Saturday, February 3, 2018


This is a copy of my entry for our 2017 annual Family Christmas Service Project.  It is written to our daughter, Amy, as she was my assigned recipient for the year.  This is an important chapter of our mission, so I am including in our mission blog.

Dearest Amy...

You are such a loving and caring sweetheart.  There were many things that I could have done and related to you, and there are many ways to serve in the Congo.  However, I wanted to make an extra effort on a project for you.  Knowing it was for this purpose encouraged me to focus on it and make it happen. 

You have two grown-up girls, who are very special.  You have seen to it that they are getting educational opportunities, and taught them the importance of learning.  We had the opportunity to "Pass it On", and owe the incentive to you.

A couple of months ago, Dad and I were visiting the orphanage.We were taking them some Home Depot shelving units we had shipped over in a Westland container.  

There is one girl who was raised in the Kaka orphanage for the last 17 years.  Her name is Ornella ands she is now 22 years old.  On our last mission she worked for us, cleaning our home, to earn money.  She now works at the orphanage and helps take care of the children.  She does most of the cooking and the laundry and cleaning. 

While we were there, delivering the shelving, Ornella, humbly told me that she would like to go to sewing school.  We had an interpreter with us, so we were able to coordinate that we wanted her to find out more about the school she wanted to go to.  We gave her transport money, so she could go get printed information that would tell us more about dates and prices and requirements for attending the school.  We were to call her three days later to see what she found out.  She was very excited about learning to sew, hoping she could make some money.  We then told her we would pay her (very well) to work for us again, and if she would earn half the money (from us) for her schooling, we would pay the other half. 

We arranged to meet with her the next week, at the school, to get her registered.  The school was over an hours drive away, in terrible traffic.  Dad took off working at the temple to drive me and our interpreter, Felix, to the college.  We waited in the line and then Felix coordinated with the receptionist to find out what we needed to do.  He made the arrangements for us to pay the registration fee and testing fee directly to the bank.  Yes, we found out she needed to take an entrance test.  We gave her the registration form to fill out.  She looked at it and shook her head.  I pointed to where she should write her name, and she haltingly did... in very childlike letters.  That was all she could do.  We discovered she could not read or write, at all.  My heart sank.  We knew she would never be able to take a test, let alone pass it. 

When she came to clean, a couple of days later, I sat down with her.  I had her write her name.  Then I asked her what the letters were.  She only knew some of them.  I asked her if she would like to go to school to learn to read and write.  She said, "Oh, yes... Please!"  I had one of our student/workers who lives out by the orphanage check into literacy schools in the area.  We found one about a ten minute walk from the orphanage. 

The next week, we drove out to take Ornella to the literacy school to find out about registering her.  The school was very humble, but perfect.

Ornella was excited for the opportunity to learn to read and write.  They agreed to start her the following Monday.  We had kept the money she earned working for us in an envelope for her.  She paid her half of the tuition with it,  and we paid the rest.

She was thrilled and on the walk back to the orphanage kept saying, "Je suis une etudiant!"  ("I am a student!)  For the first time in her humble, humble life, she was a student.

We don't know how it is going, but we look forward to finding out.  Hopefully she will be able to get away from the orphanage work for 3 hours a day, for the next 6 months, and she will become literate.  It will open many new doors for her... and change her life, if she is able to.

Amy, we are proud of you for making the sacrifices that you have to give your girls the opportunities that they have to learn!

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