Thursday, March 30, 2017

New Office Couple (The Wittwers)

I thought this was a fun picture.

While I use a few sticky notes in a day, Elder Phelps runs his office by them!  HAHA!
I had to laugh when I saw it.  He says they are his day planner:)

Tuesday night the Wittwers made it to Uganda.  We met up with President and Sister Collings who were flying in from Rwanda at 8:30 and then while we waited for the Wittwers to join us we got a bite to eat.  We had a nice conversation about how things went as the Ddistrict was created  in Rwanda.  President Collings had told Rick that even though he was suffering from kidney stones and really feeling awful through it, that he believed that it was the most spiritual experience that he has had since coming to Uganda.  

Elder and Sister Wittwer flew in at 10;20 and after we picked them up we had a good time visiting with them on the long drive back to Kampala.  It turns out that I am related to Elder Wittwer.  They come from Santa Clara, UT and he is a descendant of the Swiss Saints from there.  We had the same great great grandfather in John George Hafen.  Kind of a small world!!


After stopping at the mission office to pick up our car, we drove the Wittwers to their new apartment.  We finally got to bed that night by 1 AM.  We told them to sleep in as long as they liked.  They came up to our apt. for some breakfast the next morning.  I made skillet eggs and Elder Phelps made pancakes:)
We visited for a couple of hours and then we were off to show them some places close by Ntinda for shopping.  We stopped briefly at the office to greet Sarah and then Richard. Susie was not there.
We enjoyed a nice dinner at Mediterraneo. (my favorite)  I think the Wittwers are a little shell shocked right now with the culture difference but they are going to be just fine:)  We all have to go through the culture adjustment. 

Today was their first day in the office and I think they were a little overwhelmed with everything they have to learn.  It sure is a lot but I have confidence that they will "get it" and in just a short time become quite confident in their abilities:)

The AP's and Elders Ercanbrack and Farnsworth along with Richard and Suzie and Maureen (the office cleaning lady) sang for the newcomers!  They sang "Let Us All Press On".  How did they know that was my mission fave???!!!

Tonight we took Elder and Sister Wittwer to "The Lawns" Restaurant.  I don't have a picture of all of us but I did take a picture of Rick with his "gamey" dish:)  He ordered a plate that had four different kinds of game meat.....kudu, ostrich, heartabeest, and wildebeest.  He enjoyed it and liked the wildebeest the best:)

On another note.....
On Monday night the Brach and Kendra and Skylar and Sarah and the kids got together for family night.  They put together a countdown chain for the time we get home.  They will all pull one link off a day until we get home.  It's not going to be long!
They are all soo cute!!  Poor Charlie was not happy for the picture:(

Before we left home I was trying to prepare Rafe for how long we would be gone.  He was just three at the time and didn't really understand how long six months was going to be.  I told him we would be gone for Halloween and Christmas but that when the Easter Bunny was ready to come it would "almost be time for us to come home."  Sometimes when I have talked to him via FaceTime I have reminded him about our Easter Bunny date.  Well, it's almost here and it's cute for me to see that all the kids are counting down.  I'm excited to see my littles!!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sabbath day in Ntinda

Today was a great day.  We got to attend the Ntinda Branch for the first time.  It is very close to our home.  We were not able to attend Sacrament Meeting because we were busy trying to find Daniel Oluka, one of our recent converts from November.  We haven't seen him since just before Christmas because he went home for the holidays and then came to work around Kampala.  He hasn't been able to go to church since December because he has been in different villages where there are no LDS churches.  

He was excited to spend the day with us but as we were going to pick him up this morning his Boda had some mechanical issues and so he was still "very far" from Kampala.  We tried to encourage him to get another Boda and still meet us.  We went to the designated spot and waited but he never came:(  We were pretty bummed to say the least.  His phone must have died because we tried to contact him but we couldn't get through.  I am thinking he must have gotten discouraged and just turned around and went back to the village where he is working.  So sad to have missed him.

We pulled up to the Ntinda building during Sunday School.  This is the Chapel.  

Kind of interesting!  While other classes are held in a brick building, Sacrament Meeting is held under this tent.  The Gospel Principles class was taught here as well and it was actually quite nice because we had a constant breeze throughout class:)

 Relief Society was taught by a woman named Christine.  Her husband is the former Branch President.  She is a returned missionary.  The lesson was taken from President Uchtdorf's October General conference talk entitled "O How Great the Plan of Our God".  Our lesson focused mainly on the Plan of Salvation but one thing that touched me was a quote from President Uchtdorf.  He said, "We come from Heavenly courts of the Lord our God.  We are of the royal house of Elohim, the Most High God.  We walked with Him in our premortal life.  We heard Him speak, witnessed His majesty, learned His ways."

A few of the sisters made comments on how knowing this doctrine lifts them.  One said, "Sometimes men don't treat us very well but I remember that I am a daughter of God and I really am a princess."  The women at church were all well clothed and all well shod.

I reflected on this quote and thought of my many friends in the villages surrounding Mbale.  Many are very poor and wear dirty clothes and have bare, dirty feet but they/WE are all royalty!!  We are all daughters of a Heavenly King!  It doesn't matter our status or where we are from but we ALL are children of God and are entitled to Heavenly rewards in all that he has in His kingdom! 
What a beautiful thought!

The last part of day will be told in Elder Phelps's words to our children......

"I thought I would tell you a little of what our Sunday was like...ours is ending and yours is just beginning.
These two young men each have a story and I want to tell you a bit about them.

The one on the left in the first picture is named Massigua.  He has been a member of the Church for 3 years, but started attending church 2 years before he was baptized.  He somewhat 'manages' our apartment compound where we live here in Kampala and is 29 years old.  He went on a drive with us this morning to help us find a young man to take to church (whom we didn't find...that's another story), but while we were driving we found out a bit about his life.  When he was 5 years old he went totally blind.  He just lost his sight.  He lived his life in darkness from that time till he was 23 years old.  Around age 20 or so one of his kidneys became very 'sick'.  He was in and out of the hospital (more in) for 3 years.  During that time, a woman who was a close friend to the family would visit him often.  She would encourage him and pray for him often.  He said, "She would come and visit me most every day and pray for me.  She would pray for me to get well".  Through this experience he developed great faith.  He said, "One day I could tell that I could see just a little bit, then in just a few weeks, I could see fully".  He fully received his sight back at age 23.  This was nothing short of a miracle wrought by his faith, and the faith of others.  He has full vision today.

The other young man, in the yellow shirt, is named Champion.  Some name, huh?  (Sky and Sarah, don't get any ideas for your next son's name :)).  I sat by him in Church today and found that the elders are teaching him, and this was his 3rd Sunday to attend Church.  He is 22 years old...your age, Gary.  His baptismal date is set for April 16th.  He is from Western Uganda and is living alone here in Kampala to attend the university.  A 17 year old young man named John was baptized after church today, and as I sat by Champion during the baptism I thought it would be good to invite him over for dinner...after getting Mom's permission, I did :).  We had already invited Massigua.  They both came to our apartment for dinner, and Mom served spaghetti, cooked carrots, yummy bread (we bought yesterday), and then m&m chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  It was a very nice Sunday afternoon!

After dinner we talked a bit about the temple and the blessings of temple ordinances.  Massigua said, "The Salt Lake City Temple is my 'goal temple'.  I want to go there.  I want to see that temple.  Because the people who built that temple made such sacrifice.  There was even a man who worked on the temple and got one of his legs cut off, then made a wooden leg and kept walking to the temple to keep working on it".  He was speaking of John Roe Moyle.  I then told him that Mom and I got to work with one of the great grandsons of John Roe Moyle, named Frank Moyle (he was on our shift in the baptistery).  I showed him some pictures of temples on my ipad, and he asked if I could help him 'get those pictures'.  He has a thumb drive, and we took time to load, probably 45 pictures of temples, onto it from Mom's laptop.  He said, "When I see temples it makes me feel so good.  It makes me feel that I want to be there by them".  If things go well for Massigua, he may have the opportunity to attend the Johannesburg temple one day.  There is a good possibility that he would have only one opportunity to do so in his lifetime.  We hope and pray he, and the other members in Uganda, receive the great blessing of having a temple here in Uganda one day. 
We are so blessed to be in the families that we to have been sent to, and to live in the United States of America where the Lord has caused us to have such freedoms, and to be so blessed so as to know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, God's kingdom on the earth, and then to live in Utah where there are so many temples "at our fingertips', as it were.  As Pres. Uchtdorf said, "We tread a path covered with diamonds, but we can scarcely distinguish them from ordinary pebbles."  I don't know what I may have done in my pre-earth life to have deserved such great blessings...but I am determined to not take them for granted.  My great blessings include each of you, my children!  We must all live our lives equal to the great privileges we have been given! "

Massigua and Champion

Finishing dinner.....

Before ending this post I wanted to add something to Massigua's story.  We discussed with Massigua how the Lord has His hand in each of our lives.  When Massigua's eyesight was restored he did not have any skills to work and provide for himself.  He hadn't gone to school at all.  A friend helped him to get a job here at our apartments taking care of the grounds and as a result he was able to meet the missionaries.  He attended church for two full years before making the decision to be baptized.  He has now been a member for three years.  We talked of how he may not have come to know the church without having gone through his personal health challenges and getting him in a place to hear the Gospel.  

You know, sometimes it's all in the perspective. 

Happy Sabbath everyone!

P-Day in Kampala

Yesterday was our first official P-Day in Kampala.  All the other weekends we have been on the road or in Mbale so we wanted/needed to have a p-day without sitting in the for long periods of time in the car..  Well, if wishes were fishes.......I'll get to that in a minute......

First thing in the morning we both kinda just slept in.  Sorta.  Rick woke up early and didn't want to wake me so he went out on the couch to answer emails.  I lounged in bed watching the day dawn and the rain fall.  We had planned to go for a morning walk but the rain kind of nipped that in the bud. 

We just enjoyed being in the apartment for a few hours with nothing really pressing us.  I did make up a batch of cookie dough to use for our Sunday activities.

We had a wedding to be to by 11:00 and when we arrived at the Kololo Chapel we discovered that it had been postponed.  The person getting married is a son of Agrippina and Charles a couple in our Mbale Branch.  Although we do not know her son very well we were excited to see the family.  Since  there was no wedding after all we got going on the day's business of seeing some sights of the city.

First, after fighting the traffic and finding out where we were going an hour had already passed.  We finally pulled up to the Gaddafi Mosque.  It is a Muslim Mosque and trip advisor said it had a great view of the city.  It is built on top of a hill in the middle of Old Kampala.  It was finished in 2006 and boasts chandeliers from Egypt, stained glass from Italy, carpets Morocco, and wooden doors from the Congo.  When we first got there I felt a little naked because my head wasn't covered.  All the other women were.  We noticed a tourist tent when we drove in so we went that direction.  We were able to procure a guide, whose name is Ali, and a hijab for my head and off we went inside the mosque.

As we were going inside the speakers started ringing with a man calling people to prayers.  This is a common occurrence in Uganda.  There are many Muslim people and five times a day they are called to prayers.  If they are near a mosque they go in and pray.  If not they stop whatever they are doing and pray where they are.  The different times for prayers are....5 am,  1 pm,  4 pm,  7pm,  and 8pm.

The calling for prayer songs are cast over very large speakers so you can hear them from far away.  We hear them regularly in Mbale at 5am.  I kinda feel bad for those who live really close to the mosques because wow!  every morning at 5 am?  Who needs a rooster when you've got that?
It was interesting when we walked into the mosque (which was very beautiful inside).  I could see a man clear on the other side of the building singing into the loudspeaker.  I was fascinated and wanted to get a closer look.  I got only half way to him when his 'song' was over.  We had a lot of questions about the Muslim faith and Ali was very good to answer them.  


Inside the mosque.  T
This part of the mosque is only used on the Muslim sabbath which is Friday.  The men are on the main floor while the women go up into the balcony.  When I asked why,  Ali told me it is done that way so that the men and women do not get 'tempted' while they are coming to pray.  They want to be able to stay focused on their prayers.

Their Holy book of scripture is called the Qu'Ran.

This tower is where the loudspeakers are calling people to prayer.
We walked to the top!....... all 280 steps!

 A look down to the bottom......

We had a wonderful view of Kampala from the top!  We could walk around 360 degrees and see the whole city from there.  As you can tell it was REALLY windy being up that high!

After the mosque, on recommendation from Elder and Sister Tower, we wanted to go and visit the Clere Resort.  It is supposed to be the nicest hotel in Kampala with beautiful grounds and a wonderful view of Lake Victoria.  Well, our GPS took us to the wrong place so we decided to go with "plan b" and drive towards Entebbe to walk around the Botanical Gardens.  

Well, long story short.  We got into some TERRIBLE traffic and when we finally reached Entebbe we had to get something to eat before going any further.  After grabbing a bite at the Protea we had only an hour before dark to find and experience the Gardens.  We eventually found them and had about a 1/2 hour to walk around.  It was a really nice place with huge trees and driving and walking paths.  We stopped and watched a few vervet monkeys and enjoyed the flowering bushes. (while trying to stay out of the mosquitoes way)  This place would have been much better had we been able to get there earlier in the day.  

Then it was time for the trek home.  Kampala is just 30 KM drive from Entebbe.  Those thirty KM took us TWO HOURS AND FOURTY FIVE MINUTES to get through.  It was sooo long!  So many taxis and Bodas on the road at a standstill.  We crawled pretty much the whole way to Kampala!  We didn't get home until ten o'clock!  In hindsight, looking back on our decisions for the day we should have looked harder for the Clere Resort and stayed closer to home.   

Here we are at the Botanical Gardens.  Woot Woot!!

On our way home from Entebbe we got a call from Sarah Butali, a branch member in Mbale.  She was needing a place to stay so we invited her for the night.  It is quite comical trying to talk to people on the phone.  You would have to see it to understand but we basically have to speak very slowly pronouncing every word very clearly and then usually they just say "I am not getting you!"  So we have to repeat the process over a couple of times using different words.  

Sometimes we try to have them spell words for us so we can understand what they are trying to say.  Do you know that V, B D, E AND P all sound the same when someone is trying to spell something.  Rick will say something like "P as in Paul?" and then the person on the other end of the phone just giggles because he doesn't understand what YOU are saying!  Holy Cow!  
So frustrating and So funny at the same time!

Anyway,  this was our p-day in Kampala.

Ndere Cultural Center

Friday night we had a cultural experience!  We got to go to the Ndere Cultural center for an event of food, friends and fun!  Elder and Sister Tower are leaving on Monday to go back to the States.  There time in Uganda is finished.  President and Sister Collings invited us to come along with them for a goodbye dinner for them.  We enjoyed eating local foods in a buffet and enjoyed watching the performers for a couple of hours.  They sang and danced showing the different cultures of the  tribes in Uganda.  There are over 50 tribes in Uganda each with their own customs.  The performance included some really great drum playing!  Also, a few of the dances included women carrying pots on their heads.  It was fun to watch.  The performers were all very talented. 

Suzan and Sarah who are part of the office staff came along with us.  On the way home Suzan explained that the proceeds of the show go towards paying for their education.  She said there were a few of the performers that were around the age of 14 which surprised me.    They all did a nice job and it was fun to be together in our group.

I took quite a bit of video which I can't post but here are a few pictures.  They're not that great but it will help us to remember this night!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Let Us All Press On

This morning I thought of an experience that I don't think I recorded.  In the second month of our mission (November....or maybe early December)  Elder Phelps and I had to drive up to Lira for some business.  I can't remember the business right now but I do remember it was on a Sunday.  We had attended meetings in the Lira Branch and then had to go over to the Adyel Branch (in Lira as well) for the business.  As Elder Phelps was visiting with the Branch President I was able to go into the chapel where there were a few members finishing up watching a session of General Conference.

I couldn't tell which session we were watching but I felt myself reflecting on the last hymn of the October General Conference.  I remember that it was the most stirring arrangement of 'Let Us All Press On' that I had ever heard.  When I heard it for the first time sitting in my basement at home (leaving the very next day for the MTC) I was in tears for the beauty of that hymn!  It meant so much to me as it spoke of "pressing on in the work of the Lord"  I loved hearing the encouraging words "Fear not" and "Courage! For the Lord is on our side!" I definitely needed courage as Rick and I were about to set off for the biggest adventure of our lives!  The last verse sings "....but an unseen power will aid me and you in the glorious cause of truth!"  What comfort that brought to my heart as I thought of angels attending us in the far off country of Africa!  The Choir sang so beautifully and I shed buckets of tears as my heart was filled with the Spirit!

Sitting in the Chapel of the Adyel Branch I found myself silently wishing/praying that I could hear that wonderful hymn arrangement again.  As the hymn was introduced,  my heart was soaring for this tender mercy.  I closed my eyes and soaked in the beauty of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing that beautiful hymn.  I think I maybe even teared up again:)

Just after that experience I learned how to download hymns from General Conference from and I saved that one on my computer.  Since then we have listened to that hymn dozens of times.  It brings strength to my soul.  Elder Phelps laughs some days when I play it two or three times in succession in the mornings when I'm getting ready for the day:)  It is so stirring!  I love it!

If you don't remember hearing it go to and look under General Conference and play the last hymn of the conference.  You will be amazed!!  And if Sister Mouritsen by chance is reading this I would LOVE to sing this hymn sometime in the summer with the ward choir.  Can you make it happen???  HaHa!!  Just kidding, but seriously though!!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ntinda Apartment

I thought I would post some pictures of our apartment so we will always be able to remember it.  We live in a suburb of Kampala called Ntinda.  It is not too far from the office and on a good day we can get to the office in 20 minutes.  On a bad day it's more like 45 upwards.  The road in from of our apartment is a dirt road that is very narrow and rutty.  I have to brace myself for all of the potholes and speed bumps that we must travers each morning and each night going to and from the office.  We have been out a few times trying to get some walking exercise in the evenings but it's not too easy with the traffic and the bad roads.

This apartment has been ok for us.  Our bed is comfortable and we have been enjoying the A/C in our room.  I haven't tried cooking anything yet but will this weekend.  We generally have a simple breakfast...Rick likes cereal and I'll have a yogurt and a piece of fruit after we get to the office.  For lunch we generally will snack on some carrots and nuts and then head out around four for an early dinner.  We have found some great restaurants within a reasonable distance from our home and have been enjoying eating out.  I'm getting spoiled.  Not only am I not doing much cooking but we get home fairly early and get to enjoy some down time.  That doesn't seem to happen that much in Mbale.

This is the drive coming into our apartments.
I love seeing that big tree every time we pull in.

                As we get closer we start to see a little something growing in it.

Avocados!  Here they pronounce them ah-voh-cay-dos.
There are lots of them in the tree and they look like they are ready to eat.  I am tempted to pick a couple.....cause they are so big and beautiful!

We drive right under the avocado tree and park.

Our apartment is on the third floor on the right.  
The sister (two of them) are just below us.
The elders (four of them) are on the bottom left.
The Towers are on the bottom right.
 And the rest are just empty.
How about that cool tree on the left??

A view of our balcony.
We don't spend much time out here but it has a nice view overlooking some gardens and other homes.

This is our sitting room.
For some reason the furniture makes me itch so mostly I hang out in the bedroom.

                                         Our dining table.
                  We don't use it very much but it is a pretty table.

Our kitchen is small but again I haven't ventured to spend much time here.  I just wash a few dishes and use the fridge.  That's about it.  Our washer is out the door that you can barely see on the left.  There is a little deck out there with enough room for a washer.  No dryer so we hang them on the drying racks in the second bedroom.  It works out fine except we miss having nice fluffy towels from the dryer!

I love this painting so much.  It is in the hallway.  It reminds me of Francis' home and family in the village.  There is another smaller version in the sitting room.

Last but not least.  Our bed.  we haven't let the mosquito net down yet and probably won't.  I have gotten a few bites, though.  The other morning I woke up with four bites on the back of my neck.  Four within two inches square.  Mosquitos....I don't like them but they sure like me!!

One thing I love about the bedroom is the window that faces east.  Every morning we get a beautiful view of the sunrise.  And boy are they beautiful.  Lots of color!  I like to just lounge in bed and watch the sun come up.  It's a good way to start the day:)

I don't have any pictures of our bathroom but I promise it's there.  A shower, pedestal sink and a toilet.  Not a lot of space but it works.  Tonight after our evening walk I got in the shower to clean up.  I didn't notice anything strange about the water but when I was drying myself off my white towel was covered in brown splotches.  I looked at the floor of the shower and it was a little muddy.  I turned the water back on and noticed that it was coming out.... reddish brown!  EEWWW!!  How did I NOT notice that!!  I called Rick in and asked him to get me some purified water to rinse off with.  He said, "turn the water back on and see if it will clear up."  I did and within a few minutes it did start clearing so I hopped back in and showered again.  I still don't feel all that clean but I'm just putting it out of my mind.  Man, I'm glad we don't have to drink that stuff.  I'm thankful for purified water!!!!

There is also a second bedroom and bath.   They have come in handy when we have had our Mbale friends over:)

All in all we are glad to have this nice apartment to come home to at the end of each day.  I recognize that we are truly blessed to have power and water, and a flushing toilet.  I have been in many places where they have none.

Just down the road from our apartment is a very poor neighborhood that we pass by each day on our way to the office.  The pit latrines are made of sheet metal and the small homes are made of mud and sheet metal.  There are many, many homes crunched into this neighborhood.  Each time we pass by I think about the people that live inside of these homes.  They are real people and this is real life for them.   I am curious about their lives.  What do they do for a living?  What is their family life like?  What do they know about God?  Do they know he loves them?

I have gotten the opportunity to be in homes and neighborhoods just like this in Mbale and Busia.  These people feel, and love, have challenges, and hurt, and have joy just like we do.  They are good people trying to provide for their needs and take care of their families just like we do.  The same... but so different.   Temporally we have been given so much.  We get irritated when the hot water runs out or the washer breaks down.  Many of these people have to walk a long way just to get water and then they have to carry it back to their homes.  In the dry season it is common to wait at the borehole for four hours to have your turn at the water spigot.  And a washer??....forget it.  Most of the women do their laundry in a bucket and then hang their clothes on a line or bushes for their clothes to dry.

It is easy to take for granted the many blessings of comfort that we have and enjoy because we have always had it and have had no reason to worry that we wouldn't have it.   Let's not forget to thank Heavenly Father for his bounteous blessings upon us.  We have so much and it all comes from Him!  We are truly blessed!!

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Weekend

 Last week we got a call from President Ojiambo. (from Busia)  He asked if we could come and help answer some questions from the members there about the temple.  There is a group of about 20 that are preparing to go to the temple at the end of this year.  Jackie, who is a recently returned missionary and the RS President in Busia has been teaching the Temple Prep class.  

Last week she mentioned in the class that when she went to the temple she had the opportunity to be proxy for her grandmother.  She then mentioned how after that she had a dream where her grandmother appeared to her.  Well, that set off a chain reaction with some of the members and they went to the Branch President worried that when they go to the temple then they will see spirits.  It kind of freaked a few of them out!  (Remember this is the Branch where on our first day visiting them we both had to address the class we were in about witch craft and curses.  They are a very superstitious people.)  This is the reason that President Ojiambo wanted us to attend the class and help to answer questions and dispel fears.

We decided that this weekend would be a good weekend to travel to Busia.  I REALLY did not want to have another weekend of traveling (because we have been on the road each weekend for the last four weeks) but we decided rather than take the time from the Mbale branch our last few weeks of our mission that we would go this weekend.  We decided to travel back to Mbale on Saturday and overnight there so we wouldn't have to pay for a hotel and just travel the 1 1/2 hours to Busia Sunday morning.

It felt good to drive the streets of Mbale and into our compound:)  We sure miss it!!  We met with President Etiang and gave him the chicken soup I had packed.  We discovered that morning (after packing a little food for the trip) that the mission was having a special fast that night.  Thus, the need to give our soup away.  President was happy to receive the it and he was even going to share some with his roommate Allen.  

When we got home (mbale home) we did a trial pack of some of our souvenirs that we have collected over the last five months.  I have been really worried that everything was going to be too heavy in our suitcases.  We are planning to leave most of our stuff here with those who need it more so we will be taking just the necessary things.  We discovered that we should be just fine and should be able to get everything home as we want.

Then the power went out.  This is a common thing in Mbale.  Our battery kicked in and we were fine.  After going to bed though,  I woke up in the middle of the night with the power still off and our back up battery dead.  This meant that our fan in the bedroom wasn't on and it was stifling.  
I had a hard time getting back to sleep after that.

When we woke up we were still without power.  I desperately needed to wash my hair but decided to pull it back for yet another day.  We each took a cold shower and quickly got ready for our drive to Busia.

We had a nice time in church.  It is great greeting the members and finding out how they are doing.  We have one YSA from Busia, Walter who is leaving for his mission this week.  President Collings is scheduled to set him apart on Wednesday.  Walter is so excited to get to South Africa where he has been called to serve in the Cape Town Mission.  (Hopefully all will go well.  I found out today in the office that his visa is still not here:(  I hope it gets here in the next few days.

The missionaries are on fire in Busia.  They had six baptisms last week and they were all being confirmed on Sunday.  The missionaries have a large teaching pool and are doing very well there.

Elder Phelps and I were able to be in the Temple Prep class and had some wonderful teaching opportunities.  We mostly addressed the concerns that some of the members had.  They didn't mention anything about seeing dead spirits but they had some genuine questions.  They included what the baptisms for the dead were like.  Are they all done at once or individually?  How are they supposed to remember everything they learn?  Why can't they talk about what goes on in the temple?
What about their spouse that has passed away?  What about being sealed to parents where one is alive and one is not?  

Genuine questions.  It was a nice question answer period and we felt like we were able to help the members understand a little more about what to expect.  After the block on our way back to Kampala we both felt happy to have helped in some small way:)

The drive back to Kampala wasn't as bad as we were anticipating.  It was only a 3 1/2 hour drive. instead of the five I was expecting.  When we arrived Sister Tower caught us as we were walking up to our apartment and said she had some leftover bbq chicken and rolls.  That was a blessing for us to have some already prepared food.  She even had some chocolate cake for us!  

I sure like my companion!

This sight always amazes me.  
A woman with a baby strapped to her back carrying a heavy load on her head.

                                                     Me and Mary.
She is preparing to go to the temple and be sealed to her spouse who died several years ago.

Jackie, me and Margaret
Margaret doesn't understand much English but she is so faithful.
She is also planning to attend the temple.

Me with the other Margaret.
She is the former RS President.
She is always made up so pretty.
(Unlike me with my gross hair:(

                                        Good Morning, Kampala!

Tonight we were able to go out to dinner with the Elder and Sister Tower.  They are finishing up their assignment (he works with the justice system) and will depart for home on Monday.  We went to a place called The Lawns.  We tried some Crocodile as an appetizer and Rick had Kudu (wild african game) for his main course.  He loved it!

Our crocodile appetizer served with naan bread.  It was really yummy!

I had the stuffed chicken.

                                              Rick's kudu dish with mashed potatoes.

                                          All of us together

                                         Just FYI what a kudu really looks like!!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Our Beloved Francis

Waila Francis

Tonight I want to write about our dear friend Francis.  Francis is small in stature (110 lbs) but a giant in his testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ and His Gospel.  He has been a member of the church for about four years.  The missionaries found him when he was still in Senior School.  They introduced him to the Book of Mormon and once he read that....there was no going back.  He had a lot of questions and the missionaries answered them one by one.  They encouraged him to pray to find his answer.

And he did.

In the beginning he was persecuted by his own parents and they sent him away because he wanted to become a member of the Church.  Through time their hearts softened and Francis was able to teach them and bring them to the Gospel.  There is so much more of this story to tell....but not tonight.  

Tonight I wanted to tell something else.

Francis has been staying with us this week in Kampala.  He came with us last Sunday to be working on his Medical Papers for his mission.  Today was his last appointment and he knew that he was going back to Mbale....without us.  He said to Elder Phelps this morning, "Before we leave this morning can I give a spiritual thought."  Elder Phelps said, "Sure" and after our family prayer we sat and listened to Francis speak.

He started out by telling us of his grandparents on his mother's side.  He loves his grandparents so much.  His three last living grandparents (including both on his mother's side) have passed away during the time we have been here:(  He told of how when he was young he was able to go and spend time with his mother's parents when he was out of school.  He said that they had many cows, goats, and chickens.  In the year 2002, when Francis was about 7 or 8 his grandparents decided to serve as couple missionaries for the Anglican Church.  Francis wondered why they would want to leave everything they had to serve a mission.  His Grandparents set off on a four year mission to Ghana.  After two years they were in a serious accident and his grandmother lost part of her leg.  They needed to come home early because of it.

Francis said "My grandparents were wonderful people.  They always taught me good things.  One day my Grandy (Grandpa) said,  'We (your grandparents) may not see all of the blessings that will come from our serving this mission, but you (our grandchildren) will see blessings from our service.  Someday others will come and bless your life as we have tried to bless others' lives.  They will come and serve you and teach you.'

At this point Francis was looking at me and he said "And they did."  I couldn't stop the tears from falling.

He then said, "I know of myself that your children and grandchildren will be blessed because of the sacrifice that you have made to come to be with us and teach us.  I know that others will come and bless your grandchildren as you have blessed us.  I know that as we sacrifice and leave our families to go teach the Gospel to others then we will be blessed and our children and grandchildren will be blessed also."

At this point he started weeping.  He said, "I know that the Gospel is true.  I know that the Prophet Joseph Smith was a true prophet.  I know that the Restoration is true.  I know that President Monson is the prophet of God today."  We were all weeping at this point.

This was pure and simple testimony.
It was completely from his heart.

Elder Phelps and I have sat and listened to Francis teach the Gospel now for five months.  He has been a wonderful companion and teacher from the very beginning.   He always bears a strong testimony of what he is teaching.

This morning though..... was very special.  He was bearing his testimony not for an investigator or someone in a lesson.  It was for us.  Just for Elder Phelps and me.  It was such a special moment.  I will never forget his simple but heartfelt testimony.  Ever.