Driving through Provo, and then Salt Lake City, and on to the airport, I had another day of memories. I kept thinking I wanted to take it all in, because I would not be back for 3 years. I got a little teary eyed... Okay, I CRIED. I'm sure Steve's getting tired of these bursts of emotion from me. But we left feeling so spiritually fed!
I'm not very good at putting my thoughts into words, but I read a posting from Elder Renlund on Facebook talking about the mission president's seminar, and I loved what he said, " My wife, Ruth, and I recently attended the Seminar for New Mission Presidents and their wives. One hundred seventy-one new mission presidents will begin service approximately July 1, 2016.
Ruth and I reflected on the amazing spirit that was present throughout. We concluded that it was because of several factors, such as: First, the 171 mission presidents and their wives have promised in sacred places to do what they are asked to do for the Church. Second, they have been asked to do something extraordinary at this time. Third, they are doing it. Fourth, those teaching, presenting, and having anything to do with the seminar logistically have pled for heaven's help to give their best for these 342 Saints. Fifth, the Lord wants to accomplish something extraordinary through the mission presidents and their wives.
The combination of these five elements unlocked the floodgates of heaven, allowing the Holy Ghost to be present in rich abundance both collectively and individually and the outpouring of blessings for each to claim."
When we arrived at the airport, we noticed that everyone around us was wearing a blue card that was attached to a lanyard around their neck. As we spoke with some of them, we realized that we would be spending the first leg of our journey traveling to Amsterdam with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! They were on their way for a summer concert excursion throughout Europe. We had great conversations with different members of the choir and their entourage. What fun to be on a plane with this amazing group of people.
While traveling to Amsterdam, we flew right through night. In fact, it never actually got dark. We had a beautiful sunset, but then the sun seemed to come right up again. When we landed in Amsterdam, it was 8:30am local time, and about 11:30pm Utah time. So people were coming to work at the airport, and we were feeling like it was time to call it a night. While on our flight from Amsterdam to Kigali, although it was the middle of the day, we crashed. We actually only slept for an hour or two. When we added it up, from the time we woke up Monday morning until we went to bed in Uganda on Tuesday night, we had been up for over 30 hours with one or two hours of rest.
We arrived in Entebbe Uganda at about 11:00 at night. We knew President and Sister Chatfield would be there to pick us up, but it was such a relief to actually see them and the Goodwins, a senior couple, waiting for us! They hugged us, and welcomed us to the mission. Sister Chatfield had a necklace of wooden beads from Ethiopia that she gave me. I was so touched.
Apparently, it had taken them about 4 hours to travel the 50 miles to the airport because there was a bad accident in Kampala. They told us several times how bad the traffic is in Uganda. But I guess when you travel after midnight, the roads are pretty clear. We made it back to our home in about an hour. I was surprised on our drive home that there were still a lot of people on the streets selling food from their carts. And people walking everywhere. We stopped at a light, and had children run up to the side of the van begging. It was scary that they were right in traffic, and as soon as the light changed, sometimes they were standing between vehicles. The vehicle they were standing by might see them, but 3 or 4 back might not.
The smells were amazing. It smelled like we were camping, and that someone in the campground was making barbecued beef or pork. I've noticed that several times since we arrived. I'm sure it's just because of the street vendors, but everything smells like food. Not bad!!
Our home is beautiful. It is a gated home, and we have our own guards, who are there 24 hours a day. We also have a beautiful yard, with a full time landscaper. He is very kind. He is a member of our church and recently was released from the bishopric. We have a young lady who cleans our house a few times a week. She's saving money for her own mission. She's very sweet.
Some things that are different in our home, compared to Utah. All of the Windows and doors are barred. There are locks on every single door in the house, including the pantry. And every lock has about 4 keys. There are locks on the door, and locks on the bars over the doors. With all the doors and bars we have in this house, I think there are about 50 keys!
The water heater for the shower is mounted to the wall in each bathroom, and you have to flip a switch on the wall ten minutes before you take a shower to heat up the water.
There are slats above all the windows that look like mini blinds, but they are more solid. The Windows close, but those spaces at the top of the Windows stay open. It surprised us so much our first morning here, because we could hear the birds so loudly, and somebody would have a radio going. I kept looking at the Windows thinking, wow, these window panes must be so thin! Apparently, this causes issues when the wind blows the dust around. There's nothing to keep it out of the house. I'm glad it doesn't get cold here!! No closing those Windows.
Our home is actually very nice. There is everything we could need here. We were so tired our first night, and were so comfortable. President and Sister Chatfield walked us around, and pointed things out to us. They showed us how to run different appliances, and taught us the things they thought we would need to know.
The next morning, they picked us up and took us to the Mission Office. We met with all the AP's, Zone and District Leaders, and the Sister Training leaders. We shook each of their hands and got to know them a little bit better. President Collings talked to them a little bit about his vision for the mission. He talked with them about trusting the Holy Ghost to help you with teaching, finding, and everything that you do. This is Heavenly Father's work, and he wants us to succeed. We just need to learn to listen to and understand the Holy Ghost. He taught from the scriptures, and bore testimony of this Gospel. The missionaries were amazing! We are so excited to get to know them better, and help them on this journey.
The Chatfields met with us separately, and went over some of the specifics of this mission, and then it was time for them to leave. It was so touching to see the love that everyone in the office have for these great people. They will surely be missed here.
We went to a late lunch with the senior missionaries. They took us to a really nice little restaurant. The food was SO good!! I had no idea we would be able to find restaurants and food like this in Africa! And the fruits and vegetables tasted AMAZING! We drove there with the office couple, and then met two other senior couples there. It was so fun getting to know them better. I'm sorry to say one of the couples is leaving in two weeks, and the other couple works on Humanitarian efforts to get water to the African People, so they will not be spending a lot of time with us. But we get along really well with the Goodwins who are in the office with us.
Driving to and from the office, and to and from lunch was INTENSE!! I have never seen anything like it!! I saw on the internet, a man compare driving in Kampala to a video game, where you are driving and things keep darting out in front of you. It really is like that! We have not tried to drive yet, and I'm sure Steve will be driving long before I will. There are little motorcycles that everyone uses like a taxi, they are called bota-botas, and they're everywhere. They don't follow the rules, they are just trying to get from point A to point B quickly. They dart in and out of some very tight spaces. The roads are very narrow, and you don't even feel like you can pass a car going the other direction, but then as you're passing them, a bota-bota darts right between you both. I don't know how they slip through the gap. The things you see being carried on the back of these motorcycles is crazy! On my first day, there was a man riding behind the driver, carrying an office chair. One of our security guards rides a bota-bota. I told him how much driving here scares me, and he just laughed. He said riding it is FREEDOM. You can go wherever you want and can get there quickly, there are no rules. He loves it! Our missionaries are not allowed to ride them, I was told that in the last year over a thousand people were killed riding on the back of a bota bota. This was just in Kampala. I would say that walking is safer, but it doesn't seem like it is. People just start walking out right in front of you, and expect you to stop.
(These are just pictures I found online, it's been too intense to take a picture, but these pictures look exactly like what I have seen here.)
One thing that has impressed me is that the people here are very well dressed, and the ladies are all modest. The ladies all wear nice skirts and dresses, and the men mostly wear button up shirts and slacks. This really surprised me. There is security everywhere, but they are so nice to us. They are even at the parking lot of the grocery store. They help us find parking spaces, and then watch our car while we are gone. Several security guards welcomed us to Uganda at the grocery store parking lot, and shook our hands. They always say, "You are most welcome here in Uganda."
We were told before this mission started that we would always be busy, and would not be able to accomplish everything, but will accomplish what is most needed. I think we are feeling that way. Just trying to wrap our minds around what Heavenly Father wants us to do, and understanding this culture, which is so very different from home. I know we will be blessed as we put our trust in Heavenly Father, and go to work.
We are definitely not in Kansas anymore!