Special Visits – Wednesday after class we drove to visit Margaret, a special sister in Kyambeke Branch who has 4 children and recently married a non-member. They live near his family as is the custom, and the family members are giving her a hard time about going to church. She is a strong member and helper in the branch as she plays the keyboard for sacrament meeting and also holds the primary together! We made arrangements to show Finding Faith in Christ at her home. When we arrived the mother-in-law was not there but her husband and seven of his friends (about 12 of us altogether) all joined us in their little kiosk (about 6' x 9') as we watched together. There was total attention and a special spirit as we viewed experiences from the life of Jesus Christ. Margaret's sister, Elaine our good friend, also went with us and helped interpret. We could see a softening and were grateful for the opportunity. We only wish we could have taken a picture but our picture will be a wonderful memory in our minds.
Thursday after class we did something similar and walked (almost straight up a hill in Sunday shoes!) to show the same DVD to a home-bound member sister and her young daughter-in-law whose husband is a returned missionary. They also felt the Spirit and the young sister would like to finish the missionary lessons she started over a year ago, but has been lost from missionaries since then. She says she wants to be baptized.
Mitini Family Missionary Activity -Saturday we spent most of the day at the Mitini Branch activity. All four young men from three branches who are leaving for missions this week were there and honored. Members enjoyed watching The Other Side of Heaven and Tabernacle Choir and other church videos while the sisters prepared a wonderful dinner. There were huge kettles of rice and stew cooked over fires in the hot sun. In the primary room there was a mass production of chapatis (like flour tortillas). They know how to celebrate (and how to eat). Even the children are given a huge amount of rice. We never see any leftovers. They just rinse out the dishes with water out of the rain barrel when people finish and someone else uses them. Before dinner they had a meeting like sacrament meeting where several people spoke briefly, including the new missionaries. It was wonderful to see them get up and express their love of the gospel and of the people and ask for the prayers of the members for them while they are serving. After Sis. Blake spoke, Elder Blake sang God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again for the closing hymn, as all joined in the final chorus. In this culture we don't see much emotion shown but we identify with what they were feeling.
In and Out the Window! - Lest we get all puffed up and think everything is going well and everyone loves and accepts the church we also have had some other “interesting” experiences. After making one of the nice visits we were headed home when we saw a middle-aged lady walking up the long hill. We stopped and offered her a ride as she said she was also going to Kikoko. She spoke very little English so when we saw one of our members along the road we stopped so he could explain who we were and what we were doing there. He did this in Kikamba (which we didn't understand, of course), and part way through the explanation she became very agitated and stood up and jumped around trying to get out of the truck. Elder Blake was trying to unlock the door for her as we weren't sure what was happening, but it wasn't fast enough. She stood on the seat and dove out the far-side window. He leg got hooked for a minute and she quickly pulled it out and ran over to the side of the road! We aren't sure what panicked her – maybe she thought that we were going to kidnap her; or that she believes the rumors of Mormon witchcraft - but it certainly startled us. This was the “Out” experience.
Saturday, after the family activity in Mitini we were starting back to Kikoko when we saw some of the members on the side of the road. We could tell something was wrong so we stopped. They hurriedly climbed into the truck (there were 9 of us) as a drunk man was trying to get in the window to accost one of the members. He had been waiting for him when he left the activity. We were finally able to get his arm out of the window and drive away. That was the “In” experience . We are never sure what is going to happen next but we are being blessed with safety and protection beyond measure. All ended well!
Things are going well. We just returned from a fireside with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Elder Snow of the 70. There was just a small group of missionaries invited to be there, and what a special experience. We will tell more about it next week.
We love you all and keep you in our prayers.