Friday, December 2, 2016

Light the World

On Monday we had a wonderful Zone Conference in Jinja with Elder and Sister Hamilton of the Seventy and President and Sister Collings.  
We learned of the Principle of Faith and how it can help us in our missionary work.  We learned of making our time worthwhile as we serve.  We learned of preparing the world for the millennium.  Elder Hamilton talked of the statistics of the growth here in Eastern Africa and likened it to Brazil and how when the Gospel was taken there that the work just exploded.  That is how Eastern Africa is today.  The growth of the church here is amazing and temples are coming!  That is a great blessing to the people here.  Elder Hamilton also taught from the Doctrine and Covenants four points of being a good missionary.  Open Your Mouth, ( 30:11) Preach by the Way, (52:25)  Not so Fast, (61:3) and It Mattereth Not (80:3)

The luncheon went well and we even had enough for most of the Elders to have an extra sandwich.  

I didn't get any pictures of the group but here is one with two companionships of sisters and Sister Hamilton and Sister Collings.

After the conference we drove into Kampala.  Whenever I get close to Kampala I start getting claustrophobic.  And I'm not a claustrophobic person.  The traffic and people are just crazy.  We found our hotel without too much trouble but it did take a while to get through the road work.  While we were in Kampala we got some grocery shopping done (that's where I buy my meat ) and got to stop at the Distribution Center for some needed items.  I bought a nativity picture and some flowers for my Christmas Decor.  Not sure if we are going to have a tree this year but I am completely happy with this!!

I began teaching a young man piano lessons this week.  This is a silly picture of him because he was goofing around but his a great kid.  His name is Maqne.  His real name is Johnny ( Jonnay') but for some reason he wants me to call him Maqne.  It is pronounced Ma (then click your tongue) and then end with ay.  Mcknay.  It is not easy to say and I think that's why he likes for us Mzungus to call him that.  Just to make it difficult.  While Elder Phelps calls him by his given name I always call him by his "pretend" name:)  He comes by early in the mornings to use the keyboard for practice.  He really wants to learn to play so he can be a piano playing missionary:)

Last but not least is the "Light the World" initiative that the Church is doing for the month of December.  The video is really wonderful and it has been amazing going into the people's homes and sharing our testimonies of the Savior in conjunction with the video.  It brings a wonderful Spirit.  I love watching the people's faces as they watch the video.  Like I said.....Amazing!!

Yesterday began the first day of service and the theme was 

Jesus lifted Others' Burdens and So Can You.  

I knew exactly what I wanted to do for service and that was to help a woman carry her water from the borehole.  Would you believe that I did not see one woman on the road carrying water!  We see them all the time!!!  But for some reason not this day!  Anyway, we did see a lady carrying a load of cassava on her head walking to the mill.  We pulled over and invited her and her son to hop in the truck and then we drove them about 2 KM to get to the mill.  As we were driving I was thinking, "Man, I'm glad that we helped her because she had a LONG way to walk."  Along with that little act of service we had been at the orphanage before this and helped them sweep their dirt in preparation for the school graduation which took place today.  We used small little brooms that are about two feet tall.  It required a lot of bending over.  Seriously,  these African women have a hard time of it.  They are such hard workers!

So today's service theme is:

                          Jesus Honored His Parents and So Can You

I wanted to face time with my mom and dad tonight but could not make it work.  We'll have to wait until Monday!  So to Honor my parents I am going to list three things here on my blog that I love about them!

This is for you mom and dad!!!

My dad is wonderful!
1. He is such a giving person.  He will help anyone anytime.
2.  He works so hard.  He learned as a child (working on a farm) how to be a hard worker.  He has always provided well for our family.  Even now at age 77 he stays super busy.  Go dad!!!
3.  He loves my mom!  There was never any doubt in my mind that he loved my mother.  I loved when they would smooch in the kitchen with me looking on:)

My mom is great too!!!
1.  She is a wonderful friend to me and I know that if ANYTHING is wrong in my life she will listen and not judge.
2.  She gives great council as I need advice in helping my kids.  She's seen a lot in raising her own family and so her council means a lot to me.
3.  She appreciates my talents and always makes me feel special.  My sisters are all really wonderful people and have amazing talents but I have never felt inferior because my mom appreciates what I can do.

Thanks mom and dad for being such amazing parents.  Talk to you on Monday!!!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

A Beautiful Day

Today was our second baptism!
We have been working with Daisy, Sam, and Dan for a few weeks now and they are all outstanding people!  

Daisy is 12 years old and her mother Judith and sister Cyndi were baptized in August when Daisy was away at boarding school.  We have been so delighted to teach this bright young girl!  She was always prepared at each visit and understood all that we were teaching.  If we asked her a question she ALWAYS knew the answer.  She always did her homework and was prepared for each lesson.

Daisy also bore a special testimony after her baptism.  She spoke of feeling clean and that all of her sins were washed away.  She said, "I feel like I have been born again, just like I came out of my mother's womb.  I wish all those who are not baptized could be."  At the end she broke down and quickly finished her testimony.  It was really sweet.

Here is Aaron, (a member from the branch that is close with the family) and Daisy before the baptism began.

Sam is 14 years and has been coming to the church for many months now.   One day as we were teaching an investigator at the church, Francis brought in Sam, who we had seen around, but did not know he was not a member.  He was quiet at that first discussion but as we continued to teach him he opened right up and we have discovered that he is a very intelligent boy.  He has a good friend, Emma (Emmanuel) who is a member of the branch and so he has been coming to the activities and to church. with Emma.  He was not at church last Sunday and then he was not at our YSA activity on Monday because he was sick.  

On Wednesday we had a 'program 'set with Sam to have his Baptismal interview but he didn't show.  Last week we made a visit to the Central Market to meet Sam's mom and to get permission for him to be baptized.  He was so excited about her saying yes, so we couldn't understand why he would not show up for his appointment.  We started teaching a lesson with an investigator there at the church and Emma poked his head in the room so I went to talk with him.  He said Sam was sick with Malaria.  (I have come to realize that when someone gets sick "Malaria" is the go to word for just about everyone. )  We left our investigator in the capable hands of Francis and another YM and we went in search of Sam to give him a blessing.  Long story short, we couldn't find him.  Emma had heard that he was starting to get better so we let it go at that.  The next day at the church Sam came strolling up just like nothing was out of the ordinary.  
Elder Phelps jumped at the opportunity to interview him.  

After the baptism today Sam bore a powerful testimony.  He talked of when he first started coming to the brach he felt like a stranger.  Then he said, "But after today I am a stranger no more." He spoke of knowing that Jesus Christ is the Redeemer and bore testimony of the prophets Joseph Smith and of President Monson.  It was powerful!

Lastly is Dan.  He is 22 and has already done so much in his life.  He is a Tailor and also is the head teacher at the orphanage that I posted about last week.  Dan is an amazing man!  He has been learning a lot and has been 'supa' excited for his baptism.  He was introduced to the Gospel by Nelson who is a member of our Branch.  They are both Tailors by trade and work close to each other at the Central Market.  Dan has been a joy to teach and is always so gracious.  He is excited to be a missionary to the people out in Budaka (where the orphanage is) and has already introduced us to a prime investigator named Sam.  We have set a date with Sam for December 24th!

Dan also bore a great testimony and was most thankful for all of those people who helped him get to this point in his life!  He was baptized by his dear friend Nelson.

The group

It's been a wonderful full day!  We head out to Busia tomorrow where we are planning an especially long day.  First is PEC, then we speak in Sacrament Meeting, then there's a baptism, then we have branch council to help the EQ figure out their home teaching, (apparently with everyone else learning from the experience?) then we drive to Jinja for the night.  The next morning is Zone Coference with Elder Hamilton the Area President presiding.  Then we feed everyone in the group (around 60) lunch.  Then we head to Kampala for the night.   On Tuesday we are going to get a few things we need and then make the long trip back to Mbale.  When we get back our week is pretty full with teaching assignments, with another baptism scheduled for next Saturday. 

They don't call it missionary WORK for nothin'!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Our Thanksgiving celebration a little early

Monday started out kind of rough for me.  What I needed was some good quality time with my companion and to NOT talk about missionary stuff for a couple of hours.  After getting showered and dressed in jeans (NOT a skirt:) for the day, we stopped at the Cafe Arabica for a nice breakfast.  One of our YSA girls is a waitress there and we thought we would try it out.  

I knew right where I wanted to spend our Pday and it was up this mountain that is close to our home. From our road I can see a waterfall and for 5 weeks now I have been wanting to get as close to this waterfall as possible.  Today was our day and it was most delightful!  Just up from our house is the Mooni (pronounced Moaney) area. We turned up the dirt road to Mooni and started driving up the mountain.  We passed by the village and stopped to take pictures and to give out candy to the little ones.  It was such a picturesque drive and the little villages we passed through were really wonderful.  

Here you can see the waterfall in the distance. 
(Actually in our drive we discovered 4 different waterfalls!)
This one is the largest.  We were able to get very close from the road.

Just below the waterfall was this river.  These women were out doing their laundry in it.  The majority of the women here in Mbale (and throughout Uganda for that matter) wash their clothes in a bucket of suds with water that they generally have to carry from a borehole.  It looks so hard to bend over like this washing clothes.  This Thanksgiving day I am thankful for a washer and dryer (and all of my modern day appliances) that make my life easier!

These pictures do not do this mountain justice.  It is covered with lush vegetation from banana and matoke trees to waterfalls, cliffs, and quaint villages.  Truly amazing and it provided much healing for my soul!  At one point we passed a school with children walking home.  When they saw our truck coming they started racing us.  It made me laugh as I rolled my window down and encouraged them to beat our Toyota up the incline.  I posted a video on IG if you want to see it:)

We got back into Mbale around 3:00 and stopped at BAM (our supermarket) to pick up some supplies for our Thanksgiving Activity with the YSA group.  I prepared sloppy joes and bbq beef sandwiches along with chips and pineapple.  We usually have around 15-18 people for our FHE activities but  this night we had over TWENTY FIVE!!  They were so happy to meet together and my heart was so happy as I saw them laughing and talking and just having a good time.  These kids have become like family to us and we truly enjoy being with them.  They love each other so much and it is wonderful for them to have a strong peer group to belong to.

After dinner we sat around and talked about the things we are grateful for.  It was a tender experience listening to our dear friends.  Thanksgiving is an American tradition but it was great to share this special time with them counting our blessings!  Oh, did I mention that I made a two layer cake!  It was a homemade (no boxed cake mixes here) white cake with a delicious almond frosting that I colored what???   Orange, of course!!  It turned out 'SUPA 'YUMMY!  I didn't know if one cake would feed everyone so thankfully Elder Phelps make up some uncooked oatmeal cookies  (He is getting pretty good at that!) to make our dessert go farther!  We came home completely empty handed.! Whatever we take to the activities is always eaten right up!

We also had a couple of kids join us.... they must have heard we were bringing food.
We BARELY had enough to feed everyone.

                                                               The children and Isaac.

                            Mike, Solomon, Joshua, Gerald, (children i don't know) and Mqne

Daniel (in orange) is one of our AMAZING investigators!  He LOVES the Book of Mormon and has an amazing story of finding the church.  Someday I might tell it here on the blog.  He is loving being taught about the church and is preparing to be baptized on the 3rd of December.

                                                              The group being silly!

Sarah and I

Solomon wanted a couple of pictures taken.  He is 17 and is our branch pianist.  I have shared some of my music books for him to practice with.  He is hoping to improve in his skills.  The branch is lucky to have him.  He is hoping to serve a mission some day:)  He will be a great one!

A picture with Michael, me, Solomon, and our beloved Francis!!

         Not sure who the ones on my right are but the lady on my left is Mercy.  (Pronounced Massi)

    It was a wonderful way to spend a day of Thanksgiving with good friends from our branch family!

Today is November 24th so we are officially beginning our Thanksgiving Day here in Mbale.
We have a full day of teaching planned but we are also hoping to go out to have dinner tonight for our Thanksgiving Celebration!  I'm sure turkey will not be on the menu but we will find something yummy!

                                                     Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!!

              Eat up some Thanksgiving foods for Elder and Sister Phelps!  Especially the pies!!

             And of course, recognize the blessing it is to be with family this Thanksgiving Day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Our First Baptism

Saturday we had our first baptism since Elder Phelps and I have been in Mbale.  We have been teaching and fellowshipping Betty and Teddy who are cousins.  We have worked along a couple of the branch missionaries that have been teaching them for a while.  The full time missionaries started with them a few months ago and then got moved out of Mbale.  That left the Branch missionaries and  us to help them get the rest of the way.  

It has been wonderful to see the changes come over them.  Especially Betty.  The first time I met her she seemed distant and kept questioning why she needed to be baptized when she had already been baptized. (In another church)  We explained to her the process of having the right authority to have God recognize her baptism.  She was very aloof but as we asked her to pray and listen for the Holy Spirit to guide her she agreed that she would.  (she was not very happy about it though)  

When we met with her the following week I could not believe the change that had come over her.  She was all smiles and when asked about how she felt about being baptized she said she would.  Her countenance had completely changed and I knew right then and there that she had done her "homework" and that the Holy Ghost rewarded her with a confirmation of what was right.

What a joy it has been to see her transformation. (not so much from Teddy because I believe she was prepared from the day we met her)  Now, it is like we are the best of friends.  They are so happy to see us when we stop by:)  Bettty told E. Phelps that when her and Teddy used to see the missionaries coming they would run and hide:-0

This is us by Betty's shop.  
She sells trinkets and does plaiting, an African weaving of long hair or braids into very short hair.

Here is a view of the baptismal font just outside the window of the RS room.

                                                             The girls are ready!

Here they are with Isaac, a Branch Missionary who helped to teach them.

The other person being baptized was Benard.  He is a member of the Sironko group.  Just before the  baptism started he completely disappeared.  We had no idea where he had gone.  Just after the second talk was given the Branch Mission leader came in to get some baptismal clothes out of the closet (that happened to be right behind the pulpit).  I figured Benard had shown up.  Yup,  the person that was going to baptize him was not dressed in white at this point so Elder Phelps baptized him as well.

After the baptism we heard testimonies from the three.  Teddy talked of how she felt so clean when she came out of the water.  Betty said that she felt the spirit and was so glad to finally be baptized.  Bernard said that he felt the spirit and was happy to be a member of the church.  I cried hearing their testimonies knowing how far they had come.  The Gospel is so wonderful!  It  literally changes lives!