Sunday, May 26, 2013

Week 11

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!
 On the sees a lot of overturned trucks and broken down buses.  A bus ride from here to Kampala is no guarantee.  There are usually close to 100 people on the bus;  they keep filling after the seats are full; some stand the whole way.  I don't know how they can stand with the roads as bad as they are.  The buses are often so out of alignment that they are driving down the roads partially sideways. 
This is one of many hippos that came out of the water while we were having dinner at Chobe Sunday night and began grazing on the lodge grass.  They stay in the water all day to avoid sunburn and come out to graze at night. They will walk for miles each night grazing.  They make lots of grunting, snorting noises and are very territorial.  We saw several "play fighting" while feeding. The next morning, when they were all back in the water, we walked down to about 30 feet from the water's edge.  They can run fast for short distances.  We were up higher on a rocky slope so felt safe, until one was really staring at us and coming up more out of the water.  Time to get out of there! More people are killed in Uganda by hippos than any other wildlife.  You NEVER want to get in the water near them! Many other reasons for not getting in that water also!
 Pam and I drove off the main entrance road into Chobe Lodge in search of whatever...took a right turn, then a left turn and bingo! We were so excited to run across a herd of giraffe. 
 View of Chobe Lodge pools and River Nile from our balcony.  The service at Chobe is second to none!  After busy, hectic weeks working around Gulu, Chobe is a wonderful reprieve, especially when we are able to glean from our mission president, his wife and other couples.
Double click on this pic.  These are nests high in a tree made by Weaver birds...or Weavers.  The nest hole is in the bottom of the nest so snakes slithering down the branches can't easily get to the eggs or baby birds. A link on the Weaver bird below.

 These 3 youth spoke in Sacrament meeting Sunday at Gulu Branch.  First time ever for two of them  They were as good a talks as one would hear anywhere in Church..."sacrifice", "fasting".
 They are so beautiful and graceful when they walk or run  We were about 25 yards from these.  We saw lots of them.  Some of them were nibbling right along the road.  We also saw a lot of wart hogs, hippos, gazelle, baboons, monkeys and Kobe (deer like).  No elephants this time, but lots of evidence they were around.  They push over large trees to eat the foliage off of them.  There are close to 500 different bird species in Chobe.  It's interesting how frequently you see large birds riding the backs of the hippos, crocodiles and wart hogs.  There may be five birds lined up in a row on the larger animals back. 
 Taking time to organize another important group while we are here...just under 100 days til kickoff.
 Grandma and grand baby.  The grandma has lived far beyond life expectancy in Uganda which is about 45-50 years.
 The country held a "solemn assembly" in 2012.
 No appointment necessary.
This small town about 60 KMs south of Gulu.
Sorry...duplicate pic.
Cooking up chipatti...a bread like dough in a light oil.  Flatten out the doe, place it on hot plate sitting on a bed of coals and spin it around using a lightly oiled folded piece of cardboard about size of postcard to thin it out and cook it at the same time.  Pretty good stuff!

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! 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Week 10
Friends and family, We would love to hear from you,  what's happening in your life/family.  Drop us an email and let us know what's going on in your life. We are grateful for each of you.

Sunday, Pam and I drove about 100 KM or 60 miles, 2 hours north, all dirt road naturally, to Kitgum to show a small group of Saints the Sunday morning session of General Conference held last month in SLC. We used our laptop, DVD, speakers and a projector. There were 13 in attendance.  It's rainy season and others have returned to their villages , some 30 miles away, to grow crops.    We left at 7:00 am and returned around 3:00 pm. This is the small group headed by Nixon who you may recall was kidnapped by Joseph Kony when a teenager. Boys and girls were taken from their homes in Northern Uganda, largely in the Gulu area. The boys were made to join Kony's rebel army. The girls were used as sex slaves and both boys and girls were often forced to kill their parents before the children were taken away, forced to march into south Sudan, where many more starved to death.  Nixon eventually escaped from the Kony rebels but was shot in the hip by incoming air force fire while escaping.  There are small billboard signs scattered in the area reminding the people not to touch or pick up unfamiliar objects  on the ground as the objects could be mines Kony and his soldiers planted.  Many people in North Uganda have been killed or severely mutilated by these mines.  The war ended about 7 years ago.

As we pulled up to their meetinghouse  30 minutes early (a hotel lobby we rent), we could already hear them singing the songs of Zion before the meeting was to begin.  A very sweet spirit and they all enjoyed and understood the messages from the Gen Conf speakers.

On the way home, about 10 miles outside Kitgum, we stopped to ask a fellow pushing a bicycle if we were on the right road back to Gulu.  He saids yes and as we were pulling away he asked us, "Are you Mormon?"  We told him yes and asked how he knew.  He said he has attended the Kitgum group and was asking if they were going to "open the area" (for missionaries and official branch organization). We told him we were in hopes that would happen soon.    He was very excited.   More than just coincidence that of all the  hundreds of people walking or biking down the road we stopped to ask this good man.

Some of our friends wonder and have asked us why we would come all the way to Africa to share the Gospel.  Certainly, there is a need to share with our next door neighbor or those down the street or those across town.  As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we take Christ's words literally when he told his 11 apostles  "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."  (Matt 28: 19).

Daniel prophesied regarding God's Kingdom that it would roll forth in the latter days to cover the entire Earth..."Thou sawest that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, that break in pieces the iron, the brass, the silver, the gold..."(Daniel 2:45).

We commend those who serve wherever they may be.  A living apostle counsels "Lift where you stand".  But for those who have the time and means to serve in other parts of the Lord's vast vineyard, what a blessing it is, both to those who serve and who are being served.  In spite of all the challenges and hardships, the people who understand what Jesus Christ has done for all mankind -- generally and individually -- are very happy.  We experience great joy in being a small part of this marvelous work.

 On our way to Kitgum we came across a couple of tractor-trailer rigs and a bus bogged down in deep mud on the highway.  The pictures don't do the scene justice.  We realized from all the stuck trucks, bus and vans in the middle of the road we might not be able to go further.  I carefully got out of my car, spoke to one of the truck drivers, assessed the situation.  The driver told me he had been stuck there since 8:00 pm night before.  Pam said a prayer and then we decided to try to boogie our way through the ditch on the side of the road.  Even in 4 wheel drive it was dicey and when we made it through, the truck drivers cheered us on.  We encountered the same mess another mile or so up the road. Odd thing is when we returned back down the road 4 hours later all the vehicles were cleared out and you could not see where there had been any problems at all.  It was so surreal.

So what else do Senior Couple get to do on their mission.  Monday morning I drove our missionary zone leaders about 1 1/2 south to Kamdini to be picked up by other ZL's heading to Kampala for training.  Tuesday nite I spent another 45 minutes or so with the plumber at Bardege building working on kitchen sink water leak...under the sink.  I get to meet him there today too!  How exciting is that?  Mid-morning I drive back to Kamdini to pick up the Zone Leaders who I dropped off on Monday...all because the ZL here lost is driver's license and is unable to drive.  Friday morning Pam and I drive about 3 hours south to a missionary zone conference meeting for all missionaries in the city of Lira. We return Saturday morning and then Sunday we head to Chobe where I saw the elephant, wart hogs, Kobe to spend the rest of the weekend with the Mission President...further training.  So you can see our life can be quite mundane at times.

Pam and I also drove out to our friends Dickson and Agnes (he owns the large farm he now calls Paradise...and has put up a gate at the entrance that says   Paradise Farms".  They lost 2 children to malaria sometime back.  You'll remember Dickson contracted it to,m the worst strain...went to his brain.

He is relasping somewhat so I sat down with him, introduced myself as Dr. Moore and got a complete medical history.  Pam was able to get a list of his meds from his wife.  I will call our mission medical doctor in Kampala Friday, tell him of our findings and he will begin consulting with a local malaria expert in Kampala to determine what course of treatment they will have Dickson pursue to make him whole.  His farm is more beautiful than ever and his bakery under construction is moving along.  I fear that without proper medical care, he won't see it finished.  He has no money to to speak of so the Church will assist through the use of our Fast Offering funds I've mentioned to you in an earlier blog.  I have 6 or more prospective missionaries working for Dickson.  He works for them and I pay them from funds friends have sent us from the states so these young men can serve on full-time missions.  I give them nothing.  They have to earn every shilling.
The road to Kitgum.  There were buses and tractor trailer truck rigs stuck in the mud.  One driver told me he had been there since 8:00 pm the night before.  Pam said a prayer, I slipped the truck into 4 wheel drive "Lo" gear and we managed out way through.  Those stuck cheered us on as we made our way through.  We ra n into a similar situation a mile or so up the road.  Off into the mud we went again, this time with more confidence.

 Great idea for Innisfree, (oldest son's place of employ).  Perhaps they would increase occupancy if not all rooms were self contained, especially during your busiest time.  Might do wonders for your sales revenue.
Some of the Kitgum group who meet every Sunday.  Since there is no officially organized branch in Kitgum it would be so easy for these good people to just stop coming, to wait for when the Church can send missionaries and create an organized branch.  Not these faithful Saints.  They love the Lord and His Church.  Monthly rent for hotel lobby is 25,000 UGX...$9.42 US.  Notice this is not the same LA hotel that offers self-contained rooms.  Our hotel, as you can see in the sign, is the one with the Executive Guest Wing.  Speaking of wings, they are adding on...see below pic.
This is a new wing being added to the LA Hotel.  The manager suggested this could possibly be for our group to meet in.  Notice the "strong" braces supporting the roof while under construction.  Reminds me of the tragedy in Bangladesh where the death toll now equals 1100.  With no building code, not at all difficult to understand why a such a building would collapse.

 I guess this is what we call "fast food" in the states.'d need a lot of trust in God to survive the night here.
 Here is the Trust God Hotel.  (Sometimes small restaurants are called hotels.)  In either case, my faith is not that fully developed.
Don't try walking stepping on this crosswalk in high heels.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

 Week 9

Following last week's blog someone posted a comment wondering how they can help monetarily.  There are needs, but unfortnately the comment inquiring about help did not have a name associated with it.   If this was from you, please email me at and I'll share some detail with you. Thank you so much.

By the way, on the pictures in the blogs, one can click or double click on them and they will enlarge for a better least it works for me on my end.

Sunday Pam and I made it to Gulu Priesthood Exe Committee meeting at 8:00 am then to Bardege PEC at 9:00.  Attended Church at Bardege, Fast and Testimony, meeting there while Gulu watched April General Conference via DVD.  Following the Bardege meetings they had a baptism.  I headed back to Gulu Branch to meet with the branch president and counsel with a member who doesn't want to attend the Bardege Branch in which he resides.  Didn't make any progress there. Pam had meetings with Bardege Relief Society as well as training new Young Women Counselor. Every day is busy, busy.

Pam: Beatrice, 20 years old, was baptized April 6 and was immediately called as First Counselor in the Bardege Young Women's organization.  She was the only leader present on Sunday and taught the lesson.  She presented an amazing lesson from the Young Women's material with thought provoking questions involving personal application from the girls.  I told her what an outstanding job she did.  She humbly said she loved the girls and it was the Spirit directing her.  Just exactly what every teacher, regardless of experience,  must have. 

Brooks: Well...I hate to confess this so early in the mission but I caused my first boda accident last was completely understandable as I'm sure you'll see.  I was headed down a dirt road back home when walking towards me was a Gulu native wearing a Alabama Crimson Tide National Championship shirt.  I was so excited I slammed on the breaks and turned to his side of the road.  Just then a boda driver with a passenger pulled to my right and went down about 10 yards ahead of me in a pile of mud...thank goodness for rainy season.  He claimed some damage to his bike (I wasn't going to get out of the car and look) so I paid 50,000 shillings ($24) for his trouble while he was demanding more.  He soon left and I called the fellow over with the Bama shirt on.  I asked him if he realized what he was wearing...he said of course....Alabama National Championship shirt.  Told him there was no bigger fan in the world than me (which is a slight twist of the truth) and could I take a picture of him.  He said "no".  I begged. He said "no". I said you are killing me.  He said I'd be OK.  So I nearly injured two folks on a boda boda, costing me $24 all for nothing.  Guess I should have offered to pay him to take his pic.  Didn't think of it at the time.

Pam:  We've seen quite a few with Alabama shirts.  These are second hand clothes from the U.S.  Hmmmm.  Some folks must be happy to get rid of their Bama shirts.

Meetings with each branch presidency this week to review the membership records.  We have one branch with over 200 members and according to our automated records only 20 members have a calling to serve in the branch.  Noone has received a calling for several months!  Can't help the Saints grow if they aren't serving each other.  So we are reviewing the records, see how accurate they are and then suggesting possible callings to the branch presidency for those members without callings with a deadline as to when to extend those calls.

In a previous training meeting with the branch presidencies I told them I'd never noticed a youth speaker in Sacrament Meeting.  There was complete silence.  "Are you telling me the youth won't speak?"  "Yes", was their reply..."they will not speak...too afraid".  I asked how do you know til you ask them.  Leaving the Bardege meetings Sunday I noticed one young lady sitting outside studying a sheet of paper the branch president had given her on the topic of "Faith" which he had printed off the Church website from the heading Gospel Topics...a link I had sent each branch presidency.  I ask her what she had and was she going to be giving a talk in Sacrament Meeting.  She said she was!  Then I learned the branch president had assigned 3 other youth to give Sacrament Meeting talks in the coming weeks.  How great will this be for these youth!  A real growing experience and confidence builder while studying the Gospel in preparation for their talks.

Pam:  One of our departing missionaries felt there wasn't a lot of unity amongst the members and there weren't enough activities.  They also haven't been doing visiting and home teaching.  So I organized a Bardege/Gulu Relief Society Conference with the theme "Called to Serve".  In addition to the speakers (Brooks on their role as nurturers, along with addresses from  the previous Relief Society General Conference, the Young Women sang "Love at Home" and then the women made beautiful corsages.  The women loved doing this and were very proud of their creations.  They were allowed to make three.  Some of them pinned all three on at once.  The biggest problem was their stealing additional materials, even after emphasizing being honest and we'd make these again.  Honesty is not yet a foundational principle in their culture, but many of them are trying.  They have just been deprived of so much, that act like vultures.  In this area (Gulu) they really are as two year olds, who need to be trained on acceptable behavior.

Cooking for a large group (the presidents thought there would be at least 50 sisters from each branch, plus children and priesthood servers) is sooooo much work, so I told them "let's have a simple light lunch of beans and rice and I'll cut up pineapple and make (6) nicely decorated cakes".  (Cake is a huge treat they all love.)  Little did I realize what such a simple meal really entails for them.  There just isn't any way to comprehend unless you are a part of the experience.   Peppers, onions and tomatoes are fried in heavy oil and added to the huge pots of beans and cooked with special seasonings, so two days ago we spent hours in pouring rain at various outdoor markets, then carting 25 pounds each of beans and rice, etc. back to the building. The next day we cut up 15 pineapple (to be stored in the sole fridge of the 300+ members - mine) and then spent four hours sitting on the floor with the beans and rice poured out on the not so clean floor, sorting and cleaning out any undesirable things. We  also had to get wood or charcoal for the fires.  This morning the sisters arrived around 6:30 to cook the beans and rice.  Even though we had many good men serving the food, and washing every plate and eating utensil,  it took several more hours for the women to scour the big cooking pots with burnt food stuck to the bottom - all done outside around a water spigot.  My love for these faithful women increases every day, along with a deep yearning for an increase in prosperity in all areas of their lives. 

Brooks:  The sisters were allowed to make 3 corsages each and it was a challenge holding them to that number.  I imagine every sister in attendance will have their newly made flowers on their dresses tomorrow at Church.  They learned a new skill, fellowshipped with each other, good food...a big sucess.  There were 9 sisters in attendance from Gulu Branch and 28 from Bardege (more priesthood helpers and children than sisters).  (Wasn't publicized as much in Gulu as Bardege).It was a challenge shutting the conference down.  I think they would have stayed until late in the night they were having such a good time.

Fun Facts: 
Cost less than 4 cents per page to photo copy at a public internet cafe (shop) in Gulu.
Using the internet at a such a place runs 500 shillings for 20 minutes...19 cents
30 farm fresh eggs for $3.93 (Of course, you have to clean and "sterilize" the eggs before storing)

 Just walk on in this nasty alley way and register for a nights stay at the Republic Hotel.
 I've seen more goats and pigs and chickens in the last 2 months than in my entire lifetime.
 Brandon, who I helped get employed by the Church taking care of our two branches lawns.
 Our Primary President, Agnes just about to stone grind millet into flour - literally holding one stone against another to grind into flour.
 This is "posho"  the main staple in Gulu.  It is sort of like our grits but 10 times more concentration of the cornmeal.  It's boiled until it becomes a ball.  It is their substitute for bread.  This container is leftover from breakfasst.  They'll "mingle" it with their other meal for the day, in the evening, maybe beans or meat or greens.  They love it.  We think it is gross.  Yes, those are flies on the outside of the container, but the container is normally covered with another pot. This room is Agnes' kitchen area but all her cooking, as with everyone else, is done outside.
 One of over a dozen fans I've had installed by our folks in Kampala into our two branch buildings in Gulu.  One unit had a few ceiling fans but they generated more noise than air, making it difficult to hear the talks in Sacrament Meeting.  The other unit had no fans.  So the Sacrament Meeting room has 6 or more ocillating wall fans that are quiet and very good about moving the air. 1000% improvement.  We need more fans for some classroom and they are due to be installed next week. 
 Brandon again...trimming shrubbery...this went from a an untrimmed mess to what you see here.
 Roadside market.
One of our favorite gift shops in Gulu.
 We stumbled across this restaurant last week in Kampala and decided to eat here in honor of our son-in-law Jerry being baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Our mission has blessed our family in ways we hadn't imagined.  Pam's dinner below.  Rice with a tomato sause...carrot and tomato...the best tomato she's had here...she says.  The vegetables around Gulu are not nearly as good as those in other parts of the country. 
 Making flowers.
 Finished product.

 Heating the edges of the cloth so it will curl.

 Doreen...the Branch President's wife in native dress.
 The sisters hard at work making flowers.
 Priesthood brethren serving sisters lunch and cleaning up afterwards.
 Day before the conference, the sisters sorting beans and rice...the good from the bad...on front porch of Chapel.
 At the market...beans and grains.
I stopped in to see the Gulu Mayor today to introduce myself.  He wasn't in but got a kick out of his office sign.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Week 8

We have now been on our mission two full months effective yesterday!  The time is going by very quickly because we are always busy.  In spite of the challenges, we love being here.

Last Sunday was General Conference Broadcast at Bardege Branch via DVD. (Gulu Branch today)
On Saturday Bardege had 97 attend the morning session of conference, 93 the afternoon session and 160 who showed up for lunch between sessions.  Word spreads fast when there is free food.  Last Sunday there were over 120 who attended each session.  One was a young lady we invited.  She stayed for both sessions including a baptism between the sessions.  Gulu didn't have any meals;  attendance was much more sparse.  Still over 90 for this morning's session.

Last Tues nite I held my second training meeting for branch presidencies, clerks, exe secretaries.
They are receptive to my suggestions on improving their own performance and teaching the saints.
Our emphasis Tues nite was how to delegate, what to delegate, when.  Pam has been working with presidencies in the Primary (children 18 mos to 12 years), Young Women and Relief Society organizations.  They are so eager to learn and become good leaders. 

Pam thinks the youth are some of the finest you'll find anywhere.  They are so polite, very happy, dress modestly, and love the Gospel.  You should hear them sing!  They have a great love for music and know most of the hymns by heart.

You may recall William, the American who is setting up a digital transcription business that pays 400,000 shillings a month.  None of the 6 or so candidates I sent to him passed the transcription test but he told me yesterday they will all be hired at the same salary doing other work.  He is opening a new shop a couple of blocks down, will be ready in 2 months so I am very hopeful we will be able to provide a good income for as many members as I can send him.  400,000  shillings is big time.

We will also have a fireside in a few weeks by a missionary couple who are involved in the church's Perpetual Education Fund.   The fund allows individuals to get vocational or trade training.  The individuals pay back the loan which makes the funds available for other individuals (thus, perpetual).  It helps worthy young men and women to develop skills or to get set up in a small business so they can become self-sustaining.  Initially this was for young adults, but we have heard that it is expanding this summer to help the indigent who are older as well. It produces lasting benefits for those who properly follow the program, both emotionally as well as financially. 

I was able to get Brandon, one of our prospective missionaries, a job with the Church in Gulu making 300,000 shillings a month.  He will subcontract the cutting at the church lawns to another member but will still net pretty well for his mission expenses.

Isaac is a great worker.  I have some pics below of him working around the house.  He just completed the garden for us...bout 8 hours weeding and planting.  I have him working down the street for a lady, Lucy, who Pam and I met while walking one day.  I pay these young men who are trying to save money for their missions from donations received from family and friends in our ward/stake.  The residents need help to produce good cash crops but don't have funds to hire anyone.  Lucy says she's never had a better worker.  Another neighbor, "Innocent" says the same about Brandon who has worked "digging" in his garden...these are big gardens!  It's been a "win-win" situation for everyone involved and has helped impove the image of the Church here by the good work ethic demostated by the prospective missionaries.

Had a tragedy happen just around the corner from our apt last weekend.  Three women were struck by a drunk driver.  One killed, one with a broken back and the third with minor injuries.   They are all Americans.  They were walking to the bus stop - going to Kampala - then fly back to the states after finishing Peace Corp assignments here. 

Had to go to Kampala again this week.  Driving in Kampala will always feel like a nightmare but the actual road trip gets a little better each time because they are improving sections of the highway.  Unfortunately, all the major work is in the southern part of the state.  The roads in northern Uganda are hardly touched.  We've heard there is money for the roads here, but it's going into pockets rather than into fixing the crevices.  We've also heard the funds are much less in this area because of the long-standing animosity between the Acholis (northern tribe) and Ugandan President Museveni.  Either way, the roads up here are something else.

We attended the farewell dinner at the home of the mission president while in Uganda.  Delicious meal.  Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, etc. and even ice cream!  31 of us, 17 missionaries from all over the world who had completed their mission and were returning home.  They each bore powerful testimonies about the Savior and the blessings of the Gospel.

Pam wanted to make cake for the Relief Society conference she is organizing with two branches next weekend.  The last time she was in Kampala she found four Pillsbury cake mixes for 4000 shillings each (1.80).  Great price, so she bought them.  She needed a couple more for the conference; this trip she found some more, but they were priced 21,000 shillings (almost $10 a box).  Needless to say, she didn't buy them.  That's why the majority of the time she makes everything from scratch: cottage cheese, yogurt, sauces, tortillas, etc.  She is enjoying being creative with what she has.
 One of our Prospective Missionaries, Isaac...made us this kitchen cabinet to earn money for his mission.
 Also made us this hall shelf so we can store cleaning material, towel, etc.  Notice all the Melaleuca products!  A big problem here is the flies around any food.  Tough and Tender gets rid of them immediately but  it isn't harmful to humans.   
 Isaac making us a back screen door to cool down the kitchen.
 Isaac, the man, outside sawing wood for our hall cabinet.
 Huge grasshopper!
 Huge "praying mantis"!
 The faceoff.
 The Winner is he who prays.
 Lauriche...our orphan at Pope John Paul Boarding School Pam teaches seminary every Saturday afternoon.
 Sisters prepared meal for 160 at General Conference via DVD last Sunday.   All the food was cooked outside over a campfires...just like they would do it at home.   (Many use a clay stove they have built.)  There was no dish detergent to clean the dishes...just hand soap.  This rented meetinghouse has a beautiful kitchen - minus a working stove and no fridge. No hot water and very little water pressure.  We will be working on some basic kitchen improvements next.
Rice, beans, Irish potatoe, stewed beef.  These are deep dish plates and the food is piled on.  No matter their size, they eat every bit of it. 
Took four of these bikes to the repair shop.  In all states of disrepair.  71,000 shillings or $27 to fix em all.

 Our 8 elders.  Once every 6 weeks all of these are subject to being transferred so we hold a special transfer dinner for them.  One of them also had a birthday. Found a candle so put a clothes pin between the brownies and stuck the candle in the clothespin.  Worked great!  They each guess where each will be transferred to next.  Two of the missionaries will be "dead" by Thursday.  That means they will be heading to Kampala with us as they will return home...both to Utah...after serving 2 years.  We love them all and hate when they have to leave, but we are always amazed at the great new ones that are transferred in. Their days start at 6:30 am. Exercise, breakfast, one hour personal study, one hour companion study, then out the door by 10:00.  They are out all day doing missionary work, then return home around 9:30 pm.  They are always as cheerful as you see them in this picture.    
 A lot of pork roasting going on over here.  Say this name 5 times under 5 seconds and I'll treat you to some pork at this joint.
Typical Gulu construction.  Floors under construction being supported by tree branches.  President might try this technique out.  May allow you to pick up a few more bids for Parkway.