Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Sironko, Sipi Falls, and Lira

The power has been out at our place since yesterday at 2PM.  We didn't get home until 7:00 last night and we had been so excited to get home, cook dinner and send out some e-mails.  Well,  like I said the power was out and we ended up making dinner in the dark.  Not so easy in an already somewhat primitive kitchen.  Luckily we have a gas stove.  With the two of us together we had dinner on the table in less than an hour.  (fried potatoes, breakfast burritos using chapatis, and juice.  It turned out yummy and filling!  It's hard for me to get used to eating so late.  At home I would usually have dinner on the table between 5 and 6 so this eating later here in Uganda is new to us.  

The power was off all through the night.  We ended up going to bed at 9 because there's just not much to do if the power/internet is out.  We stepped outside to check out the stars.  We could see the Milky Way but I could NOT recognize a single constellation.  Couldn't even find the North Star.  I know we are at a different latitude then home so I would love to find out about these constellations nearer to the equator. 

Anyway, we opened the windows (they have screens on them to keep out the mosquitoes but they are not sealed) to let in some cool air because our home is VERY hot if the fans aren't working to circulate the air. (especially when we are cooking)  I really don't like being hot but it hasn't been too bad here in Mbale.  They say the hot time of the year is in January and February so we'll see how that goes.  We read a little than headed for bed.  This was the first time we used our mosquito netting over our bed.  I haven't been too concerned up to this point because we've never opened the windows at night.  (Nighttime is when the Malaria carrying mosquitoes come out).  I woke up in the middle of the night and I have to tell you that it is sooo dark here.  I couldn't even see my hand two inches from my face.  Luckily, I had a flashlight right by my pillow so I could find the restroom:) 
Life sure is different here!  

Today we are on the road and won't be back until Friday night.   The power was still not on when we left.  We ended up giving two packages of chicken and a package of pork chops from the freezer along with a few items from our fridge to Frazida, our groundskeeper, because we have been told that sometimes it can be DAYS before the power gets restored!  I don't want my house to reek of spoiled meat when we return on Friday.  We were even told that sometimes the water gets shut off for a week at a time!  What!?!  Not sure how I'm gonna handle that one!

Sunday was a great day!  We had four of our less active that we had visited during the week come to church!!  YAY!  An added bonus with the three investigators that came as well.  It had been a wonderful week of visiting many people and inviting them to come back and it was so great to see some of them respond positively to that invitation.  Elder Phelps and I also helped with some Branch Presidency Training.  The Presidency feels like they need extra help in learning how to do things effectively in the Brach.  We hope that we can help them feel confident in their responsibilities by the time we leave Mbale. 

After church we stopped at home for just a few minutes for a quick sandwich.  Our next assignment was to drive out to Sironko (about an hour away) for Elder Phelps to interview five people for baptism.  There are no zone or district leaders in our area because all of the young elders have been moved to Kampala so President Collings has asked Rick if he would do the interviews.  The Sironko group has about 30 members of the church that meet together each week to sing hymns and teach gospel lessons.  It is too far for members of the group to come to the Branch each week so they just meet there in Sironko.  Of course, they do not have a Sacrament service because they do not have the Priesthood Keys to do so.  That's why they are encouraged to come in to Mbale once a month to partake of the Sacrament.

Well, we were drove out to Sironko to have Rick interview these prospective members.  We got there around 3:30 and walked into their rented 10 x11 room and it was FULL of people.  About 15 of the members had stayed after their own meeting that began at 10:00 and then waited for FOUR hours in the heat of the day for us to get there and have a special meeting with them.  I looked up on the board and saw this:

WE were the featured speakers (or preachers as the case may be)!  It was humbling to know that this group had waited so long for us.  They are people hungering for leaders/missionaries to give them direction.  It means so much to me to see the faith of such humble people.  There were a number of children in the group so as I spoke to them I asked them to identify which children belonged to which parents?  I felt impressed to speak of the blessing of the temple and how if these people are patient and faithful that they can reach the magnificent goal of having their families sealed to them.  I felt the spirit strongly as I spoke to them.  There is a lot of work to be done here in Uganda but I believe in just a few years there will be many more branches, wards and stakes with the way that the church is growing here.  A temple is definitely in their reach.  There were a number of nonmembers listening in as well and one of them wanted us to visit his wife who stayed back at home.  I love it when I can go in and share a favorite scripture and bear testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel.  Before visiting his family we stopped and another investigators home to give the elderly father a blessing.  We were received very warmly.  (We always are:)

The second home we visited was  the investigator Charles and his wife ? and daughter, Ruth.  We had a wonderful visit and gave a spiritual message.   I think Charles was hoping for his wife to have a good experience with the missionaries.  She was very gracious.  Here's a picture of the family.  The third on from the left in named Innocent and he is the one who got this group formed in Sironko.  The one on the right is named Benard and he is another one that is getting baptized.

Rick managed to get the truck stuck in the ditch next to the road.  After a few tries and some ingenuity (a bunch of African men pushing us) we got it out and were on our way.  This picture is AFTER the fact. 

Lastly, Benard really wanted for us to meet his parents so even though it was getting late, we drove out and had a spiritual thought with his mom and dad. They are not members of the church but hopefully they felt the Spirit. His grandmother is also in the picture.  The drive home was crazy!!  We went a different way than when we had come in and the road was FULL of speed bumps.  Probably somewhere close to two hundred!  There are speed bumps all over in Uganda, especially in the big towns.  They do not let you travel fast at all!

Monday morning came and it was our Pday!  We planned a trip to Sipi Falls with some great RM's in the Branch.  Except for one....he is planning to serve a mission!  Here we are with Isaac (He's has bright blue eyes.  Strangest thing....), Alan, me, Baraka and Rick.  We hired a guide, Moses,  to take us across the mountain. It was a good thing because he held my hand on the rough parts.  It was REALLY steep going down to the falls and REALLY steep coming back up.  It was a three hour hike and it about killed me!!  Seriously!  My foot stepped off the precipice twice but Moses held tight and I'm grateful I had a walking stick.  That really was handy to have along.  The going was rough but everyone was patient with me.  I probably shouldn't tell you this but I almost started crying...... twice.....really,  I felt like it cause it was so hard.... but I held it in......and I made it to the end.  I don't want to do that again anytime soon!  The falls were spectacular and the boys had so much fun.  It was worth the difficulty!

Me with the tall falls (around 100 meters) behind me.
How do you like my safari hat?

Elder Phelps and I......  I remind myself of my mother in this picture.

Having fun by the middle falls (80 meters)

A man let us hold his chameleon!  Rick was loving it.  
We put him on my orange church to let us see what happens.
He didn't change color:(

On Tuesday, we drove up to Lira to do another two baptismal interviews.  It is three hours to get to Lira from Mbale, with good roads I might add.  We were actually able to drive at highway speeds and there was hardly any traffic.  The last hour was a little slower though because of the ever present speed bumps.  We made it to the Lira Branch building and met President Oyet.  He is a wonderful man and has been the Branch President for EIGHT years.  I enjoyed visiting with him as Rick gave one baptismal interview.  

He stayed with us as we went to visit the Adyel Branch on the other side of the town.  There we met with President Ojok.  We visited with him for about a half an hour trying to give him encouragement.  He has only been a member for two years and needs confidence and direction.  He is an older, humble gentleman with a good spirit about him but he does have a bit of difficulty in trying to lead the branch.  Everything is so new to many of the leaders here in Uganda.  The need for a senior couple to help this new Branch President is great!  Uganda needs more senior couples!

Our baptismal candidate never showed so we went to her house to try to round her up.  The person who has been teaching her said that she might have gotten too nervous for the interview and "skipped town" so to speak.  It is very intimidating for some to be interviewed, by a Mzungu no less, and so sometimes they are a no show:(  We never did find her.  Hopefully, next time!

President Oyet asked if we could go to his home to meet his wife, Sarah.  I had the feeling that she was going to try and feed us...(we have never eaten in any of the homes.....and have been glad of that.  There is no way to know how the food is prepared, if  it is a clean environment, and I have already shown you a picture of the butcher shop in my last post.)  Well, I mentioned to Rick that we might try to get fed and we really did not want to offend President Oyet so we just decided to eat if it was offered.  It was and we did.  Actually, the food was delicious  (rice and chicken in a sauce) and since we hadn't eaten for quite some time we were happy to receive it.  Sarah owns her own restaurant and is a great cook!  I asked her if she butchers and cleans her own chicken.  She does! 
 Strong women here in Uganda.

On our way home we stopped to buy a couple of oranges for President Owidi,  since this is where he was raised, and says they are the sweetest oranges.  We were BOMBARDED by all of these people wanting us to buy THEIR oranges.  We bought three buckets full for about $1.50!  We also purchased two HUGE avocados in Lira for about 30 cents each.  Produce is so inexpensive here in Uganda!

We got home that night to the power being off and now we are in Jinja heading to Kampala today to run errands!

1 comment:

  1. What interesting experiences you are having! The power being off would scare me to pieces!! That trek you took to see the waterfalls sounds terrifying--and if it were ME, I bet I would've cried right out loud!! I can't stand Speed Bumps, so it'd be pretty awful to have THAT many~~~! It sounds like you two are very much "in favor" there among the people, and that makes me feel more relieved for your safety.
    I don't know if I already mentioned this, but Melissa's parents are serving a mission right now in Uruguay, and they have been trying to "fellowship" and bring back into activity the Branch President there! (...sometimes it's hard for members to stay active, I guess...even the leaders!)
    I sure am proud of you for your great attitude, Janell, and I sincerely hope your power comes back on soon, and hope that you don't have to do without WATER!! Our prayers are with you!! Love, Karen