Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Merry Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas Eve to everyone!  Today was a great day!  It started early as we prepared breakfast for our branch YSA.  Elder Phelps started making pancakes at 6:30 and I joined him by peeling potatoes at 7:00.  We worked at getting ready for a couple of hours before the kids (they are not  really kids but I like to call them that) started coming.  Our party was slated to start at 10:00 and people started arriving shortly after 9:00.  Neither of us had even showered for the day when they started arriving but all worked out because they just enjoyed sitting around chatting while we finished with the breakfast and then took a few minutes to shower for the day.

We served a pretty traditional American breakfast with scrambled eggs with ham and vegetables, fried spuds, pancakes, and pineapple.  A brother of a young lady from our group made up some scones as well.  Everyone got their fill of food and again there was NOTHING left.  These Africans love to eat!  
Especially the boys:)

We had such a nice time with everyone!  We have grown very close to each YSA member.  It's nice to  gain relationships with new people.  It's amazing to think that just a couple of months ago I didn't know any of these kids but now they truly are like family to us.  We love spending time with them.  

Here are Betty, Mirembe, Sarah, and Mercy (Massi)

Betty is fairly new and I don't know her well yet, but she fit very well with the group and was very comfortable with everyone.

Mirembe is a sweet girl.  She is a former Muslim and sells chapati's in a little stand near her home.

Sarah is great!  I love Sarah!  She is so loving and is a good friend.  She works in the Arabica Cafe where we sometimes have lunch.  She is waiting for a missionary who is coming home in April. 

Mercy is great too.  She comes to clean for me each week.  She has been excited to serve a mission but is already 26.  Rick had to let her know last week that she will not be able to serve because of her age.  She was disappointed but we told her she can be a member missionary here in Mbale.  She is going to go out teaching with us next week:)  Mercy serves as the Primary President.

This is Ben Tushave.  He is a really fun character.  Can you tell by his African outfit?  He served his mission in Ghana and this is traditional Ghanan clothing that got sent to him in a Christmas package. He was happy to show it off today:)  He is going to be married in a month or two!

Betty (on the left) is a recent convert of about 6 weeks.  I just love her!  She has a little shop outside of her home where she sells little sundries.  You know...snacks, soap, toothpaste, candy, jewelry, etc....  She also does hair.  Whenever we stop for a visit she is always sitting underneath the mango tree plaiting someone's hair:)  If you don't know what plaiting is I will explain it.  African women's hair is usually very short!  Betty takes pieces of fabricated hair and sews it into ladies "real hair" on their head.  That is how the African women can have so many different looks.  As you can imagine it is a long process and takes hours to do.

Next is Tony.  I don't know him very well but have seen him at church a few times.

Nathan is next.  He is a security guard at the church.  We have been teaching him for quite a while now and it is going slow.  He will get there though.
Then we have Mirembe and Betty again.

Here is Maqne. .... Or Jonny as most people call him.  He is the one I teach piano lessons to.  Well sorta....He has stood me up the last two times we were supposed to meet.  He promises he will be here on Tuesday for his next lesson.  I hope so!

Ben and Betty

From the left:
Pius Ochanda.  Isn't that a cool name.    Pius is great!  He is very serious.  He has reason to be.  Earlier this year he lost his father and just a few weeks ago his mother passed away as well.  It has been a tough year for him but he is a very faithful member of the church.  He is the Sunday School President and is one of our branch missionaries.  Pius served a mission in Johannesburg.  He is the one who walked up to me at the church one day and said he was going to see the "clock"  Remember that story?
Gerald Mutebi is one of the first members I met in Mbale.  He is in charge of getting the church cleaning done each week.  That is NOT an easy task!  These poor buildings in Uganda take a beating! He is also the YM's President.  He is a really nice kid and is hoping to serve a mission soon.
Gerald Nambale (Nambale from Mbale) is a recently returned missionary from the Uganda Kampala Mission!  He served much of his time in Ethiopia and Rwanda.  He LOVED Rwanda!  He was released from his mission just two weeks ago and now he is helping us teach his two brothers!
Lastly is Jude.  (the one who is looking at his phone) He likes to joke around with me.  He is a returned missionary.  Actually he likes to say that he is the FIRST missionary from Mbale branch to serve!  He is very proud of that!  We keep telling him that he needs to get married:)

This is Isaac.  He has blue eyes.  Very rare in an African.  He is a returned missionary from the Zambia Mission.  He is a great leader and teacher and friend.  He is a branch missionary.  He and his roommate just started a popcorn making business.  It is starting slowly but hopefully will grow with time.  We had him make forty bags of popcorn for our party this morning!

Here's a fun picture of the group.  I didn't quite get everyone in the picture but it was close.  At one point I counted twenty people besides Rick and I.  Just the perfect size.

Some others that I will mention.
Solomon (in red on the left) is very shy.  He loves to play the piano and plays for our branch.  He is always asking for more music.  I have let him borrow all of the music that I brought to Africa and now he is hoping that I can get some classical for him.  He has been asking for weeks but I have been too busy to get him any.  I'm hoping I can find a free website that I can download classical music from:)  I hope I get time before tomorrow.......well, not sure if that's gonna happen!  Maybe by  next weekend:)

Caroline (in the turquoise shirt) is our branch RS President.  She is a really nice girl but travels a lot with her job.  She only is able to come to the branch only one week out of the month.  It's a little tough on her counselors but they are doing the best they can.

Ok, one more.  Francis (in blue in the very center) is a really great person. I love that she expresses herself so well.  A few weeks ago, in one of my first times at the Mbale Central Market, Francis went with me to show me the ropes of the market.  She even scolded a teenage boy who was trying to charge me too much.  She gave him a what for and told him not to cheat people!

After having breakfast we each shared memories of Christmases past.  It's interesting that most of the memories shared were about family and food!  I guess that tradition is worldwide:)

Next we had Isaac read "The Christmas Orange" story.  It is tradition that we read this story to our kids each year.  It is one of my favorites.  Kathy sent me a condensed version and it worked out great!  Last week we stopped in Lira to pick up oranges (because theirs are supposed to be the best) and gave out an orange to each of them.

We spent the last couple of hours of our party watching the movie "The Nativity Story".  We all piled on one side of the room and Rick had it projected onto the wall.  Three minutes after the movie ended the power went out!  It was a tender mercy to be able to finish the movie.

Before everyone left we passed out popcorn, goody bags and a Christmas Star with a poem attached as their gifts.  It was a wonderful time with our beloved YSA's!!

This afternoon after the party we had a baptism.  We have been teaching Michael for many weeks now.  He had met with missionaries earlier in the year but somehow got lost when the missionaries left Mbale.  We met up with him one day while we were visiting with his friend John (the doctor).  Michael told us at that time that he wanted to be baptized.  It has taken some time to get all the lessons taught to him.  He lives in Kabwangasi ( I love to say this word!!) and it is a little distance away.  He rides his bike to church each week and has been very dedicated.  His wife and family are Seventh Day Adventists and so now he is the first Latter day Saint member in his family.   Michael is a Primary 4 teacher in Kabwangasi.   He has been very excited to be baptized and tomorrow he will receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  I am thankful for our friendship with Michael.

It has been a wonderful and busy Christmas Eve!

1 comment:

  1. It's so nice of you to fix a big breakfast and have everyone over like that--and it's good that you have a big enough place for everyone to FIT!! It sounds like you are making some lasting friendships--as well as setting a good example for all those young folks! How special! They will remember you two for forever!! Love, Karen