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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 view...at 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 Wednesday...it 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.
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)
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.