Sunday, February 7, 2010

Update 2.7.2010

Sis. Blake Rebaptized – The week started with a bang as we traveled to our farthest away branch, Kilili. (The picture of the grass huts at the top of our blog was taken on one of our first trips there.) We enjoyed our classes of English, music, investigators, and leadership; then traveled a shortcut through the mountains to Kikoko to spend the night at the girls' school. // On our way we stopped by a small river and dam where early Kilungu Hills church members were baptized before there were any fonts. We walked over to take some pictures of the beautiful green valley and came upon some young boys “skinny dipping.” You should have seen them streak to find their clothes when they saw "mzungus" taking their picture! While Elder Blake was taking in the beauty of the valley, he about got run over by thirsty cows that charged to the stream to drink. // Across the stream we saw women washing their clothes in the river and hanging them on the bushes to dry. Elder Blake suggested that Sister Blake go down and join them so he could take a picture. Sister Blake, in her missionary clothes and slick shoes, stepped on some wet moss and slid right into the muddy stream, and came up just a sputtering. (An unplanned baptism!) Elder Blake, who was a ways away, didn't know whether to laugh, snap a picture, or rush to pull her out. As it turned out, the wash ladies ran and pulled her out and proceeded to wash off her clothes and shoes as she tried to compose herself. Elder Blake was too busy to help as he and the young African boys were laughing and taking pictures!

Rain, Rain, Go Away – Friday we taught at our branch high on the mountain. We love to see the children there as we have mentioned before. They have been a little shy buy they got brave enough to let Elder Blake give them a little hug. // There are four young men there (all converts, of course, since the church has been there just a few years) who are preparing to go on missions. They take keyboard and conducting class and help teach English. They also have joined the temple preparation class. We feel their strength. Young men have big responsibilities here and rise to the occasion.

It had rained hard in Nairobi before we left in the morning. Later, as we were getting ready to drive home. Thunder, lightning and rain pelted us, and the clay-base road became slick as pudding. Water was just running from the mountain and down the road. The road was like ice skating. Sis. Blake claims to never have prayed so hard for safety in her life. There are no barricades off the side of the road, it's just straight down. We tried to help another car that had gone off the road. I wish I had a picture of Elder Blake holding an umbrella, standing in deep, red mud, and trying to help hook a tow rope to the car. We finally decided it would never work and offered to take the owner to the next town. He didn't dare leave his car for fear the car would be dismembered and carried away by thieves (common practice for abandoned cars) before he got back to it. We never know what to expect when we leave home.

New Prelude Music – Today we attended church in Mitini Branch. They are a very new branch and are still getting organized and learning how things go. They are growing fast and we are trying to help build the new leaders. It's hard when so many have never experienced what a regular church meeting is like. They are so humble and we love attending there. // Wednesday, after music conducting class Sister Blake forgot and left our CD player there. Since they don't have their own CD player (battery operated, of course), they borrowed ours. As we arrived, we heard prelude music being played for the Sacrament Meeting and soon realized they were playing an old Jim Reeves cassette tape we had left in the CD player – featuring “I Love You Because,” “Have You Ever Been Lonely,” “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You,” etc. I guess they thought if the missionaries have the music it must be okay! We're not sure that's on the approved prelude list.

The Good Stuff – There is another group of nine investigators from the Mitini Branch who will be interviewed tomorrow for baptism. We mentioned before about the Matua area and the strong family there. Most of these people are from that family. What a blessing it has been to teach them. They have been hungry for the gospel. One young man from that family, James, was baptized a few months ago and is already planning on a mission and studying everything he can get his hands on. It's humbling to see. The baptism will be next Saturday. Fast and testimony meeting in that branch was wonderful today. Most of the young Aaronic Priesthood young men bore their testimonies. Also, just as a note... the young family that asked Sister Blake to help name their baby is naming her Anna, in honor of “Carol Ann.” It's a special honor.

Elder Blake is busy helping with audits for all the branches and we are working hard on leadership training. Right now that is almost more important than working with investigators. Branches need to be divided, so new leaders are urgently needed. They are eager to learn, but just need to be trained (and retrained) since they are all new to priesthood procedures, church operation, etc.

We love you all. Thanks for your love, letters, and prayers.

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