We have named this transfer (the next 6 weeks) our transfer of miracles. The missionaries are all focused on being exactly obedient, setting their goals high, and having faith that the Lord will help them, not only have a record number of baptisms, but see other miracles in their lives and the lives of their investigators. We have invited all the members in our mission to participate with us in this transfer of miracles, and we are excited to see how the Lord will bless this entire mission!
We have been given permission to create a group just outside of Mbale. It will be called the Kabwangasi Group. There are several groups of members who have been walking 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours to get to church in Mbale. They have been doing this for over a year. Some of them only come once a month, others come weekly, but there are a lot of faithful members who make this sacrifice continually to come to church. Once we received approval to start this group, there was some discussion on where would be the best place for them all to meet. The logical place, which was central to many of their homes on the map was a small village called Kamonkoli. But we heard from several of the members that there was some disagreement that this should be the place to meet. It's more of an industrial area. President Collings decided to go to Mbale, and take a drive all around the area that would encompass the group, and just see which area "felt" right. We asked Francis, who is a branch missionary in the Mbale Branch to come with us, and he would show us where the members live. As we were driving around with him, President Collings received confirmation that the meeting place for the new group should be in a place called Mile 5. There was such a good feeling there, and there are many families who are members of the church in that area. Those who live further out will have to walk about 20 minutes to get to church, which is so much better than 1 1/2 hours! We are so excited to be able to get a place ready for them to meet! Hopefully by the first of April, the Kabwangasi Group will officially be created!
President Collings with Francis and his father, at their home.
With all of the good things happening in Mbale area, President Collings has brought 4 missionaries into Mbale again. They haven't had full time missionaries for about a year. This was their first week back and in just one day, they found two families who are interested in the Gospel, and even want to be baptized. Within those two families there are 20 over the age of 8 who can be baptized. It's just a testimony to us that this is the Lord's will. He is hastening his work in Mbale.
Our Mbale missionaries with President Collings and Francis.
Since it's the transfer of miracles, I wanted to share a miracle that was shared with me. This was written by Aaron Opolot, or Elder Opolot. He is serving in the Johannesburg South Africa Mission, and his home is in Mbale. He talked about the way they find people to teach, which is mostly knocking on doors. Last Thursday, he and his companion were preparing to go out, and his companion asked him if he would say a prayer for them. In that prayer, Elder Opolot asked Heavenly Father to "...protect us from the dangers of this day." He says that this is the power of the prayer that he still considers a miracle. They entered a house with a large compound surrounded by a strong wall fence and a metallic gate. It was just locked without a bolt so they simply pushed it and it opened right up. They walked to the back door by the kitchen, because that is what most people use in Johannesburg. They knocked several times, but nobody answered. As they were returning to the gate, out of nowhere, they saw a dog (Pit Bull) running right at them. He could see that this dog was going to "beat" one of them. He said a prayer in his heart again pleading with Heavenly Father to protect them. Then he said the miracle happened. "Something whispered to me to love the dog, and I was able to stand strong, smiled at the dog until it reached us, I got strong to touch the angry dog. Though it was not easy to touch it. Surprisingly the dog accepted and settled down." He played with the dog for about 6 minutes because there was no way it would allow them to leave. Each time they attempted to leave the compound, the dog would get aggressive. He asked his companion to go knock on the door again, harder this time. After about 7 more minutes, the owner showed up. She was surprised that they were in the compound, and wondered how they got in and were playing with the dog. After they introduced themselves, she told the dog to leave. She wasn't interested in hearing the message, but they were so grateful that they were protected. He shared this scripture. 2 Nephi 32:9 "But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul."
After our wonderful experience in Mbale, we traveled to Busia,which is 1 1/2 hours drive from Mbale. Busia is a small town on the border of Kenya. There are two branches of the church here. Busia First Branch is in Kenya, and was created in August of 2009. Busia Second Branch is in Uganda, and was created in June of 2012. The two branches are only about 10 minutes apart, but they were in different missions. In October 2017, our mission boundaries were realigned to take in this branch on the Kenyan side of the border. On Saturday, we traveled to Busia to have a combined Priesthood/ Auxiliary Training meeting. The leaders from both branches met together, probably for the first time, and were taught by the mission presidency and our senior couple. The meeting was incredible!
The Priesthood Leadership was taught by President Collings, President Okello (counselor in the mission presidency), and Elder Wittwer (senior missionary). They were trained on how to use their priesthood. They were taught how to consecrate oil, and give a priesthood blessing. They were taught the significance of the priesthood of our church, and shown how it can be traced directly to the Savior. They were also taught about priesthood keys. Many of them said they wished that the meeting didn't have to end, because they enjoyed it so much.
Priesthood Leadership of Busia 1st & 2nd Branches
Training of the Auxiliary Leaders for Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary was done by me and Sister Wittwer. We focused on leading the way the Savior would lead. We taught principles of faith, love, obedience, and unity. Then we taught leadership skills like delegating, planning, and, setting goals. We talked about the new curriculum, and just asked how it was working for them in their branches, and offered help as needed. After Sister Wittwer talked with them about faith, she passed out bracelets to each of them that said "Ask in Faith", which they LOVED. We told them to get to know each other, and share ideas of things that are working in their branches. I think it meant a lot to them to know that they can help each other in both branches.
Auxiliary Leaders from both Busia Branches
We took a picture of all the ladies...
...and then decided to join them, and get a little bit silly.
It has been the rainy season in Uganda, and when it rains, everything stops! We were very worried that it would be raining on Sunday morning. We knew this was an important day, and had been praying all week that the weather would cooperate with us so that everyone who needed to be at the meeting could be there. The weather could not have been more perfect! It was a beautiful, overcast day, which means it was cool but not raining.
Sunday morning we met at the Busia 2nd Branch, and President Collings and President Okello announced the division of the branch. They created Busia 3rd Branch, and sustained a new branch presidency. It was so exciting to see the Lord pouring out blessings on this little area of the world. President Okello announced the new branch presidencies, and the new boundaries. Then we heard from a wonderful Branch Choir.
After President Collings, the new branch presidency were asked to bear their testimonies. There was a wonderful spirit in the meeting.
Busia 2 Branch Presidency
President Emmanuel Ojiambo (center)
1st Counselor: Fredrick Okello (left)
2nd Counselor: Ouma Franco (right)
Busia 3 Branch Presidency
President: Wafula David Maloba
1st Counselor: Mugisha George Onyango
2nd Counselor: Khargnde Stephen Sanye
After the meeting, we gathered both branches together for a picture. It was an amazing group!! A weekend of miracles!
One more picture I want to share. I was walking out of my house today, and saw a "wing" moving. It looked so peculiar that I had to stop and see how it was moving. Then I was so surprised, I had to take a picture.
Can you even see the ant at the tip of the wing? It was literally picking it up and carrying it! I can't even fathom the weight difference between the two of them! There has got to be an object lesson in here somewhere. I'm a little too tired to think of it. All I know is that THINGS ARE STRONG here in Uganda! Haha! I'm hoping an ant doesn't pick me up and carry me away. Haha.