Mitini Branch Anniversary Celebration – Monday, June 14 was the first anniversary of the Mitini Branch in their own building. They started with 70 members and are now having 220 to 270 attend on Sundays. People have to sit outside as there isn't enough room in the building. We joined their celebration as they chose to watch a 2 ½ hour Church Leadership Training DVD and serve soda and peanut butter sandwiches. How many celebrations have we Americans attended where they celebrated by teaching leadership to the members? They enjoy being together and hearing the words of prophets and leaders.
Death of a Great Leader and Friend – While staying in our Precious Blood flat we received a call at 5:45 a.m. Wednesday morning from President Davis of the Kilili Branch where we were going to teach that day. He asked us to come speedily to the Wote hospital and help give his brother, former branch president Morris Makiti, a blessing. They had taken him to the hospital during the night. We were about a two hour drive away plus getting ready and packing the truck. We arrived just before 9:00 and helped with a blessing of peace to Brother Morris and to his wife. He never regained consciousness and passed away later that day. He was a teacher, who taught his class of 30 children as usual, the day before he succumbed. // He had just been released in April after serving as the first branch president since the Kilili Branch was organized 11 years ago. What a strong, loving, and caring man, with children still at home – age maybe 45 years(?) He was a leader in the community as well as the church. He and his family had been sealed in the temple and they have a son and daughter presently on missions. What a shock and loss. We were able to be with the family and help with transportation and comfort as best we could. We're so grateful for the gospel and knowledge of the Plan of Salvation. // When April was here the Makiti family wanted to have their picture taken with her. We were so thankful for that picture as we were able to make a family picture for them that they would not have had otherwise. Elder Blake is speaking at the funeral this Saturday.
Last Leadership Training – President and Sister Taylor will be released July 1st as President and Sister Broadbent from North Ogden will become our new mission leaders. The last leadership training was June 17th for all Chyulu and Kilungu Hills priesthood leaders. We were asked to help in the training. It was wonderful to look out over that group of strong African priesthood leaders. You could just feel their strength. They are the African pioneer leaders. (See picture.) We also trained Chyulu English teacher coordinators, and Sister Blake taught keyboard lessons to the CES secretary. It's a busy life!
A New Home – Our friend, Anthony, wanted Elder Blake to bless his new home that the branch helped build when his old one washed away in the March-April monsoon. After the baptism Saturday we drove as far as we could, then walked quite a distance down to the home. They are so happy to have it and wanted to make a celebration of our visit. They wanted us to tell stories to the family (most of whom speak little or no English)! Since we were there for their home Elder Blake told the story of the Three Little Pigs (I wish you could have seen him demonstrating “huffing and puffing” etc. ) Anthony would help translate to Kikamba. We then told scripture stories. They wanted more stories but it looked like rain and we didn't know how we'd get out of the valley if it rained so we blessed the home and then they served us the box of cookies we brought brought to them as a house-warming gift; along with sharing three small bottles of soda, they had sent the son running to buy. They only owned three glasses and we all shared. I don't think we know what “humble circumstances” mean, even now. They sent us home with a bag of avocados from their shamba that they carried for us as they all climbed the mountain to accompany us to our truck!
New Missionaries – Two of our special YSA friends have received their mission calls, Dominic Kaseve from Mitini to Uganda Mission and Kennedy from Kilili to South Africa Capetown Mission. There are now about 40 young missionaries from our mission-area serving full-time missions in other parts of Africa – and six more in our area who are preparing for (or presently expecting) calls in coming weeks/months. We are so blessed by their faith and commitment to follow the Savior.
Animals – We have been missing the animals lately but we saw a journey of eight giraffes on the way to the Hills and bushbucks, ostriches, and Thompson gazelles on our way home. We hope they are returning!
We are healthy, well, and happy and hope this finds you the same. Our love and prayers to you all.