Wednesday, June 18, 2014
This past week we went on a 40-mile bike ride. It put a hole in one of my shoes, but I am getting that fixed. I also almost got in a fight with a matatu conductor over $0.25. I didn't care at all about the money, but it was the principle I was concerned about. I gave him 200/= and he owed me 40/=. He said (in Swahili) "It is okay." I told him that no, it is not. He needed to give me the money. He gave me 20/= and then tried to blow it off. As he stepped to the matatu to leave, I put my hand on his chest to stop him. All of the other people around (about 15 others) all said "Ooooohhhhhh..." The matatu conductor all of a sudden got really prideful. He was not going to give me the money. We argued for a bit and everyone was on my side because they knew he was wrong. He also knew he was wrong. People were getting angry with him, especially those people who were riding the matatu because he was holding it up. I finally called him "mwizi" (thief) which scared him, but not enough to give me the money. It scared him because whenever there is a thief, no matter how small of an amount they stole, they either get their hand chopped off (if they are Muslim) or they get burned to death. I walked away, but then stood in front of the matatu so that they could not move. The driver got out and graciously handed me 20/=. We left, and we were the talk of the town the rest of the day. Ain't no one taking advantage of this white guy!
The first thing that missionaries teach anyone is that God is our loving Heavenly Father. The first message that anyone hears from missionaries of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ is that their Heavenly Father knows them, loves them, and desires their happiness. We teach that God hears and answers prayers from each of His children. I know that God loves me. I know that God loves us. We are made in His image. He is our Father and we are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. I love my Heavenly Father. I know that He knows what is best for each of us, just as a parent knows what is best for their child. He has asked us to trust Him and to do what He asks. If we do, He has promised everlasting happiness. I know that God lives, and that He loves me.
Fiery Darts of the Adversary (Jungle Fever pt. 2)
Family and friends,
We proselyted a grand total of two days this week. We were busy in
Eldoret most of the time. Monday, of course, was preparation day. Last Monday we were at the same cyber as we are at today. Internet was flying then, and now I can hardly do anything. I am typing this on Notepad for the second time, as I failed to save my first draft about five paragraphs in and the power went out.
Tuesday we travelled to Eldoret. In the afternoon we played football
against the Kisumu/Eldoret zones. We wrapped them up in brown paper and smoked them like tobacco-free cigars. We walked right through them! Not keeping score, of course, but it was bad. We woke up Wednesday in order to have a mission tour (zone conference with a
general authority) with Elder Cook of the Seventy. He is really nice
and humble and understands that no one is perfect. Before the
meeting, he met with only the zone leaders of Western Kenya. In our
small meeting he explained how we are the ones who preside over our zones and have responsibility for them. He referenced Mosiah 26:8-30 (or to the end of the chapter, not sure which verse).
We drove back Wednesday night so that Thursday we could work in Sikhendu. We taught a young man named Immanuel who will be getting baptized this Sunday. The rest of the day we just saw less-actives. Africa-wide there is a 36% rate of activity in the church. I love teaching less-actives. Less-actives, however, are sometimes the most
frustrating people to teach because they are usually (in my own
experience) very stubborn, and you are not allowed to drop them and
stop teaching them because they have already made that sacred
covenant. So you cannot just let them alone to break that promise
when you have a chance to convince them to come back to activity. A lot of missionaries argue about teaching less-actives and teaching new investigators to get more baptisms. Because of the incredible amount of less-actives and the important covenant they have made, I love focusing on less-actives. I do it more than teaching investigators. I usually balance it around 60/40 or 70/30 depending on how things work out. Both reactivation and teaching new investigators is
important, so you cannot totally ignore one or the other, but I just feel like less-active members need to come back. We have been having a lot of success lately with less-actives.
Friday we worked in Kitale. We did weekly planning all morning, and
in the afternoon we were going to go street contacting with the branch president and another from the branch. Unfortunately it started
raining, which means that nothing can happen since all roads turn into mud. After it let up a bit, we waited and then went ahead to do contacting. We did 175 in about 45 minutes. Thank you to the RM that
helped us. I actually don't like contacting, but the Lord asked me to
do it so I do it. I try to be as happy as I can. And the more I don't like it the more I make myself do it.
Saturday we went back to Eldoret for a meeting with Elder Mkhabella (an Area Seventy). Sunday we attended church in the Langas branch in Eldoret while a lot of the missionaries in the zone got interviews with President Hicken. We got back to Kitale at 3:30p. The other six
elders stayed in for the evening to cook food but Elder Thomas and I
took our bikes and rode to two member-present lessons. My bike has
just one pedal. The other pedal is just a metal bar. Elder Thomas' bike doesn't change gears. We went about four miles downhill to a
recent convert's home, and then four miles back to make it home before
our 7:00p curfew.
Being a zone leader is not really pleasant. Like Elder Holland said in his talk, discipleship can be really great. You get to teach and baptize and testify and feel the Spirit. But then there is the flip side, since everything comes in twos (2 Ne 2). You have to chastise, discipline, correct, and deal with persecution, sometimes
coming from within the church or from other missionaries (1 Ne
8:27-28, 33-34). That is the hard part. We have a few elders in our zone who are good people, but they do things they aren't supposed to.
One in particular goes on Facebook and had a phone until we got it and
called girls and doesn't like working and told my companion that he
specifically hates him and me.
I do not care so much if people hate me or if they don't like me or talk bad about me. What I really care about is if they talk bad about
their leaders or don't obey people they promised to obey. And that is what I see a lot when I try to lead. People are just going against
their leaders, even when what they are saying is direction from
someone else (mission president or the Lord). Does that make sense?
If you have seen "Band of Brothers" near the very end there is one Lt
who doesn't like his Captain (or a cpt who doesn't like his Major,
something like that). He doesn't salute him, and the higher ranking
officer says "You don't have to salute the person. Salute the rank."
Funny story. We were teaching this lady. She is a mama (mama's are a very unique species of human. They are generally incredibly overweight, have many children, and are overly confident). She has a new baby named Brian. To get the whole picture I will say that she rarely puts pants on the kid and just lets him crawl around everywhere (including the dirt floor of her home). Also, it is perfectly fine to pull out your boobs to breastfeed. And not like in a very private way like those in the US where they cover up and everything, but they just lift up their shirt or pull out their boob and then after it is all out they search for their kid to put them on their "chichi." Then after the kid is done they wait for a few moments (sometimes a few minutes) with their boobs just very open, and then put it away. So Miracle, the mama, was being taught about (ironically) the law of chastity. She pulls out her boobs to let Brian feast and puts him up there. **I hate this, by the way. I am not uncomfortable or grossed out, but I really wish it didn't happen.** As I am talking about the law of chastity and Brian is sucking away, he starts peeing all over her. Epic lesson.
I love all y'all, and I also have found a new love for a nice treat called a samosa, which is a nice little pocket made of chapati, full of meat and peppers.
Also, if anyone ever wants to know how Kenya is, make the hottest cup
of hot chocolate you can, but make sure that it is not more than one
part chocolate to 100 parts water so it is very watered down, then sit
in a really stuffy room when it is 95 degrees and you will know
exactly how it is. Feel free to also dine on a local favorite,
githeri, which is hard corn and hard beans (chilli without the meat
and soup). Also as hot as you can get it.