Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Chirstmas from Gulu

A special Merry Christmas to each of you.  We had a wonderful Christmas Eve - Eve activity with 17 of our young single adults who assisted us in delivering fruit, Bibles Scripture Story Readers (Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon), pictures of the Savior, homemade dolls, frogs and bears, beanbag toss games, building blocks, corsage flower pins and candy/coloring books/colored pencils to approx. 170 patients at Lacor Hospital..   We were able to cover all the patients in the surgery and burn wards as well as the children's ward (128).   The majority of the patients are children with problems like severe burns (frequently toddlers fall into cooking fires or scalding water), malaria,  malnutrition and cancer. Some pictures are below.

Christmas eve we hosted 16 missionaries from here in Gulu and Lira (2 hrs down the road).  We had a few Christmas gifts for them and a traditional American dinner with all the fixings.  Chicken, beef, turkey....scratch the turkey... Store bought this time but quite gross.  Next time, we'll go back to buying live and preparing with the help of our missionaries.  Hmmm, we likely won't be here then.

Once each month, the senior couples rotate sending a letter to all the elders and sisters serving missions in and from the Uganda Kampala Mission.  We were assigned the month of December.  It follows below and is our Christmas message to you, along with a clever poem written by one of of our senior missionaries, the Hansens.

Dear Elders and Sisters,

What a privilege we have to write to you on behalf of the mission during this most special of all months - December - when we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child - our whole purpose for being
on this mission. What a special time of year when the Spirit fills the hearts of believers and many non-believers alike around the world as Christmas day approaches. Would that every person had that special Spirit of Christmas -  of charity, selflessness and kindness - every day throughout the year.

When we were younger – likely you also – it seemed that Christmas day would never arrive. As we have thought about how quickly our full-time mission is passing by, we have reflected on why this is so. As
a child, Christmas was all about “me”… not about others.  As children we often sat idly by,  merely waiting for Christmas morning so we could see what Santa Claus had brought us. No wonder time seemed to stand still…we were focused so much on ourselves.

Now, in contrast to our childhood, time seems to fly by on our missions. We arrive and then, almost as suddenly, realize our mission is halfway over and we will shortly be on our way home. We hear this story told over and over again by the elders and sisters we serve with in this mission. Why is this so?
Because we are no longer focused on ourselves but we are focused on sharing the message of Christmas,
the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Plan of Happiness with everyone we meet. We pray and fast for and worry about our investigators, new converts and the less active in our wards and branches. We labor tirelessly to bring His joy into their lives. Because we are not focused on ourselves but on serving others, our missions pass by so very quickly. And that will be the key to happiness in our lives long after we have left your mission.

President Spencer W. Kimball once commented on the words of the Savior found in Matthew 10:39 (”… he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it ….”) “…The more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our soul … indeed, it is easier to find ourselves because there is more of us to find.” (“There Is Purpose in Life,” June Conference Address 1974, New Era, Sept.1974, p. 4.)

Our souls and spirits are enlarged because we are doing what the Savior did during his mortal ministry and in doing so we grow in ways not previously imaginable. Hence, we are more spiritually mature; we have become more like Him just as He has invited us to do.

Sometimes – perhaps most of the time – the work we are called to perform is very difficult. It may seem more challenging than we feel we have the strength to endure. It has always been so with those engaged in this, the greatest of all works. It will always be so. Consider the words of Christ to Nephi as found in Helaman 10: 3-5:
“ And it came to pass as he [Nephi] was thus pondering—being much cast down because of the wickedness of the people of the Nephites, their secret works of darkness, and their murderings, and their plunderings, and all manner of iniquities—and it came to pass as he was thus pondering in his heart, behold, a voice came unto him saying: 
"Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.  
"And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.”
Our duty is to forget ourselves and then, find ourselves by losing ourselves in the service of others and to continue to endure our trials. May we always remember the inspiring words from that magnificent prophet of this, the greatest and last dispensation:

“Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad.” (D&C 128:22. An epistle from the prophet Joseph Smith to the Church)
May we each feel the Spirit of our Savior this special season of the year and may we always have his Spirit to be with us.

Love,  Elder and Sister Moore

 Our little Christmas Tree...was in storage here when we arrived.
 We bought two nativities in Kampala.  In the background is simply Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus in a manger.  In the forefront, a set of soapstone figures...sheep, cow, wise men.  We combined the two together for our one nativity.
 A picture of some of the dolls, bears, frogs and balls Pam and the branch sisters made.
 These dolls were "invented" by Pam, from empty water bottles, filled with a few pebbles for weight and then dressed..  Many of the dolls have a baby on their backs just as the Ugandans carry their babies.
 Bears and frogs. The frogs are partially filled with beans. Our Single Adult, Simon, made the bulletin boards  below and Clifton painted the scenes for the beanbag toss game.  They were left for children in the cancer and the burn units.  The young men from Gulu branch also sanded and painted several large bags of building blocks for those same hospital units.
Beanbag toss hole in each board.
Our young singles with Pam and her brother Dennis at the hospital.  Ten of them had Santa or Elf hats that they also distributed to some of the older children.  

 Beatrice with one of the patients made a good number of bears, frogs and dolls.  And she's quite a doll herself.

 Stephen with a cancer patient baby and her Mom.
 Laurice...our seminary student at Pope John Paul School we have mentioned in past blog posts, 
distributing frogs.

Another young adult with a cancer patient.  You can see his face swollen.  Burkitt's Lymphoma Cancer.  Google it.
An employee at the grateful for our visit and cheering up her patients.  She received a Bible and a Scripture Stories reader too.

This good man  has been in the hospital for about as long as I can remember.  He asked for a Bible. As soon as I gave it to him he raised it as high as he could repeating the words, "Praise the Lord."  He then held it against his heart.  It was the greatest gift he had ever received.  We had a dozen or so Bibles.  Everyone in this ward wanted one...reaching out in great anticipation of having their own Bible.
Peter...member of Gulu Branch.  Bumped into him on the street selling Christmas trees.  These are really just branches cut off from a pine tree of some sort.  He had sold none at this point.

 Missionaries above and below over for Christmas eve dinner.

 Christmas Day service project...replacing the latrine for our compound guards.  This is the existing one.  Rotted and collapsing.  Too small to do anything but stoop in.
 See what I can't stand up in it.
 Inside view of existing, collapsing latrine.
 Walls, vines removed.  Latrine razed.
 Framing erected (bamboo poles) by the missionaries and Pam's brother Dennis.

Finished product.  Maybe 6' tall.  Much more room inside the latrine.  More dignity and privacy.  The walls we used are typically sold as floor mats that the locals sit and sleep on in their huts.  2000 shillings each or 80cents.  The bamboo framing runs 1500 per 10' pole...about 60 cents.  Dennis estimated it would take 2 hours to complete the job.  We started at 10:00 am after breakfast with the missionaries and finished at 12:00.  Way to go Dennis!

One pic from our safari last week...a beautiful sunset.

A Christmas poem written by one of the wives of our Senior Couples.
(Our mission president, is a former cowboy and rodeo champ)

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the mission,
All Elders and Sisters and Couples were wishin’…
That they could be home with their families so dear,
And share with them in the holiday cheer.
But needless to say, that just wasn’t the plan,
For who would teach about salvation for man.
So they put on their name tags and hit the street,
Why they had a whole nation of Ugandans to meet.
Forget about gifts, and reindeer and snow,
And teach these great people all that they must know.
Forget about stockings hung by the chimney with care,
And think about the message that we have to share.
Forget about ham, or turkey, or treats,
Enjoy pineapple and mangos as your holiday sweets.
Throw in a few fried grasshoppers or tasty white ants,
But don’t complain if you have diarrhea in your pants.
You committed to serve and that’s what you’ll do,
Until President Chatfield exclaims, “Hey, cowboy, you’re through!” 

No comments:

Post a Comment