The Tippy Tap service projects made our Public Affairs Department online link.
Click below, scroll down just a little and you'll see under MOST RECENT NEWS Spirit of Mormon Helping Hands. Mostly pictures with some small captions but it is nice seeing our two branches in Gulu on the map...so to speak.
We love our new (since July) mission president and his wife as much as we did the Jacksons. President and Sister Chatfield blessed us this week by visiting Gulu and providing additional training for our branch presidencies. They encouraged us to keep the people's learning curve in a proper perspective. It gets discouraging at times working with our Gulu leaders and members. It's like raising children/teenagers again. You wonder if they will ever "get it." Yet, with genuine love, patience, and perseverance they eventually do!
We try to remember that these people have NEVER had experiences like what we take for granted, especially those of us who have had years of service in the church. These good people have had no previous opportunities for leadership, for working with budgets, for handling large sums of money, for effective group planning, for teaching the Gospel. There's been little need for them to understand time management. They have struggled simply to survive. While the process of learning seems so slow, they are progressing, especially the youth and young single adults. The young single adults bring us so much hope. They are not bound down by the traditions of their predecessors that are often disabling and they have the zeal to move forward. We always come away from Institute, YSA Family Home Evening and Seminary with good feelings about their future.
EXERCISE All missionaries, including senior couples, receive a little white handbook of instructions when they first enter the mission training center. This little book is studied and applied "religiously" because its guidelines serve to protect us from harm and they assure success to those who follow it. One of its suggestions is 30 minutes of exercise six days a week. It is left up to each individual how, where or what they might do that will qualify as exercise. I often see the young missionaries jogging, jumping rope, lifting homemade weights as well as a variety of other things. Brooks, who has never liked any form of exercise, used to say he was a lover, not a runner. (Don't ask.) Now he says that a person only has so many heart ticks so why would he want to use any of the remaining up on something so unpleasant when he could be saving them for another exciting Alabama football game. His constant exercise here is exercising the Priesthood in a righteous way.
My favorite exercise is jogging because it doesn't take any skill. Actually to any observer, my jog is more of a slow plod. Still, I enjoy it , especially with so much of nature surrounding us here as well as the pleasant people. My jogging makes many of the Gulugans laugh. Seriously, they laugh a lot when they see me jogging; I'm their entertainment for the day. It's not mean ridiculing laughter at all, but they do think we are pretty silly to exercise this way. Even though I know very little of the Acholi language, I've pretty much figured out what they are laughing about:
"There goes that fat Mzungu. She calls it exercising, but she moves slowly slowly like a pregnant cow. She wastes too much energy. Mzungus don't know how to work so they exercise instead. They should just learn to work hard like we do. If she would dig she wouldn't need to exercise."
Actually, I've figured out what they are saying because some who do speak English have discussed this with me. The bottom line is still that I like the jog and the people like this entertainment. And I have made quasi friends with many as I smile and greet them on the way. They are friendly people who love to be acknowledged. The children especially will shout out in greeting. The further away from the city, the more the people laugh and the more they love to have you speak to them, probably because whites are such a novelty in their area.
There are now some who "cheer" me on. There are still a few children however, that see me, start screaming and go running back to their village. One man ask me seriously if I was training for the Olympics. Striking up conversations with the people makes it rewarding for both of us.
I've had a significant increase of pain in my legs over the last couple months. Some days I have suffered a lot. Brooks and our mission doctor felt I should get an ultrasound to make sure there were no blood clots or other serious problems. My greatest fear was not possible physical ailments, but that something might prevent us from continuing our mission. This would have been so devastating. Our time is already going by way too fast! Fortunately, the hospital tests and vitals showed I'm in very good health - except for ongoing problems with varicose veins. Yikes! The doctor apoligized that their hospital was not equipped to operate on them! It's okay. I can live with that and actually realized I have a Melaleuca supplement that will improve my circulation. Life is good - no fears.
Another Tippy Tap Project....this time with a group called Kicaber as in "Catch a bear". The word actually means God's Mercy. This support group helps assimilate former kidnapped rebels back into Ugandan society. It's a challenging thing as many from their original villages disown them. The govt has given amnesty to these former rebel fighters, many of whom were kidnapped as children and forced to fight for Joseph Kony, which as you'll remember from an earlier blog, really never existed...this according to some Western (U.S.) "Progressives" we've talked to who are promoting One World Government. Hmm. Which form of Rulers Law do they think we should emulate?
Having quite a number of large storms each night. This one brought with it a hail stone larger than Pam could hold in two hands. Actually looks like a hand. We felt it was symbolic of some cosmic being sending a warning to the people of Uganda to repent or else. A hand of warning! Actually its was formed from a latex glove I filled with water and froze for part of our FHE activity.
Pam suggested this for me. If I thought this program would help, I'd certainly enroll.
41 Dolls and still counting...being made by Pam and the sisters as Christmas gifts for children in hospitals and/or orphanages. As we've mentioned, it is rare to see a toy anywhere in Gulu. Perhaps a torn up soccer ball or a ball made out of wadded u plastic bags and wrapped tightly in a vine of some sort. My favorite is what we've seen in early American history books...little children rolling/pushing a bike tire along with a stick or even just their hands. Believe me, the poorest in America would be considered very rich to the people of Uganda.
At one of the markets. This is most common way for moms to carry their children around...wrapped in a shawl type piece of clothe, dangling off the mom's back, legs spread eagle around the mom's waist. Seems like the legs split out like they are would be painful and hurt the child's leg development but we are told by [American] medical professionals this is a very healthy way to carry a child. This one looked like it had been knocked out with Ambien as it's head was about to fall off it's poor little body...or so it appeared.
Reminds me of how my parents used to put us kids to sleep which they suggested for our children when they were ill or having trouble sleeping You old folks...remember paregoric? It's also called camphorated tincture of opium. It would absolutely take your breath away when swallowing it...soooo strong, so we would dilute it with a spoonful of sugar...even then, it was so strong one would holler and shake like a wet dog to help it go down the throat. I didn't know what it was at the time...only that it would "settle down" the sick kid. Back then you had to get a prescription for it in Alabama, but it was over-the-counter in Florida where we always vacationed before moving to Utah. Hmmm, maybe that's why we really liked going to Florida with our young children.
This very old man by Ugandan standards was born in 1933. He still had one visible tooth. He made whistles out of a goat's horn and was selling them for 1000 shillings each. The larger ones also had a large chicken feather in it, which is to clean out the spittle after blowing the horn. We bought a few and planned to meet him a few days later to buy more for the grandkids (to irritate their parents with) but there was a big rainstorm and he didn't show. We keep looking and asking for him, but no luck.
A pretty day at the market. Seems like the tomatoes, peppers and onions are getting larger and healthier looking, likely because of the good rains._____________________________________________________________________
“The trouble with most of our prayers is that we give them as if we were picking up the telephone and ordering groceries—we place our order and hang up. We need to meditate, contemplate, think of what we are praying about and for and then speak to the Lord as one man speaketh to another” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 469). (Pres Hinckley...former president of the Church)
Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explored some possible reasons for spiritual unsteadiness:
“Is it simply unintended forgetfulness? Or is it a failure of intellectual integrity by our refusing to review and to acknowledge past blessings? Or is it a lack of meekness which requires the repetition of such stern lessons, because we neglect the milder and gentler signs beckoning us to ‘remember Him’? …
“… We need the Spirit daily to help us remember daily. Otherwise memory lapses will occur when we are most vulnerable. It is not natural to the natural man to remember yesterday’s blessings gratefully, especially when today’s needs of the flesh press steadily upon him” (Lord, Increase Our Faith , 101–2).
Church President Gordon B. Hinckley said of Neal A Maxwell after his passing,
"I know of no other man who spoke in such an interesting and distinct manner. His genius was the product of diligence. He was a perfectionist determined to exact from every phrase and sentence vivid imagery that brought the gospel to life. Each talk was a masterpiece, each book was a work of art. I think we shall not see one like him again."
I personally remember something Elder Maxwell said in the 70's or 80's that illustrates what President Hinckley was alluding to: "God does not begin by asking about our ability, only about our availability. And when we prove our dependability, he will increase our capability" Worth reading one or two more times.
Sorry...bad pic...but the lady with all the cooking pots above...you can see the stove she is using...built up clay/mud with a place under it to place firewood. A hole on top where the fire crackles through to heat up the food...usually rice and beans, posho
Oh my heck...as they say in Utah...this scene and the one below almost caused me to wreck my Nissan-not Toyota Truck. This is happening right in downtown Gulu for all to see. What humiliation for these prisoners dressed in yellow to be out sweeping Main Street! In America, we call this "cruel and unusual punishment". Well, don't know how cruel it is but definitely unusual to see criminals have to pay back to society.
Notice my sideview mirror. Doing 50-60 or so down the highway last week when a large truck tractor rig or bus...it happened so fast, clipped my sideview mirror...he doing about the same speed. So we were that close to catastrophe. Luckily my "give-way" mirror mount gave way and all that happened was the shattering of my mirror. While my mirror replacement is on order, I went to our favorite grocery store, Pari, and located this small mirror that nearly fits perfectly into my mirror mount. Held in place with package wrapping tape. I have to keep reinforcing the mirror as the potholes, sun and rain are pretty tough, causing the mirror to fall out..
Now, I'm not saying this is the only stop sign in Gulu but it is the only one I have seen. And, as you can see, you really can't see it. Oddly enough it is situated right in front of a round-about where stop signs are not supposed to be placed as no one stops at a round-about..one just yields to the car already in the round-about coming from your left. Here in Uganda where we drive UK style...you yield to the driver in the round-about coming from your right...a hard thing to remember. Have been here 7 months now and still get in on the wrong side of the car. I figure by the time time I leave here, I'll only be getting into the wrong side of the car just once a day. (Likely this stop sign was erected years before the round-about was installed. No one stops at it. And even if you were supposed to stop, no big deal...the police don't really care. They are really here for riot control...not anything we've had to worry about.)