Sunday, January 22, 2012
Posted by Kriss Gates
December 24, 2011
Dearest children, grandchildren and friends:
Today is Christmas eve. It is 4:30 am and I am snuggled in a feather duvet in Mitzi’s new beautiful home. My heart is very full and I want to take a moment to write down my thoughts on leaving the mission field in the Congo.
Words cannot describe the magical adventure that we have experienced. It almost seems as if it was too good to be true, and it was just an adventure, fantasy dream with a great ending.
We loved being missionaries. Serving with the young men that were called to serve in Pointe Noire as missionaries was a highlight. We basked in the aura of these young men, and watched them “grow from boys to men” as they were obedient to the rules and worked hard in extremely unusual circumstances to bring the gospel to the Congolese. Our slogan became, “In Pointe Noire we work hard and we play hard”. I often thought of how lucky I was to get to see these young men several times a week and talk and laugh and cry with them. I thought of their Mothers and how they would have loved to have a peek through a magic window and see exactly what a day was like, watching their valiant sons serve under the Pointe Noire circumstances. My prayer is that some day, many of these elders will return to serve in Africa as senior missionaries with their wives, and receive the rewards that we have experienced in the last 18 months.
We love the Country of the Congo and it’s culture. There was an energy on the streets that expressed the sheer will of survival. The traffic was terrifying, the garbage extensive, and the roads were full of potholes that were big enough to swallow up a taxi. However, the people were happy, the hustle and bustle was productive, and the children were so darling that it was hard not to scoop them up and hug them. The kaleidoscope of bright colors of the Congo was continuously changing and breathtaking!
We love the members of the Church. A part of my heart will always be tucked away in a corner of the LaBase chapel, where it will glow with the performance of these members. It will be thrilled as they develop their auxiliaries, and have Christ centered primary sharing times and lessons from the manuals. It will chuckle at the antics of the children as they are growing into strong young men and women in the gospel. It will be humbled as it watches the young men receive Duty to God awards and Young Women receive their Personal Progress medallions. It will rejoice as the old tradition of “paying the dote” slowly melts with the love of fathers for their daughters… realizing that daughters of God are gifts to treasure, not to sell. My heart will be with them as they grow into a district and then a stake in the n ear future. It will swell with eternal joy as the Latter Day Saints of Pointe Noire become regular temple attending saints, striving for the blessings of eternal life and family.
We loved being missionaries. We grew through our personal study and always looked forward to our daily companion study. We found that we especially enjoyed snuggling in our bed in the evening and reading the scriptures and study manual together, and watching a conference talk or two, before we knelt in prayer and thanked our Father in Heaven for the magical opportunity we were having. Special opportunities included going with the elders on “Rendezvous” to teach the investigators and new converts, and the service projects where the strength of the 10 of us working hard together, could accomplish great things in two or three hours. We strived to serve by using our earthly talents in continually improving the chapel buildings and through teaching the members how to better themselves, with lessons in leadership, learning to play the hymns, teaching English classes and reading literacy and basic math, and especially introducing and interpreting the inspired Handbooks of the Church.
We have been in love with each other since we met 44 years ago. That love was originally strengthened beyond an average relationship with Ed leaving me for a year to go to Korea in the Army. Bearing and raising our six marvelous children as we moved, often to build chapels, taught us that we were each others best friends. Going through the terror of serious accidents with our children’s health and the ups and downs of life with economical turmoil taught us to lean on one another, and support each other as we grew through our challenges. Sharing our Congolese Mission has been the frosting on our eternal marriage. It was truly like “an 18 month strange and wonderful honeymoon.” I love my companion more than I ever dreamed possible.
Now we will have a season to enjoy our children and grandchildren, lovingly help Mom and Dad through their final chapters of life on earth, and serve as the Lord will see fit for now. We will also be preparing ourselves for our next full time mission in the future.
Thanks to all of you for your prayers as we served in the Congo.
Elder and Sister Gates
Pointe Noire Congo
DRCongo Kinshasa Mission