Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Good Weekend

On Friday we attended the Home of Good Hope Orphanage School graduation and were deemed the guests of honor.  We really enjoyed ourselves!  There were many in the community who were there.  Lots of mothers,  and guardians of these children.   I think I wrote before about the problem of Polygamy and the parents dying young.  This is the same group.  The community helps to provide for the needs of the children.  

The head teacher of the school was baptized just last week and is a wonderful man.  We were invited to be on the graduation program and we decided to teach the people about the Proclamation to the World on the Family.  The women of the group were very attentive as Rick and I both took turns teaching while Francis was translating.  We spoke very simply so the people could understand.  They did.  At one point they liked what they heard so much that they started clapping and then one woman started trilling!  So....I will try to explain trilling.  In Lugwera, the local tribal language, it is called Mizira.  Mizira is kind of a shriek with the trilling of the tongue.  The women do it when they are happy!  Anyway, suffice it to say, they liked the message of the Proclamation.  

The children came out and performed a couple of songs for us and then the "graduates"  then performed and then got in a line to receive their certificates.  They were really cute.  They shook all of the "dignitaries" hands.  They were just young children and they are now ready to begin Primary 1.  They ranged in age from 5-7.

A little later during lunch......(yup, we ate again. Haven't gotten sick yet...knock on wood!)  the women of the group got up and started doing an African dance for us.  It was really cute.  They loved entertaining for us!  During the dance a little Mizira was involved.  I posted it on IG if you want to see it.  I wish I could post videos on this forum because we have a lot of fun ones but I can't get it to  work so the videos go on Instagram.

Graduates of Home of Good Hope School and Orphanage

On Saturday President and Sister Collings came to Mbale for some church business.  They made it in time for our scheduled baptism.  Daniel and Geoffrey were baptized and then today (Sunday) received the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  These are two excellent men.  We have really enjoyed teaching them.  I will share a portion of a letter to Kendra from Rick telling their stories.

"We had an experience today I wanted to tell you about. There are two young men we are teaching. Geoffrey (24) is one of the security guards at our housing complex and he has been to church three Sundays now. I gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon about three weeks ago and explained it to him, then invited him to church. He went by himself two weeks ago, then we brought him last week and this week. 

The other young man is named Daniel (22). He just showed up at church on his own two weeks ago, November 6, came yesterday and again today on his own. We taught him the first discussion on Tuesday of this week.  We decided to teach them both together today after church at our home. We taught them the lesson on the gospel which includes faith in Jesus Christ, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. Our good friend Francis came and did most of the teaching. At the end Francis bore a beautiful testimony and told of his experience when he was baptized and the challenges he faced just after being baptized. His family kicked him out of the house on Christmas Day because they felt he had joined a cult, and his neighbors made fun of him and shunned him.  

When Francis finished, Geofrey said, in essence, "I want to tell you my experience". He then told that sometime back he lived in Kampala and found the church there and started attending. The missionaries taught him and he was about to be baptized when he got a job change taking him away. In his new town he found the church again and the missionaries began teaching him again. They prepared him for baptism, but just before he could be baptized he got a job transfer again that brought him here to Mbale. Sometime passed again and we arrived.  He just happened to be our guard here at our house :-).  He said, "Then elder Phelps gave me a copy of the Book of Mormon and explained it. Before, I had not taken seriously what I had read."  It sounded like he had not really been committed before even though baptism was planned. He explained that now he feels the spirit when he reads and feels that the Book of Mormon is true. He laughed as he surprised us with the fact that he has a sister and two brothers who are already members of the church. He feels this is God's true church and is so looking forward to being baptized on December 3.  He believes that the Lord guided him so that he could be placed as a guard right here at our house and thereby have the opportunity to be baptized.

When he finished, Daniel said, "I want to tell you my testimony."  He then told us how starting May of last year he began college classes. His mother is Anglican and his father is Catholic. He has been going to different churches trying to find the right one but has been confused. He stopped going to church for a while then while reading the Bible not long ago, he felt so good that he wanted to go out and 'preach' to someone. He went to the Church of Uganda and 'preached' to someone there. He said it felt somewhat good to do that :-).  In his travels he would walk past our church from time to time. He noticed the name of our church and would stop and just stare at the sign. He liked the word 'Saints' in the name because that made him think we must be dedicated disciples.  He felt he wanted to come find out more about the church. One day during the week he stopped at the gate wanting to come in, but could not find the courage to do it. He knew that he must come on a Sunday so he decided to come the very next Sunday, November 6.  Not knowing what time the meetings began, and not wanting to miss them, he showed up at 7:30 AM. Finally at about 8:30 a member, brother Gerald, showed up to open the building. He asked and found that the meetings begin at 10 o'clock so he waited. 

In Sacrament meeting much was said about the book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. All of this seemed so strange to him and he felt uneasy. Afterward he was standing alone and was about to leave and apparently not come back when Francis saw him and came up to him.  (we were at the Busia Branch that day). Francis gave him a copy of the restoration pamphlet and briefly explained it. Daniel asked about the Book of Mormon and Francis said "we can get one of those to you later and explain it to you." Daniel said "No, I think I need one now so that I can learn about it."  Francis got him one and Daniel took it home and started reading. He started with the introduction then read Nephi's words. He described to us Nephi's experience in being tied up on the ship by his brothers and how the ship was driven back until his brothers repented and untied Nephi.  When we had our first discussion with him earlier, I had asked him to read The Savior's words in 3rd Nephi.  Today he explained that he had read those words and compared the Savior's teachings with His teachings in Matthew. He was very impressed to find them the same, word for word. He has felt the spirit and he understands that it is the spirit that he is feeling. He knows the book of Mormon is true already, and he is excited to be baptized on December 3 with Geoffrey. 

The Lord is preparing people for the gospel wherever we are. All around us there are people whom the Lord loves and is leading and guiding. Sometimes all we need to do is open our mouths and invite. It is such a blessing to be involved so closely in the Lord's work. He loves all of his children and knows each one of them. It never ceases to amaze me how involved the Lord is in the lives of each of us, His children."

Aren't these stories powerful!  We are finding that the people here have amazing conversion stories.  Most of the people in our Branch have only been members for a few short years.  Some even less than that!  Their testimonies are young but strong.  They need help in just the simple things that we have seen all of our lives, like how to conduct a RS meeting or how to be a good Home/Visiting teacher or sing the melody to the hymns.  They and we are learning a lot here in Mbale.  Elder Phelps and I have set goals that we want to see happen in this branch by the time we leave in April.  We are working hard to strengthen the members so that they can have confidence in themselves and running the branch when there are no longer missionaries in their midst.

 Rick, me, Geoffrey, Daniel, President and Sister Collings
After the baptism we had a quick lunch with the Collings and Elders Hart and Hawk from Busia (who came to consult with Sister Collings about a medical issue).  While President C and Elder P did some interviewing for the afternoon Sister C and I went on a drive up Wanale Mountain.  It is beautiful up there.  We did not go far but it was a pretty drive.  We stopped at a Saloon (That is not a spelling error.  Instead of a salon they call it a saloon) to get our toes painted and they just did one of us at a time.  I went first because I happened to be sitting in the right chair.   By the time they got to her it was too late and we had to get back to the church.   I felt so bad but she was gracious about it.  We did have a nice time together chatting and planning for future events.  
Next time though, Tracy, the toe painting is on me:)

After the interviews the four of us were able to visit a mother of one of our returned missionaries.  She has been less active for over a year.  As we sat and visited with her (President Collings did the talking) we found out that she had been offended by a church leader a while ago and decided that when her son came back from his mission that she would stop coming to church.  And she did.  President Collings was able to bear testimony of the importance of forgiving others because none of us are perfect and that it takes effort for ALL of us to learn to act as the Savior.  He then promised her great blessings in her life if she made the effort to come back to church and be faithful.  She thought about it and then said, "I will come."  She came to church today and seemed very happy!  We greeted her with much affection and she stayed for the whole block and then for an extra 45 minutes to join us for choir practice.  It's amazing what a little visit and an invitation can do:)

So last but not least it is time to report on our Light the World service.

Day 3
Jesus Helped Others to See and So can You
I am counting this visit with President and Sister Collings as our "seeing" service.  We made a visit and this sister was able to "see" the importance of returning to church.  If she continues faithful (and I believe she will) her life will forever be changed!

Day 4
Jesus Worshipped His Father and So Can You
Today we had wonderful church services!  Michael, one of our investigators rode his bike 12 kilometers to get to church today.  We had the privilege of teaching him the second discussion, The Plan of Salvation, after the block.  We are preparing him for him to be baptized on December 24th.

Loving life in Mbale!!

1 comment:

  1. What a BEAUTIFUL post, Janell!! All that you put in this writing is really precious, and made tears come to my eyes. Thank you for taking the time to share these things with us!! I LOVE reading about the experiences you two are having! (...and I'm glad you got to take a few minutes to have your toenails painted!!) :)
    At our Couples party at Kathy and Trent's on Friday night (Dennis's birthday!) we talked about how wonderful it is that you two are serving this mission and keeping such an uplifted, excited attitude about all that you're doing. We all really ADMIRE you both! Lots of Love to you, Karen
    P.S. Those little Graduation Banners and hats look really Professional!! How fantastic that so much work and effort is being put into that program!!