aren't they beautiful?
But, THIS parrot was not in a cage and he was letting George
know whose domain this was, arching toward him w/ sound & fury.
 Having already lost 1/2 a finger in an accident some years back,
I was afraid that George would now lose 1/2 a nose.
Another colorful example of an African parrot.
The famous white peacock was in his favorite spot
You may see that the one on the left is PART albino,
so perhaps it is an offspring.
He seemed very solicitous of the pea hen... nesting?
Under a roof outside, there are many attractive paintings,
but for some reason, I didn't get a better example.
Brass sculpture in the greenery.
A Gold Crowned Heron.
Heron & Peacock

How I wish I could remember the joke.  Pascal and all of us
were cracking up at Elder Whitesides.
Couples Valentines Dinner at the Jameson's.
The Bybees (Public Affairs), President Jameson,
the Moons (Humanitarian), Sister Billings,
Elder & Sister Whitesides (Yaoundé, Cameroon)
  Elder & Sister Billings (Construction)
and Elder & Sister Wheatley (Pt. Noire, Rep. of Congo).
We had the pleasure of hosting the Wheatleys at our apartment for
the week the "outlying" couples were here.  They were a delight!
Elder & Sister Smith (Office)
and Elder & Sister Gailey (Douala, Cameroon)
When they first arrived several months ago, all alone in Douala,
I wrote, "Please let me know if there is anything we can do for you."
She wrote back one line... "Send a plane!"
Backlight made a fuzzy picture, but I just had to show
Sister Jameson cooking one of her wonderful meals.
She made a chicken dish that melted in your mouth!
And, look at the beautiful setting... it was a Valentine's Dinner
so the color theme was red and there were red foil
chocolate covered hearts on each plate.
She really knows how to make her guests feel special.
This picture was taken when the couples first arrived.
By the end of their week here, we were all exhausted,
but what fun we had!  Now we have brand new eternal friends!