Sunday, January 2, 2011

Luputa or bust

In April 2007 when we arrived in Kinshasa, DR Congo the Christensens had a wonderful water project ready to submit for the City of Luputa located in the middle of the DR Congo.  It was an ideal water project in that it was spring fed, delivered by gravity and no pumps or parts to wear out.  It was ambitious in that it delivered water 34 kilometers through 4 villages, ending in the city of Luputa.  The project was submitted the day they ended their mission but as usual nothing is that easy in Africa and the project required us to make 6 revisions before it was finally submitted to the First Presidency for approval.  Because the project was contracted over 3 years and was very expensive it took a lot of prayer and discussion to find the right project to move forward with.

We finally got approval for the project in Dec. 2007 and made our first trip to Luputa in January 2008.  Fast forward to Nov. 2010 and we are now in Uganda on another mission and were invited to return to Luputa for the closing ceremony and turnover of this amazing project. 

Elder and Sister Moody had extended their humanitarian mission to finish up this project and what a bang up job they did.

The trip to Luputa was much the same although the roads had been graded in some areas so not so big a potholes to fall in, our puddles that could swallow your car.
The scenery was still pristine country with the heavy laden bikes traveling to the city to take their harvested corn or cassava etc.
 Farrell found it still an adventure and shared some of the near misses of the trip with others.
Sister Moody was glad we made it safely and had dinner waiting, well kindof as everyone had already eaten and we were welcome to the leftover MREs.
 Daniel and Eustache (our traveling companions) loved the MREs and powdered milk.
The Moody's were hosting quite a crowd who they had to find housing for and feed and transport around.  They were on overload as they had extended their mission 3 months and had a lot of logistics to work out.. 

Traveling with us was Daniel (financial officer+ for the DRC) Eustache (CES), Elder and Sister Erickson (public relations for Africa South East Area), Bro Kubangila (public relations for the DRC).  Elder and Sister Renlund (Counselor in the area presidency),where presiding over the occasion and were accompanied by Pres. and Sister Packer (Mission President), Elder Kola (Area Seventy), and Bishop and Sis. _______.  Bro and Sis Christensen (hum. missionaries before us) were also there and had been in the DRC for a month doing a measles project and had come to celebrate with us.

We were to be housed at our favorite inn, the Catholic Monastery.  That was good, we had been there before and knew what we were getting into.  We were with Van and Marie Christensen and Daniel.
Nothing had changed at the Monastery as we still flushed and showered with a bucket.
On Monday we had a chance to go see the project as the celebration would not be till Tuesday.

A second project we had started for Luputa was a Cassava farm and processing plant.  The project had a slow start and was not completed till the Moodys came to the CongoFrom the cuttings of that project new farms were started and the church members now have a very productive cassava business.  You might call it the first welfare farm in Africa as it is feeding many members of the church in this area.
Nestor, project manager for the Cassava Project, Elder Erickson and Elder Barlow
Our next stop was the processing plant.  This is where the cassava roots are taken to be processed for sale.  Having the processing plant allows the growers to prepare the cassava for sale prior to sending to market.  This gives them a much better price and makes the production much more lucrative.

Cassava, although not a lot of food value is still the main staple of food for the Congolese.   They can pull off the leaves of the plant and eat as greens without harming the plant and allowing the edible roots to grow. 
First there is the peeling of the roots with very large knives.
 Then wash the roots before they go into the chipper.
 Notice the back breaking bend that the Congolese do as they work on the roots.
 Then into the chipper where the roots are chipped into shavings almost.
Careful Marie, that is a very large knife.
 Once the chips are cut they will be soaked in the soaking bins to leach out arsenic that comes into the plant from the soil.
 After the soaking - into the press to get the water out so the cassava can be thoroughly dried.
Elder Renlund and Elder Kola tried their hand at the press, it takes some muscle
Daniel and Eustache tried the macho approach.
The press may look archaic but without electricity this is a good tool.

Mamas of Luputa
Third stop for the day would be the water source.  This was rather nostalgic as we had taken this trek a few times in the past.
We found old friends at the source. The owner of the property was there (without his machete this time). He turned over the water rights to the communities so that the water could be diverted down to the villages - a very generous gift.

Another friend came to the site. He is the chief of the first village.  He said he wanted to come to the celebration but had no transportation.  We encouraged him to find a way as we would really like him to be there.
Christensens, chief, land owner, Sister Barlow, Elder Barlow, Elder Moody
January 2008 this picture was taken at the source.  This picture is part of humanitarian service display at the visitors center on Temple Square.  -  nostalgic.
November 2010 we are back and the water is headed down to Luputa.
As we headed back to Luputa we spied another old friend.  There at the Luputa Hotel ( I use that term loosely) was Dominique Sowa, the water contractor.  We love Dominique and the Luputa Water Project was his dream.  He had the dream of this project for 20 years before the church agreed to help him.  Many groups had looked at the project but no one would fund it.  This was a great reunion, one we thought we would never have.
By the time we got  back to the church's District Offices (our headquarters for the week) we had company.  Marie Josee came to greet us.  A dear friend with an orphanage she tries to hold together.  This day she was in tears as she had just lost a 6 yr. old child from starvation.  A brother and a sister were brought to Marie after they were found wandering in the bush.  They were extremely malnourished and Marie was able to save one but the oldest child died.  She was devastated. 
 The day was coming to an end and we all sat around the yard anticipating our MRE meal.  It was a good chance to reminisce a bit with Van Christensen (our hum. predecessor.)
Elder and Sister Renlund were up for anything.  Their adventures never end serving in the Area Presidency.
The  three humanitarian country directors who worked on this project got to share all their frustrations and joys about running the Luputa project.
Elder Moody, Elder Barlow and Elder Christensen
Sister Barlow got to hang out with Elder Kola - he still can't quite figure out that camera.  Elder Kola is a choice humble man.  He has great wisdom and is a pioneer of the church in the Congo.
While we sat there visiting a truck came in and brought a cow, goats and chickens.  Dinner preparations were starting for the Celebration.  The animals were slaughtered and all parts of those animals were cooked right there in the District Office yard.
Incredible to watch (if you stayed away from the slaughtering) as the men and women prepared to cook for 500 people without electricity or modern conveniences.

Tomorrow was going to be a big day.  We had no idea what to expect.

1 comment:

Tiffany said...

Wow! Thank you for detailing the things you're experiencing. We all really appreciate makes us look forward to our time to serve missions! Love you both!