Monday, February 14, 2011

Update 2.14.2011

Drought and Relief Food – We didn't make our Tuesday work day as Elder Blake had a toothache that resulted in the need for a root canal that day. Wednesday we made our regular visit to Mitini Branch for temple and new member classes but the rest of the time was spent in the branch as they distributed relief food from the Church to members who have been hit hard by the lack of rain during the last part of the growing season. The maize crop this season looked beautiful and green at first, but then no rains came and things dried up and didn't produce. Where people depend almost totally on food from their shambas drought creates a problem in just having food to eat. What a blessing it is as members of the Church world-wide contribute monthly to the fast offering fund and make it possible to help people in need. We wish that faithful members could see their donations used and appreciated so much.

Baptism in Kyambeke – Saturday we picked up the Elders and went to Kyambeke for the baptism of Wilson and Duncan. Duncan is in his early twenties and was baptized by his younger brother, Nicolas, who is about 18 and the young men's president in the branch. It was a very special day for them. Wilson was baptized by Elder Hayes and both bore humble testimonies after. I was impressed as Duncan bore his testimony and said now that he knew he was a child of God he didn't worry about getting “lost” as he knew his Father would come looking for him. My thoughts went to how faithful members are the ones the Father sends looking for those who are “lost.” It made me want to try harder and listen to the Spirit as it whispers where to go and look.

Elder Holland and Opening Burundi – Last October we mentioned a visit by Elder Holland to our mission. He made several visits to different African missions and then went with public affairs missionaries dedicate the land of Burundi for the preaching of the gospel. The February Liahona says: “Elder Holland expressed his feeling that Africa had been held in reserve by the Lord in the spirit of 'the last shall be first' and that Africa would someday be seen as a bright land full of gospel hope and happiness.” We see this in the Hills where we meet so many people who are hungry for the gospel of Jesus Christ and when they are taught it's almost like they've heard it before and accept the teachings. This is wonderful but it also creates a great need for building leaders from new members who have not seen how the Church functions. That has been our quest and challenge during our mission. The new members are mostly willing and anxious to do things right, but long engrained cultural changes come little by little and take time.

Sunday in the Hills – Saturday after the baptism we spent the night in Kikoko and had a nice visit with the head nun, Sister Mary Joyce. We thanked her for making it possible for us to stay there which has made our work so much easier not having to travel back and forth to Nairobi each day. She didn't know we were leaving in April and asked if it would be possible for us to extend! They've been so good to us there. Sunday A.M we traveled through the shortcut (about 2 hours on bumpy road!) to Kilili Branch. As we were leaving Brother and Sister Maneno (couple we took to the temple) gave us a box they said contained a gift for us. It was all tied nicely and we didn't open it until we got home. (We were concerned that it might contain a live chicken as the last time we took a box that size in our truck from Kilili that's what it contained!) When we arrived home we found beautiful mangoes from their trees. Especially during this drought we appreciate this loving gift of sacrifice. How we will miss friends such as these!

On the way home we visited one of the members in the Machakos prison for one last visit. He hopes to be released when he finally has his hearing the end of March; but this is the fifth time the hearing has been delayed. We visit through bars in the outside prison wall, and then heavy chain link fence lined inside the bars. Thus, the closest conversation we have with him is one meter distant, and it is always monitored by guards who stand on each side of the handcuffed prisoner and monitor all conversation (about like in the US we suppose).

Have a good and safe week and know we are thinking of you.

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