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.