Sunday, November 30, 2014

Can't we all just get along?

As you see conflicts in the world it really makes you wonder what is going on.  What could be so important that you need to loot and burn to make someone see your point of view?  It really makes me sad to see how far apart we are from having open discussions about what you would like to see changed and, oh I know, listening to one another. 

The prophet Joseph Smith observed: "While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring, and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of men, causes 'His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.'  He holds the reins of judgment in His hands; He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, not according to the narrow, contracted notions of men, but 'according to the deeds done in the body whether the be good or evil.'"  Our charge is then to treat all men with love and understanding.  We don't have to agree with everyone's beliefs but we do need to treat all with love and respect.

President Gordon B Hinckley said: "Let us be good citizens of the nations in which we live.  Let us be good neighbors in our communities.  Let us acknowledge the diversity of our society, recognizing the good in all people.  We need not make any surrender of our theology.  But we can set aside any element of suspicion, of provincialism, of parochialism."  We do not have to agree with some of the prevailing political discussion around morality etc., but we do need to remember that we are all children of a loving Father in Heaven and He will hold us accountable for how we treat one another. I really believe once we get back home (heaven), we will see how very limited we have been in our view about each other and how narrow our focus on how we treat each other.

I highly recommend the book Kisses from Katie, where this young lady (18 years old at the time) from Tennessee came to Jinja in Uganda, Africa for a service project.  She ended up coming over, staying and set up a new ministry to care for the kids in this area.  She has personally adopted 14 children and feeds and provides school fees for over 400 more.  In the book, she said "I don't always want to help other people, generally speaking, I do.  But there are certain days when I, like everyone else in the world, simply want to do what I need to do and keep moving.  It's part of being human.  But so often, when we stop to be kind when we don't really want to, that's when the sacrifice becomes most rewarding."  I think stopping to do random acts of kindness, when we really don't want to, we then begin to become more and more like the Savior.

It must be time for the photos.  We love taking pictures of this wonderful world that we didn't know existed until we were blessed to come here.  Almost every day we see something that makes us smile.  So very grateful they has such a love of Jesus Christ here in Uganda.  We share that and that is a great place to start.

I just don't get tired of seeing taxi's here in Uganda carrying chickens on the roof.  I wonder what the going rate is for a chicken to take a taxi?

Bodabodas carry anything.  This one is carrying a love seat and chair that will now move from the manufacture to the upholster.  You will see the wood shops along the roads along with lots of other shops.  Most of the work is done outside as the cost of a shop is very expensive.  He will now take it to a different location where they will put the foam and outside cover on.  It is good they have good weather, well except for lots of rain most of the year.

On our way back from Thanksgiving in Kampala, we stopped for some fruit along the road.  You pull over and then they bring everything they have to try and entice you into buying it.  It is fun to watch.  We ended up buying onions, bananas, avocados, and watermelon.

When you are away from family you still need a Thanksgiving fix.  We are lucky to have the best mission president and wife combo anywhere.  Sister Chatfield searched forever to find turkey in Uganda and finally found one for the equivalent of around $40 for an 8lb bird.  Everyone pitched in with other parts of the meal and it was wonderful!

This picture from Reese helped to get us in the spirit of the holiday.

You are probably thinking, wow that looks like chicken.  Well when you pull out the turkey 15 minutes before dinner and find the propane stove ran out of gas and the bird is not done you punt.  Sister Chatfield didn't miss a beat and off we went to KFC for a couple of buckets.  Yes, we do have KFC, it is the only chain we have here in Africa and there are three of there in the Kampala area.

The table setting that was great.  The salad plate had several local fruits: gooseberry, jackfruit, passion fruit, guava, avocado, candied cashews with an orange dressing.  While not a big salad guy, this was top notch!

Here is our "African" Thanksgiving plate.  It was terrific!

We have elders in Busia, a town 1 1/2 hours away from Jinja.  They have investigators that needed to get married so they could be baptized.  Sister Squire agreed to make two wedding cakes for the event.  How exciting for the Branch to have two new families being baptized today (Sunday).

The reason they have to come to Jinja to get married is because only certain chapels are authorized to perform marriages.  Here is the table with the cakes.

While we were waiting for the wedding to begin I took some pictures of some of the flowers outside the church.

There are some great flowers here in Uganda.

Two hours after the "scheduled" start time the two brides were ready for the event.  I noticed the bouquets had some familiar flowers in them.  I love how they make do with what they have and enjoy the day.  I can't think of a better use of the flowers around the church than to make a couple of sisters wedding day a bit brighter.

After the wedding ceremony they have the first meal or taking turns giving cake to each other.  Only the female kneels to give her husband food and drink.  Very traditional here in Africa, Sister Squire has not caught the vision yet...

The first drink.

Here is the wedding group with the Elders from Busia who will baptize them and the sisters assigned to Jinja who came for the cake :).

The two couples now finally married.

This little one belonged to the bride on the left.  Cute, cute, cute!

The two blushing brides.

After the wedding we headed off to a High Council party the District was sponsoring.  We had a short meeting and then a dinner.  The meat pies were terrific!

Party meal

And finally, in our Iganga Branch, we had four baptisms toady.  A father and three of his children.  It was really nice.  Today was going to be the largest number of baptisms for any one day in the Mission, about 54.  Not sure if everything went forward but it was a wonderful day either way.

Wait! Come back, I remembered some other pictures I need to share.  Here is a picture of Nsenene.  These little critters fall from the sky in April and November every year.  They are attracted by strong light and you see several "catch areas" especially around Kampala.  They set up bright lights and then have metal sheets set up at a steep slant so when they land they slip down into a big drum where they are captured.  They are then striped from their wings and legs and pan-fried with salt and sometimes onions for a crispy treat.  The picture below are some found outside our home that will some day end up in someone's belly.

I did this before I realized the part about taking the wings and legs off and frying them up.

Sister Squire saw this group of birds, in the early morning, that were having a hay-day eating the tasty treats.  They were lined up on the ground and along the houses just enjoying all the free food.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Avocado Lovin'

Here in Uganda we finally listened to general conference today.  We were able to listen to most of conference over the past month on the internet but getting together as one body just brings a different spirit as I listened to the messages.  I am grateful that Heavenly Father knows that living prophets are just as important today as they were during the Old and New Testament times.

As Sister McConkie said in her conference address: "We are grateful for a church “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.”7 The Lord’s house is a house of order, and we need never be deceived about where to look for answers to our questions or uncertain about which voice to follow. We need not be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” God reveals His word through His ordained servants, “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God."  I know that each of us will struggle with something we hear or why we are having some struggle as we go through life.  What I know is that peace will come but not by listening to the secular voices that will want to make our decisions for us.  Why give our agency to anyone else when we are seeking answers?  Our answers will come by putting to the test what Heavenly Father has told us to be, faithful, prayerful and pondering will give us the result we are seeking.  I am not sure why we quit doing what the scriptures have instructed to do with our questions or concerns and then rage that we never got an answer.  

We are still glowing from having visitors come last week to visit.  I do have some additional pictures that have to be shared.  While Alysia and Rachelle were here, both planed on taking babies home with them.  I should say that Rachelle was going to take a baby AND a monkey home.  When they found out both ideas were frowned upon, Rachelle had to place her love somewhere else.  I think you can see from the picture that nurturing a avocado was the best she could do.  

She learned how to hold that avocado from her mother.

Nurturing the avocado only lasted so long and it went from "oh what a cute little avocado" to "get in my belly!"  It was a little frightening how quickly things can change.

This was the little guy she had her eyes on.  They really aren't that easy to catch.

Before our girls came to visit we had President and Sister Ellis from the African Southeast Area.  This was a mission tour where they come for 10 days and travel throughout the mission teaching the missionaries.  This was our Jinja zones that we had to feed lunch.  We had a potato bar with salads and cookies.  It was really nice.

I really liked this slide that Sister Ellis used in her presentation.  I thought it told the story in a very simple way.  Did I mention that I like simple...

Faith = Power
Obedience = Price
Love = Motive
The Spirit = Key
Christ = Reason
Joy = Reward

After this we went back in to Kampala for the training of the new Doctor.  They got right to work and fit in so well.  We are lucky to have them here.  Elder Chabra was born in Kenya, trained in India and worked in California.  He and his good wife have waited since their conversion 25 years ago, for a chance to serve a mission, we also had a great desire to serve a mission.  Here we are at the airport before the Area Presidency tour.

Before the Ellis' left for Rwanda and Ethiopia they had a senior couple dinner where he taught us after the meal.  He once again told us our families are being blessed for our being here and we take great comfort in that.  We will loose two more of these couples by March of 2015.  We need replacements!

This was at the produce market.  Not interested but they must be popular.  Fish on a stick anyone?

While our girls were here we went to the lookout where the first explorer found and published he had found the source of the Nile.  It is a spring at the top hut where you only see bubbles now that the dam has backed up the water.

I have no idea about this picture.  You will have to ask them, I only took the picture they asked me to.

As we were driving back from church you can see someone is getting ready for Thanksgiving.  In the middle of the truck you can see a live turkey along with a couple of chickens.

Whenever we see a bodaboda unusual sight we try and take a picture.  Here are four kids heading off to school.

Speaking of school, while we were at Paara, this "school bus" pulled up so they could have have a tour of the hotel business side of the tourist business.  Much cheaper than in the US to transport kids.

At the end of every trip, you need to take some time to reflect.  No one does it better than these two.

Beatrice is the lady that Sister Squire has been helping to set up a business where she can earn money to pay for rent, food etc.  We have been counseled to not give money because it doesn't move anyone to changing their circumstance.  Helping Beatrice to be able to wash and iron clothes will help her to gain skills.  Sister Squire has provided a charcoal iron, ironing board, and now a big basin to wash the clothes.  We had a great call today when her mother called because they wanted to meet us at church.  We live two hours away now but the sister missionaries will help her to know where it is.  When it was time to leave she pops it on top of her head and off she goes.  She has three very cute kids.

When I saw this picture of the donkey some suggested there was a very strong resemblance. I had to go in the restaurant to borrow the hat to see if they were correct .  HeeeHawww!

You will really have to think about this one and please don't try it at home.  Not sure of the cosmic consequences of this happening too often but think of this: a picture being taken of a monkey; then a picture being taken of the person taking the picture of the monkey; then a picture of the the person taking the picture of the person who it taking the picture of the monkey; and finally, a picture of the person taking a picture of the person who is taking a picture of the person who is taking the picture of the monkey.  It really boggles the mind.

We love you all!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Not Lyin', we saw a Lion

We have had a most wonderful week with Alysia and Rachelle here in Africa.  I hope they had a good time and I know they really enjoyed being able to have some service opportunities while here.  It would have been fun to have the whole family here but you take what you get and we had a blast with those two.

We had a couples fireside yesterday and they paired up the chairs in rows of two.  This kind of forced the couples to sit together.  Often in Africa, they sit in different parts of the chapel, not with the family.  Just one of those quirks the gospel culture will cure over time.  In D&C 42:22 we are given sacred instruction to "love they wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else."  In this age where there seems to be an unending assault on marriage and the family, you can see why the Lord would offer this instruction.  There is a good expression that should be at the heart of every marriage, "When the satisfaction or the security of another person becomes as significant to one as is one's own satisfaction or security, then the state of love exists." 

We hear of so much selfishness that goes hand-in-hand with failed marriages.  President Spencer W Kimball said, "Every divorce is the result of selfishness on the part of one or the other or both parties to a marriage contract. Someone is thinking of self—comforts, conveniences, freedoms, luxuries, or ease. Sometimes the ceaseless pinpricking of an unhappy, discontented, and selfish spouse can finally add up to serious physical violence. Sometimes people are goaded to the point where they erringly feel justified in doing the things which are so wrong. Nothing, of course, justifies sin. …

The opposite of selfishness is sacrifice.  Gorden B Hinkley stated, "without sacrifice there is no true worship of God.  The Father gave his Son, the Son gave his life.  We do not worship unless we give of our time, substance, strength, talents, faith and testimony."  When we sacrifice we have a more humble and joyful marriage.  It was great to be with our African brothers and sisters learning about happy marriages.

Now, we did seem to find some time to enjoy some uniquely African experiences with our two girls.  I don't think I can live with myself if I don't show you some pictures of our adventures.  For any senior couples, you too can have an adventure like this!  Just send me your name and I can hook you up.

OK, time to see what a couple of hard working missionaries do in a typical week.  The Hansen's (another senior couple) also had their daughter and son-in-law come to Uganda a day earlier than our girls.  It was great because we could travel in a pair on the way to Paara and across the park to Chobe.  These are the lodges where we visited during our two night, three day stay.  The first picture is all the girls on the ferry going across the Nile River to the lodge.  Alysia, Rachelle, Sister Squire, Sister Hansen and Paige.

As soon as we got checked in we set up our first safari drive and guess who we saw within the first five minutes into the drive...

Just a bit further down the road we saw a group of elephants with the scavenger birds that eat the bugs off the elephant. The guide was explaining that elephants eat for 18 hours a day and my sweet daughter said "just like you dad."  I don't think people understand just how hard it is to keep a figure like mine.

We saw lots of these guys over the next couple of days.  This is the Ugandan Kob antelope and we saw herds in the hundreds.

This is a Jackson Hartebeest and you can tell by the long face.  I can't count the number of times Sister Squire asked the Hartebeest "why the long face?"

Our guides had a fellow guide tell them where they found a lion the previous day.  He followed the tracks off the road and after several minutes told us to stop.  Right outside our window she was waiting for us.  Sister Squire had the window down and was trying to climb out the opposite window while getting the camera up for a shot.  Quite comical actually...

 I think here is where she smelt the bacon I was still digesting from breakfast.

You can get some great shots when you are this close to a lion in the wild.

I really wished I hadn't stuck out my tongue at her.  Not happy.

Finally, she saw a sliver of the moon and started to howl like a coyote.

The next day as we drove past this tree the Hansens, in the vehicle behind us, saw this Leopard stand up so they got a shot before it moved off.

 No idea what bird this was but it was big and looked cool.

The girls wanted a shot with some giraffes in the background.  This one worked out quite nice.

Simon was our terrific guide.  We found out he has two wives so I think I better understand why he can only make it home every two or three months.

The next morning we were up bright and early to start again.

Once again, several of these big guys were out and about.

This giraffe had a wounded leg and was hobbling around.  They said they had a vet who would come out and help fix the leg if the lions don't get there first.

We had to get a shot of the Cape Buffalo.  They and the elephants are the most aggressive according to our guide.

The birds like riding with the Buffalo as well.

The Uganda Crane, the National bird.

You really can't get too many shots of the elephants.

Mom and baby hippo.  It had to be a girl because the mom has to move out if it is a boy baby because the lead male in the School will not allow it to stay.

Another day in paradise.

Baby giraffe.

Lizard shot for the grand kids.

Chobe Lodge with the girls.

Smooch, smooch

After a crazy three hour drive across the park, on a road where you couldn't see where the road went in several places because of the tall grass, we arrived at Chobe and while waiting for lunch time we saw these three big elephants in the bay cooling off.

This was a fun shot.

Baby hippo

If you look close you can see the baby elephant behind the lead elephant along with several other smaller elephants.

Life is good with these three around.

I hope you understand how much work it is on a mission.  I don't know how we do it day after day.

Murchison Falls, the most narrow place along the entire Nile River.  Lots of water going through a very small opening.

An even better picture

We're going on a boat ride, we're not afraid.

If I had a dollar every time these two would start making any song into singing rounds, well my mission would be completely paid for.

When we got back it was off to Ndere Dance Troope for traditional African dancing and music.

Work it girls!

The girls had some decisions on what to do on the final day here in Africa.  We had a list of activities and they chose to spend the time at the Sanu Babies Orphanage.  We love this place because every time we go there is such a need.  It never stops and these sweet kids need all the love and affection they can get.  We learn so much from them.

I held the little girl on the right for a while. They were having a party when we arrived because two of the children were being taken to new homes.  It was wonderful to be part of the drumming and singing as they said goodbye to them.  They work to have every child in a home by four years of age.
Oh yea, the little girl turned out to be a little boy but they wear whatever they have that is clean.

Some of the toddlers that Alysia was helping to feed.

Alysia with one of the kids at the going away party.

Rachelle helped to feed the less than one year olds.  They had two new babies that were both less than 4 lbs in the isolation area.  They are kept separated until getting all their shots.

Just a cute child.

When we were done we still had enough time to drive to the equator because their flight did not leave until 11:30 PM. If you remember I tried to heal mother earth at the equator several months ago.  It still needed work so we came back to make another effort.  I really have no idea how this girl power really works but I wasn't in a position to put up a fuss.

I finally had to take a chance and try to pull the world all together with the help of my sweet wife.

Judging from the happy faces, the world will be a better place.

Finally it was time for the girls to leave.  No amount of sad faces at the airport would turn them back from their desired course.  Ah well, we had a blast.