Friday, September 21, 2012

Inlinge Branch

     Yesterday we went to Inlinge with brother Gary Human to present a PEF Fireside to members of the Inlinge branch. After a three hour drive into the rural inner-country, passing miles of rolling hills and barren landscape, we turned onto a dirt road and traveling fifteen minutes arrived at our destination.

      I would describe Inlinge as an outpost on the western frontier. Having seen western movies you get the picture, except there is no hitching post, store, saloon or barn, just an isolated bowl embedded between surrounding hills. Upon the hillsides north, south, east and west are scattered houses comprising four villages. A few dwellings exist in the central flat land.

      We pulled up to a fenced property with a padlocked gate in which were located five portables, the kind you see behind a school that has insufficient classrooms. “Where’s the chapel?” Sister S. asked.. “This is it.” replied Brother Human. “We’ll wait here until the institute teacher arrives with the key.” I looked to the right of the property and observed seven men constructing a road with spade, pick and sledge hammer. A truckload of rocks and large boulders had been dumped nearby and the men were hand carrying them to the road and spreading them out. The sledgehammer was used to break the larger rocks into smaller pieces, the pick to form craters to implant the boulders, and the spade to even out the dirt and rocks. A very tedious way to construct a road but perhaps typical for isolated villages off the beaten path.

      The institute teacher arrived and after greeting and handshakes, she unlocked the gate and we drove in. The chapel in one of the portables was quite nice. Brother Human commented the branch membership was large enough to warrant ward status. We were expecting around 25 people to show up so I set up my power point presentation. When no one had shown by 3:30 p.m., the appointed hour to begin, I wandered outside exploring the compound.

      We commenced the presentation with two in the audience. By the time we finished there were twenty-four. Time is not of the essence in Africa and as long as you show up before “The End” flashes on the movie screen, you’re ok. It was good to see an audience interested in education and employment, and to answer their questions. We enjoyed our time with them.

      A drawback facing the people of Inlinge is the lack of post high school, educational institutions. Another, there are no sources of employment. It’s sort of a dead end unless the young adults leave and seek greener pastures elsewhere. Ilinge survives on government dole. And so the people tend their goats and sheep, cultivate a garden, and live the only life they know.

      Just as the wind blows across the prairie and spreads dust through a western frontier town, so did a breeze fan the dust bowl of Ilinge as we bade farewell to the branch members and headed down the dirt road. At least there is hope for a few through the Perpetual Education Fund of the Church.  Just how many will take advantage in Ilinge, remains to be seen.    Elder Stokoe

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