Friday, July 29, 2016


A little bit about the food here in Uganda. We have amazing restaurants! We have been to French, Mexican, Chinese, Italian, and there is also pretty good American Restaurants! They remind me a lot of home. Very clean and nice, but mostly set outdoors in beautiful settings! We have also had our share of authentic African food. We have had rice, beans, chicken (which is extremely tough here), matoke which is green bananas, but they taste more like potatoes, and even goat, which is really good! Samosas are really popular here as well. The missionaries favorite food is called Rolex. It's egg wrapped in a type of tortilla shell with other vegetables like cabbage rolled together with it. The one I had was pretty simple. I have asked the AP's to buy me one that won't make me sick, from a real Rolex vendor. We'll see. But, we will not go hungry here!!

Speaking of restaurants, on Friday before we went to the airport, we decided to take the AP's out to a Mexican restaurant. Steve parked the car, and then when he got out, he realized that he should pull the car forward to fit in the stall a bit better. He climbed back in the car and turned the key, and it wouldn't turn over. This car is about a week old. It's brand new. The car wouldn't lock or unlock with the remote. It was like it was completely shut down. We thought there was something wrong with the security system on it. After trying over and over to figure out what was going on with the car, we just decided to leave it in the parking lot and worry about it after lunch. An hour later after an amazing Mexican lunch, we were back at the car which was still in lock down. We were starting to get concerned because we needed to get back home, pick up our luggage, and get to the airport. The mall security came over and asked what was going on, and could they help us out. As we spoke with them about the vehicle, the head of mall security came over and pointed to our name badges and said he knew where our church was located, and always wondered what we believe. President Collings was able to talk with him about the church. During their conversation he told Steve that he has traced his lineage back to Israel. He has a wife and children and he said he is very interested in learning more about the Gospel. He gave his contact information to the missionaries. After this exchange of information, he said we should pop the hood so he could look at the car. We popped the hood, and he was surprised with how clean the engine is. He said, "Wow, this car really is new." Then he looked at the battery. The battery cable had slipped off... That was it. We were all so surprised. But then realized, if the battery cable had not slipped off, we would not have met this new investigator. We can't forget who is in charge of this work.

On our drive to the airport, I was able to get pictures of downtown Kampala, and some of the shopping on the road to Entebbe. The different levels of society are very apparent in the city. The malls remind me a lot of home, and they have 24 hour security, then there are the smaller markets that  the average person shops at, and then there are the street markets, where people lay their goods out on the ground and it seems like hundreds of people are all selling the same things. All of these areas are so close to each other. The wealth and poverty are a stark contrast.

That evening we flew to Ethiopia. On the plane, we sat by a young man from Uganda. He was very interested in us too. He has lived the last two years in China, and works there. He came back to Uganda to update his Visa, and was on his way back to China. He would ask us questions about the church. We would answer them and then you could see he was just trying to process it in his mind. A few minutes later he would ask another question. This went on for at least half of the flight. I gave him a pass along card that has the website of the church on it. We also wrote Steve's email address on the back of the card, and told him to contact us if he had any other questions. It made the flight go by quickly.

I was warned that Ethiopia is COLD! Cold is a relative thing, right? I'm used to Utah cold, with snow and ice, but I thought Africa is not cold. I haven't worn a sweater since I got here. When we arrived in Ethiopia, it was 15 C. I had to look up the Fahrenheit temperature: 59 F. After several weeks in 80 degree temperatures, 59 did feel pretty cold! The church here is made of cement, and it seems to hold in the cool air, so throughout the entire day at Zone Conference, it was chilly. But it's beautiful!

Addis Ababa seems to be a little more of a modern city than Kampala or Kigali. There are roads that seem to move really well. There is a train system throughout the city. The people here have a very uniquely different look than the other countries we have been to. Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa. Except for a 5 year occupation by Mussolini's Italy, it has never been colonized. So while other countries speak the language of the country that colonized them, English, French, etc. Ethiopia speaks Amharic. Beautiful people, in a beautiful country, and they speak a beautiful language. I really love it here!

While in our hotel room, there was a wedding party that drove by. A limousine, and several other cars, all with flowers on the front. They stopped in the middle of the road in front of the hotel, and all got out of the cars and started dancing. Then they got back in and drove a little further down the road. At the hotel there were 3 wedding party's. Each of them paraded out to the parking lot where cars were decorated with flowers. Quite a tradition.

The church is in a complex. There is a security gate, (which all of the buildings in our mission have) a church building, a mission office for Ethiopia, and even a basketball court. The grounds are BEAUTIFUL! It's rainy, and cool, which makes it so green!

Mission Office

Construction Everywhere (this is across the street from the church.)

Zone conference was another amazing experience. You could tell that the elders were very prepared. A couple of fun things that were said. One elder said that recently they were having  a gospel discussion while they were sitting outside. They noticed as they were talking that a young man scooted over closer to them, and was listening to their conversation. He approached them and started asking them questions. He said he just felt something special as he listened to them speaking. This elder said to the group , "The Holy Ghost is like free  WIFI!" ( Haha, I couldn't agree more. )

We were having a discussion on acting in faith. During the discussion, one of the elders brought up the story of the Brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon, and how he found clear stones, and prayed that God would touch the stones and give them light so they would not have to cross the ocean in the dark. The next elder said something I never thought of before. He said, just like the Brother of Jared, we can pray to Heavenly Father, and ask him to touch the people we are teaching and give them light, or truth. It's a simple concept, but I had never thought of it in that way before.

The Spirit was very strong at this Zone Conference. And as it was ending, President Collings bore his final testimony and was just about to sit down when an elder raised his hand and asked if he could say something. He spoke and then 3 or 4 more elders spoke. Many of us were in tears as the meeting was ending. It was as if they didn't want the meeting to end. They wanted more. It was so touching.

The senior couple serving here in Ethiopia are Elder and Sister Harline. We also had the public affairs couple who represent our mission there; Elder and Sister Ford. They stay in Kenya, but come to our mission frequently. Sister Harline took care of lunch for Zone Conference which was REALLY good. We were able to spend quality time with both couples, and again, just have felt such a connection to them.

Steve and I were both asked to speak in church on Sunday. Again, we needed interpreters. Most everyone speaks Amharic. This time I just bore my testimony, and President Collings did the bulk of the speaking. The second counselor in the Branch Presidency is from South Sudan. His wife recently had a baby, so she was at home, but their 5 other children came to church. They latched right on to President Collings and me. In fact, when we first arrived, the youngest little boy ran to President Collings with his arms outstretched, and just hugged him around the legs. Then he grabbed his briefcase and started to pull it around the church house.

They didn't understand any English  but it didn't seem to matter. The girls sat beside me and stroked my hair, and copied my name from my missionary name badge. All five kids spent all of Sacrament meeting with me and the other senior couples.  The oldest son is named Judea, and I believe the youngest son is named Tay (But I like to call him TAZ, because he runs around like the cartoon character) It was so fun.

I went to Relief Society and there were about 6 ladies. The all spoke Ahmaric, so one of the young sisters translated for me. There is another sister in the branch who is from Russia. She doesn't speak any English or Amharic, only Russian. It was not easy for her, but she had the lesson pulled up on her iPad in Russian, and just followed along.

After church, we spoke with her and her husband. He is a neurosurgeon. He was a District President, and then was made Stake President in Russia. They have a daughter serving as a missionary right now. He says because of economic sanctions, they have cut the pay for healthcare workers and teachers. When he left Russia, he was making the same amount of pay as a bus driver. They came to Ethiopia because he was able to be paid better. He has a one year contract, and will decide from there what to do. He speaks English well, and was able to translate for his wife. We had a very touching conversation with them.  We feel like they are already dear friends.

After church we went with the Harlines to visit some members of the branch who were unable to make it to church. When we arrived, the sister did not speak any English, and her son was not there yet to translate for us. She had her daughter and grandson there. She was able to motion to us that she was suffering from a bad headache. We asked if she would like a priesthood blessing, to which she acknowledged that she did. President Collings and Elder Harline gave her a blessing. They told her the headache would go away and that she would know it was through the Holy Ghost and the power of the Priesthood that she would be healed. Then  we enjoyed time in her home. Her daughter brought out pictures of a kindergarten  graduation celebration for her son. She was so excited to show us. Then the Harlines pulled out their iPad and showed a video they had taken at that celebration. It was videos of all of them dancing. Her grandson came in and started to dance for us. It was so fun.  Finally, her 17 year old son came and was able to translate a bit for us. We asked how she was doing and she said her headache was gone. President Collings asked how she felt during the blessing, and she said she felt the Holy Ghost. She said she wanted to tell us about how she was converted to the church, but she thought her son would not be able to translate. She made us promise that the next time we are in Ethiopia, we will come to her home. This is the first home I have been to made of corrugated metal with just a dirt floor.  Very humble, but she has such a strong faith in Jesus Christ. She has a son serving a mission in Africa, and her 17 year old is preparing for a mission as well. I love meeting these Latter Day Saints in Africa!

It has taken us just over 3 weeks to meet all 137 missionaries in 3 countries. I must say, we have the BEST missionaries!

We returned home, and on Wednesday had Mission Leadership Council. All of the Zone Leaders, Sister Training Leaders, and AP's come for that. We had it at the mission home, and all attended except for the zone leaders in Ethiopia and Rwanda. They joined us by way of the internet. During MLC, each Zone reports their Zone's baptismal goal, and where they are at in reaching the goals that are set.  There was a kind of negative feeling in the room after the zones reported. All of the numbers for each Zone was listed on a white board. President told all of the missionaries to look at the report and tell him what was wrong with it. Everything looked in order, and they weren't sure what he was getting at. Then President Collings said, "I don't see any baptismal goals for the AP's and Mission President and Wife. We need to show a little more faith." And he proceeded to set a goal for us to reach before the end of the year. I think the missionaries were all shocked. He has taken that goal seriously, and has given out so many pass along cards, brochures, and copies of the Book of Mormon in the last week.  Afterward, those in Uganda went out for lunch, at a Japanese restaurant. The group was HUGE! But there was plenty of food. The owner of the restaurant presented Steve and me with a gift. They have been hosting the missionaries for many years, and they said they were happy to meet us.

Mission Leadership Council

We are on our way to Lira and Gulu. President Collings will train Branch Presidents on how to hold Branch Councils, and do whatever he can to help lift the branches. It's been a good week!

Thursday, July 21, 2016


The first mission president in the Uganda Kampala mission was President Duke. Two years into his mission, he was driving home from the airport and got in a car accident with his wife. He passed away in that accident. Friday marked the ten year anniversary of his death. The office staff all knew him, and it was very special, on that day they all took a half day off work and honored him. They all had matching shirts made with his picture on the front, and on the back it quoted Matthew 16:25 "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." They went to the place where he had the accident and placed flowers, sang songs, and said a prayer. I was so touched by this outpouring of love. When I saw the shirts, I couldn't help but cry. I know they still keep in touch with Sister Duke, and I'm sure this meant a lot to her as well.

Flowers were placed on top of the mound of dirt. 

We left Friday evening for a zone conference in Rwanda. The airport in Uganda was a very different experience. It seemed to take forever to go through security. When we received our boarding passes, there was no gate assigned. We just sat in a waiting area and then there was an announcement overhead that said our flight was getting ready to board in gate one. We walked over to gate one where we had to go through a metal detector again, and send our bags through that hadn't been checked. Once we went through security at our gate they scanned our ticket and we went in and sat down at the gate. Pretty soon a lady announced final boarding for our flight and we all followed her down the stairs and outside. We walked past several planes and followed her to the one we would be flying in. We climbed up about 5 or 6 steps into the plane. It was one with propellers. It seated quite a few people, and was actually nice, just different than I'm used to. When we landed, we climbed down the stairs again and climbed onto a bus that took us to the gate where we got off and walked into the airport.

Once we arrived in Rwanda we received a message from the senior couple serving there, the Gilletts. They had planned to pick us up at the airport and take us to our hotel. The Zone Leaders were at the airport already to pick up the AP's, but the Gilletts were stuck in a traffic jam and instead called a shuttle from our hotel to pick us up. This weekend Rwanda is holding a summit, and all of the president's of all of the African nations are here in Kigali. The airport was SO busy, and apparently different roads would be completely shut down as different dignitaries were coming for the summit. The road that the Gilletts were on had been completely shut down, and there was no way they could get through to pick us up. There was even a problem getting a hotel room for us for the two nights we were staying. We stayed in two different hotels (which was totally fine).

We had an amazing zone conference! It's so wonderful when the Elders are prepared and the Spirit is able to flow freely. Everyone benefits from meetings like that.

Afterwards we had invited all of the Branch Presidents and their counsellors to a meeting. There is a special training coming up for the 3 Rwandan branches, and President Collings wanted to encourage them to help members come prepared, and also to invite their families, friends, and neighbors. They were very excited as the meeting ended, and I believe it will be a good experience.

The Gillett's helped us with everything while in Rwanda. They drove us to the different places, and were so kind. We developed an instant friendship with them. They truly are strengthening the branches in amazing ways in Rwanda. Saturday evening they took us to a Japanese restaurant. It was beautiful! Most of the restaurants we have been to in Africa are set outdoors with just a canopy over the top, or windows that are open to the outside. We haven't had any problems with flies or mosquitos like we have back home. I thought it was so funny, on the windows of this restaurant there were snowflake stickers! I'm guessing these people have never seen snow, but it still looked so nice.

On Sunday we went to one of the Branches and we had been asked to speak in church. This was a unique experience for us. We had been told that on this mission we may need interpreters sometimes when we speak. This was one of those times. Many of the members speak Kenyawandan, so everything was done in that language and English. When I stood to speak, a young man stood beside me with a hand microphone. I would say a sentence or two, and then wait while he translated it. I had felt the Spirit as I was preparing my talk, and felt that what I spoke on was needed, but I felt kind of disconnected. I hope it was something that benefitted people.  President Collings spoke as well. He actually was powerful. I really love hearing him testify of truth. After Sacrament meeting, he had two interviews with members of the Branch. I know this was an amazing experience for him. We have met the most amazing people here, and their life stories are incredible. While he interviewed, I decided to go to the Gospel Principles class. The teacher turned to me and said, "You understand we will not be speaking in English." I said I understood, and just sat in the class. It was different, but I could really see how much this teacher cared for each person in his class. He would ask a question and as they would answer, you could tell he was intently listening.

The interviews were completed by the time the class ended, and we quickly drove to the second Branch. He needed to set apart a new Counselor in the Branch Presidency, and Elders Quorum President. This branch was really great. I was able to have a conversation with some of the ladies. There is a couple living here from the US. He is from Utah and she is from Missouri. They are a young couple and are such a strength to the branch.

The new Elders Quorum president invited us over to his house for a visit. His wife was there. She did not understand any English. She had the biggest brightest smile I have ever seen. She actually has breast cancer, and they are planning to fly her to France for treatment. You would never guess she was sick. She just beams with joy. He studied to be a pastor, and through his studies said he could see there was something missing in his church. He searched for most of his life for the correct church. He says when he was approached by Elders, he just ignored them. He said he never talks to young kids, he doesn't have the patience for them. But he says they were persistent. After they taught him, he sent them away, and then  he had a thought. "You have looked your whole life for this, you should listen to them." Sure enough, he says this Gospel of Jesus Christ has all the things that were missing in the other churches he has studied.
He is a farmer here in Rwanda. As we left his house he brought out the BIGGEST pineapple I've seen, and gave it to President Collings. Then he pulled out another one and gave it to me. Then pulled out two more for Elder and Sister Gillett. They were AMAZING!

Rwanda is such a unique place. It's called the land of a thousand hills. There are no flat roads, you are either going up or down. The homes are built on the side of hills, and they look like they are stacked on top of each other. Everywhere you look there are homes, it's hard to see pathways between the homes. The driveways are so steep! But Rwanda is CLEAN. The people have one day a month that they are required to go outside and clean. I think they really take pride in their little nation. There are still humble homes, but a lot more nice homes. People drive on the right side of the road, instead of the left like most of Africa. There are traffic lights, and people obey them. I was very impressed with everything about this country.

 It's amazing how steep the hills are, and yet there are houses on every one. Incredible.  

This is looking out behind one of the churches here. you can see the roof of the house right behind it. Every house here has a view.

Flying home Sunday was a little bit complicated again. Because of the Summit, we went to the airport extra early. It was so fun, while we were sitting in the airport with the AP's, a woman approached us and said she couldn't help notice we were from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She said she is a member too, from Nigeria. She said her husband is in the Stake Presidency, and she is in the primary. She asked if she could take a picture with us. It was such a fun experience talking with her. She gave me a big hug before boarding her flight.

When it was time for us to board, we just sat in the airport. I think we boarded 1/2 hour late. Then we sat in the plane for another 40 minutes. The captain spoke overhead and said there were 2 VIP jets that had to leave before we would be cleared to go. It was a unique situation, but we didn't mind too much. Once in the air, the flight is only 40 minutes. By the time we landed and drove home, it was 12:30 am. A very long long day.

On Monday the Taylor's came and spent their last night here on the mission in our home. We went out to dinner with all the senior couples, and then went back home for dessert and testimonies. It was such a sweet experience. We have only known them for 2 weeks, but have really built a kinship with them. It's amazing how close you grow to people who you serve with, especially here in Africa. You start to realize that material things just don't matter. We also had a couple of Elders stay with us, who came into town from an outlying zone. It was a full house, which was really nice.

Tuesday our shipment from the United States arrived! I was so excited! I had family pictures to put up in my house! The walls are all cement in this home. There are a few nails, screws, or hooks embedded in the cement, but no way of putting in new nails or moving the ones that are already there. I was able to make do quite well, and I'm so happy to have some of my own things decorating the house.

I was also given some fun mementos from my dear friends at St Marks Hospital. I decorated my desk with them, and have had everyone from the office comment on them. It really means a lot to me.

Tomorrow we will be flying to Ethiopia to meet our missionaries there. I'm told it's a lot different than Uganda or Rwanda. I can't wait!

This has been such an adventure. I love the missionaries, and the other people I work with. The driving is coming along quite nicely. President Collings is understanding the new rules for driving here in Uganda, and I feel very safe driving with him now. Like everything else, it's different, but once you understand it, life is much easier.  I found out that the monkey sound I hear every day is a bird. I only had a couple of Africans laugh at me when I asked them... I should know that my husband is usually right.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Lehi's Tent

After a week of travel, we decided traveling several hours to a mission branch would be too much on Sunday, so we chose a branch in Kampala to attend. The Ntinda branch is near the mission home, and we were told it is held in a tent. I'm really enjoying all of these new experiences... Sacrament meeting in a tent? CHECK! I'm there!

It is in a good part of town, and was so nice. There is a tent set up for sacrament meeting and the Gospel Principles and Priesthood classes. Then there are a couple of small buildings beside the tent, one for Gospel Doctrine and Relief Society classes, and the other one for Primary.

The sides of the tent are open and the breeze just blows through. You hear birds in the background during the church service. I think everyone should worship in a tent at least once in their life. I was so happy we chose this branch because we ended up seeing some of the people we work with on a daily basis. One of our office admins, Suzan played the keyboard for the sacrament meeting service. That is the first meeting we have been to here in Africa that we had someone playing music! She does a wonderful job!! We also saw the sweet young lady who does the cleaning in our house, Jackie. She teaches primary in this branch. She also does an AMAZING job for us, but that's another story.

During the service, there were two sisters who were confirmed members of the church. I was so impressed with the Branch President, he explained to the members of the branch, that these ladies would need friends to help them to know where to go during church service, but also to understand things as simple as using their scriptures and the hymn books. He tried to help them understand that these ladies had made some dramatic changes in their lives, and would need help adjusting to a new culture in the Gospel. After their confirmation and the Branch President's remarks, we took the sacrament, and then it was time for talks. I moved up beside the newly confirmed sisters, because the speakers kept referencing scriptures, and I wanted to help show them where to turn in their new scriptures. I'd like to say it was my idea, but it was President Collings. He always seems to know what people need. They were so grateful when the meeting was over and both hugged me.

I really enjoyed Relief Society because it was Chapter 12 of the teachings of Howard W Hunter. Which is the same thing we have been studying in Grantsville. Each time I attend a new Branch, it just feels like coming home. The Gospel really is the same everywhere around the world.

We were able to talk with the missionaries serving in this Branch. They were each taking time sitting next to investigators or new converts, and helping them understand what we were being taught. There were 2 sister missionaries, and 4 elders. Really great young men and women.

At the end of the meeting I approached Suzan and gave her a hug. She asked how I like their building. I said I absolutely love it and she said, "We affectionately refer to it as Lehi's tent." I LOVE IT!! How perfect is that?? I just went to church in Lehi's tent! So fun!

This week we had zone conferences again, but they were each held in the mission home. The senior missionaries and Jackie our housekeeper have been helping each day with the meals. I'm so blessed to have them here! I'm not good at entertaining, as my family can attest, but they have really made things so nice for me. Jackie cooks rice and beans, and she'll buy pineapple and watermelon at the market for us to use, then the senior couples will make salads and a main course. I like to keep it simple, so on Tuesday and Thursday we bought pizza because they are buy one get one free.

We have continued to teach the same concepts at each zone conference. I am learning to love these missionaries!!! They are each so uniquely different. It's hard to take time to get to know each one, but just a simple question, "Tell me about your family." Brings the most amazing stories. I can't tell you how many Aftican missionaries tell me that they came on a mission as the only member in their family, or just them and one brother or sister, and are so excited because once they left on a mission their mom and sister, or mom and dad, or brother, or some family member joined the church. One young man told us that his parents were separated most of his life, and while on his mission, his mom and dad got back together and were  both baptized. He said he didn't believe it when they told him, but when he saw pictures, he had to believe it was true. He said he had wanted to return from his mission and start a family of his own, but now he wants to just be with his mom, dad, and siblings, and just FEEL the love in his home.

Kabowa Zone

It makes me so happy when they tell me that they were raised in the gospel. Most Africans are first generation Latter Day Saints. It's so exciting to see second generation Latter Day Saints here from Africa. Such a blessing. I feel guilty at times when they ask if I've seen the Salt Lake Temple. Those who have been to the temple, have been to Johannesburg. The Stake President here told me that he dreams to one day set foot in the Salt Lake Temple. We Saints from Utah really need to appreciate what we have. How many temples within an hour drive of downtown Salt Lake? And how many more within a day's drive? We are so blessed! There is a man here who is a counselor in a Branch Presidency. He was one who President Collings helped to renew his temple recommend. I don't know how many times he's renewed his recommend, but he has yet to be able to go to the temple. He told me he has saved enough for himself, his  wife and one of his children to go. He can't wait until he is able to save for the rest of them. In the meantime, he continues to live worthily, and carries a temple recommend that he may not use.

Kololo Zone

Not to be left out, our American Elders are incredible. I really think we are sent the BEST missionaries. This mission is far from home, and can be intimidating. We are sent missionaries who have strong testimonies of the Gospel, who are hard workers, and who are natural leaders. Each zone conference I think, why are all the best missionaries put together in the same zone? And then I get to the next, and they are just as faithful, and enthusiastic. I'm so thrilled to be able to get to know these missionaries, because I believe I am witnessing many future church leaders in their youth. I can't say enough about them. I have appreciated the way their families will not only support their own missionary, but are so supportive each other, and of their missionary's companion who may be African. Truly amazing people!

Nsambya Zone

I have had several people contact me about writing letters to our African Elders and Sisters who don't ever receive letters. When I went to the office and looked at how many there are who don't receive letters, I was overwhelmed. We have 137 missionaries. Roughly half are Africans. Most of them don't receive mail. I think if people are interested in sending letters to our missionaries, you can write one to either an Elder or a Sister and I'll make sure it is given to one who would absolutely love it. It's just too many to narrow down. It would make their day. We have missionaries who are serving in other parts of Africa, whose home is in Uganda. Our amazing senior missionaries make sure they get one letter a month. I'm so happy to know they care enough to take care of our missionaries who are out serving from Uganda. If you do send letters, please send them to:

Uganda Kampala Mission
Nakawa House, Ground Floor
Plot 7 Port Bell Road
P.O. Box 8989
Kampala, Uganda

This week, since I've finally been able to spend a little more time at home, I have tried to move around furniture and make this house feel a little more like a home for us. I'll put a few pictures up of some of the rooms people may not see unless they come stay a while.

This is an upstairs family room. It's a sanctuary away from everything else where Steve and I study.

This is a room where missionaries would stay. Mostly they stay with the other Elders and Sisters who live close by, but if we have a really big group, we can accommodate them here. 

This is our guest room for visiting General Authorities and other dignitaries.

Today was my first attempt at baking since I've been here. Nothing says home like homemade cinnamon rolls. Ingredients are a little different, but I was happy to see I can get good yeast along with most everything else I need. YUM!!

I have a couple of friends living here at the house with me.  I might need to name them if they stick around a while.

This is the biggest snail I have ever seen.

And this is my friend the gecko. I like him because I'm told he's there to eat all the critters I DON'T like.  However, when I'm in my kitchen at night and he goes running across the floor, he seems very much like a mouse, and I've caught myself whelping and running from the room... I'm still trying to decide if I really like him.

There is also a monkey somewhere in my yard... I think it's a monkey, but Steve says it's a bird. He makes noises all the time that sound like a monkey. I'm too embarrassed to ask the Ugandans that live here if it's a monkey or a bird. I think they'll just laugh at the silly muzunga!

That's it for this week. We are off to Rwanda tomorrow... the adventure continues!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Zone Conferences

Monday we started a tour of the mission. We drive a loop around the mission in Uganda and it takes us 5 days to visit the outlying zones. Then it will be another week of zone conferences at the mission home, and then fly to Ethiopia and Rwanda before we are done, but it will give us a great opportunity to meet all of the missionaries. On our first day here in Uganda we met all of the mission leadership at the mission office, and then we called the rest of the missionaries on the phone and introduced ourselves. We knew we would see them in the next few weeks, but really wanted to just say hello, and thank them for their service.

The first day of travel didn't start well, we woke up at 6:00 to get ready, and we had no water. Not hot or cold. We are getting skills at showering with bottled water!!

We left Kampala, and Steve got behind the wheel. It was good for him to be able to get a few hours of driving in. The drive throughout Uganda is absolutely beautiful!! I didn't realize that people still live in mud huts, but they were everywhere!! The cutest little huts, with curtains across the front door, and laundry hanging on the line. It's so green here!! And the huts are made with red mud, quite the contrast! The little villages seemed a lot cleaner than in Kampala. All along the road people are walking. There may be several miles between the villages, but the roads will be lined with people walking each direction. The ladies carrying bundles on their heads and babies on their backs, the men pushing bicycles loaded with bags of produce or jugs of water, and even children holding hands and walking along.

While driving to Gulu there was an area where the road was lined with monkeys and baboons. The AP's were in front of us and they stopped the car to take pictures. They later told us that they had never seen so many on the road in all the times they had traveled through that area. One of the Elders reached out the window to give a baboon a pass along card about the church. The baboon jumped really high in the air!! Almost as high as the car. I was really laughing, I think it scared the Elders a bit.

Further up the road we got our first glimpse of the Nile! Wow! It's beautiful!! We crossed it a few miles later. It's just amazing.

Once we arrived in Gulu, we checked into our hotel... Mosquito net and all... And then had lunch with the Elders. We ordered hamburgers. They were HUGE! We waited probably 45 minutes for our meal, but it was well worth the wait. The missionaries showed us where the Church building was and then they left to spend the evening with the missionaries in the Gulu area.

There are two mission Branches in Gulu. Each branch had a list of things they needed President Collings to do. He Reorganized a Branch Presidency  and called a new Elders Quorum President, did temple recommend interviews and priesthood advancement interviews. He met with about fifteen branch members from both branches combined. One of the Branch Presidents had set up meetings with two families, and asked that we go with him to strengthen these families. What an amazing experience. We met with two mothers who have been baptized and are working on going to the temple. Both had struggles they are going through, and both were touched by the Spirit as we bore testimony to them of the blessings of the temple. They both lived in homes that were surrounded by the cute huts!! Their homes were humble, but comfortable. We remove our shoes as we enter each home we go to, no matter how humble. Each time as we left, we asked if they would like to leave with prayer. Each time they asked "my sister" to pray... Which means they wanted me to pray. I was touched. It was a neat experience. The ladies here in Uganda are referred to sister or mama.

Our week basically consisted of traveling to a town, meeting with branch presidents. Strengthening them and taking care of any priesthood business in the area. Rolling into bed around 10-11:00. Waking up the next morning, having Zone Conference from 9-1:00, eating lunch with the Elders and Sisters in the Zone, and then travelling to the next town and meeting the branch presidents there. This was our entire week, Monday through Friday when we finally drove home. We woke up Saturday morning for another Zone Conference at the mission home. The days have been COMPLETELY full, and exhausting. But we have been really surprised. President Collings referenced a promise in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. In D&C 84:33 it states, "For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies." We have never felt that promise more than we have here in the Uganda Kampala mission. We truly are blessed!

For our first Zone conference in the mission We introduced ourselves to the Elders and Sisters, and then they were taught by President Collings and the AP's. They taught the missionaries how to recognize and follow the Holy Ghost while planning, finding, and teaching. The missionaries had been given some scripture references to study before coming to the Zone Conference. President Collings showed them the model of "Prepare to Learn, Interact to Edify, and Invite to Act". He talked to them about the example the Savior set. Throughout his life he "did the will of the Father." President Collings challenged the missionaries in each zone to find out what the will of the Father is for them individually, and then do whatever it is that they are inspired to do.

The missionaries are great! After each of the zone conference we had lunch together and then a few snaps. (Ugandan for taking pictures... I'm trying!)  It was fun finding out about each of the missionaries, and making connections. The world is a very small place in the Gospel!

I've learned to ask the missionaries to tell me about their family instead of asking specifics about their mom and dad. Many of the African Elders are orphans or are the only member of the church in their family. At lunch after a zone conference we had 6 African elders sitting around us at the table.  One spoke with us, asking how he can not be so depressed when his companion is receiving letters from his family, and this elder doesn't have anyone who will ever write to him. Several of the missionaries in the group nodded their heads as if they were wanting to ask the same question. President Collings was impressed to tell him that when his companions are reading letters from home, he should turn to the scriptures, and read them as letters from his Father in Heaven. His whole face lit up. It was hard to hold back tears. We truly felt the love Heavenly Father has for each of His children while we were talking with these young African Elders. Their lives are so difficult, and yet they are so happy.

I am so impressed with all the missionaries we have met!! They are very obedient, and many are becoming great leaders. We still have several weeks before we meet all of the Zones, but I will post the pictures of the Zones we met this week.

Gulu Zone

Lira Zone

Mbale Zone

Jinja Zone

Iganga Zone

Our Amazing Support in Jinja
Elder and Sister Taylor

Mukono Zone

This really has been an amazing week. I just have one more tidbit to add. Take it for what it's worth... THIS happened on this trip, and I am NOT a fan!  Haha!! Definitely not in Kansas anymore.