Sister Philomon with her orphans
New school walls with a place for a blackboard
Enjoying the new beds
Down the dusty, under-construction, traffic-and-people clogged Lumumba Boulevard is a section of Kinshasa called Kimbanseke. Just beyond the Kimbanseke Stake Centre, at the end of a little residential street, is Sister Philomon's orphanage.
Sister Philomon is a remarkable woman. She is a member of the church and serves as the Stake Primary President in Kimbanseke Stake in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. She is a widow who is giving remarkable service to her community. Thirteen years ago she began taking in children who had no place to live and nobody to take care of them. She is not paid for this work and gets by on very little, but has made a home for these children and fills it with love, education and encouragement. There are between 15 -25 children who live there.
Johnathan, an orphan who is the teacher's quorum president in his ward, helped other brethren, including a returned missionary who had served in the area, make double bunk beds for the children. They lovingly give to those in need.
To educate her orphans, Sister Philomon has started a school. It is in what's left of a building after the roof caved in a few months back. A construction brother went and evaluated what walls were good enough to save and the rest were torn down. With financial help from people who know her, there should be an improvement in the school. She has opened her school to the neighbourhood. Now she has 300 children enrolled in school. They would otherwise not be able to go to school at all because of their extreme poverty.
Among the children in the orphanage there is one special young man named Arnold. He is almost completely blind. He rides the public transport each day to a school for the blind. He has lived at the orphanage since birth and moves around the area in such a way that you would hardly know that he has almost no vision. Sister Philomon takes him to the chapel to listen to a recording of the Book of Mormon as they have no electricity where they live.
Sister Philomon also teaches women in the area to sew on a hand sewing machine. This gives them a way to make a living as they sew clothes, which are made without patterns and with just a few measurements.
This sister has taken to heart the Saviour's injunction to love others and to serve our fellowmen. She has blessed the lives of many people in her city, as she helps with love and compassion. Like Christ, she too says, 'Suffer little children... to come unto me...' (Matt 19:14).
Excerpted by Collette Burgoyne from the mission blog of Brent and Lorraine Jameson