Well, at the seminar mentioned above, all three members of The First Presidency spoke, all 12 members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke. Of that 15, 7 mentioned Africa, 3 or 4 mentioned Uganda specifically. "The field is white, already to harvest".
Pam and I were sitting in Church service meeting a couple of weeks when the branch president announced there will be a Relief Society activity this Saturday. I thought, "Great". How neat is that? He didn't say what it was nor the time it would be held. I thought, "How odd is that." He's looking at Pam the whole time as if to say, "This is right, isn't it?" and "You'll make it happen, right?"
After the meeting the 1st Counselor in the RS came up to Pam wanting to know what the activity was. "I have no idea", Pam says. Well, I don't know what it is either the counselor says and adds that the RS president isn't even at Church today. So a 5 minute discussion resulted in the sisters announcing in RS meeting a few minutes later they would meet at the Church on Saturday at 2:00 pm and watch a Church movie. Later we learned the Relief Society president and branch president had discussed an activity of some sort. Pam gave the idea of showing a movie since she was helping with another organization before and after. The RS president suggested an exorbitant budget for food/drink. When the branch president said it was too high, which it was...way too high, neither the RS President nor her counselor attended their own meeting. Two sisters showed up the following Saturday and Pam showed them, Legacy, a wonderful Church produced movie. The two that came - along with the Branch Presidency counselors were deeply affected.
The same Sunday, I head over to the other branch in time for Priesthood Meeting. The Elders Quorum President announces there will be a meeting at 9:00 am next Saturday morning to review the Mormon Helping Hands Service Project...Tippy Taps. After the meeting I ask him "is this a planning meeting or is this the meeting to gather and conduct the project." "I don't know. I think it's the planning meeting." Whew...I'm a little content with that answer but as I'm pulling away from the building in the Nissan -- not Toyota -- truck the branch president says he needs to counsel with me. I get out and he tells me about the meeting next Saturday. So I ask, "This is a planning meeting right?". "No, this is the project. And then he barrages me with a list of questions, "How do we build the Tippy Taps, what neighborhoods will we place them in? Where do we get the lumber? How does the Tippy Tap poor out water?" I tell him I've sent him two emails with all the instructions in them, the need to identify a neighborhood captain to maintain each Tippy Tap constructed, the need to involve local city leaders, inviting other Churches to participate, the need for Mormon Helping Hands shirts, etc, etc. He says, "I think we need to postpone the project." Whew, again...he's seen the light. I say, "That's a good idea. Go ahead and hold your meeting with your committee this Saturday and other interested members and build a plan." Now, this thing stands a chance of having an impact on many neighborhoods and raising the Church out of obscurity in Gulu.
I came home and re-sent him everything I had already sent him on the why's, hows and what fors of the project. Now he just has to read it.
These Helping Hands Projects are something Pam and I could jump into and lead out on but they are not a missionary responsibility. Sits squarely on the local priesthood leaders and their branches...learning leadership, independence, how to work together, raising self-esteem, service to others. We will pitch in by lending our Nissan -- not Toyota -- truck to haul bamboo or gravel and to even to help build some Tippy Taps but we won't be leading out. It's sink or swim deal for the local branches.
Tippy Tap link...FYI: http://www.tippytap.org/
My Nissan -- not Toyota -- truck tailgate malfunctioned. The tailgate wouldn't drop down. I drove up to the Motor Care auto shop (an arm of the one we use in Kampala) to have them look at it. My man George came out and with the right tools, took off the taillight, the tailgate cover and replaced a couple of bolts that were too long and too lose. When he was through I wanted to make sure he wasn't doing this for nothing so I walked him over to the Motor Care office at the shop and told the lady, Caroline, to bill the Church for the work and to make sure George gets his due pay. She laughed, as did George, as she said we can't bill you, "This is customer care".
I insisted. She insisted back. I said then George won't get paid. She tells me he works by the hour, not the job. So I slip George a tip, thank him and drive off. "Customer Care!". What a novel idea! Imagine how much an hour of automotive "customer care" costs you in the states.
- Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that we choose how we will be affected by adversity: “Surely
these great adversities are not without some eternal purpose or effect.
They can turn our hearts to God. … Even as adversities inflict mortal
hardships, they can also be the means of leading men and women to
“Such large-scale adversities as natural disasters and wars seem to be inherent in the mortal experience. We cannot entirely prevent them, but we can determine how we will react to them. For example, the adversities of war and military service, which have been the spiritual destruction of some, have been the spiritual awakening of others. The Book of Mormon describes the contrast:
“‘But behold, because of the exceedingly great length of the war between the Nephites and the Lamanites many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility’ (Alma 62:41).
“I read of a similar contrast after the devastating hurricane that destroyed thousands of homes in Florida some years ago. A news account quoted two different persons who had suffered the same tragedy and received the same blessing: each of their homes had been totally destroyed, but each of their family members had been spared death or injury. One said that this tragedy had destroyed his faith; how, he asked, could God allow this to happen? The other said that the experience had strengthened his faith. God had been good to him, he said. Though the family’s home and possessions were lost, their lives were spared and they could rebuild the home. For one, the glass was half empty. For the other, the glass was half full. The gift of moral agency empowers each of us to choose how we will act when we suffer adversity” (“Adversity,” Ensign, July 1998, 7–8).
The Effects of Adversity
Teaching the people principles of business is all new to them. Until a few years ago, they only bartered with what they grew. Like many in the states, they haven't learned to budget, to set aside "seed money" for future supplies, and to save a little. One sister was selling liquid soap she was making. When we analyzed with her the expenses vs income, she finally realized that she making less than 100 shillings (4 cents) per bottle at her current price. She said, "I need to get out of this business." Pam showed her how she could make money in that business, but she would need to charge a little more, particularly for the bottles that were 20-50 percent larger than the most prevalent size she used! Sound business practices are very, very hard for most to implement.
Institute (religious study) class for 18-30 year old singles. We've had over 20 attending the last 2 weeks. These young men and women, all of whom are recent converts, have STRONG testimonies of the gospel. I have them teaching Institute to each other...an effort to get them independent, self-reliant as one never knows when a senior couple may not be called to serve in this area when the next couple moves on. Pam is setting a similar goal for Seminary...religious course of study for ages 14-18.