Since traveling to this mission, we have had to fly to Ethiopia twice, and Rwanda twice. The seats on the airlines are very tight. Very little leg room. The seats don't recline. However, we are served a full meal each flight. It's just usually the SAME full meal each time. South African Airlines had lots of space, reclining seats (as much as airline seats recline), and such great service. We felt spoiled from the moment we stepped on the plane until we arrived back in Uganda a couple of days later.
Once we arrived in Johannesburg, we felt like we were back in the United States. The hotel room was SO nice! The food was amazing! And we actually went freeway speed on a FREEWAY! It's been 2 month since we had any of these things.
Steve ordered a rib-eye steak. Look what they brought him! He said he could use the huge bone they brought him as a weapon!
It was so fun to see our friends from the MTC, the mission presidents from the DRC, Kenya, Zambia, Durban, Botswana, and Angola. It was fun to talk about each of our missions, and find out what we have in common, and the trials and blessings each one of us are experiencing. We all had a lot of the same questions, and the Area Presidency was so helpful and patient in helping us each understand what to do in different situations.
We had lunch in the home of the Area Presidency on both days we were there. It is such a beautiful area. The home sits on a hill overlooking the whole valley.
The temple is nearby. The grounds are absolutely beautiful with water features, and beautiful trails you can walk on. It was very peaceful, and we were totally able to relax and enjoy our time there. We went to dinner as a group as well, and again talked about our missions and families. We have really grown close to these people we are serving with.
On our last day we were able to visit with each department individually and learn their role, and how they can help us. We were able to ask any questions specific to our mission. It was very nice to put names with faces. We communicate with these people by way of email a lot. They are so helpful and kind. Seeing them in person was a real treat. As we were getting ready to leave the meetings one day, the receptionist said someone wanted to see us in the distribution center. We hadn't ordered anything, and we were kind of curious who would need to talk to us there. As we went inside, and woman came out from behind the counter, and said that she is sending her daughter to the MTC in just a couple of weeks. Her daughter will be serving in the Uganda Kampala mission. She just wanted to meet us. We talked with her for a few minutes, and she gave me a big hug. It was a real treat to be able to meet the mom of one of our future missionaries.
We left the meetings feeling renewed, and excited for the future of our mission. The Area Presidency cares very much for each of our missions and missionaries. They have so much experience, and were so thoughtful, and helpful. We are so excited that we get to work with each of them. It was hard to say goodbye to the other mission presidents and their wives. We can't wait to get together with them again.
A funny story. As we were going through security at the airport, I had my magnetic name badge on, and set off the metal detector, and had to be searched. President Collings came right behind me with no problem at all. We both commented on it, because usually he's the one to set off the metal detector. The lady working security said, "Of course you're okay! You're the PRESIDENT!" We all laughed.
Back in Uganda, and back to missionary life. Home feels more and more like home everyday. We had interviews with the Mukono and Kabowa Zones. They were both pretty large groups and took most of the day, which gave me a lot of time to spend getting to know the missionaries. I've tried so hard to remember to take pictures. This time I did it on a break, but forgot to do a group picture at the end. I'm glad I at least remembered a few.
About 3 weeks ago we bumped into an American couple here in Kampala. Both of our husbands were getting a haircut, so I had a nice conversation with this lady. We exchanged phone numbers and said it would be fun to get together sometime. We have been told that we need to have a date night each week, and a preparation day. We decided to go to dinner together with this couple. It was so nice! We get along so well with them. They have been here for about 6 months, and have kids here with them. She drives! It's giving me the courage to try my hand at driving. Steve has encouraged me to drive a few times... We'll see. We really enjoyed the evening, and have decided that we will try to go out with them frequently in the next couple of years. It's fun to have new friends.
For those of you that know me well, you will be surprised to hear that I have started cooking! There aren't very many things here that are convenient. There are no meals in a box, or creamed soups in a can. There are no cake or brownie mixes. And definitely no Rhodes bake and serve rolls! If we want a dessert, I have to bake it! If we want a decent, home cooked dinner, I have to make it from scratch. I know this is normal for many American moms, but I'm a "dump it" kind of cook. Dump in the mix and add water. Dump 5 cans of whatever into a crock pot for dinner. We do eat out a lot, but that doesn't work when you're trying to keep the Sabbath day holy. I have missionaries come over all the time, and they're ALWAYS hungry. It's just nice to have things for them to snack on when they come. I have made cinnamon rolls (which I have always made from scratch), Brownies, Chocolate Cake, Breakfast Casserole (I actually baked the potatoes, peeled them, and shredded them by hand instead of buying frozen, shredded potatoes), Lasagna twice, pot roast with mashed potatoes and gravy. It's mind boggling what you can do in the kitchen when you have no other choice! I do have to be creative. The ingredients here are NOT the same at ALL! The sugar is large granules, like a small rock salt. It's hard to "cream the butter and sugar" when it's granules. The brown sugar has these huge, hard clumps in it. I tried to pick out all of the clumps when I first started cooking with it, but I found out that when it's baking it ends up dissolving. So it's not too bad. The eggs have to be cracked into a separate bowl, just in case it was fertilized, and they didn't catch it. I've been warned, but never seen THAT yet. Anyway, those of you that know me may be shocked with this news. It's pretty fun.
That being said, I'm wondering how my cooking really is, because since we have been here, Steve has lost 15 pounds, and I have lost 10 pounds. I told him, Africa is just what our bodies needed! There are no preservatives or additives in the food. Everything is very fresh. No chemicals. We can eat, feel full, and feel really good!
Guess what!!! I DROVE today! It was AWESOME! We got in a bind after one of the interviews and didn't have enough people to drive the missionaries to catch a taxi home. President Collings had a meeting at the mission home that he couldn't miss. I guess sometimes we just have to jump in with both feet. Prayers were said by both me and my husband. It's Saturday, so the traffic wasn't terrible. I took 4 sister missionaries to the taxi station. I'm so HAPPY! It went so well, that while Steve was in the meeting, I went grocery shopping too! I have been a navigator for him for 2 months, and being behind the wheel wasn't too bad. I can do this!!
This week has really been a blessing. We are so happy to be here. No better place for us to be!