Our second exciting news is regarding our town of Dolisie. This town was a 4 hour drive north of Pointe Noire. About 3 years ago, we heard that there were members of the church living in Dolisie, without a group or a branch. One weekend we decided to “brave” the drive. We had been warned that it was a dangerous drive through the largest rain forest in Africa. However, Ed felt that we would be safe, and it ended up being one of the highlights of our mission. For about the last 8 months that we were in Pointe Noire, we made the trip monthly. We fell in love with these good people. The father of the main family was in a bishopric in the capital city and then he was transferred to Dolisie where he teaches school. This cute family had been praying for 8 years that the church would come to them. We were able to take them the sacrament, and after they left they were given permission to continue having Sacrament Meeting on a weekly basis.
This was taken at the first sacrament meeting ever held in Dolisie.
This was the group at our last sacrament meeting before finishing up our Pointe Noire mission.
However, a weekly sacrament meeting is all that they were allowed to do. No auxiliaries, no baptisms, no priesthood ordinations, etc. Because the church is growing so fast in Africa, instructions are that we can only develop the church near the centers of strength. This is to prevent little groups of people starting their own version of the church, if they are not close enough to a stake, to have regular visits from a stake or district representative.
In response to letters from these strong member transplants, four mission presidents had told the saints in Dolisie that they would visit. For various reasons, it never happened. These people have kept praying and waiting for the church to come, so their 5 children can be raised with the gospel. We have teased our mission president on a regular basis that it was time for him to go visit the saints in Dolisie.
Our mission is being split in July. The Congo River will divide us from Pointe Noire and Dolisie. Our mission president is extremely busy getting ready for the split. However, two weeks ago he told us he was going to fly over to Pointe Noire and drive to Dolisie for church… so he could recommend that they become a group, as soon as the new mission is ready to expand to new areas… which will probably be soon. We literally wept!
It was a very quick trip for them and he didn’t get to enjoy what a nice city it was. However, he felt the spirit of these good people and they felt validated that the mission president would take time to visit them. When they returned and reported to us, President Cook teased Ed and said… “Oh my! You wouldn’t believe the excitement when I told them Elder Gates had sent us. They acted like Elder Gates was the greatest man alive. I was surprised they hadn’t painted your name on the sign that said ‘Church of Jesus Christ & Elder Gates!’ ” This was not said disrespectfully, but as a statement that they were thrilled that we had not forgotten them.
This is Jean Marc's family with the president. They also have a teenage son who wasn't in town.
These are the members of Dolisie that the president met with and the investigators, just waiting to be baptized, when the church comes to Dolisie.
We will keep praying for the church to establish a group and send missionaries to Dolisie… but in the meantime… this was a big step closer to it happening. President Cook is a great man and we appreciate him taking the time to make Dolisie a priority!