Monday, June 30, 2008

Malueka BYC

The other day Bishop Kuteka from the Malueka Ward met Elder and Sister Moon in the Distribution Center. He told them he was reading in his Bishop's Handbook about Bishops Youth Council. He was wondering how to form this council, how to run it and what it's purpose was. Elder Moon invited him to the mission office where he and Elder Barlow sat down with him and talked about BYC.

This bishop wants to follow the handbook and understands that if he follows the programs as outlined many of the ward problems are solved just by using the handbook and he can be assured he is following the programs in the way they were intended, to strengthen his ward.

They spent time explaining to him that BYC was the tool he could use to train his young men and young women how to be leaders and would help his presidencies function to reach their full potential. He invited Elder Moon and Elder Barlow to meet with his council and train them how to function.

After attending Sacrament meeting Elder and Sister Moon and Farrell and I meet with the Bishop's Youth Council and Elder Moon taught the group while Farrell translated. The whole committee was in attendance along with the full bishopric. They had a great meeting.

Elder Moon talked about how the adult leaders were to be shadows to the class presidencies. They were to counciil and direct but to stand back and let the youth lead the council. You could see the lights go on as the members caught the vision of the program. At one point Bishop Kuteka wanted to instruct the group but he set the Priest Quorum assistant (who was conducting the meeting) directly in front of him and told the assistant what to teach the council exemplifying the shadow concept that Elder Moon had taught. They were taught each concept from the handbook and shown how to adapt it to their ward.

The meeting ended with a wonderful prayer offered by the YW Pres. True to "Mormon"standards refreshments were served by the bishop.

We love watching the church grow here in the Congo. Bishop Kuteka is a great example of how using the handbook will strengthen a ward and help each member be successful in their callings. Life is so different here but the gospel is the same here as it is anywhere else.

We honor our bishop in his efforts to lead his ward. They grow stronger each week under his leadership. We can't wait to see how BYC functions after this training.

"Lead me, guide me, walk beside me. Help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do to live with Him someday."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Babies, Babies and more Babies!

Leaving the main road you head down a little alley way and make a couple of turns and you find yourself in the commune of Kingasani. This area is very poor and people are often reduced to eating only one meal a day. Here in the middle of the commune you find Kingasani Hospital. This amazing little hospital is run by the Catholic hospital system and is quite the baby machine. Kingasani births close to 1000 babies a month. Much of their care is charity. It has many of the problems that most hospitals here have but they are a center of hope for many mothers who have no where to birth their babiesl

Every where you look there are babies. Families are not allowed into the hospital. They come everyday to bring the new mother food and fresh linen but have to pass them through the gate which is guarded and no one but the mothers are allowed into the interior of the complex. If the family doesn't bring food to the mother she goes without.

Babies are identified with a wooden disk tied on to their wrist. The tag has a number on it that corresponds to a number that the mother wears around her wrist.

There are many premature babies born here at the hospital, more than can be accomodated by the isolets that have been furnished from a grant from the Spanish government

The hospital is very clean. Most of the mothers wear white gowns furnished by the hospital (this is not true of all the hospitals we have visited where the mothers must bring their own clothes.)

Many of the nurses are nuns and have devoted their lives to caring for these mothers and babies.

We were visiting the hospital with Dr. Ngoy from St. Joseph's hospital. Dr. Ngoy wanted to enlist all the birthing attendants to attend a Neonatal Training he was hosting. Dr. Preece, the church's NRT specialist was coming to plan our next NRT project in Lubumbashi and we decided to enlist his help in Dr. Ngoy's workshop so that he could mentor 3 doctors we had identified who are working hard to perpetuate the NRT program. He would help the doctors in two separate trainings of birthing attendants and he would help the doctors to use a shorter program for training which could be done in one day instead of the two days we had use the previous year.

Dr. Ngoy and I could not help having our pictures taken with this table full of babies. Thirteen babies were lined up on a flat table tucked in side by side and then another layer laying across the top. The table was set by a window for the ultraviolet light of the sun and then layed close together to keep each other warm.

What a site they were - Precious beautiful little spirits so new to this world. It was tender, thrilling and awesome all at once.

The training did take place and every birthing attendant at Kingasani was given the Neonatal Training. In two days Dr. Preece and our 3 Congolese doctors trained 97 doctors nurses and midwives representing 30 centers. Each center was givenat least one neonatal resusitation kit.

The following day Dr Preece, Sis Preece, Elder Barlow and I flew to Lubumbashi to meet Dr Kibula who we hope will be our champion in Lububmbashi and help us organize another training for that area to be done in October. The plan is to have Dr. Preece return in October. Fly 3 Drs. from Lubumbashi to Kinshasa for a training where they will learn how to train birthing attendants while our Kinshasa doctors work with them and hold another training session for more of the centers in Kinshasa. After that training the Dr. Preece, the Kinshasa doctors and the Lubumbashi doctors will all fly to Lubumbashi where another training will take place with the 6 Congolese doctors and Dr. Preece doing the training. The plan is to train some master trainers who will perpetuate the program throughout the Congo. The ultimate goal is to have every baby born in the DR Congo taken through the algorythm of the NRT training. The achievment of such a goal would save thousands of babies and prevent many birth injuries.

Sauver la bébé!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Stylin in the Congo - Hair styling that is . . .

One of the most surprising and amazing things you see in the Congo is the hairstyling. Hairstyling is an art and it is practiced by grandmas right on down to the babies.

It's not easy being stylin. It takes a lot of work. People go to school to learn hair braiding and wig styling. You see people getting their hair designed in beauty shops or sitting under a tree. Last week in a market place a man had a mattress thrown out on the ground and women were laying on the mattress with their head hanging over the edge while he braided cornrows in their hair.

Grandma Barlow always use to tell the girls they needed "pretties" in their hair. Her pretties take on a whole new meaning here.

Some hair pretties are as simple as Q-tips

There are corn rows and more cornrows
There are trees and then there are trees!

There are hair extensions that change the hair from root black to ends of red or yellow - or just make the hair very longThis girl must have run out of extensionsThere are wigs for moms and sometimes children wear them also
They are usually always very colorful

Is it a wig or not? That is the question. Braids of every shape and size
There are hair nets for stylin

There are shower caps for keeping that lovely hair dry in the rain -Why didn't I think of that?

Hair styling is truly an art! It just adds to the ambience and
shows how important style is in this African country.

But if it is a bad hair day don't fret just wrap your head in a beautiful piece of cloth to match your dress and you're STYL'IN

Look'in mighty pretty!

I need to get with it. For a mondeli everyday in the congo is a bad hair day. I could use some "pretties"