Chicken in a Box – Not Kentucky Fried! - Tuesday after classes in Kilili we took four sisters back to Nairobi with us for a special leadership training. As we were loading their bags for the trip we noticed a box containing a live chicken as a gift for a Nairobi relative's dinner! [Picture] We had a delightful trip except for some sisters' being car sick.
Leadership Training – The training included all priesthood leaders as usual but added all Primary, YW, and RS Presidents and one RS Counselor. Elder Blake and President Broadbent taught the Priesthood. They discussed welfare and self reliance issues that are a great concern to leaders here where members have so little. The sisters enjoyed getting better acquainted with Sister Broadbent as she did a wonderful auxiliary training for them. The sisters had never been invited before and really enjoyed this special occasion.
Funeral in the Hills – Early Friday morning found us at the Machakos mortuary preparing to lead a funeral procession for John Masila. After an hour's drive we met in Kikoko with the motorcycle honor brigade who led the way with lights flashing and sirens blaring to his final resting place at his home near Mitini. After parking the vehicles in the valley, the grandsons carried the casket and all walked up the steep hill to his home where the funeral was held. The Mitini Branch was in charge of the services though a village elder conducted. John's wife and daughter-in-law are members of the Church. John had been attending and learning English to be ready for baptism. (Elder Blake had taken a picture of John in the English class and we were able to make a nice picture for the family for the funeral.) About 200 family members and friends attended and were fed by the Relief Society. (No disposable dishes – just rinse and reuse.) Family and friends spoke, then President Kaseve and Elder Blake. Elder Blake essentially explained the Plan of Salvation and showed a picture of the Savior. People, most of whom were not members, seemed to feel the spirit of the message even if they didn't understand all of the English. The branch choir sang many hymns while people were eating and during the actual burial. Family members were so appreciative and many said they will join us at Church.
Baptism in the “Waters of Mormon at Kyambeke” – Many of the Kilungu Hills baptisms take place in the Kyambeke font and President Kaseve likes to call it the “Waters of Mormon in Kyambeke.” This was a special day for Brother Simon (age 50?) who is the only member in his family (we visited his home last week). As he came out of the water he was heard to reverently exclaim “Halleluah, praise the Lord.” as he humbly looked skyward. Sister Mary (age 20?) who has been studying English and studying the gospel diligently, was also baptized. Her husband is seriously investigating and will be baptized soon. What a beautiful day and a nice ending to Elder Berg's mission as he is leaving for home this week. After the baptism the new members each bore testimony and you could feel their happiness and love for the Gospel [Picture]. What a blessing to be involved in seeing lives change and growth occur in people's lives.
Youth “investigators” – While waiting for the baptism to begin (about 90 minutes), many young neighbor kids come cautiously peering into the church. Elder Blake invited them in (two groups at different times) and sat them around a table to look at the scores of beautiful pictures in the LDS Gospel Picture Kit . To about 10 youth seated around the table, he handed 2-3 pictures to each person for them to look at; and told them gospel stories about selected pictures. They smiled happily and listened intently to the stories of Jesus, Book of Mormon stories, etc. As he left one group to visit with others, he happened to glance up as the first group was marching out of the building... and lo and behold, there was not one picture left on the table. They thought the pictures passed to each of them were gifts, and were excitedly carrying them to their homes! We all laughed about the misunderstanding; and they were not terribly disappointed to each be given their own pass-along card instead. [Picture]
Mombasa Promise Fulfilled – When we visited Mombasa in July we met a convert member of the Church living there (age 26?) whose family are not members and live in the Kyambeke area. We took some pictures of him and he wrote a warm letter for us to deliver to his parents, along with an Ensign magazine. We didn't know exactly which was their home, but as we were climbing the path on a long hill, we saw an elderly lady in her yard and showed her the picture. Her eyes lit up, as he grabbed and caressed the picture to her heart. It was her far-away son and she was so happy. She called the family together and put chairs in the yard for us to sit down. We met her husband and other teen-aged family members (thankfully some knew English) and had a very special visit. We left with gifts of two eggs and an avocado the children climbed the tree to pick. The Kyambeke Branch President and some of the young men will visit soon, and invite them to learn more about their son Emanual's new church.
More Time in the Hills – We are spending longer periods of time working in the Kilungu Hills branches, where we stay at Precious Blood Girl's School up to five days some weeks. It has made a big difference in our ability to visit in people's homes and meet their extended families. What a blessing it is to us. It's a lot of work getting food, clothes, and everything we need to teach prepared ahead each week but we think it is making a difference. We love the people and are learning so many lessons about what is actually important in life. There are many cultural differences, but we are more alike than different. We will miss these friends when it is time to return to our home. We will probably never be able to return but there will be a wonderful reunion in heaven!
Have a good week and remember we love you.