Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Celebration of Clean Water in Luputa

The morning of the Celebration we arrived at the District chapel and found the women had been cooking all night.  They were tired but dinner was ready. 
They would be feeding people at several sites but only the dignitaries as they would not be feeding all those who wanted to come.  There would be thousands at the celebration.

The water tanks were finished and large banners were placed on them ready for the program.
For Peace So The Church of Jesus Christ OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
could complete this project
The crowd was already gathering when we arrived.  It was estimated that 15,000 people were in attendance.  The Youth Church Choir (in white shirts) sang hymns while the dignitaries walked in.
There was standing room only for the crowds coming in from the villages.
Some found special seats, albeit rather precarious but at least they could see something.
As always in Africa there were children everywhere.  they are quite good at mugging for a photo.
How great it was to get all three Humanitarian couples together for this great celebration.  Each of us had our own thoughts and memories but all of us shared a love for Luputa.
Can't have a celebration without a little music, African style.  All instruments are made locally by hand and their sound is distinctively African.
There had been two gazebos erected for the honored guests.  We shared a spot with all our friends from ADIR (the contractor). and the other one held all the Church and government dignitaries.
Before the chiefs of the villages arrived a lady came on to the grounds and danced and chanted.  We weren't sure if she was cleansing the ground prior to the Chiefs coming or warding off evil spirits.
Then the Chiefs of the villages started to arrive.   We recognized them all as we had visited with them in their villages when we first started the water project and many times thereafter.
 They came dressed for the occasion in very interesting, official regalia.
. . .very dignified and very happy to see this day come to fruition.
Beautiful Congolese women were there dressed in their best.
 While waiting to get started we heard a holler of hello from the dignitary  gazebo.  Some one had recognized Elder Barlow.
 They were as happy too see him, as happy as he was that they recognized him.
Everyone was in their places and it was time to get started.  There was a buzz of conversation from every corner of the grounds and many were pushing forward trying to get a place to see the ceremony.  The pressing got pretty dangerous at one point and the police had to push the crowd backwards.  To us it seemed like a disaster waiting to happen but no one else seemed too concerned.
Pres. Willy Binene Sabwe, District president of the 2000 members of the church in Luputa spoke as the local leader for the church
.(Of interest about Luputa and the church is that several years ago some members fleeing violence in the Lubumbashi area came to Luputa to settle.  They taught their neighbors about the gospel and finally petitioned the church to be recognized with a branch.  When the mission came to investigate they found many people wanting to be baptized.  They were made a branch of the church but have never had full time missionaries in their area.  The church has grown there by members teaching their neighbors and friends.  That congregation is now a district with 8 branches.  This district has sent out many young elders on missions to serve all over Africa.  They have returned to the village and have given great strength to the church.  They are dedicated, and have a pure love of Christ in their countenance).
Elder Kola, Area Seventy for the church spoke.

Government dignitaries gave their thoughts on the gift of pure water.
Some looked very official in their dress.
The Minister of Rural Development, Charles Mwando, spoke wearing a big black cowboy hat.
There was a play about the value of clean water and the penalty for misusing the gift.  It was staged by the Hygiene Sanitation Trainers that were teaching in all the villages about proper use of the gift of water Training on hygiene and sanitation is always done where ever the church gives a clean water project.
After the speeches we all headed to the water spigots to have a ceremonial turning on of the water.  Just one of the crowd.  Can you find a familiar face?  Kind of like 'Where's Waldo',
 There are dozens of these water taps around the village of Luputa.  Pretty amazing when you think about it, just last month these people were dipping water out of a stream and now they have piped water near their homes.
 Well the ceremony is over and now it was time to do the press interviews and some interviews for the video spots and movie that the church was putting together.
 Hey, what happened to the Minister's big black cowboy hat? 
He told Farrell that he was a member of the church and was taking the missionary lessons. It is true he is taking the missionary lessons but he hasn't been baptized yet. He is very interested in the church and it's doctrine.
 Daniel DeAlmada representing the Church in the DRC and Eustache Ilunga, Kinshasa Stake President, presented the minister with a medallion as a thank you from the church for his support and his efforts in helping the church with the water project.
With all the ceremonial part of the day over we headed back to the District office.  It was time for the long awaited food to be served.  On second thought  . . .
The District compound was to be the site of the celebration feast for all the church dignitaries and their invited guests.
The Chiefs weren't the only ones dressed up for the occasion.
 From the beginning of our trips to Luputa there is one site you would always see.  It was the crowd of children that were always waiting right out side the gate of the District compound.  They are there no matter when you come or when you leave -  we have never been quite sure if they have a built in radar or if they live right there on the porch of the building adjacent to the District compound.- but it is true you will always find the children there ready to greet you.
 Waiting at the compound when we arrived were all the chiefs from the villages.  This was a delight and an unexpected opportunity to speak to each of them.
The Chief of the Chiefs was there, Chief Raymond Binene.  He was happy to see Elder Barlow. 
We had been warned by Bro. Christensen not to try and shake his hand as he does not shake hands.  We were grateful for the heads up and Elder Barlow was able to greet him appropriately.   
 His wife was with him.  She did not speak French so I asked him if I could give her a gift.  He said that it would give him great pleasure if I were to give her a gift.  I gave her a strand of Ugandan beads that I had brought with me.  I am not sure who was more delighted, the Chief or his wife. 
 We all wanted a picture and Chief Binene was very accommodating as long as we would promise toshare the pictures with him.
 Eustache and Daniel didn't want to be left out.  Daniel will return to Luputa in the near future and promised to bring him the pictures on his next trip.
 It was a rather historical moment to have Elder Kola get a picture with Chief Benini.
The Chief does not eat food prepared out side of his village.  Nestor (the site monitor for the cassava project) brought gifts to the Chief, a goat and two cases of soda - a gift from the church in Luputa.  The goat would be taken back to his village and prepared for his meal that evening.
 It's hard entertaining Chiefs.  Nestor had had enough of this very eventful day.
 Ahhhh! Omer, our trusted friend and chauffeur who had driven us to Luputa many times in the past, came dressed up in a suit for the occasion. He had good news for us.  He is getting baptized.  For four years he has been shuttleing the missionaries from Mbuji,Mayi to Luputa.  He has put up with our "Mormon" ways and been preached to many times always accepting and treatiing us with such grace.  We truly love him and now he is going to join the church.  What great news.  We wish we could be there for that event.
 Hey, is that the Ministers cowboy hat?  Seems Bro. Kubingila told the minister that since they were such good friends tht the Minister should give him something to show his friendship.  The Minister gave him his hat. 
Not long after giving up his hat to Bro. Kubingila, he turned to Elder Erickson and said he liked Elder Erickson's hat and the Minister took it and put it on his own head.  That was the last Elder Erickson  saw of his hat.  He told Bro.Kubingila that he thought that the big black hat must belong to him since the Minister had his hat now but Bro. Kubingila would have none of it.
Sorry Elder Erickson but - well, it is the African way.
It had been a great day, a historical day and we got to be a part of it.  Less we forget though this whole celebration and more than three years of effort by many people could not have been possible without the large to small humanitarian donations received by the church.  Thank you to all of you who fiinancially support the church's humanitrian efforts with your generous donations.  This is your project and it has brought clean water to thousands of children in the Democratic Republic of Congo with over 200,000 beneficiaries.

Visit the website and see what good is being done.


Angela said...

Why'd you have to tell us what they're doing with the goat? And are you sure that Daniel isn't Samuel L. Jackson in disguise? The chiefs hats were very interesting..can't imagine the governor of our area wearing one :)

Emma said...

Wow everyone looks so happy! Super proud of you guys! :)

LBJ said...

We just read about your other projects in the Tribune and Meridian. Some great work you're doing. Glad we get to follow along. You must feel a lot of satisfaction seeing these project take shape and change life for more than a few "starfish."

Paula said...

Have been reading your blog for over an hour and am in awe at the work you are doing, the areas you are in, the service you are giving, the fact that I think this is your second time there in Africa, the great example you are to all of us in our comfort zones here at home. We love you guys and always have since the old BYU years when we thought life was hard. Funny how life's experiences makes those years seem easy. We are just so happy to be called your friends. Love ya,