Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Update 3.14.2011

Endings and Beginnings - This has been a busy and full week! After saying goodbye to special friends in Ilima and Kyambeke on Sunday we returned to the Hills on Tuesday for a final farewell-teaching session with Kilili. As we drove through the beautiful country that we love we were cognizant that this would be the last time to see so many things - the oxcarts, hut homes, children waving and greeting us, and some still bolting off the narrow, dirt roadways to hide in the bushes for fear of “Mzungus coming!” What will be missed most is the relationship with the wonderful saints we've grown to love in this almost year-and-a-half. They sang and danced (African style) for/with us, and exchanged thoughtful tributes, home-made gifts, and expressions of love. Tears were close to the surface as we bid goodbye.

We traveled through the 1 ½ hour short cut from Kilili to Kyambeke, to our Precious Blood flat to prepare the “last supper” with the missionaries, Elder Trickett and Elder Hayes. They were fun company and we talked of plans and how they could continue on some of the teaching/member development initiatives we had started. They work hard and are dedicated to helping the saints grow in Kilungu Hills as well as teaching the gospel to investigators. They are also fun to feed as they love to eat! The spaghetti, jello salad, beans, bread, brownies and banana pudding were consumed with happy, appreciative sounds! We also brought groceries we wouldn't be needing, including a large brick of cheese that was “the best gift ever;” with the possible exception of the shower head we gave them that heats water. It never worked for us in our Precious Blood flat because there wasn't enough water pressure; but they assured us it would work on the hose at their apartment! As we took them home they looked like it had been Christmas. We will miss them and keep them in our prayers as they continue their work in the Hills.

Wednesday we picked up President Kaseve who is still recovering from surgery and took him to Mitini for a fun, branch farewell party there. This was also the day we gave the R.S. sisters the treadle sewing machine – a Christmas gift from our family. They had kept their end of the agreement by saving up l,500 shillings (about $19) from their many small donations and from not spending some of their church LUBA for Relief Society. It was an exciting day and they have great plans for using it. There were more fun songs with dances, gifts, and tributes. How we will miss these friends – dozens of new members in the past year plus. We talked again of the certainty of a grand reunion in the spirit world. After some special "goodbyes" some of the brethren rode with us to Kikoko to help move our things to the truck for a last ride back to Nairobi. With a warm goodbye to the nuns we were on our way.

Our last Monday night was at President and Sister Broadbent's home where we had dinner, shared some mission experiences and pictures, and enjoyed the evening together. One of the great blessings of a mission is being able to association with such wonderful couples with shared purpose. They will be life-long friends and we'll miss them but hope to see them again when they return. The next few days were spent packing, cleaning, shopping, and just trying to enjoying the "present moment" before leaving. Friday afternoon we met with President Broadbent for a final interview and truly memorable priesthood blessings. Saturday evening we had a final dinner out with the couples and Elder and Sister Nevin took us to the airport to begin the long journey to our beautiful, beloved USA!

Beginnings – We flew to London and during the 9 ½ hour layover took the Underground to central London where we renewed memories of our visit there in 2002. A trip on the London Eye (huge tourist Ferris wheel to view the city) and a lunch stop at Beautiful Burger King(!) was about all the time we had before resuming the second leg of our journey -- the almost 11 hour flight to Phoenix. It was long but gave us time for reflection on wonderful blessings and life-changing experiences from serving as missionaries to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ during these days known as “Africa’s time to receive the Gospel;” and help prepare future leaders for the Church in Kenya.

We were met at the airport by our son, Lane, and two grandsons holding “Welcome Home” signs. How we love our family. We count our blessings and savor our wonderful mission experiences as we begin a new era of our lives.

Thanks for sharing this time with us!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Update 3.7.2011

Busy Week! - We met with all four branches enjoying the last full week of classes and trainings. We tried to live in the “present moment” and enjoy everything to the fullest. Keyboards needed to be turned in to the mission in areas where there was no one to teach. It was hard to pick them up as the people have loved the experience. We have recorded their names and are keeping a record for other missionaries who may come, and hope they will be able to continue with keyboard classes at a later time.

It was also a week of finishing up pedigree charts, family group sheets, and especially life stories. We wish we had started life stories earlier so more could have participated. What a wonderful experience this has been learning about the early life of these saints and how they learned about the Church. We have especially enjoyed helping them write their testimonies. It's been exciting as we have taken precious, small, old photographs and enlarged them a little to add to the history.

Goodbyes – This was the last week meeting with the Matua area where there isn't a branch yet. We love this huge family group! It's been a blessing in our lives as we have seen so many baptized – about 75 in one extended family, who all live close by each other, some like 1 to 3 meters in between – and watched them grow in strength and testimony as they have learned to serve in the Mitini Branch. They are so dedicated to walk there through the valley and up a high hill just to get to church. We've helped bring new babies from the hospital; suffered with them through trials and temptations; and celebrated their successes. It feels like they are part of our family! As we met this last time we talked about early pioneers and that they are the African pioneers. They loved the Legacy movie and related to the living conditions as that time as many things are similar to how they live and what they are experiencing. We will never forget them.

Sunday we shared our time between two branches for a last meeting. In the high-on-the-hill branch, Ilima, we attended testimony meeting and enjoyed the spirit and love of the people. After meeting the choir sang God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again as we were departing – it was hard to control the tears. We have special memories in each branch. We left part of our hearts there also as we drove down that primitive trail but beautiful hill for the last time.

In Kyambeke they had a combined relief society and priesthood meeting where we all shared memories and thoughts. We felt such an outpouring of love as we relived so many wonderful memories. After meeting they asked us to go outside where they tied a kanga around Sister Blake and then added a scarf on the head and a basket with a strap to carry on her head! Next came the traditional, African-style celebration dance with the sisters, as the whole group enjoying the proceedings. What a fun day with the only problem being our camera batteries were low and our pictures didn't turn out very well. We'll have to keep the picture in our minds.

We also shared with the branch the news that the video Lisa took of the young women singing their special rendition of the YW theme has been viewed by the whole General Young Women Presidency and they loved it! We have the permission slips from each of the girl's parents to send to Salt Lake in case they use the video for training or other purposes in the future. The girls and leaders were so excited.

Next blog will be the last from Africa, as we fly out late Saturday night. We will leave part of our hearts here but are also getting excited to see family and friends again. Our love to you and have a good week.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Update 2.27.2011

I can see the letters!” - Many of the branch members and investigators can't see well enough to even see the page numbers in the Hymn Book, let alone see the letters of words. Friends and family have helped send or bring glasses and what a blessing these have been. This week Christine a ZEE (Zero English Experience) student was delighted (!) when we helped her with some glasses and she could see the letters she had been trying to learn. Margaret was having a hard time with the keyboard and we didn't know why. She was too shy to say she couldn't see but her husband finally told us and what a big difference it made when she could see the notes. Thank you. Thank you.

Life Stays Interesting. - We had a fun lesson in Matua Wednesday afternoon but when we got back down the hill to our truck we had a totally flat tire. It was hot and late afternoon but Elder Blake rallied the group and had a tire changing lesson (with the help of many children!) I was amazed at his patience. With spare tire in place we picked up the Elders and took them to Nunguni for “dinner.” (The stew was made from the cow tongue – very little meat.) While we ate the flat tire was checked out down the street. They didn't find a problem and said that someone let the air out. Also,Wednesday at Mitini President Kaseve was not feeling well. A matatu trip to Nairobi found that he had acute appendicitis. The next day we took his wife in to be with him and our spare tire went flat during rush hour in the middle of Nairobi. Not good! It took us two hours to find the medical center we needed. There are no addresses in Nairobi, few street signs, and no maps of the city accurate enough to locate a certain area. No one knew where it was. People running shops, gas stations, etc. seldom know where a neighboring business (or hospital) is, even if it is just across the roadway or two shops away from their own. All's well that ends well. We arrived late, but safe.

Sewing Machine Shopping Trip – We have been looking for a treadle sewing maching for the newest branch that doesn't have one. (This gift is from you family who contributed at Christmas time.) We were told where to get the best deal but didn't know how to get there without someone who was familiar with the area. While visiting President Kaseve in the hospital we saw President Onesmus who said he could help us. When he heard the address he said no mzungu should ever be in that part of town! [We told him we had accidentally been in a lot of places no mzungu should ever be (!) so he agreed to help us find it.] What an experience. We now know why not to go there! Even where we've traveled in Nairobi we have never seen traffic jams like we experienced all afternoon and into evening. It was only through blessings of heaven we made it home without incident and with a new Singer treadle machine. We now need to buy the table and treadle. We don't think we will try returning to that area even if we pay more! We are excited to present the machine though. The sisters have been saving a little of their own money and not spending all their church relief society funds to pay a little, so that they feel ownership. They are excitedly talking and planning what they will do when it comes.

Bitter-Sweet Time – We have our release date and travel arrangements and will be returning home from our mission March 12th. We knew this time would come and are excited to see home and family but we will miss these wonderful people and the experiences we have had here. It still doesn't seem real. We are working hard right up to the end and will be in the Hills most of the remaining two weeks. (We'll have to pack fast!) Today was our last Sunday at the Mitini Branch and we told them how much we loved them, and that we look forward to seeing them again at a “grand reunion” in heaven; where we hoped it would be like Alma and the sons of Mosiah when they met after being away from each other for so long: “...therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord:...” (Alma 17). We promised we would try hard to stay true and asked that they do the same so we could meet again and have these same wonderful feelings.

Have a good week and know we are thinking of you with love.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Update 2.21.2011

Payoff” Week – We visited all four branches this week and brought a missionary to Nairobi to be set apart for her mission. We have worked with Sister Elaine for about nine months and have grown to love her as we do all her family. She served a two-month mission in Nairobi when there weren't enough sisters here so she's already had some good missionary experiences. Wednesday when we were to pick her up it was raining and had rained all night. When that happens the road to Kyambeke is terrible (understatement!) but she had to be in Nairobi to be set apart by the mission president before he left town, so we pushed through. As we slid off into a ditch, guardian angels caught us in time and set us back up on the mired roadway. (How often has this happened to us??? No one could persuade us to believe that angels are not involved in missionary work!) Sister Elaine's blessing was beautiful and she'll do a wonderful job in the Ghana Cape Coast Mission. This is the seventh missionary we've helped prepare since we've been here. One more leaves in March and two more have their papers in. It's an exciting time for the Church in Africa.

We enjoyed our visits to the branches, and while progress in some areas is very slow we were so excited Sunday to see the growth in the primary and YM/YW at Ilima. In primary, there are over 120 children who come and reverence has been a huge problem – indeed, chaos has reigned! Primary is held in a building separate from the church, where there are broken windows that children climb in and out of during the meeting. All the children ages 3-12 are crowded in one room, mostly with two children seated in one small chair. The leaders are all new members not knowing how things should go and what they should expect of the children. And they aren't familiar with the primary songs, since even the longer term members haven't grown up in the church. We have been working very hard with the new Handbook of Instructions and teaching reverence etc. Sunday when Sis. Blake climbed down the hill to the primary room and went in it was so quiet she wondered if the children had come yet. What a great surprise to see they had divided the children into groups and they were reverently going about the beginning of primary. The second wonderful surprise was to hear them sing the new primary song for this year – all three verses – and right on tune! The leaders were so proud of themselves, and we all wanted to shout for joy...our hearts were so full.

In the joint YM/YW class, the 35 youth were actually persuaded to respond to simple opinion questions, where they talked to each other in small groups. As they loosened-up and gained courage to speak, they really enjoyed becoming actively involved. (In Kenya, public school classes are all rote-learning and group recitation; and scarey humiliation if a student were to give a wrong answer. Thus, young people are conditioned not to talk, and seldom to voice their opinions.)

The next experience was in Relief Society. Most lessons in all classes are taught by reading right from the book. Elder Blake has worked hard to teach some different ways of involving people and getting them to think and feel the spirit. The teacher wrote on the chalkboard, asked questions, and even divided the group for discussion! She taught with the Spirit and it was wonderful.

We also see excitement as those in the temple classes are feeling the Spirit of Elijah and working hard on their family history. Several are even writing their life histories. We hope we can get them all typed before we leave! What a blessing this will be to their ancestors and to their posterity!

These are days when the long bumpy roads and peanut butter sandwiches all seem worth it!

Have a good week and know we are thinking of you with love.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Update 2.14.2011

Drought and Relief Food – We didn't make our Tuesday work day as Elder Blake had a toothache that resulted in the need for a root canal that day. Wednesday we made our regular visit to Mitini Branch for temple and new member classes but the rest of the time was spent in the branch as they distributed relief food from the Church to members who have been hit hard by the lack of rain during the last part of the growing season. The maize crop this season looked beautiful and green at first, but then no rains came and things dried up and didn't produce. Where people depend almost totally on food from their shambas drought creates a problem in just having food to eat. What a blessing it is as members of the Church world-wide contribute monthly to the fast offering fund and make it possible to help people in need. We wish that faithful members could see their donations used and appreciated so much.

Baptism in Kyambeke – Saturday we picked up the Elders and went to Kyambeke for the baptism of Wilson and Duncan. Duncan is in his early twenties and was baptized by his younger brother, Nicolas, who is about 18 and the young men's president in the branch. It was a very special day for them. Wilson was baptized by Elder Hayes and both bore humble testimonies after. I was impressed as Duncan bore his testimony and said now that he knew he was a child of God he didn't worry about getting “lost” as he knew his Father would come looking for him. My thoughts went to how faithful members are the ones the Father sends looking for those who are “lost.” It made me want to try harder and listen to the Spirit as it whispers where to go and look.

Elder Holland and Opening Burundi – Last October we mentioned a visit by Elder Holland to our mission. He made several visits to different African missions and then went with public affairs missionaries dedicate the land of Burundi for the preaching of the gospel. The February Liahona says: “Elder Holland expressed his feeling that Africa had been held in reserve by the Lord in the spirit of 'the last shall be first' and that Africa would someday be seen as a bright land full of gospel hope and happiness.” We see this in the Hills where we meet so many people who are hungry for the gospel of Jesus Christ and when they are taught it's almost like they've heard it before and accept the teachings. This is wonderful but it also creates a great need for building leaders from new members who have not seen how the Church functions. That has been our quest and challenge during our mission. The new members are mostly willing and anxious to do things right, but long engrained cultural changes come little by little and take time.

Sunday in the Hills – Saturday after the baptism we spent the night in Kikoko and had a nice visit with the head nun, Sister Mary Joyce. We thanked her for making it possible for us to stay there which has made our work so much easier not having to travel back and forth to Nairobi each day. She didn't know we were leaving in April and asked if it would be possible for us to extend! They've been so good to us there. Sunday A.M we traveled through the shortcut (about 2 hours on bumpy road!) to Kilili Branch. As we were leaving Brother and Sister Maneno (couple we took to the temple) gave us a box they said contained a gift for us. It was all tied nicely and we didn't open it until we got home. (We were concerned that it might contain a live chicken as the last time we took a box that size in our truck from Kilili that's what it contained!) When we arrived home we found beautiful mangoes from their trees. Especially during this drought we appreciate this loving gift of sacrifice. How we will miss friends such as these!

On the way home we visited one of the members in the Machakos prison for one last visit. He hopes to be released when he finally has his hearing the end of March; but this is the fifth time the hearing has been delayed. We visit through bars in the outside prison wall, and then heavy chain link fence lined inside the bars. Thus, the closest conversation we have with him is one meter distant, and it is always monitored by guards who stand on each side of the handcuffed prisoner and monitor all conversation (about like in the US we suppose).

Have a good and safe week and know we are thinking of you.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Update 2.7.2010

Good Work Week – It seems there is a rejuvenation in classes at the beginning of the year and also finishing up before we leave. Elder Blake's Mitini new member class is going strong. Also, instead of winding down slowly with keyboard classes, we are preparing one last keyboard party in each branch. At that time we will collect keyboards in branches that don't have anyone within the branch advanced enough to teach and be responsible for the keyboards. It's sad as members have enjoyed the opportunity so much. We will leave detailed information for the next missionaries as to what has been done and who has been taking lessons and hope they will be able to continue. The problem is that there are six areas that will not have senior couples by April (Mombasa, Chyulu, Kilungu Hills, Kisumu, Eldoret, and new Tanzanian area), and only one couple coming that we know of! If anyone is able and interested it would be the experience of a lifetime! You are so needed.

Written History – There is very little recorded history of individuals in Kenya. Most history is oral and passed from generation to generation. In temple classes we have worked on pedigree charts, family group sheets, and now life stories with a promise that we will type and return anything they write! We are trying to add pictures as well. We've asked members to include how they learned about the Church and to share their testimonies. We are also doing oral history interviews with three of the grandparent generation who are definitely the “pioneers” in the church (although the longest baptized is just over one year now). Some of their younger children who have had schooling serve as interpreters. At first they were uncomfortable – lots of one-word responses to our searching questions – but they are gradually warming to the ideas of sharing their life experiences. When they see their words typed, along with a picture that should get them excited!

Welcome Gifts – A few weeks ago one of the branch presidents asked us if we liked chicken. We assured him that we did and he said the next time we came he'd have one for us. We weren't sure if it would be alive and crowing – a “do-it-yourself” project for us – or just what. When we left after classes he presented it to us very fresh, killed, cleaned (still warm – no refrigerators), and ready to go. They also included a huge avocado to go with it. People are so good to us. We're going to miss them all!

Initiation of New Elder - With the transfer of Elder Atkins, Elder Trickett from Roy (just a mile or so from our home) was assigned to our area . We hadn't known him before, as we haven't lived there long ourselves; plus he lives in another stake. The senior companion, Elder Hayes, assured him that he wouldn't need a rain coat as this was the dry season. Promptly upon arrival it began to rain like the bottom had fallen out! We had planned to pick up the Elders and take them to Nunguni for “dinner.” It was pouring rain as they left their apartment, so Elder Hayes gave his new companion his raincoat, since he'd told him not to bring one. Then, on the way down the hill, he slipped and fell “splat” in the red mud – all 6' 7” of him! Now they were soaking wet and covered with mud. We helped him dry off a little before dinner as we also needed to make a hospital visit on our way. These two Elders really stand out as one is 6' 7” and the other about 6' 2” and both blond and blue-eyed. It is a privilege to serve with them.

They have been working on the roads (hand-shovel crews) using the soft red dirt which becomes like pudding when wet. We got stuck right behind a stuck matatu so everyone had to get out and assist the crowd who had gathered to help get the vehicles back on the road. In the confusion, a woman helped herself to our tow rope and started down the road (away from the scene). Sister Blake had gotten out of the truck (in the mud) just in time to retrieve the tow rope before it got “lost.” The day was a fitting welcome to the adventures of Kilungu Hills!

Blog Days are Numbered – We have been working on our calendar and trying to fit in everything that needs to be done in these two remaining months of our mission. We will be excited to see family and friends but we certainly will miss our wonderful friends here, and the experiences we are having We know that our lives will never be the same... (but we just don't know how yet??)

Our love to you all. Stay safe and happy.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Update 1.31.2011

Family African Mission Experience – It's been a wonderful two weeks with Scott, Lisa, and children visiting from Idaho! Many pictures have been taken and it will be hard to decide which to include. The following summary is maybe 1/10th of significant, spiritual and adventureous events we witnessed during their stay. Visits were made to all the branches we serve and the family was able to to interact with the wonderful members. The Kilili Branch presented a keyboard and choir program and all the Blake children also participated on the keyboard, including Max (6) with Lisa's help. The members really enjoyed the little “Mzungu” children and they received lots of African hugs on both cheeks and pats on the head to feel their blond hair. While the language was hard for each to understand, the love of the members was so strong, and the family could feel of their faith and testimony.

In Mitini Branch and again in the Matua Area we introduced the family and then we presented a home evening so the members could see how it could be done. Scott and Lisa's family conducted the FHE just as they do in their own home, included songs, prayers, scriptures, and the story of King Noah, Abinidi, and Alma in King Noah's court. After the scripture story we acted it out with simple props (just items found in or around an African home), and the members loved it – especially when Abinidi (Max, age 6) was tied to a tree and melted with the fire! They also enjoyed the game Scott's family demonstrated of sending one of the children from the room and then hiding something and saying “hot hot” or “cold cold” to help them find it. It was fun interaction with the members.

Another fun interaction was with the greeting to the children. In Kikamba, they greet children by saying “Wah-cha” and the children respond by saying “Ah.” We had prepared the Blake children, and as they were greeted they made the appropriate Kikamba response and the members laughed, clapped and loved, it as did the children.

Sunday we were able to visit the high-on-the-hill branch, Ilima for Sacrament meeting; and then Kyambeke Branch for the last hours of the meeting block, as they combined the last session so all could meet the family. The primary children sang songs; and the YW recited and sang their theme. Elder Blake had Madyson go up and join with them. She didn't know the music but she was a good sport and said the theme with them. The family members were asked to speak and bear testimony which they did. We could see their testimonies strengthened and also those of the wonderful Kilungu Hills saints as we shared that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the same all over the world because it is God's church on the earth today.

Camping in Kikoko – The family were good sports as we camped two nights at our Precious Blood flat in Kikoko so we could work with the branches there. With couch pillows used for mattresses and borrowed foam mattresses on the floor we “camped out” and experienced the beauty and adventures of walks in the Hills, cooking over a “jiko” (small charcoal cooker), and interacting with the students at Precious Blood. Bucket baths were a new experience and some preferred cold showers (very brief showers punctuated with loud squeals!) We were blessed with water and electricity working both nights! Scott's back has been giving him a lot of trouble again (The rough, bumpy roads didn't help!) and he had a treatment from Boneface, the blind chiropractor who worked on Sister Blake. They both enjoyed the visit and the treatment and Scott thought it helped. While he was being treated the rest of us visited the young Elders and “toured” their flat. Pit toilets, bucket baths, kitchen sink that drains into a bucket—good early mission preparation for Isaac and Max—but seeing the Elders and feeling their enthusiasm and testimonies was wonderful.

We also visited the neighboring Kikoko Girls' Primary School where the children enjoyed delivering the library books purchased with Christmas money donated by all the Blake grandchildren. More special experiences as they could see the need for books and supplies and feel the spirit of helping, and the love and excitement of the children and teachers there. This was repeated by a visit to the Kasarani Primary School (suburb of Nairobi). The school is run by a family in Ilima Branch. Most of the children are very poor and many can't even afford 15 shillings (about 18 cents) per day for food at school. This includes porridge in the morning and rice and beans or ugali and cabbage for lunch. The only food some get is what they have at school. Part of the grandchildren donated money also went to this school for school curriculum materials- math, english and science books. The students in each class sang and recited poems, etc. The grandchildren also were asked to do something, so the “Hokey Pokey” etc. were introduced to Kenya! The young “baby class” as they call it (3 and 4-year-olds) was the favorite and they all wanted to shake hands and touch the “Mzungu” friends.

Kenyan Wildlife - We were able to see animals along our drives which was exciting, especially the giraffes, but we really expeienced the famous Kenyan wildlife with a visit to the Masai Mara where we flew by small plane from Nairobi and spent three days at the Aruba-Mara staying in tent cabins which opened with a view of the Mara River (populated by troops of baboons). Our guide (Christian name, Julius) was traditional Masai and he knew the area well. We saw and experienced things we hadn't even expected to see: such as three cheeta brothers who had just taken down a hartebeest; a whole pride of 15 lions, including lion cubs and father Simbas, eating a freshly killed African buffalo; and a small baby elephant nursing from its mother. (The two hartebeast bucks were fighting, and the cheetahs sneaked in while the bucks were distracted and took one of them.) We saw a total of about 22 different species of animals and birds that we were able to name and felt like we were experiencing a National Geographic tour! We enjoyed our guide so much that Scott gave him a small copy of the Book of Mormon with his testimony written inside that the family brought with them. He accepted it graciously and we hope he reads it.

New Friends – During the evenings we stayed in Nairobi, Scott's children made many friends among the black neighborhood children in our compound , who showed up as soon as the van arrived home! They played games (especially loved hide-and-seek) and learned many things from each other. Before leaving the grandchildren gave their friends (about 8-10) copies of the Book of Mormon they had written their testimonies in and told them about what was in it. One boy, about 12-years-old came the next day and asked if he could have one. He had seen the other children out the window and wanted one also. Seeds are being sewn.

All Good Things Must End... - Late last Friday night we took the family to the airport to begin their long journey home. Our house is empty and too quiet now. With only about 5 hours sleep, we got up early the next morning to drive to Kyambeke for a special baptism of a prominent teacher and shop- owner in that area. It was a beautiful baptism and he shared a wonderful testimony that sounded like he'd been a member for many years. He will be a strong member and leader. His wife is not a member and we hope to friendship her and prepare her for the Gospel as well. We next made visits to families in Ilima Branch as we climbed the mountain to their homes. We showed “Finding Faith in Christ” again. They then fed us a late lunch of rice and beans as we visited and then walked us back down to our truck. We finished the weekend Sunday by teaching PH and RS on home and visiting teaching. It was a good day as we celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary in the Hills – no gifts, no cards, no flowers (no time!) – but a wonderful day of remembering how blessed we are. We have only about two more months here and we hope to make the most of them as we work hard and love the people. When we arrived home about 5:30pm, our couples missionary friends brought us dinner, to which we teased, “How did you know it was our anniversary?!”

We love you all. Stay safe and happy.