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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Was it a coincidence?


Was it a coincidence?  Each of you who read this will have to decide for yourself.  But if there is even a 1% chance that it was something special and sacred, I want to write about it.  One of my assignments is to write the history book of the building of the temple.   This book will go into the cornerstone and into the archives of the church, as well as a few special offices of the church.  I would suppose if I was ever going to be in tune with the spirit, and in the right place (such as on a temple building site) to witness and recognize that it might be more than a coincidence, this would be my time.

After six months of underground construction and delays (due to weather and political protests and rioting) , we were finally ready to pour the main temple floor slabs.   I have twice felt that my Dad’s spirit might be close to me, on the temple job site.  Both times were big concrete pours. Today was one of them.  We saw something we have never seen before.  Most of the men working were our previous students and we were all proud of each other that we were able to complete the pour,  without having to bring in outside help.  Everyone was in a great mood, and the pour was going well.

We were almost finished and the men had just started to pour and finish the last area, for the day.   It was the Celestial room, which is considered the most special room in the temple.  As the men were working hard, and concrete was pouring out of the pump and the chute, one of the subcontractor’s pointed up and said… “Look!”   It was beautiful!   It was almost noon and the sun was straight up overhead.  Around the sun was a gorgeous rainbow circle. It is called a “Halo” and is a very rare natural optical phenomenon.   It was so bright that it was difficult to look at it for very long.   I turned to Ed and said … “It’s Dad sending us a message.  He is so proud of you!”   I had our workers pause and look at it and laughingly told them it was Seraphins (Angels) singing because we were pouring in the Celestial room.  We watched the “Halo” in the sky as they worked for about 15 minutes, and as they finished the Celestial Room, the Halo faded away. 

As I lie in my bed tonight, and think about it, I can’t help but wonder… “Was it a coincidence?”  But I like to think it was more than that, and that makes me happy (and humbled) to think that we were possibly blessed today to be part of a Heavenly Celebration that there is finally going to be a temple in Kinshasa for these wonderful people!

     





PS:  The colors of the ring didn’t come through in the photo, but we are excited we able to capture it at all!  The top is from my camera and the bottom is from Ed's camera.

PS.  From wikamedia:  Halo (from Greek ἅλως, halōs[1]) is the name for a family of optical phenomena produced by light interacting with ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere.





Saturday, October 8, 2016

Primary Temple Rocks- Part 5 (read part 4 below before you read this)

Primary Temple Rocks- Part 5 (read part 4 below before you read this)

In my letter of instructions to the bishops and primary presidents, I requested that if they had access to a camera and a computer, to please send us a photo of their kids.  And then last week the magic began as we started receiving them.  Our hearts are grateful to be part of this great work!









Primary Temple Rocks - Part 4

(Read part 3 before reading this entry.)

What a fun 2 weeks this has been!  On Sunday, two weeks ago, we were invited into primary to watch the 2 wards in our building to sign their rocks and receive their pictures of the temple.  It was very touching to see how reverent they were about receiving and signing their rocks & temple photos!

Our bishop helping three brothers sign their rocks.

Each child tried to use their best handwriting, knowing it would be part of the temple.


A cute family with 5 kids in primary... They wanted to all sign one rock.

A very long African name!

Our own ward primary....
and the other ward in our building invited us in to see their kids excitement!





Saturday, October 1, 2016

Primary Temple Rocks ... Part 3 ... The Rocks Go Out!

(If you want the full story on the Primary Temple Rocks - start with Part 1.  Part 2 was just written and is below this entry. This is part 3.)

The rocks were ready to give out to the Stake Presidents at the meeting with the Area 70s on September 10th.  We kept stressing that this was to be a sacred project... and it was.

The Stake Presidents were excited and had many questions.   We also had a bag for the Mission President.  He has 3 branches in outlying areas that are about a 7 hour drive away, which are too far away to be part of the Kinshasa Stake.   Two of those branches are in a town called Matadi.  We weren't sure when those rocks would get there.  We left those presidents with their "sacred packages" and all our best wishes.

8 days later we received our first responses.  These photos came back from Matadi! 



We are thrilled and humble and grateful to have been an instrument in this project.  Each of these 1500 children will know that this is their temple... and they are "going there some day!" 






Thursday, September 22, 2016

Primary Temple Rocks ... part 2 ... the work continues

(If you haven't read part 1 about the Primary Temple Rocks, read that first)

As part of our missionary assignment, we are in charge of building spirituality and promoting an enthusiasm for the new temple.  We decided to have each child in the Kinshasa area, 1500 children, write their name and birthday on a rock, and get them back to us to be added to the concrete in the temple.  This would really be their temple, to look forward to being sealed in some day.)


We made several trips to the river to get the rocks.  They were hand chipped to our specifications. 

I used the cute little lady on the left as my main contact.  We both have 25 grandchildren, so we bonded! 

Ed continued painting each rock until they were shiny white! 

To keep the sacred theme, we played reverent hymn music inside the office, whenever we were working on the stones.  As one man said after entering the room... "There is a beautiful, peaceful feeling here."  When the were dry, we brought them inside and we wrapped them individually in tissues, like little presents... to make them seem more special to the children. 


We made 73 packets for the different wards and branches.  Each one included letters to the stake president, bishop and primary president... a flow chart of how the rocks were to be disbursed and returned ... a lesson plan including stories & music ... Sharpie pens .... and of course a rock for every child!
We had a month to complete the project and they were nearly ready to send out.  The meeting with the Area 70s and stake presidents was to be on Saturday, September 10.  We were just missing one final thing for each child, to complete the project and make it Perfect, but it looked like those items wouldn't make it here before the deadline.

Part of the "perfect" project was that every child would get to take home their own photo of the temple.  We had ordered 1400 pictures from the U.S.  The photo developers here print washed out colors... and are more expensive.  When we ordered the photos from the US, we knew there was no mail delivery to Kinshasa.  However, we also knew that we had concrete men that were booked to fly over to Kinshasa and arrive on the 1st of the month.  We thought we had plenty of time.  However, a special material (shipped from the U.S.) that was needed to be an additive to the concrete was being held in Congo Customs for additional fees (bribes).  There was no point in bringing the men over until the additive was released from customs.  The concrete men's departure dates were postponed twice.  On Saturday, September 3, it looked like they were going to have to postpone the men's arrival again, and the photos wouldn't make it.  I called Salt Lake church offices and Temporal Affairs here, to see if anyone was flying over, and could bring the photos with them.  Noone was coming.  Sunday was Fast Sunday, so I decided that I would fast that the pictures would make it in time to go out to the children of Kinshasa with their Primary Temple Rocks.  My prayers were answered.  On Monday, we got word from Customs that they were releasing the additive... which meant the concrete men were coming and arriving on the 9th.  The pictures arrived!!!














Wednesday, September 21, 2016

CHANCE

When we were on our last mission we worked very closely with an orphanage.  Ed did an amazing job, with the help of Ryan and Westland construction... and some of his students, of repairing a "home" with deplorable living conditions for about 20 children.  One little boy became Ed's shadow for 2 months, as the construction renovating was completed.  His name is Chance.  He was a charmer from day 1.



 
We had talked to Mitzi about the possibility of having the McBride's adopt him...  and while we were considering the feasibility of  the adoption, our friends, the Dains (Ryan's family) announced they were going to adopt Chance.  It felt right, and we were thrilled for them ... and very happy that Chance would be raised by a loving family.  (This is Angie Dain holding him before the decision to adopt.)


It took two and a half years to get the paperwork completed.  When we arrived in Kinshasa for this temple mission, Ryan had just picked up Chance and he was legally part of the Dain family.  However, the DR Congo had a moratorium on issuing exit Visas for children, so there were hundreds of families waiting to get their children back to the United States.  The rest of the Dain family were in Provo waiting for school to be over, and then they were coming to spend a month with Ryan and Chance. 

We got to be his "Grammy" and "Papa" for  4 months!  What a delight it was to see a little boy discover life outside of a Congolese orphanage.


This was his first day of school with us, his new Dad (Ryan) and big brother, Jake.


They received his exit Visa in July and Chance is now living in Provo, Utah with his family, the Dains!  It was a blessing to have him in our lives.



Ryan Dain... Our Project Manager is Very Ill

Ryan Dain is the job project manager and in charge of the construction of the Kinshasa Temple.  He was also in charge of building the 2 chapels that Ed's students helped build when we were on our last mission.  We have become very close through the years.  His family lives in Provo, Utah and he goes home to see them about every 2 to 3 months.  Our apartments that we live in now are next door to each other.


Two nights ago (Monday, Sept 19)  Ryan was at our home for dinner and had a severe seizure.  It was very, very, very humbling.  Ed and Stan were able to hold him down and immediately give him a commanding priesthood blessing.  We were all overwhelmed because we realized that there is no 911 in Kinshasa.  There are no ambulances, as we know them.  The victim needs to be taken to the selected hospital.  The only one we would go to is several miles away and in order to get to it, we would have to go through town, and cross the protestors lines.   After his blessing, he started to relax enough to see that the worst of it was over.  After 30 minutes he became slightly lucid and recognized Ed. 

We immediately called our daughter Tiffany's father in law, who is a medical doctor in Idaho, Del Rey Maughan.  He and his wife served a mission, in Africa, as the medical doctor for all the missionaries in many missions.  He realized how difficult it would be to have this terrifying experience in such a strange country.  He was wonderful and gave us information to coach us through the night.  We are grateful for his experience and knowledge.    

He said we needed to get Ryan home to the U.S. as fast as possible.  He said the seizure might be caused by a brain tumor, and it might have been a first attack, which could be followed by a more severe one.  However, the road to the airport was closed due to the protestors and demonstrators.  There was no way to get to the airport on Monday.   We purchased tickets for Stan to take Ryan home on Tuesday night, but the violence continued to get worse and the flight was cancelled.  In the meantime, Ryan was feeling better, but still very confused and forgetful.  We were finally able to talk to Ryan's doctor who agreed with everything Del Rey had told us.  He needs an MRI and a diagnosis. 

It is Wednesday and Stan and Ryan made it to the airport tonight.  Their flight has just departed the city.  We are so very thankful he is on his way home to get the medical care he needs.  We are grateful that Ed listened to the still small voice that prompted him to pick up the phone and invite Ryan to eat dinner with us.  Five minutes later he came through the door, smiling and happy.  He sat down at the table and 30 seconds later the seizure attacked him.  If Ed hadn't called him, he would have been home alone, and we could have lost him.

Ed is now in charge of the temple construction for the time being.  Hopefully, Dad is hovering nearby.  We are going to need all the help we can get! 

 


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

DR Congo Citizens Protest!

Kinshasa, Congo,

Is Locked Down as Protests Erupt Against Joseph Kabila

Kinshasa protestors gathered by the hundreds and thousands in large groups across the city over the past 2 days.  We were warned that we should all stay in our homes to avoid being part of the violence that has gripped many areas full of people who represent the demand that President Kabila step down and allow an election for a new president.  His terms are over, and he simply won't leave.  These good people are tired of the corrupt government and are demanding a change.  On Monday, the first day, over 30 people were killed.

We have not seen any violence in our area.  Both mornings we went across the street to the job site. Both days, a few men showed up for work.  Others didn't dare the commute, as many of them live in the areas where the demonstrations and fighting continue to rage.  Both days, we were told by our security force that we needed to get everyone to go home, to be with their families if they were needed.  There was no public transport.  Gaelord, one of our valiant hard workers, had to walk the seven hours to get home, as there was no public transport allowed in the city. 

Things are very quiet and eerie in our neighborhood.  We  can look out our balcony and see the smoke from fires burning around the city.  We keep getting email updates of what is happening around town.  The roads to the airport have been closed for 2 days and flights have been cancelled. 

We are safe and being careful, and staying tucked away in our nice apartment. Hopefully it will calm down for awhile and we can get back to work soon.   We keep praying that something will happen to bring peace  to this part of the world.  It is humbling, almost overwhelming, to realize how blessed we are to have the freedom that we enjoy in America.  I will never take it for granted again.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Jonathan

Jonathan was raised in the orphanage, since he was 2 years old.  He is 19 and one of the original "kids".  When Ed remodeled the orphanage on our last mission, Jonathan worked with him everyday.  He is sort of the "father" image of the orphanage.  He takes good care of the other kids, and he is very helpful to Philomene, the director.  He is the maintenance man and everyone loves him.  When we finished the repairs, as we were leaving our last mission, we told Jonathan he had earned $300, but we weren't allowed to pay him directly. 
We told him we would save it for when he was ready to go on a mission.   

When we were on our last mission, he was serving as the Priest Quorum 1st assistant to the bishop.  When we arrived here in April, he was Young Men's President.  He was released in May and made the Ward Mission Leader.  Everyone loves him. 

Last month we went to a baptism where Jonathan baptized 4 of the orphans.  We were so very proud of him!

  

If a Congolese boy wants to go on a mission, he has to earn enough money to pay for his passport.  (About $300.)  Then, the boys family is expected to pay a little each month.   Because there is 85% unemployment in this country, it is extremely difficult for a young man to earn that money.  There are special funds with the church to help pay most of their monthly mission payments.  Because Jonathan is an orphan, he has no family to pay the monthlies.  $300 meant he had earned enough to go on a mission and he is soooooo ready. 

One of our first priorities, when we arrived in April, was to help Jonathan get his paperwork done for his mission.  After taking him for fingerprints, immunizations, passport, exit visa, and numerous other required items... his paperwork was ready to submit.  Now we are all just waiting for his call to arrive.