In Mitini Branch and again in the Matua Area we introduced the family and then we presented a home evening so the members could see how it could be done. Scott and Lisa's family conducted the FHE just as they do in their own home, included songs, prayers, scriptures, and the story of King Noah, Abinidi, and Alma in King Noah's court. After the scripture story we acted it out with simple props (just items found in or around an African home), and the members loved it – especially when Abinidi (Max, age 6) was tied to a tree and melted with the fire! They also enjoyed the game Scott's family demonstrated of sending one of the children from the room and then hiding something and saying “hot hot” or “cold cold” to help them find it. It was fun interaction with the members.
Another fun interaction was with the greeting to the children. In Kikamba, they greet children by saying “Wah-cha” and the children respond by saying “Ah.” We had prepared the Blake children, and as they were greeted they made the appropriate Kikamba response and the members laughed, clapped and loved, it as did the children.
Sunday we were able to visit the high-on-the-hill branch, Ilima for Sacrament meeting; and then Kyambeke Branch for the last hours of the meeting block, as they combined the last session so all could meet the family. The primary children sang songs; and the YW recited and sang their theme. Elder Blake had Madyson go up and join with them. She didn't know the music but she was a good sport and said the theme with them. The family members were asked to speak and bear testimony which they did. We could see their testimonies strengthened and also those of the wonderful Kilungu Hills saints as we shared that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the same all over the world because it is God's church on the earth today.
Camping in Kikoko – The family were good sports as we camped two nights at our Precious Blood flat in Kikoko so we could work with the branches there. With couch pillows used for mattresses and borrowed foam mattresses on the floor we “camped out” and experienced the beauty and adventures of walks in the Hills, cooking over a “jiko” (small charcoal cooker), and interacting with the students at Precious Blood. Bucket baths were a new experience and some preferred cold showers (very brief showers punctuated with loud squeals!) We were blessed with water and electricity working both nights! Scott's back has been giving him a lot of trouble again (The rough, bumpy roads didn't help!) and he had a treatment from Boneface, the blind chiropractor who worked on Sister Blake. They both enjoyed the visit and the treatment and Scott thought it helped. While he was being treated the rest of us visited the young Elders and “toured” their flat. Pit toilets, bucket baths, kitchen sink that drains into a bucket—good early mission preparation for Isaac and Max—but seeing the Elders and feeling their enthusiasm and testimonies was wonderful.
We also visited the neighboring Kikoko Girls' Primary School where the children enjoyed delivering the library books purchased with Christmas money donated by all the Blake grandchildren. More special experiences as they could see the need for books and supplies and feel the spirit of helping, and the love and excitement of the children and teachers there. This was repeated by a visit to the Kasarani Primary School (suburb of Nairobi). The school is run by a family in Ilima Branch. Most of the children are very poor and many can't even afford 15 shillings (about 18 cents) per day for food at school. This includes porridge in the morning and rice and beans or ugali and cabbage for lunch. The only food some get is what they have at school. Part of the grandchildren donated money also went to this school for school curriculum materials- math, english and science books. The students in each class sang and recited poems, etc. The grandchildren also were asked to do something, so the “Hokey Pokey” etc. were introduced to Kenya! The young “baby class” as they call it (3 and 4-year-olds) was the favorite and they all wanted to shake hands and touch the “Mzungu” friends.
Kenyan Wildlife - We were able to see animals along our drives which was exciting, especially the giraffes, but we really expeienced the famous Kenyan wildlife with a visit to the Masai Mara where we flew by small plane from Nairobi and spent three days at the Aruba-Mara staying in tent cabins which opened with a view of the Mara River (populated by troops of baboons). Our guide (Christian name, Julius) was traditional Masai and he knew the area well. We saw and experienced things we hadn't even expected to see: such as three cheeta brothers who had just taken down a hartebeest; a whole pride of 15 lions, including lion cubs and father Simbas, eating a freshly killed African buffalo; and a small baby elephant nursing from its mother. (The two hartebeast bucks were fighting, and the cheetahs sneaked in while the bucks were distracted and took one of them.) We saw a total of about 22 different species of animals and birds that we were able to name and felt like we were experiencing a National Geographic tour! We enjoyed our guide so much that Scott gave him a small copy of the Book of Mormon with his testimony written inside that the family brought with them. He accepted it graciously and we hope he reads it.
New Friends – During the evenings we stayed in Nairobi, Scott's children made many friends among the black neighborhood children in our compound , who showed up as soon as the van arrived home! They played games (especially loved hide-and-seek) and learned many things from each other. Before leaving the grandchildren gave their friends (about 8-10) copies of the Book of Mormon they had written their testimonies in and told them about what was in it. One boy, about 12-years-old came the next day and asked if he could have one. He had seen the other children out the window and wanted one also. Seeds are being sewn.
All Good Things Must End... - Late last Friday night we took the family to the airport to begin their long journey home. Our house is empty and too quiet now. With only about 5 hours sleep, we got up early the next morning to drive to Kyambeke for a special baptism of a prominent teacher and shop- owner in that area. It was a beautiful baptism and he shared a wonderful testimony that sounded like he'd been a member for many years. He will be a strong member and leader. His wife is not a member and we hope to friendship her and prepare her for the Gospel as well. We next made visits to families in Ilima Branch as we climbed the mountain to their homes. We showed “Finding Faith in Christ” again. They then fed us a late lunch of rice and beans as we visited and then walked us back down to our truck. We finished the weekend Sunday by teaching PH and RS on home and visiting teaching. It was a good day as we celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary in the Hills – no gifts, no cards, no flowers (no time!) – but a wonderful day of remembering how blessed we are. We have only about two more months here and we hope to make the most of them as we work hard and love the people. When we arrived home about 5:30pm, our couples missionary friends brought us dinner, to which we teased, “How did you know it was our anniversary?!”
We love you all. Stay safe and happy.