A Saturday Morning Wander in our Neighborhood

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We went out for a walk this morning.  John needed to transfer some money to a missionary, so we took a wander through our neighborhood.  All of these pictures were taken during our 30 minute wander.  This is our place.  These are our neighbors.

There were very few people out today.  It must be a holiday.  Last night people were everywhere until quite late.  This morning the vendors shops were empty and the sellers were gone.  Unusual for a Saturday morning.

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Below is a hair place.  There are so many cute little shops where the women and girls go to have extensions put in their hair, or to have their hair plaited into fun designs.

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Empty vendor stalls:

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Typical roadside decor:

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This is our road.  Every few weeks someone dumps a load of rocks and construction debris in the roads.  It’s spread out and smashed down by passing cars until it turns into road base.  You have to watch your step.

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A new building going up:

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More beauty shops:

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Transferring money:

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A local plumber:

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We were hoping to find some nice fruit today!  We filled our bag with 3 pineapple, 2 mangos, a bunch of mandarins, bananas and some popo.

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I love the fruit here.  And it’s Beautiful!

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Lovely helpers!

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A furniture store:

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From this spot you can see the temple.  See the crane in the skyline?  That’s the temple site.

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The temple is just to the left of the crane.

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A man making mannequins:

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There are so many car junk yards full of dead cars.

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Happy to know we can refill our gas tank here:

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Interesting construction:

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Chopping block:

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Umbrellas for shade:

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A laundromat.  Loving the washer in the window:

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Cassava, pines and peanuts:

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Plantain, potatoes and cassava:

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Our local tailors.  These women sew in these little shops day and night.

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Our shoe repair guy was gone for the day:

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Nice entryway:

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Almost home again.

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This is right next to our building.  I’d always assumed there was a water source in this little shack because these water jugs come and go every day.

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It’s a mystery–no water source.  There is, however, a toilet sitting there.

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These are our neighbors.  Their homes are made of tarp and boards.

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Their firewood supply:

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Their trash pile, right outside our windows.

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We are surrounded by so many interesting things.  We love it here.

Keep a History and a Record of all Things that Transpire in Zion.

On 27 November 1832 the Prophet Joseph Smith in Kirtland, Ohio, wrote to William W. Phelps, who was living in Independence, Missouri. There are a few words in the first page of that letter that grab me. William W. Phelps was a clerk and Joseph was concerned at the time with record keeping.  It weighed on his mind. The Lord had instructed him to write and record and keep records, and he was figuring out what needed to be recorded as the church began to grow in that place.

In this letter, excerpts of which are now found in D&C 85, we are given a clue of what Joseph and the Lord found important:

It is the duty of the Lord’s clerk, whom he has appointed, to keep a history, and a general church record of all things that transpire in Zion, and of all those who consecrate properties, and receive inheritances legally from the bishop; and also their manner of life, their faith, and works . . .

I’m just a bystander here in the Abidjan East Cote d’Ivoire Mission, but I also have a sense of the importance of what’s happening around us and the importance of recording the manner of life, the faith and the works of the good people here.  Sometimes it’s easier to see the miracles when you are a bystander, not a participant, deeply immersed in the routines of a place, its culture and times.

Although I have lived in Africa for many years, life here is not my normal–it’s all a wonder to me, a fantastic and amazing expression of faith, and works displayed to me in a manner of life that to me is incredible. I often feel like I am on the front row seat of an Unfolding Event in the history of the Church in Africa.

Today John and I witnessed the retelling of more of that history as we sat with Pres Binene and completed about 4 hours of interviewing him this week. His story will be told in an upcoming volume of SAINTS, and we are here helping to gather that story.

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Pres Binene is a remarkable man of great faith. He has done hard things and has been a pillar of light and faith to the people of the DRC Congo. You will read about him someday. Next month he will complete his missionary service here in the Abidjan East Mission, and if the borders re-open, he and his family will return to their home in the Congo. They will start a new life there and I wonder where it will take them.

For now, his story is captured and will be transcribed for church historians and for future generations. We will learn from the incredible stories he’s told us this week of his experiences establishing the first branches in his province, of civil unrest and fleeing for their safety instead of accepting a mission call, of helping his people with farming and water projects, and with his calls to serve as a District President, then a Stake President. Nothing in his life unfolded in the way he expected or planned. His manner of life, his works and his faith teach me that a consecrated life is a blessed life, planned or unexpected.

I’m grateful to be here now, during these interesting times, surrounded by people I find lovely, fascinating, strong and good. These blog posts are an attempt to share this world and these friends with you.

Here are a few pictures of our time spent with Pres Binene this week, recording his history.

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Joseph’s 27 November 1832 Letter to William W. Phelps can be found here:
https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letter-to-william-w-phelps-27-november-1832/1#historical-intro

A Taste of America!

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We went out to pay some mission bills today at Cap Sud.  They’ve added some very nice handwashing stations outside the mall now.  It’s a small free-standing station with sinks on 2 sides and a foot pump for the water.  Nice.  Some of the doors still have the buckets with spigots and soap.  Tissues are used here for hand drying.

Many of the COVID restrictions are being lifted.  Stores opened again this week and the curfew at night has been removed.  We are still encouraged to wear masks and handwashing stations are outside most stores (or gel pumps).  Not many people are wearing masks here.   And the streets are full of people coming and going.  Vendors and shops are open and busy.  Normal life here has resumed.  We hope the borders will open soon and we hope the worst is over.  It hasn’t been bad here like in other countries.

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This week we topped 5 million COVID cases worldwide.  Here are yesterday’s stats:
Coronavirus Cases: 5,105,897
Deaths: 330,003
Recovered: 2,035,432
USA: 1,593,039, Deaths: 94,941
Utah: 7,874, Deaths: 92
Ivory Coast: 2,231, Deaths: 29
Mali: 931, Deaths: 55

To celebrate being out, we had lunch at Burger King!  We’ve visit Burger King here about once a month for a taste of home.  It’s better than you can even imagine.  Oh my, it’s so so good.

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It feels worth every penny, and then I think, wow, that could have paid for 2 chickens for 2 families and I wonder if it was.

Trainers and Trainees Meet

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This morning Pres Binene met with those who will be training our 7 new missionaries.  These missionaries are especially selected to be the best possible role models for these new missionaries.  They are missionaries who are obedient, experienced, kind and they are wonderful teachers.

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Then this afternoon, our new missionaries returned to meet their trainers and to receive more orientation.  What an outstanding group!

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New Missionaries Arrived Today!

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Today 7 new missionaries arrived at the Mission Office to begin their missions!  They are all local Ivorians and have been temporarily assigned to our mission.  These Elders and Sister have been called to serve in Kenya, Nigeria, the DRC and Ghana.  Once the borders are open again, they will move on to their permanent assignments.   We hope it won’t be too much longer, but we’re really happy to have these missionaries with us now.  They are happy and excited to be here.  The hour of their mission is come (D&C 31:3).

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Pres and Sis Binene met with them most of the day in an orientation meeting.

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These missionaries have been attending virtual MTCs at their local stake centers.  The training is 6 hours every day online.  For some it was in a small group with a projector in a class room.  For others, they were the only student and they worked with a laptop.  These 7 missionaries met in 4 different stake centers.  The MTC experience lasts 6 weeks for the French speakers and 9 weeks for those learning English (those going to Ghana and Nigeria).

Today we saw the very first new Missionary Handbooks here in this mission.  This Elder was the only one to receive them by mail.  We are all still waiting.  Soon missionaries will have access to them in the new smartphones.

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Tonight the Elders stayed at the old AP apartment nearby.  We picked up chicken for them and sent them home with a bag of rice for dinner and some eggs for breakfast.  Sis Yapo stayed with some local Sisters.  Tomorrow they’ll meet their trainers.

COVID-19 Humanitarians at Work

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Another exciting thing was happening at the stake center today–a big delivery was made.   While we were there, a big truck pulled up from a supply company and men were unloading cases of soap, gel and napkin/tissues for drying hands into a back classroom for temporary storing.

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We met Br Priva Koffi, who is the self reliance specialist for this area, working with temporal affairs. This request originated here with brother Koffi and the Public Affairs group, and was sent to LDS Charities, who paid for the supplies.

The church is working with 2 suppliers.  Today’s brought hand washing supplies. The other is bringing masks, shields, thermometers and gloves for the health workers. These supplies will be given to the Cote d’Ivoire Ministry of Health to be distributed to health care professionals in the Abidjan area. In addition to this project, we’re trying to secure more masks for more of the country.

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It was exciting to see these things happening today at the stake center. These supplies are a wonderful good-will gesture and a kindness from the church to our local government.  Every little bit helps.

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