Saturday, October 5, 2013

Week 30

the Church's General Conference this weekend!  Wow!  We were able to see the first session yesterday on our computer. The branches here don't have satellites so it will be a 3-4 weeks before they will be able to watch through dvds.  President Thomas A. Monson, o said there are now over 15 million members and over 80,000 missionaries serving throughout the world.  We are one of the fastest growing Christian churches in the world. Why, when the majority are declining significantly each year?  Because this isn't a church created by man; Christ restored His church during these latter days upon a foundation of prophets and apostles as was His primitive Church.  Other answers were given in the conference addresses.  If you want to learn more, general conference continues today at 10 am and 2pm MTN daylight time and can be watched by going to on your computer or electronic device.
Pam on Animals
One of the pleasant things about this area are the farm animals all around us.  Even at one of the high schools where we were serving, there were cows walking around the campus -- on the sidewalks right outside the classrooms!  It's nothing to see someone driving the longhorns or a bunch of goats down the street or on a nearby path. I love seeing and hearing them, as well as the friendly dogs.  The cats here are pretty skiddish but they are my greatest animal passion.   As a toddler my mom said I couldn't keep my hands off them and would bury my face in their fur every chance that availed.  In the 41 years we've been married, we have always had at least one cat (and a dog) up until the time we left for our mission.  I'm ALMOST as passionate about cats as Brooks is about Alabama football.  (Brooks: Except Alabama football has a purpose.)
About three months ago a skinny cat showed up meowing on our doorstep.  Of course I felt compelled to feed it.  In a few days this Mama allowed me to "meet" her four kittens she had hidden in the bushes around our house. What a delight to see these cute little babies, everyone of them solid black like their mama.  I left milk for them which they quickly learned to drink. While Mama continued to nurse them, they always seemed to be starving for more, so I also bought the tiny fishes in the market to add to their diet. They were in cat heaven.
 It didn't take long, however, to realize how I was disrupting the natural order of things here in Uganda.  Ugandans hardly have enough food for themselves let alone any animals,  While they may have a dog or cat,  animals are generally expected to find their own food or are given minimal scraps of grains.  Cats are kept to control the mice around or in their homes, not as pets. I certainly couldn't keep all five cats, so what would happen when they had to go to new homes?
As the kittens continued to grow and were constantly meowing for more and more food, I became more and more troubled that my attempt to "do good" for them would ultimately backfire and they would not know how to take care of themselves.  Like the people here, doing too much for them would prevent them from taking care of themselves. 
We have no mice in our apartment but most around us do, so a concerted effort was made by friends to catch mice for "my babies" and to start weaning them from their bounteous diet of fish and milk.  One day the Elders were able to catch four live mice in a trap.  We brought them to the kittens.  Three of them just looked at the mice, but one of the girls, pounced on them, growling at the other kittens to stay away from her catch and proceeded to play with, then eat all of them. This was quite a site.  I decided she would be their mentor so for about a week all the kittens were placed in one of the apartments with the their mentor sister "Beatrice" to learn from her example.  We don't know how successful this venture was since there's never any evidence, but whenever they would hear my voice, they would still come running, meowing - even standing on their hind legs - begging for more food.  So cute now, but this would obviously be a problem when their current "NGO" (me) dried up like what usually happens to the people here. 
I was really distressed that my babies would not have the skills to survive after leaving our home.  I tearfully prayed for help that somehow they would be adopted into homes where they would be given a little extra attention until they became more self-reliant.  The next day four individuals I knew well expressed a desire to take a kitten.  Each person had a little more resources than most people in this area.  The kittens have now been in their new homes about a week, and the reports are that they are thriving and have bonded to their new owners.  While I know animals are  much more resilient and able to adapt to their environment quicker than humans, I feel this was a direct answer to my prayers and for the tender mercies the Lord grants even to the little creatures of the earth.  In spite of all the suffering we see, I know He is mindful of each individual and in His due time, things will be made aright for those who trust in Him.  
I was at the open market today...Wednesday, pulling out into the street.  One boda coming from my from my right.  I watched as the southbound boda driver stopped and assessed how he was going to manuever across a small rain caused gulley in the street. 
The northbound female boda driver wasn't worried about any 12" gulley in the road....she just took off right through it.  No sooner than she got to it, she bounced off the ground and ran slap-dab into the southbound boda.  They hit front tire to front tire...he bounced off his boda to his left and she did the same to her left.  No one injured and they both got up smiling/laughing...thank goodness.  What a site, however.  We have a dear senior couple in Masaka...south of Kampala that have been hit 4 times now by bodas.  They rarely venture more than a few miles from their home.  Occasionally, they have to drive a couple of hours to Kampala for a mandatory meeting and they are white knuckled the whole way...I don't blame them.

At Lacor Hospital for the Tippy Tap service project, I took a pic of what looks like a Boy Scout Campout without the scouts.  This is where folks who are looking after friends or family cook their own food and food for the patients. They are also camped out on the lawn areas around the buildings.   They provide all the food, water, some bedding, toilet paper and other necessities for the patients.  They sleep here as well.  This is a good hospital by Uganda standards but there are just no funds for things generally considered essential.  They have relied largely on donations from foreign entities but donations in recent years have been cut way back.  We visit our friend Martin about 3 times a week who is in the surgery ward with many of the amputees as well as those with very serious infections where part of the bone has had to be removed  Because of the lack of hospital funds, we observe that the wounds, some as big as 4" by 10" - to the bone -  are simply cleaned with cotton soaked in hydrogen peroxide and then re-bandaged. In some instances the wounds are packed with honey.  Most of the patients are silently writhing in pain during the cleansing of their wounds while family or friends hold them to provide comfort during this process.  For many of the patients, the infections are recurring, often from problems that began 3-4 years earlier.  They may seem okay, then get a prick or some minor wound and infection quickly spreads to the weak parts of their body. Medical people from the U.S. who volunteer their time and services for a couple weeks each year are amazed at the threshold of pain these people can bear. 

We miss a lot of what is happening in America, but just saw this headline below. Not that I'm into shutting down the government but if this is what it takes to bring spending under control, probably a worthy idea. I don't remember any serious repercussions from sequestration a few months back. Has anyone? If so, educate me please.  Are there any entrepreneurs on the blog that haven't already cut expenses to the bone?  If not, you likely won't be around for long.

I notice the headline below says this shutdown has resulted in the suspension of all but essential services. Why do my hard earned tax dollars go towards something other than what is essential? Towards something that is non-essential?  Maybe this includes the end of the free "Obamaphones". Ah, but wait!  We will be back in the states in a year and will need phones. Maybe free phones from the government should be considered an essential. 

"NATION PLUNGES INTO SHUTDOWN mode after lawmakers miss midnight deadline to fund the government, triggering the suspension of all but essential services for the first time in 17 years, as Senate Democrats vow to refuse to consider any attempts by House Republicans to attach changes to ObamaCare to the budget bill."

Fourth clutch put in the truck in 40,000 miles...told you about that ...seems to working properly.  Will see how long it lasts.  Unfortunately, after installing a new clutch the mechanic forgot to properly replace the boot that sits over the stick shift control.  Looking good...I am.  Our fleet manager tells me not to mention it to him a second time...most of the fleet looks like this.  No complaints here so long as I the clutch works, the tires aren't flat and the a/c works.
 Pam displaying a new corsage
Ole Crock in the Nile just above Chobe Lodge where we took our 8 full-time missionaries a couple of weeks ago.  There they are below.

Family Home Evening for our young single adults...finger football playoff.  This one getting ready to kick a field-goal...remember this when growing up?  Still a fun game.
 On the road again in our city of Gulu ...not unusual to come across this scene after a recent rainfall.
Was in for flat tire fix.  This 9 passenger van pulled in for some tire air.  Took 10 minutes or so in the hot sun.  I counted 15 people in air conditioning.  Not a soul climbed out of the van during the wait.
This is how you fix a flat here.  Find the nail, pull it out and stick this screwdriver looking devise in the hole to keep the air from leaking out.
 Poke a plug into the tire.
Once the plug is inserted., cut it or bite it off so it doesn't appear unsightly.  Life is a challenge in Uganda.  Not only on the people but our Church fleet as well.  In the 6 months I've been here I've had 6 flat or leaking tires repaired.  Installed two radiators, a set of shocks and 2 clutches on my truck.  The clutch was replaced a few months prior to our arrival.  Counting the original clutch when the Church purchased it, that's 4 clutches.  There is constant shifting here, and  slowing down to avoid the large potholes.  We see there are attempts to fill the potholes, but the rains wash all the fill out.  This latest clutch is feeling real good and might last some time.
Our other branch installing Tippy Taps in two neighborhoods not far from their chapel.

 Having lunch here today.  Nice little restaurant that specializes in pizza but usually serves Pam anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes before serving me.  Actually, they are getting better at this but you have to remind them we want to eat at the same time.  It's a novel idea to cook so both dishes are ready to eat at the same time.  They will cook one meal and then let it sit getting cold while they prepare the other.  NOTICE this amusing sign right outside the restaurant, the sign doesn't say "Sankofa" 10 or 5 or 1 kilometers, rather this sign says "1 sec"!

This is for Robert and Nola Woods from Weiser, Idaho who we replaced in Gulu last March.  They showed us where to buy fresh eggs...Christ Alone Poultry...about 3-4 miles down a dirty, muddy, pothole filled road.  We've been buying all our eggs there also to assure they are fresh.  Guess what, Nola, they just opened up a store right next to your favorite supermarket.  This is about 5 blocks from our home.
Here is proof.  And notice, plastic egg crates!  Cost you 3000 shillings but worth it.  30 eggs with the crate is 13,000 shillings but the crate is reusable.
Now, here is the challenge, you have to cross this sewage filled creek to get to the Christ Alone booth.  No high heels and don't dare fall off into the creek...or crick as they say out west.
Big day coming up in a couple of weeks.  Gulu Independence Day celebrating Uganda's Independence.   Lot's of entertainment and who knows what else.  Some of the top talent in Africa, we are told.  Hopefully, we won't be so busy we can't make it.  Will keep you posted.  We're curious what their carnivals are like.

Well, I did something recently I've never done before...had all my pants altered as I've lost 33-35 pounds.  Waist measurement has gone from 36 to 27.  I eat good. [Pam says that's debatable]  but we don't always have time to stop for lunch.  We eat a lot of rice and beans...a staple here.  Good stuff too.  I've asked her to cook up a bunch of it all at once and I can dig into it anytime I want to.  Also not finding any McDonald hamburgers or Mc fries here or ice cream, cake, etc.  Lots of soda available, but I've been avoiding that sugary monster too. (Coke has a corner on the market here also, but there are some really tasty pear and pineapple sodas - much better than anything we've tasted in the states.)   Most locals eat one, maybe two meals a day..when in Rome....Rice, beans, g-nuts (peanuts), maze, casava, pineapple, banana, passion fruit, cabbage, peas, and lots of other fruit.  Whatever they can pick from a tree or grow in the ground.  When I get back to the states I promise to let you know when I'm back up to 36'.  So all you who have trying for years to lose some weight, here you go...a short 18 month mission to Uganda.  Don't tell me that won't motivate some of you.


One of the weaknesses Pam and I have been working is to eliminate contention or disagreements so that we may a greater spirit of unity.  It hasn't been easy, but it was one of the first commandments the Savior gave the Nephites when he appeared to them after his resurrection.  Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that contention is purposely fostered by Satan to serve his own evil purposes: “The sins of corruption, dishonesty, strife, contention, and other evils in this world are not here by chance. They are evidences of the relentless campaign of Satan and those who follow him. He uses every tool and device available to him to deceive, confuse, and mislead” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 100; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 76). 
(Elder Wirthlin graduated from the University of Utah in business administration. He was an Eagle Scout. He was active in athletics in high school and played football at the University of Utah. Before his call as a General Authority, he was a prominent business leader in Salt Lake City. He was also president of a trade association in Utah. Elder Wirthlin served a mission in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland in the late 1930s.)

1 comment:

  1. What an awesome post this week! You two give us such insight on serving an Ugandan Mission. Hopefully one day we can follow in your footsteps. Love you guys! Lisa and Van