Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thanksgiving in Africa

Thanksgiving is the time to be with family. Since all of us are half way around the world from our families the Mission President graciously invited all of the senior couples over to the mission home to celebrate together so we would not sit at our flats and be depressed. These are such great people we love spending time with them. Only one couple was not able to be there. They were with a group visiting the Johannesburg Temple.

Front row L to R: Pucketts, Lurfs, Foxes, Beechers, President & Sister Broadbent, Byrds
Back row L to R: Flinders, Burgeners (front), McBrides (back), Godfrey and Us (the Blakes were in Johannesburg)

The traditional Thanksgiving dinner with the couples.

Sister Broadbent leads us in some fun singing as Karen looks on.

A few more pictures of our latest safari

Close encounters with four different groups of lions: Two males just waking from their, three females on the prowl, two other females also on the prowl that walked right in front of our parked pickup, and we came across another two females as we came over a rise while driving on THEIR road.
This old guy is sporting a wound just below his right eye.

The other male spent several minutes washing himself. I wonder if they cough up fur balls like domestic cats do?

This Impala paused just long enough for me to capture his profile.

This is the first Zebra colt that we have seen.
Just across the river valley that marks the south western border of the park someone has built this castle in the rocky cliffs.

Our Most Recent Safari

The Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend President Burgener (counselor to President Broadbent of the KN Mission) and us went on a short safari to The Nairobi National Park. We saw a wide range of critters and some beautiful scenery. Here we pose with the guards who protected us while we were out of our pick up to explore the Hippo Pond. They carry AK 47s but they said that they use them to shoot into the air to scare any aggressive animals. They report that they have not had to kill any animals yet, but have had several charge them. Hippos, Water Buffalo and Rhinos are the most ill tempered.

This is another reason that we needed a arm escort. There were not any hippos in the pond but there were two of these very large Nile Crocodiles and 7 very large turtles.

This Nile Monitor Lizard is a fairly rare sighting as well. He scampered across the road as we drove away from the Hippo Pond. He measured well over two feet long! Not as scary as the monitor lizards on the Galapagos Islands but I would not like to meet him hiking in the woods.

We were treated to close encounters with two different families of Giraffes. There were five members of this giraffe family. They did not seem intimidated by us driving down THEIR road. The one farthest away was the patriarch. He stood in the middle of the road and did not budge until the other four members of his family were safely across the road.

There were three Rhinos only about 70 meter off of the road but the grass was so tall that we did not get a real good picture. These guys are not as social as some other animals.
It is mind blowing to realize that these wild animals live only a few kilometers from the modern metropolis of Nairobi.

Kennedy leaves us to go on his mission

One of the most rewarding and spiritually uplifting aspects of our responsibility of serving in the mission office is to be able to meet and work with not only the Elders that serve in the Kenya Nairobi Mission, but also to get to know the ones that leave from Kenya to serve in other missions. Recently Kennedy, the young man who has been our interpreter for the investigator class we teach on Sundays in the Kilili Branch, left on his mission. His is an inspirational story! He has only been a member for a short time. However, in that short time he has been so committed that he was given many responsibilities in the branch. Catch this, at the time left for his mission he was the: branch mission leader, the young men's president, the English class teacher, a member of the branch choir and the alternate gospel doctrine teacher in Sunday school (that is before he started interpreting for us). He and three friends from other branches in the Kilungu Hills received their calls on the same day. Two were called to The Uganda Kampala Mission and Kennedy and another to The South Africa Cape Town Mission.

Here are the four Kilungu Hills friends the day they were set apart as missionaries. They left the next morning for the Mission Training Center in Johannesburg, South Africa. Kennedy is the one on the left. Also in the picture are Elder and Sister Blake (on Karen's left)-they serve the four Kilungu Hills branches from which these young men come; and Kenya Nairobi Mission President Steven H. Broadbent (on the far right) and his wife Sister Julie Broadbent (on the far left).

Here Kennedy is with several members of the English class he was teaching every Tuesday.

Here he is with his Grandfather and his mother.

He enjoyed singing in the Branch choir. Here are most of the choir members.

When he came to the office to be set apart, he was able to meet with his sister (who lives in Nairobi) for the first time in quite awhile. She is not currently a member of the church but was supportive of Kennedy's decision to serve a mission.
He will be a great missionary and we will miss serving with him.


Shortly after we started attending the Kilili Branch we were asked to teach the investigator class. Although all class members know some English it was helpful to have an interpreter. The young man on the left is Kennedy. He was our interpreter. At the time he was preparing to go on his mission. He has an amazing ability to translate English into his native tongue of Kikamba. On October 21st he departed on his mission to Cape Town, South Africa. Before he left in late September three class members were baptized and two weeks ago the other three entered the waters of baptism.

As we have served we have been reminded of the truth that you come to love those with whom you serve and those that you serve. These are the people who have come to be so special to us in the past several weeks.

The first three to be baptized were Irene, Irene and Nzalani

Those who were baptized on Nov 21 and confirmed last week were Eunice, Annah and Agnes.

The primary children sang at both baptisms.

Her we are with the most recent group.
This was the first baptisms that we have been involved with since coming on our mission. It was such a special experience for both of us! These people have become so special to us. Their faith is an inspiration to us.
This past Sunday we started a new class of three new investigators.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Visit to Arusha, Tanzania

The last weekend in October we were asked to do some training in a small branch across the border in Arusha, Tanzania. It is about a 5 1/2 hour drive south of Nairobi. There we joined another couple, President and Sister Burgener (he is a counselor to President Broadbent in the mission presidency) to do the training. They drove 8 hours north from their residence in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. We really enjoy time with the Burgeners. They visit this branch once a month to provide support to the branch leaders and to the four missionaries that serve the branch.

In this picture we are posing in front of the Arush Bell Tower. It marks the half-way mark between Cairo, Egypt (the northern most part of Africa) and Johannesburg, South Africa (the southern tip of Africa).

This is the Arusha Branch Church building. The two brothers in the picture are the security guard/caretaker and his son. They are responsible for keeping the grounds so beautiful-they take such pride in their work.

Just before our training the missionaries were conducting a baptismal service for this young man named John. Elder Larsen the Zone Leader did the baptism. With John are his father and his sister.

Here Elder Larsen poses with the counselor in the Branch Presidency Elias. He is dressed in his native Maasi apparel because he is going to work right after the training. He is a security guard for a local business.

In striking contrast to the rest of the local buildings is this beautiful modern building The Art Gallery which is part of the Cultural Heritage Center. It is free to the public.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Aberdare National Park near Mt. Kenya

While at the park we hiked down to the Chania Waterfall.

Chania Falls in Aberdare National Park is only one of several falls in the park. It is here that Winston Churchill camped while on a safari in 1907.

This big guy was all by himself very close to the road as we passed by.

This Cape Buffalo bull decided that he wanted to have the picnic area all to himself. Elder Puckett was the last to retreat to his vehicle. You notice that I was already on my way to my truck as I took this picture.

Would you argue with this guy?? This was the look he gave us before he started walking toward our picnic table. Luckily he was not running towards us.

For My Scouting Friends

On Saturday September 25th we joined two other senior missionary couples, the Blakes and the Pucketts, on a trip to Aberdare National Park near Mt. Kenya. Just before reaching the park entrance we passed through the town of Nyeri, Kenya which is the burial place of Lord Baden Powell the founder of the Boy Scout Movement. During his Army service he spent a lot of time in Kenya. He liked it so well that he retired to Kenya, and spent the last three years of his life here. He is buried in the church grave yard on a hill overlooking the town of Nyeri on one side and Aberdare National Park on the other. A memorial has been erected in his honor next to the church. This is the entry gate to that memorial.

This is the Memorial Building (it was not open the day that we were there) with the path leading to the grave yard. I was not aware that Lord Baden Powell's wife Olave Baden Powell was instrumental in founding the Girl Scout movement. She is honored her as well.

Here we are at the gate leading to the graveyard.

I am guessing that this nicely sectioned off burial sight has be improved over the years by several Eagle Projects.

This humble gravestone pays tribute to both he and his wife.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Service project at children's ward of hospital

While I was auditing the Langas Branch in Eldoret, Kenya, Karen was able to join the Relief Society sisters in doing a service project visiting the Eldoret Hospital. They visited the children's ward and held babies and cheered up the children. She really enjoyed this activity even though she had to ride a matatu (most common type of public transportation in Africa). She felt safe though because she was surrounded these dear sisters.

Missing the grandkids, this activity gave her a chance to do what she loves to do most.

I don't know who benefitted the most from this activity?

This little one did not know what to make of all this attention but she was not complaining.

This is Karen and a new friend-Alice, a young lady that we met in Chyulu. She is the English teacher in her branch and attended an English Teaching Workshop that we were luck enough to helped with in Chyulu. For some reason we really connected with Alice. When we found out that she is a dress-maker we visited her at her shop. Karen commissioned Alice to make her a skirt. On another occasion Alice offered to accompany us to the village market where she helped us find the best produce at the best price. This picture was taken at the Chyulu district conference that we were attending with the President and Sister Broadbent our new mission president and the visiting General Authority from South Africa-Elder and Sister Watson.

Friday, September 17, 2010

All Africa Mormon Helping Hands Day - August 21st

This is a LDS Church sponsored service project throughout all of Africa. All Mormon church units throughout all of Africa perform a service project on this day. The projects range from planting trees, to cleaning local communities. These images are of the Kilili Branch that we attend. Over 45 members and 15 non-members helped clean, and burn leaves, branches and other debris from the village market roads and a nearby Health Clinic.

Below are some of the young women's organization.

Some of the hard working women of the branch sweep and rake the village square.

Here we prune some shrubs near the village square.

This is a group shot that includes most of the helping hands.

Here some of the workers enjoy their favorite refreshment: a loaf of bread and a sodaa pop.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Visit to Mombasa, Kenya

This past weekend (July 29th through Aug 1st) we accompanied the President and Sister Broadbent to Mombasa, one of the southerneastern-most locations in Kenya. The trip was about an 8 hour drive. They were there to do some training of the leadership in the area as well as to preside over a Zone Conference for, not only the missionaries in Mombasa, but those from the neighboring Chyulu Zone (which is about 4 hours north of Mombasa). We came along because one of my responsibilities is to conduct semiannual audits of the financial records of the church branches in the Mission.

The almost 6000 foot drop in elevation as well as the 4ยบ lower latitude combined with its location on the coastline of the Indian Ocean, to make its climate much different than that of Nairobi. Luckily though, being in the southern hemisphere, it is winter now, so the temperatures were very mild and beautiful. Most of the rest of the year it is very hot and humid, but we enjoyed temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s.

We stayed with Elder and Sister McBride (from Roosevelt, UT) while we were there. They are the Senior Missionary Couple assigned to support the members in that area. It was obvious to us that the members in Mombasa love and respect them for their humble loving service to them. There are also 8 young Elders (4 missionary companionships) serving in Mombasa as well. They too love the McBrides. They are also very fond of Sister McBride's home cooked meals each week when they have their district meetings in their home.

As you can see, the view from the the McBride's home is incredible. They live in an apartment on the second floor of a complex situated on a hill that overlooks a marina on the bay.

These tusk-like arches mark the entry-way to the down town area (not an advertisement for MacDonalds).

This is another view from the McBride's back balcony without us in the way.

There are three branches of the church in Mombasa. One of the branches attends church on the second floor of this bank building. It is located in the heart of the busy business district. You may wonder where they park, but since no one drives it is not a problem.

We went for a walk in the Mombasa City Park. This is a pond with a map of Africa that one of the locals proudly escorted us to. We may have missed seeing it, even though it is quite large, because it is lower than the surrounding area.
We enjoyed our visit and are planning to find an excuse to visit again.