Monday, February 15, 2010

Update 2/14/2010

Happy Valentines Day! We are thinking of family and friends with love on this Valentines Day! Sister Blake wore her red jacket to church especially for the occasion. That's about the only celebrating we did as we were away in the back-country hills for two days. It's hard to make the traditional lemon pie with an electric pot that only boils water! Elder Blake wanted to buy a bouquet of beautiful roses that are so plentiful here but we weren't going to be home to enjoy them. We think we'll have a belated celebration later. We did have good news as electricity has finally come to the new apartments at Precious Blood girls' school. They are preparing apartment #5 for us and let us look inside. The floors are raw cement with no floor coverings. The kitchen has one small open cupboard with no front and a very small kitchen counter with a sink about 14” x 12” x 4”. No stove or fridge but maybe we'll buy a propane hotplate. The tiny bathroom is a shower room with the toilet in the same room (cold water only and a very small sink outside the door (no mirror). However, the view is beautiful! The teachers share a shamba and there are watermelons, maze, squash, and beans growing. One of the couples' flats about a five-hour drive north of Nairobi has an extra bed. We hope to drive up this week to get it. We would like to see north of Nairobi as we always go south!

While at Precious Blood a few weeks ago we could hear children singing at a school across the valley. We walked over before leaving for teaching and listened to the children. It was wonderful. They invited us to say a few words of encouragement to the girls (all girls school – about 500 students from preschool to about 13 or 14). Elder Blake stood on a riser and spoke to them encouraging them to study hard and prepare for life. We took pictures. This week we went back over and gave the principal copies to post. She invited us to visit some classes. As we entered each classroom the students would stand and say, “Good morning, sir” and “Good morning, madam.” What an experience!

Leadership Training – Tuesday we held a leadership training in our Kyambeke Branch. We furnished the light breakfast before. We checked with some branch members and found that what they really enjoy is bread. They don't have ovens to bake their own. We took large loaves of white bread and cut them in slices about 2” thick with peanut butter and jelly mixed to put on top. Sister Blake also baked banana bread not know if they would like it because it is sweet. It was a big hit! Elder Blake was lucky to get some after it was over. To drink we had the African version of Sunny Delight.

The conference was nice as we are teaching about having correlation meetings and presidency meetings. They were not having either one. We just have to take things a step at a time to not overwhelm them. They are so willing but it takes several times to get started and see the value of planning/organization meetings.

Mitini Baptism – Saturday we traveled again to help with a baptism for 6 more family members from the Matua area (two sisters and four brothers). What a special day. They were so well prepared and anxious to be baptized. They had to walk about an hour over and an hour home after up and down hills. One of the sisters is the mother of nine children. Her husband had been baptized earlier, and they were so happy that she has learned enough English that now she is ready. The grandfather/patriarch of the clan walks with a cane and he walked all the way there (except for a little ways when we saw him and loaded him in with us as we were driving).We feel the strength of their testimonies. It has been a blessing to us to teach them. They will be strong leaders. Sister Blake was asked, after she arrived, to give the short talk on baptism and confirmation. She's learning to be a “minute-woman” but also learning that she can't do it herself and needs the help of the Spirit. There's a lot of stretching and growing going on here for the missionaries!

High on the Hill – We spent the night in the hills and drove to our highest on the hill branch, Ilima, this morning. It was a beautiful drive which made the bumpy 4-wheel drive in Lo Range not so bad. Sister Blake would never make it if she had to drive! Elder Blake has good experience from driving on the farm. The road is more like a trail but worth the trip. We were met as usual by a group of children. They all want to carry our things down the hill to the church. We spoke at sacrament meeting, then prepared members of an investigator class for their baptism interview. Sister Blake visited Young Women class. They were proud to show her the mangoes they had bottled Saturday. They looked like peaches in the bottles. After church we held a teacher development class. We were tired and ready to go home and they still had other meetings scheduled! They try to accomplish a lot on Sunday when they can so people don't have to walk so far other days.

Prayers - We love the prayers of the people. They are so sincere and you feel like they are praying with child-like faith to a loving Heavenly Father. They almost always pray for us, especially as we travel. We feel the benefit of their prayers and are humbled by them.

Our prayers always include you, our family and friends. We love and appreciate you. Have a good and safe week.

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