Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Transfers Again, and a new Branch!

Time to say goodbye once again to our veteran missionaries. This group was tough to see leave. They have been an amazing force for good in the Uganda Kampala Mission. Among these missionaries we have individuals who have served in Uganda, Ethiopia, and Rwanda. We have had great leaders, trainers, and disciples of Jesus Christ. There have been trials and triumphs, refining and rejoicing, and we can say with confidence to each of these young men and women, well done!!

As usually happens, we had a special testimony meeting as well as a farewell dinner. The dinner was local Ugandan foods that they could enjoy one last time before going home. It's incredible to listen to the testimonies of these missionaries and to feel of the strong spirit in the room because of their obedience and sacrifice. 

As quickly as one group leaves, another group comes in. We said goodbye to 10 missionaries and the next day we welcomed 4 new. 

Elder Schwendiman from Idaho, and Elder Konde, Kasaka, and Tshimanga all from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They have all come with a zeal for missionary work. The Congolese missionaries are working really hard to learn the new language. You can feel their strong spirits and I know as they are able to speak more freely, they will be great teachers. Our new American missionary is adjusting very well to the culture shock of a new country. We are grateful to have them all.

We have had such exciting growth in the Southern Town of Masaka! Less than a year ago Masaka Branch was split and we formed the Kijjabwemi Branch which is located more in the Southern side of Masaka. On October 14th, the Masaka Branch was split again. This time, the new Nyendo Branch was formed in the Northern side of Masaka. We have such strong members in this part of our mission, with great men who are able to lead the branches. We also have many return missionaries (men and ladies) from this area who are able to help with teaching, leading, and missionary work. 

Robert Ssekitto: MASAKA Branch President (Center)
Charles Elijah Mabibi: 1st Counselor (Left)
Jeremiah Mark Muwanika: 2nd Counselor (Right)

Vianney Ssenyonga: NYENDO Branch President (Center)
David Akatwijuka: 1st Counselor (Left)
Yasin Kiyimba: 2nd Counselor (Right)

Members of both Masaka and Nyendo Branches right after the branch split.
October 14, 2018

About two years ago, President Collings and I went to a training meeting  with the branch council of the Masaka Branch. At that time there was only one branch in Masaka, but we had a very interesting experience. We left Kampala 4 hours early to make it to this meeting. We had so many issues trying to reach Masaka! We were pulled over by a traffic officer. We found out we took the wrong road and went about 40 miles in the wrong direction. We went over a small dirt road to try and get us back where we needed to be (on the GPS our car was flying through space because it didn't show any roads where we were driving). At the end of the dirt road, there was a nice asphalt road just being finished, but a large group had gathered and there was a young boy stuck in a hole or pipe. While they were getting him out, they wouldn't let anyone pass. (Good news, he was okay. We saw him come out.) Once we finally got on the right highway there was a large diesel that had rolled and traffic was backed up for miles. By the time we finally got to Masaka we were about 30 minutes late. We decided that there was something special in Masaka and the adversary was trying to distract us from going there.

Once we got to the meeting it was incredible. The leaders were all engaged and you could tell they were really leading by example. There was a great feeling in the church in Masaka. As President Collings spoke to them he said that he could see a stake there in  the near future. He said he could see a District created there before our mission was done. It's wonderful to see it grow from one branch two years ago, and now with the creation of a third branch, we can start the process of creating a district. It's just been wonderful to see the growth of the church since the time we arrived. President Collings always says, "When the people are ready, the Lord will send people who are prepared, and the church will grow." We believe the people of Masaka are showing that they are ready to receive as many people who want to come to church. They will be welcomed and treated with love. Very exciting times in Masaka.

Our friends, the Phelps served a mission here over a year ago. We were so excited when we received news that they were going to come and visit some friends and vacation in Uganda again! We were especially excited to be able to take a couple of days and spend it with them. Because we were going to be in Masaka for the weekend, we were able to go a little bit further and see them. It was so nice.

Janell and Rick Phelps

We were able to spend a night at Queen Elizabeth Game Park. It was fun because there were about 5 elephants that we could see right in front of our room. Beautiful views, and a little time to relax. (Relaxing with our phones close in case missionaries or branch members call.)

We also got to go chimpanzee tracking. I have never had this experience before. Can I just say, "WOW!" It was incredible! We hiked in and got to see quite a variety of monkeys, and then we came across a male chimpanzee. He was high in the tree, just eating figs. We watched him for quite a while, and then he decided to leave. They travel so fast, we lost him pretty quickly. We hiked for a little while and then our guide received notification that there were a few other chimpanzees. We quickly went to the area she was given, and there was the same male with a female, they were grooming each other, and there was a young one climbing around as well. As we moved in to get a better view, we heard a rustling in the trees right by us. There was another large male who was coming to join them in the tree. When he saw us, he started to scream and run back and forth. He ran just out of sight and started banging on a tree stump and scream again. He did that twice. We could see his shape running, but he stayed away from us.

It's not easy to get good chimpanzee pictures with a phone. But we really enjoyed the experience.

President Collings and I also got to ride a camel. Let's just say, I am really glad I don't have to cross a desert on the back of a camel! Not very comfortable! But fun to say we did it.

The Phelps spent most of their mission in Mbale which is in Eastern Uganda, so after spending a couple of days with us, they traveled west to spend time with their friends in Mbale, and we went  back to work.

More good news! We just received a new senior couple! They arrived on Tuesday night and spent a couple of days with us in Kampala before traveling to Rwanda where they will be serving. We are so excited to welcome Elder and Sister Maughan to the Uganda Kampala Mission!

They are really troopers! I know they were really suffering from jet lag, but they forced themselves to stay awake and to keep the schedule so that they could adjust more quickly. We offered to let them take a nap during the day and they just said no, they wanted to work.

On Wednesday and Thursday they came to the mission office. President Collings was interviewing missionaries from the South Zone on those days so the Maughans were able to meet some of them. In fact, many of the missionaries they met had served in Rwanda, so they were able to ask a lot of questions and just get an idea of what their new assignment would be like. They were also taught some of the office duties. They will be Member and Leadership Support missionaries, but will also be taking care of the young missionaries and some of the office duties as well. They will do great!

We took them to Ndere Cultural show on Wednesday night. It was fun to let them eat local food here and to see some of the traditional dances from all over Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.  We also had them go to the Entebbe Zoo and take the behind the scenes tour. It's just something you would never be able to do in the United States, and well worth your time.

On Friday we had Mission Leadership Council where all of the Zone Leaders and Sister Training leaders from all over the mission come for a leadership meeting. The Maughans were able to join us for this meeting, and were able to meet the zone leaders from Rwanda for the first time. The meeting was really great. We really have such great missionaries serving here! Each of the new leaders and the Maughans bore their testimonies, which really brought an amazing spirit into the meeting.

Our office elders taught on baptismal records, apartment and vehicle care, and showed the leaders how to replace the filters in all the missionaries water filtration system. Now that we no longer have a senior couple in our office, our office missionaries will not be traveling to all apartments to do inspections, instead this will be left to the zone leaders. The training will help them to know exactly what is needed.

I taught on having a good attitude. It's something I taught on at the beginning of our mission, but I realized most of the  missionaries have  not heard this training, so it was time to bring it back. President Collings taught about how to follow the spirit. Understanding how to feel it, and how to help those we teach to feel and follow promptings of the spirit. He showed video that was put out by the church, I will attach the link HERE. It really helped the missionaries understand the importance of using the spirit. Elder Gilbert taught on how to be good leaders, or shepherds. And Elder Gwatidzo taught on setting goals.

As always, MLC is a wonderful time spent with our missionaries. It brings me great comfort to know that we have such great missionaries who are helping and serving the rest of the missionaries. We are so blessed!

With our office couple gone home, I had planned to spend most days in the office, but I'm happy to say our young missionaries are working circles around me! I'm so impressed with how quickly they catch on to what is required of them. Because they are doing such a good job, I have had time to catch up on a few things that I have neglected over the past few months. I have been working on the mission history, travel coordination, continuing education to keep my nursing license, and credit card expense reports. I feel so grateful that they are able to step in and help during this unique time.

As I look over the past year, I'm just filled with gratitude for the way the Lord has poured out blessings on this mission. When we are faced with tasks that we feel there is no way we can handle, we just push forward with faith, and things seem to work out. It reminds me of the story of Jesus Christ feeding the 5,000. The people only had 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes. Obviously, not enough to feed so many people. But they still presented it to Jesus Christ and he made up the difference! They gave him something to work with. They gave him all they had, and then he miraculously made more than enough for them! I have felt this way, that what we have to offer is so limited, but he miraculously makes our efforts become more than enough. I'm so grateful to him for all he does for us!  We are so blessed!