Friday, March 29, 2013

On The Road to Kampala

A busy and long week starting with last Sunday.  There were 4 more baptisms at our Bar Dege dependent branch on Sunday.  That's 8 in two weeks and these are wonderfully committed new members.  That unit will become an official branch a week from this coming Sunday. 

Pam and I attended the Gulu Branch Sunday.  There were 135 in attendance at Sacrament meeting and 20 of those were investigators.  The meetings were as fine as one would find anywhere.  Sacrament meeting was conducted perfectly and with great dignity.  The Sunday School lesson and priesthood lesson were doctinally sound and powerful.  Primary was a challenge as there are 50 little children attending and no teachers other than the Primary President.  Pam assisted as best she could but you can only imagine the chaos.   She will be working with the Primary President and Branch President to get an add'l teacher or two called.

I met Walter after church.  He joined the Church in of the very first converts to the Church in Uganda.  Taught the priesthood lesson...very powerful testimony.

My auto driving is coming along.  Haven't killed anyone yet but have come close.  I continue to get into the car on the wrong side and sometimes turn onto a new street on the wrong side of the road...which is really no big deal because travel on the roads here is complete chaos.  Not a soul honked at me as I went forwards, then backwards a few times to edge my way between two cars to eventually get into the correct lane.

Big break through on our first Saturday here.  We are walking to lunch and come up to a half dozen cute little girls.  We are high-fiving, laughing together and I teach them the Alabama Fight song...verse by verse.  They are singing at the top of their voices and laughing all along.  Then I taught them to say "Roll Tide".  They screamed at the top of their lungs.  It was a glorious day!

We left Monday for Kampala (6 hour drive) with the Woods who are leaving Thur nite for the states, having completed their mission.  Below you will find some pics of the road trip...both to and fro.

While in Kampala we met with Stake President Jimmy Carter Okot...the first stake president in Uganda.  It appears another one or two stakes may be created before too long and that number of stakes and members makes the Kampala area large enough to staff a temple.  Wouldn't that be great.
As it is, Johannesburg Temple is 2000 miles away.

Had an oil and filter change while in Kampala...$52

A miracle yesterday as we were shopping for groceries in Kampala to bring back home to Gulu.  I dropped Pam off at the grocery store, parked the car, paid a security guard to watch it as we already had a ton of groceries in it from a prior stop to the store.  I wondered around the strip mall for about 20 minutes, came back to the grocery store and noticed that when Pam pulled some items out of the car to return to the store, she also removed our laptop bag which also contained my ipad.  There it was sitting on the curb of the parking lot where anyone could have picked it up.  It was as if it was entirely invisible to anyone but me.   So fortunate!

Pam was in another grocery later that day.  As she was leaving a fellow asked for receipt to verify she had paid for her items.  Pam, thinking he said, would you like to have a drink of alcohol (because he's standing next to a free taste table/display, says "no thank you."  He explained he had to see her receipt.  When she finally understood what he was asking, she apologized and said she thought he was offering her a sip of liquor.  He then explained.."Oh no, I see your tag on your blouse (our missionary tag for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints).  I know you do not drink.  I would never offer you people alcohol.   Just goes to show that the Church is getting well established here in many ways and people are beginning to understand what we stand for.  After 40 years in the Church I still have friends offering me coffee and tea, knowing I don't drink it.

This morning, Fri, Pam and I were walking the neighborhood.  We stopped to talk to some local residents who were hoeing their lawns in preparation for okra and g-nuts (peanuts)...g-nuts cause the grow in the g   round, if you get it.  We have young men preparing to serve missions and need money for clothes, passports, immu, etc.  One neighbor agreed to let me have one of our young men to help him till and weed and plant seeds for which I will pay the prospective missionary.  We don't give money to these young men but have them earn what they can.  Part of changing the culture of our members and teaching them industry, independence and thrift.

 When you stop on the road for heavy traffic, the locals approach to sell their home grown fruit and veges.  We bought 4 bananas on the way home from Kampala
 "This little piggy went to market".  It's alive on the back of the bike....tied down. Folks carry everthing imaginable on their bikes.
 The Nile.
 Hard to see here but the rocks in the other lane...Road is under construction.  The rocks are to prvent cars from driving on the unfinished portion of the road...very effective construction barriers.
 OK...hope you don't mind.  Urinal in a nice restaurant we stop at on the highway.  No water used to flush.  Looks like colored moth balls in the bottom of urinal.  Pretty effective at keeping the bathroom oderless.
 Two on a boda.  The passenger carrying large barrell on his head.
 The Kabira Country Club in Kampala where we had dinner Wed nite.
 The Kabira Country Club
 Boda Bodas...taxis.  Only if you want to die young do you get on one of these.
 President Jimmy Carter Okot.  He is employed by the Church as Physical Facilities Director.
 Pam buying tomotoes from street vendor on the road back home.
 Little monkey posing for camera on roadside.
And his larger cousin baboons not far away.  I asked Pam if she wanted to bring one home and she said she already sleeps with one baboon, doesn't need another.

Remember Dixon and Agnes on their "paradise" farm?  We had them over last week.  I told him he looks like Snoop Dog.  Got a big laugh out of that as Dixon has an old dog named Snoop for Snoop Dog.

 A small girl in Gulu in traditional dress.
 Prospective missionary Isaac making us a garden...earning money for his mission.  Very resourceful.  Building us a new kitchen shelf so we can place our mirco-wave oven on it.
Prospective missionary Brandon detailing our truck....earning money for mission.

Branch member came over to sell us bead jewelry she had made.  She's heading out the door...this is how it's done.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Off to the "mall".
 Fabric shop...again about 10'x10'

 Folks make their own coal and then sell it to those who need it.  Street vendor.  You see people hauling 5' length bags of this on their bikes to market.
 The pottery.  These are baked in a "kiln"....homemade kiln, of course.  Lady below is making a new pot.  They take the wet mud/clay, roll it out like a snake and wrap it around the bottom of the pot and then work their way up the pot.  Look carefully and you can see a roll of clay at the top of the pot she's working on. Then they wet a scraper and smooth out inside and outside.  Then paint them.

 Fresh pineapple baked into a pineapple upside down cake.  The best I've ever had.  Sis Woods who we are replacing did this.
 Most huts are in a very small type neighborhood.  You can see some huts in the backgroud.  The bldg in the foreground is their community latrine...a hole in the ground.  They not only do a good job of sweeping their ground/dirt but they make "slime" made out of cow dung, sand and water to sort of polish off the edges...the lighter portion to you on the left side of the latrine.  They take great pride in their grounds.  They don't use long handle brooms but bend over and sweep leaves, trash to leave a very clean ground.
 At the "mall".

 Ummm, good.  Fresh fish!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

More of Gulu

Yesterday, Elder Woods and I took a drive 60 miles or so up the road to Kitgum.  About a two hour ordeal up dirt road, washed out, pot-holed...beat you to death trip.  There is a small unofficial Church group that meets there is the Los Angeles Hotel (shown above) lobby.  Maybe a dozen or so members.  It's lead by Nixon.  That's him on the left outside his home with a good friend and faithful Church member Kenneth. Nixon was one of thousands of children abducted by Joseph Kony...about age 13.  Forced into the rebel's army.  He never really joined the cause and in a hail of bullets from govt planes he found a knife to cut himself free.  In the process of escaping he was shot in upper leg/hip area.  I can't remember how long the bullet remained inside him.  He thinks the bullet probably passed through one or two others before he got hit.

The full-time missionaries serving in our area over for dinner.  Representing Utah, South Africa, Uganda.

I know you are not believing your eyes but we came across this hut today here in Gulu.

Down the road from this hut we met two of our branch members, Dixon and Agnes...this is an amazing story told mostly in pictures.  A brilliant couple.  Very ingenious, industrious, and wealthy by Uganda standards.  Dixon started working his land in 1999.  It was nothing but swamp when he began.  We call it "paradise" today.  They have had their trials having lost both of their two children to illness.  Last year Dixon caught malaria that really effected his mental health.  Was placed in hospital on phsycotics for weeks, dehydrated, near death.  Also diagnosed with TB.  His Mom insisted they re-hydrate him and he began to mend with proper medical care.  His farm site nearly fell apart.  Today it is doing great.

This is Dixon's brick factory.  The tall one consists of fired bricks...ready to sell or build additional structures on his property.  The smaller one in the forefront was built today by the missionaries...a service project for him.  Those bricks will be covered from rain until it is time to cover the stack in mud and fire the pit.  You can see the fire pit in the larger stack in the back.  The larger one has 36,000 baked bricks.  Total value, 360,000 shillings or just about $136 US.  That's just under 4 cents a brick.

This is their bakery made from his own bricks and built by himself.  It's right on the road so they will place their baked goods in the front windows you see there and entice passers-by into the store.  They will also eat their own baked goods.

This is their home behind the bakery.  He built it all by himself.  Most folks live in huts.  He is very blessed to have a house.

One of many ponds he has on the farm.  Not ready for fish yet as he must get a continual flow of fresh water in and old water out but he can tell you how many fish he will have.  4-6 fish per sq meter.  He will sell them and allow others to fish while they wait to have their car washed...yes he is building a carwash on the farm.    Below Passion Fruit trees...more than you can count.  Also grown; bananas, rice, guava, pineapple and more.
Pam and Agnes

Pam and Dixon

Standing next to 7 ft ant pile.   When it rains the ants come to the top and are then eaten as a treat.

Factoid:  I needed a bathroom sink faucet repaired in the apt here.  Called plumber.  Parts and labor...10,000 shillings or $4 US.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

 A Little More of Gulu

Took a walk around our neighborhood this morning.
Children walking to school.  Look at those beautiful.

We passed what looked like a small restaurant.  It was closed early this morning but here you see the "oven".  In virtually every home, most of which are huts, the washing and cooking is done outside.  This oven is outside the shop on the ground.  Coal is place down the holes you see on top and food is cooked on top of the coals.  Each coal hole has an air intake below as you can see.

This is an oven for making bricks and are found everywhere.  Folks make their own bricks for building something they need or more likely to sell...just another way of living off the land as there are really so few jobs to be found.
Finished product.

In Gulu of many bike shops.  For sale and being repaired.  These bikes are 1950-1970 vintage.

A material shop...maybe 10'x10'.  Pam bought some material to make a dining room table cloth for our apt.

One of our branch sister members needed to drop off her little 1 month old boy at our apt yesterday.
I was exhausted but still had to take my turn holding him.  We eventually fell asleep together, he in my arm.  His name is Smith, pronounced Smeeth.  Of interest is that children bear no name relation to their Brooks Moore and children Brooks Moore, Wyatt Moore, Cece Moore, Lawrence Moore.  Children here are given any name the parents choose so my children might be named Brandon Smith, Kobi Mutombo, Maureen Rogers, Tom Melton.  Makes doing family history a real challenge!

Our outhouse.  Well, not ours but it is on our premises.  The security guard uses it.  It's tumbling over because termintes have gotten the best of it.

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon with a prospective missionary.  One of the things we senio couple missionaries do is help those preparing to serve a mission to more fully understand the Gospel.  Many of them are recent converts to the Church.  Of the 350 or so members between the two congregations we have in Gulu, 250 have been members less than 2 years.  Not having grown up in a gospel oriented home, these fine young men and women need extra training.  And when these young missionaries return home from their 2 year missions, they will become the foundation of the Church for generations to come.  It is a slow process but we understand the principle of "Line upon line.  Precept upon precept".

Factiod...due to the mortality rate in Uganda, as I've been told, half the population is 15 and younger.
The average age of a Ugandan is 19.  One of the poorest countries in the world people can't afford medical care and die relatively young.