Monday, January 10, 2011

A few last memories on our Luputa trip

(Actually this is just things I need to put to writing - I don't want to forget them so read with that in mind or skip it if you have had too much Luputa news.)

You may want to scroll down to the CELEBRATION blog it is much more interesting.

Our fond farewell to Luputa was just "till we meet again."  We had said those farewells 2 years ago and thought that would be the end and here we were back celebrating so this time we just said, "Till we meet again."  who knows where or when that will be.

Before we left we visited the Luputa General Hospital.  We had done a large project there in 2009 and the hospital though not where it needs to be was better than it was.  We found the beds were still in tact but the vinyl mattresses were shredded due to the rough springs on the beds.  The ecography machine was not working due to the prob being cracked.  There was a new surgical building being built by another organization but they had no new equipment to put in it.  We hope that the next humanitarian couple that comes will think about how to help this hospital that is serving over 200,000 people as the only hospital in the area.

While we were touring Marie Josee showed up and invited us to visit her orphanage.  We hated to make this visit as it is always a tearjerker and there are so many needs at the orphanage.
When we arrived at the orphanage Marie put a baby into my arms and told us,
"Meet baby Barlow." 

They had named the baby after us as the baby came the same day as our last visit two years ago and we had given her a little money to buy vitamins and some food and so they named the baby, Barlow. 
The Christensens handed out baby clothes to the infants that they had brought from their home ward.  Marie said that they had many children who had been brought to her malnourished and many are so far into starvation that she has a very hard time nursing them back and often looses them before she can get any nutrition into them.   We asked her about Admet the supplement the church uses in areas where there is famine and she asked if we could get her any.  Sis. Christensen said she would work on sending her some when she got home to the states.  We wish there was more we could do to support her.

We left the orphanage feeling sick that in this world of ours there truly are children who are starving.  Most of these children are deep in the bush and when their parent dies they are on their own until someone finds them and gets them help.

On our trip back to Mbuji Mayi we rode with the Ericksons, Eustache and Daniel.  It was eventful as we got a flat tire in the middle of no where.  Our driver was prepared and we were back on the road in no time.
But first some photo ops

 Passing by - doesn't look like any one here went to school today.
 Some school uniforms but most look like they have been in the field working.
 Daniel wanted to try out the machete.  it was very sharp.
We could have taken the truck taxi to Mbuji Mayi,
or hitched a ride with someone going to town.
We also had to stop for Daniel to try pushing one of those heavy laden bikes up the hill.
Easy, no sweat! (ha)
 Good by beautiful country.
 Good by grass mud huts and beautiful villages without safe water.
Good by beautiful women of the Congo and your bright, colorful, beautiful dresses.

We left Luputa with a new bag full of memories to take with us.  The best was memories of old and new friends.
 Mimi and Wivine, the vendors near the apartment in Kinshasa
 Dr. Arthur Ngoy, the NRT champion saving thousands of babies.
Bishop Hoboko, our bishop when we were in the DRC.
 Eustache, a friend, a mentor, a son.
 The Nguwa family looking beautiful with Jean Pierre on the phone, always.
 The new Kinshasa - where is the traffic?  Where are the potholes?
Elder and Sis. Renlund, South East Africa Area Presidency
 Marie and Van Christensen, our predecessors in the DRC - kindred spirits.
 Owner of property at water site with Elder Erickson
 Pres. and Sis.Tshisangas, always got us through the Mbuji Mayi airport safe and sound. 
 Daniel DeAlmada, head of Temporal Affairs in Kinshasa - a new friend, great travel companion.
 Pres. and Sis. Packer, Lubumbashi, DR Congo Mission President
 Sis. Moody, never did get a pic with her and her husband.  They were too busy running the show and taking care of all of us.  They followed us into the mission as humanitarian country directors. 
Elder Moody
 The Chiefs - warmed our hearts to see those smiles
Elder Kola, Area Seventy and a spiritual giant
Elder Erickson, Public Relations for Africa So. East Area
(sans his hat)
Sis. Christensen, Public Relations for Africa South East Area
 Nestor - site monitor for the cassava project.
Domoinique Sowa, ADIR water contractor
Pres. Willy Binene, District Pres. Luputa District of the church
Missing Daniel Kasadi, site monitor of the water project - can;t find one picture of him.
Did I miss any one else?

I just have to document the amazing outfits of the Chiefs that attended the celebration.
Note the bandelo which looks like it is made totally out of beads.
This headdress was very colorful.
Not sure what it said on it but if was beads with  real horns and some feathers.
He was a big chief of something but we didn't know him and we only saw him at the ceremony. 
Chief of one of the 4 villages - many times we have seen the chiefs wear this white long dress.  He is usually carrying a wand of sorts that has a goats tail on it that he waves or points with.
This hat shows the beautiful red feathers with sisal finials and beads as decorations. No horns on this one unless you call the nobs horns but note the sheep's wool and what looks like a tail on the back.

This chief was also wearing the long white dress.  It had a flower on the crown and a cross of beads in front.
 This piece included shells and many glass beads and unique carved beads and metal beads.  In some areas of Africa the metal beads are used like money. 
 Chief Benini was the most regal.  His headdress was covered in glass beads.   Two horns stick out either side of the hat, and point forward.  I read that these are in imitation of buffalo horns and refer to the chief's authority - the chief is expected to be strong and powerful.

 Again the beautiful red feathers and looping and chevron patterns of the beads.
 The skirt of his costume was Kuba clothes.  Kuba clothes are unique to the Congo and are used for many things such as ceremonial skirts, burial clothes and just for decoration.  There is a real history to the art of making Kuba Cloth that you may want to read about.  this Kuba cloth seemed to have all the many decorative elements of the cloth and was so very  beautiful.  Note the cane he carried (and used) with the snake wrapped around it and some carvings.
The jacket was a site to behold with thousands of beads and shells sewn in beautiful patterns.  Part of the jacket was two bandelos that crossed the chest.  It looked very heavy and was quite a creation.
We complemented the Chief on his beautiful outfit.  He said it was very old and had been worn by the Chiefs of his clan for many years. . .  his father, his grandfather, his great grandfather - he wasn't sure how many generations it went back.
 When Chief Benini walked in to the celebration we were all craning our necks trying to take in the magnificent site

Ah, these are some wonderful memories we will bank and pull out again and again to remember the wonderful people of the DRC.  It was an honor to be a part of this experience and to know that life in Luputa is better now.


LBJ said...

I read and loved every word of all your Luputa trip. What a great thing to be a part of it. I'm so glad that you got to go back. I saw a lot of people who we know and enjoy, Renlunds, Packers, Eustache, Ericksons, Tshisangas, Elder Kola. It was quite a party.Thanks for sharing.

Kimberly said...

Thank you for keeping such a great record of your adventures, this blog is a family treasure.

Angela said...

What a honor to have the baby named after you both. It is hard to think of all the sadness in the world but thanks for trying to make it a little bit better. I loved your photos.