Saturday, May 31, 2014

Week 65 - A trip to the hospital

Two of our sons arrived safely from U.S. Monday evening!  We are traveling with them seeing different areas of Uganda -- more about that next week.

We have 3 hospitals in Gulu; Lacor-St Mary's, Gulu Regional Referral, and Gulu Independent.
Lacor is a Catholic charity hospital started by an Irish doctor team a few decades ago, has minimal fees and does a good job of taking care of their patients.  Gulu Referral is government owned.  No costs involved.  Patients largely watched over by interns and nurses.  Gulu Independent is private and very expensive by UG standards.  This is where we send our missionaries who are sick.  Quick in and out as there are no waiting lines due to it's high costs.  Our next door neighbor is a doctor from Serbia and works at Independent.  We have visited Lacor and Referral often.  One day recently we spent some time at Lacor visiting the son of our members who had been in a terrible bus accident about six weeks ago.  6 killed including the bus driver.  Emmanuel was sitting directly behind the driver and received extensive injuries.  He had 6-8 transfusions.  It didn't look like he was going to make it.  Burns on his body.  They did exploratory surgery on his abdomen to look for internal bleeding but found none.  That same day two elders from the branch administered to him and gave him a blessing.  The next day, he was much improved.  He has had good care for this area, Cost: about 250,000 shillings or $100.00.  

The following pictures are mostly from his hospital ward room but this is typically what you see at Lacor or Referral.

 The people is pink gowns are awaiting their time to enter the surgery theater.  It's like this nearly everyday.  I don't know how long one may wait, but rather than waiting in a bed they line them up and the nurse calls their name when ready.  Obviously, patients like Emanuel with severe injuries do not sit out here.  They are transported to surgery on a gurney, just like in the states.

Emanuel and Sister, about a month after accident 
 Sis Ricky, Emanuel's mom and Emanuel's sister.
 Roy on the left and William on the right who a couple weeks earlier had given Emanuel a blessing.  They rode up with us at this writing to give him another blessing as part of his foot was going to be amputated.  Burn wounds not healing.
 Emanuel's next door bed mate.  Most of the folks in Northern Uganda eat what they grow or pick.  This young man had climbed a mango tree to pick fruit, slipped and fell out.  He has a broken arm and ...
 ...Here is a photo of his leg x-ray.  Pretty clean break, wouldn't you say?  Life is hard in Africa.  Even eating can be hazardous.

Another broken leg.  Pins inserted inserted into this fellow's leg.  He was hit by a car while walking along the road.  Oddly, most on foot walk in the same direction of vehicles beside them so they are unable to see what is coming up behind them and no idea if they should be jumping out of the way.  We always walk facing oncoming traffic and try to teach our Church members to do the same so they can see what is coming.

  • Our dear sweet friend Sis Mary.  Works the emergency room at the hospital.  It is her daughter, Praise, we have written you about.  Cerebral palsy.  Thanks to our long time friends in SLC, Dennis and Dixie Anderson, we were able to get Praise some Atmit...a nutrient enriched porridge that has been about the only food Praise has been able to keep in her stomach.  The Church did not develop Atmit but after much research has improved the original porridge and it does much good for people in 3rd world countries around the untold number of lives saved.  Two of our son's who just arrived to safari with us brought us another 50 pounds.  It is going to the place that treats Nodding disease.
  • ____________________________________________________________

  • Korihor’s teaching (A Book of Mormon  anti-christ) “ye cannot know of things which ye do not see” is the philosophy that all ideas and knowledge are derived from and can be tested by experience and that we can only know those things we experience through our senses: sight, smell, touch, hearing, or taste. Since spiritual experiences involving revelation from God rarely pass through the senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing, or taste, those who hold to Korihor’s philosophy count them as meaningless.

  • President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, described an experience he had that illustrated the fact that spiritual matters do not typically include the common five senses:
    “I will tell you of an experience I had before I was a General Authority which affected me profoundly. I sat on a plane next to a professed atheist who pressed his disbelief in God so urgently that I bore my testimony to him. ‘You are wrong,’ I said, ‘there is a God. I know He lives!’
    “He protested, ‘You don’t know. Nobody knows that! You can’t know it!’ When I would not yield, the atheist, who was an attorney, asked perhaps the ultimate question on the subject of testimony. ‘All right,’ he said in a sneering, condescending way, ‘you say you know. Tell me how you know.’
    “When I attempted to answer, even though I held advanced academic degrees, I was helpless to communicate.
    “Sometimes in your youth, you young missionaries are embarrassed when the cynic, the skeptic, treat you with contempt because you do not have ready answers for everything. Before such ridicule, some turn away in shame. (Remember the iron rod, the spacious building, and the mocking? See 1 Ne. 8:28.)
    “When I used the words Spirit and witness, the atheist responded, ‘I don’t know what you are talking about.’ The words prayer, discernment, and faith, were equally meaningless to him. ‘You see,’ he said, ‘you don’t really know. If you did, you would be able to tell me how you know.
    “I felt, perhaps, that I had borne my testimony to him unwisely and was at a loss as to what to do. Then came the experience! Something came into my mind. And I mention here a statement of the Prophet Joseph Smith: ‘A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas … and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977, p. 151.)
    “Such an idea came into my mind and I said to the atheist, ‘Let me ask if you know what salt tastes like.’
    “‘Of course I do,’ was his reply.
    “‘When did you taste salt last?’
    “‘I just had dinner on the plane.’
    “‘You just think you know what salt tastes like,’ I said.
    “He insisted, ‘I know what salt tastes like as well as I know anything.’
    “‘If I gave you a cup of salt and a cup of sugar and let you taste them both, could you tell the salt from the sugar?’
    “‘Now you are getting juvenile,’ was his reply. ‘Of course I could tell the difference. I know what salt tastes like. It is an everyday experience—I know it as well as I know anything.’
    “‘Then,’ I said, ‘assuming that I have never tasted salt, explain to me just what it tastes like.’
    “After some thought, he ventured, ‘Well-I-uh, it is not sweet and it is not sour.’
    “‘You’ve told me what it isn’t, not what it is.’
    “After several attempts, of course, he could not do it. He could not convey, in words alone, so ordinary an experience as tasting salt. I bore testimony to him once again and said, ‘I know there is a God. You ridiculed that testimony and said that if I did know, I would be able to tell you exactly how I know. My friend, spiritually speaking, I have tasted salt. I am no more able to convey to you in words how this knowledge has come than you are to tell me what salt tastes like. But I say to you again, there is a God! He does live! And just because you don’t know, don’t try to tell me that I don’t know, for I do!’
    “As we parted, I heard him mutter, ‘I don’t need your religion for a crutch! I don’t need it.’
    “From that experience forward, I have never been embarrassed or ashamed that I could not explain in words alone everything I know spiritually” (“The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan. 1983, 51–52).

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Week 64

P: We had  wonderful experiences this week visiting with three charitable organizations.  One  we'll tell you about now, and the other two next weekend.  On Wednesday we visited the main office of  Hope for Humans here in Gulu (  It was established by two San Antonio TX doctors, Suzanne Gazda and  Sally Baynton, to help children who suffer from Nodding Disease - only in NORTHERN Uganda (some cases in So. Sudan and in '60s in Tanzania)!  Scientists from around the world have been puzzled by this disease and unable to determine its cause.  It also has no known cure.      It affects the brains and nervous system of children, primarily between the ages of 5-15.  The children in early stages look normal, but appear sleepy and seem to "nod off"; they are actually experiencing seizures, often many throughout the day.  During the seizure the child or teenager cannot control body movement and are prone to wander off -- sometimes falling into fires or drowning in bodies of water.  For those reasons - and the frequency of the seizures, parents are forced to tie them to a tree to keep them safe.  Strangely, food often triggers the seizures and the children become severely malnourished, dying from secondary causes.

 Last year the humanitarian service missionaries in Uganda told us about the dramatic difference the our church's supplemental porridge, ATMIT, has made in the lives of these children.  One member of Uganda's Parliament testified of the many, many lives that had been saved by this porridge.  Unfortunately the shipping costs have made it prohibitive to ship to around the world, but the church is working to find a way to have it manufactured in Africa.    My brother and our sons have been able to bring two  50 lb bags when they have come as part of their luggage.  Although it is a drop in the bucket.  The administrators are soooooo appreciative and are in hopes something can be worked out so when they are traveling to Kampala they can bring ATMIT with them as part of their luggage.  Although food often triggers the seizures, amazingly ATMIT does not have this affect.   

Tuesday’s country plod.  
“Plodding” will never be the same when I return home.  It is just so beautiful here – lush green plants everywhere, ethereal, blue sky, occasionally seeing the moon at mid-day.  It is my time for refreshing reflection.  

Tuesday on my “plod” home, as I approached Gulu University, suddenly there was an enormous amount of noise that sounded like cheering at a sports event.  It seemed very strange that it was coming from inside the university rather than at their football (soccer) field.  Then as I was approaching the main entrance close to a thousand students came running out.  They didn’t look frightened – in fact a lot of them were laughing.  I thought, perhaps they were all told they didn’t have to take an exam or class was dismissed early,  but seemed like too many for that. 

A Ugandan man about my age stopped me and told me to turn around and go back where I had come from.  He was obviously concerned about my safety.  I said my home was straight ahead.  He said, “well then, hurry and take a boda out of here.”  (Hmmm, a boda will be saferNot on my life would I take a boda; besides, it’s against mission rules. :).  Turned out the outbreak was because it was exam week.  These students were upper classmen soon to graduate who had paid their exam fees, but the teachers had gone on strike so the students weren’t allowed to take their exams.  They were all upset.  Anticipating the students’ reaction, security had allegedly released some tear gas.  Actually for a demonstration, it was all very peaceful.  Students may have been angry but they were totally civil and respectful.  Those in America could learn good citizenship from the students’ here.

Just then, a church member I hadn’t seen in quite a while tagged me and said for me to come to her “hotel” (restaurant).  It was so good to see her – not because of the happenings outside, just that I had missed her and her husband.  Her husband is the one we’ve called Nixon who had cerebral malaria and when he wasn’t taken his medicine flipped out burning down some huts.  It had been several months since I had seen him but he was back from Kampala and looked really terrific.  He was faithfully taking his medication and you could tell that he was doing very well – except for enduring threats from his uncle who says he will kill him.  It was wonderful to see him and his wife together and happy.

As I started plodding again, there were still hundreds of students around the road and entrance.  Even though this is my normal route, the majority had never seen me.  Now there was a new wave of laughter; everywhere students were laughing; I gave up learning their language, but it was obvious what the laughter was about as they looked at me, then talked with others – an old, overweight, juja (grandma) trying to jog! Most of them can WALK faster than I jog – sometimes they’ll mock me demonstrating how their walk is faster.  My thoughts turn to the mocking from the large and spacious building in 1st Nephi, but quickly realize these people really  are not being rude.  I’m a novelty as well as a source of entertainment for them.  I usually just smile or wave back at them.  They laugh harder, but in time those that see me regularly compliment me for my efforts.  They are good people.  I love them and will miss their laughter.

About a mile from home a bright green snake, as green as the tall blades of grass, slithers from the road into the brush.  Later I ask others about the green snakes.  Whether true or not, they all tell me green snakes are very poisonous.  Hmmm, I wonder, could it have been the infamous green mamba?  As much as I love looking at the different animals and insects, I’m not about to go off-road for any reason.  Even I have my limits! 


B: In Kampala, my doctor, who founded the clinic he is also running, decided against hacking on my head again to remove any missed basil cell.  He couldn't see any remaining on my forehead under a magnifying glass and suggested since it is a slow grower anyway, watch it carefully and as soon as I see a speck of it, come back down and he will freeze it off.  Thank goodness....I was not looking forward to the pain.

Pam saw him too.  A bad neck.  Probably all the banging and juggling through the pot holes .  They put her in neck traction for  20 minutes.  Doctor said muscle relaxants are now considered "out" for proper treatment so gave her some Valium to take at night to help relax her muscles. She took as prescribed and was almost literally climbing into bed 20 minutes later. Went back for more traction the next day.  She didn't like the way the valium made her feel.  That was enough for more Valium.  She's back on muscle relaxant and feeling good.

If any of our Church friends are planning on a mission, do it while you're doesn't get any easier with age.  Young or old, missions are a wonderful experience.

 Drying out the grain and g-nuts in the sun.
 During the start of the heavy rainy season we get swarms of ants on our front porch, obviously attracted by our front port light.  This was the next day's findings on the porch itself..  The ants, I guess, have crawled off leaving their large wing as evidence.  The wings look more like little baby minnows in the picture.
 Just another fellow trying to make a go of it selling shoes tied over his back....walking the streets looking for customers.

Different size brooms at the market.  The owner of these brooms began yelling at me, "I want money", for me taking the picture of her brooms.  I thought to myself, "Who doesn't?".
                                      Little Nellie...such a cutie.  You have met her before.  Pam loves holding her during Sacrament Meeting,
 Nellie and her sisters moved with her mom to a smaller place but much cleaner and closer to her work.  Real pride of ownership in this neighborhood.  Nighty, the mom, had purchased these turkeys.  The large one will be sold for about 80,000 shillings.  I just hope she didn't pay anymore for it than that.  Much of the time, their businesses lack the basics... as in net sales less the cost of goods sold.  This is why her soap business failed.  Often they don't compute whether or not the selling price covers actual expenses.  Many times it doesn't.  

I still don't get the big deal about hunting turkeys in the states.  These guys love to have their pictures taken.  It's not like you have to wait hours and hours for them while you are crouched down in some uncomfortable position with the temps registering "fowl" weather.  

Kids at General Conference broadcast between DVD sessions on Sunday.

Our Relief Society President's son with cerebral palsy.  He moves along very well on his knees when not in his wheelchair.  Just a great, great guy and very, very smart.
Uganda's version of  "Two Men and a Truck"

 We are getting used to fried ants.  Thinking of having a "BYOA" party at our place when we return...not anticipating too many will show up.
 This only looks top-heavy.  It's just an illusion.  Ofttimes there will be people hitching a ride on the top of these trucks, holding on for dear life.
 Grinding maize into flour.
Preparing the innards for dinner. These can serve as our dessert for our BYO Ant Party.

A lady at the outdoor market selling her this case...dried fish.
Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared the following experience he had with a righteous priesthood leader dying of a terminal disease:
“My friend came to accept the phrase ‘Thy will be done’ as he faced his own poignant trials and tribulations. As a faithful member of the Church, he was now confronted with some sobering concerns. Particularly touching were his questions, ‘Have I done all that I need to do to faithfully to endure to the end?’ ‘What will death be like?’ ‘Will my family be prepared to stand in faith and be self-reliant when I am gone?’
“We had the opportunity to discuss all three questions. They are clearly answered in the doctrine taught to us by our Savior. We discussed how he had spent his life striving to be faithful, to do what God asked of him, to be honest in his dealings with his fellowmen and all others, to care for and love his family. Isn’t that what is meant by enduring to the end? We talked about what happens immediately after death, about what God has taught us about the world of spirits. It is a place of paradise and happiness for those who have lived righteous lives. It is not something to fear.
“After our conversation, he called together his wife and the extended family—children and grandchildren—to teach them again the doctrine of the Atonement that all will be resurrected. Everyone came to understand that just as the Lord has said, while there will be mourning at the temporary separation, there is no sorrow for those who die in the Lord (see Revelation 14:13; D&C 42:46). His blessing promised him comfort and reassurance that all would be well, that he would not have pain, that he would have additional time to prepare his family for his departure, and even that he would know the time of his departure. The family related to me that on the night before he passed away, he said he would go on the morrow. He passed away the next afternoon at peace, with all his family at his side. This is the solace and comfort that comes to us when we understand the gospel plan and know that families are forever.
“Contrast these events with an incident which happened to me when I was a young man in my early twenties. While serving in the Air Force, one of the pilots in my squadron crashed on a training mission and was killed. I was assigned to accompany my fallen comrade on his final journey home to be buried in Brooklyn. I had the honor of standing by his family during the viewing and funeral services and of representing our government in presenting the flag to his grieving widow at the graveside. The funeral service was dark and dismal. No mention was made of his goodness or his accomplishments. His name was never mentioned. At the conclusion of the services, his widow turned to me and asked, ‘Bob, what is really going to happen to Don?’
“I was then able to give her the sweet doctrine of the Resurrection and the reality that, if baptized and sealed in the temple for time and all eternity, they could be together eternally. The clergyman standing next to her said, ‘That is the most beautiful doctrine I have ever heard’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 88–89; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 66).

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Week 63

Pam:  Charity Never Faileth

In General Conference, one of  President Monson's talks was entitled "Love - The Essence of the Gospel".  We know this is true, but frequently fail to apply this to its fullest extent: "we cannot truly love God if we do not love our fellow travelers on this mortal journey."  We decided if we work at applying just this one principle more effectively every day, both with others and between ourselves, no matter what else transpires, our mission will be a success. To hear or read this inspiring talk, copy and paste the following  

 This is a picture of our dear friend Stephen Lowaka.  He joined the church too late to go on a mission, but he is always serving others.  He is the 2nd student in Gulu to earn a personal keyboard through his diligent practicing as well as playing hymns in church.  He will also need to teach someone else how to play.  That should not be hard for him as he has been an excellent student.  I (Pam) have 7 keyboard students, way more than I would like, but there currently is no member in the Bardege Branch that can play so I added two more young single adult women, in hopes they will take their practice seriously.  There is a long list of individuals wanting to learn, but I can only devote so much time to this, and as with developing most talents, when the students realize how much effort it takes, many quickly drop out.  Steve, however, wants to be an accomplished pianist.
You have seen this one before early on but worth looking at again.  Arch-Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church here in Gulu.  Without a doubt, the loveliest building in the area.
These are patients or family members waiting in line to pay their hospital bill at one of the local hospitals.  They are provided a bench to sit on...still some must stand and wait.
I know this was in last week's blog...The Bardege Branch Young Women held a Modesty Modeling contest.  These are the 5 winners plus their leaders.  A wonderful event.  They were taught a very important truth...that dressing modestly, not drawing attention to one's body leads to clean thoughts and stayng pure and chaste for we know that our Heavenly Father delights in the chastity of his daughters and no less in his sons.

Wash day at Lacor Hospital....sheets and such.

Pam and animals!  This is a real African "coma, coma, coma, coma chameleon" as Boy George once sang. One of the missionaries found  it near the primary room.  It puffed itself up to scare us off but as you can see, that didn't work. 

Ambulances at the hospital.  There was one up and ready to roll.  The remainder, the ones above are all in the shop for various repairs.
The old latrine.  You remember this pic from our first week here.  That's me, peeking over this lean-to...rotted wood planks, sheet metal and vines tied together.
The new latrine just 4 months privacy.
You remember the old latrine the guards use at our compound.  It was pretty worthless so as a Christmas service project we tore the top one down and erected a new one with straw mats that surrounded the privy.  Well, that one lasted 4 months in the rain and wind and heat.  Not too fear, however, as each 5 foot straw mat costs about $1.00, I bought 4 more and we had it rebuilt...two young men in the Gulu branch earning a little money from Pam, neither of which was active in the Church 2 months ago.

Refurbished and good for another 4 months.  Now only if the guards will complain to their employer the landlord when this one rots in goodness you are talking $4-7 to fix this thing.

A homemade kite one of the children was flying.  The only one we have seen here. It would take off with the slightest run down the street...pretty ingenious.  The Africans make due, both the old and the young.
Some of our members gathered to watch our Church's World-wide General Conference at the Gulu Branch last Sunday via DVD just received.  This crowd looks small but I'm guessing there were close to 90 in attendance...a number I was very pleased with.  That number is not too much lower than a normal Sunday worship service.

Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles illustrated how our example can lead others to draw nearer to the Lord:
“A nineteen-year-old missionary … would never forget his first day in the mission field, for it taught him a great lesson about using his talents to teach the gospel.
“He and his senior companion were assigned to open a new city some distance from the mission headquarters. As they arrived in this new city and walked down the street, they passed a church with a minister standing at the front door. As they walked by the church, the minister went in and called to his whole congregation to follow him out into the street. There they followed the missionaries and started calling them names; then they became more violent and started to throw rocks at them.
“The young elder was excited about this experience—his first day in the mission field and already he was being stoned, he thought. Then, a big rock suddenly hit him squarely in the middle of the back, and his feeling changed to anger. Before entering the mission field he had been quite a baseball pitcher; and in the flush of anger he wheeled around, grabbed the first rock he could find on the ground, reared back in his famous pitching pose, and was just ready to let the rock fly at the crowd when suddenly he realized why he was there. He had not been sent all the way to Brazil to throw rocks at people; he was there to teach them the gospel. But what was he to do with the rock in his hand? If he dropped it to the ground, they would think it a sign of weakness and probably continue to throw rocks at them. Yet he could not throw it at the crowd. Then he saw a telephone post some distance away. That was the way to save face! He reared back and let the rock fly directly at the telephone post, hitting it squarely in the middle.
“The people in the crowd took a couple of steps back. They suddenly realized that that rock probably could have hit any one of them right between the eyes. Their mood changed; instead of throwing rocks at the missionaries, they began to throw them at the telephone post. After this incident, every time the elder went down that street he was challenged to a rock-throwing contest. The rock-throwing contests led to discussions of the gospel, which led to conversions, which led to the establishment of a branch of the Church in that community” (“Prophecies, Visions, and Dreams,” in 1979 Devotional Speeches of the Year [1980], 3).

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Week 62

General Conference Weekend in Uganda
This weekend both branches are showing the April General Conference sessions. It takes a while for the mission to get the conference dvds, and then for senior couples or missionaries to pick them up in Kampala. We have never loved watching conference over an over again as much as we have here. It has also been inspiring to see how intently the members here listen to conference. If you would like to watch or listen to the words of a living prophet and apostles, go to and click on the conference icon.

Between sessions we helped two young men get the puppies they had earned by their service to the branch.  We drove them to their home with the puppies and asked if they were going to stay at home or go back to the branch for conference.  How pleasing to hear them say in unison, “we are going back to conference.”  That’s an indicator of their desire to learn when they chose to abstain from playing with the puppies they so much wanted!

Harmless and Armstrong cleaning the Gulu branch.  The turquoise item in the background is the baptismal font

African Wars
The following link to a 4 minute video on the history of African colonization, gives added insight into the struggles on this wonderful continent.: .  I was not aware that many of these countries, including Uganda, only received their independence from British, French, Italian or German rule about 50 years ago.  In light of methods and examples by some of their colonial rulers, the current civil wars and disturbances might be better assessed with this in mind.

On occasion I have wondered why so much of the Book of Mormon gives pointed detail of the many wars of the western hemisphere’s ancient inhabitants.  Obviously, it is for our profit and learning.  We just completed reading again Alma chapters 46-49 and its astonishing account of Amalickiah’s use of flattery, fraud, deceit, treachery, intrigue and murder to gain power over all the people, and in turn how this process influenced so many people to hardened hearts, blinded minds, and anger against others as well as against eternal truths “giving way to indolence, and all manner of lasciviousness; yea, entirely forgetting the Lord their God”(Alma 47:36)  “ It seems the sad disposition of so many who fail to accept God as a top priority in their life develop an insatiable desire for power, gain or glory. 

School Holiday and YW activity
Uganda received its independence from Great Britain 51 years ago.  Many aspects of the British culture are deeply imbedded in the Ugandan culture.  Most Ugandans with any financial means wholly embrace the British concept of sending children away to boarding schools.  Two or three times a year the youth come home for “holiday”.  In most cases, students are not allowed to leave their school campus for church services or other activities except during holiday.  The last week or so has been one of those holidays. 

Last Saturday the Gulu YW leaders organized an uplifting mutual event.  Eighteen YW attended!  I was invited, but the activity was quite late getting started so I could not stay.  The girls and leaders wrote very nice letters of appreciation to many members and leaders.  They learned how to prepare sugary-salty g-nuts and concluded by watching the BYU movie classic, Johnny Lingo

The Bardege YW leaders organized a “Modeling Modesty” Fashion Show and asked me to be the judge.  They invited the older Primary girls, ages 10-11 as well.  They had 15 YW and 9 primary girls in attendance! The leaders spoke on the importance of appropriate dress and appearance including the teachings in “For the Strength of Youth” and True to the Faith. I was also asked to speak.  I used modeling pictures from and gave each YW a copy of Jen’s story of courage in wearing and modeling only modest clothing.  They learned about layering clothing and five girls received certificates in the name of various church leaders, such as the “Gordon B. Hinckley Modeling Modesty Award” with a quote on modesty from that particular leader.  The girls loved the activity. My surprise was that all the girls knew exactly how to strut like the mega-models since only one or two of the girls have tvs at home.  The ways of the world are quickly learned everywhere!


Off to Kampala on 14 May for missionary transfers and while there will have my forehead cut open again.  The specimen from the slice they took that was sent to the lab showed some basil cell carcinoma on the edges so I have to go through this routine again!  The first time was bad enough because the deadener didn’t do it’s job and I winced as the doctor shoved that sewing needle in my head 4 times and then gave each suture a tight yank.  I’ve done this once before (on my cheek) where a second incision was required.  Believe me, it hurts twice as much the second time around.  It hurt so bad I teared up and some cute nurse actually took a hold of my hand to comfort me.  Upon hearing this news from our mission medical advisor I thought “Oh my h----“ (That’s “Oh my heck” for those of you with dirty minds by the way…like I said before, it’s hard to keep my religion sometimes even when on a mission.)

Joyce, newly called Primary Pres of Gulu Branch.  She walks an hour each way carrying her baby plus a weekday trip occasionally for training by Pam.  I truly wonder if I am this committed.  What a sweet young mother she is and she really has a vision of what Primary should be all about.  An inspired calling by the branch president.
The Primary Nursery children in their newly cleaned nursery of the Gulu Branch.
Burim from Kosovo.  Has come to Gulu over the last 7 years.  Teaches music in various schools.  Can play just about any instrument you can hand him.  His family is Muslim.  He joined the Church a good while back and even was called on a 6 month mission to serve in Kosovo.  Just a great all-around guy! He is getting married in one of the temples in July. We invited him to our compound dinner last Monday night. He had a good conversation with our next-door doctor Dragomir, from Croatia.
This little fellow with a toy gun made out of a split bamboo stick, a couple of sticks to serve as handles all tied together with strips of rubber tire straps.  I took his gun and chased the kids around their yards, making machine gun noises.  The kids love for you to play with them, laughing, screaming  and running all over the place.
Not sure where I took this or what it is other than a very beautiful bush.  There are many, many beautiful plants all across Uganda.
Some of the kids I later ran off with the machine gun mentioned above.

Sister Ricky...Relief Society President of Bardege and some of her handywork below.  Making purse bags and some scripture bags for our missionaries who are interested.  Pam taught her how to make these.  Hand sewn.  Most of her money she is saving for a trip to the temple for the first time.

This is ingenuity and initiative rolled into one.  There was a leak in a city water line in the middle of our street near one of our chapels..  Folks are always needing water so a nearby resident laid a pan down at the point where the water leak was hitting the ground.


 President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency taught members of the Church how to become a disciple of Christ: (To appreciate this counsel, it needs to be pondered..not just read quickly through.)

“This is the peaceable way of the follower of Jesus Christ.
“Nevertheless, it is not a quick fix or an overnight cure.
“A friend of mine recently wrote to me, confiding that he was having a difficult time keeping his testimony strong and vibrant. He asked for counsel.
“I wrote back to him and lovingly suggested a few specific things he could do that would align his life more closely with the teachings of the restored gospel. To my surprise, I heard back from him only a week later. The essence of his letter was this: ‘I tried what you suggested. It didn’t work. What else have you got?’
“Brothers and sisters, we have to stay with it. We don’t acquire eternal life in a sprint—this is a race of endurance. We have to apply and reapply the divine gospel principles. Day after day we need to make them part of our normal life.
“Too often we approach the gospel like a farmer who places a seed in the ground in the morning and expects corn on the cob by the afternoon. When Alma compared the word of God to a seed, he explained that the seed grows into a fruit-bearing tree gradually, as a result of our ‘faith, and [our] diligence, and patience, and long-suffering’ [Alma 32:43]. It’s true that some blessings come right away: soon after we plant the seed in our hearts, it begins to swell and sprout and grow, and by this we know that the seed is good. From the very moment we set foot upon the pathway of discipleship, seen and unseen blessings from God begin to attend us.
“But we cannot receive the fulness of those blessings if we ‘neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment’ [v. 38].
“Knowing that the seed is good is not enough. We must ‘nourish it with great care, that it may get root’ [v. 37]. Only then can we partake of the fruit that is ‘sweet above all that is sweet, and … pure above all that is pure’ and ‘feast upon this fruit even until [we] are filled, that [we] hunger not, neither shall [we] thirst’ [v. 42].
“Discipleship is a journey. We need the refining lessons of the journey to craft our character and purify our hearts. By patiently walking in the path of discipleship, we demonstrate to ourselves the measure of our faith and our willingness to accept God’s will rather than ours.
“It is not enough merely to speak of Jesus Christ or proclaim that we are His disciples. It is not enough to surround ourselves with symbols of our religion. Discipleship is not a spectator sport. We cannot expect to experience the blessings of faith by standing inactive on the sidelines any more than we can experience the benefits of health by sitting on a sofa watching sporting events on television and giving advice to the athletes. And yet for some, ‘spectator discipleship’ is a preferred if not a primary way of worshipping.
“Ours is not a secondhand religion. We cannot receive the blessings of the gospel merely by observing the good that others do. We need to get off the sidelines and practice what we preach. …“… Now is the time to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, become His disciples, and walk in His way” (“The Way of the Disciple, Ensign, May 2009, 76–77).

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Week 61


Wyatt and Jaime's firstborn, precious baby Anne, arrived safely Thursday afternoon.  She weighs only four pounds and has mild apnea so she will remain in NICU until she is a little stronger. This was not expected, but Wyatt and Jaime have great faith and are appreciative of all the blessings and prayers they have received.  We feel (almost) as if we are right there because they have sent so many wonderful videos, pictures and updates. What a wondrous miracle is the birth of a child.

The Testimony of Gulu's Former Relief Society President

Dear Sister Nighty struggles so much with the physical hardships of this area.  She has four girls, ages 4-17, that she is trying to raise as a single parent;  her husband told her some time ago that she would no longer be his wife because she has not given him a son.  Sister Nighty is the one who works as a boarding school cook  for merely pennies an hour.  Since the children at boarding schools are fed 7 days a week, it is hard for her to attend Sunday services , but now is school holiday so she was at church.  She expressed her deep appreciation for the Church and how it had benefited her in so many ways.  Then she shared that this week she had no food at her house, except for two cups of dried beans, and no money to buy food.  As she prepared to cook her beans, an elderly man came to her hut, saying he had no food and could she provide for him.  She said this was such a test, but she remembered the Old Testament story of Elisha and the widow with her son sharing the last meal with the prophet and the miracle that happened.  Nighty gave the man one of the cups of beans and cooked the other for her family.  Not only did they have enough so everyone was full, but someone came and gave her a gift of 5,000 shillings ($2). She acknowledged the Lord was watching over her and her family.  Skeptics may scoff at the simple faith of these people, but we also testify they are receiving the Lord's tender mercies  as they strive to serve Him.  Their gratitude for the simplest things will continue to bring them joy here and in the hereafter.

We had a change in leadership in our Bardege Branch recently.  Our mission president, President Chatfield,came to Gulu from Kampala for missionary training and while he was here called Odhiambo Phillip as the new branch president, releasing Jolly Joe Rachkara.  Jolly Joe had served in that position for a year when the branch was officially organized in Apr 2013.

Phillip will be a wonderful leader.  He is 25, completing medical school with the help of some dear friends from our home Church ward in Dallas and is engaged to be engaged to a wonderful young lady who serves as the branch Young Women’s President.  She completes her teacher training in June, but may decide to serve an 18 month mission, in which case Phillip has told her he will sustain her, not date anyone else and plan to marry upon her return.  To watch them and hear them ovingly teach the Gospel, you would never imagine they have been in the church less than two years.  
Prospective Missionaries:
These are exciting times for our two branches, Gulu and Bardege.  We have a host of our young single adults preparing for their two year mission (the sisters for 18 months):
  •   Simon...has received his call to Ghana in Jun?????
  •      Roy…called just received to Ghana
  •     William…papers will be submitted in May.
  •     Collins…just received his call to Ghana
  •     Santos…papers soon to be submitted
  •      Patrick…papers  will be submitted in May
  •      Lucky…has earned her minimum contribution and will submit her papers in next few months.
  •      Nancy…same as Lucky.
  •      Laurich…same as Lucky.  The latter three comprise the Young Women’s Presidency in Gulu.  An immediate loss for the Gulu Branch but a long term blessing as they return having dedicated themselves in full-time service to the Lord, returning more spiritually mature and wiser as to the ways of the world.  These and others like them are the future of the Church in Gulu. An update on Laurich...she has a very ill grand-mama.  Her grand-mama raised her and has encouraged her with her mission plans, but since her grand-mama's recent stroke,  Laurich feels she must put off her mission as Laurich is her main caretaker.  She is watching over her family first and as for the mission, her heart is in the right place.  
These are dedicated single adults, strong testimonies, full of the Spirit.  They will represent the Uganda Kampala Mission well.  Most will be sent to other African countries although one of the newly returned missionaries, Brenda mentioned below, just returned from the London South Mission.

We have sent off three missionaries since we arrived last March and three have returned..Brenda Anena, Patrick Kumakech and Onen Vincent.  One is serving as a branch president, one as a branch clerk one as our Institute instructor for college age kids and one teaching temple preparation class for those wanting to go to the temple in Johannesburg. Another will return next month!  We can't wait to meet him.

A couple of our Gulu Branch members participating with the missionaries at the booth that was set up a few weeks ago in front of our main supermarket.
Proscovia, chorister
This looks like a river but it's actually the main road to Lacor Hospital and also the road the big t.rucks travel going to and from South Sudan.  You can see why the ruts in the road get so deep  
In one spot, the boda in front of us slid and fell into the big puddle it was going through.  It had a 100 lb bag of grain on the back.  I (Pam) jumped out of the truck (into the puddle) to try and help him get his bike arighted.  The two of us weren't strong enough, so we both called to some of the passers-by for assistance.  One of the men shouted back "No, things happen all the time here;  This is Africa."  I retorted back, "That is why you should help!  You are just being lazy!" (I know, I shouldn't have said that.)  A few seconds later, two from the opposite direction were there to help aright the boda, while the guy who refused kept saying, "What can I really do?"  With the others' assistance, the boda with its heavy load was safely up.  It was a pleasure to look each of the two helpers in the eye, thank them and tell tell them they were good samaritans.  They understood - all the while the other guy is still ranting that he can't do anything.  As I have reflected on this incident, I wonder, do the things we do indicate we are like the like those "samaritans" or are we like the man on the side of the road who thinks he can do nothing?"   

In the states firewood is bought by the cord or half-cord.  Here it is bought and brought by the boda.
Brenda Anena...newly returned missionary from The London South Mission where she spent 18 months.

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) shared some characteristics of those who have experienced a mighty change of heart:

“When you choose to follow Christ, you choose to be changed. …
“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature. …
“Yes, Christ changes men, and changed men can change the world.