Monday, February 20, 2017

Missionary Work in Mbale

Many things going on here in Mbale!

We are continuing having members and investigators in our home each week for dinner and spiritual enlightenment.  This week we had Faith and Mercy (Faith is Mercy's mother) and Faith's friend Michael who is taking the lessons and wants to be baptized.  (He is scheduled to be baptized on March 5th)

We also invited Pius (one of my favorite people....I love to hear his beautiful voice!) and Paul our former Branch Mission Leader to help fellowship Michael.  Faith has been wanting to learn how to make hamburgers!  When she was young she spent time in the States and learned to love hamburgers there.  She made them for her family at Christmastime and it was a flop:(  Her children would NOT even eat them they were so bad.  I was thinking to myself, "How do you ruin a hamburger, of all things?  You just make a patty, season it and cook it?"  

So we had a fun night making hamburgers and french fries and cole slaw.  The food turned out great (except maybe the cole slaw was a little weird) and we had a good time visiting while we ate.  For dessert I made our favorite....... lemon pudding cake (thanks to the lemon cake sent to us in our Christmas package and the lemon jello I was able to find in Kampala).  We were able to teach the Plan of Salvation (Lesson 2) with Michael and it went well.  Faith got very emotional during the lesson.  I'm not sure what she was thinking but I know that her husband passed away a few years ago so maybe talking about the Plan of Salvation got her thinking of him.

A little about Faith.  She had Mercy when she was very young.  She married a man who was not Mercy's father when Mercy was very young and he raised her as his own.  This is the father that she knew and loved him greatly.  When we first came to Mbale I met Faith and she seemed very aloof to me.  She has a private personality and is a bit of a know prickly on the outside but soft on the inside:) I knew that it would take some time to get to know her.   In October and November she did not come to church all that often and was bordering on being less active.

In early December I felt strongly that Elder Phelps and I needed to get into her home and build a relationship with her on a personal basis.  Being in her home made all the difference.  We went a few times and we even had Faith sew a pair of swim shorts for Elder Phelps (since he left his at home).   She is a tailor by trade.  This time spent with her brought down the walls and now we are friends:)

A few weeks ago Faith brought Michael to church.  Faith bore her testimony that day and talked of how she is grateful for repentance.  She has lived a hard life and has made wrong choices but is grateful to be able to change.  She knows that Heavenly Father loves her!

Pius, Paul, Michael, Faith and Mercy

Friday was a difficult day for me.  I had gotten word that my cousin's husband passed away unexpectedly.  I don't know if that was the cause of my feelings but I'm sure it was partly.  My attitude was NOT good and I wanted to be done with Uganda!  Everything that I saw that day created negative feelings.  All I could see was rude boda drivers, trash and filth EVERYWHERE, terrible heat and dust, bugs biting me, and people who don't keep time!  Anyway,  I was not in a good place.  

Thankfully, my heart was changed the next day and I could focus on others and be positive again!  I guess I'm entitled to a bad day once in a while:)  Elder Phelps though,  he is ALWAYS positive and I'm amazed at his diligence and stamina.  He does way more than me.....on the phone, conducting audits, driving us everywhere and other things that I don't even have to worry about..... and he does it ALL with a pleasant attitude.  I am married to wonderful man who loves the Lord and always wants to do what is right!  I consider myself truly blessed with a marvelous companion:)

Next I want to introduce you to Sarah Ayinda.  Rarely do I know people's last names but we have three Sarahs in the Branch and I need to know how to distinguish them so I know these girls' last names (or first names if you use true Ugandan identity:)

Sarah has been a member of the church for three years.  She has had a hard upbringing.  A true Cinderella story.  Her father passed away when she was just four years old.  When she was five her uncle took her out of the village to help raise her and send her to school.  He was a doctor and was not around much and left her alone with cousins who abused her terribly.  They made her do ALL of the cooking and cleaning and ALL of THEIR laundry before and after her long school day.  They would often beat her with a wire and treated her terribly.  A few years ago when she was 19 she was able to find work for herself and move out of her terrible circumstances.  She told us that she started earning 60,000 shillings a month in her first job.  That is equivalent to $18.00!    
It is difficult to even imagine trying to live off of that.

Sarah has risen above her difficult childhood and is now taking care of herself and is a faithful member of the church.  She works at Arabica Cafe (a place we often frequent) and is a bright spot in our lives!  She is so loving and kind and we love her so much!  She is waiting for a missionary (Peter pronounce Petah) who helped to teach her the Gospel.  He is serving in Zimbabwe and comes home in April.

A few weeks back Sarah asked if we could go visit with Peter's family and teach them more about the gospel.  She wanted to wait so that she could earn enough money to purchase some food for the family before we went to visit.  This past Saturday was the day we got to go.  Peter has one brother who is a member of the church but that is all.  His name is Paul and we got to meet him.  We traveled about 45 minutes to get to Peter's family's village and and they greeted us very warmly when we arrived.  There were lots of children who stared and stared at the Mzungus.  We are such an anomaly in these villages away from the city.  Many of the children have never even seen white people before!

We were escorted into their brick and concrete home which had a large gathering room.  We were introduced to more extended family members who were interested in learning about the Gospel.

 We were served a meal of chicken, rice, posho, beans, millet bread and mashed greens.  This was our first time to have mashed greens.  They were very sour.  I thought it was just mashed vegetables but they really were mashed leaves mixed with sour milk.  Very different.  I refrained from having the millet bread because I just can't stomach the stuff.  Especially when there were flies mingling all around it!  We were invited to have some when someone noticed that we didn't have any in our bowl.  Elder Phelps is good.  Even though he doesn't like it he reached right over and got some while I just politely said, "I don't like millet bread." I know it was a sacrifice because Elder Phelps doesn't like it either and he ESPECIALLY hates flies!   Those who were in the room with us just watched us eat.  It is customary for the guests to eat first and then the others eat later.  Kind of awkward eating in front of people you know are hungry.  We asked them to join us but they refused and just told us that is the way it is done here.

After lunch we had a wonderful lesson with a large group of people.  We taught "The Restoration" while Peter Sr. translated for the group.  It is such a tender experience to be teaching a group of people that you know love the Savior and want to follow him.  All of the people were attentive (even the small children....I counted fifteen of them) and they loved the teachings taught.  Peter mentioned that he would love to be a member but the distance is to far and they cannot afford to pay for the transport.  I love this picture where Peter is proudly showing his Book of Mormon and The Proclamation we left him!  We encouraged Paul to try to find a place to live in Mbale and prepare for a mission.  He really would love that!

                                          A picture of part of the group.  They say the man on the left is 100 years old.  He is Peter Sr.'s uncle.

                                      Sarah with Peter's family.  Paul is in white in the back.

This is the latrine that I had to use before leaving.  I will NEVER get used to using these.  Yup, it's just a hole in the ground.  And yes, it smelled terrible and there were flies all over!  The hard part was trying to squat over the hole while holding the sheet being used as the door because the wind was blowing!  HAHA!!  Sometimes you just have to laugh at these situations.  After all, this is just everyday life for these people.  (Sorry if this brings a visual to your mind that you would much rather not have:) LOL

Rick took a random photo the other day of me holding Tony.  He is two and his mom and dad are planning to be baptized in two weeks:)

So yesterday we had an interesting baptism.  A lot of Mbale is without water because it is the dry season.  Some people have not had water for a few weeks.  They have to get it from random sources.  We, luckily,  have been able to have water throughout the whole dry season at our home.  The church has been dry for about a week.  Yesterday we had this baptism scheduled for Derek who lives in Sironko.  (There is a small group of Saints there.)  He was actually supposed to be baptized sometime last year but the church didn't have water then either.  Yesterday there was no water to fill the font.  The Young Men took buckets and walked to the nearest water source to carry back water to fill it.  Elder Phelps and I arrived after the baptism started because we had traveled to Busia that morning to speak in church.  As we walked outside to witness the baptism I looked into the font.  I was shocked!!  There was only 12- 14 inches of water in the font.  I thought, NO WAY can they do this.  He has to be completely immersed.  Well, Derek sat flat on the bottom of the font in the water and the first time it didn't work.  The second time the witnesses said it was good and that was that.

Every morning we pass Aaron on our morning walk.  He is about 15 and he sells samosas and mandazes (scones).  We usually buy a couple from him and give them to our security guards and whoever is with us for the day.  Today (Monday morning) we bought a bundle from him to take to our YSA activity tonight.  I think they will be happy.... I know Aaron was!

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it amazing that the baptism could take place in so LITTLE water??
    I'm proud of you Janell, for your GREAT attitude! You are doing marvelously well!!!! Love, Karen