A few weeks later, we returned to Masaka. We had been training the branch councils in all of the mission branches, and it was time to do our training in this branch. When we walked in the room for the training, it was full. There were men and women representing every auxiliary in the church, and again, we were very impressed with this little branch. They were all willing to share thoughts and ideas, and we felt like the training went very well. During that meeting, President Collings told the branch council that he could see a Stake in Masaka in the near future. The feeling was just so good each time we came.
In recent months, we have had tremendous growth in Masaka. There were enough people consistently coming to church that we decided to submit the paperwork for the branch to be split. Masaka is a very big city, and it’s quite a distance for some people to travel to get to church. The request for a branch split was approved, and the Kijjabwemi Branch was created. They had to meet in the same building for a few months as a new one was being renovated. Just about 3 weeks ago, the new building was finished. The missionaries held an open house, and invited anyone in who wanted to see it, and learn more about the church. Each week there are many people coming to both the Masaka and Kijjabwemi branch. Before the branch was split, the most people that attended was 180, and usually it was around 150 people.
On Sunday we held Branch Conference in both branches. President Okello presided at the Masaka Branch Conference, and President Collings presided at the Kijjabwemi Branch. There were 100 people in Masaka, and 140 people in Kijjabwemi Branch. Amazing that in just 3 weeks time we have 60 more people attending church in Masaka. What’s even better is that they are teaching pure doctrine. There are many return missionaries who help teach the lessons, and translate into the local language for those who don’t fully understand English. The Kijjabwemi relief society president told me that her main focus with ministering, is inviting back those who have become less active. Many people joined the church, but then realized it was too far away for them to travel each week. She is excited to find them and tell them that there is a building that is very near them now. She is seeing many people come back to church.
Saturday before the Branch Conference we held an Auxiliary training, and Priesthood session. We started out together while President Collings talked. With the recent changes in ministering, he has been focusing on that in all the branches we visit, just helping them understand that we need to do as the Savior would do. That doesn’t mean visit so you can check a name off a list, but really get to know people, and seek help from the Lord as you find ways to serve and strengthen them. After he spoke, we separated into the different groups. Sister Wittwer and I trained the women in Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary. We were pleasantly surprised that every Auxiliary in both branches had several people there. We were able to answer questions that they might have, and just help them understand that they can do this! There is a reason they were called to this position in the branch, and the Lord will help them to know his will for them and those they have stewardship over. It was a wonderful meeting.
Relief Society was so full! There were 6 investigators in just this room.
While we were in Masaka, we also spent some quality time with our missionaries. We had interviews, and a zone conference with them. I usually try to bring a lunch to serve to them during zone conference, but we had just had our huge combined zone conference, and we were in Ethiopia right before that, so I hadn’t even thought of what I would make for them. We decided to go to Cafe Frikadellen. It’s a wonderful little cafe with MONSTER burgers. The problem with taking 20 people out to lunch is how long it takes to actually get the food. We decided to do President Collings and my training, and then go to the cafe. We ordered our meals, and then had the zone leaders do their training while we waited for the food to come. That worked really well. We were about the only people there, and it was a nice setting. They both did such a great job! And two hours later, we were able to eat our wonderful food. There are very strong missionaries in the Masaka Zone. They are all seeing success, and the church is continuing to grow in this corner of the Lord’s vineyard.
The long wait for food...
There is one other area in Masaka, called Nyendo. It is on the North side of town. Right now there are many members of the church, but only a few come because of the distance. We believe if we start another small group or cluster in that area, it will grow as quickly as Kijjabwemi did. The people in Masaka are humble, and willing to learn and live the gospel. We are so grateful to witness the wonderful things happening in this Amazing place!