Friday, December 4, 2009

Update 11/9/2009

We've had a wonderful and busy week. The crowning experience was the baptism of 16 new members into the Mitini Branch on Saturday. They don't have their own baptismal font yet so we met at the Kyambeke Branch. We took some towels and extra baptismal clothes from the mission to help. The Kyambeke Branch had some clothes but only three towels. With that many people they needed extra. The baptism was to start at 10:00 a.m. We made the 2 1/2 hour drive and arrived shortly after 9:00 to help prepare.

They filled the font with the water that was available. Since this is the rainy season, the water was red/brown in color and they added Jiks to help kill the germs. We helped lay out the baptismal clothes on tables in one of the rooms so they (those doing the baptizing and those being baptized) could choose their sizes before going to dress.

Before dressing we met in the small chapel where there was primary music being played on a CD player for prelude. A member of the Elder's Quorum Presidency conducted and we sang an opening song (which seems to be their favorite) "How Firm a Foundation" and then had an opening prayer by Brother Kiika. The Branch President then gave a talk and then called each person by name to go to the clothing room and prepare for baptism. [When we met with Pres. Kasave on Wednesday to review the baptism program he said he would like the priests in the branch to have the experience of baptising the new members so Elder Blake did not take his baptism clothes with us. When we arrived, Pres. Kasave told him he would like him to baptize the first four - (which ended up being 5). Elder Blake had to wear a pair of white pants under the baptism suit which was made by sewing a white shirt to a pair of white pants. It didn't fit the best and I helped him roll up the cuffs. I thought he look great in his make-shift white clothes, given the circumstances.]

We then met back in the chapel where Pres. Kasave gave a talk and then we proceeded to the baptismal font outside. Elder Blake entered the font first and baptized an elderly man who is an important member of the Kumba Tribe clan council. What a special experience. He than baptized four others including one cute young girl who was so frightened she wouldn't bend her legs and had to be baptized twice. The Branch President's son (a Priest, age 16) then baptized some of the converts and then a branch counselor, Bro. Boneface, finished the group including his young daughter. What a wonderful experience on a beautiful day in Kyambeke, Kenya! One of the baptisms was of the husband of a young mother. She was so happy to have her husband baptized. No one seemed to mind they had to share towels or that the water was brown!

After everyone was baptized and dressed, we returned to the chapel for a brief talk and closing song, another favorite, "There is Sunshine in My Soul Today" and a closing prayer by Brother Muthenya. The confirmations were Sunday in sacrament meeting.

We met after at the font for some pictures of this special day and then drove up the big hill to the Ilima Branch and took Michael and Clair (the two young people who are preparing for missions), and all the wet baptism clothes and towels. They were going to wash them (by hand) up there because up higher on the mountain the water was cleaner. They then would hand them on the fence to dry. I don't know what the branch will do when these two wonderful young people leave. They depend on them so much. The youth here are strong.

Pictured above: 1. Clair and Michael washing baptism clothes, 2. Kyambeke baptismal font, 3. Branch President Kaseve in center with members and Elder Blake

Yesterday we attended church at the Kilili Branch again as it was their Primary program. We felt blessed to be able to find the village as we'd only been there once and had tried to write directions as we drove on the bumpy road! The program was fun and the children sang with enthusiasm. The melodies weren't always totally what we were used to, but they sang with spirit. We will be going back this Friday to teach keyboard and English. It is a long ways and we were gone for 11 1/2 hours with travel and meetings.

We are continuing to be blessed with good health and safety. We are enjoying learning the culture and seeing the different animals. We haven't seen giraffes lately, but this week we saw ostriches and yesterday we saw a large group of baboons along the side of the road. It was so much fun we had to stop and take pictures--although they kept fleeing away.

How we love and miss family and friends - especially as the holidays are coming. It's hard to think about fall and Thanksgiving as we are going into summer here!

You are in our thoughts and prayers. Ni muvea (thank-you) for your letters and prayers on our behalf.

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