Saturday, September 7, 2013

Week 26

In another recent conversation with our Mission President he told us that during his New Mission Presidents Seminar in Provo before leaving for Africa, he was impressed with the brethren's vision of what the Lord is preparing for people here in Africa.  As I've mentioned, quoting one of our Church leaders, what the poor in Africa lack in material blessings, the Lord seems to have made up in their spiritual inclination to accept the Gospel when it is presented to them.  They are a very spiritual people as a whole.  On any day, Pam and I are stopped on the street, asked about our missionary name tags, "who are we, what are we doing here, I know where your Church is, I'll be there this Sunday.  Let me give you my name and telephone so the missionaries can call me to teach me"  It's how I got my "free" 15,000 shilling downtown parking pass...all because they saw I was a missionary.  It's how we got out of our speeding ticket early on in our mission.  The police officer got on the phone and returned to tell us he is not authorized to ticket missionaries since we are here to help his people.  We learned last night through him that of all the applications senior couples complete for a full-time mission such as Pam and I are serving, only 5% are healthy enough to be called to Africa, and of that number 90% turn the call down.  For the life of me, I do not understand how one turns down a call from the Prophet of the Lord!

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".
Growing Pains:

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:

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.


    The Effects of Adversity

  • 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 eternal blessings.
    “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).
(Elder Oaks is a graduate of Brigham Young University (1954) and of the University of Chicago Law School (1957). He practiced law and taught law in Chicago. He was president of Brigham Young University from 1971 to 1980 and a justice of the Utah Supreme Court from 1980 until his resignation in 1984 to accept his calling to the apostleship.)

These guys work long and hard.  Up at 6:30, exercise, shower, dress, one hour of individual scripture study, one hour of companion study then out the door at 10:00 am.  Return no sooner than 9:00 pm and often times later.  This is the Mormon missionary routine around the world.   These guys pay their own way, or their parents do.  All this hard work because they believe in what they are doing.  They love their Heavenly Father to take 2 years out of their life to share his Word.  Coincidentlly, this is 2 years just around the age of 20 for most of these young men and women....a tithe of their lifetime!
Another delightful dinner beginning with sun dried fish.  No doubt these would look a little healthier if the flies hadn't carried off a lot of the meat.  Not really...we didn't eat these stinky things but there likely would have been more meat had the flies not eaten most of the fish in the market.

Our recently departed Elder Thabethe in the middle....back home now in South Africa.  As good as they come...Elder Thabethe, that is.
New shirts the elders ordered up for their Gulu Mission Zone.

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.
 Service project...king of the hill!  More smiles for a job well done.  Their smiles make me smile.
Monday night Family Home Evening  for ages 18-30.  Had 15 show up this night.  They played soccer with a deflated popped while playing volleyball when it hit a fence with a nail popping out.

 Some played tennis.
 Volley ball.

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 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.
Another pretty neat contraption I stumbled across.  This lady owns this peanut (g-nut) machine that strips the dried shell off the peanut and drops the peanut into the blue bucket below the machine.  She probably has a peanut farm but in this case she is using the devise to de-shell g-nuts for those who want to rent the machine.

A mini-Mormon Helping Hands Service Project hosted by the Institute kids mentioned above. The beginning pose, including 6 full-time missionaries.  As the morning progressed more local members joined us.  There were a total of 21 who worked the morning to serve a private school called Gulu Central High School. 
The Deputy Headmaster called this Issac Day for Ayubu Tabule Issac who is currently on his mission in Zambia.  He was a great student at the school and set such a wonderful example of service and love for his school mates and the administration.  After he graduated a couple years ago, they have never forgotten him.  It was Isaac, who, while serving his mission in Zambia, brought this day to pass.  Our good works influence others for a long time.
 Broken clothes line being repaired.
 Job well done.
 Painting a new latrine recently constructed.
Roy in the forefront.  Elder Bokwe in the back.  Since I have been here since mid-March, Roy has NEVER missed our Thursday night Institute course of religious study...even when it rains, Roy is there.  Most others are not. (One walks in the rain here, a few one owns a car.  Wonder how many Institute age kids in the US would walk in the sun or rain 2-3 miles to attend class?)
 A few more gathered.
 A large pile of broken desks that needed repairing.
 Final product...dozens of tables rebuilt/repaired...looking very good.
 Lunch time.
 A little white on black...paint that is.
One of a half-dozen bullein boards mounted on the wall for the teacher to use to post notes, assignments, announcements, etc.

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