Murchison Falls Preserve where Chobe Lodge is located...spent Sunday night there with Mission President and two other senior couples...they happen to be brothers and each of their wives name is Pam so we had 3 Pams in attendance. The service is excellent, the food likewise. You step into the lobby and are greeted with a lightly perfumed hot white hand towel to refresh your face and hands. Also a chilled glass of Passion Fruit juice.
Prior to leaving for Chobe we attended Church meetings in Bardege and Gulu. I had asked the branch leaders to consider adding a 3rd speaker to the service. They didn't think any youth would speak in such a public forum. Instead of adding a youth speaker, Gulu Branch had 3 youth speakers that took up the entire meeting and more. The confidence this gave the youth is immeasurable, to say nothing of what they learned as they prepared their talks. A picture below.
Pam: I spend a lot of time working with and supporting the women in our two branches. Most of them are converts of less than a year a two - some leaders only a few months(!), but is is amazing how fast they learn and what strong testimonies they have of Jesus Christ. Perhaps because of all the suffering and extensive warfare they have had to endure for over 20 years, they more fully understand the Savior's atonement in their and our behalf. I love these women and have fun working with them. They express amazement when they learn that I often "foot" (walk) to their homes.
A funny incident happened this week that is a prime example of the communication challenges. Our Relief Society president has a small business making shampoo and liquid (hand) soap. We discovered that of the supplies I picked up for her while in Kampala were missing the "caustic soda" - even though it had been paid for. I told her I would walk around the shops in Gulu's center to see if I could find it. I started looking without much luck, but stopped in a beauty "saloon", explained the chemical I needed called caustic soda. One of the hairdressers said she didn't have but she knew where to get it and would go get it for me. She said "you are welcome; please be seated" She said I should pay her in advance and it would be 2000 shillings. "Great!" I thought; "that is a little cheaper than in Kampala!" She asked which kind I wanted. I said, "is there more than one kind?" She said, "Yes, there are many." I told her to pick out what she thought would be best. About 20 minutes later she returned and handed me a bottle of orange soda. I looked surprised, then started to chuckle, but saw that she was crestfallen, realizing that must not be the right thing. She had thought I said "plastic" soda. I quickly told her this was not her error, that I did not speak carefully and how much I appreciated her getting me the soda as I was very thirsty. She was somewhat relieved.
She and the other hairdressers then (in their Acholi language) discussed the miscommunication and where I/they could get this caustic soda. One of their customers said she knew where to get it but didn't know how to explain to me. She said that if I would wait until her hair was done, she would take me. I readily agreed. The next hour and a half was fascinating, watching all that they did to add extensions to their hair, make braids and then sew hair pieces into the braids so they would have beautiful smooth hair. When they were done, they put the woman's new locks in a pony tail (!) and off we went. First she took me to her brother and sister-in-law's home to meet them, then we all went (via car - one of the few owned by residents of Gulu) to a very busy, very small grocery store. Unfortunately, the store owner said he no longer carried it because it didn't "move". The woman that was helping me saw my original receipt for the store in Kampala and said, she was going to Kampala in three days and she would pick it up for me. I told her that was not necessary because it was a store difficult to find. She insisted, without asking for money in advance or expecting anything in return.
This kind of service is not unusual. A month ago I was having trouble finding straight pins for sewing. The fabric stores didn't carry them, but in one of the stores, a total stranger said "I will take you. We walked through an alley that normally I would have been afraid to enter, then through some other areas until we reached an outdoor market behind all the buildings. Once she got me to the store she just said "you are welcome" and went on her way. I have been back through that alley now many times and realize there is nothing to fear there.
We attended a Missionary Zone Conf in Lira on Fri., May 17....2 hour drive. Returned to Gulu Saturday morn.
The young lady I mentioned in an earlier blog post, Christi Ann. from the Sankofa Cafe down the street from us is still attending. She really enjoyed Sacrament Meeting, Sunday School and Relief Society...telling me and Pam in separate conversations. The missionaries are trying to teach her in her home along with her parents. It's apparent she is gaining a strong testimony of her Savior.
Still lots of training going on of branch leaders...priesthood and auxiliary. I met with Bardege Branch President last week to talk about home teaching organization, how to prioritize families, make HT assignments, etc. In priesthood meeting the elders quorum president took most of the time passing out HT assignments, giving each companionship a message from the branch president which happened to be President Monson's Sunday Morning Conference address on OBEDIENCE. He had also prepared a "report back" sheet each compansionship is to complete at the end of each month on each family...Name of Home Teachers, name of Family Visited, what was the Message Shared, Needs of Family and other Notes. This comes back to the quorum president and the branch president. Because we don't have enough priesthood to visit every family each month, the brethren prioritized the families that will be visited; new converts, single sisters, less active.
Sorry...these pics didn't upload in the proper order.
This is a tent, family style room at Chobe Safari Lodge. The exterior walls are canvas. Probably runs close to $600/nite. It's a lot nicer looking than it appears in the picture!
Grilled cassava. We've eaten this fried in cooking oil. Tastes like a large salted french fry. Cassava is also what we know as tapioca!