Yesterday we had a wonderful experience that I want to write about. Let me start with a back story of Daniel. We have known Daniel (standing next to his mother in this photo) for about 4 months now. He is a security guard at the church. When we first got to know him, Elder Phelps would always stop to say Hi and have a little conversation with him as we would pull into the church compound. After a bit of time Elder Phelps invited him to attend church.
It took some time but then he showed up one day. We asked Daniel if we could come to his home to teach him more about the Gospel. Daniel asked if it would be ok if his girlfriend Winny, who lives with him, could join us. Of course, we said that was fine. We started teaching him and Winny at the end of November. We had two good lessons with him.....one about the Restoration of the Gospel and the next about the Book of Mormon. He and Winnie said they would read the Book of Mormon. The first part of December, Winnie had to move back home (Lira) to get ready to begin school. She told him she wasn't leaving without the B of M. We were able to replace Daniel's book:)
Our next lesson was on the Plan of Salvation. During this lesson Elder Phelps asked about Daniel's reading and if he had been praying about the things we had been teaching him. He said he had. Elder Phelps asked if he could explain how he felt when he prayed. Daniel was quiet for a moment then said, "After Winny left I was feeling very lonely. I knelt down at night to pray, and I felt a good feeling in my heart. It made me know that this Church is the true Church. This path is the right one to follow." Of course, this is what we missionaries hope that all of our investigators will say:) There was a good feeling in the room and at that point Elder Phelps invited Daniel to be baptized. He said, "Yes, I would like to but it might take some time," Elder Phelps agreed and told him that we would keep teaching him the doctrines of the Gospel. He could take as much time as he needed.
We were gone for a week in December and when we got back we knew that Daniel was going back to his hometown (a village out past Lira) to visit Winny and his family for the holidays. Rick felt strongly that Daniel should learn about the Law of Chastity before he went back home. We invited Daniel to our home where I sat quietly as Elder Phelps taught about the Law of Chastity.
I was a little nervous going into the lesson because he and Winny are not married and they had been living together for quite some time before she left back to school. It is interesting how the Lord prepares people. As Elder Phelps taught about being morally clean, Daniel nodded his head. He declared, "I have been thinking about this subject for a while now and I know what you are teaching is right. I believe this is how God wants us to live." He continued, "The problem is that Winny's parents will not pay for her schooling if we are married. They have told us that we can be married after she is finished with school in two years."
Elder Phelps looked at him and said, "Daniel, I bet that if you take this pamphlet and share it with Winnie and then go to her parents and explain about being sexually pure and that you want to do what God wants, they will understand?" Daniel smiled and said, "I will try that."
Well, long story getting longer........
After coming back from the holidays Daniel mentioned that he talked with Winny and that he was hoping things would work out. He told Rick, "I think we need to be married first, then we both get baptized together." We had the Branch missionaries finish up teaching the lessons to him. He kept coming in to our FHE Nights with the Young Adults but wasn't getting to many Sunday meetings. We encouraged him to be attending every Sunday. A few weeks ago as he was on duty during the day, he was sitting under the shade of a big tree in the compound. I hollered hello to him and started walking into the church. I felt prompted to go speak to him so I made a detour over to where he was sitting. We exchanged pleasantries and had a little small talk. He told me that Winny's parents had given him the news that they would allow him to marry Winny before her schooling was over, and they would still pay for her schooling. I felt that was a miracle right there! I was late for a meeting in the church so I told him I would see him later. As I walked into the church I had a strong feeling come over me. I thought to myself, "We are leaving in two months and we NEED to have Daniel baptized before then. Married and THEN baptized."
After out meeting I walked up to Daniel outside and said, "Daniel, we've got to get you and Winny married and get you baptized before we leave to go home, and we're leaving in April" He was shocked! "In April? You are not coming back?" Why so soon?" We answered, "Well, that's how long we have been planning to stay. We want to see you baptized before we leave. How can we make that happen?" He responded, "We are planning to be married in May, but I will have to think about that and arrange." I asked if he had enough for the dowry. He answered in the affirmative. (Actually his parents pay for the dowry in his particular tribe. Between FOUR and SIX cows, TEN goats plus 500,000 shillings! That is really A LOT!)
He said at that point. "My parents want to hear about the church before I am baptized. Will you go to my village and teach them so I can get permission from them." Daniel is 24 and is of age but he wanted to have his parents' blessing. He said, "I have told them a little about the church but could you go to my village and teach them?"
To us it felt like the right thing to do. Daniel's family live 12 Kilometers (or so) past Lira on dirt roads, and Lira is three hours away. We knew that when we went it would be a full day.
Yesterday was that day.
We left home by 6:30 to pick up Daniel and our Branch Mission Leader, Benard who is a good friend to Daniel and was coming with us. On the drive Daniel mentioned that his brother was going to be there as well. Then he got a call from his sister who was upset that she had not been invited so he invited her. After hanging up the phone he mentioned that "She is a reverend in her church. She went to school for three years to study theology." I thought, to myself "Oh my! A reverend! This might turn a different direction than we were hoping." Then said a silent prayer in my heart that things would go well.
After picking up Daniel's brother, Ambrose, in Lira and a quick visit with Winny we started up the dirt road leading to Daniel's home. We picked up his Reverend sister, Teddy, and after stopping to say hello to yet another sister we finally made it to the village of Daniel's parents; about an hour drive past Lira. We were greeted warmly by his mother! (His father is a teacher and was in school so we were not able to meet him.)
We knew that we only had a couple of hours to be there before we had to get back on the road so the family ushered us all into a mud hut to find our seats. After we exchanged pleasantries and met a few other family members we began teaching. Reverend Teddy translated to their mother as the three of us taught "The Restoration".
It took a full two hours from the time we arrived to finish because of the translation. Toward the end as we each bore testimony of the truthfulness of the restoration and of the Book of Mormon there was a wonderful spirit in the room. Elder Phelps asked Daniel to tell his mom (and sister) his feelings about the Restored Gospel. Even though Daniel was speaking a different language I could feel the spirit in his tone. A visual softening occurred during this meeting. When asked by Elder Phelps to Daniel's mother ...."If you knew that Jesus Christ has restored His Gospel to the earth and has a prophet and twelve apostles directing it. How would that make you feel? Daniel's Mother answered and said, "I would be grateful if they went teaching throughout the world." I said, "And they do." The spirit was very strong at this point.
Then Benard bore a powerful testimony of how God's power was restored by the laying on of hands through the apostles Peter, James, and John. He looked directly at Teddy and said, "The power of God does not come through someone knowing the scriptures, it does not come from people going to school to learn, it comes directly from God by the laying on of hands to His Prophets and Apostles." He then bore a humble testimony that The Church of Jesus Christ is the only true church on the earth, and that it has been restored on earth, and is the only church with God's priesthood authority. He then asked Teddy how she would feel if she truly knew that was true.
Teddy had a very humble look on her face and said, "I would have to change because I have not known any better. I would want to follow Jesus Christ and know His Church."
Wow! The Spirit was strong! It was a wonderful experience.
After the lesson we were served a meal of chicken (a real skinny chicken:) boiled sweet potatoes, and mashed peas. That was very thoughtful of Colleen (Dan's Mom) to feed us:)
Daniel has eleven siblings in his family. Funny story....he told us he had eight siblings but Teddy was quick to correct him and told him there was twelve all together. He didn't remember because there are so many of them. The youngest is only four. The oldest is thirty. While Daniel's father is a polygamist (his second wife has six children) Daniel's mother bore all twelve in his immediate family.
This is lady below is one of Daniel's relatives. When she walked into the room and greeted us I heard Benard whisper something about how we should be teaching the Word of Wisdom. I smiled and thought, "Is this lady drunk?" I couldn't tell until later when as we were leaving she tripped and fell on the ground. Everyone started laughing and Rick was appalled at them laughing at this poor old woman, and helped her up. As we were driving away Teddy mentioned that this woman WAS indeed drunk and is sadly 'drunk most of the time'. She kept wanting her picture taken and making us all laugh with her antics. Anyway.....life in the deep village.
As we were leaving Rick bought out a loaf of banana bread that I had baked with the intention of giving it to Daniel's mother. (I am glad he remembered!) Since I had given her a gift she wanted to present us with one. She caught one of her chickens and gave it to us! This was a first for us! Never been gifted a chicken before! We were thrilled with her generosity. We put it in the back of the truck and hoped it would live the four hours it was going to take us to get home! And all the way wondering what in the world we were going to do with a LIVE chicken. We talked of whom we could re-gift it to and decided on our groundskeeper Fazira. Remember her? The Muslim? We called her to tell her we had a chicken for her, and she was so excited she screamed for joy and started laughing. That felt good!!
When we saw Fazida this morning she said, "My kids were SOOOOO happy when I told them you were giving us a chicken! I am going to keep it for a remembrance!" We asked her, "You are not going to cook it?" She said, "No! I am going to keep it as a remembrance." (of us) Isn't that sweet? Maybe she could breed it and make some little chicks to raise.