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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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!