Sisal Rope – One sister was braiding a rope from sisal. Sisal plants dot the landscape, because thy are the method of choice for marking borders of their shambas (subsistence gardens) and property lines. They harvest the leaves from which they dig out the sisal fibers and braid ropes. She showed me how to make a rope, so I bought it from her for 25 schillings (about 33 cents). The sisters wondered if we had a cow because the kind I bought is used to tie on the cow's and goat's leg to tether them out to graze. (Thousands and thousands of animals – tethered out each morning along the roadways and hillsides, and retrieved to the safety of their homes each evening.) I told them Elder Blake grew up milking and caring for cows but we didn't have room in our backyard at home for a cow!
“Community” Sewing Machine: The sisters each have saved up and contributed their money to a fund over many months to buy a treadle sewing machine that they keep at the church. They are very proud of it, and those who know how to sew are teaching those who don't how to sew clothes, etc.
Legacy (Mormon Pioneers): Friday in Ilima the meeting was much the same only they read some of the RS history and then watched the Legacy DVD, as it was their turn for the generator. They love the Mormon pioneers and really enjoyed the movie though many wouldn't be able to understand the words. The RS president would intermittently tell what was happening in their native language. They served the same type meal and added bananas and mangoes. We ate outside at the church house, overlooking some of the most beautiful, green hillsides one can image. We can hardly wait for April and Devan to come in April so we can show them.
Tender Mercies: We've had two experiences this week where we feel we were particularly watched over. On the way to Kyambeke from Kilili we took the valley shortcut (about 35 kilometers). The members in Kilili said it hadn't been raining so we should be fine. They didn't know it had been raining on the other end and when we had been traveling about 2 hours we came to a very large mud hole (about 100 meters long!) There were about 7 or 8 workers standing on the side of the road as they had been doing some work to start building a bridge over this area. They were just waiting for us to get stuck so we could pay them to help dig us out. Elder Blake got out and spent about 10 minutes just walking up and down surveying what to do. We didn't want to go all the way back and start over a different way which would have taken 5 hours at the least and we were so tired. We had had a prayer earlier when we had seen the clouds and rain begin. Elder Blake got back in the truck and said my job was to pray and he gave it the gas and drove right through the mud. I couldn't see how it would ever be possible – it was like there was a rope from above holding us up and getting us through! What a blessing. The vultures (men) waiting for their payola were dismayed and disappointed that we made it!
The second incident was that the clutch on our truck went out again – the second time in 6 weeks. The amazing thing was that we were in Nairobe again – just like the first time – where we could get help; rather than on top of a mountain somewhere. These incidents are particularly amazing since we are in remote localities for 80+% of our driving time. We are being cared for beyond what we would know how to do! (If a vehicle stops anywhere, the cardinal rule is: “Never leave your vehicle!” as it will not be there in serviceable condition when you return. It would have been a long night for us in the mountains... can't lay down on the ground for fear of chiggers; plus it is not safe.)
Inspirational Baptisms: Saturday we attended a baptism for the Mitini Branch held in Kyambeke. Seven people were baptized. Most of them were members of families. The large family we mentioned before who live in Matua had two more baptized. One new member who is a priest now was able to baptize his brother. I stood by another brother, James (baptized in February), and as they were ready to enter the water, he looked at me and said with emotion “That's my brother baptizing my brother.” Another father, Anthony, who was just baptized in December was able to baptize his wife and two of his children. His wife didn't pass the interview last time because of her English. He has been helping her learn English at home and she was ready now. Two other sisters were baptized and their non-member father was there. He is a respected village elder who is now taking the lessons and should be baptized soon. What a special spirit attended the meeting. Those who were being baptized had to walk many miles up and down hills to get to and from Kyambeke from their homes. We have it so easy at home. Their sacrifice brings them blessings.
Because of the rain we couldn't get to the another branch as planned for Sunday meetings, so attended Mitini, where Elder Blake helped confirm them.
Animals are Returning: The animals (zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, gazelles, ostrichs, etc.) had migrated away about six weeks to two months ago; but on the way home this time we saw a herd of Thompson gazelles, wildebeests, a field of ostriches, and a large herd of camels. We also saw a giraffe off the left side of the road, and while I was watching it, two more in front of us started across the road and almost ran over us! It made a fun trip.
Have a good week. We love you all.