Monday, March 8, 2010

Update 3/8/2010

What's Happening in Kilili? – Tuesday we traveled to Kilili (farthest away branch with a new branch presidency). Elder Blake finished the audit and did some new leader training, and worked with the English teachers while Sister Blake enjoyed the keyboard class. They are preparing for their music “recital” program on Sunday, March 28th after the block of meetings. Each of the six sisters will play two numbers and they will be singing a new hymn as well. It's been a fun reason to increase practice which has been especially hard as we just finished harvest season and now are into planting season. They are busy. We have also written a thank-you letter to the Harmon Grant administrators who furnish the keyboards, music instruction books, and accompanying practice CDs. This includes books for music conducting. All the students are writing notes and signing the letters – one for each branch. We will send the notes and pictures of each class plus a letter telling of progress. We hope this will help the Harmon people know what a difference this music is making in Africa.

Going to Temple, a BIG DEAL – We also started a temple preparation class with three couples from Kilili, plus two more couples from other branches we serve. There was a good spirit there and they are anxious to make all the preparations necessary to go to the Johannesburg temple (which is a four-hours flight time from Nairobi). As senior missionaries, we will escort the group to the temple and help with children during the days while they attend temple sessions for three days. We have a temple-housing reservation for five couples planned for June 28th through July 2nd. There is a lot of paperwork to get national I.D. Numbers, birth certificates, passports and visas; family group sheets; as well as application for the church's Temple Patron Assistance Fund which covers all costs for airfare, meals, housing and ground travel for first-time temple goers, including all children who will be sealed to their parents. One temple visit in a life-time is all that 95% of these saints will ever experience. Hopefully others attending temple preparation classes will be ready to go in years to come.

Kikoko “Home,” or “Water Water Everywhere” – We were tired after a long day of teaching and travel. We were looking forward to warming our dinner and resting. When we arrived at the Kikoko Girls School we carried our belongings to the flat, unlocked the door, and to our surprise were greeted by water in three of the four rooms – at least 2” to 3” in one room – and there still no electricity! Sister Mumbi (Cattholic nun) sent over four of the students with rags and buckets and they worked very hard to help us. African neighbors let us plug in our electric pot to warm our soup and we had another early night to bed as our lantern and candle were not bright enough to read or study! We detected a leak in the plumbing which no one knew about because there had never been water in the pipes. We hope this week is the charm and we will have electricity and water in the right places! At least the bed is comfortable the the view is still beautiful.

Early Rains – It looks like the rainy season has started early. Friday we went to Ilima, our branch highest on the mountain. It was slippery but we made it up. That morning when Sister Blake woke up her first thought was, “It's so far to travel and maybe there won't be many there. Is it really worth the effort?” When we arrived after a beautiful drive we were greeted so warmly by the members who had come for keyboard and English classes. Those classes were worth the trip but there was also a temple class with a couple who are very ready to go to the temple, and four young men whom we are helping get ready for their missions. What a wonderful spirit there was there. The young man who offered the closing prayer gave special thanks for the missionaries and asked a special blessing for them as they traveled home.

Relief Society Work Meeting – We didn't know beforehand that the Relief Society had planned their meeting to coincide with our visit and Sister Blake joined them as they tied a quilt and wove a table cover. All the sisters enjoyed being together and visiting. They especially laughed when Sister Blake tried out her few words of Kikamba on them! What special sisters – we are the same all over the world.

As we were ready to leave the Relief Society President gave us a loaf of bread and two orange sodas to have for lunch on our way home. That is their preferred refreshments at any gathering, and was a special offering for us. What if we hadn't gone?...

Take a Hike- Sunday we weren't so lucky and had to park at the bottom of the hill and slog about a kilometer in the mud up to the church! We were glad we grabbed our walking shoes at the last minute before we left home. We hired some young boys to watch our truck and hoped all the parts would still be there when we returned!

There is a new primary presidency (just called one month ago) and none of them have been members for more than one year! There are about 120 primary children and visiting is quite an experience. The leaders are so humble and teachable. What a pleasure to work with them. They are trying as hard as they can. None of them know any of the primary songs. What a challenge.

Elder Blake practiced the young men (YSAs) and they sang a special musical number in Sacrament Meeting. He enjoyed it and they enjoyed singing with him. We were touched by the wonderful, simple testimonies of the Ilima saints, most of them new converts. It's very humbling to witness the miracles that are happening here in Africa.

Stuck in the Mud – On our way home we were asked to take the Branch President to a certain city for a training he was to start on Monday. It was a different way home but we were assured it wouldn't be any longer and that some of it would be on the tarmac. They didn't explain that much of it was clay dirt and wet! We got stuck just once but it was a doosy? When Sister Blake opened her door the mud was up to the floorboard! Elder Blake had to change his suit pants (in the bushes), get out the shovel and tow ropes, and enlist the help of anyone passing by to help pull and push us out. We did make it back on the road and arrive home safely none the worse for wear except for all the red mud on and in the truck and on us, particularly Elder Blake.

We feel greatly blessed to be serving here in Kenya. We are grateful for good health and the many answers to prayers asked verbally and in our hearts. We know we are blessed and protected and that this is the Lord's work. We love and appreciate our wonderful family and friends. Have a good week.

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