We enjoyed our visits to the branches, and while progress in some areas is very slow we were so excited Sunday to see the growth in the primary and YM/YW at Ilima. In primary, there are over 120 children who come and reverence has been a huge problem – indeed, chaos has reigned! Primary is held in a building separate from the church, where there are broken windows that children climb in and out of during the meeting. All the children ages 3-12 are crowded in one room, mostly with two children seated in one small chair. The leaders are all new members not knowing how things should go and what they should expect of the children. And they aren't familiar with the primary songs, since even the longer term members haven't grown up in the church. We have been working very hard with the new Handbook of Instructions and teaching reverence etc. Sunday when Sis. Blake climbed down the hill to the primary room and went in it was so quiet she wondered if the children had come yet. What a great surprise to see they had divided the children into groups and they were reverently going about the beginning of primary. The second wonderful surprise was to hear them sing the new primary song for this year – all three verses – and right on tune! The leaders were so proud of themselves, and we all wanted to shout for joy...our hearts were so full.
In the joint YM/YW class, the 35 youth were actually persuaded to respond to simple opinion questions, where they talked to each other in small groups. As they loosened-up and gained courage to speak, they really enjoyed becoming actively involved. (In Kenya, public school classes are all rote-learning and group recitation; and scarey humiliation if a student were to give a wrong answer. Thus, young people are conditioned not to talk, and seldom to voice their opinions.)
The next experience was in Relief Society. Most lessons in all classes are taught by reading right from the book. Elder Blake has worked hard to teach some different ways of involving people and getting them to think and feel the spirit. The teacher wrote on the chalkboard, asked questions, and even divided the group for discussion! She taught with the Spirit and it was wonderful.
We also see excitement as those in the temple classes are feeling the Spirit of Elijah and working hard on their family history. Several are even writing their life histories. We hope we can get them all typed before we leave! What a blessing this will be to their ancestors and to their posterity!
These are days when the long bumpy roads and peanut butter sandwiches all seem worth it!
Have a good week and know we are thinking of you with love.