Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Man and his Crown

Some weeks are more difficult than others to decide what to post.  We had a busy week but nothing extraordinary happened.  What is with that?  Here we are in a foreign country and nothing too exciting happened?  Crazy.  We always see new things like a bodaboda riding down the road with a couple of huge fish strapped to the back.  Or the vehicle that was passing me that had several fish strapped to the front of his car.  I may have to use some of these ideas when we get home for getting attention. 

We did finish our 90 day challenge of reading of the Book of Mormon this week.  I love Ether 12 and several of the verses that shine so much light on how we should be living.  "And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." Ether 12:6  Isn't it true that we have to often walk a step or two in the dark before we are shown the way forward.  We receive these small or large tests all the time it seems.

"For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith." Ether 12:12  Do we not sometimes only think to ask for a miracle in our behalf with no thought that we need to believe it will happen.  I know many of us have asked for a miracle in our own behalf or a loved one and it hasn't been answered.  It is sometimes years before we see how the Lord has answered our prayers and I truly believe that miracles are all around us when we learn to look.

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."  Ether 12:27  I know that those of you who know me know that I have been blessed with an outpouring of weaknesses.  Even I, with so many areas where I am weak know that his grace is sufficient for me and all of you.  Some things I have even overcome like eating vegetables...

"And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father."  Ether 12:37  Charity, something lacking in the world today.  We see it every day all around us but we have to overlook that and realize that what other people do or don't do mattereth not to the Lord, only what we do will we be held accountable.

There are more in that one chapter of scripture but so much to learn.  I am grateful for it.

That doesn't mean we sat around and nothing happened this week.  Here are the pictures to prove it.

We have an Elder that has a really bad knee from kneeling on a poison fish and getting a bone in his knee when he was 12.  He almost lost his leg over it.  We were taking him some medicine and out front of his house a truck had somehow run off the side of the road.  There are very deep ditches all over Uganda to handle the heavy rain that comes often this time of year.  This looks bad, he is throwing whatever is in the back out of his truck.  

Whoa, what are all these people doing?  This is just the people that happened to be around when it came time to try and get the vehicle out.  Africans are very nice and capable in figuring out how to get out of a jam.

They got the back out first and then had to lift the engine and vehicle out.  They did it and he was able to drive it away.  Cool.

Here is a short video of the final outcome.

Here we are at Mulago Hospital, a government facility where Beatrice will receive chemo and radiation for her cancer.  The soccer (football) is for PC Squire.  Yes, there is an African baby named after me.  Poor kid...

Beatrice needs visitors so we try and get over every couple of days and bring her some food.

This cute little one was outside and agreed to have her picture taken.

Isn't there one in every crowd?  Man, this guy has lost some brain cells somewhere along the way.  Oh well, he wears the crown well.

We found a very nice restaurant where we had Chinese food and BBQ.  Why both, oh come on, why not both!

This was desert.  It was an eyeball in some type of solution that you then put sugar on.  OK, I needed a bit of drama so it is really a spot of sweet bean and covered with a flour mixture.  Meh...

These two guys were riding in the back of a truck as we were taking an Elder to the doctor.  We loved the hats so we took a picture.  When they noticed we were taking a picture they ran for cover.

Here he is peaking out to see if we have gone away.  Now then, where would we go... We are sitting and waiting in a traffic jam!

We had three baptisms today after our block of meetings.  The primary had a craft that Sister Squire had arranged and here they are 30 minutes after the normal block of meetings are over, still working on the project.  Those are stickers on some of their heads.

Because the water was off they filled the font with river water.  It was very dirty but with a bit of Clorox it was safe for a baptism. 

We had three baptisms.  What is really cool is that Jennifer was baptized by her husband who was only baptized a month ago.  The two young men were baptized by another member who was baptized only a month or so ago as well.  I love how the gospel changes lives.  Here are the Elders from Lugazi Branch.  Elder Okech from Tanzania, Elder Bokwe from South Africa, Elder Buyers from Idaho (Rigby) and Elder Ogollo from Kenya.  Also in the front are Bro. Ochitti, 1st Counselor and Bro. Charles, Branch President.

Random photos, here are some sisters selling brooms.  The will carry them on their head and you can stop and buy one any time you want.  Uganda has a problem with litter.  They drop whatever trash they have in their hand anywhere they are standing or riding.  Some of the older ladies get to bend over with one of these brooms and sweet the sides of the street.  It would be nice if they learned how to pick up after themselves.

Here in Africa the people are very resourceful.  Here is a car/bodaboda washing spot along the road to Jinja.  They are fixing the road by tearing up the old road and then doing nothing for several weeks until they finally pave it again.  Here they have taken the blacktop pieces and used them to make a very nice spot versus the mud they had before when it rained.

Here is a picture of one the many local nurserys.  They use plastic bags with soil and plant the  item in it.  You see them all over.

Finally, a random video of the day.  This was my ALS video to answer a challenge.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

How Do You Want Your Fish Head? Fried or Baked?

You know it is tough when the kids are going back to school and we are still waiting for the heat of summer.  Oh sure, it gets hot here in Uganda but I will take the heat in the 80's.  Since arriving here in February, we have been preparing for a bad day..still waiting.  We do get rainy days but they serve to keep the dust down and give some refreshing breezes.  Ah, life in the "Pearl of Africa."  Time continues to speed by and we do miss our family and friends but we will see you all soon.

Our week was spent largely in the capacity of waiting rooms.  It could be the dentist, the clinic or the hospital, we got to see them all.  We did have one of our former missionaries mother come with her sister for cancer treatment.  It would have been until April of 2015 before she could get into the government hospital in Kenya.  Here she was able to get in to see a doctor much sooner.  She has had her tests and will meet with the doctor next week.  Hopefully, she will be able to start her chemo treatments soon and get everything under control.

This is Conslate, Beatrice and Sister Squire.  Beatrice has cervical cancer and is here for treatment.

We took them out for lunch and both ordered the Tilapia Fish, one fried and one baked.  The white mixture in the picture below is Posho.  They were both really missing this food item.  What is Posho you ask?  We call it a second cousin to grits. Made from ground up corn flour mixed in water with a thick consistency of a tough batch of mashed potatoes. The traditional way of eating posho is to roll a handful into a ball with the right hand, and then dip it into a sauce or stew of vegetables or meat.  In my opinion, zero flavor and you better like whatever you are dipping it in. It is a staple in Africa.

This is how the fish comes.  Fried or...

Baked Tilapia

The aftermath, you can see the head is no longer there.  Yes, I guess the fish head is some good eating.  However, it must not be Conslate's favorite as she traded the head for the tail of her sisters fish. These sisters are from a village in Kenya and don't use utensils, just their one hand to eat their entire meal.

Nothing but bones...

In church today one of the speakers talked about letting the good words of Christ settle in a soft heart.  I thought that was a wonderful saying.  How often when facing criticism, harsh words or something we don't want to hear, we harden our hearts.  We do not have to accept what is being said but I think having a soft heart is a key to happiness in our lives.

We also went to teach English to Robert,  the man who cuts Sister Squires hair.  He speaks English but not well enough to carry on a conversation when doing hair.  We drove to his home this past week and taught him and his wife and four children.  Well, the two oldest children, as the next youngest was asleep and the baby was too busy nursing to listen to the great lesson.  As we talked we use a lot of gospel topics to teach with and Robert wanted to attend one of our Branches today.  I am not sure if he made it but what a wonderful family.  It really puts life in perspective when you go into their home and there is a triple bunk bed for the kids and another bed for the parents.  There was only enough room for a stack of suitcases (I am guessing for clothes) and a TV stand.  There was such a great spirit and we asked if we could have a prayer before we left.  I asked Robert who he would like to say the prayer and he called on his oldest daughter.  She said the Lord's Prayer and they would repeat it after here.  What a great spirit was in the home.  We loved it!

We have another conversion story.  They have a hard time hiring guards for our complex because they all join the Church and then want to be off so they can go to Church.  They hired Godfrey a few months ago and today he said he is going to join the Church.  We talked with him a few weeks ago and he said he was very comfortable with his current religion and we were good with that.  We give the guards reading material because it is a long day when you have to wait by the gate for us to come and go and it really isn't all that frequent.  He said he was reading about baptism and he always felt his baptism at birth didn't really seem right.  That cracked the door to his heart (a soft heart) and he has now received a testimony of the restored gospel. In the Book of Mormon we read the words of Mormon, "I know that it is solemn mockery before God, that ye should baptize little children.. teach repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; ....little children need no repentance, neither baptism (Moroni 8:9-11). Godfrey said he talked to his boss and they will try and find someone to take a few hours on Sunday so he can attend Church. The other two guards have also joined the church, so they try and get a nonmember to guard, but it doesn't last long when you have 5 senior couples and 10 young missionaries talking and teaching you every day. The mission field is awesome!

This is Godfrey and the room behind him is where they can chill out and keep their stuff for their 12 shifts. (it is about 3 ft by 6 ft)  They make around $4 per shift.

Time for some bodaboda fun.  There has to be room for something else...

The kids in Africa love to wave at us when we wave at them.  I love how the driver has to ride on the tank to make room.  We have seen up to 5 on a bodaboda.

So we had to go and give our sickle cell Elder a pain shot.  Their apartment has a wonderful view of Lake Victoria if you look real close in the background.  You cannot  swim in it, unless you want cooties (of course missionaries can't swim anyway).

I know many of you are wondering how I keep myself in the same shape I was in as a 20 year old.  Well I eat right, exercise and lift weights.  The elders are very resourceful, they have filled these bags with some type of mix that weights around 200 pounds if it weights a pound...(if you have to know, I was a fat kid at 20 too).

Yea, take that Arnold!

Random photo.  You don't see this in the parking lots at home.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tree-mendous Week

We had one of our more quiet weeks this week.  It was nice to be busy but not crazy busy.  We Senior Missionaries have it made!  We had another baptism today and the Branch President had to leave for work so he had me welcome them into the Branch.  I thought back to when we first arrived in Africa almost six months ago.  We were averaging in the 20's every sabbath day.  Our Branch is the newest in the District and so it is just starting to grow.  This month we have been averaging close to 50 or more every week.  Our Branch only has 45 members so our attendance is over 100%.  How cool is that?  As we watch these new members come into the church it is wonderful to see the light of Christ in them and how their lives are being changed for the better.  We are such a small part of the work but we glory in the wonder of how a testimony of Jesus Christ gives all of us the strength to keep going. 

Joseph, who was married and then baptized two weeks ago was not at church because he had to attend the funeral of his brother.  He had died of HIV infection.  It is rampant here in Africa but many get it at birth when it passes from the mother to her baby.  They now know there is treatment and some take proper steps so that doesn't happen as often but many are still infected if they delivery in the village by the witch doctor.  They don't get to have the same medical care we get in America so the outcome is usually not so good.  I am so happy for Joseph and Olivia that now they know life will go on and they will have the opportunity to see his brother again.  In Matthew 25:31-46 we are told we will "inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."  We need to do all we can to acquire those attributes necessary to return to our Father in Heaven.

It is fun to get around town and have people stop you and want to talk about Jesus Christ.  At the hospital I was able to spend a half hour with a sister who had been to one of our meetings 10 years before.  She still lives outside the area where we would have a congregation to support her and her family.  She may be moving closer to where she could then take missionary discussions.  We are always getting names to pass to the Elders or Sisters, we love it!

We took another trip to the orphanage where we serve when we have some extra time.  Our humanitarian couple are trying to put together a Church sponsored project to improve the condition of the orphanage.  Here are a couple of additional pictures of what we will be trying to get approved.

You can see the fire burning in the bottom and these ladies have to work in the smoke as they cook for the babies and the workers. 

The bags are full of charcoal used by most families in Uganda to cook.  They use both charcoal and wood for the fires.

This picture is in the kitchen next to the first picture.  This is how it is every day.  They have to cook inside so the children do not chance to get a burn.  We will see if we can get funding to install some vents in the ceiling to vent the smoke outside.

This is an area heading outside.  The ceiling has fell down and needs to be replaced.

From the outside looking back in.  Need new door as well as the ceiling.

Here is one corner of the toddler room.  The entire room is surrounded by cribs. Notice each crib has a malaria net.

On Saturday we have a list of places the guide books mention you need to visit.  We have been checking off the list when we actually have a preparation day that can be used to play.  Yesterday, we went to visit a Baha'i temple within a few kilometers from our flat.  It was really interesting.  They don't prescribe to any set religious philosophy but one of continual learning. 

"The Baha'i faith is an independent world religion, all-embracing in scope, broad in its outlook, scientific in its method, humanitarian in its principles and dynamic in the influence it exerts on hearts and minds."  Some of their principles are: religion must be the cause of unity, religion must be in accord with science and reason, independent investigation of truth, equality between women and men, abolition of all forms of prejudice, elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth, universal education, the eternal nature of the soul, universal peace and encouragement of high moral standards in personal life. 

We are standing in front of the temple.  Inside you can't take pictures but it is available for anyone to go and pray and contemplate getting closer to God. 

 Another view

Are we not the cutest couple?

 They also have a Center for Leaning where they conduct classes and other training.

This is the roof inside.  Nice woodwork.

Another view

This is the only real green space in Kampala.  Open land is used for living, not for parks.  We have not seen so many acres devoted to a park.  I see a picnic in our future.  I really enjoy the different types of trees here in Africa.

Prickly, like my (Kim's) personality.  Note: Nancy added the parentheses to make sure everyone knows who I was talking about, as if there would be any doubt.

Finally we always keep a camera in the car and miss a lot of really interesting things.  They have these vehicles, some very large trucks to haul people to be guards at all the different commercial ventures.  Here is a small truck and we counted at least 27 men in the vehicle with the ones in the cab.  Can you imagine being one of them standing in the middle?

Finally, our good friends, the Grundys, left for home.  They came for part of their mission last year then came back this year to finish.  They have a job giving flu shots and other immunizations each fall for a large corporation in Sacramento.  Sis Hannan is missing as she is taking the photo.

Elder Wallace sinking into the ground BEFORE we even had our first plate of delicious BBQ.

 Sister Wallace seems very concerned about his safety...

For Shelby, her new passion is bees.  Tucker was out mowing the lawn and ran over a nest of bees.  Shelby, Keaton and Tucker all got stung several times.  This African bee is dedicated to her.

Last one, I gave Sister Squire a hard time for all the stuff we did for the wedding in our Branch.  Once I saw this at the Stake Center in Kampala I quit harassing her.

Elder Allred wanted me to give a shout out to his mom and dad and let them know what a great job he is doing on his mission.  Well, he is!