Friday, August 31, 2018

More Missionary Experiences

While in Ethiopia, we went to Portuguese Bridge for preparation day with the missionaries. I didn't do a lot of research, so I'll just say it was built in the 1600's and it is beautiful! It's about a two hour drive outside of Addis Ababa. I think the local people cross it all the time, but they charge the tourists to cross it. During the rainy season the amount of water that crosses under the bridge is incredible! Apparently, some of these missionaries came during the dry season, and they were able to jump across the river on the boulders. That would not be possible with the river we saw while we were there.

Elders Schuler, Munsey, Cooper, VanDerzee, Chandler, Trippe, and Adu-Mensah

The night before going to Portuguese Bridge, President Collings had an experience where he couldn't get a thought out of his head. There was a woman in the branch who he felt we needed to visit, or minister to. The impression was so strong that he felt like we shouldn't wait. We went right after our activity in our preparation day clothes, with the missionaries who are serving in that branch, and visited with her and her children. Her husband was still at work. It was a wonderful visit, and we really felt like we strengthened her. She even said that she knew God had sent us to her that day. President Collings has learned that when you receive a prompting, it's important to act on it. There's no harm in doing good.

We ended our visit to Ethiopia with a zone conference. I got pictures of the zone leaders who were training, but forgot to take a zone picture. The pictures from preparation day will have to do this time.
Elder Trippe

Elder Schuler

The next adventure took us to Gulu! We have had Phillips, work at the mission home for over two years. He has worked for previous mission presidents as well (I believe for about 10 years). After we moved to  the new mission home, he waited until we were settled in and then decided to move back to the village to be with his wife and some of his children. They live about 4 hours outside of Kampala. We knew he lives somewhere on the way to Gulu, so we arranged to stop and say hi on our journey. It turned out that Phillips was not there, but we were able to meet his wife Evelyn, his kids, and some extended family. It was so nice. Evelyn gave us some ground nuts (peanuts) and pumpkin that she had grown herself in her garden. It was so thoughtful of them. We had such a good experience with their family. We feel blessed to know such wonderful people.

Once we got to Gulu, we had zone conference with the Gulu zone, and afterwards planned to have a fireside with the two branches combined. The zone is very strong, and we really enjoyed our meeting with them.

The branches all met together in the Gulu Branch and President Collings talked to them and trained them on ministering. It was a pretty good turn out, about 50 people from both branches came. We provided chapatis and sodas for everyone after it was over.

On Sunday President Collings had a lot of interviews to do, so we went to the Gulu Branch for sacrament meeting, then he did interviews during Sunday school time for those who needed them, then we had a joint priesthood and relief society meeting in the Bardege Branch. After church he met with those who needed an interview from the Bardege Branch. I just kept noticing all the cute babies in both of the branches!! There's nothing cuter than babies!!

These babies are twins!!

I love seeing these beautiful families!
We met President Okeny's mother at church. It was fun to meet her! She is very proud of her son, who is the Branch President.

On Monday for preparation day, President Collings let the missionaries go to the game park. They were able to take pictures of a lot of the wild animals, including giraffes, spring bok, cape buffalo, and wart hogs, etc. Then we played a few games of volleyball together and had lunch before President Collings and I had to leave.

 View of the Nile at sunset

Elders Payne, Ankrah, Klu, Laryea-Akrong, Godfrey, Newman, Harris, and Kabemba 
with President and Sister Collings

This police officer was watching us until I asked him to take my place so I could take pictures. 

We have had Akao Jackline work in the mission home helping me with house keeping and cooking for the missionaries. She has been with us for over two years, and with the previous mission president and wife since 2013. Through the past couple of years, she has been preparing to go on a mission. She has worked so hard, and is always helping our sister missionaries in her ward. Well, the day finally arrived, and she received her mission call! We are all so excited for her. She will be such a great missionary! She was called to Zimbabwe Bulawayo Mission, and her mission president will be President Jimmy Okot, who was her stake president before he was called as a mission president. It was so much fun to be there as she opened her call!

It's transfer time again! Which means we say goodbye to  the missionaries we have grown to love so much. We had three that left this transfer. Sister Abeo, Elder Boakye, and Sister Manqele. All three of them have been great missionaries. We have watched them go through trials and struggles, and we have seen them grow and become incredible teachers. They will be such a strength to the church when they go home, but they will surely be missed!
Final picture together. 

On the way to the airport

Farewell dinner at Thai Gardens in Entebbe

And while we were at the airport, we picked up our new missionaries. We have three coming in as well, but it is two Elders and one Sister. We are looking forward to getting to know them better, but really feel like they will be a strong addition to our mission.

Elder Ebondo, Sister Ntlhane, and Elder Bukasa
Welcome to the Uganda Kampala Mission!!!

Last but not least, this was a very exciting transfer. We have had such a struggle getting missionaries into Ethiopia! Several months ago we sent a new group of elders, and after 3 weeks they had to return to Uganda. The government changed the documents that needed to be authenticated, and we did not have the correct documents for any of our missionaries. We were able to keep the missionaries there who already had a work permit, but we could not bring any more in. This has been an issue we have been working to take care of for several months. And finally, this transfer we were able to send in 8 new missionaries! Making it a total of 12 serving in Ethiopia. There have been many people who have worked many hours to get us to this point, and we are so grateful for all they have done. The missionaries in Ethiopia are excited to be there, and are ready to go to work!
Elders Denison, Johnson, Trippe, Chandler, Brewer, Jensen, Arnett, Smith, Gagon, Kramer, and Cooper with Elder and Sister VanDerzee

It's a great day in the UKM!!!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Large Zone Conferences and a Wedding in Ethiopia!

For the last couple of transfers we have decided to combine zone conferences in Kampala and Jinja. President Collings and I do our training, and then we separate into zones and have the zone leaders teach their own zones. It has really worked out nice, and has given us more time to spend individually with the missionaries. On Thursday, August 9th, was our latest combined Zone Conference with Kampala North and South Zones. And on August 16th, was Jinja and East Zones. It was a pretty good size group, but the Spirit was felt, which is most important!

Kampala South Zone

Kampala North Zone

Jinja Zone

Uganda East Zone

Sister Christine provided the meal for North and South Zones, and there was PLENTY for all the missionaries. I really appreciate her making the meal, and the missionaries love how much food she brings! It was really  a yummy lunch.

Sister Mbiro provided the food for Jinja and East Zones. She always does a great job as well. There is always so much to eat, and it tastes so good!!

President Collings and I had a wonderful experience in Ethiopia this month!! This is an experience that we never thought would actually happen while we were here in the Uganda Kampala Mission. President Okello is single. He was called to be in the mission presidency, but it's really rare for a single man to be in the mission presidency. Each time we would travel to the outer branches for branch conferences or firesides, President  Collings would stand up and announce that President Okello was available and looking for a wife. All the ladies would giggle. As we have spent time together with him, President Okello started to tell us some of the attributes he is looking for in a wife. As he was describing her to us, President Collings said, "I know just the person you are looking for." There is a woman, Martha, who lives in Ethiopia, she is very sweet, and a strong member of the church.  As he talked to Richard more about her, things just started to fall into place. On August 11, 2018 Richard married Martha!! We were able to be in Ethiopia to enjoy this special time with them. Martha's Branch President did the actual wedding ceremony, but President Collings was asked to say a few words before that. It was a rainy day, but that didn't douse the great feelings that were there as Richard and Martha said, "I do."

Four of our six missionaries who attended the wedding.