Two Good Days in the Hills – We had two good days with Kyambeke and Mitini branches this week. Elder Blake is working with four new prospective missionaries (2 are new converts) in one branch, and we started a new class for family relations in another. We're also working with auxiliary leaders on implementing home teaching and visiting teaching, and are trying to learn patience as changes don't happen quickly here! We struggle with the language but the people are so humble and willing to try. On Wednesday it was so foggy that we completely by-passed the Mitini church building and were headed down the road away from it, when we came upon members walking on the road – but to us they seemed to be walking the wrong way. After several minutes of trying to understand (we still don't understand their speaking very well) we finally understood that we were disoriented in the fog. The members got a good laugh out of that! And we had to back-up far to the church because there was no place where we could turn around on the dirt roadway.
African Ways – The culture in Africa isn't quite the same as what we call “the culture of the Church” in relationships between men and women. When we were serving refreshments after one meeting Elder Blake was saying, “Serve the sisters first.” One of the men protested, “In our culture, the men eat first.” In Church meetings husbands and wives don't sit by each other. We made a sign that the leaders have permanently posted at the front of their chapel: “Humble Request / Please Sit Together as Families.” The branch presidents are now working on that. It just takes time to change traditions.
Too Much and Too Little Water – We have had a lot of rain this week. It was like the bottom fell out of the sky! It made it impossible to get to our Ilima Branch safely so we missed going there Friday. While we had so much water from the sky, we were without water in our apartment for most of three days. Some of the neighbors were putting tubs outside to catch rain water to do their laundry. We had to use some of our storage water to finish the batch we had started in the washer before the running water was finally restored. It made us appreciate the nice warm shower when service resumed!
More Bugs – Elder Blake is having his third bout (February, April, and May) with bug bites! We're not sure what kind of bug is biting him but we spent all day Saturday going to two different doctors. The dermatologist said he was sure it was a bite of some kind and gave him a different kind of medicine to put on them. We have put permetherin (flees/lice/bedbug insecticide for missionaries) on everything in both apartments to kill any bedbugs or anything else and are wondering if it is something in the grass where we walk. They don't bite Sister Blake (and she is grateful!) They think he is allergic to the bites and then he breaks out in other places. We hope we figure it out soon. He's getting frustrated with the incessant itching!
A Walk on Village Trails – Sunday we were a little early going to church so we stopped on our way and walked up a trail (staying out of the tall grass!) into the beautiful mountain country. We saw people in their yards and children playing. We hope we don't ever become so used to this scene that it isn't special to us any more. We came upon a boy playing near his hut (we watched for a few minutes before his siblings spied us), and he was building a miniature stick “fence” on his make-believe shamba. He was using a piece of magnetic tape from an old cassette tape he had found for the “wire” of his fence. (See Picture)
Church was enjoyable except we never know what we will be asked to do when we arrive. Sister Blake ended up playing the keyboard for the meeting and speaking in sacrament meeting! There's a lot of stretching and growing happening on this mission!
Bracelet Pictures – Several people have asked to see pictures of the bracelets April made for the children here. (The young women are also enjoying them, as well as the leaders.) We have included a picture of the bracelets and a lion picture from the Mara, taken a couple of weeks ago.
Have a good week. We love you.