Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Africa, our friends and new family au revoir - Bittersweet

We knew the time would come when we would say goodbye to Africa and all our new family. Such a bittersweet farewell.

Our flower sellers who kept us in fresh flowers (for a wee price) and Eric (far right) who taught me much French and learned some English to communicate with me. He kept my beautiful garden on our balcony alive and well.
Wivine and Mimi who kept us healthy with their fresh vegetables and fruit. Their stand was on the corner of our apartment block. I bought many a pineapple through the fence. Wivine never missed a chance to prod me into buying more than I needed. Many of our francs went to supporting their enterprise. I cried when saying goodbye and they cried as well. A big part of our life in Kinshasa.

The hardest people to leave behind were Eustache and Pascal. They have been our mentors, our protectors, our friends and our sons. We love them like our own and it hurts to think we may never see them again in this life.

Our planning wall. Here we listed all the things we did or needed to do for our whole mission. The board was full and as we looked it over we realized why we were tired and why we were always so busy doing good.

One last lunch in the mission kitchen. Sis. Moon knows how to throw a quick lunch together but it wasn't the food that was so good as it was the company.

Our replacements the Davis from Montana arrived excited to get to work and ready for anything.

Newly appointed Bishop Jean Pierre Nguwa became a dear friend and a great help with our projects as he had a company that could transport goods for us and helped us make the City of Hope project a success. He gave us some special gifts as we left including a beautiful statue of a Congolese woman we are sure was made of alabaster not ivory. We are unable to post a picture of his statue as it is without clothes.

Pres. Livingstone an Pres. Koliker (counselor in the area presidency) presented us with our missionary release certificate.

Pres. and Sis Livingstone held a farewell dinner for us at the mission home with the Davis, Moons, Eustache, Mami, Steven, Staci, and Pascal. We had a lovely dinner and then the Livingstones and the Moons sang us a farewell song, fun and very tender.

We gave memory gifts to each person.
Pres. Livingstone: a French Dominos game so now that we were leaving he could play games. Farrell wasn't much of a game player so game playing had been held to a minimum.
Sis. Livingstone: My prize gardenia bush, a piece of material to match her Congo dress so she would have a pagne to wear with her dress and a Congolese cell phone holder to wear around her neck because she could never find her cell phone.

Sis. Moon: A Congolese outfit from Lubumbashi that matches one I have. We were always going to get matching outfits. Just a little late.
Elder Moon: A water bottle with a fan to keep him cool on his Congo walks

Eustach and Mami: Mormon Tab. cds to remind them that English is their second language
Pascal: Farrell's guitar so that he would start singing again. It had been a long time since we had heard Pascal sing.

Elder and Sis. Davis: We bequeathed our wonderful bug zapper so they could keep the mosquito's under control.

Eustache's family has become part of our own. We were here for Staci's birth and claimed grand parenting rights to his children. He is a wonderful man who keeps the mission going and serves well in the church.

Farrell had to play his guitar one last time so sang one for the road, Long Tall Texan.

It was special to have the Kohlekers there when we left. He paid us a wonderful tribute for all we had done and made us feel very successful.

Temporal Affairs had a farewell party for us and gave us a certificate that everyone signed with their thoughts. We will treasure them as we read these comments and remember them.

Pres. Albert, director of CES for the Congo.

The new finance officers, Bro Jacob and Bro. Zenga.

Good food always when you have a party in the Congo.

Maguy, who manages all the church properties, a beautiful Congolese woman who values her heritage and always wears Congolese fashions and looks wonderful.

Pres. Tierry Mutumbo, travel and purchasing and Didier Mutumbo.

Leaving the Moon's is like leaving your right arm behind. They are the best of friends and worked hard to support us in all that we did.

Eustache came to the party. We are sure it wasn't just the promise of good food. He was the one who helped Farrell with his French when we first came, he arranged for our safe keeping when ever we had to go across the Congo River to Brazzaville, he translated many things for us and gave us sound advise when ever asked. We could not have done our mission without him.

Pres. Lunda is a counselor in the stake presidency and runs the distribution center in Kinshasa. He too became a dear friend.
Bro. Bufunga who is IT for the mission and Temporal
Affairs. We drove him crazy with our IT problems and he drove us crazy as we learned how IT works in the Congo.

Willie was a service missionary in the distribution center. He is a hard worker. We went to his wedding a couple of months before we left. It was our second wedding to attend in the Congo and his wife Nancy was a missionary while we were there. They married as soon as she was released from her mission.

Pres. Thierry Mutumbo is one of the most handsome men I have ever met. He was just hired by Temporal Affairs and is a very hard worker. We love him. He loves our Savior and emulates that in all he does.

Our two Bishops, Bishop Kuteka of the Malueka Ward (second from left) and Bishop Haboko of the Kimbwala Ward (far right). These are two spiritual giants that we had the privilege to work with and observe in their callings. They are dear friends and their families are choice people.

As good as they get Bishop Haboko and Pres. Mutumbo. They both gave us tributes at the program and said many kind things. I think they love us.
Bishop Da Tarr is a Liberian who came to the Congo and is now head of Temporal Affairs. He is a gentle, kind man with an unshakable testimony of the gospel. His personal story of surviving war and finding the church is inspiring.

Our Temporal Affairs family.

After an adventure of a life time it was time to leave our home away from home. This was truely a bittersweet experience and one we would not have missed for anything. We are better because of our experiences here. We will never be the same.
We arrived in the Kinshasa on April 7, 2007 and left Kinshasa Oct 23, 2008.
What a glorious adventure!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Neonatal Resuscitation Initiative, Our Last Hurrah!

Time moves very quickly when you are busy doing the Lord's work. Time for us to go home was drawing close but we still had much to do. We extended our mission a month so that we could do the NRT initiative for 2008. That decision set us up for a whirlwind final two weeks in the DRC.

On Oct 11th we went to the airport and picked up our replacements Neal and Sandy Davis and the NRT Team, Dr. Michael Preece and his wife Merrilee and Dr. Steven Grover and his wife, Carolyn and daughter Emma.
It was a crazy and wild beginning for the Davis as we got them to bed Saturday night at about 12:00 pm and then were up early to take the NRT team and the Davis to church at Kimbwala Ward. This was and was meant to be a cultural experience for all as the ride to Kimbwala and the ward itself are part of the African experience. We hurried home to fix dinner and be ready to meet with our local Congolese doctors, Dr. Ngoy and Dr. Empamossa who were going to help with the NRT training this year.

The Neonatal Resuscitation Program has grown into a wonderful partnership with our Congolese partners. They have worked hard in Kinshasa running many trainings to perpetuate the NRT program.

DR. Arthur Ngoy and Dr. Valerie Empampossa were trained last year (Aug 2007) and have been perpetuating the training ever since. We have supported them in two trainings this year as they have tried to make sure that every birthing attendant in their Catholic system has the benefit that the NRT training provides. We have grown very close to these two doctors and have had a wonderful opportunity to get to know them.

This year for the first time it was decided to use the local doctors to teach the training under the supervision of the NRT team from the US.

Kinshasa doctors, Dr. Empampossa and Dr. Ngoy.

The plan was to help these doctors develop a plan for the country and then have them manage the training and follow up. We asked Dr. Ngoy to come up with a plan for perpetuating the training and to help us see where he felt the program could go.

He came back with the idea that he could work first with the Catholic System of which he is a part and then spread out to the Protestant hospital systems and eventually to the government hospital systems. His needs were manuals, training kits and resuscitation kits for those who are trained. He arranged for us to collaborate with a hospital in Lubumbashi to extended the training even further this year. We met with Dr. Kaluiba in Lubumbashi and found an enthusiastic partner.

The program for 2008 was set up to test this idea as we held 2 trainings in Kinshasa and then flew to Lubumbashi and did two trainings. We had worked with Dr. Kaluba in Lubumbashi to identify possible trainers for that area of the country. We planned for 3 Lubumbashi doctors to come to the Kinshasa training and then return with the team to Lubumbashi for two more training sessions focusing on the Congolese doctors doing the training..

This was a big undertaking and required that the church NRT program place a lot of trust in these local doctors.

Training for Kinshasa went very well with 96 doctors, nurses, midwives and birthing attendants receiving the training.

The following day we flew 13 people to Lubumbashi: The NRT team consisting of Dr Preece, Sister Preece, Dr. Grover, Sister Grover and Emma Grover (daughter) along with the 2 Lubumbashi doctors Dr. and Dr. and Dr. Ngoy and Dr. Valerie , the Davis and ourselves. We were met at the airport by Dr. Ngoy's brother, head of a security agency, who gave us the VIP treatment. Dr. Ngoy was so excited to go to his home town of Lubumbashi and see his family for the first time in 3 years. He dressed for the occasion in a beautiful,intricately embroidered african dress.

The Lubumbashi training was held at our church building by necessity as the hospital did not have a place for the training. This was a real plus as the church is a beautiful building and was spacious, spotlessly clean, well furnished with tables and chairs and with a kitchen for preparing lunch and breaks.

The best reason for using the church was the beautiful clean bathrooms with flush toilets, toilet tissue, soap and paper towels. Dr. Ngoy stated, after coming out of the bathroom, “My that is like a palace.”

We had the ward bishop. Bishop Justin hosting at the building and another church member Deseri who had helped us set up the program who greeted people and helped us make sure things ran smoothly.

Relief society sisters catered the breaks and lunch and did a wonderful job. The training could not have gone smoother and the people attending seemed to enjoy their experience, were very animated and seemed to grasp the concepts fully.

Lubumbashi doctors

After each training we have a ceremony and present certificates to the participants and have a speaker give a short keynote address.

The first day the Providence Health Minister gave the address. He stated that two years ago they were in a national meeting with the Minister of Health and were discussing the needs of the DR Congo. The number one problem they faced was infant mortality. Their statistics show their death rate at 150/1000. They made some changes and tried some things and came back together a year later and found that their statistics had changed and actually gotten worse 165/1000 infant mortality. He prayed about what to do and how to help this problem and the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came to his office asking permission to do a training on Neonatal Resuscitation. He had heard of this program in Kinshasa and was very excited to have it come to Lubumbashi. He attended the first day training and said he was over whelmed with the simplicity of the training an the ability of all who attended to grasp the concepts and be able to take it back to their health centers. He was very appreciative of the materials that were given to help the health centers. He said this was an incident of having a problem, praying about it and God sending the answer. He then stated that we are not done until every infant born in the Congo has the benefit of the NRT training.

Our new champions in Lubumbashi are excited and have already started making plans on how to perpetuate the training, reaching out to smaller areas maybe even having them come into Lubumbashi for training or taking doctors out into the field to train

Our last night in Lubumbashi we were invited to dinner at the brother of Dr. Ngoy. His wife had fixed us a real Congolese meal and had their daughters sing for us.

they sang in English, Kumbaya. They ended by presenting each family with a gift. Our host stated he just wanted to say thank you for bringing the NRT program to his town and blessing his people with the gift of life for their children. He was very gracious.

The opportunities are endless and the chance for the church to support a national program seems very possible. We could not have asked for a more successful training this year. We have made wonderful friends who we will never forget.
Our prayers will be with the Davis as they plan for supporting the doctors in the perpetuation of this training and in planning for another training in 2009.