Sunday, February 16, 2014

Week 50

    Although there have been other attempts, Michelle is the very first Young Woman in Gulu area to earn her Young Womenhood Recognition Award.  This challenging award includes extensive work in eight categories or values  (Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, Integrity, and Virtue), as well as living in such a way that the young woman stands as a witness of God “at all times and in all things and in all places”.   In most instances, it takes six years of constant effort to complete and is in all respects equal to a boy earning the Eagle Scout award.  She was presented with her certificate and beautiful necklace last Sunday in Church.  Like the additional palms that can be earned in scouting, Michelle is now fulfilling requirements for the Honor Bee charm.  She is a beacon to all our young women AND to me.  Michelle’s parents have not yet joined the church, but seven of her siblings are active members.   She is one of those special young women who, President Ezra Taft Benson testified “will perform miracles for the Lord now and throughout eternity.” 
    • Couldn't download her celebration picture, but here's Michelle with the bag she made last week.
     Tragedy in Paradise.

  • Nixon”and “Gladys” (names changed) are a delightful, very special couple in one of our branches.   Their lives have been filled with great adversity including the loss of both their children, but they have also exercised extraordinary faith and perseverance.  They are very bright and have worked harder than anyone we know to build their large piece of property into a self-sufficient enterprise, with scores of fruit/food bearing trees and plants, rice paddies, a fish pond (Nixon can tell you the exact temperature and water flow needed for optimal production), doves, chickens, vegetable garden, brick-yard, a building for Gladys to sell food, and future plans for a car wash and other industries.  Nixon labored intensely 12-15 hours a day to bring all this to fruition. Gladys also marketed her vegetables, sold chapatti and treats and had started doing tailoring with her new sewing machine.  They have a sign post going into their property: “Paraside Farm”.  Here in Gulu, it truly is. They were also making plans to go to the temple in 2014, anxious to have their deceased daughters sealed to them for time and all eternity and become a “Forever Family.”

  • About 14 months ago Nixon contracted cerebral malaria, a very serious type of malaria that attacks the brain, impairing cognitive thinking, causing paranoia and nightmares, as well as a host of other problems including, seizures, comas and if not properly treated, even death.  With continual medication, the malaria and its symptoms can be controlled.  When we arrived last March, Nixon was taking his medication and was doing well.

    A few months later, however, he decided he no longer needed his cerebral malaria medicine.  At times he was perfectly fine, but at other  times, especially at night, he would have horrific delusional experiences and became paranoid about those around him wanting to hurt him.  Through the church’s fast offering assistance, he was offered the best medical help available – even assistance in Kampala – but he refused treatment.  His irrational thinking and behavior escalated to the point that by June, it was not safe for Gladys and their niece to stay with him.  He refused all medical help, blaming everyone else for his problems and quit coming to church.  People tried reaching out to him, but to no avail.

    Last month a relative took him to the mental ward at Gulu Regional Hospital because he was running around his neighborhood naked and screeching.  The doctor’s prognosis was Nixon should make a full recovery – if he would take his medicine.  Gladys assisted in his care while the Church provided some food and medical assistance, but Nixon’s uncle absconded with his food, as well as some of Nixon’s and Gladys’ property.  This Uncle “Barton”  (name change) also  employed “traditional” medicine to have Nixon killed, which would facilitate Barton obtaining Nixon’s property.  (The Acholi culture generally recognizes the rights of the deceased husband’s relatives over that of the wife.)

    Nixon seemed to be doing better.  On one visit to the hospital, he calmly  asked, “Sister Moore, you are smiling, why are you so happy?  I said, “Because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true.”  He started to cry and said he knew that was true also.  A few days later he showed up at our home. Brooks was at institute, so I fed him a good meal on our porch.  Shortly thereafter Gladys, another friend of Nixon’s and his brother who had just arrived from Kampala also came (all unannounced).  They were also fed as I knew they likely had not had a meal that day.  Everything was peaceful and positive.  Nixon agreed to go with his brother to Kampala in a few days were he would be safe and get better treatment.  When Brooks returned, Nixon wanted a priesthood blessing .  There was a wonderful spirit with all of them that night.   

    Unfortunately, two days later Nixon was again not rational and burned down nine huts in his neighborhood, including one he owned that Uncle Barton had moved into (without permission).  Nixon also shot a man with his bow and arrow.  The man has since recovered but Nixon is now in prison charged with attempted murder and nine counts of arson.  Gladys has continued to care for him as much as she is able by bringing food and medicines to him at the prison.  Nixon takes his medications for pain, TB, and other problems, but he still refuses to take the medication for his cerebral malaria symptoms. 

    At times Nixon is lucid, as when he was first arraigned, but at other times, especially at night, he is completely irrational or violent.  We visited him at the prison a couple of times and he seemed in good spirits other than the pain caused by the severe beating his uncle gave him. 

    When Gladys went out to their property Uncle Barton had broken into their home and stolen everything they had.  She later saw their belongings on Barton’s premises.  We asked if anything could be done to retrieve them.  She said the police would go out and investigate/ confiscate the property,  but they would first need money for the gasoline to travel out there.  Not having any income, we provided her with the money but things move so slowly here.  It’s likely she will never get back any of their possessions.    

    Nixon’s court hearing was on Friday.  At Gladys’ request, Brooks presented to the judge papers regarding Nixon’s recent hospitalization in the mental health unit.  The court decided that Nixon should be taken to a state-run mental health institution in Kampala. Gladys will also go down there at least temporarily so she can help, as well as apprise Nixon’s mother who is living in that area.  Since the land Paradise Farm lies on property that belongs to his Grandmother and Barton’s mother and Nixon cannot continue making payments, this beautiful property will likely fall into Uncle Barton’s hands.   

    We don’t understand all he circumstances or know what will happen to Nixon and Gladys in the future.  What we do know is that these are GOOD people who, along with others, are experiencing a lot of affliction. 

    For over four decades, Brooks has often said to me, “It’s the seemingly little things” that make a difference for good or bad:  A tiny pill, an O ring, a small breach of faith, a kind word, a demeaning email, a glance of contempt, a sincere thank you, critical words, et al.  It’s been a humbling experience this week to reflect on all the little things I could have/should have done differently throughout my life and what afflictions I have caused others.

    Elder L Whitney Clayton explains in a general sense that our afflictions come from three sources:

    1.      Some burdens [or trials] are the natural product of the conditions of the world in which we live.  Illness, physical disability, hurricanes, and earthquakes come from time to time through no fault of our own.

    2.      Other burdens are imposed on us by the misconduct of others.  Abuse and addictions can make home anything but a heaven on earth for innocent family members.  Sin, incorrect traditions, repression, and crime scatter burdened victims along the pathways of life….

    3.      Our own mistakes and shortcomings produce many of our problems and can place heavy burdens on our own shoulders.  The most onerous burden we impose upon ourselves is the burden of sin. 
    Notwithstanding, Elder Clayton reminds us of an important Gospel truths: 
    No matter the burdens we face in life as a consequence of natural conditions, the misconduct of others, or our own mistakes and shortcomings, we are the children of a loving Heavenly Father, who sent us to earth as part of His eternal plan for our growth and progress.  Our unique individual experiences can help us prepare to return to Him….We must do everything we can to bear our burdens ‘well’.

    …[As we keep the commandments of God and our covenants, He helps us with our burdens.  He strengthens us.  When we repent, He forgives us and blesses us with peace of conscience and joy.  “That Your Burdens May Be Light,” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 12-13) 

    May we always strive for the blessings of Christ’s Atonement daily and be mindful of the little things we do that can impact our lives.
  •  Just thought I'd throw this picture and my brothers at our old family cottage in Destin.  Guess which one is me.  Hint...I'm not the one standing there looking like Forrest Gump.

     We may not have snow here in Gulu ever but that doesn't mean you can't go sledding.
     Even the big boys get to try it.

     The home a wonderful family lives in.  Less active but returning to Church.
     And right next door this newly built, very nice looking home.
    This is the reaction of a missionary when he gets a commitment from a less active member to come back to Church.  Sure enough, she was there the following Sunday
  • A fellow here makes flour sifters.  Pam bought one for 2000 shillings...80 cents..  Says he can make 100 per day but the market is slow and he only sells about 10.

  •  More wooden blocks sawed up and painted by the Young Men of Gulu Branch...service project for the kids primary and a local organization. We already gave a bunch to cancer and burn children at hospital.

    The bus park from hell.  You'll remember our story of getting stuck in this park for literally 2 hours a few months back...following our GPS in Kampala trying to get back to our apt.  People yelling at us, banging on our car to get out of the way...we just smiled back at them like we were responding to how friendly and happy they were to have us there.  Well, I was walking around Kampala the other day and behold, the bus park down below me at a safe distance.  Like the last time, they are all just sitting there waiting on the closest "bus", mini-van, to the front to move on out so the next guy can and then the next.  I think most of these drivers sit in there for hours waiting on their turn to get out and earn some fares.
 Our special friends, the Himlis and their newly "adopted" son  Gatwitch.  They were all recently displaced from So Sudan while the war raged close by and all around them.  The couple were escorted out on a cargo plane having been arranged and driven there by ISOS....  International SOS as in "HELP" contracted by the Church.  The couple were the only missionaries in Juba.  I wish you could all hear the tale of the young man.  It will give you chills and tears at the same time.  Turns out they all stopped in to see us in Gulu 15 Jan.  On their way to a refugee camp just south of the So Sudan border a couple of hours north of Gulu.  Delivering blankets.  They brought a driver who works with Church Humanitarian Services.  We were so excited to see them again on a quick visit to Chobe before their return to the states.  This was the Himlis second mission in this particular mission, the first in Ethiopia.  They are the cream of the crop.
    • Told us a story of US missionary over here.  The local gave the young missionary a straw to sip out of.  The Mormon missionary, still new and a little reluctant to try anything new or not sure of it's origin asked if the straw was clean.  Our local church member said yes, it was cleaned after it has been used to clean the sewage...joking of course.  The missionary jumped up in shock and our local told the elder, "remember who you are"...basically act the part,  Have faith.  Quit being so fearful."
  • Turns out the local humanitarian aid also works the wheelchair program with the government here.
  • This may assist us in getting a chair to a double amputee policeman who has been at Lacor Hospital for as long as I can remember.  

  • Our Church Humanitarian arm is working on delivering literally tons of blankets, clothing, etc to these refugee camps of displaced South Sudanese citizens caught in the crossfire of the war.  There is still argument among the warring parties as to whether or not there was a coup attempt or whether the war is of a tribal nature.  Peace talks underway but going nowhere.
  • ___________________________________________________________________
  • Elder D Todd Christofferson  The Moral Force of Women...continued from week 49
  • "A woman’s moral influence is nowhere more powerfully felt or more beneficially employed than in the home. There is no better setting for rearing the rising generation than the traditional family, where a father and a mother work in harmony to provide for, teach, and nurture their children. Where this ideal does not exist, people strive to duplicate its benefits as best they can in their particular circumstances.
  • "In all events, a mother can exert an influence unequaled by any other person in any other relationship. By the power of her example and teaching, her sons learn to respect womanhood and to incorporate discipline and high moral standards in their own lives. Her daughters learn to cultivate their own virtue and to stand up for what is right, again and again, however unpopular. A mother’s love and high expectations lead her children to act responsibly without excuses, to be serious about education and personal development, and to make ongoing contributions to the well-being of all around them. Elder Neal A. Maxwell once asked: “When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses?”3

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