Sunday, September 4, 2016

Service in Many Ways

We had one last zone to go to for interviews, which was Gulu.  It is a 4 to 5 hour drive from Kampala. We decided to drive there after church on Sunday. We booked a room at Chobe again, and while driving there, realized we would not be able to get to Gulu, have interviews, and drive to our hotel room before they closed the gates for the night. So we moved our interviews to Tuesday, and enjoyed Monday at the lodge. We were able to see some fun animals, and relax after a long couple of weeks.

Sunset on the Nile when we arrived

Many Hippos in the Nile, they come out at dusk
Water Buffalo and Wild Boars just relaxing
Impala (I think)
We disturbed his wallowing

This curious guy was right outside our window

Sunrise at Murchison National Park

On Tuesday we had our interviews, and were really able to enjoy our time with the Gulu Zone. They are some great young men.

Wednesday was Mission Leadership Council. We had an amazing meeting. The spirit was so strong. We talked with them about our mission culture. The mission culture is not something that President Collings and I can control, it really comes from the mission leadership. We teach, and persuade, and set an example, and love, but then the Assistants, Zone Leaders, and District Leaders set the example for the other missionaries, and the choices of the missionaries makes up the mission culture. We started with the statement: In the Uganda Kampala Mission we... and then let each of the missionaries finish the statement. It was everything from "Have Fun", to "Baptize Families", to  "are exactly obedient". We talked with them about planning, setting goals, and having a positive attitude. We showed a portion of a talk given by Elder Neil L Anderson that talked about 5 things that all missionaries needed to do. Then it gave examples of leadership, and categorized a mission depending on which form of leadership they had.

The category that works best for missions is High Love, High Expectations. President Collings set the expectation high by saying that he believes every companionship can have one baptism every month. He also said that this is not a competition, and that some areas will see more success than others, but we are all on the same team, we should be excited when missionaries in other zones are doing well, because it's not about the numbers, but the individuals. We should all be helping each other to do better. There is never enough time to  get through all that we want to, but the meeting was enjoyed by everyone.

Afterwards we went to lunch at Nanjings, and the mission leadership all surprised President Collings by taking selfies on his phone. It was fun to get together with everyone, and the food was AMAZING!

We returned to the mission home with the Assistants. They always get together to discuss what could have been better or what went well after the different meetings. This time they started discussing the talk by Elder Anderson, and it became a really neat discussion. They started to talk about each of the categories, and really dive into where they think the mission is at. During this time some zone leaders had come back to the mission home, so there was a pretty good group having this conversation. One missionary said that our mission is a High Love, High Expectation mission. This is the quadrant we definitely want to be in. But then another missionary said he felt like we are trying, and it's going well, but he said a lot of missionaries fall into the High Love, Low Expectation category, that there is a fraternity attitude. The discussion changed to, if we want all of our missionaries to be in the High Love, High Expectation category, what do we need to do about it? They talked about how the Zone Leaders need to identify the missionaries who are struggling, and go help them. Help them find, help them teach, help them to see that this can be done, and THEY can do it. President Collings said that he was so confident that they would see progress by helping those who are struggling, that if after District Leaders and Zone leaders tried to help, if the missionaries are still struggling with success, he would personally go and work with them until they were able to see success. This is about helping "the one"  as Christ did, even if that "one" is one of our missionaries. Everyone needs to feel loved, and be lifted to his highest potential.  SUCH a good day!

Thursday we invited our investigators, Cassan and Alex over for a lesson with the Kololo Elders. We were so happy when, instead of two investigators, we had three show up. Cassan and Alex had been teaching their cousin, Silas. All three of them have studied the scriptures, and Cassan and Alex have prayed about it, and know the church is true. They both are planning to be baptized on September 11th. They asked if President Collings will baptize them. He is very happy to do this for them. Silas listened to the lesson for his first time, but is also saying he is interested in joining the church. They are being very careful to make sure he knows the gospel well, and is truly converted, but we are hoping that he will be baptized as well. Our missionaries have done such a great job of teaching them. We truly love these men.

Steve with Cassan
We have been speaking with one of our security guards, Agnes, she has been interested in the church, and has been trying to read the Book of Mormon. She said she was having a hard time understanding it, and reading it. She was sad because she thought she had to read all of it before she could be baptized. I had a Book of Mormon stories picture book that I thought would be easier for her to understand. She was so happy. Later that night, Martin, our night security guard was talking to us. He is always joking and happy, but we didn't think he was very spiritually minded. He walked into the guard shack and brought out the book I gave Agnes and said, "I really like this book!  It has so many good stories."  Steve asked if he would like one of his own, and he said yes. I said, "You know all of those stories are true."  He said, "I like it very much!" We were both pretty surprised, but happy to share the Book of Mormon stories with anyone who wants to read them.

Suzan is over Public Affairs for the church in all of Uganda. She worked with a radio station in Jinja before we ever came to Uganda, and arranged for President Collings and President Mbiru, who is the Jinja Stake President to be on a radio talk show. She and her team have been amazing! Members of the Jinja Stake had been asked to pray for them, because you never know which direction a live show will go. We arrived in Jinja and had a meeting with John, who would conduct the radio interview, and Meddy, who is the chairman/director of the radio station and a political figure in Jinja. They were both very kind, and really put us at ease. They have seen how the church helps others through service, and they said they have also seen that people don't understand the church. They just wanted to be able to ask questions and help people understand more about the church.

We went to the radio station, and John  spent an hour asking questions and taking phone calls from listeners. What are the core values of the church? What is your stance on education? What about domestic violence? What is the history of your church?

During the breaks they would play Mormon Tabernacle Choir music. It was AMAZING! The phone calls were all positive. Thanking the church for their service, and telling what good things the church has done. It all went so well. The radio station is heard in 16 districts, and they estimated at least 1,000 people listen in each district. They estimated that 16,000 to 20,000 people heard the interview.  After the meeting John thanked them for coming. President Collings put his arm around him and said, "Now that you have heard all of these things about this church, you should come to our meetings." He said, "I want to come to your church. I want to become a member of this church!" I think we can take care of that.

We spent Saturday doing a Jigger Service project. Before we started, we had to stop and pick up supplies in an office. We stopped the car to get the supplies and were surrounded by about 8 children. Steve and I got out and started to talk to them, and we took a couple of pictures. Steve grabbed a handful of candy and passed it out to them. Apparently, word spreads, because suddenly we were surrounded by SO MANY kids! They all wanted candy.  It was so fun!

The boy in the green shirt in the back, told me he's 20 years old. 

Once the news spread there was candy.

President Collings, Godfrey, and Elder Ford
After getting the supplies, we took off to the school where we would be doing the Jigger Project. Jiggers are small parasitic fleas that live in the dust  on the floors of schoolhouses and homes.
Over 90 children waiting to be cared for.

The children are usually barefoot, and these bugs burrow into their feet and lay eggs. The eggs grow to be pea sized, and the tissue around them dies, so it looks like a callus.  To do a Jigger project, we wash the children's feet and hands in water with bleach, soap, peroxide, and other chemicals.

We take a brush and scrub their feet and hands clean. Many children have it on their hands and feet, and some even have it on their legs and around their knees. Once they are washed, there are experienced ladies who will cut with a razor blade  where the skin is calloused, and immediately a white egg sack appears,which they pull out, or if it's deep, they use a pin and dig it out.

Then they have iodine and hydrogen peroxide applied to the wound. And finally they are given a new pair of shoes and socks, and an outfit.

We divided it into 4 sections. I got to help wash the feet, which was a very special experience.

The ladies extracted the jiggers in the next section.

Then Steve and Elder Ford applied the iodine and hydrogen peroxide.

And Suzan, who was responsible for setting this all up, got to give them new shoes and clothes. They looked so SMART as they left the building. The kids didn't understand English, so we really struggled to communicate, but they were so sweet. They knew we were helping them, and although you could tell that it hurt at times, they really didn't cry. I had one child around 10-12 years old that had a terrible case of the jiggers. It made me want to cry as I washed his feet. Just soaking them in the water was very painful for him. As I would wash just with a cloth, he would wince and pull away. Using the scrub brush was unbearable for me.

What a blessing to be able to get it taken care of before he is unable to walk at all. This was a VERY special day. If anyone comes to visit us here in Uganda, I highly recommend scheduling in a Jigger Project while you're here. It's such a blessing for you and for the children whom you're serving. And if you're washing the feet, you don't have to see the "surgery" being performed. It's just AMAZING.

We left Jinja and went to Lira for the night. There was a meeting in the morning that President Collings needed to attend. It was so fun to see our elders there in the branch. They had 6 baptisms today! What a blessing.


  1. I love reading about your mission experiences and takes me right back to my time there- thank you!

  2. What a beautiful service you perform there!! We love following you!!

  3. I'll have to do this when I come. Even though it terrifies me!