We have had such an amazing couple of weeks. After picking up Elder and Sister Wright (my parents) and spending a few days with them in Uganda, we packed our bags and took them to Rwanda. They will be replacing the Gilletts, who are returning home very soon. I am so happy to have them here, and really feel like they will enjoy the work, and be an asset to the members of the church in Rwanda.
We didn't get to spend a lot of time with them while we were in Rwanda. We had interviews and zone conference, which as always, was wonderful. They will be taught everything they need to know by Elder and Sister Gillett, and if they can't remember it all, the Lord will help them. I have no doubt.
On Saturday night we had Elder Ellis of the Southeast Africa Area Presidency in town. We went to dinner with Elder Ellis, his family, the Gilletts, and the Wrights. It was just nice to be able to spend quality time together. Elder and Sister Ellis are wonderful, and always make us feel so comfortable around them. We had such a pleasant evening.
Sunday was Easter, and Elder Ellis and his family were going to be in the Kigali 2nd branch. President Collings and I decided to join them. We also had the District President, President Opar there. Because there were so many visitors, the senior couples decided they would go to a different branch so they didn't overwhelm the Kigali 2nd branch. Our Easter meeting was wonderful. The spirit was so strong, and it was so nice to hear from Elder Ellis. The speakers for sacrament meeting were, the branch president, myself, the district president, President Collings, Sister Ellis, and then Elder Ellis. The biggest surprise was the number of people who attended the branch. There were about 125! The missionaries have said that they have never had more than about 90 people. They weren't told that Elder Ellis or President Collings would be there, they just came. There were 17 people who were investigating the church that day. It was so amazing to see. I think it was nice hearing from all of the amazing leaders, but what I liked best about the meeting was the focus on the Savior's life, atonement, and resurrection.
After church we had 3 women who were baptized. What a special experience to be baptized on Easter! It was a special day.
The theme for zone conference this transfer is focused on Jesus Christ, it's perfect timing with Easter so near. In Rwanda, zone conference was one of the most spiritual we have had on our mission. I guess that's what happens when you focus on the Savior. Our missionaries are trying to be more Christ-like, and it's making a huge impact on our mission.
We returned home from Kigali, and had to say our goodbyes to Elder and Sister Phelps. They have served in the Uganda Kampala Mission for 6 months, and have been such a great help to us. This is my least favorite part of our mission. I feel like I'm always saying goodbye. We have been so blessed to have them serve, but we are excited that they get to go home to their children and grandchildren.
At the same time, our missionaries in Ethiopia were having a wonderful time helping with a Youth and Young Single Adult conference in Addis Ababa. There were t-shirts, CTR rings and bracelets donated to the district. They had lessons on family history, and self reliance. They had pretty good attendance with almost 40 youth and young adults involved. The missionaries, district leadership, and youth leadership all came together and really made it a wonderful day.
Meanwhile, back in Uganda... I have a rat. Jackie came to clean my house and said, "MY SHOES!" We have noticed a few mice from time to time, and have put out a few traps. The regular mouse traps that snap down on them were not working. In fact, the bait would disappear every night, and it would never snap. We decided to put down glue traps. Still, we never caught anything. On the day that Jackie noticed the problem with her shoes, we definitely had something happen with the trap.
The trap was covered in hair and feces, the sides and corners of it were all chewed up, and Jackies shoes were chewed up so bad that she wouldn't be able to wear them again. Apparently, the rat got stuck on the trap, and fought his way off of it. He was very mad, and chewed up a few things for revenge. (That's my version of the story...haha) Well, we talked with John, who helps us deal with these same issues in the missionaries apartments, and he was great. He went right over to the mission home and put out poison. The next day, there were 3 mice outside the house that had died, and 2 others were found later... but no sign of the rat. Jackie says that he's a smart one, and he won't eat the poisonous bait. I'm not very excited to see or catch him... I'm kind of freaked out. I told my family and they were so sweet, they sent me these pictures and told me to sleep well.
I don't go to the kitchen alone at night anymore. Haha.
We are at an interesting point in our mission. In the next couple of months, we will be losing almost half of our missionaries. There was a huge group that came almost two years ago. They are such a great group of young men. They have been such great leaders in the mission, and now they are setting the example for and training a new force of missionaries. We keep wondering how we receive the very best missionaries in the world. We have been so blessed. Each time missionaries go home, my heart breaks a little bit. I'm not sure how I will handle the next few months. It really feels like I have 120 children, and when I send them home, it's like they are leaving the nest, and will start their lives. I just don't know if I'll see them again. It's such a blessing to get to know them, and so, so hard to say goodbye.
This week we have been having interviews with each of the zones. I just love the feeling we have in each of the areas of our mission. We have missionaries who are truly trying their hardest to be their best. Our mission scripture is Omni 1:26 Come unto Christ and offer your whole souls. It's been amazing to see missionaries take this to heart, and really do all they can... offering their whole souls to Christ as an offering. As missionaries catch that vision, repent, and do everything they can, they are learning that the Savior's Grace will make up the difference for them. They may work so hard and not have anyone interested, and then they will have someone just approach them on the street and say they want to know more about the church, or coming into the church on Sunday, asking to be taught. We are seeing this all over the mission.
We have been focusing on obedience, unity, and this month developing Christ like attributes. We have noticed more obedience, joy in service, and a new level of teaching from our missionaries. It's been a blessing.
I have a from our missionaries that I'd like to share:
This is in the words of one of our missionaries, used with permission:
We had a very nice opportunity this week. We were invited to a meeting of a group of people who worshiped Christ. It was kind of like a church but with no paid leadership they just invite people to come teach the group. It is held at a university in our area. We planned to take an return missionary named Billy who is a student from that university. On our way to pick him up we found two other missionaries, and invited them to come with us. When we first got there they started by singing and then baring testimony. During that time I was praying and felt peace about what would happen when we shared. After 30 min we were invited to come up and share something . When we began to teach the restoration to this group of ten. The spirt of the Lord filled that room. There was a huge difference from before to after. We saw the spirt touch the hearts of many of them. After we shared, Billy bore his testimony and shared his conversion. Then the other Elders bore their testimony. It was one of the most memorable experiences on my mission. The leader of the group came up and told everyone what we shared had a different spirt than what people have shared before. He wanted to learn more and invited the others to look into this more. One of the main ladies came up and asked something like how we taught with so much power. I told her because we teach truth. We set some appointments with some of the members.
We hear so many wonderful experiences from our missionaries every week. They are such fine young men and women. The people of Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia are so ready for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are just happy to be a part of this wonderful work of the Lord.