Saturday, June 10, 2017

Gathering with the Saints

We were able to go to Ethiopia over the weekend. It's always so nice to visit the saints in Ethiopia. We met with the missionaries for zone conference and interviews on Saturday, and enjoyed a wonderful pasta dinner made by Sister Harline. On Sunday, we went to church at the Meganagna branch.The branch president there is moving away, and it was fast Sunday, so after church the branch had a Break the Fast Lunch. It was wonderful! Everyone brought food, and there was so much! We had a feast! And enjoyed everything! At first I was worried because people were filling up their plates so full, but it didn't matter, there was plenty for everyone.

It was so fun to sit out on the lawn with everyone and just socialize. There are such great people in this branch. President Collings always has interviews and meetings when we are here on Sunday. I was able to sit with some of the ladies in the branch and just have a great conversation with them.

That evening we visited Sister Esther and her family. She has 4 children. They were baptized right before we came on our mission, so it's been a year for their family. They are still very active in the Gospel. As we met with them, their son, who is 14 years old kept asking President Collings questions. You could tell by the questions he asked, that he really studies the scriptures, and church manuals. He is very bright, well, all of her kids are very bright. They all joined in on the discussions. They really know the Gospel. It was such a fun evening. Ester made a wonderful meal for us. We will never get tired of injera and wot. The food was amazing.

On Monday, President Collings and President Harline played basketball with the missionaries, which was so fun to watch, and then we flew back to Uganda. Looking forward to our next visit, where we will enjoy District Conference again.

We spent this week doing interviews in Jinja. All I can say is the missionaries are doing so well. They are so positive, and are seeing such wonderful things this transfer. We have called this transfer, the transfer of miracles. The missionaries are putting forth their very best effort, being exactly obedient, and having faith that Heavenly Father will make up the difference. Throughout the mission, they are seeing miracles.  A few of the missionaries have shared some stories with me that I asked them if I could share on this blog. Here are a couple of fun stories:

Missionaries in Ethiopia had a man approach them. He used to be a theologian, and worked teaching at different churches all over Ethiopia. He quit his job and became disinterested with all the churches because he could see they were doing wrong things. He explained that he heard about the church from a friend. He decided to go online and research the church. He went to,, and other websites that were negative towards the church. He said that everything he read made him want to find out the truth from the missionaries. He had read all of the lessons that the missionaries teach, and they said, HE pretty much taught THEM about the restoration of the church. This man really wanted a copy of the Book of Mormon, but the missionaries said they would give it to him on Sunday if he came to church. When he left the lesson, he couldn't stop thinking about the Book of Mormon, so he found a copy for himself and started to read it. When the missionaries invited him to be baptized, he said, "Absolutely, I was already planning on it."  The missionaries gave him a date for baptism, and he said, "100% absolutely!"

Missionaries in Rwanda received a random phone call late at night. A man said he wanted to meet with the missionaries really bad, right now. They said they could meet the next day at 3:00. The next morning at 7:00, he called again and asked if they were still planning to meet with him. Of course they were still planning to, but then he asked if he could bring a friend with him. When they met he said that someone had given him a card. He looked online and really liked the things he saw. As the missionaries taught the lesson, the first man asked a lot of good questions, and was very involved in the lesson. His friend was very quiet the whole time. They felt like the lesson went really well, and at the end, the quiet one asked if he could talk with them. He said, "What you have taught is true!" Of course the missionaries were very happy to hear this. Then they were shocked as he continued. He said that he was a pastor from a church that he had organized himself. He was concerned that all this time he had been teaching his congregation incorrect doctrine, and asked what he could do to make it right. The man decided that he would go to his congregation, and invite all of them to church. There are about 40 people in his congregation. 

Missionaries in Uganda had a woman who had been previously taught the gospel, but stopped coming to church, and was never baptized. The missionaries contacted her again, and throughout two transfers (12 weeks) they were struggling to see her progress.  During one lesson, the missionary was prompted to ask her if she had a personal testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. She simply replied that she has not gained a personal testimony yet. Following this, she would always ask for scriptural evidence as to any lesson they would teach her. The missionaries prayed for guidance as to how they could help her to gain a personal testimony by using the Book of Mormon. They decided to buy her a large size triple combination because her vision is impaired, and they began to read the Book of Mormon with her twice a week. They focused on the Doctrine of Christ, and helping her understand the importance of repentance and baptism for the remission of sins. They knew this would require constant effort, love, and support. Within just a few weeks, they began to see her faith and testimony grow each day. They extended an invitation to be baptized and this time she accepted, and was baptized. 

Such wonderful and motivating stories from our mission! 

While we were in Jinja, President Collings convinced me to go on a walk with him. He goes running every morning outside, and has really enjoyed going out and exercising, whether it's in Kampala, Jinja, Ethiopia, or Rwanda. I have not been as consistent. But we went for a walk. From the hotel to a recreation park called The Source of the Nile, is about 2 1/2 kilometers. We have been here for about a year and have never been to this place. The walk was beautiful! It's so green here, and the trees are so large and shady. 

We walked past a golf course... with cattle roaming through it, haha. We walked along Cliff Road, which goes along side the Nile River. That alone was amazing.

Once we got to the recreation park, we paid an entrance fee and walked around inside. The  Source of the Nile is where the Nile River leaves Lake Victoria, but there is also a natural spring right in the middle of the river that you can see if you take a boat ride, which we didn't do. We just stayed on the shoreline, and enjoyed seeing the Nile.

 There are also many shops where you can buy local crafts, and there is a restaurant. I think everyone was disappointed that we just came to look at the water, but we assured them that we would come back sometime with family and actually take a boat to the Source of the Nile. Boda boda drivers kept stopping to give us a ride, they were disappointed when we said we were exercising. Haha.

We then walked back to the hotel. I had to snap a picture of these birds.  I think the missionaries call them Goondie Birds. Some call them pterodactyls. I was googling to see what they were really called, and couldn't find them online until I googled "trash birds Uganda". These things are HUGE! They are everywhere! But mostly around trash dumps. As we were walking home, we passed a dumpster, and I decided to take a picture. They have got to be 4 feet tall, it's amazing to see them fly. I couldn't believe it the first time I saw some. I realized I have never taken a picture of them. So, here you go! Ugandan Goondie Bird (Marabou Stork).

That evening, we had dinner with the Jinja and Iganga zone leaders, and just discussed what is happening in their zones. President Collings has been trying to go out and work more with the missionaries, so after dinner, he went with the Jinja zone leaders to a teaching appointment. They did a really great job of teaching, and he had a really good night.

On Thursday after interviews, we had the sister missionaries in Uganda come to the mission home for a sister's conference. It was such a fun evening. We started out with dinner, and then had training from the Sister Training Leaders, Assistants to the President, President Collings, and Sister Suzan and Sister Sarah, who are both return missionaries and work in the mission office. The training was really good.

The Spirit was very strong, and we were all uplifted. They were taught about their divine nature. They are daughters of Heavenly Father, and have made covenants with him, which gives them power in their calling. They need to have the confidence in that power and authority, understanding that they are completely capable of receiving help from heaven. Receiving this power comes through obedience to the commandments, and when serving a mission, the white handbook is part of those commandments. They were taught that they can do hard things, and after the trial of their faith, they will see the blessings.

I was in charge of an activity. I thought it would be a good idea to have the sisters work together in unity. We tried to untangle a human knot. It was not easy, but a lot of fun.

On Friday morning, which was a holiday here in Uganda, the Kampala South Stake had a missionary fireside. It started at 10:00am, and was very well attended. The chapel was completely full. We heard from President Kamya, who is the stake president, President Collings, and testimonies from several recent converts and members who have been helping refer their friends and family to the missionaries.

The missionaries sang a musical number

Those in attendance were taught about the gospel, and encouraged to share with their friends, family members, work associates, and others. A couple of days before the fireside, the zones serving in the Kampala South Stake had a finding activity, where they invited over 100 people to come learn more about the gospel. On the day of the fireside, about 30 investigators came to the meeting.

After the opening remarks and testimonies, we separated into groups. Two groups of members, and two groups of guests. The guests were taught about the restoration of the church, and the plan of salvation in a separate room.

The members were taught how to share the Gospel on social media, and were able to practice how they can share the message of the restored gospel with their friends.

Afterward, we all came back together to hear from President Kamya again. They ended the meeting, and served refreshments to everyone. Yummy chapatis, samosas, bananas, and drinks. We were able to socialize for quite a while after the meeting. It was so fun to get to know members of the South Stake better. There are such strong members of the church here! They are doing a great job.

Kampala South Stake Presidency, with President Collings

In line for refreshments

Mingling with the Saints