Saturday, November 23, 2013

Week 37

Gaining acceptance in Gulu!

We've mentioned in previous blog posts about some of the radio persecution the Church has been receiving in Gulu.  One of those on the radio was a local Anglican Reverand...retired.  "By chance" Pam  ran into him at  local Indian-owned grocery market early last week.  They had a friendly conversation; asked what we were doing, exchanging phone numbers, etc.   Later I walk in the store and Pam introduces us all the while noticing the Reverend’s surprise realizing from  my name tag, that I am one of the Elders and we are members of the Church he has been talking  down on the radio.  Nonetheless, a cordial conversation had already ensued. 
Friday of this past week he called Pam saying he would like to meet.  We were delighted at the opportunity.  We met that afternoon taking him some of Pam's delicious chocolate chip banana bread (Sister Beckle’s recipe).  We had a very nice conversation.  He explained the history of Anglican church, his positions as educator and leader in church, teaching in their schools of theology  and asked about our history.  I explained a little; when  the reverend mentioned the importance of service to his Church I showed him the Church's Southeast Area Uganda Mission newsletter where Ugandan government leaders praised our church.  This included a Ugandan government official by the name of Musa who loves the Church.  His responsibility in the Cabinet is that of Emergency and Disaster Relief so he knows first hand what the LDS Church has done for the people of Uganda.  The reverend said "That's all in Kampala; what have you done here?"  We then showed him a second newletter specifically mentioned the Tippy Taps that our local Church branches have installed in all four corners of the city, told him about previous wheelchair deliveries, as well as service at schools and Lacor Hospital.  We left these newsletters with him along with some reading material that answered some of his spoken and unspoken questions.  Our purpose was simple to become a friend to him.  We did not and would not debate doctrine but he was surprised at how much commonality there is between his Anglican faith and ours.  He said he wanted to meet again and would call us.  If we don't hear from him, we'll give him a buzz.  All in all, it was a great meeting with genuine potential for a developing friendship. 


It’s November, the rainy season which was supposed to have been heaviest in August has far past.  The temps are supposed to warm up but it is cool and rainy.  Bumped into a sister coming to our Friday night Movie Nite in the Bardege Chapel this week...she was all bundled up and shivering telling me, "I'm freezing".  I, of course, felt it was an absolutely perfect night.  It's all a matter of is much of life in general. Has rained almost every day this month so far.  Very bad for our locals who depend on their gardens and farms to survive on.  The crops are rotting in the field. Even the bricks can’t be constructed because the mud bricks are too wet to fire. 

And the more rain, the more the rock quarry fills with pump to move the water out.

Northern Uganda is a place where the old adage, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another.” seems to apply… literally.

A real blackboard in our Gulu Chapel..haven't seen one of these in a while.  Works better than a whiteboard as for some reason the whiteboard markers seem to run dry very quickly over here.
I'm ALWAYS looking for a marker that writes.
One of your young singles learning to hoola hoop.  Some were very good.  Most had never seen a holla-hoop this one.
Your standand toilet.  Notice no sink to wash hands...not toilet paper.  Thus far I've been fortunate enough not to need one of these.
A Gulu row house, so to speak.  This is right next to the large market where we do most of our outdoor shoppiing the houses remind me of the ones' I've seen in DC and Baltimore.  This is a long alley of houses, one right next to the other.  Morning time.  Folks up washing dishes and clothes.
One of our valiant Young Women presidents, a truly great leader.  Most of the clothing worn by people here are secondhand items originating from the states.  Often they wear clothing that's gender-based (not theirs) or with questionable sayings, particularly for Sunday worship. 
Hadn't seen much of Halloween around Gulu...actually saw nothing.  I asked a few folks about Halloween and they had never heard of it..  A few days later in Kampala I came across this cute sister/brother at the grocery store with Mom...still dressed up in Halloween costumes.  I told her I was not aware Halloween was practiced here.  She said I hadn't been to the right neighborhoods.  Maybe it's just a big city thing where "western" culture has influenced the locals.


  Pam…always studying…taking advantage of every opportunity.  She loves the scriptures and immerses herself in them.  We are waiting on one of her seminary students at Pope John Paul II school to join us.  I think this day she was at “prayers” and we never found her.  Pam just takes whatever might be wasted time and  simply continues to the study the gospel.  The cloth flower she is wearing...she made this and taught many of the sisters in the two Church branches how to do the same.

People make their own coal to cook with or to sell.  This street vendor selling the small buckets in the foreground for 1000 shillings each...40 cents.
These large bags of coal...25,000 shillings...about $9.

  Came across this "doctors" office.  "Traditional Doctor" means witchdoctor.
Hundreds of them here.  They cast spells and require their "patients" to  perform some pretty horrible stuff in order for their promises of better health to be fulfilled.  Most of the people in town no longer follow the witch doctors, but they still have a strong presence up here.


Eating lunch at a nearby restaurant by myself recently, doing a little work, just finishing up and I hear this giant”ROOOLLL Tide”.  I hop up, thinking it is some sort of pep rally or tale gate party.... low and behold, here is a table full of Bama fans  giving me a roll tide cheer and rolling their arms thru the air in the process.

Then I saw this group sitting right next to the Tide table....all Auburn fans and not terribly friendly either... Both groups from the state of Alabama on a church mission building homes, I think it was for homeless children.  Even the Gospel can bring the worst enemies together.  ONE MORE WEEK 'TIL THIS MATCH-UP AND I AM FEELING VERY NERVOUS.

Ps to the Woods.  I'm at the Sankofa tonite working on the blog.  Same place as the restaurant mentioned above.  They've got the pizza down pat now...only takes 10 minutes to get one out of the wood burning oven.  (To all others, when we first arrived in Gulu, we had pizza with the Woods (outbound missionary couple) at the Sankofa.  Elder Woods called in the order and we waited about an hour before we left the apt for the restaurant....then we waited another half hour or so for the pizza after we arrived.)

Photo: READY!

Son-in-law, Jerry and my two special boys living in Utah. Knowing the path we should travel makes life much easier..."Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old..." Uh oh...I just noticed Noah with a Texas Longhorn, "Hook Em Horns" symbol. I've got more training to do.

President N. Eldon Tanner (1898–1982) of the First Presidency of our Church...
“A young man came to me not long ago and said, ‘I made an agreement with a man that requires me to make certain payments each year. I am in arrears [behind in fulfilling financial obligations], and I can’t make those payments, for if I do, it is going to cause me to lose my home. What shall I do?’
“I looked at him and said, ‘Keep your agreement.’
“‘Even if it costs me my home?’
“I said, ‘I am not talking about your home. I am talking about your agreement; and I think your wife would rather have a husband who would keep his word … and have to rent a home than to have a home with a husband who will not keep his covenants."

Fourth Nephi of the Book of Mormon covers the nearly 200 years of unity and harmony following Jesus Christ’s visit to the Americas. The people “were all converted unto the Lord” (4 Nephi 1:2), resulting in a society that people of all ages have dreamed of.  Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles observed that following Christ’s visit, “His majestic teachings and ennobling spirit led to the happiest of all times, a time in which ‘there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another. And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift’ [4 Nephi 1:2–3]. That blessed circumstance was achieved on another occasion of which we know—the city of Enoch, where ‘they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them’ [Moses 7:18]” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 40; or Ensign,‍ May 1996, 30).  The city of Enoch, you'll recall, is mentioned in the Old Testament as being so righteous it was taken up to Heaven.

Tragically, the second half of 4 Nephi reveals how a righteous and happy people allowed pride and apostasy to enter their lives, bringing the eventual destruction of their entire society.  The Book of Mormon was written for each of us today as a reminder of the importance of always keeping our covenants and not letting the similar circumstances destroy true happiness.

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