Six months ago we wanted to go to General Conference in the mission branches, Gulu and Lira. We were only able to watch one session out of the 4 general sessions because of some logistical problems. We did watch them on our own over the following weeks. This time we heard that all of the branches were able to watch it on the weekend after conference, which made us so happy. We decided that this time we wanted to actually experience General Conference in the Stake. Because our day starts so much earlier than it does in Utah, we wouldn't be able to watch the first session until about 7:00PM on the actual day of conference. This is pretty difficult, so conference is recorded and we watch it the following weekend. We did get a few spoilers over the past week, the most exciting was that a temple was announced in Nairobi, Kenya. We went online and watched a few talks here and there, but there's something special about just sitting down and watching the entire block of conference sessions.
We were able to watch the Saturday sessions on Saturday, the 8th of April, in the mission home. Then on Sunday we spent the time at the chapel. Each of the wards have a DVD of the conference broadcast, so each shows it in place of their usual Sacrament Meeting. We were at the Kololo Ward. I was surprised with the number of people who attended. The chapel was full for the first session, and a little more sparse for the final session. They showed the priesthood session at 8:00AM. We had actually watched it on Saturday night. Then they showed the morning session at 10:00, followed by the afternoon session at 12:30. The things that were said are so relevant here in Uganda, and I'm sure that is the case all over the world. It was wonderful to hear from President Monson. I loved that he spoke about reading the Book of Mormon daily. That is something that we see the importance of here as missionaries, but it's also so important in our individual lives. It helps us gain such a strong understanding and testimony of Jesus Christ and this gospel. Then his talk on kindness and charity to the priesthood brethren was perfect. Such simple doctrines that make such a big difference!
I loved hearing Elder Holland talk about singing in the choir, and that "Jesus listening can hear the song I cannot sing". That has always been a special verse to me. Many of the talks were centered on the doctrine of Christ: Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. I especially loved the talks about the Holy Ghost and the Godhead. It's something that I have understood, but I realize that this is a new concept for so many in the world. It's a wonderful blessing to understand the role of the Holy Ghost in our lives. Also the thought that "It's not about us." We have been trying to teach this to our missionaries, and to hear President Uchtdorf teach about this was wonderful. Obviously, I could go on and on. What a blessing to be able to listen to a prophet's voice and hear the word of God. The knowledge that this is his church, with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone should give us so much comfort. There is a lot going on in the world, but we have the peace of knowing that we are being led and guided by the Savior himself as we listen to and obey the prophets and apostles.
After church, we invited Elder and Sister Wittwer over for dinner, along with a return missionary and a young woman who he is teaching about the church. We had such a lovely time talking with them, and really enjoyed bearing testimony of the Book of Mormon and this church to her. She knows it's true, and says she is planning to be baptized. It's so wonderful to see the faith of the people in our mission. When they hear about the restoration, they believe it, and are anxious to join the church.
This has also been a week of anticipation. When we were first called on this mission, my parents were serving a two year mission in Baltimore Maryland. We approached them about serving here in this mission, and they said how excited they were about possibly serving in Africa. They wanted to, but didn't want to impose on us. We assured them that we would love to have them, and it was no imposition. While still serving their mission, they put in their papers again, and requested to serve in the Uganda Kampala Mission after their Baltimore Maryland mission was over. I thought this would be a neat thing, but was not very confident that they would actually be called here. In the time we have served here, we have had many couples put in their papers requesting to come, and all of them have had health problems that caused them to be re-assigned to other missions. This mission is very safe, but I don't think they want to take any chances. When my parent's call finally came, it was to this mission! We were so happy! They finished their mission at the end of January, and then took their time traveling to visit each of their kids and some other family members and friends. On April 3rd they went to the Provo MTC, and they will be arriving in Uganda tomorrow! I can't believe it's here, and they are actually coming!
Tuesday we were able to pick up our missionaries at the airport. We had 4 come in from the Johannesburg MTC. One from the United States, two from Zambia, and one from Zimbabwe. We had such a great group of missionaries come! The two sister missionaries said that while they were at the Johannesburg Airport, they gave out a lot of pass along cards, and a few pamphlets. I was really impressed that they already started missionary work on their way to the mission. The missionaries all came back to Kampala, and went out knocking on doors with the missionaries in Ntinda. I was told that the new elders are POWERFUL! Haha. That's good news!
We went back to the airport to pick up our new missionary couple coming from the Provo MTC. My Parents! It was such a fun reunion. This is the first time I was able to hug and kiss my new missionaries as they come into the mission. I was getting restless waiting for them go get through immigration and the baggage claim. When they finally came out, both President Collings and I were so happy and excited! I'm considered the "mission mom" here. Suzan from the office thinks it's so funny that I'm the mission mom to my own mom. She keeps laughing about it which makes me laugh.
We had orientation on Wednesday with the new missionaries, new senior couple, and it was the Wittwer's first time training. They did a great job, and I think the missionaries were given a good boost before they go into their new areas.
Thursday was farewell dinner and testimonies for our departing missionaries. We had 12 going home this transfer. One from the United States, and the rest from Africa. Suzan and Jackie made an authentic Ugandan dinner, which they all loved! Then we had a wonderful testimony meeting. These missionaries have the potential to be great leaders in the church some day. It's such a blessing to know them all, and very hard to say goodbye.
Friday was Mission Leadership Council. This transfer we changed things up a bit. We consolidated a few of the zones so that they coincide with the stake that they are located in. This meant that two of the zones that were strattling two different stakes were divided, and merged into the zone which coincided with the stake they are in. We went from 10 zones in the mission to 8. Things look very different here. Mission Leadership Council (MLC) was smaller because of the two zones missing, but wow, what an amazing group of leaders!! We ended up focusing most of MLC on Jesus Christ and his atonement and attributes. It felt very appropriate being so close to Easter, and the spirit was very strong. We have such strong leaders in this mission.
Life is good.