Sunday, July 3, 2016

Studying and Teaching with the missionaries

On Friday, President Collings arranged for us to go spend some time in the trenches with the missionaries. I went with two sister missionaries, and he went with two Elders. We participated in their morning companionship study and then went on a couple of lessons with them.

When I went with the sisters, I was so amazed with how diligent they were. They talked about the things they had been studying that morning, and how it made them feel and the lessons it taught them. Then they talked about each of the investigators they would be teaching that day, and what their plan would be. They talked to me about how sometimes things will change, and they have to change the lesson to fit the person's needs. They seem so mature in the gospel. One of the sisters is a Sister Training Leader and will be going home in two months. They were both really sweet.

Sister Shongwe and Sister Randrianandrasana

We had to walk to our appointments. Kampala is the city of seven hills, and those hills are steep. The roads we were on were all dirt, but there was quite a bit of traffic on them so the dust was really bad. Each home we went to, it didn't matter how humble it was, we removed our shoes before entering. Some didn't have any doors or windows, just cement floor and walls with a metal roof. As we were leaving one home, I realized there was a bush with beautiful red flowers all over it. I hadn't noticed because the bush and flowers were all the color of the dust on the road. The mother had two Dutch oven style pots with charcoal on top of them, cooking right outside the door, but the pots were the size of a small saucepan. The people were all so kind. They all have such strong beliefs in God, and want to follow him. They are just trying to find the right way to do that. It is so interesting to see that these people who have so little are so happy. Their faces just light up with smiles.

I snapped a few pictures on the way home from our appointment. These are new homes, each is divided in half, and two families live in each one.

This is the same development, but the homes have been around long enough to have rusted ceilings.

Driving down the road, just a few miles from my home, these are local shops and places to eat.

President Collings met with Elder Carter and Elder Darco. He says the are both excellent missionaries. It was good to feel the power of priesthood keys again. It was a great teaching opportunity during the companionship study. They had two amazing lessons. Both Elders did an excellent job. Their investigators Jonas and Lillian are both scheduled to be baptized. He also had one of the AP's with them, Elder Robinson. He says he can already tell he's an excellent elder.

Today was Saturday. We have zone conferences coming up next week, and will be traveling to different areas throughout Uganda. President Collings wanted to meet each Branch President and Stake President while we are in the area. He decided to call each one individually and work out a time to meet with them. As he was sitting down to make the phone calls, his phone rang. It was one of the Branch Presidents. He told the Branch President that he would be gone all week, but when he said we will be in Gulu on Tuesday, the Branch President said he would be there. He tried to tell President Collings what he needed, but no matter how hard he tried, Steve couldn't understand what this man was saying. He didn't know which Branch President it was, or actually where he lives. He was very frustrated, and just asked him to please send him an email with what was needed, and he would do whatever he could to help. Once he hung up the phone, President Collings said, "I'm in trouble. I can't understand anything he said." He was taking so fast, with such a strong accent, and the phone was not a very good connection. There was no phone number on his list that matched the one that had called from, it was very frustrating. He decided he needed to say a prayer before he tried to call anyone else. After the prayed Steve again started to dial the phone. We was able to reach every President and arrange to meet them all. Once he was finished talking to all of the other Branch Presidents, the first one that he had spoken with sent him an email. He was able to understand everything that was needed, and arrange meeting with everyone for next week. It really was a miracle, and we feel so blessed. Elder and Sister Goodwin said it takes a little while for us to get our "African Ears" working. I actually haven't had any problems understanding people here except when they talk to each other in some Ugandan dialect, which they do a lot.

We have appreciated our senior couples so much!! Driving has been an issue here. Steve is getting better, but we are still learning our way around. The Goodwins have taken us under their wings, and we are so grateful. They have taken us to several grocery stores, a couple of restaurants, and even the mall! They have taught us how to drive, and how to  pay for our dinners at restaurants. They brought us a filter for the water in our home, and have treated us so well. I feel like a child here trying to learn this new culture, but they have become friends that we will cherish forever!

Speaking of driving. I will not drive here. I'm good with that. All of the vehicles are stick shift, you drive on the left side of the road, and the traffic is horrendous! With all this in mind, Steve has driven us home from the office twice. The first time we followed Elder and Sister Goodwin, and the second time we followed the AP's. We are so focused on all the craziness around us, that even though it's only a couple of miles, we had never learned our way from the office to our home. I don't know how long it will take to actually feel like I know my way around here, I hope it's soon. If you need to turn across traffic going the other direction, you just ever so slowly push your nose into the traffic. Once you get far enough out that the other cars HAVE to stop, then it opens a floodgate of cars turning across that road until those who are going straight push their nose in far enough so that the turning cars HAVE to stop. Meanwhile the bota-botas just slip in and out between vehicles, going against traffic, and every which way.  You have to look EVERY direction or you could hit a bota-bota. Now try to deal with all that traffic while you're turning onto the wrong side of the road. Every time Steve tries to turn on his blinker, the windshield wipers turn on instead, because that's backwards as well. It is getting much better, and the missionaries that are here really do an amazing job. We just really appreciate them, and their patience while we learn.

Funny story. We had a leak in our bathroom. I walked in there one day and there was water all over the floor. I spoke with Phillip, our gardener, and he said he knew the plumber who had worked on the house before we came. The very next day Phillip brought this plumber in to fix the leak. He is a member of the church here in Kampala, and acted so excited to meet President Collings, it was so sweet. I have fixed plumbing issues many times in our homes. You turn off the water where the leak is, and then replace the broken part. Then you turn it back on and check for leaks. This was NOT how is was done. The leak was at the knobs where you turn on the shower. He removed the knob and the water just ran full force out of the open hole where the knob once was. He came out with the part and said he had to go buy a part and would be back. Then he left, with the water still running in the shower. He came back and fixed it about an hour later. While he was gone, there was no water pressure at all in the house. Steve hadn't showered yet, and even though he would be using a different bathroom. He wasn't able to shower. He just used bottled water. It was pretty funny. Once the shower was fixed, the plumber came out, shook our hands and said goodbye. He was sopping wet from his knees down. Definitely a great memory.


  1. Oh my heavens, what an adventure! I'm sure you will be saying that a lot. A sense of humor will be important. Love you guys!

  2. Wowzers! Culture Shock!! That driving sounds really crazy.....much like driving in Mexico....or Rome for that matter. It's a double whammy though, having everything on the opposite side of the car and the road! I'm glad you both got to actually go in to some investigators homes. What a special experience! Rick and I are daily preparing for our time to be there:) 93 days and counting!! .....but I'm not sure we can FULLY be prepared for all that's in store! With the Lord's help we can do anything!!