Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Update 8.31.2010

Mission Tour – After spending two days in the hills we returned to a wonderful and inspiring day spent with Elder Watson (First Quorum of Seventy) and his wife. Counsel, advise, and training was given by the Watsons, President and Sister Broadbent, and the Assistants to the President. You could feel the strength and unity of purpose with all the couples and young Elders and Sisters. That evening the couples met at the president's home for dinner where, at our urging, Elder Watson shared some of his experiences (that he could share) as he has been Secretary to the Quorum of the Twelve and First Presidency for some 20 years. He's a good friend of President Monson and has been hunting and fishing with him. It was fun to get a glimpse of the personal side of General Authorities. We didn't want the evening to end!

New Kenyan Constitution – Thursday was an exciting day for Kenya as they celebrated a new constitution – the first ratified changes in Kenyan history. Declared a national holiday, many thousands gathered at Uhuru Park near us, where music and loud speakers could be heard from our home. We wanted to watch but have been cautioned not to go near crowds for security reasons. Everywhere we went we could feel excitement and hope in the air. We learned that day that Roger Whitaker was born in Nairobi. He has a beautiful song accompanying a video of many of the scenes that have become part of our lives here in Africa. It made us feel nostalgic and we haven't even left Africa yet! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksy5A-VSNik ).

Elder and Sister McBride from Mombasa stayed with us a couple of days; and along with Elder and Sister Byrd, we had a day of shopping at the Jogo factory market and Kazuri Bead Factory. We ended the day at Bomas of Kenya where the native dancing and acrobatics were the best we've seen. It was a fun change of pace with good friends and fellow missionaries.

Now the Best Part! – Saturday was a cold day with warm hearts. The “old mamas” (as they are called) and grandpa-age men have been working so hard for almost a year in the ZEE (Zero English Experience) class to learn English enough that they could to pass a baptism interview. Many feared they would die before their hopes were realized! Saturday, 24 people from Mitini Branch and three from Kyambeke Branch were baptized. This included nine from the ZEE class! What a strong spirit was there as they dawned their white clothes and prepared for this sacred and important ordinance. They were so ready, most having been faithful meetings attenders for a long time. Many had to be helped carefully into the cold water of the font so they wouldn't fall. With smiles and tears they completed the goal they had been working toward. After the baptism they were given the opportunity to bear their testimonies. In class they had been practicing in English but it is harder to say how they feel so they all spoke in Kikamba. We couldn't understand the words but we could understand the feeling and spirit of what they were saying. One older sister was baptized by her grandson, as her son and family watched with full hearts. Others watched as mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters were baptized. We will probably never experience anything quite like that again. What a humbling experience to be part of.

With 27 people being baptized plus four baptizers, there were many white clothes and towels to be washed and rinsed by hand, and then hung to dry. The Relief Society went right to work. It took quite awhile. Lines were strung between trees and buildings but wouldn't hold all the heavy wet clothes. Most were hung on bushes all over the yard or even placed on the grass to dry over night. We've never seen so many white clothes and towels hung in a church yard! Even a picture couldn't do justice to the sight. We went back to Kyambeke the next day to pick up the loaned clothes from the mission office and found all the clothes drying in the chapel after church. It was so cold and wet they hadn't dried. No one minded the extra work as we were all still remembering the wonderful baptism day when the ZEE's and others finally made it to what President Kaseve calls, “The Waters of Mormon in Kyambeke.”

We feel great gratitude for the many experiences we have been allowed to share on this mission and our previous mission. There is such a need all over the world for couple missionaries. When you are “old” you can say and do some things the young missionaries can't.

We love you and keep you in our prayers. Have a good week.

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