Thursday, August 12, 2010

Update 8.9.2010

Voting Day Holiday – In Kenya, voting day is a holiday. In 2008 presidential election, 1000 Kenyans from opposing groups were killed and many others displaced from their homes. This year the election was for adoption of a new national constitution, and thankfully the violence was avoided. // Where we were in the Hills, we hardly knew the polling was happening except for seeing people with black dye on their left little finger which signified they had voted. Our day was spent in Mitini with the YM and YW of the branch (about 62 of them!) who are on vacation from schools. We had a scripture and LDS pictures activity for them, and then watched Man from Snowy River. They could identify with the mountain country and enjoyed the horse scenes and it was fun for a change. From Mitini we went back to Precious Blood where we had an appointment to show Finding Faith in Christ to Sister Mary Joyce, School Principal and Head Nun at the convent. It was a very special experience as the spirit was there and she seemed really moved by it.

Visits in the Hills - Along with teaching classes in Kyambeke and Ilima, we were able to make some home visits to some new converts and investigators, since we were staying at Kikoko and not trying to hurry back to Nairobi. What enjoyable experiences. We visited Tom's family (convert we found along the road on baptism day a couple of months ago who had been praying to find us so he could be baptized). His wife was there and several of his 8 children along with his mother who lives next door. We took cookies (biscuits) for the family to share and they served a hot chocolate drink. They started and ended our visit with prayer and all walked us back up the trail to our car.

Another visit was to Brother Simon (investigator who lives a long way from the church but is looking forward to his baptism this coming Saturday with excited anticipation), and Brother Julius (baptized 2 weeks ago) who are good friends, and have lived on the same side of the hill as neighbors to each other all their lives. They have just recently put in a road quite near their homes and told us we were the first Mzungus to ever visit their homes, and the first vehicle to drive the road. Brother Simon's family was not home but he accompanied us to Brother Julius' home and we enjoyed meeting his wife (non-member) and some of his 8 children. We also took cookies to these homes and were served more hot chocolate plus pumpkin (squash) and bread. They wanted us to stay longer to visit and talk more about the gospel but it was getting late and we wanted to get back to Kikoko by dark. We wished we had had our camera with us as they live in such a beautiful place and grow pineapple along with the rest of the regular shamba crops. They seem hungry to learn more about the gospel and appreciated a visit at their home.

Dinner with the Elders – Thursday night we picked up the Elders and had a nice spaghetti dinner with them as Elder Berg will be leaving for home (in Soda Springs, ID) soon. (He says he doesn't want to think about it.) As the first young missionaries in the Kilungu Hills area, he has loved his Kenya mission experience. He enjoys adventure, and Sunday we asked him if he had prayed for the adventure he had with us that day! (see below).

Kilungu Hills Four Branch YM/YW Activity – Nestled in a valley in the beautiful Kilungu Hills is the Kyambeke Branch which was the gathering place for over 200 YM and YW and their leaders on Saturday for the first ever combined activity. (August is vacation from school month, so we saw many youth who are away to boarding schools that we don't regularly see.) Many walked up to 1½ to 2 hours to attend, and the Kilili Branch rented a bus to bring their youth. They were greeted by youth leaders as they entered the gate of the church compound; who also helped them with color-coded name tags for “mixer” games throughout the day. To start, they were given a pencil-paper “get acquainted activity” where they were to find someone in a different branch, who: had a brother or sister on a mission or could say an Article of Faith, etc. There was great excitement as they met new friends with same beliefs, standards, and values!

During opening exercise, branch presidents and leaders were introduced and instructions were given for the morning activities. Each of the four branches had prepared a workshop session and the youth were able to rotate to each session each half hour. Their color-coded name tags helped divide them into random groups to meet new friends. The workshops were wonderful. They included: scripture chase, how to lead a hymn, how to be a member missionary, and an inspirational video Finding Faith in Christ. We enjoyed seeing how much they enjoyed the workshops and also seeing the growth they experienced by preparing their own workshop.

After lunch (bread and soda) each branch had prepared a game to present for the group. We were going to have them going on simultaneously but they all wanted to watch each other so the games were short sessions of musical chairs, tug of war, balloon relay, and volley ball. This was all followed by the movie The Other Side of Heaven about Elder Groberg's mission. They hated to leave and wished it could have gone on longer and are already planning for what they will do next time – mainly, have more time together, like a couple of days.

Our hearts were full as we sat at the front of the chapel and looked out over the group of over 200 beautiful young people and saw them with their scriptures and enjoying being together and learning more about the gospel and socializing and making new friends. We could almost visualize what the Church will be like here in a few years when they are the leaders and are able to teach and raise their children in the gospel. We also loved seeing the leaders from the different branches visiting and sharing ideas more than they had been able to do before.

We were exhausted by the time we arrived back in Kikoko but felt very blessed and HONORED being able to be involved in the lives of these beautiful young people.

Sunday Adventure with New Mission President – Sunday dawned with a misty morning the day for Ilima Branch conference to be attended by the new Mission President and his wife. Since we had stayed the night at Precious Blood School, we received a call about 7:00a.m. asking if it was raining, since we had previously warned them about what the roads are like in the rain. We assured them that we were just experiencing mist (fog). Shortly thereafter it began to rain in earnest! We picked up the Elders in Kalongo and started for Ilima calling to tell President Broadbent and the Nevins about the rain, and that we would go ahead and check out the road conditions before they got that far. We made it through the first slick spot, then had a feeling we should go back to help them if needed. We arrived just in time to see them slide off the road. The next half an hour or so was spent taking turns falling off the road and helping each other get back on. The young Elders got out (Elder Berg got the adventure he was looking for) and were helping with ropes, and Elder Blake and Elder Nevin took turns also. They were all sporting red clay-mud on shoes, pants, and even shirts before we were through! Sister Broadbent kept saying she would rather get out and walk all the way there. On one of the slick spots when they went off the road she told us her eyes were shut and she said, “Are we dead yet!” What an introduction to the Hills.

We called the branch president and reported that we would be late, so they switched the meetings around so that Branch Conference Sacrament Meeting was last. After another prayer for safety we continued on our way and made it to the high-on-the-hill branch, Ilima. President and Sister Broadbent were both able to go first to primary and greet the children. They are such loving people... the children, parents and leaders could all feel it. It was a wonderful experience for all. The other meetings were very inspirational and we were all glad that we didn't give up and go back. We wondered if the attendance would be small because of the weather but the building was crowded as usual and members were so happy to get to meet the new president and his wife. The branch choir sang and everything went well. We feel their love for us and for the Kenyan saints. Theirs is an inspired call to serve here.

Thanks for your love and prayers. You are in ours. Have a good week.

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