Saturday, June 29, 2013

Week 16


Senior missionaries play a vital role in laying a firm Gospel foundation, especially in areas like Southeast Africa where the church is relatively new and growing so rapidly  

"Missions everywhere need more couples.  Their maturity and experience make them some of the best missionaries we have.  Their special skills . . . enable them to train local leaders effectively, strenghen and reactivate members, and bring nonmembers to Christ."  Elder M Russell Ballard

"As your circumstances allow, . . . make yourselves available for full-time missionary service.  Both husband and wife will have a greater joy as they together serve our Father's children." President Thomas S. Monson

We spotlight below a few of the exceptional couples who strengthened us here in Uganda before returning home from their missions.   

 Elder Robert and Sister Nola Woods, from Weiser Idaho (remember the famous hymn,  " 'Weiser' All Enlisted 'til the Conflict is O'er").   The Woods grow and process onions for stores as well as restaurant chains.  On their way to the Mission Training Center nearly 3 years ago, they were caught in a blizzard - white-out.  Their vehicle colliding with - and went under - a semi.  Although Sister Woods was in critical condition and a coma for some time, they were both miraculously spared and healed, and were able to begin serving in Gulu within six months! What a blessing they were to the people in Gulu and to us while they were our mentors for several weeks.
 Elder Vaughn and Sister Ann Andrus (no picture) were "neighbors" (from our neighboring stake) in Denton County,Texas.  They served two full-time missions in Uganda and were the first missionaries to live in South Sudan, often referred to as the Wild West.  They loved their mission and were successful in building solid relationships in this new frontier.  Vaughn's brother and his wife are now serving in Rwanda, also a part of our mission.

Elder Karl and Sister Robin Beckle, from California, are Ugandan Humanitarian Missionaries. They have probably seen more of Uganda than anyone else, often traveling with the Minister of  State and his entourage.  Beneficiaries of their efforts and supplies provided by the church reach into the hundreds of thousands, including new bore holes and bore hole rehabilitation, water catchment systems, distribution lines, new latrines and washing stations, mosquito nets and blankets, wheelchairs, measles innoculations, and distribution of Atmit, a special fortified porridge reformulated at BYU that is literally saving the lives of thousands of starving infants in Uganda and other third world countries.  They loved every minute of their diverse responsibilities. 
Elder Dean and Sister Pam "Jr." Grundy, Seattle Washington,  decided shortly after arriving to extend their mission to two years.  They brought dynamic growth to the city of Lira, until 7 months ago when they became the  Mission Office couple. Dean handled the huge array of financial matters and as Mission Secretary, Pam was responsible for all the administrative paperwork, including Mission President's travel, transfers, and departing missionaries.  They worked closely with President and Sister Jackson on logistical matters throughout the mission as well planning for the multitude of mission functions. Dean's brother Bruce and his wife Pam "Sr." have been continuing the Grundy legacy in Lira.  The latter Grundys  are our closest neighbors (1 1/2 hours) and current mentors. We traveled with them on Chobe/Paraa safari and Nile River trip.


President Eric and Sister Kay Jackson, our beloved (former - as of today) Mission President and Mission Mom.    The Jacksons have lived in Africa the past six years.  Prior to the call to preside over this mission (the largest in Africa) , the Jacksons served as the Director of Public Affairs, ultimately for all of Africa.  Every place we and other couples travel, the people -  not of our faith - ask about President Jackson and express their love for him and his wife.  President Jackson is CEO of a chain of Peterbilt dealers in the West.  They reside in Utah.

At their farewell dinner last Friday in Kampala, I made great headway in building the Ugandan Chapter of the Alabama Alumni Association with two new inductees. President Jackson was selected as Vice-President and Sister Jackson was selected Sec-Treas. Please join me in extending a hearty welcome to these two wonderful members of our association. (Pres Jackson started to tell me where to stand during this picture...I had to remind him I was the President and he was only the Vice President...that I was now telling people where to stand and what to do.) 


When we came back from Kampala last Saturday, this rooster was sitting on our front porch. He evidently had made the porch his home as there were droppings all over the place. He would get under our window at night as well as the elders' windows and crow starting around 4:00 am. When Isaac and Alfred came over to work (for their mission), I told them I'd pay them to catch the bird and throw it over the can see they met the challenge.


Alfred and Isaac left for full-time missions this week.  We helped them get supplies here.  He and Isaac caught the bus to Kampala together, shopped with the mission office staff for other necessities they still need.  One flew to the Missionary Training Center in Johannesburg on Thursday and the other on Friday to Ghana MTC where they each spend just under 2 weeks learning how to become more effective missionaries.  Isaac flies to Zambia and Alfred will stay in Ghana where they will serve two years before returning home to Gulu.  We have been helping them get ready by giving them jobs to earn money.  We were happy/sad when we took them to the bus station in Gulu Tues night as we will likely never see them again.  We will return home to the states before they return to Gulu...this is the hard part of our mission...Saying goodbye to good, strong, honest, morally chaste young men who are full of testimony and a desire to serve others.  When they return, they will form the foundation of the Church in Gulu and will serve as the springboard for future growth of the Church.

Monday Pam met with the Deputy Headmaster of Gulu Central High School who has been so kind and patient with one of the two missionaries mentioned above.  Because of very difficult circumstances, he was behind on his school fees, over 1,000,000 shillings.  Thanks to a benefactor in the states, Isaac was able to pay his debt before leaving on his mission thereby assuring he would receive his degree which will be of immense help to him when he returns from Zambia in 2 years.  Pam and I went back to the school on Thursday to tour the premises and get a feel for what type service the Church, along with other religious and city officials might be able to render.

We also met with the Director of St Mary's Hospital - Lacor (pronounced Lachow) Monday to discuss with him what service we or the Church can offer him.  He was very familiar with our Church and even knows where it is located. We asked him to discuss with his staff what needs they might have and we will get back with him next week for further meetings. 

At St Mary's Hospital. There is no food at the hospital for patients so family and friends camp on the grounds to feed and help attend to their acquaintances who have been admitted. These folks stay on the grounds, day and night.   
Maybe you can't read the list price of services. Would that all hospitals in the US would list upfront what their fees would be. It's impossible to read a hospital statement in the states. Here you know upfront. Perhaps if you click or double click on above you can get a better picture. Drop the last 3 zero's and mutiply by 38% and this will convert the shillings into US dollars.   Even at these low prices, the administrators say that most patients "run away" before making any payment.  Yet this hospital never turns away any patient.  For any child 5 and under that needs medical attention, they charge a total of 3000 shillings ($1.16) for all services for as long as it takes to get the child well. Additionally, to encourage expecting moms to deliver in the hospital rather than at home they charge a total of 5000 shillings. Currently 49% of all children are born at home where the mortality rate is 50%...hence the small charge for hospital delivery. A couple of years ago, 75% of children in the Gulu area were born at home, and of course, the mortality rate was much higher. 

Mission statement of this Catholic-based hospital that was founded by a husband-wife doctor team from Ireland.  Their daughter, also a doctor, continues with her parents' philanthropic efforts. Most of the people in this area are religious minded. Pam learned about the work at this hospital through members and also from a fund-raising rally (walking down the streets in Gulu) to help children from the region who come for cancer treatment.  The director said noone gave much; most 100-200 shillings (4-8 cents, American), but they were pleased that they raised well over a million shillings.  That's about $380. 
I awoke Wednesday morning feeling very anxious about what I don't know...but very disturbed by a terribly forboding feeling.  As Pam and I began running errands through the day the anxiety grew worse until I could almost feel something terrible was coming our way.  Finally, after much distress, I addressed the feelings head on.  Can't say I'm happy about it but I took a picture of the cause of my woes, which you'll see below.

A day in the life....Thursday...met with Gulu Central Officials at 10:00 to tour their school grounds...will send pics later.  I met with Church auditor and assisted some with membership audit of our Gulu Branch at 12:00.  Then headed to Bardege Branch at 1:30 to do the same but instead left to pick up some pizza to eat during the audit but didn't make it back til the audit was complete.   Pizza was good anyway.  Left there at 3:00 to pick Pam up along with some food sun dryers two more of our prospective missionaries are making.  Picked up Relief Society President and Elders Quorum President and two full-time missionaries to deliver the dryers to the orphanage we had visited the  week previously.  We also delivered some mosquito nets for the children to sleep under to help reduce the likelihood of contracting malaria.  Yet another young child there had just gotten out of the hospital from a more serious bout with malaria.

Returned home at 4:45 to drop Pam off at a sister's home who needs encouragement.  Picked Pam at 5:45 and headed to Institute.  Following that, we had two of our prospective missionaries over for dinner and some scripture reading.  We were tired that night.

 Crane on Paraa lodge grounds.
 Large expanse of the savannah.
 Jackson Hearty Beast....see how good I am at getting the wildlife to pose for me?
 More savannah with the River Nile in the background.
 Young giraffe are lighter colored than matured adults.  Male giraffes have a third horn in the middle of their forehead.

 Birds on the Nile.
 New meets old...oil rig operated by the Chinese out on the savannah.  Doesn't seem to be bothering the animals in the least.  We are thinking maybe our son Lawrence could do consulting for the oil company here when he finishes his current assignment in Russia.  The problem here is all the gold money and all the oil money flow out of the country to China, etc.  The poor Ugandans stay that way.
 Ole crock!  When they are asleep, their mouths are wide open just like Pam.
 Seen of shore from riverboat cruise up the Nile.  The most interesting thing was watching a large cobra swimming down the Nile. Half of the body was out of the water, propelling it forward.  They move fast!
 Bird nests in side of clay/limestone wall along the Nile.  Below...Mama not too happy we are disturbing her baby.  Ears out means she's in a fighting mood.  We are safe in the boat.
 Beautiful mom and daughter at Church building in Kampala last week...little girl likes to pose for the camera.


 We held our first family home evening for young single adults Monday night...played American baseball which they had never seen before.  They had a great time and are confident their numbers will double next Monday evening...4 guys and 2 gals.
 Baby on the street in shoe land.

This is it...this is what was making me feel sooooo out of sorts Wednesday morning...can you blame me?




Saturday, June 22, 2013

Week 15.

Elder and Sister Sutterfield, a mission office couple from a few years ago, shared the following sentiments: 

       "This is our second mission to Africa.  We served in Johannesburg with President and Sister    
       Jackson where we learned to love and respect them.  We love Africa and are happy to be back
       serving the Lord in this part of the world.  Elder Holland (Quorum of the Twelve of Apostles),
       after his trip to Africa ... told the [members] in America: 'I want the Saints to know that Africa  
       is one of the bright, beautiful emerging frontiers of the Church.  It sounds ominous sometimes
       just to hear the word Africa because we think of dangers.  Like any other place there can be
      dangers, but for the Church and the members it is one highlight after another, one bright spot and
      another.  These people are so given to faith.  I've often thought that perhaps the Lord in His
      justice, mercy and outreach made up for what they don't have in material blessings by giving
      them an extra measure of spiritual blessings and insight.'"

We echo these sentiments.

Pam on visiting the orphanage: 
Concerns had been raised about the owner's opportunist motives, so I wasn’t very interested in attending. How selfish and short-sighted of me!  This was an eye opening, heart-rending experience, getting better acquainted with the innocent children who were all well behaved and hungry for any attention. I hope to go back soon and find ways to serve them.  This orphanage is not the type where there would likely be any adoptions.  It is so far out from the city that few people will ever know or see it. The children sleep in one room for the boys and one for the girls where there is a triple bunker in each with 4-6 to a bed (some at each end); the rest sleep on a mat on the ground.  This is NOT cruel nor unusual;  18th and 19th century Brits and pioneer Americans did the same thing.  It remains necessary for many here in Uganda.
                                   The camera flash makes the room much brighter looking than it is. 
There is also a semi-finished brick enclosure which serves as a bath house.  The water is carried from a bore hole (a long distance).  No tub or shower, just water to splash off with.  (Putting this in perspective, I was about four years old when my grandma and grandpa got indoor plumbing, not that many years ago – in America.  Prior to that time they would bathe once a week, whether they needed it or not – in  a round wash tub placed in the middle of the kitchen  floor.  Grandma heated up the water on her wood burning stove.  Grandpa would always get the first bath with the clean water.  Each child, from the oldest to the youngest, would then have their turn bathing in the same water.) 

 The orphanage owner/founder, Justin, joined the Church this past year.  He now has 21 orphans plus a few older children/adults(?) who assist him.  The children are learning  some English, but the adults only know Acholi.  Justin’s office has a few writing tools and a book/tablet or two for the children’s learning.  There are NO toys of any kind.  Very seldom are  children in villages taught any games or activities, so they are thrilled to see visitors, to see a picture of themselves, to be taught anything.  Playing any kind of game is really really special to them. Remember the Humanitarian Service cloth balls that are sewn for children in third world countries?  They sure are needed here. 
Not much time with Justin as he had gone to the hospital with his young son who had contracted malaria. Malaria is almost as common as us catching a cold.  Mosquito nets really are life savers but they have none at the orphanage.  Fortunately, the people in Gulu live close enough to hospitals they can pick up government subsidized meds which generally restore their health.  Out in the more distant villages, however, there is no such care and many die.  Providing mosquito nets in those areas is one of the humanitarian services our church provides. 

Justin is a convert to our church of less than a year.  Since then  he has been persecuted by others, especially derided by the local ministers.  He and the children walk an hour every Sunday to our church.  Some of them sat beside me  this past Sunday during Sacrament Meeting.  They were all so reverent, far more so than children at home.  They are also very kind to one another. They are easily tickled by something one of their younger siblings says or does.  Children really are the pure in heart.   The younger children – up to age 12 – LOVE attending primary, learning the songs and new words.  Among other blessings, this participation is helping them learn English.  The orphanage is too poor for any of them to go to public schools because even public schools have many expenses: uniform fees, school fees and exam fees. In our region, many are not able to obtain any formal schooling.
After leaving the orphanage I visited another leader in our branch.  Her granddaughter was with her.  Again no toys, but she the child a water bottle and strapped it around her back so the little girl could pretend she was carrying her baby.  That gave me the idea that we could make dolls out of discarded water bottles.  The one below was made that night from some things in my house.  

An hour or so later, from discarded bottle, fabric scraps, a tongue depressor and thread.
The little white baby she is carrying is half of an empty thread spool. The grandmother was thrilled to receive this for her grandaughter.
The Relief Society sisters want to make similar ones for their children/grandchildren and kids in the orphanage. 

Safari on the savannah. A much needed 2 day holiday in Murchison Falls Park. 
Too many pics to show at once...."Line upon line. Here a little, there a little."

We loved watching and hearing the hippos, but they can be dangerous when out of the water.

 Sitting on second story patio having lunch our first day, this grounds keeper just barely escaped after
hippo shot out of the bushes.

Miles of open savannah.  Pictures don't adequately show its beauty.
                                          Ugandan Kobe are beautiful and abundant.

Jackson Hearty Beast uses its antlers to dig up foliage to eat.  Their scent is in their hooves.  The males fight each other to be head of a small harem of females.  He may remain as such for 4-5 months until another male battles him.

 Wart hog kneeling down grazing on the grass all while walking on his knees.  Notice their mane which is similar to that of a horse.  It's common to see birds riding on their back (eating insects off of them.)  He was grazing under this Sausage Tree below. The hanging fruit looks like sausage.  A baboon favorite.

Elephants marching in line. They do this to protect their young which are in the middle.  There used to be tens of thousands of elephants in this park, but they were being butchered for their tusks only.  That was made illegal about 20 years ago, but their population is nothing close to what it was.
 This scene was more fantastic that anything we saw on safari. Miracles took place allowing one of these couples to be baptized.  Will share their story later.
 For our Church friends, thought you'd be impressed that Gulu is headquarters for CES...not really.
 Another beautiful site...fixing potholes in Gulu.  It is so bad up there our fellow senior couples from nearby cities hate to come see us.  I just replaced my front two shocks on the truck.  They were both annihilated.

Confession... Now that you've read to the end, the hippo chasing the grounds keeper....not for real.  It came from a computer screensaver at the lodge we stayed in.  :)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Week 14  Progressive shots of our pottery.

Two or three days in the lives of a senior missionary couple:

We were called to take 3 transferring missionaries from Gulu to Kampala on Wednesday.
Brought back 3 with us to Gulu including two who had just arrived new the day previous to Kampala...both from Utah.  They are working hard and settling in fine with two great trainers leading them.

We returned from Kampala on Thurs around 3:00.  Had a mechanic look at what appeared to be a radiator leak.  A new one on order.  That evening I taught Institute for college age young folks and Pam stayed home to prepare a meal for our recently called full-time missionaries who will be leaving in less than two weeks.  Following dinner I taught them a Temple Preparation class.  Out the door at 9:00 pm.

Friday, Pam walked to former Relief Society (the sister's auxilliary of the Church) President's home ...about a mile away while I went shopping.  The sister was not home so Pam walked back and we then went shopping with one of our outgoing missionaries mentioned above.  His Mom lives quite a distance away and he hasn't seen her in months so we got him ready to see her before he leaves on his mission.  He bought her some seeds so he could plant her a garden as well as some food.  Isaac is one of the finest young men I have ever met anywhere.

Pam has not been feeling well so we went to the pharmacy at the hospital to pick up meds for nausea and antibiotic for toothache...possible infection and something to calm her intestines.  This stuff has been off and on for a few weeks now.  May see dentist in Kampala as we head back there this coming week for farewell dinner for our Mission President who will leave home for Utah first of July.  On our way to Kampala we will go on safari for a couple of days. Got Isaac on the bus at 9:00 pm for 11:00 pm departure that actually left at 12:00 midnight...the buses often don't leave until it is full.

Today, Saturday, Pam taught seminary at 9:30 am.  I did training with a branch president at the same time.  Finished both at 11:00 then went to see another Relief Society president and Primary president of another branch in the same neighborhood.  Neither at home.  Left there to purchase some eggs.  Then met up with a pair of elders who took us to an orphanage a Church member runs at 1:30 pm.  Some pics below.  Didn't see much of Justin, the owner, as his son came down with malaria over night so Justin was at the hospital getting treatment for his son.  Left the orphanage and dropped Pam off at the former RS president's home mentioned above at 3:00.  Picked her up after an hour as Pam had a meeting at our place with the Gulu Branch YW President who is leaving for USA for a few months.   Then out to Pope John Paul school at 5:30 pm to teach the one seminary student who boards there.

We stay very busy like this most days but the week simply flies by.

 First we take a piece of clay, cut it into two pieces and hollow out both pieces.  Then we shape each side so we can "glue" each side together to make the elephant body you see on the right.  "Glue" is just more clay used to stick the two parts together. Then we make the legs.  Elephant's back legs are longer than his front legs.  After gluing together the parts you smooth out the newly glued on joints using a little water and a a slightly flattened piece of wood.
 Then we "glue" the legs onto the body, after shaping the body into what looks more like an are looking at their rear-ends.
 Next step...glue on the head and trunk...more clay and smoothing out.   Then glue on the ears  Same process, more clay, wet it down, stick it own and smooth out the joints to the legs, trunk, ears, tail.  The elephant on the right is the one I'm trying to duplicate. It's been blasted in a wood burning oven, then smoked with burning wood and is now ready for sale
 Close up shots above and below of my elephant so far.
My elephant dried out after a week.
Pam is making an elephant with polka dots.  Was a lot slower than mine as she had some painting to do.  In this picture, as I did on my elephant she is "burnishing" the elephant...smoothing out all the rough spots and making the elephant shine somewhat with what appears to be a small quartz stone.  Then it goes to the blast furnice and then to a smoker that will change the colors of the clay

Now fired elephants but not yet smoked.  Final pic coming up in next week or so.
These poor cows looked like they had been driven half-way across Africa and just decided they couldn't go any further so laid down in the middle of the street...a couple blocks from our home.  Notice how thin they are.  There are no feedlots or grain these are fed.  They graze on what little grass they find in the city.  I didn't see their owner.
Can you see the bus up there?  No, cause it's kicking up all that dust.  On the way to Gulu from Kampala Thursday morning.
Orphanage.  The lady is from USA just visiting for a couple of weeks and enjoying helping out at the orphanage.
Some of the kids...21 in all.
Kitchen washroom.
This little piggy stayed home.
Dorm at the orphanage...boys on the right, girls on the left.