New Mission President - Last week we bid good-by to our dear friends, Elder and Sister Randall, and President and Sister Taylor who returned home to families who were anxiously awaiting them. We will miss them and appreciate their influence in our lives. President and Sister Broadbent from North Ogden arrived this week, and to say they are overwhelmed is probably an understatement! They will be wonderful. Elder Blake has known President Broadbent since working with him in the Weber State University Stake. We look forward to getting better acquainted.
Funeral for Beloved Friend, Morris Makiti – The funeral last Saturday for President Makiti was a wonderful tribute to him and to his family, as 500 to 600 people attended, many of whom stood 5-6 hours for the whole service, which culminated with the burial behind the house in the family shamba. // The death was so sudden: Pres. Makiti, a Primary level teacher, aged 51, taught his class as usual on Monday, was rushed to the hospital by his school principal during the night, and was deceased by Tuesday morning. Causes of death are not discussed in this culture, but Elder Blake saw evidences of what we would call a brain aneurism. A funeral here is a community event, especially for a prominent family. We felt honored to take part in the services and observe first-hand the culture of the Church working with the village/tribal culture. // This was the first death of someone in the whole area who had been to the temple, and Elder Blake helped dress the body early in the morning in the temple robes. We then escorted the hearse from the mortuary to the home compound – a drive of about one hour over primitive, bumpy dirt roads. As we neared the village, we yielded to a motor cycles escort of about a dozen motor bikes (local “taxies” in the area) which announce the arrival by sounding their horns. We (family) were ushered through the crowd and into the home where they brought the casket while the family gathered and were fed. Two of the Makiti children are serving foreign (Africa) missions and were able to come home for a few days to be with the family.
Sister Blake was asked (impromptu) to play the keyboard for the services, on a jazzy(!) keyboard set up by another church in the village. Elder Blake finally substituted Sis. B's keyboard, which provided a much more reverent atmosphere as the crowd filed past the casket // The service then began with speeches by close and distant family members and friends; co-workers and some of his students; and many politicians and community leaders – all before the LDS part of the services – where Elder Blake became the 26th speaker of the day! His short explanation of the Plan of Salvation seemed to be appreciated by family and warmly received by friends from near and distant villages.
Safety and Protection – It was getting dark as we followed a matatu full of branch members home through a “short cut,” part of which was over a bridge in it's early stage of construction. They placed boards over the big ditch to get up on the construction; then carried the boards to the other end to span another large gap to get off. // We pressed on in the evening darkness, and as we went around a curve the truck skidded on gravel and didn't quite make the turn. We ended up tipped over on the down-side of the mountain, with the truck on it's side. Sister Blake's door was at the top side and people came running to help us out of the car before it might continue and roll down the hill. We were able to climb out but couldn't reach Sister Blake's purse which had the phone (and camera) with phone numbers to call for help.
A group of about 40-50 people began to gather. We said silent prayers and Elder Blake was able to contract with one of the drunken men for a “truck” to help roll our truck back up on it's wheels and pull it back on the road. We found the “truck” that he finally contracted for 4,000 Kenya schillings was 18 men pulling on ropes. They shoveled and pulled and tugged until it was finally on it's wheels and stable enough to drive and pull it back on the road. // After Elder Blake paid the spokesman, who said he would pay his helpers, they all crowded around and started assaulting the man to get the money. We could see what was happening, but couldn't leave because one rope was still tangled in our tire. Someone finally cut it with an ax and we hurried away.
After getting in the car we found the phone had been ringing. Someone had called President Kaseve, who had called members who were literally running to our rescue. We later learned they had arrived just after we sped away. They are so good to us and would help in any way. We feel blessed for the love we feel from the people and for the answers to prayers for safety and protection. Viewing the truck on it's side hanging over the hill for about half hour, we had a strong realization that angels were holding it in place until it was stabilized.
More Animals – For the grandchildren, we have been seeing more animals again in our travels. Along the roads this week we have seen journeys of giraffes; herds of gazelles, heartabeasts and bushbucks; and families of ostriches. It's exciting like going to the cabin and not knowing what's around the next corner.
Thanks for your love and prayers. Have a good a safe week.