Our day at Mitini went well and after we took Elder Jackson and Elder Berg (new missionaries opening the area in Kilungu Hills) up to the high-on-the-hill branch, Ilima to meet the Branch President as we also had some business there. The missionaries were impressed by the beautiful view but a little awed by the responsibility of traveling so far (no car or bike) to help in that area. We will pick them up when we visit there but there are a lot of details (especially transport) to work out!
Change of Plans in Chyulu - At President Taylor's request, we were to travel to Chyulu District (about 220 kilometers south of Nairobi) and train the leadership in English the next day (Thursday), but they called and changed to Saturday which was better as Elder Blake's cold was worse and he needed the rest. Instead we left on Friday to spend the night in the other half of a duplex where Elders stay in Kambu Chyulu area. They met us on the main road on their bikes and guided us in or we never would have found it! It's walled in by a 10 foot high cement wall with pieces of sharp glass on top and a locked gate for security. There's a huge baobab tree right next to the compound. (See Picture. Baobabs look like upside down trees with roots on top!) It was fun getting to know the two sets of Elders living there who enjoyed our red licorice (Scott's family sent with April.)
The next day the Elders helped us find our way to Makatano where the beautiful, new, LDS-style Church is right out in the middle of the open African country – 7 kilometers from paved road – by a small village. It was amazing to turn the corner and see a church like at home! This is the area where the Church first came to Kenya. The District President, two counselors and two clerks, Relief Society President and counselor, the newly called English specialist, and one branch English teacher were all there ready for the training. Elder Blake had a fun schedule planned where they worked as if they were English students. It was a good training with a lot of laughing and some good questions and suggestions as to how to help members and investigators in the 10 Chyulu Hills Branches make progress in learning English. We'll be back in July for a Workshop for all branch English facilitators. We love our Kilungu Hills friends so much we wondered how we'd feel in Chyulu, but we found the same warm, friendly church members there. How blessed we are to work with them!
“Monkeying Around” - On our way back we stopped to eat lunch at the Hunter's Lodge. We ordered and then looked over at our truck where the back window had been left down about 1”. The monkeys were climbing all over it, reaching their arms in, trying to get our travel food! Across the river there also was a baboon family with a mother and baby. We missed the picture as the waiter was taking our picture on the bridge. It was a fun stop!
Interesting Testimonies – We slept at our Precious Blood flat again and went to Mitini for church Sunday. It was fast Sunday with a good testimony meeting. It was interesting, however, as some of the children stood on a chair to see over the podium and bore testimony. These individual testimonies consisted of a scripture or Article of Faith, then the singing of a song. The interesting part was the choice of their “testimony” songs: “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” “Roll You Arms,” and “Do As I'm Doing.” (The prayer song in Primary was also “Roll Your Arms.”) The people have wonderful testimonies and a great desire to follow the programs of the Church; there are just so many things to teach and learn about how the Church runs and what is appropriate. It's a great work!
Baby Dresses – At Mitini we were able to give some cute, soft, hand-knitted dresses for babies to some of the mothers in the branch. (Aunt Norma sent them with April and they were made by some non-member sisters in the mid-west who make them for places like Africa, but have never seen them on the babies.) The mothers were so proud and happy to have the dresses – even though the babies were a little larger, and they were more like blouses! (Picture) We also finished distributing the CTR bracelets to this last branch. They will probably never see a CTR ring but the bracelets serve the same purpose and they loved them! We gave them to all primary children and Young Women. (Picture) It was a special day.
After church we drove to Kyambeke and picked up the new Elders to take them back to Nairobi with us for their Zone Conference. We love these young men – Elder Jackson from Zimbabwe, and Elder Berg from Soda Springs, ID. They feel like our sons and could almost be our grandsons! We appreciate their strength of faith and their cheerful, positive attitudes as they face many challenges in this new area.
We are still coughing but feeling much better. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.