Friday, July 26, 2013

Week 20

Communication is still a problem:

Before we took our truck to Kampala for clutch repair, I was concerned we wouldn't make it so I took the truck to the only Toyota shop probably in all of northern Uganda...right here in Gulu and just a half mile or less from our apartment.  The mission has had the vehicle serviced at Motor Care Toyota Dealership in Kampala a couple of times. I didn't buy the truck to begin with so I'm not really paying attention to what it is I'm driving..nor do I care so long as it gets me from point A to point B.
This has been my attitude towards cars all my life.  I will never buy a new car because we're paying too much for the new smell and the day its driven it off the car lot one has just lost a ton of money.  One of the top 10 bad investments anyone can make...but I digress.

I pull into the dealership and park. The security guard...everybody has a security guard...we have one at the apt, each of our churches has one, the grocery store has one, every bank, of course...I mean almost every place of half value has a the guard tells me to park the car "over there" instead of where I stopped. I obey as he, too, carries a rifle over his shoulder like all the other guards. (Our Church guards don't have guns...just batons.)

I walked into the shop and spoke to the shop manager. "I have a clutch problem, I think. Could someone drive it for me and let me know what you think?" The very couteous shop manager looks out his window at the truck and says, "Itsinthesun." (say that as fast as you can outloud before reading any further...go ahead, say it fast, faster.). Hmmm, I think to myself, "it probably is parked in the sun" and look outside myself. Sure it enough, it's in the sun and I tell him, "yes, that's where I was told to park it." The manager looks outside the window again and once again tells me, "Itsinthesun". (Say that as fast as you can!) "Well, yea, I think to myself. I wasn't told to bring it into the shop yet so it's in the sun!"  So I ask him again..."can someone test drive it to see if the clutch is going bad?" "Itsinthesun", he tells me again.  I'm getting frustrated at this he not willing to get into the car as long as it is parked in the sun?  Where does he want me to move it and is he going to tell the fellow with the rifle slung over his shoulder?

We are obviously not communicating so he says "Let's walk outside together to look at it." We are just about to reach the truck and he tells me again, "Itsinthesun"! THEN, THEN, I look at the back of the truck, the name on the truck...I realize what he's telling me..."It's a Nissan (itsinthesun)....Not a Toyota, [you dumb mzungu!]  We don't work on Nissans." So I say to myself, after both of us laughed outloud. "Nissan, Toyota...what difference does it make...just fix the clutch.", which, of course, he can't do. So we shake hands, laugh together again and I drive away feeling like a complete idiot.  Obvioulsy, I'm not yet used to the Acholi English.

Pam will tell her own English translation story next week.

We had 5 baptisms last Sunday between the two branches.  Two were brothers 22-24...just as fine a people as you will meet.  One of the brothers was his class president at Pope John Paul School last year...the school we've metioned where we are mentoring one of our young women.  A third was a friend of the former Relief Society President who is into politics and knows some significant opinion leaders.  Two more were the Mom and brother of one of our sisters who is about 23.  It was an overcast chilly day in Gulu Sunday, believe it or not.  The water was cold.  The Spirit was warm.

The mission has scheduled a senior couples conference in Paraa mid-December. (It will be the dry season and I'm told rather warm.) Same spot we went on Safari a few weeks back.
Pam's brother from Wyoming will be joining us around Christmas time.  We are glad to share some sights and sounds of Uganda with him when he arrives.  Anybody else interested?
We held a very successful Family Home Evening tonite with the young single adults.  We averaged only around 8 over the last 3 weeks since we began.  I moved the site to a community based club and field where they played "dodge ball" for the first time in their lives.  We played on an unused tennis court where we had natural boundaries stripped on the ground.  These kids love to play games.  They are natual atheletes...the guys and the gals.  Very competitive! After the game I took them into the club and bought all 15 of them a soda.  It may be the soda they are coming for and not the game but it doesn't make any difference.  They are fellowshipping with each other, becoming friends and getting a short lesson or spiritual message delivered from one of them.  They all are excited to come back next Monday night and play it again.  We always gather the interest of some standing by to see what all the laughter and commotion is about.  We invite them into the game and they get a soda too.

Tuesday morning we met at a lady's house at 6:00 am (her request). (This after laying awake all nite thinking I'd miss the alarm clock.)  She is not a member of the Church but one of her chldren is serving a mission in UK.  Pam and I have other commitments but the guys worked helping her harvest her crops out in a village 3 or 4 miles further out.  Took about 2 days.  We are able to pay them which goes directly into their mission funds ... thanks to the generosity of some folks back home.

We love serving the people, but one of the serious problems is that some of them, particularly those 30+ come to expect you to do everything for them.  They lose the motivation to do what they can for themselves and never learn to be self-reliant.  One of our great blessings is working so closely with the younger generation who sincerely WANT improve their lives through their own efforts.  They understand the principle of the law of the harvest.  The opposite example is a woman, not a member, asking for help from some of our men in carrying jerry cans of water to her place every few days. Pam made arrangements for one of the prospective missionaries to do that.  When Pam asked how that was going the young man said he hadn't been able to do it because the woman was demanding that he pay for the water. (The bore hole in her area is broken; to use a neighboring communities bore hole, she pays100 shillings (4 cents) per jerry can, or about 400 shillings  for a few days water.  The prospective missionary truthfully told her he didn't have the money.  She told him "then the Moores would need to pay."  (The worman actually has the money to buy the water).  We said we would not do that.  She told the young men, "then you will need to walk to Elder and Sister Moore's (close to an hour walk),  get the water from their place and bring it back each time.  They told her they would not do that.  Another young man who was involved told us,  "I see that his mother is only thinking of what she can get for nothing."  This gave Pam an opportunity to discuss with them the importance of self-reliance when they return from their misswion.  She also suggested they tell the woman if she will not pay for her water (like she was doing before her request for help), she would need to personally bring the jerry cans to our house.  Then the young men will bring them back filled.  Of course she won't want to walk 3-4 miles to bring us the cans every few days. Finding the right balance in service so that it truly empowers the people is often tricky.  Unless the recipient comes to recognize the Lord's tender mercies, regardless how small they may seem, and has heartfelt gratitude for them, our service is often of naught.    

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of the need for the healing effects of the Atonement—not just for forgiveness of transgressions, but for all of life's hard:

“[The Savior] has risen from the dead ‘with healing in his wings.’  “Oh, how we all need the healing the Redeemer can provide. Mine is a message of hope for you who yearn for relief from heavy burdens that have come through no conscious act of your own while you have lived a worthy life. It is based on principles embodied in the teachings of the Savior. Your challenge may be a serious physical disability, a struggle with lingering illness, or a daily wrestle with a life-threatening disease. It may have roots in the death of a loved one, the anguish caused by another bound by sin, or abuse in any of its evil forms. Whatever the cause, I testify that lasting relief is available on conditions established by the Lord” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1994, 7; or Ensign, May 1994, 7). 

(Some of my fondest memories as a new member of the Church, while serving as a District Clerk in Birmingham was to sit at the feet of Elder Richard G. Scott  - now an apostle - who was serving as a Regional Representative at the time.  As I recall he was from Wash DC area.  I truely grew to love this man and looked forward to his visits to Birmingham to train us in our callings.  Even then he radiated a strong spirit of love and priesthood power.  I bumped into him a few years back in Hattiesburg, MS.  When I went to talk to him after a meeting, he didn't recall my name as I suspected, but he said as he looked out over the congregation he saw me and knew we had met somewhere in the past.  Reid...those were great days, weren't they?  My fondest in the Church.)

I'm having lunch by myself at nearby cafe with free wireless...walk in and a couple of women say "Hello Elder."  I asked them what they know about elders.  They say they are from BYU on a work study project.  (Pam is excited to tell you more about that in the next blog.)  Then we bump into these gals later in the afternoon at a friends house (!) with a couple more BYU of which is married to the girl he's standing next to in the middle.  The Church makes the world a very small place to live.

 All he wanted was to have his picture taken...and then to look at it on the camera.

Bad pic but these 3 helped us at the lumber yard cutting and planing wood for the easels we paid our prospective missionaries to make for each of our branches.  The fellow in the middle owns the shop.  We had a nice conversation and I kiddingly suggested to him that he ought to build a 3 story office building on the premises so he could sit up there like a big shot and oversea his employees.  He responded, "I need to be here in the dust with my workers not in an office."  What a great management philosophy...get down in the trenches, get in the dust, get dirty, get close to your people.  Help them succeed because if they don't succeed you won't either.

 The hustler...and I don't mean that in a negative way.  This little fellow and his younger brother we see on the streets of Gulu almost everytime we go to town.  Selling G-Nuts here (peanuts), no doubt his family has grown in a family garden.  They are salted and quite tasty.  500 shillings a bag. (19 cents).  I give them away to store owners I'm trying to get a better price  than mzungi price for something...copy paper, hardware, whatever.  They children likely aren't able to attend school because the fees are to high for their families. 
 Pam's new beadspread made from native material.  The reverse side can also be used for a different effect without the sheen.  How is your's coming along Buddy?

 You've seen this before.  Nothing unusual about this except they are passing in front of our Gulu Branch church building...surrounding my truck which is parked on the side of the street.
 Doing a little grilling Monday nite.  This is the oven/grill we used before but a better shot.  Belongs to the landlord.  The elders bought the pork and chicken (we paid for it, the pork was still warm from being slaughtered), brought it home and we cooked as they went out again on appointments.  Got back for dinner around 9:30.  Too late, yes we know.  But it was what we call "transfer night", when Pam holds a special dinner for the missionaries.  Wednesday Pam and I sadly took Elder Agesa (Kenya) and Elder Thabethe (Durbin South Africa) to Kampala.  Elder Thabethe was an Assistant to the mission president but he requested to be back in the field his last six weeks before going home.    Man o man...would that all young men were as good as Elder Thabethe (pronouced Tabetee).  We brought back two more elders, who will be great, but sadly neither of which is Elder Voracek who flew in Thursday (they had some strange route that made it a 44 hour flight!) from my home ward (congregation) in Dallas. 
 The end product of our grilling.

No matter what you may think, of eating Ugandan pork, I think you'll agree it tops eating rat, relatively common food up here as well as in Kenya.   Here is roasted rat.  Not bad looking?

Our elders cooking the ants.  Rats and ants to begin our fast Sunday?  We decided to begin our fast before we ate!  (Not really, we weren't eating any of this but some of the elders did.)

Elder Thabethe on the left with our new elder, Elder King standing next to him.  Three of new baptisms last Sunday.

Sisters from the Church over to the house Tuesday making the little dolls Pam invented from empty plastic water/soda bottles.  Pam prepared lunch for them...posho and beans, banana and some of my birthday present choc chip cookies and they all sang happy birthday to me.

 My birthday present from elephant plaque, naturally.  This is about 16" in diameter.  She was so thoughful.  I think I got her a curling iron for her birthday in March.
 The plaque came from the same pottery shop as the four bowls and little elephants Pam and I made.  This plaque was on the shelf for sale and she couldn't help herself.
Pam has hired a single adult to help with all the baking and misc things at the house.  She doesn't "get" the money, but it goes for her school tuition (again thanks to an American benefactor).  Beatrice made this cake for me,  "ElMor" and Joshu (Joshua, one of Pam's seminary students).  The latter was supposed to come for bday cake and to skype call his favorite people, the former missionary couple, the Wood's, now living in Idaho, but he never showed up... He said last week how much he wanted cake for his bday (24th) and to talk to the Woods.  Just 3 hours earlier he confirmed he'd be here.  We called the Woods an hour late to tell them Joshua had not come.  No explanation or notification.  That is one of the frustrations working with these good people.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Week 19

Fixing Pot Holes - I've told you about Gulu, the pothole center of the world.  Well, shortly after the Wood's left and we arrived, the city actually started working on the potholes.  They started on the south side of the city and worked their way north towards our housing complex.  I was sure they'd fix the two potholes closest to us but after waiting a couple of months it became apparent I was going to have to continue to slow down and/or swerve out of the way to avoid them.  A few weeks ago we meet an American, John, who is living in our complex.  Had him over for dinner Friday night and like all conversations, the potholes finally came up.  Both of us were disappointed the city hadn't repaired the last two...right outside our gate.

Bingo!!  We decided to get up early Saturday morning to fix them ourselves so I carted dirt from our yard in several buckets, loaded up the truck, honked outside his door and we took off to fill in the first pothole.  Didn't make a dent in it so went back to the apt and loaded up again, this time with more buckets and some rocks as filler.  Did pretty good and decided that was all we should risk that day...standing in the middle of the road and we'd try again another day to repair the other one.  We agreed to meet early Wed morning and finish off the second pothole.   All the while I get the feeling someone is watching us and recording a grey truck with license plate 113R and reporting us to the city.  Maybe the police will come get me...I don't know...just a feeling someone is watching.

Tuesday morning I drive out of the apartment gate, round the curve and notice a crew has barrelled off the pothole, digging up what we had just filled in, busting off the edges of the asphalt.  I drive by slowly, trying to look as innocent as possible, when it seems that all 5 or 6 of the road crew are gazing at me.  But I'm thinking, "how about that, a little citizen involvement and the city decided to do the job right...that they are now fixing the pothole."  But when I come back home, do I dare drive back up the street and get picked up by the police and placed in a jail where there is only a bucket  to use or do I take the back road...knowing these guys think it's me whose been playing in the street for two mornings now.  I risk it and low and behold, there are just 2 crew members there now and they have finished their prep work and poured asphalt and gravel not only over the hole John and I had been working on but the other one we were going to tackle Wednesday morning....and three more potholes close by too!  John and I are sooooo proud of ourselves and what we accomplished...just the two of us taking the inititative to makes things better for the citizens of Gulu (Ps.  I was not wearing my Missionary Name Tag while working on the road.)

A spiritual thought.  Consider the state of those who live in "third world" countries...the inequities in the world.  In the end,  what becomes of God's justice and mercy?  Is this life the only one there is to weigh all in the balance?

When the righteous and innocent suffer, some become critical or lose faith. Former Prophet of the Church President Spencer W. Kimball offered the following counsel when we witness suffering:
“If we looked at mortality as the whole of existence, then pain, sorrow, failure, and short life would be calamity. But if we look upon life as an eternal thing stretching far into the premortal past and on into the eternal post-death future, then all happenings may be put in proper perspective.
“Is there not wisdom in his giving us trials that we might rise above them, responsibilities that we might achieve, work to harden our muscles, sorrows to try our souls? Are we not exposed to temptations to test our strength, sickness that we might learn patience, death that we might be immortalized and glorified?

“If all the sick for whom we pray were healed, if all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled and the basic principle of the gospel, free agency, would be ended. No man would have to live by faith.

“If joy and peace and rewards were instantaneously given the doer of good, there could be no evil—all would do good but not because of the rightness of doing good. There would be no test of strength, no development of character, no growth of powers, no free agency, only satanic controls.

“Should all prayers be immediately answered according to our selfish desires and our limited understanding, then there would be little or no suffering, sorrow, disappointment, or even death, and if these were not, there would also be no joy, success, resurrection, nor eternal life and godhood.” (Faith Precedes the Miracle [1973], 97).

Above...a new fruit called what? In English, "white fruit".  Very white inside with green skin.  Large seeds.  Almost looks like a sea urchin to me, but Pam says it is very sweet and pretty tasty.  I'll take her word for it.
 Out at Justin's new orphanage home.  These caterpillars where in a tree.  We set the nest on fire to chase them onto the ground where we killed them.  Very poisonous.  Thus dangerous for the children to be around.
 Our 8 full-time missionaries decided to hold a zone dinner and invited us over.  They borrowed this metal, make-shift oven/grill.  Chicken on top.  Pork on the bottom.  Both were very good.;
 Elder Agesa, our cook.
 Sign at Gulu Central High School.  One upset student who is looking for revenge against whoever it was that stole some of his stuff.  Stealing is a common problem amongst the Acholi.
 One day, one of the zone leaders took us all out to dinner.  Ethiopian restaurant.  The white below the meat and  sauces is fermented rice.  Eat it all with one's fingers.  Very good rice and toppings but a little too hot/spicy for my taste buds.

Pam worked for days in preparation for a  Primary (children's) training for adult leaders in both branches.  You can see the effort she put into this single-handledly so they could have adequate materials to keep the children involved and interested.   Only one Primary leader came...a new convert/newly called Primary leader.  You can't let it get you down. Just pick up from where you are and press forward...."faith in every footstep" to speak.  BUT, the branch with no representation will only receive these materials after they commit to a time for proper training. 

 My pothole, new spead asphalt...still wet....near completion.   Only regret is I hadn't taken a "before" picture.
 My man at the plainer shop...making beds, doors, cabinets...took some time out to shave off one end of a scrap piece of lumber to round off the bottom of the stick to make a wooden baseball bat for our young single adults.  I got a hold of a rubber baseball and this wood on that rubber could make that ball fly.  Had a great time Monday Nite for Family Home Evening, had some not of our faith join us to play and I then treated all of them to some soda's following the game.
 My wood maker posing while swinging our new bat...looking a lot like Hammering Hank Aaron.

 Paul, Ibriham and 3rd partner at "our" pottery shop are closing down this day to move further west near a safari lodge.  They didn't have enough business to stay afloat in our area.  Our concern is that most trourists will not take the time to spend a couple weeks shaping, firing and then smoking the pottery.  The tourists just aren't in one place that long.  Perhaps they can sell their goods, but the lodges have gift shops of mass produced pottery that will be less expensive.  Again, it pains us to see the struggles so many face.  We will miss these guys.  Very happy lot, seem to be good Christian or Muslim group.  They gave each of us some pottery gifts and in turn, we gave each of them specially marked  copies of the Book of Mormon.  We saw them later - all reading their books.

We would love to take home these giraffes and several other beautiful pieces but they are much too large and fragile for transport back to the states.

 Nothing like a little fresh meat hanging in the hot fresh air covered with fresh flies to increase one's appetite.  They do have strips of plastic they swing at the flies, but too many to keep them away.  In most instances the people wash the meat very well before cooking it. What choices do they have with no electricity? 
 The Public Affairs arm of the Church from Kampala came up for a Saturday fireside at the Bardege Building.  The branch president never showed up to let us in the premises.  Make a couple of trips to his home to find him.  His phone was disconnected all day long.  After waiting an hour we went up to our apt and did the training for the few that appeared.  The missing branch president finally came late and then left early so he didn't really get the big picture of what PA does and the impact a what the Mormon Helping Hands project can do for both the community and the church in the Gulu area.  This is a priesthood leadership function...not something the missionaries are supposed to take care off.  We are teaching them personal responsibility and accountability by word and example.
A very nice home one of our Relief Soceity President lives in ....Sister Ricky.  Spacious and stable. She is much more affluent.  She also has electricity, but her cooking is also outside over a fire.

You've heard of Simon...on the right above...working for us and on a farm to earn money for his mission.  Here he is building another sun dehydrator like those we've delivered to a sister or two in the Church and to the orphange.  Had a good chat with him today, Friday...talking family.  Told me his father was dead.  That Joseph Koney's rebels had forced Simon, age 11, to watch as they shot his father. 

I asked Simon if he was angry when this happened.  He said yes, he was angry, that he has not had a good life.  I asked him if he was angry now.  His reply, "I have accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ."  And now he is earning money to serve a 2 year mission to teach others of the joy and peace a conversion to Christ can bring into their lives.  May cost him up to 400,000 shillings...takes close to a year to earn that type of money.  This is why Pam and I are here.  We are being blessed by the lives of these good people, who rarely complain about their circumstances, who even more rarely talk of the civil war.  In one absurd sense, Simon was blessed in that the rebels did not force HIM to kill his own parents.  Often that is what happened.   The Acholi people want to move forward and the Gospel helps them do that at warp speed.

We've actually met westerners here who say that Koney is a myth...believe it or not! Tell that to the two adults I've met who as young men were directly affected by Koney. We've met countless other Acholi people who have their own stories...running and hiding as young children or whose parents were killed by Koney. These westerners who come in here and claim all this is a myth remind me of aquaintences I have who say the holocost never occurred or that communism and even anarchy are a good thing... that they lead to Utopia.  It's sad that intelligent people choose to believe "whatever"  without any investigation;  all the evidence in the world will not pursuade them otherwise to reason otherwise.

Perhaps if you double click on this pic you can see more of it.  This is the sort of cancer many of the young children, particularly in this northern region, are diagnosed with.  We wonder why the incident is so great up here?  The water?  Genetics?  St Mary's Lacor Hospital will take care of these children at no cost.  We visited their hospital ward the other day.  Such a sad sight.  Many of the children in such pain they just cry their eyes out.  This is an above average hospital.   That said, as we toured the campus with the hospital administrator, we saw dozens if not a hundred folks sitting around at various spots in the hospital.  I asked the doctor/administrator what these people were doing, afraid I knew the answer.  He said they were waiting on a doctor, meds, to be checked in, etc.  I imagine many/most of them would have been there all day long trying to get the medical attention they needed. The needs are so great, and their ability to serve is quite limited, but they are pleased to welcome those who need care.  He said there has been much progress in the last few years.  He said that at least now they know that measles and some of the other diseases are not caused by the witch doctors casting spells on them or their children.  Even though witchcraft is still prevalent, many no longer believe in it and understand in part the cause of some of their illnesses.

Pam:  On a recent visit with one of the Relief Society Presidents on the Gulu side, Sister Nighty invited me to have lunch with her.  I politely declined saying I had lunch before I came.  A man stopped by and while we were talking, Nighty brought out mounds of mashed cassava surrounded by some kind of liquidy paste.  It would have been very insulting to not eat any of it.   They eat the cassava with their hands, dipping it in the sauce, but they were kind enough to give me a fork.

 The cassava was sorta-kinda like heavy mashed potatoes and tasted fine.  The paste smelled really good.  I asked her if it was the g-nut (peanut) paste I've heard so much about.  She said no, that it was made from sim-sim (sesame seeds).  She showed me how she ground them with her mortar and pestle (sp?).  I commented that I also tasted some kind of meat.  She said there was no meat. I said, I thought I was tasting meat; if not what was it?  She said some word in Acholi I didn't understand. Finally the male guest said it was "the little fish".  Ah, I knew about the little fish.  I saw these little minnow type fish laying in buckets every time I went into the market.  Very disgusting looking. 

Actually, they tasted very good.  After my eyes adjusted to the darkness of her hut, sure enough, I could see the flourescent eyes of the fish in the sauce.  The dish suddenly didn't taste quite as good.    Reflecting on this, I thought of all the times either my mother, or later in life I, would try to hide some ingredient used in a recipe.  Anyone remember sauerkraut cake?  Generally the food would taste good, but the thought of what was being eaten, just not so appealing.  Certainly the case here.  This dishes "eye" appeal caused in MY mind a loss of its savor, even if it was delicious a few moments earlier! 

Just part of another day in the life of a missionary in Gulu.   And we are loving it!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Week 18

Week 18

On Tuesday we went to visit Juliet, the mother of a missionary serving in the UK.  Juliet is a sweet woman, a Catholic, about 56 years old.  (This is quite old in the Ugandan culture where the harsh living circumstances take many lives at much younger ages.)  We deliver the emailed letters and pictures her missionary sends to us via email.  It was not a good day for Juliet as one of her neighbor’s sons (16 yrs), had died of Sickle cell anemia in the middle of the night.  This painful disease is quite prevalent among the Ugandans.

She also was upset because “they” (not sure what entity) next month are going to widen the road in front of her house.  Although the  road is not good, it is no different than most here and it was surprising to hear this as there is hardly any vehicle transport in her community .  As she continued to explain and show us how far in the stakes and markers have been placed from the road, I was quite shocked.  They were taking about 36 feet of her property.  This would take all her garden area as well as her son’s hut, their toilet and some significant fruit trees.  Very serious, as the poor people’s gardens are essential for their survival.
The road would be over 56 feet wide, wider than the main roads here in Gulu.  The widening is the entire length of the road, about 2 miles I asked if we could walk the road together down to the “river” (stream) to see if this pattern was consistent with everyone.  Some of the homes of more affluence on the opposite side of the road had very little of their property being taken.  The land for the road was mainly being taken from the poor.

As we approached the river (in reality a stream) there were acres of undeveloped land.  Juliet said an NGO bought up all the undeveloped land about seven years ago.  They built a bore hole about a mile from where Juliet lives, but it is no longer working so the families have to cart water from another location even further away.  Before the bore hole many got their water from the “river” and would wash their clothes there also. 

Juliet has heard developers are planning to build many roads criss-crossing this area.  The residents will likely get a small stipend for the land that was taken but not nearly enough to compensate for what they will lose.

Interestingly, a few days later Brooks drove out to Juliet’s home again, but he was surprised to see they had already widened the road, bulldozing the structures that were in the way, with trees and fragments from the huts strewn everywhere.  He said it looked like a war zone and couldn’t recognize where she lived.  It turned out he had turned a block too soon; they had already done the widening to a neighboring road.  These roads are wider than the main roads in Gulu! Some residents told us this happens quite a bit, the land development doesn’t really happen, but the people are often forced out of the area sometimes back to the village. 

We are only hearing one side of the story.  It could be the poor never really owned the land and with all the wars they are simply squatters.  Property rights have been a problem for many years in Uganda.  It could also be that they built  without proper zoning clearance from the city government. Whatever the case, it poignantly shows how difficult it is for the people here to rise above their extreme poverty. 
Last Sunday we held a Seminaries and Institute Fireside for youth 14-18 and their parents and for college age kids 18-30.  Fred Babeeyo, Director of S & I of Kampala came up to present the program.
He was powerful, humerous and a spiritual giant.  Nothing Sister Moore and I could have said or done in his place will have the impact on our Gulu Saints that this native Ugandan will have.  He serves as Bishop of the Kololo Ward in Kampala Stake.  He also addressed the Perpetual Education Fund which is an inspired program the Church initiated a number of years ago to provide low interest loans to members who want to go to school and every year the student makes his monthly payments in full, the next year the interest rate drops by 1/2 point. Qualifying prerequisites for a loan...among other things:

  • A member of the Church for one year.
  • Full tithe payer
  • Be temple recommend otherwords, keeping the basic tenents of the Chuch.
  • Attend age religion course of study.
  • Have a current sourse of income to immediately begin paying back the loan.
  • The student is given 8 years to repay the loan.
Why such high standards?  We want Church members who have testimonies of the Gospel, who will be committed to school, committed to repayment of the loan, who have set goals to succeed and become exemplary members of the community.  Members in US or Canada are not eligible.  This is for 3rd world countries.  Thousands of our young members around the world have completed the course, finished schooling, repayed the loan and are now self-reliant...not depending on others or the government for a handout.  This is the Lord's program. 

The Lord himself told Adam, after he was driven from the Garden of Eden, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, til thou return unto the ground....". (Gen 3:19).  He didn't say in the sweat of thy neighbor's face. It was always God's plan that each man be self-reliant, other words FREE.  It was never his plan that we rely on our neighbor or the government's welfare programs. 

Yes, there are those, who for a variety of reasons, cannot help themselves.  To these, the Lord commands that if we want to return to His presence when we pass from mortality we are required to serve, to help, to meet their needs and their wants.  "And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants." (Mosiah 4:26)
Now Friday...a wonderful end to the work week.  I met this eve with a member of one of the branches in Gulu.  He will be teaching the Perpetual Education Fund class described above.  Phillip is in med school.  Two more years to go.  He was so discouraged a couple of weeks ago and so angry at God that nothing is working out for him.  His father has been in a position to pay his tuition but no longer.
Phillip supports his Mom.  Planted any number of crops for her in the village and every plant was "burned" by the sun...we had an unexpected rainy season draught.  Had made arrangements for a loan from friends in Kampala last weekend but it fell through.  He was ready to call it quits! 

I opened the scriptures and read with him about the purpose of trials.  I read with him that when we humble ourselves, call upon God, are watchful for temptation, God will see us through our most difficult trials.  I shared with him some of my life's challenges, the Savior's trials, etc.  He eased a bit, felt the calming assurance of the Holy Ghost that only the scriptures can bring and realized he is not alone.  I reminded him there are two reasons and two reasons only we came to Earth from our Heavenly Home; 1. Get a body.  2.  Be tested to see if we are worthy to return to God's presence.  That's it!

Today, he went to apply for a 3,000,000 shilling loan to open up an "internet cafe" so he could support his Mom and earn med school tuition money.  I was aware that the banks here are paying 13% interest for a 6 month CD so I'm thinking, "What is poor Phillip having to pay for his loan?"  So I ask...22%.  I literally almost fell out of my chair and then it dawned on me...The PEF program . It will be perfect for him.  He is a member in good standing, serves faithfully in the branch presidency as 1st counselor, worthy per all the criteria above and only has 2 more years to finish school!  Just the length of time the loans are granted for.

The'll recall some pic's of Justin's orphanage and the food dryers we delivered to him last week.  Sad to report he couldn't keep up with his rental payments and was recently evicted.  I visited his new place today along with our full-time missionaries.  It is nice enough.  He still has access to some farm land at the old place so we did a little service there cultivating a spot of ground and weeding between sweet potatoes already sprouting.  Pic's below.

Smoking our pottery. 

 The pieces above have been kiln fired.  Now they are ready to be smoked to make the final product.
They are placed on a screen where fire smoke will discolor or color the pieces black.  Prior to smoking them we paint a mud over the portion of the pottery we do not want to turn black due to the smoke.  After the smoking, the mud we "painted" on is washed off in a tub and tadaaaa!  It's done.
 Pottery has dried leaves and sawdust placed over and under it.
Light the fire, keep adding leaves and sawdust, flip the bowls over to smoke the bottom of them.
 Here are the smoked products

 Into the wash tub to wash off the painted on mud that prevented all the bowl from being smoked/charred.
 Here is Pam's elephant.  We call it a leopraphant...part leopard and part elephant.  Which reminds me of one of my all time favorite jokes...What do you get when you cross and elephant and a rhinoceros?
Elephino.  Say it fast and put the emphasis on the third syllable.
 My elephant with stripes.
Four bowls/dishes.  Pam did the fish and the colored one in upper right.  I think my elephant is absolutely darling...even precious.  The black outline around the ear and the eye, were where the mud was placed and then scraped off so they would get charred as to make a small black eye and ear outline.

 Took another unexpected trip to Kampala Wednesday.  Clutch on the truck when out so we had to drive there as there is no fix in Gulu.   On the way in, we passed this hotel.  You think bed bugs are a problem in the states, you should try sleeping with Ticks.  Actually, it's a very nice looking place from the outside.
 The grounds of the Chinese restaurant we ate Wed nite.  Weather was perfect...we ate outside.
 Looking back at the restaurant from our dinner table.
 The Jonson's, who have become our good friends.  He has many responsibilities...overseeing a Church branch, managing the truck fleet, and mission doctor.  Have had to see him each of my last two visits to Kampala for one strange ailment or another.  He always fixes me up.
Well, the law of averages finally caught up with us...Leaving Kampala Friday we rounded a curve and there on the wrong side of the road was a boda driver with a passenger headed right towards us...driving in our lane.  I swerved to the right.  He swerved to his right but he hit my left front fender.  He went down pretty hard.  We waited a minute or in the car with the doors locked to see what he was going to do and he finally waved us on as if to say, "I'm ok."  We left and a minute or two later he is chasing us down trying to get us to stop, no doubt looking to blame us for the accident and wanting money.  We kept going and I reported the accident to our Gulu police station when we arrived home.  This boda driver was a split second from hitting us head on.  He/we were very lucky it wasn't worse.

Pam feels strongly that angels attended us and the boda passengers.

Spiritual Thought for those inclined:

The Reality of Angels

In reference to the reality of angels, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:
“I am convinced that one of the profound themes of the Book of Mormon is the role and prevalence and central participation of angels in the gospel story. …
“One of the things that will become more important in our lives the longer we live is the reality of angels, their work and their ministry. I refer those more personal ministering angels who are with us and around us, empowered to help us and who do exactly that (see 3 Ne. 7:18; Moro. 7:29–32, 37; D&C 107:20). …
“I believe we need to speak of and believe in and bear testimony of the ministry of angels more than we sometimes do. They constitute one of God’s great methods of witnessing through the veil, and no document in all this world teaches that principle so clearly and so powerfully as does the Book of Mormon” (“For a Wise Purpose,” Ensign, Jan. 1996, 16
 The new orphanage building...most of the children are off at school.
 Missionaries clearing some land.
 After having weeded between rows of sweet potatoes.

Our two zones...minus the camera man.  They had just completed a combined district one another on missionary work.  These are truely spiritual giants. We love them each like our sons.