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.