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).

1 comment:

  1. I stumbled across your blog while searching about Gulu. My son, Elder Ferrara will be one of your new missionaries being transferred to Gulu from Debrezit on May 14. I look forward to following your blog.
    Charlene Ferrara. (