Monday, January 25, 2010

Update 1/25/2010

New Experience: On Tuesday we visited our farthest away branch, Kilili, for classes in English, keyboard and investigators. It was an enjoyable day starting very early with travel from Nairobi. Keyboarding has been bogging down a little so we planned a church music program where all students would perform 2 hymns plus we would learn a new hymn to sing at the program. We set a date the end of March after sacrament meeting. I suggested just family be invited but the class chose to invite the whole branch! We'll see how it goes.
Pictured above: YM in Kilili Branch holding Sunday School class.

After classes we were to pick up some mangoes from Pres. Makiti's home to transport back to Nairobi for a young man there to sell to help pay for his PEF (Perpetual Education Fund) loan. When we went to the president's home women were working there to get the bean seeds out of the shells as he sells them for seeds. Everything is done by hand, even picking up every little seed after they are separated by hand. Then the sorting is done by hand. Sister Blake participated with the sisters and we all enjoyed a good laugh!

Some days are harder than others: We are struggling with teaching English to some who have no English experience. Elder Blake calls them ZEE's (Zero English Experience). One problem is preparing African members to understand how to be the teachers. Another is: Where do you start with so many at different levels? Especially when the same 10-25 people don't show up consistently from one week to the next?? Other classes are going well with a very special group of investigators who are getting close to baptism. They speak enough English to understand and ask good questions. Sister Blake and three young branch missionaries are working together and we almost hate the classes to be over!

Three more days in the hills: Friday we taught in Ilima (highest on the mountain). We are met when they hear our truck approaching by 20-30 little children (when they are out of school) who live near the church. They see and hear us making our way up the mountain in low-range 4-wheel drive for about 20 minutes before we arrive; there are no other vehicles that drive up there. We try not to give treats or we almost get attacked, but this time we couldn't help it. They have so little and sat down and ate the cookies right there. We will pay for it in weeks to come by being mobbed by them and dozens more like them as we arrive but it was worth it.

Pictured above: Children waiting for the truck at the Ilima Branch

We had to hurry after class to go to a baptism in Kyambeke Branch. The Branch President called and asked us to see things went well. He was on the way in a matatu (taxi van) to take his brother to the hospital as he had been in an accident that morning in another matatu that had swerved to miss a person in the road and had rolled down the mountain! We saw the accident as we drove by earlier. The baptism went well, though on “African time” as two of the girls who were baptized didn't arrive until 45 minutes after the baptism was scheduled. Elder Blake just started his talk over and we went on. There was a good spirit there and they will be good members. We pray the members will help them feel part of the branch and that they will continue to grow.

We left the baptism to go with Pres. Kaseve from Mitini to visit a new area, Matua, where there are many joining the church and attending Mitini Branch. They are all from one large family. (All but one person in the investigator class belong to this family.) We thought we were just going to see the area but found that the people had all gathered and the women were waiting for us for a relief society meeting and the men were waiting at another home where Elder Blake was announced as the speaker! (We're getting used to this type of surprises... (sort of!) In the R.S.meeting they said something in Kikamba, and the sisters started each giving a few shillings of money to the RS president while someone recorded who contributed. I asked the sister next to me what the money was for and she said it was “fast offerings.” They have so little but they pulled coins from here and there. At the end of the evening they gave the collection to the young mother with a new baby who lived there. (Interesting use of fast offerings but appreciated.) She brought the baby out and gave her to me to hold and you know how much I loved that! They then gave us a tour of the area where all the families lived and Elder Blake took pictures of the families. It's a whole little community belonging to this family and they have joined the Church. They have to walk 40 minutes across a valley and up a mountain each time they go to meeting! It was nearing dark when we finished the very full day. Two young men rode back to Kikoko with us to make sure we didn't get lost (which we appreciated). We were exhausted and almost on overload with all that we had experienced.

Pictured above: New members from Matua

Another Water Turnover: The Church turned over another water bore hole in our Kilili area. The celebration wasn't quite as large, but the branch choir sang (which included Elder and Sister Blake). They requested that I wear my bright flowered dress so I could “fit in.” The people are so appreciative of the water. As they said “Water is life.” We understand more now.

We spent two nights in a row at Precious Blood so we didn't have to drive back to Nairobi before speaking in sacrament meeting in the hills on Sunday where those who were baptized were confirmed. We were happy to arrive home safely Sunday evening for a hot shower and good bed! Our bath in Kikoko was standing in a dishpan size tub of hot soapy water (heated in our cooking pot) and scrubbing and then stepping into another tub of rinse water and using a cup to pour over and rinse the soap off. It was quite an experience but better than we thought it would be! At least there was water.

Our love to you all. Have a good and safe week.


  1. Hi Mom and Dad,
    I enjoyed reading your blog. These people will truly be in mourning when you leave. What rejoicing when you see them again in heaven.
    We are doing well although so busy we can hardly accomplish what is expected of us. Jacob is just about 3/4 done on his Eagle Project of building goose nests. We will all be excited to have that completed. He's worked very hard. Dallin has started up with guitar again and loves his new teacher which is only about 4 minutes away. ( I love that). She will be teaching him beginning picking along with the other things and he is very excited about that.
    Emily is thrilled because Dean was picked out of a hat to go on the fieldtrip to the Treehouse Museum this Friday. Usually I go but I work on Fridays now. As we were looking at the parent signup sheet that had been sent home, Dean walked into the kitchen. Emily said, do you work on Friday the 29th Dad? He said "No that's my day off", (he has a flex day every two weeks). The minute he spoke, I saw his face which said "what have I just signed up for?"
    He was trapped and signed on the line to volunteer. Emily told him that all of the parents wouldn't be able to come but she hoped that he would. He had a little ray of hope.
    Each day she gives him an update on his chances. The next morning she pled with me to please take her early to school so she could turn in her paper before everyone else. I did this.
    That evening she told Dean, "Dad, I took my paper in early and I took it right to my teacher and said, ' Mrs. Favero, my dad has never been on a fieldtrip for me or any of my brothers and sisters and he signed up so can he please, please, please come?" Mrs. Favero said she thought he could. So many parents signed up however that they had to have a drawing to see who was allowed to go. Good news- Dean made the cut! He will have a great time. It's just new terrain for him. (first half of comment)

  2. Amanda is still deciding where to go to school. We still need to visit Utah State and then hopefully her decision will be easier.
    I am doing well although nervous to be overwhelmed. My first days at Stoney Brooke Assisted Living went well. I already love the people and feel qualified to do this job. They are so appreciative. I will make my own activity calendar for February and so will choose what we will do. I have ordered the Reader's Digest Treasury of Favorites from Yesterday. I plan to ask them each which songs they recognize and then we'll play name that toon and have a sing along.
    I already asked those who usually participate which countries they have lived in or visited and we'll be starting our "vacation to....." series. We'll have a project initially where they will decorate a wooden box for keeping track of their travels. We'll then visit one country a month and the cook said that she would cook a semi-authentic meal for lunch that day. I'll try to get one performer to do something from that country and then we'll have some hands on activities. When we're done, I'll give them a wooden nickel with the name of the country we visited so they can put it in their box.
    Lastly, I am going to have a once a month "brain exercise" activity for those who want to take a more active part in keeping their short term memory. (I plan to enroll in this). I have been learning of small things that can be done to increase that part of your brain. I expect this to not have much participation at first but hopefully when they see how much fun we will have, they'll come for the social time at least.
    I am also going to take my little video camera which I used to send you email clips and we'll film some of the activities so we have a nice video at the end of the year.
    My brain always has such big plans, but I hope at least some of this is do-able. I think it will be. They are very kind to me there. If I'm ever losing at a game, they console me. One lady even spoke to my dice before she handed me the cup during Yahtzee. I believe she said, "Come on baby!" We actually all screamed for joy when I finally got a good roll and the director came to see what all the racket was. She seemed happy to see us having fun. I feel like at least for now, this is where I should be and truthfully it's not as much a money issue as taking care of my brain. I would do it for free. Dean has me visit some of the sisters in the ward that have severe depression sometimes. It is hard for me to do but I promised the Lord that if I ever got feeling better, I would talk to others about my experience if it would help. I read my patriarchal blessing the other day and it said, "You will be called upon many times to comfort the aged and to make comfortable the sick and the weary and to buoy up the depressed and to help those who have troubled minds."
    I know it probably seems like I'm a little manic but I feel at peace for now. That isn't the way I always feel. It's nice to feel like I have the skills for a job for a change.
    I bet when you read your partriachal blessings you have some different insight considering what you're doing right now. Have a good week. Love, Cheryl