Sunday, March 19, 2017

School Donations - The High Schools

At the high school level we were able to go into 14 classrooms and introduce ourselves.  It was a wonderful opportunity to spread good will about the church.  We told them that the temple is across from ShopRite (the main store in the area) and that they could watch the temple go up.  Then in a year we would send an invitation to them to attend our open house.  Almost all the classes got a notebook and a pencil... most got pencil sharpeners and erasers... and the scientific classes got rulers.  Again, lots of happy kids! 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

March 11, 2917

How does one put into words sacred happenings?  I wrote a blog entry, in October, and asked “Is It A Coincidence?”  Literally during the minutes that we poured the concrete floor slab in Celestial Room, we witnessed a beautiful natural phenomenon for about 15 minutes.  It is referred to as a “Halo”.  As we all looked up at the sky, we saw a beautiful rainbow around the startling bright sun.  I immediately said… “It’s Dad… and he’s letting us know that he is with us and cheering us on.”  I pointed it out to the workers who were busy pouring and finishing the slab.  And then I said… “It’s the Seraphins! (French for angels.)  They are celebrating that we are building a temple in this part of the world!”  We were all thrilled, and very humbled, to have witnessed such a sight.

Yesterday, March 10, we poured the columns and beams in the Celestial Room.  I was deep in work in the office.  I felt a distinct impression that I needed to go outside and watch the men and see if I felt Dad’s presence, or at least to feel the spirit of the temple.  (He loved the excitement of a concrete pour.)  I kept working, and a minute later the feeling came again.   At a cousin retreat in January, my sisters and nieces encouraged me to “Be Still” and taught me the importance of taking time to follow promptings.  I decided to walk away from my work at my desk, and go watch the men at work… and “Be Still” and enjoy the moment.

I opened the office door and walked outside.  The sun seemed brighter than usual.  I looked up and saw our 2nd Halo.  I quickly walked down to tell Ed and the workers to look up.  It was there again, as we were pouring the Celestial Room walls.  I walked over to the lunch area, picked up a plastic chair, and sat down at the front of the temple and watched.  For about 30 minutes, I just sat and watched the temple being built, under the Halo. 

I happened to have my little red Kids Are Music sound amplifier on the job, for the first time.  I have a wonderful digital album called “Happy Hymns” that I love.  Our interpreter volunteered to walk around the job with the speaker playing energetic songs such as “The World Has Need of Willing Men.”  The men sang as they worked for about 30 minutes.  They moved from the Celestial Room area to the front platform, which will hold the steeple for now, but is engineered to hold a “future statue”.  As they finished pumping the last of this area… the pour was finished, the pump hose was pulled up and moved to the side of the building.  We looked up in the sky and the Halo faded away. 

This time we know what it was that we saw.  It was a special Tender Mercy. It happened twice, months apart, as we were pouring the floor & walls of the Celestial Room.  What a blessing it is to work on building this temple with these marvelous men!  We will always humbly remember what we witnessed.

School Supply donations from the U.S.

Along with all the other items that arrived from the United States, there were several boxes of school supplies.  We sorted and took an inventory of what we had.  We identified a needy elementary school and two schools with approximately 7th-12th grades.  We were concerned that if we just dropped off the supplies, that they might not ever make it down the line to get to the individual students.  There is a big problem here of people taking bags and boxes of donations, and setting up a shop on the road.  Then they sell the items and pocket the proceeds.

We contacted the schools and made arrangements to go in and talk to the administrators.  We felt good about the elementary school.  The "principal" said that we could meet each of the 9 teachers and give them a bag with crayons, scissors, colored pencils, a pencil sharpener, a notebook and a single file folder.  The art supply bag, with the teacher's name on it, will be checked back into the office everyday.  They were thrilled with everything... even the filing folder!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Distribution of Donations from Utah Part 1

When the temple contractor, Westland Construction, shipped a large container to Kinshasa from Utah, he accepted donations from various sources.  Huge crates and boxes were shipped.  I was asked to coordinate finding worthy recipients and distributing them.  It ended up being an extremely rewarding experience for me.

I arranged for 4 boxes full of "like new" children's books to be donated to the English speaking school.  This school was not as needy as the other places we made donations... but the books were in English, instead of French... and the school was thrilled to receive all those wonderful books.
There were over 100 fabric bags, made by a group of young women.  18 were distributed to an orphanage.
The rest were donated to the Raped Victims Women's Center, which is in the Eastern part of the country, where a violent war is currently being fought.  Enemy  soldiers rape the Muslim women, who are then abandoned by their families, as the victims are considered "unclean."    Most of the baby clothes we received were also donated to this center. 

Clothing and beautiful soft fuzzy blankets were given to orphans and to some of the needy children in the church, whose Dad's work at the temple site. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Daily Prayer Meeting

Every morning we have a Prayer Meeting with a song and a hymn.  (Ed is on the far right.  They are in a circle... but this is how a panorama looks.)  On Mondays Ed or I give a devotional.  Ed goes around daily and greets each of them with a handshake.  These guys sound fabulous when they sing.  It is privilege to work with them!

Simbas Pants

I have had requests to please start blogging more about our mission.  Some may recognize some of the entries as similar to those posted on Instagram & Facebook.  However, there will be more details here and at the end of our mission I will be able to have all of my blog entries made into a book.

Simba, who is one of the guys on the job had pants that were ripped to the point that Ed was concerned that they might get caught on something and create a safety hazard, where Simba might get hurt.  Ed mentioned it to him, and Simba replied he didn't have another pair.  (Simba has many children and we are sure he uses his money for food, rent and schooling.)

Ed said, "Well I would give you a pair of my old ones that are too big for me, except they would be huge on you."  (Ed used to be a 34 waist, and now is smaller than a 32.)  Simba was thrilled and said "No, Elder Gates.  I will make them fit.  You will see!"  So Ed took the pants the next day, and Simba made them work.  He chopped off about a foot off the length and found a heavy string to make the 34 waist fit his 28" waist.... and he is thrilled!

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!"