Monday, January 30, 2017


This is Jackie.  Elder Phelps and I met Jackie the first week of our mission.  She lives and works as a waitress in Jinja.  We met her when we were having dinner with President and Sister Collings at the Java Coffee Shop just a few days after we arrived in Uganda.  Every time we come through Jinja on our way back to Mbale from Kampala we like to stop and say hi to her.   When we passed through last week she mentioned that she was going to be in Mbale on Thursday and invited us to meet her family.  So we did.  We had an enriching experience meeting her wonderful mother and siblings!  She even served us a meal of chicken, matoke, rice and cabbage salad.  It was all very delicious and given to us with much love!  The area that they live in is lush and green because it is in the mountains.  Before leaving we shared a message about the Savior and how we are commanded to be as little children, humble, meek, and teachable:)  Below is Elder Phelps' letter written to our extended family about her.  I wish I could post the video of the man cutting down the matooke for us but since I can't hopefully you can imagine it in your head:)

                                                                   Sweet Jackie

.....and with her family

"To tell a bit of the story behind this; when we travel to Kampala where the Mission home is, there is a town called Jinja along the way about 2 1/2 hours from here.  Janell and I like to stop there at a little restaurant and eat because the food is so good. One of the waitresses there has become our friend. Her name is Jackie; a single 29 yr old gal. She has told us that her family lives here in Mbale, and one day she wants to introduce us to them. She finally found time to come to Mbale and asked if we could drive her up to see her family. She had not been here to see them in about a year. They live about an hour and 20 minute drive up into the mountain.  Her family was very kind, and her mother made a meal for us. As we left her house, she wanted to stop at her grandmother's who lives nearby and have us greet her.  Her grandmother speaks almost no English, but was so gracious and kind, and as we were leaving, Jackie translated for her and said that her grandmother wanted to give us a gift of matooke (mahtohkay) which they grow in a large orchard right next to her house.  Matooke is a type of banana which must be cooked. It is similar to a plantain, yet different still. They mash it much like we do potatoes.  Grandma gave instructions to one of her family to go cut some down for us.  After he cut it down, he took this whole cluster of matooke and put it in our truck. We have since been sharing it with our neighbors and friends 😀. It was quite a sweet gesture from this sweet little woman that we had just barely met.

As a sidenote, we found that Jackie has been working away from home the past five years to pay for the schooling of her younger brothers and sisters. She only gets to come home once or twice a year to visit family. Her father passed away in 2010, and her mother has no way of acquiring income, other than selling a bit of their food from their farm, so Jackie has been making this sacrifice for her family. This is just one of the examples of the sacrifices and goodness we see in so many of the people here in Uganda. The family, or the 'clan', is pretty important to them all."

Okay, me again......On another note we had a special dinner for a couple members of the branch last week.  We invited Francis, Esther Rose (who is a piano student of mine) and Harriet with her 18 year old daughter, Florence. and her young son Enos.  Florence is one of our branch investigators.    Francis and his brother, Gerald, have been teaching her.  She is leaving for school this week so she will not be able to finish taking the discussions but she has a Book of Mormon to read as she goes off.  She has promised to read it!    She is a good person and is very interested in the Gospel.  I feel she will be baptized in the future:)

It was a nice evening and we sure enjoyed growing closer to them.  I made sloppy joes, with corn and pineapple for sides.  Cookies for dessert!

How about this picture of Elder Phelps in his African shirt??  It was lovingly made by Hamilton, a member of our branch.  He made one for me as well but believe me, Elder Phelps wears it much better than I do:)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Welcome, Welcome Sabbath Morning

Another WONDERFUL sabbath day!!  I love the opportunity that I have each week to attend church! It is so rejuvenating to mingle with friends, learn about the Gospel, and most importantly partake of the Sacrament.  I love it!

I am so thankful that I woke up feeling almost 100% better from Saturday's sickness.  While I stayed at home ALL DAY yesterday.  Elder Phelps was out teaching and serving others.  I'm grateful for Aaron, a member of the branch, who picked up the slack and became his companion for the day.  I was grateful to be able to rest and recuperate from whatever it was that got me!

Back to today....  We had 15 investigators at church today!  Can you believe that?? FIFTEEN!!   We have spent time with most of them in their homes teaching them but there were four of them, all women,  that we saw but never got a chance to talk to.  I hope our branch missionaries were able to get their contacts so that we can reach them.  One of them was a beautiful lady that shook my hand as I was playing postlude.  After she walked out of the building I ran out to talk with her but she was sitting on a Boda riding away.  I hope she comes again.

We had a beautiful family join us for the first time today.  Their names are Richard and Shariffa (who have two small children).  We were able to teach them "The Restoration" on Tuesday this past week.  They are amazing!  Richard has such an innocence and goodness about him.  He came up to Elder Phelps after church today and asked, "How long do we have to wait to be baptized?"  Elder Phelps answered, "Are you anxious to be baptized?"  Richard answered, "Yes!"  Shariffa does not speak much English but can understand some.  We are excited to continue to teach this family and prepare them for baptism.

Today I was privileged to speak along with President Etiang in Sacrament Meeting.  He had someone cancel last minute and asked if I would fill in and speak about the blessings of the temple.  It was perfect timing since we had decided to start our temple prep class today.  I was grateful to ponder on and remember and share the feelings and blessings that come from attending the temple.  I miss it.  A lot!  After being able to serve in the SL Temple each week for many years I get a little weepy thinking about not being able to go right now.  I know the time is not far distant when I will be able to attend and take part in the endowment again.  I feel for these Ugandan people that are so faithful and deserve the blessings of the temple yet the temple is thousands of miles away.  (The closest is in Johannesburg)  I'm sure it must seem overwhelming to them to try to save enough money to make the trip.  Yet, Heavenly Father wants all of His children to have this great blessing.

President Etiang took the opportunity in the combined session of Priethood/RS and again spoke of the temple.  He taught the members that the only way to receive exaltation is THROUGH the temple.  We must all receive the ordinances the Lord has to offer.  He invited the members to save what they could and to make a considerable sacrifice and then have faith that all will work out.  It is hard to put food on the table let alone save for a huge trip to South Africa but it is necessary for the members to sacrifice so that it will mean all the more to them.  I am thankful for the foresight of the prophet to organize the General Temple Fund (is that what it's called?) that will allow these people to have a chance of getting to the temple.  What a blessing that so many in the world have the means to contribute to this fund so that those living in poverty have a way to receive ALL of the blessings available to us here on earth.

During Sacrament Meeting President also invited each of us to read the Book of Mormon in three months time.  Elder Phelps and I have an assignment to come up with a chart for the members to keep track of their reading.  We will do that tomorrow:)

After church we had the baptism of Stephen Okurut.  Elder Phelps was privileged to baptize him.  It was a beautiful service with many from the branch staying afterwards to attend.  Elder Phelps told me after his baptismal interview on Friday that Stephen is the most prepared of anyone he has interviewed up to this point.  He was very impressed by him.  We only taught him a couple of times.  Our Branch missionaries did most of the work:)  We are so thankful for dedicated Branch missionaries!

                                                    Stephen forgot to smile:)

After the baptism we were able to start our Temple Preparation Class.  We had fifteen people attend.  There are a few who were not there but hopefully will be coming.  The Branch is hoping to have a temple trip in December for all who take this class and are ready.

                                         getting ready to start the temple class

It has just been a marvelous day!  I'm grateful for the opportunity to be associated with the wonderful Mbale branch!

PS  I know I have written a lot tonight but here is one last experience from today that was special to us.  Our recent convert guard, Geoffery, greeted us at the gate when we returned at the end of the day.  We talked of the happenings at church and he told us how much he liked it.  At the end of our conversation he said, "When you were gone for some time a while back.  I  didn't know the feelings in my heart.  I cried when you were not here.  I was missing you."  Isn't that sweet?  Geoffrey generally does not show much emotion.  This made me feel such tender feelings for him.  There are so many that we have grown to love here in Uganda and it will be sad to leave them....especially knowing the poor conditions in which they will continue to live while we return to our 'Western lifestyle' and affluence.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Sick Day

Today I am taking a sick day.  I woke up in the middle of the night with that terrible feeling of knowing that my body was not well.  Frankly, it's my own fault.  Normally I am very cautious to wash my hands and use hand sanitizer frequently.  Yesterday I kind of didn't as much as I should have:(   Plus the just never know.......

Sometimes in missionary work you just have to go with the flow.  We had a very busy day yesterday.  It started with a baptismal interview.  (Steven who will be baptized tomorrow:)  After the interview we were already running behind.  (Why does this ALWAYS happen?)  We got on the road to Busia because we needed to be there by 12:00 for an appt. with Sister Ojiambo.  (Remember? the Branch Presiden't wife?)  We were about 20 minutes late and the first thing she said when we saw her was , "I  am sick.  I have malaria/flu.  We greeted with a small handshake and she didn't seem to bad off so we continued with the lesson her and her husband on one side and us on the other.  We had a nice discussion about the Atonement and she seemed to be a little more engaged than normal.  She has a bit of a language barrier.  Last week when we were there we dropped off a B of M reader to her.  She has a hard time reading the B of M and I thought this would be helpful.  President said he "caught" her reading it during the week and looking up the references to the stories in the actual B of M.  YAY!  It is imperative for her to read the B of M to know of it's truthfulness!  I'm glad her interest was peaked.  She has yet to receive a confirming answer if it is the word of God.  It was a good lesson and I hope she continues to read and ponder and pray.   This was my first contact with possible sickness.

Our next appointment was with the family of a sister missionary serving in Zimbabwe.  Her mother passed away unexpectedly on Monday and we thought it would be a nice gesture to visit with the Branch President and the RS President.  The family is not LDS but are Born Again Christians.  We were received very graciously.  We gave our condolences and then went directly to the grave and were invited to "pray over" the grave.  Elder Phelps was asked to offer that prayer.

Generally, burials are a full day thing. Many people (and I mean about 100) from the village come to the home of the deceased to give their condolences.  They are served food from the deceased's family and they stay for the whole day visiting.  The men and women sit separately.  The women gather on their mats on the ground together and the men gather together on benches.  Generally religious leaders are asked to speak or to pray.  As friends and neighbors they gather a little bit of money to help give to the deceased's family.  We have attended two different burials for about thirty minutes and was even invited to speak at one.  I was later told that it was considered rude by the neighbors that we did not stay longer.  A lesson learned.

The people are not embalmed here so they usually are buried the very next day after the death.  Sometimes that can be postponed for a day.  They sometimes are buried in a wooden casket and sometimes they are not, depending on the funds that the family has available to them.

Back to the story....

After the grave prayer we were invited to sit in the shade (under a tent) while family members were gathered together to "hear the word of the Lord".  At that point we realized that we probably would be the main speakers of the meeting so we started mentally preparing what to say.  After about 15 minutes the chairs were rearranged so that all of the family were facing us. (the visitors)  There were about 15-20 family members in attendance.

It is amazing to me that the color of our skin makes us so special in the Ugandans' eyes.  I recognized very quickly after arriving in Uganda that being a Mzungu, we are very looked up to by the people.  In a saving way.  Not necessarily spiritually saving but temporally saving.  Many people think we can save them from their poverty.  I wish we could.  I would love for them to see that the Savior takes the slums out of people.  I guess that is what we are person at a time.

After introductions we were privileged to share thoughts and scriptures with the group about the resurrection and eternal life.  What a blessing to have this great knowledge.  Our spirits live on after death and our bodies will live again!   We can be together as families forever!  I feel for this family.  Dominic is the father and he has six children.  He and his wife have also brought in extra children who do not have families and have helped to raise them as well.  The youngest is now 11.  Dominic will have a challenge raising his children on his own (and of course, with family help)  His clan (extended relatives) lives very close to him.

After the talks were given we were invited to stay longer for food.  We could not be rude and decline.  Thus, the second way I could have gotten sick.  The food was very delicious and looked like it was prepared well........frankly, you just never know.

Also, this is where the flexibility part comes in.  We had a scheduled a meeting with the RS for some training but we did not know that we would be staying so long with Dominic's family.  These are things that you just cannot prepare for.  RS training will be next week:)

It was now 3:45 and our next appointment was to be a dinner with dignitaries from the area; The Mayor of Busia, the traffic control police director and two other district leaders.  President Ojiambo has been trying to schedule this meeting for quite some time so we were excited to finally do it.  Unfortunately only one person showed up.  ONE! .... and he was an hour and a half late.....again more flexibility needed!!  (The traffic control director was in the hospital with ulcers so I can understand that.)  We ended up having a nice conversation with the mayor about the church and what we are about.  I'm thankful to Elder Phelps who knows how to keep the conversation moving when I have NO idea what to say!!  We talked of some service that the Branch might could possibly help with in the future.  (Mormon Helping Hands)  The Mayor mentioned that he sees the "young men with white shirts and badges" moving around sometimes.  We reiterated to him that they are good young men and are doing the Lord's work and trying to make a difference for the people of Busia.  All in all it was a good visit and it wa important for us to make sure that the dignitaries of the area recognize "The Church" as a good influence for it's citizens.

During the dinner I put a chicken leg on my plate.  One swallow of that and I knew something wasn't quite right with it.  Thus, the third thing that could have caused my sickness.  I should have washed my hands and used sanitizer more often with all of the handshakes from yesterday.  And drank a HUGE coke!  Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda......

Hopefully I will be working at 100% tomorrow.  I'm speaking in Sacrament Meeting, we have a baptism, and then we are teaching the Temple Prep Class.  Big day!!

                  Only one picture for the day......Pres Ojiambo, Mayor, and us.

PS.... I got my hair cut in Kampala on Tuesday.  I bought some color but haven't had time to put it on.  I need it!  Maybe Monday:)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


On Saturday President Isaac asked if I would come up with a game for our YSA FHE to help the single adults have more of a spiritual learning experience while having fun.  I told him my idea of having a Jeopardy type game with questions from different categories.  He said that would be perfect so Monday was spent preparing for YSA FHE.  

He wanted for me to bring some kind of refreshment to go along with the activity so the first thing on  my Monday morning was to try to accomplish that.  I have been wanting to make rice krispie treats since I found rice krispies in Kampala last month.  There are NO marshmallows in Uganda.  I have never seen ANY!  But I did find a recipe from the good ole' Houston cookbook that made rice krispie treats from corn syrup.  Well, long story short,  I bought the closest thing that looked like corn syrup and it turned out to be thicker than molasses!  I tried it anyway and even though they were a little hard...not soft and chewy like rice krispie treats should be, they turned out ok and the kids didn't seem to mind.  

I also had some lemon cake mixes sent to us last month in a couple of Christmas packages we received so I whipped up some lemon cupcakes with lemon frosting.  As per usual everything was gone by the end of the activity so I consider my baking a success:)

As for the game, I made up questions in five categories.  Church History, B of M, New Testament, Old Testament, and Latter day Prophets and Apostles.  I had five questions in each category and one thing I learned is that these kids are smart!!  They answered nearly EVERY question right!  Minus one.  Next time I will make them REALLY hard!

We decided for fun that we would make a 1000 point bonus question.  We stumped them with....."What was the name of the first person that we know of that Alma the Elder baptized?
They were really trying to come up with the answer but couldn't do it.  They had a lot of good guesses though:)  Do you know the answer????

We sure do love our Mbale YSA!

We had about 15 come to the activity.  I will name all I remember.  Gerald Mutebi, Gerald Namale, Francis Waila Solomon, Betty, Daniel, President Isaac, Sarah, Aaron, Francis Ojulu, Steven, Joshua, Oscar, Andrew, and Erasmus.

....and call the sabbath a delight....

                                                                Isaiah 58:13

I wanted to write about our wonderful Sunday!  It certainly was a delight as Isaiah teaches!

We haven't been in the Mbale branch for a couple of weeks now so this was our first Sunday back.  I was so happy as we greeted our wonderful Mbale friends!  The members of our branch come up and greet us EVERY time we see them!  They are so loving and kind!  They are sure to shake our hands and ask, "How has the week been?"  whenever they see us!  I  was asked to substitute leading the music for Sacrament Meeting and it was a joy for me to look into everyone's faces as they sang the hymns!

These members are so faithful!  Some come from long distances, even up to a couple of hours walk one way, to come and participate.  It is such a challenge for many of our members to have the money for transportation.  We try to encourage and teach that their sacrifices will be seen by Heavenly Father and that they will be blessed for their efforts.  It makes me very thankful that I have been blessed with so much in my life!  I was raised by loving parents who taught me the Gospel. The church was one block from my home.  ONE BLOCK!  It is such a blessing to have many churches (and temples for that matter) so close to our homes in Utah:)  We are so blessed!

There was an amazing spirit in our Sacrament Meeting.  I love partaking of the Sacrament.  Since I have been on my mission I have learned more of the importance of that weekly partaking.  I love the fact that we can be cleansed every week if we come with repentant hearts!  When I was younger I used to think, "I wish I could be baptized again and be cleansed from all of my sins!"  Now in my more 'mature' years I recognize that baptism is not needed again to be cleansed from sin, only a repentant heart in preparation of partaking the Sacrament.

Our beloved Francis started out the meeting with an amazing talk on faith.  He did not have a single written word in front of him and he spoke for 15 minutes!!  He expressed himself beautifully about the principle of faith and cited many stories in the scriptures that speak of faith.  Two of those are; The Brother of Jared seeing the finger of the Lord and The woman being healed by touching the Savior's garment.  He cited others but I cannot remember them now.

It was especially meaningful because I know of the immense faith that Francis' family had this past week as his little sister, Jimeema, (who is barely one year old) went in to a surgery that the doctors  said she had a slim chance of surviving.  His family had much faith and his mother had GREAT faith that Jimeema would be OK and was not worried at all.  She simply said, "We have been praying and the Lord would take care of her."  His father said, "All will be well.  Even if she does not make it than she will be with God and he will take care of her.  Francis' siblings have gathered together each night to read scriptures and to pray.  Francis did not share any of this with the congregation but since I knew what his family had experienced this past week, my heart was especially touched!   They are so faithful!  (Jimeema did very well through the surgery and is on her way back to good health!)  

We also heard from Jude, a returned missionary that we love.  He is a fun loving man that likes to joke around and has a ready smile.  He spoke on the importance of keeping the sabbath day holy.  I was  thinking to myself the promises that come from keeping the sabbath day holy.  How the ground will blessed to bring forth fruit in it's season.  Right now we are in the dry season and so many crops are drying up and people are extra hungry.  How blessed would the people be if EVERYONE observed this law?

Lastly,  Alan, one of the first people I met in Mbale spoke of the line of priesthood revelation.  This is one of the first things that we teach investigators in the first discussion.  It is important for them to understand that through the ages God speaks through prophets.  As revelation was taken off the earth  (the great apostasy) than a restoration was needed to have that line of revelation brought back to the earth.  That revelation trickles down through the prophet to the apostles to the area leaders to our stake and ward leaders.  This is important for all to understand.  We had eight investigators at church on Sunday.  I'm glad that this topic was taught to reiterate the first discussion.

One more thought.......did you all just LOVE the topic in Priesthood/RS??  I loved opening the book and seeing the topic "Cultivating an Attitude of Happiness and a Spirit of Optimism" from the teachings of President Gordon B. Hinckley.  I thought to myself, "This.  This is President Hinckley."  He was a man of optimism and happiness.  In many a hard day in raising small children I loved his encouraging words of "things will work out".  As I see so many challenging circumstances for the people here in Uganda I was thankful to share in this lesson of hope and happiness and joy.

There is more to write....our first branch council with our new branch presidency and a trip to visit the group in Sironko but this post is already too long!  Suffice it to say that all went well!

The sabbath is truly a delight for me!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A good week, except for.......

After arriving back to Mbale late Tuesday night we had a nice week up until....... well, I'll get to that in a bit!  On Wednesday we were able to do some much needed laundry and some Branch Presidency Training.  Our new Branch Presidency is doing so well!  It has been long in coming and we are thrilled!  The President is receiving revelation for what is needed in our branch and there is an excitement and new hope in the air!  

Mbale Branch is going FLOURISH under this new leadership....
it already is! 

Thursday we had a LONG day as we began with a lesson with an investigator named Joel, in the morning.  Joel is a great investigator with lots of questions.  He showed up at church last week out of the blue and good old Francis caught him and committed him to an appointment.  Joel is wanting to know truth so I hope he will do his homework of studying and praying to find out for himself the truth of the Restoration.  The Restoration is such common knowledge for many of us because that is what we have always known.  I try to think from the perspective of someone who has never heard the name of Joseph Smith before. I try to put myself in their shoes and wonder what they must thinking of this interesting and different doctrine. of the Restoration.  I love the Spirit that is felt when I hear testimony shared of the Prophet Joseph and his divine calling to help bring forth the Restoration of the Gospel.  The fullness of the Gospel is on the earth today!  Heavenly Father is so good to us.  I love how in Jesus Christ's true gospel, everything fits!!  Just like puzzle pieces.  
Everything fits in all the right places!

After meeting with Joel we then traveled to Busia for some more Branch Presidency Training!   We  had lunch in the car (our usual on the road PB&J) and got to Busia a little early.  After everyone arrived we began our meeting.  President Ojiambo had asked us to come prepared to talk about respect.  My thoughts turned to two things.  Reverence (or respect) for Heavenly Father's name and Reverence (or respect) for our houses of worship.  The members of Mbale and Busia Branches are all very new to the church.  Many within three years.  They have had many years to create habits that are not good (because they haven't known any better) and just a few years to change those habits.  One of these is taking the Lord's name in vain.  It is very common to hear here.   Even in the chapel which always take me back.  Sometimes Elder Phelps will pull someone aside and "teach" him/her that it is inappropriate language.  I am hoping that in the near future BOTH Branch Presidents can teach the members (individually or collectively) that this is very offensive and that it is a commandment that "Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain."

The other topic was respect for our houses of worship.  It is awful to see how littered and dirty our churches get here in Uganda.  The lack of trash bins is part of the problem but truly it is the attitude of the people.  EVERYONE throws trash on the ground.  There is so much trash littering the roads, highways, markets, gutters, trading stations, and yes, even the churches.  We are slowly, slowly trying to teach our members the importance of NOT throwing trash anywhere on the ground ESPECIALLY in the church!  This is a tough might take a few generations to truly make a difference. 

We were able to address some challenges that this particular Branch Presidency is having.  I won't go into details because of the sensitive subject of these challenges but I have to say that I am impressed with these leaders who are trying to face adversity head on and continue on with doing the Lord's work!

Friday we celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary!  After a day of visits we cut off at 5:00 to have dinner at a new restaurant.  We went to Mt. Elgon Hotel and I was pleasantly surprised at how good my food was.  Sometimes when I go out to eat I am sorry that I just did not stay home and cook because I know my food would taste WAY better than what they serve.  This was not the case at Mt. Elgon.  My dinner was great and the view of Wanale Hill was marvelous.  I had the Szechwan chicken and Elder Phelps and an Indian Dish.  (Next time he is going to have what I had:)  
We had a wonderful time reminiscing of our wedding day.....and night:)  
I sure do love that guy of mine!

Saturday was another full day beginning with Mission Correlation Meeting that lasted THREE HOURS!!  I thought I was going to pull my hair out!  I'm a get it done kind of girl and to sit there and rehash things for three hours was a little much for me.  This weekend we had a new branch mission leader called and he is on FIRE!! 
 I'm sure our MC meetings will be a little different from here on out!  
Things are happening in Mbale!

That night we hosted a dinner for a few of our YSA women of the Branch.  We included two of our new converts, Betty and Teddy.  It was a good time to integrate them in with a few of our regulars from the branch and to help them get to know each other a little better.  I made roast beef and mashed potatoes.  The girls liked it (the mashed potatoes were a little different for them) and had their fill.  While we had dessert (vanilla pudding with bananas and ginger cookies) we played a little Pictionary.  These girls had a hard time drawing simple pictures and we just laughed a lot.  Poor Mirembe, who doesn't speak much English, drew things that were not even on the list.  I think she tried to read the name on the card and did her best to draw what she thought it I said we laughed a lot!
We sure love these wonderful ladies!

                          Me, Teddy, Mirembe, Mercy, Francis, and Betty

so then next comes the EXCEPT FOR......part.

On our way home from dropping the girls off we were talking of all the dishes and clean up still waiting home for us.  It was 9:00 and dark.  Elder Phelps pulled up to the dirt road that leads to our home and turned on his blinker to turn right.  After waiting a short second he turned to go down our street.  Out of the corner of his eye he could see lights coming on the right side of the truck so he stopped.  Unbeknownst to us a Boda carrying two people tried to pass on our right.  They slid down the side of the truck and then ended up hitting the driver's side mirror knocking it to where it was just hanging.  The Boda Driver swerved trying to gain control but ended up falling over on the grassy side of the road.  

Elder Phelps pulled up to see if everyone was alright, they all got up and one started limping over to us.  Again, Elder Phelps asked if everyone was alright.  As soon as he saw we were Mzungus he came up and said.  "No, we are not alright" and then demanded money.  He said, "You did not have your indicator (blinker) on.  Rick said, "Yes, I did have my blinker on."  Elder Phelps could see that one was possibly a little injured (the one that was limping) so he pulled out his wallet.  I whispered, "Do NOT give him money!"  More Boda drivers and pedestrians were gathering around his window and I did not want any of them to grab his wallet and run.  (Plus we had heard about mob justice and how if the people think you are in the wrong they will damage/burn your vehicle and hurt/kill the person inside.)  

Pretty soon there were about fifteen people around.  The Ugandans gather in crowds at ANY incident.  The Boda driver was talking to the people in his own language and I felt like he was stirring them up against us.  I kept thinking about mob justice and said, "We need to go to the police".  We told the Boda driver (and all of the others that had gathered) and he said,  "No, you don't go to the police."  We insisted that we were going to the police and started to inch off.  The man insisted that we were to NOT go to the police and he started running with our truck hanging onto the door as we accelerated faster and faster.   He then grabbed our hanging mirror and pulled it completely off.  We tore off at that point.  Elder Phelps was driving fast trying to get back to the main road and on to the police station!  We had only been that direction one time before and we turned down a bumpy dirt road filled with people.  Elder Phelps was still driving fast and I was thinking, "Please don't hit anybody!"   We soon discovered after a couple of turns that it was the wrong road and a dead end.  I calmly (but frantically in my mind) said, "is anyone following us?"  He said, "I don't know."  We were both praying that we would be safe.  We finally back tracked and eventually found the right road.

We pulled up to the police station and they were so helpful.  We were both pretty shaken by this point and my main worry was that someone would come looking for us.  Two Mormon Mzungus in a Toyota truck are pretty easy to spot in this town.  People are always telling us that they see us "moving" around town.  We gave our statement to the police and after talking with them a bit we felt calmed.  They asked us to come the next morning and fill out a full report.  We drove home but I kept feeling that one of those people might recognize us and come after us.  (Thankfully in the  last 24 hours my worry has all but diminished)  We took a different route home and I was glad to be behind a locked gate with our security guards standing watch all night.  We let our guards know what had happened and asked them to keep extra watch.  

We were able to meet with the traffic police the next day.  They mentioned to us that many Boda Drivers are not registered and so they would probably not be coming in to report the accident.  Unfortunately, we did not get the license plate of the Boda.  How could we when it was laying over in the grassy weeds and there were many people standing by our vehicle?  Boy am I glad that we did not get out of that truck!!  So as it stands we will have to pay for the damages.  We don't mind. We just want to put this awful experience behind us and get back to our missionarying.   
We are hoping to have our mirror fixed in the next day or two.

End of story!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Ethiopia Last Day

This post chronicles the last day of our trip to Ethiopia.  If you are just catching up on my blog posts my suggestion is to go back to day one of the trip so it all makes sense!  

To my mom:  to do this you scroll down to the bottom of this page and select "older posts".  It will take you to the last post before the one at the bottom of the page.  Continue to scroll down and select older posts until you get to Ethiopia Day 1.  K?   Love you, thanks for always praying for our safety....especially this past week when we were in Ethiopia! 

PS  We do not have good internet tonight so while I have our itinerary typed I can't get the pictures to load.  Hopefully I can remedy that later! : )

We had the morning to relax because our flight back to Addis wasn’t scheduled until the afternoon.  I enjoyed a massage (well enjoy is a strong word because she was rough on me) and then we took a quick dip in the pool (COLD but still enjoyed it) which gave us enough time to pack up and be out of our room by noon. 

President and Sister Collings and the Harlines and Habtu were on our same flight but they were going to stop in Hawassa and deplane.  They were going to Hawassa to have interviews with Priesthood brethren and reorganize the Branch Presidency there.  The plane was scheduled to have a quick drop off there and then fly the rest of the way to Addis, but we discovered that the airline dropped the stop in Hawassa.  That meant that those five had to DRIVE to Hawassa which is a five hour drive from Arba Minch!  I felt so bad for them because we had already spent so much time driving that whole week.  It had to be done though because the Branch REALLY needed a change so they all (with good attitudes) made the trek.  I haven’t heard how things went but hopefully all went well!

We had a six hour layover in Addis so Habtu had arranged a taxi for us to see the sights of the city.  Our driver, named Abraham, was a very cordial man and we had a good time with him.  He took us to the market where I ordered a skirt and two scarfs (that I will use as table runners) from Afework, a tailor in the market.  The other senior sisters told me that he was the best one to go to so that’s what we did.  

After that we drove to Abyssinia Restaurant for a dinner and show.  We had a traditional Ethiopian dinner which was VERY different!  Before dinner a man came to our table with a big silver pitcher so that we could wash our hands with soap and water.  We were served a platter filled with different meats and spices and cheese all piled on top of a round sheet of Njera (a spongy flat bread).  We ate with our hands.  The process is tearing off a piece of Njera then picking up meat and spices with it and plopping it in your mouth.  I don't especially like trying new foods but it wasn't too bad and we made another fun memory. 

 Then we enjoyed watching dancers demonstrate the different dances from different areas of Ethiopia.  We sat in the front with loud speakers so I had to put something in my ears to diminish the soundJ  We had an enjoyable time.  the dancers were all very talented!  

We caught our flight and had to pass three different security gates.  We almost did not make our flight.  Who knew that when we stopped in the little shop to buy some chocolate to get rid of our extra Birr that we would almost NOT make our plane.  We thought we were at the gate but discovered that the gate was further up and there was a HUGE line in front of us to get through yet another security line.  We had only twenty minutes until our plane was to take off!  Luckily Elder Phelps did some sweet talking to an official looking fellow and we went right to the front of the line. Whew!  That was close!  We arrived in Kampala and got picked up by the Protea Hotel shuttle and got to sleep and about 3AM.  Did I mention how WONDERFUL our stay at Protea was/is?  We got upgraded (again) to the suite on the second floor.  Supa Nice!!    So happy to be back in Uganda!

                                Us with the Fords on our way back to Addis.

Ethiopia Day 6

Today we left Jinka early and headed the dirction back to Arba Minch.  We stopped at the Konso Village which was really interesting.  It was one of my favorite villages actually.  The Konso people were all clothed in Western Clothing but still live in huts.  What makes their village unique is that it is enclosed in a rock wall.  Three of them actually.  The oldest being 800 years old.  It was really fun walking through the maze of rock walls getting through the village ending in the middle where the people meet for gatherings.  The people were not too aggressive in demanding money for a picture (the kids maybe a little more so) but we just enjoyed being there and learning about the culture.  The Konso people have terraced gardens all over the mountains.  It is very fascinating and their village is a World History Sight because of their resourcefulness in their crop gardening.

                                 A bathroom stop at a hotel with beautiful bougainvillea!

Men of the Konso Tribe playing a traditional game.

This is our guide lifting a "maturity ball".  When a young man is old enough to lift this big rock and toss it behind his head he is considered mature enough to marry.

                             We found a weaver and we purchased a few things from him:)

     I loved the coziness of this village.... and the rock walls and the wooden door frames.

We also stopped at a neat place that resembled Bryce Canyon.  It was a beautiful red canyon that had gigantic outcroppings of dirt from the base of the canyon.  Pictures can explain better!  

    There was a group of boys trying to earn some money and they did a fun little dance for us.  
                                       Wish I could show the video on this blog.

Terraced mountain.

We had lunch in the car as we drove to Lake Chamo for a boat ride to see some wildlife.  We were able to see a few hippopotamus and some HUGE crocodiles!   They were really spectacular to see!  At one point on our way back to the dock we saw a dying tilapia in the water so we made about ten passes to try to pick it up for our captain to take home for dinner.  With the help of a bucket someone found, Habtu was able to scoop it up!  Afterwards we traveled the few miles the rest of the way to Arba Minch and to our nice facilities there. 

Cute Elder Phelps

Yellow Billed Stork


Habtu and the fish.