Monday, July 29, 2013

Week 6

July 29, 2013

Habari yako?  Niko poa sana!
Once again, forgot my journal so I will just highlight the week.
Monday (July 22) I went to Nairobi because we had zone conference on Wednesday.  We had a CRAZY day.  It all started when the guy in the cyber cafe got mad so he just turned off our internet so I had to stop emailing in the middle of it.  Freaking what...  So then we left and were walking back (we were with another companionship) and Elder Lawson (Utah) realized he forgot his phone.  So he and I sprinted back through traffic to the cyber cafe.  It was funny to think about...  2 wazungus in the middle of Nairobi in white shirts and ties sprinting like crazy through the road...  Haha.

Tuesday was chill, we went on splits for a bit and then got pizza.

Wednesday was zone conference.  President Hicken is pretty cool but it is obvious that he and his wife have a lot of getting used to in Kenya.

Thursday we went to Athi River so Elder Ledwaba could interview potential (and successful) baptismal candidates.

Friday we had appointments all day.  I was afraid I would be hungry so I ate a huge lunch of rice and sausage.  No need to be afraid because I was subsequently fed more rice and potatoes and beans, ugali, and more food so we ended up having 3 1/2 lunches.  I was STUFFED.  I am glad we walk so much.. Eating can actually be unenjoyable and hard sometimes.

Saturday was hard because the week was seeming SO LONG.  But it rained for the first time since I got here.  And it didn't just drizzle, it POURED.  My shoes are still dirty.

Sunday was the best.  We went to Bro Chanui's house which is out in the middle of nowhere.  The whole Elders quorum was invited and it was pretty much just like home.  All the guys talked and were competitive in saying things and the topic of the night was who had seen the coolest car.  After we left I raced Steve and George Kasue.  Everyone was floored because I lost to Steve by only a foot.  They were all saying Elder Dick you are FAST!!  
Today we walked in the wild.  I chased giraffe.  No big deal.

What I have learned on my mission so far...  The power of prayer and the power of patience!  I have never prayed before like I do now, and consequently never felt as close to my Heavenly Father.  Also, I have never had my patience tested as much as I do now, and consequently I will be the most patient father of all time.

I love you all!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Week 5

July 22, 2013

Habari zenu!  How is everyone?  I am getting so many messages and I love it.  I got to hear from Mimi and Bishop Strickland and my dear sweet best mother via Dear Elder letter, and I got surprise emails from Honey, Nana and Uncle Trey that made my week.  I have been so good this week.  
So last fast sunday we fasted for the area and I now have a new and profound testimony of fasting.  Before the Sunday, we tracted almost every day.  We walked 6-8 miles a day in the middle of Africa (yeah, it is hot here), and we didn't get any return appointments most days.  It was very discouraging.  So we fasted for the area and for investigators that they might be more accepting and feel the spirit and truth of our message.  Boom, we got so many return appointments and we didn't go tracting once this past week.  The investigators we have been teaching now are starting to really get it.  They take notes and really want to know more.  I can probably put them on baptismal date within the next few weeks.  It really is wonderful the work of the Lord.
I apologize because I forgot not only my journal but also my camera...  So y'all will just have to wait until next week for pictures!  It is good though because you will get to see the animals we are going to see next Monday morning. 
This week, though, has been a very high week for me.  I have really been able to connect with the people and understand the culture more.  They have been more receptive of me and I of them.  My investigators have understood what I had to say and I have been able to teach them through the spirit.
On Saturday, we did service and cleaned the church building with the Monyalo family.  They are a legit family.  They both served in Durban, SA where they met.  He then chased her down after their missions to marry her.  I don't think I'll marry a sister from my mission, but it is still a neat story.  
Sunday there was a baptism in our ward but from the other missionaries area.  It was still powerful, but on the programs they wrote the wrong name for the person being baptized.  Her name was Mary and inside the programs it said her name but the outside wasn't fixed and it said this mzee's name and the date of May 1.  I took it to some brother and he said "oh well, nothing we can do now!  No big deal."  It reminded me of something my dad would do...


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Week 4

Hey!  So I forgot my journal again this week...  But I will try to hit the highlights.
Since we have to be in by 8 every night (7 if there is no appointment) we have a lot of free time.  At first, it was good to study some more, but honestly, there is only so much studying you can do after tracting for 8+ hours in the MIDDLE OF AFRICA.  So we watch movies a lot.  So this past week we watched Singles Ward 1 & 2.  Great, great movies.  But don't worry, I am working hard!
On the average day, we get done with studying and training around 11, and then we eat lunch since we are required to by the mission president.   Some missionaries apparently skipped lunch a lot because it wastes time.  So we are out of the flat around 1145.  Every day is either jam packed with appointments or completely open it seems.  So when it's jam packed it's good in its own way because we are always seeing people, and when it is open we go and tract.  Tracting is more effective on houses rather than flats, so we try to find houses.  Problem is that most of the houses are on the edge of town, and we live smack in the middle.  So we do a lot of walking...  I am sure that I lost weight from that.  Thankfully, these people just love to feed everyone they meet, so we get food from complete strangers all the time.  So I am sure I gained all that weight back.
I do remember a few great days this week though.
Thursday we had an appointment with Caroline.  She is a girl who is entering her sophomore year at college.  She actually read the intro to the BoM (she was my first placed book of mormon... woohoo! **We don't just give out BoM's because people have done that and the people they gave them to ran off and started their own church) and she had questions about it.  It was great!  And we answered all the questions and got another return appointment, and pretty much it was the best moment so far.  Side note, we have a friend in the ward, Joseph, who got off his mission 8 weeks ago.  He's kind of a stud, and wants to get married, but the women in the ward are kind of lacking.  As in the girls are either 8yo, married, or inactive.  But Caroline is single and around his age.  So he is going to come teach her with us this coming week.  Ah I am excited to see where it goes.
Our water went out this week.  So Tuesday I didn't take a shower...  :/  Wednesday - Saturday I took a bucket shower...  You stand in a bucket and take a "shower."  Karibu Africa.
Friday we stopped for lunch at the most unsanitary restaurant I have ever seen.  Well, it was pretty good for Kenya.  And I ate cow lung.  Or maybe it was liver.  We couldn't understand what the guy said it was...  But Elder Ledwaba had cow heart.  So I got the better end of that deal.  I had to eat some more snacks later because I didn't eat much of it...
Saturday Elder LD and I had to go to another companionships flat because they were fighting and LD is district leader.  The companionship was pretty much at each others necks and yelling.  It was pretty bad.  It really made me appreciate my companion and love him more.  It also made me so glad for my daddy's advice to make my companion my best friend.
Sunday we finally got our water back.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Week 3

July 8, 2013


So this week was much better.  I was able to really focus on the work and I could feel the power of the spirit in almost everything I did.  Let me tell you some neat stories!  First friday night we went to the Sri Lankans place again.  Last week the dad said he would pray this coming week and well what do you know he refused to pray.  So I worked up a little priesthood power and bore my testimony and told him that I would say a practice prayer first and then he could pray like I did.  So after a bit of convincing it finally happened.  It was a beautiful prayer and went something like this. "Heavenly father...  Thankful elders...  Thankful food...  Thankful family... Jesus amen."  It was awesome and I was on a high for the rest of the night.  Did I mention we have to be in by 7 and by 8 if we are at an appointment?  
So let me tell you about something that was almost prophecy by Kai Ellis.  When we were at BYU and I got my call we had a conversation in which she told me that I was so tightly wound and I wanted things to be so exact and when I go to Africa I am going to have to deal with it because they are going to be just the opposite.  Well I knew that would be the case and I knew she would be right, but I did not know to what extent...  Usually when we go to investigator houses or flats it is chill and we run over time or get there late, but I learned to deal with that.  But let me tell you about Sunday.  So church is 10-1.  So we started our fast at 1p on Saturday so that we could end it right after church.  So the end of church rolls around and what do you know there is ward council...  But does it start at 110 like people said it would?  No.  145 we finally get everyone together...   When does it end?  315..................  And I finally leave the chapel at 330.  So do I have a lot of adjusting to do?  Yes..  Holy moly.
I also have been so anxious to teach lessons and convert that I have struggled just getting to know people!  So I am working on that this week.
But let me tell you about the area.  It is dirty!  And in the most literal sense possible.  No roads, just dirt.  When anyone cuts their hair they just throw it in the street along with their trash...  My shoes are so dirty along with my pants!  But I have learned to deal with that so easily.  What is hard sometimes is being the only white person I see in 3 days.  I feel like a tourist attraction!  People, even older people just yell "MUZUNGO!!" when I walk by.  Yesterday a guy about my age who was pretty big grabbed my arm really hard and yelled at me like he wanted to fight.  So I looked at him and said "Hello."  And then he just followed me and said "How are you? How are you?"  It is the equivalent to the Americans learning "Hola" and "Adios." 

Monday, July 01, 2013

Week 2 - Not in Kansas anymore!

Holy moly this week has been crazy.  Well I'll go over the last ten days or so.  
P-Day!  I got to email everyone.  Pretty much a great day and super chill.  After I emailed, I walked off the MTC campus with about 10 elders and we went to get stamps in town.  I was straggling and I was literally 2 inches from getting smushed by a van speeding at well over 30mph.  He started yelling at me in zulu (South African language).  Zulu is also the language used in the Lion King opening scene when they do that crazy song WAAAAAAAAAAAA NE BWENYAAAAAA.  It means something like bring all the animals together.  Let me say this.  My prayers have definitely gotten stronger and more frequent and more begging since I got to my mission.
I finally worked out.  I woke up at 6 so I had time to work out and I used my exercise bands.  Later on we taught a mock-investigator.  Something really bad happened at sport time today.  We were playing basketball and keeping score of course because there were a lot of competitive Americans and some guy (not to be named) pushed me hard.  So, still being military minded, I turned around and about as hard as I could I shoved him and was about to hit him when I heard my buddy Elder Hiltbrand say "Woah man, missionary!"  And at that moment I felt about 2 inches tall.  I felt so bad and I apologized to the elder that I pushed and it was all good but I still felt terrible...  I really need to work on love...
Today was definitely a spiritual high.  Actually it was rough until after dinner.  During the day I kept thinking about how long 2 years is and how that is kind of a huge sacrifice.  But after dinner, our district read Mosiah 2.  And let me tell you.  I was humbled beyond belief.  I have never felt more humble or more sure that I am in the right place.  While reading, I thought to myself "Who am I to say that this is hard?  Who am I to say that 2 years is long?  I am in the service of my King, my Lord.  I should be beyond honored."  So that pretty much fixed me right up and ended my slump.  Elder Ojok (Uganda) came to our room and we all started singing hymns right before we went to bed.  It was actually pretty cool.
(I forgot to put this in my journal so I don't know if it was Sunday or Saturday) We woke up at 5 to watch the Leadership Broadcast about missionaries.  I am pretty sure that Kai was able to attend in person, so I am jealous, but the broadcast was awesome.  It talked all about how members need to work more with missionaries.  
We had a lot of in-field orientation briefings.  Also, we had testimony meeting.  It was so humbling to be in a room full of some of the greatest and most humble priesthood holders on earth.  I felt the least among them and I was so honored and blessed to be in that room.  I would consider all of the Elders I spent those 12 days with to be complete Men of God.  Also, I got a 25 Billion Zimbabwe dollar bill from Elder Matoropito.
I finally got to Nairobi.  I got assigned to the Kitengela, Upperhill, Nairobi area.  Elder Ledwaba will be my father (trainer).  I am quite excited.  I miss so many things but I am ready to serve.  I talked to some missionaries that are getting released on Wednesday and asked them their best advice.  They said things like "It is hard, but that does not mean you need to suffer."  "Make it fun."  "You can't change your companion, but you can change yourself."
So Elder Ledwaba is pretty cool.  But HOLY MOLY I have never experienced poverty like this.  Dirt roads (even saying road is a stretch) everywhere, feces in the streets, it's eye opening.  And according to a lot of missionaries, Kitengela is one of the nicest and most built up places.  This is where the "Big people" live (as in making big money).  Elder Ledwaba's old companion, Elder Patten, had his last transfer here so his family was able to visit to get him.  I met all of them and they offered to take a picture and send it to my mom and call her.  It made me quite happy and relaxed.
FIRST DAY ON THE JOB.  I love it.  We met with Jairus and then with Collins.  Collins is a mild alcoholic and works for a brewery, and when we met with him he was already buzzing.  So I showed him and his girlfriend a card trick and they pretty much treated me like a god.  They thought I was a wizard but hey, we all know it is just the power of the priesthood.  For dinner we went to a Sri Lankan family's flat.  At first I was disgusted because there were bugs on the wall and they just seemed like dirty people.  I didn't want to eat there.  But they showed me so much love, welcoming me to Kenya, and after a while I just loved them as God's children.  It was an experience that was certainly not subtle to me, and from that point on it was easy to love all of these people in Kenya.  The food was AWESOME.  I am pretty sure I won't lose weight here.  But the Sri Lankans are an awesome family.  It is neat how I am starting to develop a crazy unconditional love for the people here.
Every time I see a kid they stare.  So I say "Mambo!" (How are you? informal) and they sometimes are just so surprised that a muzungo (white person) just spoke to them in their own tongue that they just drop their jaw, but other times I get them to smile really big and say "Poa!" (I'm good, informal)  To all the older people I just say "Habari" or "Habari ma" "Habari mzee" or "Habari zenu."  They always reply "Nzuri."  But back to my crazy muzungo story.  We went down into the slums (I mean, everywhere is the slum, but this was the slum of the slum so it was quite slummy).  There were all kinds of little Kenyan kids.  We were visiting a member, Jeffrey.  He gave us little stools to sit on outside while he went and made us some ugali, which is like tasteless mashed potatoes that you eat with your hands.  Three kids sat about 20 feet away from me and every time I looked at them they'd look away, but they were definitely staring.  So I went and touched one and they laughed.  Long story short:  10 minutes later about 20 kids under 10 years old were swarming me and touching my hands and pulling my arm hair and rubbing their hands through my hair and up my arms.  It was so interesting...  They don't have the opportunity to touch a white person much so it is a neat experience for them.
So most of the time in our lessons are spent just getting to be friends with people, which at first I thought was terrible, but now I realize that for the area it is so necessary.  People here don't want you to force the gospel on them.  They need to trust you first.  So we have a ton of appointments where we sit and hang out and chat and make food and then share a spiritual thought.  I have realized that it is actually quite effective in getting our message across.
Today was neat.  Church was cool because these people can't sing a lick but they have such spirit.  Then we went tracting and one of the first houses we stopped at was an Italian Catholic muzungo who married a black girl.  So he invited us in and he started going on and on and on about how Mother Mary is the bomb and we don't ever pray to anyone else.  But then they gave us juice that was the best I ever had.  Then I had a strengthening of my testimony of service.  We started helping this guy pull weeds and we ended up sharing with him the entire message of the Restoration.  Then he started bible bashing so we sat and listened for about an hour and then we left...  But it was still neat.  On our way home, we got swarmed by a herd of cattle that was led by a Masaii, a tribesman who lives in a hut.  It was sooooooooo interesting and 6 months ago I never would have guessed that I almost got maimed by a mean bull on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of Africa.

**Below are a few of the pictures Jacob was able to upload today.  Please email me at if you would like me to share the entire album.  It can be shared via Google plus.  Letters sent through are free to send and Jacob gets a hard copy that he can look at throughout the week.  Please write him when you get a chance! Directions are on the right side of the blog.  Thanks!

Jacob's shoes and tag at the end of the day.
Kitengela, Kenya
This is a "good" road in Kitengela.
Love the bedding!
Overview of the town.
A favorite scripture!!
Love the face!!
Companion in the MTC