Sunday, July 29, 2018


It was a great weekend spent with the missionaries and in the branches. President Collings went to work with some of the missionaries in Jinja and Iganga area. He loves to run with the missionaries in the morning, and then go work with them during the day.

Elders Kirkpatrick, Kagson, Budu, and Millecam with President Collings

Elder Falaula and Elder Ankrah with President Collings

On Saturday the first and second counselor in the mission presidency went to Lira and Adyel branches with our senior couple, the Wittwers. They had priesthood and auxiliary training, and then on Sunday they had branch conferences, with one of the presidency members presiding in each branch. They were also able to witness baptisms for each branch. A wonderful experience. It's neat to see the branch working so hard and bringing their friends and family members to church. There are no missionaries in Lira town at this point, but the members of the church are staying busy with their own missionary work.
Sister Wittwer training the women's auxiliaries

Baptisms at Lira Branch

Baptisms at Adyel Branch

Adyel Branch Presidency with President Ondoga of the Mission Presidency

Adyel Branch after Branch Conference

President Collings and I spent Sunday in Mengo Ward in Kampala South Stake. We checked on our missionaries in the ward, and really enjoyed meeting the saints. That evening we invited missionaries to dinner at the mission home. It was a wonderful Sabbath day.

Elders Taylor, Mukaro, Asare, and  Soglohoun with President Collings

Same missionaries with the Zone Leaders; Elder Corbridge and Elder Asante

Another exciting event that happened was that we found our friend Kassan! He was a security guard at the old mission home over a year ago. He was also our first investigator and convert when we first arrived in Uganda. His job moved him far away to another area, and he lost his phone. Then we moved to the new mission home. It was such a surprise when we came home one day to find that Kassan was a substitute guard. He saw that the name of our residence had the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on it, but wasn't sure if it was us. It was so amazing meeting him again, and catching up with his life. He is still active in the Gospel, when he is not too far from a church.

Surprise visit from Kassan!

My favorite time of the transfer is Mission Leadership Council. We are able to spend quality time with the missionaries who are in leadership positions, such as Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders. They come in to the mission home, and those who come from far away will usually spend the night.
Sister Mangwegape and Sister Khumalo the night before MLC

Of course President Collings likes to run with whichever missionaries will go with him in the morning. Here he's with Elders Young, Schuler, Trippe, and Payne.

Working at the office.
Elders Hall, Arnett, Colvin, and Johnson

During Mission Leadership Council

Ready to serve the wonderful meal!
Christine and Simon (her helper)

Enjoying the wonderful food provided by Sister Christine.

As always a picture of the Mission Leadership

And the Sisters!
Sisters Khumalo, Mutamburigwa, Manqele, Agbo, Mangwegape, and Chimfwembe 
with Sister Collings

These are all leaders who hit their year mark on the same day as MLC. 


Friday, July 20, 2018

Missionaries coming and going and coming and going....

Sunday we decided to go to church in Mukono. We have visited the church many times to interview the missionaries, but never attended sacrament meeting there. It was a really great experience. There was a very good spirit in the ward. Those who spoke in church did an excellent job, and we really enjoyed it. It was fun to see our missionaries there working hard, helping their investigators, and working with the members. We were very proud of them!

Elder Boakye and Elder Themuka

On Monday night President Collings and I went out and worked with the missionaries. I went with the sister missionaries. I went a little bit early, preparation day usually ends at 6:00, and then they start proselyting again. I went at about 4:00 and walked with them to the internet cafe. They emailed until 6:00 and then we went out and started working. I really enjoyed street contacting, knocking on doors, and giving lessons with them. The sisters really did a wonderful job!

Sister Mukundu and Sister Hedzro

A family they are teaching

That evening they made me a wonderful dinner, and to my surprise, they had prepared some desserts to share earlier in the day. I wanted to surprise them with banana bread, and also brought the ingredients to show them how to make "no bake" cookies. They had prepared a chocolate cake, and a banana, carrot, coconut cake. WOW, we had sweets coming out our ears!

Sister Abeo and Sister Muyengwa

I spent the night and did their morning schedule with them. We got up, exercised, and had our personal and companionship study. For the companionship study I gathered all four sisters together and talked with them about how they can have power as a missionary. They each gave their thoughts of what they can do to become powerful missionaries. Then I shared the story of Nephi in Helaman 10 in the Book of Mormon. I focused on verses 4-5 to help them understand what Nephi had done to receive this power... "thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments." It's really amazing to see the powerful gifts that were given to Nephi because of his diligence and obedience to the commandments of the Lord. We had an amazing discussion, and I think it really motivated them to work a little harder for the Lord.

President Collings went further East and worked with some of the missionaries in Iganga and Jinja. He spent Monday evening working with Elder Falaula and Elder Ankrah in Iganga, and took them out to dinner. He was able to have a wonderful spiritual discussion with them, and even teach them some concepts of leadership. Elder Ankrah was preparing to be transferred to another area as a zone leader, and it was a good opportunity to really help him understand the expectations we have as a mission for our missionaries in leadership positions.

Tuesday morning President Collings joined the Jinja district for their morning schedule. It started out with morning exercise, which is a wonderful time for President Collings to get out and run with the missionaries. It's a perfect way to see the different areas where our missionaries work all around Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. Then he joined them in personal and companionship study, which is always a perfect time to really help them feel the spirit, and motivate them to do a little better.

Elder Kirkpatrick, Elder Kagson, President Collings, Elder Budu, and Elder Millecam

Tuesday is also the beginning of our transfer week. We have missionaries coming and going for the next three days! Our first missionary to come was Sister Auma from Busia 2nd branch. She just returned from serving in the Kenya Nairobi mission, and President  Collings was able to release her as a full time missionary. She is a missionary that we sent out since we got here to Uganda. It was so good to see her again! She looks amazing, and I'm so proud of the great work she has done!

Sister Auma

Elder Taylor

Tuesday night we received Elder Taylor. He is so excited to be here and to just go to work. It was so fun to see his enthusiasm. He spent the night at the mission home along with 6 missionaries who are transferring from Rwanda to Uganda.

We have had some interesting experiences in the last few transfers with missionaries from the African countries. Some of the missionaries struggle to get their visa on time to go to the mission they were called to, so they go to the MTC, and then come back and serve in our mission while they are waiting for their visa. These "visa waiters" stay with us for a couple of weeks, up to a few months. We really enjoy having them, and are so grateful that they can spend that time in our mission. We are blessed to have them. That being said, on Wednesday morning we received a new missionary, Elder Mazaiwana, and two Ugandans who just went to the MTC 3 weeks ago, Elder Aojan, and Elder Ojakol. All three are great, and will be such an asset to this mission!

Elder Mazaiwana

Elder Aojan

Elder Ojakol

Then we have had some missionaries lately who have served in their mission for a year, and when their visa expires, the country they are serving in will not renew their visa. These missionaries are anxious to continue the work and because of this issue would have to go home, but Uganda is a very friendly and welcoming country, and they seem to be able to get visas here with no problem. So on Wednesday we also received 4 new but experienced missionaries who will finish their mission with us! This is amazing because they already fully understand missionary work. We take a small amount of time and help them understand some things that may just be specific to our mission and then they are able to jump right in and go to work.

Elder Stanley, Elder Blamoh, Elder Langai (missing Elder Pantoe)

Every one of these missionaries radiates with the Light of Christ! I'm so excited to work with our 8 new missionaries! We keep saying, we receive the BEST missionaries in the Uganda Kampala Mission!!!

Wednesday night we had two missionaries who had to report to the MTC. Elder Wailagala, and Elder Olara will spend a few weeks at the MTC in Johannesburg and then will serve a two year mission in Johannesburg and Madagascar. They have worked very hard to prepare for their missions, and we wish them well!
Elder Olara and Elder Wailagala

While all of the missionaries were coming and going to and from Uganda, we also had transfers. We had missionaries come and stay at the mission home from Rwanda and Gulu. And during transfers we had trucks and vans with missionaries from all over Uganda dropping off missionaries and picking up others to take to their new areas. I don't know how many came and left the mission home during transfers, but I had food planned for about 20 people each meal and I didn't have any leftovers! It was a great time. I love having missionaries at the mission home!

After transfers were over, we were left to say goodbye to our departing missionaries and send them on their way. I think this is the smallest group we have had go home in two years! We had one elder and one sister being released. Elder Goodrich was our very first missionary to come to this mission our first transfer. We were as new as he was. It's been so fun watching him these past two years! He has studied the scriptures and has really learned a lot while serving here. I also remember when Sister Muyengwa came. It seems like time just flies by so fast here! She has gained a strong testimony, and confidence while serving here. She served a mission the same time as her younger sister, and they both are returning home this week. We will miss Elder Goodrich and Sister Muyengwa, but we are excited to see where life takes them!

Because it was such a small group, President Collings and I took them out to a nice restaurant. There is a new Thai restaurant that just opened up. It was our first time going there and it was so nice! We practiced using chop sticks, but I think eventually we all just used forks so we could just enjoy the food! It was very good!

After the meal we returned to the mission home for a farewell testimony meeting. Elder and Sister Wittwer joined us and we were able to enjoy a wonderful meeting and just enjoy our time with the missionaries before they left for the airport. It's never easy saying goodbye. We love these missionaries so much! Can't wait to hear from them in the future!!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Press Forward Saints!

We have had more fun experiences in the past couple of weeks. President Collings and I went to Rwanda for interviews and zone conference. This is our first time back to Rwanda since Elder and Sister Wright, my parents, went home due to medical issues. It was strange not having them there, but good to see the missionaries keeping their missionary purpose and working hard. We arrived Saturday night and just went right to the hotel. Sunday morning we were picked up by the missionaries and went to church. The situation with the church buildings has really dragged on for such a long time. We see an end in sight, but it has been a burden for the saints in Rwanda.

Several months ago the Government changed the expectations for what a church building should be like. Even though our buildings had been in compliance, and we even had all the proper permits, they did not meet the new standard, and were shut down. The first week that these new standards had been set, inspectors went out and put signs on all of the churches that were not in compliance, and immediately shut them down. If anyone tired to worship in the buildings that had been shut down, they would be arrested. The first week over 700 churches were closed. There was one building of ours in Kigali that was not shut down the first or second week, so all the members were traveling to that branch to worship. By the third week, that building was closed too, but we had found a temporary place to rent until we could get a permanent building for each of the three branches. The branches have all met together in this building for several months while the church has tried to find buildings to rent or buy. The problem we have had is that there are so many churches looking for buildings that are the right size, with all the qualifications, that the people who own those buildings are asking a very high price to sell or rent them, and there is a lot of competition between all the churches to get them. Once a building is found, a request is sent to the government to come and inspect it to be sure it will be approved as a church building.

What was very exciting for us, was that the Area President, Director of Temporal Affairs, Real Estate manager, and our regional facilities manager all were in Kigali at the same time as President Collings and myself. We were able to talk face to face with them and get an idea of what needs to happen, and what they are doing to make it happen. We were so happy to be able to spend time with all of them, and are anxious to see these buildings open for the Rwandan Saints very soon.

We attended church and were so impressed with the faithfulness of the members. They struggle to travel so far to church, but many of them are making the sacrifice to come. Those who can’t make it are receiving phone calls and visits from their branch members, so they don’t lose their enthusiasm or excitement for the Gospel. They are patiently waiting for a building to be a little bit closer to them. The miracle is that we are still seeing so many people getting baptized, even with the difficulties getting to the church building. The church is true! They can still feel the spirit when they come.

On Monday we had an activity with the zone. We asked them to plan it, and we just went to a park and enjoyed the activity with them. The elders started out playing frisbee football, while the sisters played DONKEY. After about an hour, we all came together as a zone. Each of the three districts had planned a game for everyone to play. One played a type of dodgeball/ tag. It was really fun, and we kind of made up the rules while we went, but everyone liked it. The second district played a type of African jump rope. A lot of the African missionaries knew exactly what to do, while the rest of us tried to figure it out. It was fun. Then the last district brought raw eggs for an egg toss. Of course we’re not competitive at all, but President Collings and I had the last uncracked egg... just saying...

On Tuesday we had zone conference. We held it at the couple’s apartment. It is very empty now without our senior couple there, but because we don’t have any church buildings to meet in, it is a great place for us all to meet. A young woman who just received her mission call, made us lunch, and we had a very good meeting. Things are a little bit different in Rwanda, but we are still doing okay. We have missionaries who can handle it, and they are pressing forward with faith. We know this is the Lord’s work and he is helping us and them!

We returned back to Uganda that afternoon, and went straight to Jinja the next morning. We had a combined zone conference with Jinja and East Zones. It was really great to see the amazing elders we have serving in Jinja Stake, and Mbale and Busia branches. They are diligent, faithful, and dedicated missionaries and we are so blessed to have them in Uganda!

The Jinja Stake President's wife owns a catering business, and recently I have asked her to provide food for the missionaries during zone conference when we are in Jinja. She does a really good job, and the missionaries always have plenty of food to eat. They love it!

President Collings and I both went out and worked with the missionaries after zone conference. He stayed in the Jinja area and proselyted with one companionship, studied with another companionship, attended lessons with a companionship, and even did the morning schedule and exercised with a companionship. There are a lot more Elders in our mission than Sisters, so he needs  to spread his time over several companionships.

I worked with just one companionship. We did some street contacting, taught a lesson, studied together, and did our morning schedule which included exercising as well. Nothing better than sleeping on a mattress on the floor like our missionaries do when they are on exchanges. It was great.

It's really good for us to see how well our missionaries work and teach, and then see what advice we can give them to do to be a little better. We have really enjoyed our time spent working with them.

Sunday was a very special day for us. We attended church in one of the Wards in Kampala North Stake, and President Collings received an answer to a question he has been pondering for many months. He has been without a counselor in the mission presidency for a long time, and has struggled to find someone to fill that position. While we were attending church on Sunday, he received an answer who should be his new counselor. He received approval very quickly, and this week on July 12, he set apart Jimmy Ondoga as the second counselor in the Mission Presidency, with President Richard Okello as the first counselor. It's so exciting to have two Ugandans serving in the mission presidency. They are both very knowledgeable, and will be such a great support and blessing to the Mission!

The reason we went to that particular ward on Sunday was because President Collings had shared about the Gospel with a young woman online. She was very interested to hear more. He gave her contact information to the missionaries, and we found out which ward she was closest to. It was such a great experience to go to church and see her there. The members of the ward just welcomed her and she really seemed to enjoy it. President Collings is always telling members to share online. He has had so many wonderful experiences, and seen lives changed as he has done this. Sunday evening we invited the missionaries serving in that ward, over for dinner. It was so fun! The Americans loved the pot roast with potatoes and carrots, they said it reminded them of home. The Africans enjoyed it, and one even took a picture to show his mom that he actually ate "American" food. It was fun to have them in the home to end our Sabbath Day.

The Sister Training Leaders contacted us a couple of weeks ago and asked if all the sisters in Uganda could get together for an activity. They are spread out in two main areas of Uganda, Kampala and Masaka. Masaka is 3 hours to the South, but right in the middle of the two cities is the Equator, and just near the Equator is the Uganda Croc Farm. They wanted permission to meet at the crock farm for preparation day. President Collings and I thought it was a fun idea and decided to go with them. We met the other sisters at the Equator and of course had to take a few pictures!

We drove with the Kampala Sisters in a van while the Masaka Sisters rode in a taxi to the Equator.

Then we all got together in the van to go to the Croc Farm.

The sign out front was a little ominous. But we thought it was fun. The price to get in was GREAT!

We had to pay the Foreigner price, which came up to about $2.70, but all of the sisters had to pay the local price, about $1.35 because they look local. They were all laughing about it, because we told them the sisters are all from other countries, Ghana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia... the only country that counted as "foreigner" was us Americans. Haha. It happens a lot here, we are used to it, and can't complain about an entrance fee of less than $3. Just glad we didn't get "eaten!"

There are brick pens which hold the crocodiles. There are probably 10-12 pens, and each of them have LOTS of crocs, all of the same age in them. Different ages in each pen.

I made the sisters promise me that they wouldn't scream while they were there. That lasted about two seconds. One crocodile would move and then they would all move a bit, and the sisters would run away from the pen screaming. It was pretty funny.

 After looking at the crocodiles in the pens, we watched a feeding... which I didn't watch... haha. But the sisters and President Collings enjoyed it. Then they let us take turns holding one. Thankfully there was not a lot of screaming involved in this. I was nervous they would scream and throw the poor thing. It did wriggle around and try to bite us, but it wasn't too strong. This crocodile was 2 years old.

President Collings wasn't scared at all!

The sisters wanted to be sure we all know that they are STRONG, POWERFUL, and FEARLESS! They are that way with crocodiles, and also in serving the MASTER. We love our sisters!

One more group picture as we were leaving. It was a fun trip, well worth the drive. The Uganda Croc Farm is not very well marked, and most tourists would miss it unless they know what they are looking for, but as you are driving South on the road to Masaka, about 6 KM before the Equator there is a sign that is very faded (I passed it 3 times before I actually saw that it was for the Croc farm. It's on the left side of the road, right before a swamp. You pull off on a dirt road, and then follow it for another 6 KM. The road comes to a T, and you take a left again. It's just a few Meters down the road on the right. (Past the Mango tree... Haha! Not on any GPS!) As I said, well worth the $2.70 entrance fee that we paid.

As we were traveling back, we passed a small village and decided to get out and sing for the people in the area. We sang "I am a Child of God", and "Called to Serve". Not 100% sure what the people thought, but we were happy to sing, and hopefully help them feel the Spirit.

To finish up, we stopped again at the Equator. There is a restaurant that is located right on the Equator. You can choose if you want to sit on the Northern Hemisphere, or the Southern Hemisphere. We didn't actually get a choice, we were seated on the Northern side. I pre-ordered about 7 pizzas. I think they brought out closer to 9 or 10, but the sisters were able to eat all of them. It was a very fun day. The sisters enjoyed time with each other, and we enjoyed our time with them.

Every year we bring in all of the Branch Presidents from the mission branches. These are the branches that are away from the Stakes. President Collings acts as their priesthood leader, like their stake president. We invite them and their wives, if they can come, for two days of training. This is our third training since we started our mission. The numbers have grown since we got here! The first year there were 7 branch presidents, and two of them brought their wives. This year there were 9 branch presidents, a group leader, a district president,  the two mission president counselors, and 8 of them brought their wives. The training is always great. President Collings and his counselors take time, and they also bring in others to train. This year they brought people to train on audits, mission histories, and family history.

There is always focus on leading the way the Savior leads. Building others up, showing an outpouring of love, and ministering to the one. They also trained about the importance of councils, and building unity in the branches. They talked about the new ministering program in the church, and what that should look like. They talked about pointing their members and especially new members to the temple, and what they can do to better prepare them for that sacred occasion. They talked about tithing, and not only HOW to do it properly as leaders, but WHY it's so important. There were many other subjects that were trained on, but what stands out the most was how they interacted together, and they were all edified. They all received revelation on what their specific branch needs moving forward.

I always try to have a fun activity with the ladies. We participate in most of the training, but then we take a break and go do something as sisters. The last two years I took them to the mall, had ice cream, rode on the escalator and elevator which some of them didn't like at all, haha. The group of women was much larger this year, and I wanted it to be more meaningful for them. We ended up doing a service project, where we assembled some humanitarian kits that I will be taking to a school in Uganda in just a few weeks. It was a wonderful experience because the women all got to talk with each other. They are all having some of the same experiences as their husbands serve and they were able to give each other advice, and empathize with each other. It was fun getting to know them all a little bit better. Several of them don't speak English, but there were women there who could speak both English and the tribal languages of these other women. Because of this, everyone felt included, everyone contributed to the conversation, and we really felt a sense of unity with each other. After finishing the humanitarian kits, we watched a couple of DVD's. The Mountain of the Lord, which focuses on the building of the Salt Lake Temple, and The Windows of Heaven, which tells the story of Lorenzo Snow and the importance of tithing. A couple of the women brought their babies, and it was nice to be where they could play and it didn't distract from the training that the  men were doing. I really love these women!

As the men met together, they felt the same way. It was fun to see the friendships build, the contact information exchanged, the photos shared, as well as best practices shared. There was a very strong spirit in the room as they were being trained, and they were able to receive revelation for their individual branches. Those who are single, or who were not able to bring their wives, stayed in a bunk room at the mission home. It was fun to hear them talking until late into the night. Some of the older men said that they felt young like a missionary again.

I have said before how nice it is to live right across the street from a catering center. I was able to call and have dinner prepared for this large group very easily, which left me time to enjoy our guests, and attend to their needs.  Dinner that night was really good, and everyone ate until they were filled. President Collings said, "We fed you spiritually today, now it's time to feed you physically."

There was a lot more spiritual feeding than physical feeding, but it's not easy to take pictures of the meetings. Needless to say, everyone absolutely enjoyed the training. I think the leaders will return to their individual branches with a renewed excitement to press forward in the work and do a little better each day. I think they know that the mission presidency loves them and is there to support them in any way they can, and that they have other branch presidents who they can mentor and be mentored by. The sisters too talked about their willingness to support their spouses, and even go with them to visit the members of the branches. This was an absolutely amazing experience, and we look forward with faith and confidence that this, the work of the Lord. will continue to progress until it reaches every corner of his vineyard.

Our last evening we went to Ndere Cultural Center where we were served a buffet, and watched traditional dances from all over the region. I love going there with Ugandans! The performers tell about some of the traditions of the tribes throughout Uganda, Rwanda, and  Burundi, then they will do a dance from that particular region. As I sit by these people who are native to the area, they will say, "that's right!" "that's exactly what they do!" or even "that's where I'm from!" Some of them will go up and dance with the group because it's a dance they know. None of our branch presidents did that, but I was thoroughly entertained by THEIR excitement for the show.

What can I say more? We are so blessed to be serving in this mission with these amazing leaders! We have grown to love them so much, and appreciate the sacrifice they make for the Lord, and for the members of their branches.

Front row: President SSekitto, Masaka Branch; President Etiang, Mbale Branch; President Opar, Gulu Branch; President Okello, 1st Counselor Mission Presidency; President Collings, Mission President; President Ondoga, 2nd Counselro Mission Presidency; President Imende, Busia 1 Branch; President Ojiambo, Busia 2 Branch
Back row: President Opar, Kigali District; President Atiyang, Lira Branch, President Okenny, Bardege Branch; Brother Mpande, Kabwangassi Group; President Kirabo, Kijjabwemi Branch; President Wafula, Busia 3 Branch, President Oyet, Adyel Branch