Watch Out for Wildlife – On the way home Thursday we saw a huge bull giraffe right on the side of the road enjoying an acacia tree dinner. He didn't seem bothered by the trucks and cars zooming by or by Elder Blake stopping to take a picture. It's always a treat and surprise when we see these beautiful animals as we are never sure if or when they will be there.
Visit to Matua – Matua is the village where many are joining the Church even though they have a long hike to the meeting house in Mitini. We have met with the extended family (about n=60) and are starting to teach there on Wednesday afternoons after we teach at Mitini. It makes a very long day but is so worthwhile. The members there are young in the Gospel and hungry to learn. There are many children and a wide age span from grandparents to at least a dozen babies. We met with the family and made a plan to have a song and prayer with the whole group (and lead the music while we sing), and then have a lesson with just a small group. The families were divided into groups of about three sets of parents. Sometimes the children will attend the study group and other times they will be cared for by other families until it is their turn on a later week. Wednesday we showed the Joseph Smith Story video on our DVD player the family gave us, and then when the children went to play we studied the Book of Mormon with their parents and left two copies of the B of M Story Book to help them teach their children and guide their scripture study. What a wonderful spirit was there and we feel blessed to be so warmly welcomed into their homes and lives. Elder Blake then trained the new YM President while Sister Blake started the keyboard class. One keyboard will be left in the village with a sister who will be responsible to care for it and supervise practice. We'll see how that works. The class is limited in number, at least right now until we have some experience.
We left with full hearts and a bag of bananas off their tree. The children all helped carry our things to our pickup truck and the family members walked down the trail with us as is their custom. We were so tired it was quick scrambled eggs and then to bed that night!
Baptism “Celebration” - Two weeks ago we told of a large group baptism which included members of the ZEEs (Zero English Experience) class that had now learned enough English to pass the baptism interview. Many others have also been diligently attending church and English class, but their progress has not been steady and their confidence is low. These had almost given up on being able to be baptized before they died! The Mission President and Elder Watson discussed this problem during the mission tour and it was decided to allow the older people over 55 who had been attending church and English class regularly to be interviewed in Kikamba and baptized. One man is reportedly 105 years old, and thought baptism would never be possible for him. We drove from Nairobi and arrived early to help taxi several loads of these older people down to Kyambeke where the font is located. It was an honor to be involved. The day was cool but the spirit was warm as eleven of these wonderful people dressed in white to be baptized. It was hard just getting some of them into the font and took several men to help them, but what a rewarding effort. After they were baptized they were given an opportunity to bear their testimonies in Kikamba. We couldn't understand what they said, but we could feel their love of the Gospel and their gratitude for the opportunity to be baptized. There were several husbands, wives, grandmothers, and grandfathers whose families were there to witness the occasion. We were grateful for the inspired decisions of those in authority so this could be made possible. Another wonderful day!
Sunday in Kilili – Sunday we spoke in the Kilili Branch Sacrament Meeting. Then Elder Blake taught a Self Reliance lesson in combined Priesthood and Relief Society, while Sister Blake taught the children their last primary song in preparation for the Primary Sacrament Meeting program. We got away early enough to stop at the Kenya Penetentiary to visit a young man from one of the branches. He was so appreciative of the visit. Guilty or not of the serous criminal charges, our hearts went out to him. African prisons are not a very good place to be! It was another full day. // Sister Blake practice-drove a good bit of the way on the remote dirt roads. She didn't do too badly, only hitting one speed bump hard enough to knock the lid off the cooler and a few close calls with the bushes on the left side of the road. Elder Blake just gasped and hung on to the ceiling handle for security – not bad for a beginner.
Have a good and safe week and remember we love you.