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.