On Tuesday we had a missionary return home to Uganda, and President Collings released him. It was too late for him to get home that night, so we had him stay in the mission home. We had planned to go study the next day with some of our own Elders, and found out that this young man was good friends with one of the Elders we were going to study with, so we invited him along. It was so fun to see this reunion of friends after two years. They will both be such a support to their branch when they go home. I love seeing the strength of these return missionaries. They are firmly rooted in the Gospel, and have become great leaders.
President Patrick of the Gulu Branch came over for the evening. We knew he had a girlfriend in Kampala that he is considering marrying. We offered to take them out to dinner if he would introduce us to her. To our surprise, after dinner, they came over to the mission home, where he proposed to her! Thankfully, she said yes. It was fun to be a part of this with them.
Thursday and Friday we had zone conferences. We combined a few zones, and our zones are larger now, so we decided to have it at the chapel instead of the mission home. Both meetings were amazing! The zone leaders are doing the training, and it's really neat to see them step up in their leadership roles. They did some activities that involved all members of the zones. President Collings focused on using all members of the Godhead in their planning and goal setting, and taught about how to utilize the Savior's Grace.
We are still working on our goal of 12 baptisms by the end of the year. Our prayers for people to approach us, have really been working. There is a couple who have been searching for the true church, they are very spiritual people. Their niece has started to introduce them to the Gospel, but thought that they would appreciate hearing about it from people who are more their age, so she approached us... Haha. They are both retired from their jobs, he is an attorney, and is working now as a consultant, both in their 60's. I guess we are closer to their age than the young missionaries. Anyway, we went and spent some time talking with them about the Gospel, and answering any questions they have. We invited them to come watch General Conference, and they were excited to come. We have had 2 baptisms, and with our missionaries, we are working on 7 investigators. It's so nice to see that, even though we are busy, Heavenly Father knows the desires of our hearts, and is helping us to reach the goal we set.
We left immediately after zone conference on Friday to go to the mission branches in Gulu and Lira. We thought it would be nice to watch a session of conference with each of the four branches. As we were driving the dirt road to Chobe lodge (which is right between the two cities) we came across our first elephant! It was so fun!
We made it to Gulu on Saturday morning and the Elders set up the projector for us to watch the Saturday morning session. Between sessions, President Collings had about 7-10 interviews, and gave 4 temple recommends.
The Gulu branch continued to watch the second session of conference, but we were disappointed that the other branch was not playing it. Sounds like maybe next week. On Sunday we went to the two branches in Lira, again expecting to watch conference. The first branch did not have it set up, and guess who ended up speaking in Sacrament meeting... Haha. It was a blessing, the branch doesn't have missionaries anymore. They have been moved to the centers of strength in Kampala and Jinja. The branch president asked President Collings to please bring back the missionaries. President Collings asked how many missionaries had been pulled out of their branch. The answer was four. Then he asked how many return missionaries live in the branch... nine. Then he asked how many active members of the church live in the branch... 64. He pointed out that nine return missionaries, and 64 branch members could do a lot more than just four missionaries. Then he spoke about how the church is founded on apostles and prophets, with Christ being the chief cornerstone. The church is not founded on the missionaries, and a branch is still able to support itself without relying on the missionaries. He was able to lift their spirits, and build some excitement for reaching out to their less active friends and neighbors, and even teaching new investigators. We left after Sacrament meeting to try and catch the final session of conference. To my disappointment, they were not watching it either. We had missed sacrament meeting there, but they combined priesthood and relief society, and President Collings spoke again, and tried to encourage the branch to reach out to those who are less active.
Sunday was Independence Day for Uganda, and the numbers at church were very few because of the holiday. Hopefully next week there will be many members there, AND they will be able to enjoy conference. For me, I'm grateful for technology, and only have one more session to watch.
For preparation day today, the Gulu Zone decided to come see the animals here at Chobe. We decided that a game of volleyball would be fun. It turned into about 5 or 6 games, and I think we all had a good time playing volleyball in the jungle, surrounded by wild animals, on the shores of the Nile. Life is good!