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.  :)

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