Friday, April 8, 2011

A new branch is created!

One of our most spiritual experiences so far on our mission was being able to attend the creation of new branch of the church in Mwanza, Tanzania. These pictures do not even come close to capturing what moved us the most. The building that was selected to use as their meeting place was especially nice. All of the things that are necessary to have a functioning branch arrived on time despite having been detained at customs at the border between Kenya and Tanzania for several days. All of this is evidence that the prayers of these faithful people were not going to be denied! What really moved us was each of the stories of the faithful saints that lead up to this day. There were families who had waited for this day for as many as 18 years! The man that was called as the Branch President of this new branch was typical of these stories. President Nyambita was baptized in the UK and after being in the church for about three years he moved to Tanzania and married his wife Sylvia. They have a daughter and four sons. Although he had the Priesthood and had been to the temple while in England, he was not able to baptize his wife and children because there was no organized branch of the church within hundreds of kilometers of Mwanza. He lived the gospel and taught it to his family. They regularly read the scriptures together and held study groups on Sundays with neighbors and friends. They had petitioned the church on more than one occasion but there were not enough people to warrant it. At least two other member families moved to Mwanza and for some time were not aware of each other. When the found each other they started meeting together and again petitioned the Church. There is so much more to these stories that I will not include here. However, let it be said that the hand of Heavenly Father is evident in all of these stories.
But to be in His presence alone was a spiritual experience.

This is the building they are renting until the day that they are able to build one of their own.

Two weeks prior to the creation of the branch these two incredible young missionaries were sent to Mwanza to open a new proselyting area, and to prepare the people for baptism. They also were invaluable in helping with the logistics of getting ready for this day. Here they are helping unload and prepare the chairs and other furniture that arrived only one day before they were needed. Their names are Elder Jimu and Elder Lipengah

These two little guys stayed beside me all afternoon taking the plastic off of the chairs. The smallest of the two is named Jesse so I bonded with him quickly. Their father is one of the other baptized members who has been one of the stalwart few that is responsible for this day.

The official language of Tanzania is Kiswahili so all of the proceedings had to be translated. Here is the beginning of the meeting with President Burgener a counselor to Mission President Broadbent conducting the business of the meeting. The soon to be President Nyambita is the man doing the translation. Forty two people attended this historic meeting.

Immediately after the branch was organized the first order of business was to baptize 11 people. President Nyambita's family was appropriately the first to be baptized. They are on the back row. The Missionary companionship of Elder Jimu and Lipengah are on the far right of this picture. The man next to them is the Brother Mwabaleke who was able to baptize his children (he is Jesse's father).
We will always cherish having witnessed and participated in the events of this historic day.

Another group gets baptized and a new mission call is extended

Missionary work is alive and well in Kilili! The branch is doing such a good job fellowshipping and sharing with their friends. And they are preparing young missionaries to go out and share with the rest of Africa!

This is our most recent investigator class and our translator (on the far left).

These are the three newest members to join and a happy Branch President.

And few days later, after the Relief Society Birthday Celebrations Catherine Davies-the Branch President's daughter opened her mission call and announced it to the branch. Sister Nevin and I were blown away when we heard where she is going. She will be serving in our home town of Mesa Arizona in the Temple Visitor's Center. Someone at the MTC said there are no coincidences with the Lord. What are the chances that someone from the same tiny little branch to which we are assigned is now going half way around the world to our home town?? It is so exciting for us to know that we will be able to see her when we return home. And we are equally as excited that some of our family will be able meet someone we have grown to love.

Here is the happy family with their first (but not last) missionary. What a cute expression on Catherine's face.

Karen's immediate reaction when hearing the call.

Kilili Celebrates the 169th Birthday of The Relief Society

March 22nd we were invited to join the Kilili Branch in celebrating the Birthday of the creation of the Relief Society Organization of the church. The sisters had planned a very complete and fun program in which some of them role played situations depicting the different purposes of the Relief Society. Still other sisters took turns role playing the different past Relief Society Presidents. Not to leave out some of the older sisters who were not able to participate because of their limited knowledge of English, they went out in the courtyard where these sisters were able to celebrate with dance.

The Kilili Branch Relief Society Presidency

Here one of the older sisters expresses herself in dance.

They involved members of the priesthood leadership who had been invited to join in their celebration.

Birthday cakes that Sister Nevin made for the occasion.

The celebration ended with refreshments-their favorite, a loaf of white bread and a soda.

Mission Tour March 18, 2011

Twice a year a General Authority or a member of the Area Authority Presidency, visits the mission. On the 18th we had both visit the mission in conjunction with reorganizing the Nairobi Stake Presidency. President and Sister Koelliker, President of the Africa South East Area and Elder and Sister Clayton a General Authority from the Quorum of the Seventy spent Friday with all of the Missionaries serving in Kenya. Those missionaries serving in Tanzania had been visited by Elder and Sister Renlund Counselor in the Africa South East Area Presidency. The format was an open forum where missionaries could ask any question that they wished. It was an enlightening day.

This picture represents all of our missionaries except the 10 young missionaries and 1 Senior missionary couples currently serving in Tanzania.

The Senior Missionary Couples helped serve an authentic African meal to the missionaries, prepared by 3 African Sisters

Some of the hungry missionaries.

It takes a lot of grub to feed 96 people especially if 74 of them are 20 year old young men.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Relief Society Celebration Native Dance

Some of the older Sisters do not understand enough English to have speaking parts, so they wanted to celebrate by dancing. Here 3 Sisters perform a traditional dance. The one playing the make-shift drum and the one who's back is to the camera are Grandmas late in years but still very active as you can tell.

Feeding the Giraffe

This is a fun little video

February Brings Another Transfer Week

Despite the excitement surrounding each transfer week, lately they have become more difficult for us because each time, in addition to the rearrangement of companionships, there are also a few missionaries that complete their missions and return home during transfer week. We been here long enough that we really have come to love these young people and are finding it harder and harder saying good bye to them. There were also two sets of our dear Senior Couple Missionary friends who returned home as well in February: the Godfreys and the Flinders. An unexpected event also made February more difficult for us. We had a young missionary that developed a serious health issue that required him to unexpectedly return home. Since one of my responsibilities is the health care of the missionaries, I was asked to escort him back to Salt Lake City where they were able to give him more in-depth medical attention. It was a whirlwind trip! We left the evening of February 9th and I returned Feb 12th. It was hard leaving this young man at home because he really wanted to be on his mission. We pray that they will be able to treat his condition quickly so that he can fulfill his dream to complete his mission. I surprised Karen for Valentines day by bringing her a bouquet of Tulips from Amsterdam, Holland (I had a 3 hour lay-over in Amsterdam) on the way back to Nairobi.

We have been trying to explore more of the local sights on Saturdays. Below are pictures taken at a some near by attractions.

This is about as close as I want to get to a Crocodile.

One of the guides at the Nairobi Mambas Park holds this huge Tortoise.

At Nairobi Wildlife Park we saw this fairly young Zebra colt.

At the Giraffe Centre we were able to feed the Giraffes.

If you can not tell this Giraffe is a different species from the one in the previous picture. This is a Reticulated Giraffe whereas the one above is a Rothchilds Giraffe.