We had interviews this week, and in the past we have had the whole zone come in and had some training and lunch, etc. However, with the new schedule, we will also be having zone conferences in just a couple of weeks. We decided to set it up where each district will come in for their interviews, so they will just have one hour out of their day instead of four or five. I enjoyed the smaller groups of missionaries. We had a steady stream of them coming in a few at a time throughout the day, and then they would go back to their areas, and get a full days work.
On Thursday, we had all of the zones that are around the Kampala area come in for a special Missionary Worldwide Training broadcast. It was very uplifting to hear from the heads of the missionary department, including 3 Apostles, and see that they really care about each of the missionaries throughout the world. They helped our missionaries understand the direction they want them to go in teaching people. It's not new, just reinforced what they have been taught since their missions began. Then they presented a new schedule for all the missionaries. It just gives them an outline, and gives them the flexibility to plan their day around their own schedule. It says what needs to be accomplished, and gives the missionary the autonomy to work out how they want to accomplish everything throughout the day. It also gives them more time to sleep, and more time on preparation day to accomplish all the requirements and activities of the day. Then they told the missionaries that they will no longer have nine key indicators. They have changed it to 4 key indicators that they will have to report each week. I think the missionaries are excited about the changes.
After the broadcast, President Collings and I met with 3 return missionaries. They left from a branch in Juba, and after their missions, they came to Kampala because of all the political unrest. President Collings receives phone calls all the time from people in South Sudan, or from there. They are all anxious for the church to come back and start up a branch there again. During Fast Sunday in January, we requested that our missionaries, as part of their fast, ask that we might be able to start the work in South Sudan again. Of course, many of the missionaries are asking President Collings if they can be the missionaries that go to South Sudan. Well, the answer came back that, no, we can't start it yet. We need to continue to wait on the Lord's timing. We know it will happen, but need to wait for a little more stability in the region. We met with these return missionaries and told them our thoughts on the church in Juba, and they were all so positive. They said that they thought this would be the answer, and are willing to wait on the Lord's timing. When it does open up, wow! There will be some young men who will be fantastic leaders in that area of the church.
We continued our interviews for the rest of the week. When we went to Entebbe, after meeting with the missionaries, I had to snap a picture of them preparing the font for a baptism the next day. There has been some rain storms, so they were using the mops to clean out the dirty water in the bottom of the font. Good, hard working elders.
On Sunday we visited the Seeta Branch, and had been asked to speak. The Branch President is the office manager of our employees in the Mission Office. We know him very well and truly appreciate all he does for us and our missionaries. We were so excited to see him in his leadership role in this wonderful branch. I spoke on the blessings of reading the Book of Mormon as a family, along with daily family prayer. President Collings spoke on the blessings of the temple, and encouraged those who haven't already gone, to prepare to go to the temple. We really enjoyed the spirit that was there. The people were so kind to us. After the meeting, President Okello had us all gather together outside of the church for a picture with the entire branch.
These are our missionaries serving in the Seeta Branch.
After sacrament meeting, our missionaries asked if we would come with them to visit a couple who have been investigating the church. The wife has been baptized,, and the husband is being taught now. They hadn't made it to church, and the missionaries wondered if we would try to uplift them, and help them with any questions they might have. It was such a wonderful visit. They are a great couple, and have two children. When we first walked up to the house, their daughter, who is just over a year old, saw us and immediately ran over to her mom and started crying. Every time we would look her way or say anything in her direction, she would bury her face in her mother's chest or just cry. Her mom said it's the first time she has ever seen a muzungu (white person).
During our meeting with this family, we focused on unity. We talked about how all couples have challenges and need to just learn to be flexible, and humble, and if we focus on the same goals, we will be able to face any challenges that come our way. They were very gracious, and I think they were very happy we came.
Later that evening, we had some missionaries coming over to the house. They were bringing a woman and her friend with them who was interested in the church, and they wanted us to talk with her, and again answer any questions she might have. They say she is a minister, she has studied the Bible a lot and could see that the different churches didn't have all of the correct truths. She was reading in the Bible one day, and said she turned to Matthew 28:19-20. She believes that God called her to be a missionary. She started going door to door and preaching from the Bible. People started to believe the things she was saying, so they came and worshipped with her. She now has 3 congregations. She still goes door to door, and has been doing so for 13 years, and still searching for the true church. She had a dream about a foundation, and there were churches built around this foundation, but the corner of the church only touched where the foundation was, which told her that none of the churches are on the correct foundation.
One day as she was going door to door, a member of one of our bishoprics answered. As she was talking to him about the teachings from the Bible, he said he agreed with her, and invited her to hear more from the missionaries. She taught herself to speak English, and is very well read in the Bible. The things the missionaries have told her, she believes.
When she came to our home, we were able to teach her about the Restoration. She said that people think we worship Joseph Smith, but she said, "He has the same story as me! He was just searching for the truth." The only problem she is having with joining the church is that she has 3 full congregations of people, and she feels like a mother to them. She wants them all to come to our church. We told her that she first needs to gain her own testimony, and that we would teach them all one by one so that they each can gain their own testimony as well. We read from the Doctrine and Covenants 11:21 where it says to "Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed." She understood, and said she would come to our church. I know it was a very hard decision for her. If it's true that she has that much influence on 3 congregations of people, it will be amazing to see what she will do, if she is baptized.
One funny story about this meeting. We invited them to have dinner with us before the lesson. They were happy to join us. I made roast, potatoes, carrots, a salad, and green beans. It tasted pretty decent. Everyone around the table ate it, but the two ladies dished up just a very small amount. When we asked if we could give them anything more they said no, they had enough. At the end of the meeting as we were saying goodbye, one of them said, "I have never had muzungu food! This is my first time EVER." I told her that I hope she enjoyed it. She just kept saying it was her first time. Haha. Oh well
We had a group of dentists come from the United States, and offer to fix the teeth of any of our African missionaries. What a blessing that they would offer this service. They said that this is their 8th year coming to do this. I asked the Assistants to the President if they would call and see which of our missionaries might have pain and need to see a dentist. They came up with 13 names. When we gave these names to the dentists, they were disappointed. I guess in the past there have been 50 or 60 that they helped. So we decided to bring in the African missionaries who were the closest to Kampala, and have them checked. Many of them were quite new, and have only been here for a few months, so I was pretty sure they didn't need any dental care. Boy was I surprised. I came in at the end of the first day, and each missionary that I approached, I would ask how many cavities they had. One that just came this last transfer had 9, another who was quite new had 8. There was one who was older on mission who had 11. But to my surprise, the most I have heard was a missionary who had 22 cavities. These were missionaries who were new, and didn't say they had any pain. A lesson learned for me. I hope they continue to come each year. What a blessing for our missionaries.
We had another worldwide training in Jinja. I really think the missionaries are excited about the changes. We also had a few more days of interviews. And ended the week with a trip to Ethiopia for our final interviews and training. We are blessed to have such wonderful missionaries in the Uganda Kampala Mission. I say it a lot, but I continue to be amazed at all the good they do.