Our Mission President told us in an email before we left Dallas that we would never get caught up.
A couple of weeks ago I was beginning to get overwhelmed at all there is to do. A little anxiety setting in. As Pam and I knelt in prayer one evening I recalled the blessing our Stake President in Dallas pronounced upon me when I was set apart. He promised the direction of the Holy Ghost and blessed me that I would be guided by Him. As I recalled those words during our prayer, a peace came over me that I hadn't felt in days. I continue to reflect on that blessing and it has been a comfort to me ever since that night mentioned. In the hustle and bustle to get things done, it is easy to forget this is not my work but His...that Heavely Father is in charge, He is directing the work. No need in trying to run faster than we have the strength to.
There have been two big challenges in my life while on this mission:
1. Missing a season of Alabama football....this hasn't happened since 1961, Bama's first national championship in my lifetime...I was 11 years old walking north up a long hill outside Legion Field in Birmingham after an Alabama/Auburn football game....Dad had a transitor radio in his hand and had just heard somebody/whoever had just been defeated and now Bama was ranked first in the nation. He and Mom were yelling, whooping and hollering that Bama was Number 1...I remember it like it was yesterday...that was the day of my conversion to Tide Football! There have been many more championships since that day...suffice it to say life has been wonderful for the Crimson Tide family.
2. Having to shave everyday...something I hadn't done since I retired in 2010. It's taking me 3 minutes, 39.4 seconds to shave each day. That's well beyond a full day of shaving over the course of our 18 month mission. No wonder I'll never get "caught up".
Last Wednesday our truck broke down. We were at a friends home...about 4 miles from our apartment on a very warm, dusty day. We started walking home. Just about 1/2 mile into the walk, I flagged down a large dump truck. He gladly picked us up and took us within just a few blocks from our apt. He would have brought all the way home if we'd asked him. We offered but he refused to take any money from us. We asked if he'd like to know more about the Church. He said he did as his brother is a member...in Ginga (south end of Uganda). As we walked the rest of the way home we were greeted by Ibrahim who was walking to his pottery shop just a 5 minute walk from our apt. (Elder and Sister Woods...right across street from Acholi Inn...opened up in Feb.) We followed him into his shop. They have some beautiful art work.
Yesterday, Monday, our Preparation Day, where we can relax a little, Pam and I went back to the shop to try our hand. With a lot of help and encouragement from Ibrahim we are making progress on a couple of bowls and a couple of elephants...naturally elephants. We took some pictures as the bowls and elephants were in various stages of production. We go back next Monday to do some more work. Will post the pics when they are completed.
Pam: While Brooks was at a meeting I walked to the home of our single mother Relief Society President to discuss some practical matters with her. Her 10' x 15' home also serves as her business where she does some computer work. She earned a certificate in computers last December. Her computer is likely one of the old ones from the U.S. discarded 10-15 years ago. While we were talking, I noticed a head bobbing up and down in one of the corners. It was a chicken I hadn't seen before! I asked her about it. She said, yes, it was hers. She went out to the village yesterday where her mother lives and her mother gave it to her. She said the chicken is being saved so that her 17 year old can have chicken for her birthday in a week. The chicken will likely stay in the house until then to assure it isn't stolen.
- If my calculations are correct, gasoline is running about $5.5/gal.
- The Uganda Kampala Mission is the largest Church Mission in the world...geographically speaking. About 25% the size of the US.
- High temp this week is 86 Degrees F. Low is 61. Doesn't sound hot, but since no place up here is air conditioned, it can feel stifling in buildings during the day. Fortunately, our two branches recently had rotating fans put in every classroom. They make a huge difference. This is the rainy season here but we've had very little rain...just cooler temps than the "dry season" which we are told starts in December and runs through Feb. Most wet month in Gulu is August according to one local.
- There are 44 different tribal languages in Uganda...
Institute Movie Night...held our second Friday Nite at the Movies last nite. About 16 attended inlucing the security guard who watches the bldg at night. We watched "The Other Side of Heaven".
Most of the students really enjoyed it. They seemed to understand the story even though the English is quickly spoken and the sound system is not the best. The wonderful thing about the story is that is is true...based on the mission journal of John H Groberg who was called to Tonga in 1953 for 2 and one half years, leaving his sweetheart behind, played by Anne Hathaway. He endured famine, hurricane, nearly drowning at sea, rats eating the souls off his feet, raising a young man from the dead. So inspirational, especially for our young men who are about to leave on their own full-time missions, and to recognize there will be great challenges as well as blessings while they serve.
The work will not be easy, but it will be worth it.
A few weeks ago I told you about a fellow who approched me on the streets of Kampala early one morning. He noticed my missionary name tag and said he wanted to know more. I gave him my telephone number is hopes he would call but one can never tell. Giving him my number was sort of a test of his sincerety. A couple weeks later he called and wanted the name of the local Kampala missionaries who could teach him. I called the Assts to the Mission President, gave them his name and tele. Late this week he called all excited. He said he was being baptized in June! Unlike in the US where many/most run from someone with a missionary tag, here in Uganda people approach you, wanting to know more about the restored Gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith. They don't all join the Church, but they are most all intersested in learning more. They are truth seekers.
One of our prospective missionaries brought us a bag of mangos. The people eat them even when they are green and very sour, but now they are fully ripe and very tasty. The previous missionary couple built this outdoor dehydrator. These mangos will be sun dried in just a couple days. Mosquito netting or similar material keeps the flies and other insects off.
Another young American couple also built a dehydrator to help some of the Ugandans. Most know nothing about dehydrating, which would seem to be a big asset for them, especially during the dry season when there is little or no fresh produce.. Of course, they would also need decent containers so the insects and mice/rats couldn't get to their storage!
[picture of refrigerator section]
Elder Bokwe is helping in Gulu Primary with Pam's suggestions. He is a wonderful young man. Plays the organ beautifully and sings as well. Here he is dressed as an Old Testament prophet.
Prophet Bokwe leads the Primary children out of the building, all holding onto a line singing, "Follow the Prophet"
The 3 pieces at top and the top of the palm at the bottom that broke off after pounding the palm on the concrete driveway. I didn't eat any...Pam, did. It's sweet, but real pithy. Most Ugandans eat the whole thing but others just suck the juice out.