Friday, May 12, 2017

Mount Zuqualla and Table Mountain

It was that time of transfers that we travel to Ethiopia. We needed to have interviews and zone conference, and visit with some of the members in the branches.Now that we have interviews and zone conference during the same transfer, we stay longer when we go to the different countries. It's been nice to really get to know our missionaries better, and also to get to know the members better in Ethiopia and Rwanda. We are able to do preparation day activities with them each time, which is fun. But I'll tell more about that later.

For this visit, we arrived in Addis Ababa on Saturday night. On Sunday we attended church in the Meganagna Branch, which was really nice. We had about 70 people attend Sacrament meeting. During the Sunday School portion of church, we had a lesson on the Law of Consecration. Which is where the people give all that they have to the church, and then they are given back that portion that they need. All people have all things in common. This is a higher law that we don't necessarily live at this time as church members, but there have been certain times in modern church history, where the members lived the Law of Consecration. As the teacher (an American) was introducing this topic, he was trying to do an object lesson, he asked the members to just tell him what their most prized worldly possessions were. Hoping to help them understand that with the Law of Consecration, you would give everything, even your most prized worldly possessions to the church. Well, the list that the members of this branch made up was very humbling indeed. The first person said Bible, then Book of Mormon. One man said a pen. Others said plants, or a garden. Animals were also on the list. Some of us Americans gave our input... house, car, cell phone, etc. I'm pretty sure if I attended this same class somewhere in the United States, this list would have been dramatically different. It's amazing what we value most in this world.

I attended Relief Society, and had a pretty good sized group. After class, I was approached by the Relief Society President, Astede, and she invited us to her home for dinner. We were really busy Sunday Night, but we arranged to see her on Monday. She just moved to a new apartment, and we were so excited that she invited us to see it.

Sunday evening was full of interviews with the missionaries, and other members of the Ethiopia District.

On Monday, we got up very early in the morning and went with the missionaries on a pretty good hike. We hiked to the top of Mount Zuqualla, an inactive, Volcano that has a crater lake at the top. In the past there was an old monastery on an island in the middle of the lake. It's gone now.

 We drove the vehicles as far up the mountain as we could, and then we parked them and started hiking. We started our hike at 7,200 feet, and the top of the mountain was 9,800 feet.

All of the missionaries, Elder Harline, and President Collings did really well! I, on the other hand, struggled a bit. I felt bad that they kept having to wait for me. I guess I need to step it up with my exercise routine. But the hike was totally worth it! The views of the valley were spectacular. And at the very top of the mountain was the cutest little village!

We have several missionaries who were born in Ethiopia, and then were adopted to families in  the United States as babies, or young children. It's pretty fun to see how they interact with the native Ethiopians. Some remember the language, and some don't. They have only been in the country for a few weeks, and are trying to become more familiar with Amharic. It's funny because most of  their companions have  been in Ethiopia longer, and are able to communicate really well. The people from the village would come over and try to talk with us, and then turn to the Ethiopian missionaries, thinking that they would help with translation. Sadly, the missionary  would stare blankly back at them, because they didn't understand what they were saying. The older, white  missionaries would step in and start communicating, and it really threw them off. At one point, one of the missionaries who was adopted when he was a little bit older, started having a conversation with a small group of villagers. I could tell they were asking him about America. It was very sweet to see the camaraderie between these young men from the same country, but such different life experiences. They let me take a few pictures of them together.

We did finally get to the crater lake, which was nice. It was a much larger area than I thought it would be. There was a cross in front of the lake, painted in the colors of the Ethiopian flag. We were told that if we wanted to go past the cross to the lake, we would have to remove our shoes. We were happy with the view that we had, and didn't go any closer.

After seeing the lake, we got to see an Orthodox Church that was on the very top of the mountain. It was a very nice experience. It wasn't open for another couple of hours, but we enjoyed the outside of the building and the grounds. Several of the villagers followed us the whole time we were on the top of the mountain. We gained a few new friends.

As we were hiking back down the mountain we came across this goat... happily eating his dinner... on the top of a tree. We watched him for a long time, he would just move back and forth, eating all of the leaves off the branches of the tree. The young boy who was the shepherd was standing a short distance away with the rest of the goats. He thought it was funny too, but didn't seem too worried about it.

After the hike, we changed clothes, and went to pick up a missionary! Sister Dessalegn was called on a mission to England. There were some issues with her visa, so she was sent to our mission until they could work out the problems. She had tried once before to fly to Uganda, but had an issue in immigration. This  was taken care of, and it worked out that she was cleared to come, at  the same time we were in Ethiopia. So we stopped at her home and picked her up to take her back with us. It was very emotional watching her say goodbye to her mom and sister. She is a very sweet young woman, and will be a wonderful missionary. She has been raised by wonderful parents, and has a very strong foundation in the Gospel. Her mom was so kind to us.

From there we went to Sister Astede's  home. She had made us a wonderful dinner, and we had a great visit with her. Her apartment is very nice, and she has such a sweet neighbor. Her neighbor kept bringing up water, and just doing so many things to serve her. Sister Astede is such a kind, and faithful woman. She has a wonderful family and has been a strength to the members in Ethiopia. We were so grateful to have been invited to spend the evening with her.

Tuesday was zone conference. We had had some issues getting our Hawassa elders to Addis at this point. But by Monday night they were able to come, and on Tuesday, we were happy to be with ALL of our missionaries serving in Ethiopia. President Collings took time to interview the Hawassa elders, and then we had zone conference.  The zone conference was wonderful. The  zone leaders, Elder and Sister Harline, and President Collings and I all had the opportunity to teach. Our focus this transfer is on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The missionaries have really come prepared to the zone conferences, and it has been such a spiritual feast.

Ethiopia Zone

After the conference we had a wonderful lunch of beef stew, bread, and cake for dessert. Then immediately off to the airport to fly back to Uganda. We enjoyed having Sister Dessalegn with us. She was dressed in traditional Ethiopian clothing, and looked so pretty.

Back in Uganda, the traffic to the mission home was terrible!! Truly, the worst I have seen in the 10 months that we have been here. I was so grateful that Godfrey was driving. I would not have done well. We were happy to make it home safe and sound. That night we had Sister Dessalegn, and Elder and Sister Gillett stay with us at the mission home.

The Gilletts had one more day in Uganda. It's amazing how time flies. They were here for 18 months. They spent half of their mission with President and Sister Chatfield, and the second half with us. They have been such a great support to the members in Rwanda for the time that we have been here. They were here when Elder Bednar came to visit Rwanda, and arranged everything for him and those who came with him. They were always there for us when we came, and would make lunch for the missionaries when we would have zone conference. They would transport us wherever we needed to go when we would visit. And they were there to witness the new district organization in Kigali. They will truly be missed here, and we appreciate the amazing service they gave to this mission.

Elder and Sister Gillett

Elder and Sister Wittwer, Elder and Sister Gillett, and us. 

We had another surprise. The day after we brought Sister Dessalgen back from Ethiopia, her visa went through, and we were able to send her right to the MTC. The way it all worked out was a miracle, and we could see that she was doing exactly what the Lord wanted her to do. She will serve as a wonderful missionary in her new mission. We are so happy for her.

Wednesday through Saturday we had zone conferences for the North, Central, South, and Masaka Zones. We had Elder and Sister Wittwer come and help with some of the training, along with the Zone Leaders, Sister Training Leader, and President Collings. It was a wonderful week of zone conferences, again, centered on Jesus Christ and his atonement. I really believe that this transfer, the zone conferences have been some of the most spiritual of our entire mission. I know it's because we have centered the teachings on Jesus Christ and his atonement. All of the missionaries study before they come to the conferences, and I believe that they all felt the spirit as they came prepared to learn from the Holy Ghost. We are blessed with such GREAT missionaries!

Kampala Central Zone

Kampala South Zone

Kampala North Zone

Masaka Zone

We left right after zone conferences to the mission president's seminar. This time it was held in Cape Town, South Africa. This is such a wonderful time to meet with the Southeast Africa Area Presidency and "fill our lamps".  We spent time together as a couple on Monday seeing some of the sights of Cape Town. We had a few concerns back in the mission, so we felt like we needed to stay close to the phone to help with any issues that might come up. Thankfully, we were able to resolve the concerns, and by afternoon felt comfortable taking the tram up to the top of Table Mountain for the most incredible view! The Lord truly has his hand in this work, and blesses us every day.

View from our room. We could look out and see seals swimming all around the harbor.

View of my favorite guy!

A fun memory that Conner is on the other side of the world, looking at the ocean every day... a different ocean... but still a fun thought. And on this day, we are 11,526 miles away from our missionary. And on SUNDAY, I get to talk to him!! Can't wait!

Our son, pointing to us... right? 

He took a picture of me fighting the wind, haha!

This was a fun sign, we stood on Twelve Apostles Terrace! Haha

Looking down at the coast

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent in meetings. The Area Presidency and their wives took time to train us, and help us understand what we should be doing in our missions. We were able to talk to the other mission presidents and share advice with each other. Talk about what is working in the different missions. It's so nice to be able to spend time with people who are going through some of the same challenges as we are. It's also nice to see the blessings we are receiving all around. This was truly a wonderful experience.

On Tuesday evening, we all went on a sunset cruise. We went on a sailboat, and it was beautiful!! We both realize that we have acclimated to the weather in Uganda. which is usually high 70's to mid 80's year round. Apparently, it's autumn time in Cape Town, and the temperatures were in the 50's to mid 60's. We were SO COLD!! The whole time! Haha! It's pretty funny. I would have never thought I'd be that miserable in such pleasant weather.  When we went on the cruise, I wore one of my suits, and put a cardigan underneath. I also wrapped up in a wool blanket that they had on board. (I felt pathetic... haha)

It's hard to show in this picture, but there were birds EVERYWHERE! We were sailing right through them. It was really incredible! The view of Cape Town from the ocean was BEAUTIFUL! 

We could't ask for a prettier sunset. 

During this seminar, we actually had mission presidents who were new. We are not the newest mission president and wife anymore! That's such a weird feeling. We are almost a year into our mission! Wow!

Well, I could go on and on. We are back in Uganda now, tomorrow will be our last zone conference of the transfer. As I reflect on the last two weeks, I just feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for all the blessings we see. This is the Lord's work. We can't deny that he is involved in every aspect of the work. He loves his children. What an amazing adventure, to be here witnessing his hand in this little corner of his vineyard. There is nowhere else we would rather be.


  1. This is so wonderful to see the pictures you have in this blog. We have such fond memories of our time there. We miss our friends.

  2. Beautiful pictures, great write up, and a wonderful spirit. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I think often about how the Church has been in Ethiopia for more than 20 years and we only have 14 missionaries in a country of 100 million people.