Thursday, March 22, 2012

More Goodbyes

Sisters showed Karen how to do her head wrap and then sang the goodbye song.

Felix is one of my heros. He lives with his grandmother and both walk a long distance to Church each week and he is usually one of the first to arrive. First to share his testimony and mature beyond his years and is older than he looks. He will be a great missionary some day.

We were given Kangas I did not know that they made them big enough for me.

We could not leave Kilili without visiting this dedicated sister and her family. Both of her girls have already received their Young Women's Medalions and give talks that put us adults to shame.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Still More Tender Goodbyes and "Last Encounters"

In the final full week in January the Branch Presidency was changed in Kilili. It was an emotional time for all involved. We loved working with President Makiti and fully support and love the new Branch President: Joseph Musembi. As we visited the Branch for the last time on the 29th not only was the Branch Presidency changed but there was a baptism and the members surprised us with a going away party or as they call it a "bye bye party". That made for a very long but wonderful day. Because of the change in the Branch Presidency. President and Sister Broadbent accompanied us. It is difficult to describe the feelings that we had as we drove that 158 Km to church for the very last time, especially the last 31 Km of dirt road with all of the beautiful people who we passed along the way each week for the past 20 months. It is not just the dear friends in Kilili that we will miss but the many wonderful people who greeted us with friendly smiles and especially the small children who waved enthusiastically to us as we drove by each Sunday. We will also remember and be humbled by the sights of people digging holes in the dry river bed to find enough water to last another day, then watching mostly women and children carrying their heavy loads of water and firewood on their backs or on their heads for miles, the people cultivating their fields usually by hand or if they are lucky with a oxen-pulled plow. But in spite of it all they are such happy people. It reminds me that what we see as "needs" are mostly just "wants" and we too often are not content with what we have. It is in fact true that the poorest members of our society have more than most Africans.

As can be seen several holes have been dug in this section of the river bed under the metal bridge that we crossed each week. These young men have the benefit of having a trailer to carry the water.

We say goodbye to the Elders that currently serve in the Kilili Branch: Elder Jackson & Elder Tuckett.

It was difficult to say goodbye to our dear friend President Davis Makiti and his family. He had just been released on this day. His daughter currently serves on her mission in Mesa, Arizona and his son just received his call to serve in the California Anaheim Mission.

Penninah and her husband Lawrence say goodbye by presenting a gift to us. With the instructions that it is to be given to our first-born because she is the first-born of her family (oops don't tell Lisa she is getting an African made bag).

More Goodbyes, Hello to Olsens and Mission Tour

During the second and third weeks of January the schedule did not slow down. On Sundays we stayed after church for a couple hours each week to make of few more visits to friends in the Kilili Branch. Back at the office during the second week we furiously tried to catch up on some things that went undone while we were on our temple trip to South Africa. While at the same time trying to get ready to train our replacements Elder and Sister Olsen who were scheduled to arrive late in the evening on the 17th. In the financial office the 2011 files had to be move out and archived to make room in the file cabinets for the new year's files. Elder and Sister Cook arrived in Nairobi on the 15th to start the Mission Tour. They and President and Sister Broadbent their whirl-wind tour of the mission by first flying to Eldoret, from there on to Mombasa, then on to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and finally back to Nairobi. All of this in just 8 days. Whew! And we thought our schedule was busy!!! The Olsens arrived in the middle of the Mission Tour so they did not even get to meet with the Mission President until he returned to Nairobi.

One of our last visits was to the Jeffery Muindi family, brother to the other Muindi family previously shown. They surprised us by feeding us a traditional African meal of rice and goat stew with hot (fresh from the cow) milk and chapatis. Their father, in the center of the picture, is almost 100 years old.

This is Agnes, one of the first to attend our investigator class and to be baptized. Karen is visiting her at her at her shop where she serves meals to the locals.

At the end of the Mission Tour Elder and Sister Cook had dinner with all of the couple missionaries serving in Nairobi at the Mission Home. Afterwards there was time for us to visit with them. It was an especially intimate sharing time because Elder Cook grew up in the same North Ogden area that the Broadbents, the Halls and the Olsens did. He shared very tender feelings regarding the role that the parents of both Elder Hall and Elder Olsen had had on him as a young man. What a blessing to be in such an intimate settling with such great people.

Here the Broadbents are finally able to officially welcome and reunite with their old friends the Olsens.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Reason for the Trip

Whenever we reflect on our mission these images from this trip will be some of the first that will come to mind. We came to love these beautiful saints as we shared so much time together both before and during this trip.

On one of our tours of the temple grounds this Nativity sculpture was one of their favorites.

Johannesburg Temple as seen from the garden.

At first I thought that this Gatehouse Building got its name from the fact that it is in close proximity to the front gate leading to the temple grounds. However when I reflected on the symbolism contained in almost everything done inside of the temple, I began to wonder if it might have a symbolic meaning as well. Since this building is where the children go to get dressed in white in preparation for going to be sealed to their parents for the rest of their journey through mortality as well as their eternal life.
We have not seen a more beautiful site than those children all dressed in white being sealed to their parents.
"For behold, this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man"

The general schedule for the visit was:
Day 1-arrive, check in and settle into rooms, be oriented to the facilities, given the schedule, explore the campus, and then have dinner and visit.

Day2-early breakfast, parents go to Family History Center to confirm and research their family records then over to the Temple to verify the work to be done, a brief lunch break, then back to the Temple for initiatory work, then the endowment ceremony, followed by sealing of living family members and finally dinner. Most of this time the children were with us going on nature walks in the garden, touring the temple grounds and playing games in the cafeteria. In the late afternoon the children were taken to the Gatehouse Building to dress in white for the sealing to their parents ceremony. One of the richest blessings for us was to be able to witness the sealing of each family together over the alter. That image is so sacred to describe in a public forum but will be etched in our memories forever.

Day 3-After breakfast, more Family history, baptisms for deceased ancestors, lunch, other ordinances for their deceased ancestors, dinner, sealing of deceased ancestors.

This is the front of the Patron Housing Unit. This building also housed the Patron housing Office, Employment Office, The Family History Center, The Distribution Center and Cafeteria.

Between the Temple and the Patron Housing Unit there is a beautiful garden with a brook that empties into a pond that is home to several large gold fish. The kids really enjoyed nature walks in the garden.

Both the kids and the parents enjoyed the fish pond any chance they could get.

Us with the kids. They were absolute angels! They could not get enough of the sights, nature walks and the games.

January 2012 Brought One of the Single Most Rewarding and Spiritually Fulfilling Events of Our Mission

After nearly eight months of preparation a group of 23 members of the Kilili Branch embarked on a trip of a lifetime to the Johannesburg Temple, South Africa. Sunday-New Years day, immediately after church they crammed into two very small Matatu (taxi minivans) to head for their hotel rooms in Nairobi to await an very early morning pickup to be at the Kenyatta Airport at 5:00 AM the next morning. The Matatu ride to Nairobi was 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours (depending on traffic). We and Elder and Sister Hall transported their luggage in our trucks. We all met at the Mission office in Nairobi to meet with the Kenya Nairobi Mission President and his wife -President and Sister Broadbent. We were joined by two young families, totaling 8 more, from the Kisumu Branch who were also going to the temple with us. This made a total group of 31 people (18 of whom were children, 5 couples and 3 adult sisters).
Think about the excitement and anxiety they must have felt as they arrived in Nairobi. For the first time in most of their lives they were going to experience the some following: Airport with planes taking off and landing, not so polite custom officers, 4+ hour plane ride, packaged airline meals, in-flight movies with their own earphones, being out of their native country, brightly decorated Christmas trees, escalators, elevators, moving walkways, 6 lane freeways, staying in a room with electricity, sinks with running water, sit-down toilets, showers, bath tubs, automatic doors, 3 meals a day, refrigerators, microwaves, washers and dryers, vending machines, computers that had their names and the names of their family members in them, as well as seeing the Johannesburg Temple.

17 people were crammed into this tiny minivan designed to carry 7, for the first leg of the trip to Nairobi.

Muindi and Muendo family on the plane.

They still had Christmas decoration up at the Johannesburg Airport when we arrived.

Both the kids and the adults loved the moving walkways in the airport.

Traditional Christmas Eve Celebration And Christmas Day Devotional

On Christmas Eve after the service project was complete the couples serving in Nairobi were invited to go to Bishop Osborn's home for a traditional Christmas Eve celebration. There were several expatriate couples there, some of whom had children. They reenacted the Nativity much like our Grandkids used to do at home. It made us feel at home but at the same time it made us feel a little melancholy as we thought about our families back home.
On Christmas day we attended church and then gathered together for a devotional for all of the missionaries serving in the Nairobi area. Those missionaries serving in other areas in the mission were having similar activities with the senior couple missionary serve closest to them. After the devotional we had a pot luck dinner.

It was the second best way to celebrate the birth of the savior, next to being with family.

These are the couples and young missionaries that celebrated with us.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Nazarene Children's Home Christmas Eve party continues

This project turned into one of the most rewarding service projects that we have ever participated in. After everyone had had a chance to participate in one or more games we moved the activities from the school to the Nazarene Children's Home (Orphanage) compound which is located only a few yards away from the school within the same slum. This was one of the most difficult parts of the activity, that is excluding the rest of the children that lived in the slums with their families. They saw all of the fun that the orphans were having and they wanted to join us. To turn them away was truly difficult for all of us. We first had lunch. We gave them peanut butter and jam sandwiches, an orange and punch with homemade cookies for desert. This is the first time any of them had ever had PB & J or cookies, they were cautious at first but then wanted seconds of everything. After everyone was full then Father Christmas made an appearance. This was the first time most of them had ever seen Santa or for that matter been given a gift for Christmas. It was a powerful experience for all of us. We will not ever be able to forget this day especially at future Christmases.

This is the entrance to the Orphanage compound within the Sweto Slum in Nairobi. Here one of the teachers had to stand at the door to ensure that only the orphans came in because the neighbor kids wanted to join in the fun they saw happening inside.

Because it was a summer day it was very hot on Christmas Eve, so we found some shade to eat our PB & J sandwiches.

The ages of the orphans ranged from 3 years to 14 years. These are the older orphans. I kind of was drawn to them.

Karen had crocheted little dolls all year long to give to some young kids for Christmas. This project became her avenue. She was also instrumental in collecting items for the older kids. Her things were combined with back to school bags received from LDS Charities. Since she was instrumental in organizing the gift bags she became Santa's helper to ensure the right bags went to the right kids.

December 24th Senior Missionary Couples Do Another Service Project

The project started the week of December 12th thru 17th: Monday at Home Evening we prepared gift bags for the 74 orphans residing at the Nazarene Children's Home located in the Sweto Slum. On that Saturday some of the Senior Elders worked on replacing the metal roof of their school building. On the following Saturday Christmas Eve, President and Sister Broadbent joined with the six senior couples going back to the slum to enjoy a Christmas Party with the children of the Nazarene Children's Home. The party started with introductions of the school staff and the children of the orphanage to the couple missionaries including dancing and games.

At FHE the 6 couples living at the "Nest" put together over 74 gift bags for the kids

Five of us replaced the rusty leaking metal roof of the school.

Here Sister Nevin is called on to dance with one of the young men during the introductory ceremonies.

Outside of the school the kids really had fun doing sack races.

Kilili Branch's Christmas Social

December 22nd Kilili Branch had their Christmas devotional and dinner. Nearly 100 people came to celebrate. The Relief Society had prepared a nativity reenactment, which included a couple choir numbers to accompany the acting out of the Christmas story found in Luke 2. Following the nativity play we joined in some Christmas carols then everyone enjoyed a big meal ending with lolly pops for everyone. We truely enoyed being a part of it.

Choir sings "Angel We Have Heard on High..."

One of the Wise Men gives tribute at the feet of Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph

The Relief Society Sisters had prepared a huge meal for everyone. Several children from the village were invited to come and have share the meal. Being the first week of their summer, it was a beautiful sunny day.

Some of the attendees enjoying their meal of rice, goat stew and beans.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

December Brought Non-stop Heartwarming Experiences

The first week of December our mid-week visits to Kilili continued. Then on the 10th we joined some of the other Senior Couple Missionaries to do a fun Christmas service project for a group of about 37 orphans in Nairobi. First we helped them have some much needed fun by playing some games with them, then we fed them Pizza and sodas (for only the second time in their lives), after that Santa came bringing a bag of gifts for each of them. They showed their appreciation by singing and dancing for us.

Us with the Muindi Family.

Balloon race

Pizza & Soda what could be better?

"Father Christmas" aka "Santa" was a big hit as he had a bag of gifts for each child.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

November ended with back-to-back Transfers, Thanksgiving and a Couples' Conference

It got even busier toward the end of November. Transfers were the same week as Thanksgiving and the Couples' Missionary Conference, with missionaries coming and missionaries leaving.

The Assistants to the President (on either end) greet 9 new missionaries.

Sister Scott & Rydalch dig in to a very traditional Thanksgiving Dinner.

Karen visits with the other couples.

Senior Couples serving in the Kenya Nairobi Mission on Thanksgiving Day 2011

November had time for visits to our Kilili Branch Friends

In late October and the first half of November we started making some mid-week visits in addition to our normal Sunday visits to our friends in the Kilili Branch to help them work on gathering their documentation in preparation for their temple trip. About every other Thursday we would make the 2 1/2 hour drive and visit 4 or 5 families. Unfortunately the traffic returning to Nairobi on the week nights was so much heavier than on Sundays that it made for for 12 to 14 hour days but we always came home with such a good feeling that it was worth it. To make up for the time and work missed at the office while away we started staying late at the office a couple nights a week to catch up. You would think that the added time that we were spending would make us tired but just the opposite. We enjoyed the visits so much that we were actually invigorated.

Jacinta's kids and some cousins.

Jemminah and some of her grand children.

Me, Purity and two of her boys.

Karen & Elizabeth.