We hope all is well with each of you in your homes and with your family. We think of you often - you seem so far away! Some of the things we see and experience would be almost impossible to understand without seeing.
We are doing well and enjoying teaching in the various branches. We attended church in the last of our four branches yesterday. We took gasoline up to use with kerosene to start the generator and watch the general conference DVDs. I was excited thinking we'd be able to hear and to understand a meeting. As the conference began we could see the various beloved general authorities but when they spoke it was in Kiswahili! What a surprise to us and a blessing to the members. With no electricity there is no TV and they all loved watching conference together. We were to tired and didn't understand what was being said and had to keep poking each other to try to stay awake!
We had a regular sacrament meeting before conference and then the children went to primary which is in another building (old house) down the hill from the chapel. There were about 80 primary children with only 4 sisters helping. One led the music, one conducted (in Kikumba) and helped with talks,and just two sat by each other with the children. I'm not sure if it was just a different day because of conference or it they always just sit together for two hours! They love to sing and it's fun to hear. They did get wiggly and some kept going in and out. It's a long time to sit! We'll be going there on Friday to teach keyboarding and conducting and another class to teach some members how to teach English.
Ilima is located way on top of a mountain. The members dug the road for the last distance to the church and we've never seen a car up there except ours. The children are all fascinated when we drive up. They peek in the windows, and if we leave it unlocked for a minute, they climb in. They love to honk the horn and listen when it beeps when we lock and unlock it. They stand and watch when we leave like it was a Macey's parade - some follow laughing as we drive slowly down the hill.
On the way back we stopped at another branch for a "pit stop" (literally) and found they had a young woman (mother of 6) in the "hospital" in the next village (new member Elder Blake baptized a week ago). She had just lost a baby at 6 months and wasn't doing well. We drove the father and two of the branch presidency to the hospital where Elder Blake helped give a blessing. The hospital was two large rooms with lots of beds, each with a mosquito netting over it - no privacy at all. She was worn out having had labor for about three days before getting to a hospital and getting help. We are keeping them in our prayers. We were gone from home for almost 12 hours and just made it home before dark. (We heard today she is doing a little better and we are grateful.
On the way home we saw the most animals we have ever seen. We saw about 14 giraffes, a herd of gazelles, zebras, and wildabeasts. It was unbelievable. It was so late we didn't stop to take pictures. We're including some pictures of a giraffe we saw right by the road on our last trip. He just stayed and let us take pictures like he was curious about us too.
Things are going well on the over all. We have many lessons to learn. After church I was visiting with a young mother and admiring her new little baby. She whispered in my ear that she wondered if I could help her with some money - anything would help. We are told not to give money but to refer them to the priesthood authority (branch president) who understands the need and the culture. It was so hard. They are trying to make the people self reliant and not dependent on others. Hard lessons.
"Happy Birthday" this month to Zoe and Calyx! We'll write before Thanksgiving. Maybe we will be able to Skype during the holiday. We'd love that. Someone is helping us tonight learn how to set up Skype phone calls (2 cents a minute from our Skype to your mobile phone.) We'll let you know how that goes.
Better run and prepare tomorrow's lessons. We love you all and love hearing from you. We really enjoy our book from the ward with letters for each week. Everyone who comes to our apartment is amazed with it (and that we are trying to be good and not sneak a peak ahead!) Thanks so much.
Love to you all.