Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Baby on the Back

African Women Carry Their Babies On Their Back
Her name is Fatima and she is American. Born her in the United States. She lives in a house with her grandmother, her mother, 2 other aunts and a group of cousins who float in and out of the house. Her grandmother and the aunts were all born in Republic of the Congo but lived several years in a refugee camp in a country that was called "Ivory Coast" at the time they were there but is now called Cote de Voire (French for Ivory Coast). One day some immigration people came to the camp and told the grandmother, Odile, that she would be going to the U.S. the following day. They pointed to her three daughters and said they would go with her. She asked, "What about my three sons? I can't go without them." They simply told her that if she wasn't willing to leave the boys then none of them would go. The boys told her she had to go, not to worry about them, they would be all right. To this day the family sends money back to the camp to keep the boys alive. Odile is elderly and speaks almost no English. She does child care and still carries the babies on her back African style. It is really much better than doing it American style. The babies or even toddlers fall asleep, never cry, it doesn't hurt the mother's back and her arms are free to go about her work. She can bend over without fear of losing the child and the cloth never comes untied. Most of the folks we work with still practice lots of African traditions. This is one of them. The day we visited Odile's house, Odile wasn't there. Fatima's 12 year old sister was babysitting. Fatima brought the large piece of material with an African print on it to me and asked me to help her tie it like her Grandma does so she could carry her baby on her back. So cute I had to take a picture.


The Family Circle Is Now Complete -- 
On July 23rd the father of a Nigerian family that became members of the church on April 30th was baptized. It's a long story but the gist of it is that he was a pastor in a very large congregation in Nigeria. Before he could join the Church he felt he had to return home, tell his flock that he was leaving them and that he hopes they will eventually follow him. So true to his word he returned home to Lagos immediately after his family was baptized and returned several days ago. In the meantime his son was ordained a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood and given the authority to baptize his father. 
English is the national language of Nigeria but there are three tribal languages that are spoken by Nigerians, depending on which tribe they belong to. This family are from the largest tribe in the country which speaks a language called Yureba. In their home, with friends or at other times the family speaks Yureba. At the close of the service we gave Rufus a Book of Mormon in Yureba. We encouraged him to use it to teach other Nigerians. It is always more reassuring when you can read something in your own language.    

Monday, July 18, 2016

3 Baptisms

New Members of Shoal Creek Ward
We're not proselyting missionaries by any means. We are MLS missionaries which stands for Member & Leadership Support. In terms of working with refugees that means we are all over the map as far as what we do. We get them to the doctor. We help them fill out job applications when they can't read or write. We get them to immigration attorneys to work out visa or citizenship issues. We teach with the young missionaries when needed. We teach some to read, and more. We cheer them on during the conversion process and we attend their baptisms when they are ready. We have had 3 baptisms so far and will have our 4th this Saturday, July 23.
Geortund was the first. She's from the Republic of Congo
 We got a text message referral from Salt Lake on April 9th or so. It looked like a normal referral for a Book of Mormon. It just said she is a "French speaker." A minute or two later we got a second text that said, "She would like to be baptized on April 23rd." So we scrambled to get her a French copy of the Book of Mormon and get her hooked up with Elders Herriott and Christman and our go to French translator Jim Law who is a Ph.D. student in French Linguistics at University of Texas. Geortund was one of those "golden contacts" that missionaries dream about. She was already converted from on line conversations she had with online missionaries in Salt Lake. We helped teach her a few times and she was baptized in French by Brother Law.
The Audetuyi Family from Nigeria were next!  
 Bishop Anderson was smiling as the Audetuyi (Ah-dee-too-ee) family was baptized after attending every meeting and activity since October. I baptized the mother, Veronica. Elders Herriott and Christman baptized Jennifer, Joseph and Daniel. The father, Rufus, will be baptized this Saturday, July 23rd by his son Joseph who is a 17 year old Priest. We see great potential from this family as leaders where ever they go.
Kiki Auguste, a 17 year old young man from Haiti
Kiki (Kee-kee) came to Austin with his mother Natasha about 6 months ago. Natasha joined the Church in Haiti several years ago and came to live with her mother Marie Alexis. Neither Natasha or Kiki speak English. Being from Haiti they speak French Creole. We have French translation in our meetings for those who speak only French. Kiki is learning English at school and he does speak some but it's summer now progress right now. He was baptized in French by Brother Law.