Monday, February 22, 2010

Update 2/21/2010

Report from DR Congo, Africa – We had home evening in our apartment Monday and heard a report from the Public Relations missionaries who had just returned from an assignment in the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the largest countries in Africa. Living and travel conditions there made Kenya sound easy! The exciting part was the extreme growth in the Church in the area. In areas where there aren't even missionaries people have gotten copies of the Book of Mormon and whole groups are coming and wanting to be baptized. It's still amazing to us what is happening in most of Africa despite poverty and corrupt governments. Indeed, as it has been said: This is Africa's Day to Receive the Gospel.

Maize Harvest – Tuesday after class in our far branch, Kilili, we took the “shortcut” through the valley to Kikoko where we were planning to stay the night. On our way we stopped at one of the branch president's areas to help load his maize into the back of our truck and haul it up the mountain where he'll store it to dry and make maize (corn) flour. It was fun working with the president and some of the branch members. After the last load they invited us into their home. They are so proud of it as they have been building it themselves. It was very clean and nice. The kitchen was in the house and consisted of a couple of small charcoal burning stoves. (Usually kitchens are outside in a fire house, covered with corregated tin.) They have one bedroom finished and two more that are not finished yet. In one area they had a turkey sitting on her eggs. They are raising rabbits and turkeys and also have a heifer calf for milk when she gets older. They live on the same shamba as the president's parents and brother's family.

Trip to the Kikoko Hospital - We never know for sure what we'll be doing when we arrive to teach somewhere. Wednesday at Mitini when we arrived to teach we were needed to take a sister to the hospital to get her stitches out. She had had a C-section the week before. She had to climb clear up the hill to the road with the baby; wait at the hospital to be seen, and then walk clear back down to her home. She was so tired we hurt for her but she didn't complain. The baby girl was darling and Sister Blake got to hold her the whole time! We returned to finish our classes. Temple class was teaching about family history and preparing pedigree charts before filling out family group sheets to submit names for temple work. What we thought would be easy turned out to be very difficult for them to understand. When a woman marries, her husband's first name becomes her last name! We will need much more work in coming weeks, but they were very interested and wanting to do their best. Many of them don't know when they were born – often just the year, and sometimes that is a rough estimate. We sent them home to find out information from their relatives regarding names and dates. Even birthdates are hard to pinpoint here! There will have to be a lot of work done for the African saints during the Millenium.

Trip to Pick Up a Bed – Thursday we borrowed President Taylor's truck which doesn't have a shell on the back and drove to Eldoret (5 hour drive north of Nairobi). It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed seeing a different part of Africa. It is a little higher altitude and they were harvesting different crops (potatoes, carrots, peas). It seemed a little more modern and we even saw a pivot sprinkler for large-field sprinkling in one place. The cows were more like we were used to and didn't have the “brama bull humps” on their necks, like cattle we see here; and we saw our first horses that we have seen here. // We had heard about the Great Rift Valley but hadn't seen it and we were able to view it along the way. We enjoyed our visit with Elder and Sister Littlefield in Eldoret. They have a beautiful home rented by the Church. Their mission is over in March and there isn't a new couple coming so they will have to close up part of the home and young Elders will live there. They didn't need the extra bed so we were able to pick it up for use at the Kikoko apartment. Elder Blake was having a “fast food attack” on the way. When we travel in the US, he enjoys stopping along the way to eat. When we go south there isn't anywhere safe to eat but going north we found a little restaurant at the gas station and enjoyed delicious beef stew and scones. What a treat after so many sandwiches on the road!

New Apartment at Kikoko – Saturday afternoon we drove to Kikoko to deliver the bed and a few things to the apartment at Kikoko Girls School. Things weren't quite as ready as we had hoped. We spent the night with no water and the electricity blew out before dark. We thought we'd be okay because we brought a lantern, but it only lasted about 10 minutes. Thank goodness we had a candle. We didn't take our mosquito net because we had purchased a mosquito repeller that plugs into the wall; but with no electricity, well... We just have to remember it is at least safe and friendly there and the landscape is beautiful!

New Beginnings – Sunday we attended Sacrament meeting in Kyambeke. Their main speaker didn't show up so Elder Blake was the speaker. During the sacrament, before he knew he would be speaking, he says that he had inspired thoughts flood into his mind. // After the block, the New Beginnings was held. The Young women sang a beautiful rendition of the YW Theme and then Sister Blake was asked to speak (which wasn't planned!) This was another answer to prayers for inspiration. On our morning walk we had been discussing the story of Esther in the Old Testament and Sister Blake likened the young women to Esther as being born “for such a time as this” in the history of the Church in Africa. We feel so blessed and are reminded of what is says in D & C 100:6: “For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea in the very moment, what ye shall say.”

New Mission President - We have learned that our new mission president in July will be Steven Broadbent, a dentist from North Ogden. Elder Blake served with him in the Weber State University Stake, and thinks very highly of him. We'll miss President and Sister Taylor but will look forward to working with President and Sister Broadbent.
Have a wonderful week. You'll be in our thoughts and prayers!

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