Sunday, April 16, 2017

General Conference, Transfers, and Much More

Six months ago we wanted to go to General Conference in the mission branches, Gulu and Lira. We were only able to watch one session out of the 4 general sessions because of some logistical problems. We did watch them on our own over the following weeks. This time we heard that all of the branches were able to watch it on the weekend after conference, which made us so happy. We decided that this time we wanted to actually experience General Conference in the Stake. Because our day starts so much earlier than it does in Utah, we wouldn't be able to watch the first session until about 7:00PM on the actual day of conference. This is pretty difficult, so conference is recorded and we watch it the following weekend. We did get a few spoilers over the past week, the most exciting was that a temple was announced in Nairobi, Kenya. We went online and watched a few talks here and there, but there's something special about just sitting down and watching the entire block of conference sessions.

We were able to watch the Saturday sessions on Saturday, the 8th of April, in the mission home. Then on Sunday we spent the time at the chapel. Each of the wards have a DVD of the conference broadcast, so each shows it in place of their usual Sacrament Meeting. We were at the Kololo Ward. I was surprised with the number of people who attended. The chapel was full for the first session, and a little more sparse for the final session. They showed the priesthood session at 8:00AM. We had actually watched it on Saturday night. Then they showed the morning session at 10:00, followed by the afternoon session at 12:30.  The things that were said are so relevant here in Uganda, and I'm sure that is the case all over the world. It was wonderful to hear from President Monson. I loved that he spoke about reading the Book of Mormon daily. That is something that we see the importance of here as missionaries, but it's also so important in our individual lives. It helps us gain such a strong understanding and testimony of Jesus Christ and this gospel.  Then his talk on kindness and charity to the priesthood brethren was perfect. Such simple doctrines that make such a big difference!

I loved hearing Elder Holland talk about singing in the choir, and that "Jesus listening can hear the song I cannot sing". That has always been a special verse to me. Many of the talks were centered on the doctrine of Christ: Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. I especially loved the talks about the Holy Ghost and the Godhead. It's something that I have understood, but I realize that this is a new concept for so many in the world. It's a wonderful blessing to understand the role of the Holy Ghost in our lives. Also the thought that "It's not about us." We have been trying to teach this to our missionaries, and to hear President Uchtdorf teach about this was wonderful. Obviously, I could go on and on. What a blessing to be able to listen to a prophet's voice and hear the word of God. The knowledge that this is his church, with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone should give us so much comfort. There is a lot going on in the world, but we have the peace of knowing that we are being led and guided by the Savior himself as we listen to and obey the prophets and apostles.

After church, we invited Elder and Sister Wittwer over for dinner, along with a return missionary and a young woman who he is teaching about the church. We had such a lovely time talking with them, and really enjoyed bearing testimony of the Book of Mormon and this church to her. She knows it's true, and says she is planning to be baptized. It's so wonderful to see the faith of the people in our mission. When they hear about the restoration, they believe it, and are anxious to join the church.

This has also been a week of anticipation. When we were first called on this mission, my parents were serving a two year mission in Baltimore Maryland. We approached them about serving here in this mission, and they said how excited they were about possibly serving in Africa. They wanted to, but didn't want to impose on us. We assured them that we would love to have them, and it was no imposition. While still serving their mission, they put in their papers again, and requested to serve in the Uganda Kampala Mission after their Baltimore Maryland mission was over. I thought this would be a neat thing, but was not very confident that they would actually be called here. In the time we have served here, we have had many couples put in their papers requesting to come, and all of them have had health problems that caused them to be re-assigned to other missions. This mission is very safe, but I don't think they want to take any chances. When my parent's call finally came, it was to this mission! We were so happy! They finished their mission at the end of January, and then took their time traveling to visit each of their kids and some other family members and friends. On April 3rd they went to the Provo MTC, and they will be arriving in Uganda tomorrow! I can't believe it's here, and they are actually coming!

Tuesday we were able to pick up our missionaries at the airport. We had 4 come in from the Johannesburg MTC. One from the United States, two from Zambia, and one from Zimbabwe. We had such a great group of missionaries come! The two sister missionaries said that while they were at the Johannesburg Airport, they gave out a lot of pass along cards, and a few pamphlets. I was really impressed that they already started missionary work on their way to the mission. The missionaries all came back to Kampala, and went out knocking on doors with the missionaries in Ntinda. I was told that the new elders are POWERFUL! Haha. That's good news!

We went back to the airport to pick up our new missionary couple coming from the Provo MTC. My Parents! It was such a fun reunion. This is the first time I was able to hug and kiss my new missionaries as they come into the mission. I was getting restless waiting for them go get through immigration and the baggage claim. When they finally came out, both President Collings and I were so happy and excited! I'm considered the "mission mom" here. Suzan from the office thinks it's so funny that I'm the mission mom to my own mom. She keeps laughing about it which makes me laugh.

We had orientation on Wednesday with the new missionaries, new senior couple, and it was the Wittwer's first time training. They did a great job, and I think the missionaries were given a good boost before they go into their new areas.

Thursday was farewell dinner and testimonies for our departing missionaries. We had 12 going home this transfer. One from the United States, and the rest from Africa. Suzan and Jackie made an authentic Ugandan dinner, which they all loved! Then we had a wonderful testimony meeting. These missionaries have the potential to be great leaders in the church some day. It's such a blessing to know them all, and very hard to say goodbye.

Friday was Mission Leadership Council. This transfer we changed things up a bit. We consolidated a few of the zones so that they coincide with the stake that they are located in. This meant that two of the zones that were strattling two different stakes were divided,  and merged into the zone which coincided with the stake they are in. We went from 10 zones in the mission to 8. Things look very different here. Mission Leadership Council (MLC) was smaller because of the two zones missing, but wow, what an amazing group of leaders!! We ended up focusing most of MLC on Jesus Christ and his atonement and attributes. It felt very appropriate being so close to Easter, and the spirit was very strong. We have such strong leaders in this mission.

After the meeting, we took the missionaries out to dinner. We ate at a Chinese restaurant named Nanjings. We have been there a few times before, but this time they put us in a VIP room We all sat around a huge table that had a water fountain in the middle. There was also a giant lazy susan that they put the food on, and it would spin aroun the outside of the water fountain. The food was wonderful and the missionaries were wonderful as well.

Life is good.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Busia II

What a wonderful weekend we had in Busia! This mission branch sits on the border of Kenya and Uganda. There is a branch on each side of the border. We are responsible for the Busia Uganda branch. This branch was struggling when we first came on our mission. We were able to go there and do some training about 6 months ago. At that point there were only about 35 people attending Sacrament meeting.  Since that time, the branch is doing amazing. In fact, we call it our first miracle while on our mission. The branch leadership goes out and invites less active members to come back. The branch members welcome people with love. There is a feeling of love and unity in the branch as people do whatever they can to be more Christ-like. The change is truly miraculous.

We decided to spend the weekend in Busia. On Saturday evening we would have a fireside, and then on Sunday, we would attend church with them. What a great experience it was! We did have a few issues with our drive to Busia. The drive usually takes 4 hours. We had a couple of setbacks, like locking our car keys in the house... It took almost an hour to get another set of keys to get in. We sat in the worst traffic jam we have ever been in, between Kampala and Jinja. I think it ate up another 1 1/2 to 2 hours. All in all, we made it to the fireside at 5:10pm. It was scheduled to start at 5:00. We left at 10:00 am...we were just grateful that we made it!

It was so fun to see the many people who came for the fireside. There were 108 people there. Usually on a Sunday they have around 90-100 people come to church. To have 108 at a fireside on Saturday night was amazing! The next day when we came for church, we were surprised that 130 people came. That's the highest number we have seen in Busia since we came on our mission! We were really able to enjoy fast and testimony meeting in the branch, the spirit was very strong. There are quite a few return missionaries, and quite a few who are preparing to go on missions. I think President Collings did about 24 interviews, between prospective missionaries, priesthood advancements, and temple recommends. 

After the fireside

During sacrament. These girls were braiding the tassels on this scarf so quietly. All the kids are so reverent here during church meetings. The one on the left looked like she was about 3 or 4 years old.

After sacrament meeting, I was able to spend time in the primary. The primary president has been in for about two years. She is a young woman who is preparing to go on a mission. The primary teacher is new, but was right there supporting the primary president. You could tell that they really love the children. They both did a wonderful job. I was able to meet with them after the block of meetings and do a little bit of training on primary. I guess 20 years in different primary callings really helped me to be prepared for these experiences on my mission.  There were probably 35-40 primary children in this branch. They were so sweet, and obedient. I absolutely love the faith of children.

President Collings taught a joint priesthood and relief society lesson. He does such a wonderful job of lifting people, and helping them to see what they truly are capable of. There is a wonderful spirit of unity in this branch, and we can only see even more wonderful things in their future.

Sister Wittwer and some of the ladies in the branch with me.

Our wonderful Busia missionaries! They had 3 confirmations today!

It was quite ironic, as we were driving home from this small branch that sits on the border of Kenya, we heard the news that the Prophet announced a new temple to be built in Nairobi, Kenya. The news of this new temple spread like wildfire. There is so much excitement! People can easily cross the border into Kenya, and it's just an 8 hour bus ride to get there from Kampala. It's easily accessible to Ethiopia and Rwanda as well. There will be so many people who will be blessed to be able to attend this temple. It is something we have tried to prepare the saints for since we arrived, but we had no idea it would be a reality so soon!

In our mission, we are able to watch General Conference online, but most people can't afford to stream it. We had satellite dishes placed in many of our buildings right before conference (maybe all of them, but I saw them in 3 of the outer buildings). If you want to watch conference live, it starts at about 7:00pm. So the stakes and branches will show conference on the weekend after it was first broadcast. I have been able so see a few things here and there (my kids have given me a few spoilers), but I'm looking forward to going to the stake center and watching all of conference this Saturday and Sunday. 

Life is good! Uganda Kampala Mission is growing! A temple is coming! So, so exciting!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Opposition in all things

This week we have reached our nine month mark on our mission. I can honestly say that time seems to be flying by. We have been stretched, and strengthened in ways I don't think we imagined. It's interesting as we are driving to the different areas in our mission, how normal everything seems.

I remember when we first arrived, we struggled very much to understand the people. They speak English, it shouldn't have been that hard. On our first day, President Collings received a phone call from one of the branch presidents. He said he didn't understand a word that was said, and both of us were concerned. He told the branch president that he would call him right back, and then went and said a prayer. From that moment on, he has been able to understand those who are speaking English (for the most part). I remember being in the airport, and as they would announce things over the speaker, it sounded like a foreign language to me. Now, I wonder why it was so hard.

On our first Sunday, we rode in the car with our senior couple to go to a mission branch that was about 2 1/2 hours away. I remember going in the round-abouts, and I was terrified! We just went to that same area of the mission today, but it doesn't seem quite so bad. And although President Collings was driving today, I'm happy to say that I drive in it now, and it isn't that bad. Although I do believe we are blessed with safety as missionaries.

We had a wonderful experience. Elder and Sister Tower have been here in Uganda for 6 months. He has been training and giving suggestions to the Judiciary here in Uganda, helping them to be more efficient. We were invited to a special dinner in honor of Judge Tower, as he was preparing to leave Uganda, and return to the United States. The dinner was hosted by Chief Justice Katureebe in Uganda, and the Supreme court justices and other officials were all invited. We were joined by President Kamya of the Uganda Kampala South Stake, and Suzan Apondi, the National Director for Public Affairs for the church in Uganda. I don't know the politics of this country very well, but we were definitely with important people. Suzan said she felt like a peasant with this group of individuals. She said she has only seen them in pictures, and on TV.  They were so gracious, and you could tell they really appreciated the work that Judge Tower had done. They served us dinner, and then presented him with a special gift and cake. The Chief Justice spoke, and then asked Judge Tower to speak. I loved what he said. He talked about how the people of this country believe in Jesus Christ. Then he bore his testimony to them, and said this country would be blessed as they kept the commandments, and followed Jesus Christ. Truly a night we want to remember. Unfortunately, it was not appropriate to take any pictures. There was an official photographer there... hopefully he will share some of the pictures he took later.

Later that week, we invited the Towers to a final farewell dinner of our own. We took them, Elder and Sister Phelps, and Suzan and Sarah from the office to Ndere. It's a special place where there is singing and dancing that represents tribes all over Uganda and other countries like Rwanda and Burundi. So, so fun!

We decided to keep this night casual. We would not be able to be in town as the Towers left, so we wanted this evening to be fun for them. I think it was! We will truly miss the Towers! They have been such a wonderful couple to get to know and work with here! We wish them all the best as they return home and enjoy their family.

This will be a two week posting. I've been too busy to post this, and want to continue to share the wonderful miracles that have happened!

This week was spent doing zone conferences. We have been focusing on Unity with our missionaries, members, and church leadership. We also focused on helping investigators progress, and having more spiritual meetings.  As we give these topics for the Assistants and the Zone Leaders to teach on, it's amazing to see how they take the topic and really teach things that are specific to their zones. I have learned so much! And absolutely LOVE going to these meetings.

A couple of days before one of the zone conferences, we received a phone call at 3:00 in the morning. One of the Branch Presidents was very sick, and his son was very concerned. President Collings called the nearby missionaries to see if they could go help him out, but when he called them, they were already there, and had given the Branch President a blessing, and were preparing to take him to the hospital. When we went to that area for zone conference, the Branch President was still in the hospital. The zone leaders led us to the hospital where we were able to visit with him. He turned to the missionaries, and told President Collings, "These young men saved my life!" It was so good to see him up and around. He was released the next day. He still has a long road to recovery, but we were glad he was well enough to leave the hospital. I'm so impressed with the goodness of our missionaries!

Masaka Hospital (online image)

This has been an interesting round of zone conferences. Each conference has been amazing. The spirit has been very strong in each of them. But we have seen some crazy opposition. It makes me think of 2 Nephi 2:11, and appreciate the opposition, because it helps me to enjoy the good things more completely.  I just thought I'd share a couple of interesting experiences that happened during these wonderful meetings.

As we were having a zone conference in Mukono, it was my turn to do a training. I was startled as a bird came flying into the chapel. It was a pretty decent sized, deep blue/black bird. It had come in the front door, and down the hall until it got to the chapel. Crazy... I continued my training as the bird continued to fly all around the chapel, trying to find a way out. It was extremely distracting. Luckily, it was towards the end of my remarks. President Collings used a tablecloth, and was able to capture the bird and set it free outside. We were able to get right back on track and enjoy the rest of the zone conference.
Leaving Zone Conference Mukono
Elder Ward and Elder Sibeko

Later, we were having a zone conference in Jinja, and it sounded like there was a lot of people right near the church. We couldn't tell if there was some sort of celebration, or what. It reminded me of sitting next door to a stadium while a football game is being played. This was really an unusual thing to be happening outside of this chapel. It continued for quite a long time. We just made sure that we talked a little bit louder, and ignored it. The noise was next to the church on the West side of the building, and you could see a group of people walking down the road in front of the church, and then there was also noise right across the street from the church. There is a wall around the church, and another wall that was recently built across the street, so we couldn't see what was going on. Suddenly there was a loud boom! And then another, and another. We wondered if they were having fireworks? Or some sort of parade? But then you could see people running down the road in front of the church. I think there were 6 or 8 booms, and we could see clouds of white smoke rising up. There were three young women who came running into the church compound crying. I ran outside and invited them into the chapel while President Collings went out to see what was going on. The young women told me that there was a disagreement between two schools (they didn't attend either, just happened to be passing by). I don't know if it had something to do with a sporting event or what, but it sounded like a rivalry that got out of hand and became more like a riot. One school had kidnapped someone from the other school. Then the other school went to "take revenge". The loud booms we heard ended up being tear gas that was used by police to break up the rioting. We let the girls stay in the chapel until they felt safe. They ended up staying with us for about 20 minutes and listened to our training. We continued with our zone conference. President Collings said, later, it was so interesting that while all this chaos was going on outside, we were completely safe and having a spiritual feast. In fact, the missionaries didn't even know what the noise was until after the zone conference. By the time the zone conference had ended, you would never guess anything had happened. Life was back to normal outside. We talked with the missionaries about avoiding crowds, and helped them remember what to do if this situation happens again. We stayed the night in Jinja, and didn't see any other evidence of the situation that night or the next day. We never felt that we were in any danger. Truly, this was an amazing zone conference. Such a contrast with what had happened outside.

Jinja Zone after Zone Conference

During the weekend we had scheduled to go to Rwanda. We have been planning to create a district in Rwanda for several months, but needed to wait for all the proper paperwork and approvals to come about. March 26th was the day that all of us had been waiting for. Just a side note, March 26th was also the day the Book of Mormon was published in 1830. I think it's neat that the Rwanda saints get to share that historic day with their own special day of becoming a district.

Again, we were faced with opposition, but we were also truly blessed.

We were supposed to fly to Rwanda on Saturday morning. We woke up at 6:00, and would leave for the airport at 8:30am. When he woke up, President Collings said something was not right. He was in a lot of pain, and had broken a sweat. He felt like he was going to pass out. I immediately called the area doctor, and we felt like we needed to have him checked for kidney stones. We called and postponed our flight. The next one available was at 1:00am, Sunday morning, so we booked it. When we got to the doctor, he was feeling better. He tested positive for a kidney stone, but they said that since he wasn't in any pain, it probably passed. They gave him some pain medication and sent him home. He was fine for the rest of the day. That evening as we were getting on the flight to Rwanda, he started to feel pain again.

Sunday was an absolutely AMAZING day. We rented a conference room at the Marriott in Kigali. It was very private, and absolutely beautiful. We had a priesthood meeting at 8:00 in the morning. There are 3 branches in Kigali, with a total of about 450 members. We were so happy to see around 120 men attend the priesthood session.

Priesthood Session

Then as the General session was about to begin, we couldn't believe the number of people who came! We counted 408! The spirit of the meeting was incredible! This was truly one of the highlights of our mission up to this point.
Panorama of General Session

We even had a choir. They sang beautifully!

This area is truly ready to become a district. President Collings created the Kigali District of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He called Joshua Opar as the District President. This man is humble, and powerful. He will continue to lead the church in this District in the way the Lord would have him do.

President Opar with his wife and other district members

President Collings said that this was his favorite experience he has had on his mission so far. With that being said... he was still dealing with kidney stones. Haha.

During the meeting, the pain came back. He was very uncomfortable. At one point I leaned over and asked if he was okay. He said he felt like he was going to pass out. I said I could go get him something to eat, and he said no, he felt like he was going to throw up. All I could think of to do was to pray. Apparently the other missionaries could see that he was struggling, and texted each other to "Pray for President Collings". I don't think that members of the congregation knew, he hid it well. Finally towards the end of the meeting he stood up and walked out to try and get some relief. The zone leaders stood up in the congregation and followed him out. They ended up finding a private place and gave him a priesthood blessing. When they came back in the room, the pain was gone, and he was able to give his remarks at the end of the meeting.

Afterwards, he set apart the new District President and had him help to set apart the two counselors. It was such a special day!

On Monday we had decided we would take him in for a CT scan to see how many kidney stones he had, and how large they were. In the morning he wasn't feeling too bad, and the missionaries had planned to spend the morning with us at the Genocide Memorial. We decided to go to the Memorial with the missionaries and then go to the Hospital for the CT scan in the afternoon.

Wow! What an incredibly sad and sacred place. The Genocide Memorial helped us to understand what the people of this country went through. What is so interesting to me, is that when this took place, I was married with 3 children. These people are my age! The children who were killed or traumatized were the same ages as my children! It just really put things into perspective for me. It also helped us to understand that the people of Kigali need to be taught the Plan of Salvation. They need to be able to do the temple work for their families. Everyone in this city has been affected in one way or another by the Genocide. But what is most amazing is how they are dealing with it. They are teaching repentance and forgiveness. There is no separation between the tribes, but unity with all Rwandans. It's amazing to see the healing in such a short period of time.

Kigali Zone at the Genocide Memorial

Kigali Zone Leaders who gave President a blessing during district conference
Elder Owen and Elder Long

After our experience at the Memorial, we decided to take Steve in to get a CT scan. In Uganda, you can go to a hospital or clinic and tell them what you need, and you get it. We assumed it would be the same way here. We stopped at the receptionist, and asked to get a CT scan, and she asked us where the doctor's order was. We explained that our doctor was in Johannesburg and the United States, and that they just requested we get a CT scan... she looked at us like we were crazy. (I would too in the United States, haha) She told us that we needed to meet with a doctor who would do an examination, and if he felt like we needed to get that test, then we could get that test. There was a man standing just behind us, and he stepped forward and asked us if there was a problem. We just explained our situation and he looked at our nametags. He introduced himself as Doctor............... and said, "I see you are Latter-Day Saints". We said that we were, and he said that he had previously been the area doctor for our church in Kiev Ukraine. He was a new doctor in this hospital. He asked if we would follow him. He took us to a private waiting room and said that he would help us. A few minutes later, a woman walked in and asked us to follow her. She took us to a cashier, where we paid for the services we were going to get. Then she took us to a doctor's office. He immediately let us in, talked with Steve about his situation, filled out an order for blood work, urinalysis, and a CT scan. Then we followed the lady to the lab to get the tests done, and finally to the radiology department. When we got to each of these areas, you could see that there were a lot of people waiting, and yet she went behind the scenes, and helped us through the entire process. She said that the results of the tests would be ready tomorrow, and said if we would come in at 10:00, she would meet us at reception and help us again. It was such a tender mercy! We would not have been able to get ANYTHING done without the help of the doctor, and then this sweet lady, Beatrice,  who took us wherever we needed to go. Truly humbling. We felt like the Lord was watching over us.

Well, he did have a kidney stone. It did pass, from what we can tell. The radiology report shows that he has multiple small stones in each kidney, but none that are too large to be concerned about. Just a few things to look forward to in the future.... :/ 

We had zone conference in Kigali, and quickly went to the airport. This was a very interesting trip. Opposition in all things.... The best of times, the worst of times.... etc. Humbling to see the hand of the Lord in our life.

One final stop. As we returned to the airport in Entebbe, we got our luggage and put it in the mission van, and then returned to the terminal to wait for our new office couple. Elder and Sister Wittwer came from the Provo MTC, and are starting their 18 month mission here. We are so thrilled to have them. Our previous office couple returned home for medical reasons, and we wish them a speedy recovery, and want them to know of our love for them. Elder and Sister Phelps stepped in and kept things running for a few weeks while we waited for the Wittwers to get here, and we are so thankful for them. We are so grateful for all of our senior couples. We appreciate the sacrifices they have made to come serve in this mission. We are so blessed to know each of them, and we love each of them.
Phelps, Wittwers, and Collings

Welcome Elder and Sister Wittwer

This mission is in the midst of amazing things. The Unity with the missionaries is wonderful. The blessings they are seeing because of hard work, obedience, and faith is incredible. We can't help but think that some of this opposition is taking place as an attempt to distract us from what is most important. But how can we be distracted from such amazing miracles?!

Friday, March 10, 2017

His Work

One very special thing I have learned throughout my life, and especially on this mission, is that we are doing the work of the Lord. He wants us to succeed. When we do all that we can, and then rely on him in faith, he will make up the difference for us. My parents have set this example for me throughout my life. I can name so many experiences with this one principle, that has solidified my testimony of it. Whether we are Mission President and Wife, Office couple (as my parents were), missionary, Bishop, or teacher in the primary, it's all His work. He wants it to move forward, and if we ask him, in faith, He will make up the difference where we may lack. I experienced this again as we have been making some changes in our mission. There have been a few instances where I wondered how we would be able to make things work, and then I say a silent prayer and go to work. And things just seem to fall into place.

President Collings and I were asked to speak to the Public Affairs Representatives from the mission branches in Uganda. The morning had been a little bit hectic, and I needed to run to the office to help out some of the missionaries. President Collings went ahead, and spoke to this group, while I worked out the issues that the missionaries were having. As I came late into the meeting, I was overwhelmed with the love our Heavenly Father has for each of us as we are doing our separate assignments in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These people are working in their home towns to help people understand what we do as members of the Church. They are "an example of the believers" to those around them. This is a very different calling than what President Collings and I have, but it's great in the eyes of God, and no less important. He loves each of us. He wants to pour out his blessings upon us. As we act in Faith, he is able to make up the difference. My husband always says, "Don't limit how God can bless you." It's true. If we say we can't, or it's not possible, or I'm afraid so I won't try, he is unable to bless us. If we say, I don't know how, but I will do all I can. It's incredible what he can do for us. Suddenly our faith grows as we see his hand in our lives. Once our missionaries understand this principle, they seem to blossom with confidence, and joy, and ambition. They become "anxiously engaged in a good cause".  Anyway, this is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. I was able to express these thoughts and feelings to the Public Affairs Reps, and really had a wonderful experience with this group.

Immediately after our meeting, we took off to the airport, and traveled to Ethiopia. President Collings was able to do interviews with the missionaries there upon arrival, and then we went to the hotel.
We now have 12 missionaries serving in Ethiopia!

 Sunday, we attended church in Debre Zeit. The building in Debre Zeit is absolutely beautiful. It stands out in this community. Recently, President Collings had the impression that we needed to make our church buildings more accessible to people. They have always been behind gates, with three guards. He asked that the gates be open during the day. I'm sure there are a lot of people who are curious about the Debre Zeit building as well as the other three, and we want them to be able to come in and ask. The missionaries have had several people just walk in, and ask to know more about the church since we have asked that the gates be opened. It's been a blessing. Our senior couple just started teaching a family who said they tried to come in to one of the church buildings two months ago, and the guards would not let them in. They were grateful to have found representatives of the church, and we are happy that people will find the buildings more accessible now.

It was Fast and Testimony meeting on Sunday, and was wonderful to listen to the testimonies of the branch members. After the Sacrament meeting, we combined the men and women, and President Collings taught them. It ended up being a very nice meeting. We gave the branch members a challenge:
First: As a mission, we will be fasting on March 18, for the missionary work to increase in the Uganda Kampala Mission. We invited them to join in this fast with us.

Second: We challenged them to read the Book of Mormon every day.

Third: We challenged them to prayerfully consider who they will bring to church, whether it's an inactive member, or new investigator.
Branch Presidency  
Debre Zeit Branch  
This young sister has been called to serve a mission, she is waiting on a visa, and will spend her first transfer in the Uganda Kampala Mission. We are ALL so excited about this. Can't wait to have her! 

After church we went with President and Sister Harline on some visits.  We really enjoyed spending time in the homes of three families. We were able to feel the spirit very strong, and tailor a message specific to each one of them. It's beautiful to see how Heavenly Father knows each of them, and helped us to know what they needed to hear. We truly felt blessed as we were able to get to know these families better, and learn more about their conversion to the Gospel.

After these visits, we were able to meet with a family back in Addis Ababa. This is a family that Elder and Sister Harline have been teaching, and they invited us to one of their lessons. This family is ready to be baptized! It was a very neat experience. The wife, made us an amazing dinner, which was a wonderful way to end our Fast Sunday. It was DELICIOUS! We have been able to enjoy such a unique variety of foods from all over the world. This meal did not disappoint!

This week has been full of missionary interviews in the Kampala area. We decided to have the interviews in the mission office so President could help with any issues that come up, and I could get some extra work done as well. It ended up being a great week. I always say we have wonderful missionaries. We felt of their goodness as they came in for their interviews this week. We truly are blessed!