Thursday, September 21, 2017

How Much to Help: Rules for Senior Missionaries


We frequently get asked by Westerners how they can help the needy people in Africa.  Perhaps learning some principles that senior missionaries need to abide by can help.  Here are some "rules" that I recently discovered that came from a senior couples conference here in the Kenya Nairobi Mission a few years ago.  I have underlined and bolded things I feel are extremely important and have made a few comments.  It's so important to help in the Lord's way.  We are taught to help others so they can help themselves.  "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a life time" is so true.  We want these good people here in Africa to be self-reliant and thus self-confident in their abilities to care for themselves.

"Couples must understand that cultural differences in Africa are huge.  Couples should not judge nor evaluate Africans, their happiness, or their circumstances based upon a comparison with standards of living or expectations in the U.S. or other Western societies nor should they compare the two living standardsHappiness and well-being are not determined by physical possessions or financial capability."

"Couples should not give personal financial assistance to members. . . . Such assistance creates greater dependence.  Couples must be aware of and honor Church welfare procedures and principles, which are administered only by unit leaders.  Couples should not solicit financial or other assistance from wards or stakes or members at home, nor should they foster or promote 'charitable' projects for African members or others in Africa. "

Note from me:  Charitable projects that take place over a week or two can be good as long as they don't foster dependency but often this exactly what happens.  Some units of the Church here in Africa see a huge increase in attendance when Church members from the West are attending because they know these people will bring them "gifts" aka "handouts."  In those cases, African members are attending for the wrong reason.  We want them to come to Church because they have a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not because they want a handout.

"Couples should not feel nor teach that Church units in Africa should have all of the same programs, facilities or supplies that are available in their home wards."  Note from me:  Things will improve for African units of the Church as they mature in the gospel.  It will just take time.

"Couples should not do the work of nor assume the responsibilities of the local leaders.  Couples must be patient and helpful in teaching local leaders how to fulfill their callingsTheir role is to develop leaders capable of carrying on with confidence and ability when the couples are released or reassigned.

Note from me:  Today in church, we heard the gospel preached masterfully by our African branch president.  Many here are really grounded in gospel principles and are leading as well as Western leaders lead in the West.  These leaders are definitely leading with confidence and testimony.

"Couples must not offer to or sponsor African young men or young women on missions, in schooling, or to go to the United States, nor should they encourage emigration or schooling outside their countries of birth."  Note from me:  Africa is a huge continent with wonderful possibilities.  Not everyone wants to or needs to live in the West.  We in the West don't have a corner on happiness.  There are millions of people here who love living in Africa.

"Couples should not send financial assistance or supplies to members after leaving the mission.  Offerings should be given through your home ward." 

Note from me:  The best way we can help is to donate to the Church's Humanitarian Fund, or to the Perpetual Education Fund, or to the General Missionary Fund (which helps needy Africans to be able to serve missions).  These funds all operate with volunteers and so ALL of the money goes where it is needed the most.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ngorongoro Crater Videos -- Lions and Others of God's Creations

I've spent the last two hours doing the previous three posts and now it's 10:30 p.m. and I need to get to bed.  But first I'm going to post videos from our game drive at the Ngorongoro Crater.  Later I'll post the pictures and commentary.  But for my grandchildren's enjoyment I'll post these videos of lions and wildebeests and zebras now.  One of the videos is too fast and will make your head spin but oh well.  Enjoy more of God's wonderful creations . . .  JUST PUT TWO MORE VIDEOS ON.  CHECK THEM OUT.









The Beauties of Nature

The previous two posts were about members, missionaries, and great neighbors.  Take good people and add the beauty of nature to it and you get . . . JOY!!!  We recently went to Arusha in Tanzania to do a branch audit and while we were there, we went to the Ngorongoro Crater, an amazing place that I will tell you about in a later post.  In the meantime, here are some photos of scenes around Nairobi, particularly in the Karen area where we live.

Click to enlarge this photo and you will see how gorgeous this flower is.  So pretty it almost looks unreal.

We can't get enough of the beautiful flowering trees.  We've seen them flower over and over again in the almost year and a half that we've been here.  The seasons are certainly different here.  I think this is an Orchid Tree.

Another flowering tree.  I think this may be an African Tulip Tree.  What do you think?

We were astounded at the size of the leaves on this tree.

Beautiful sculpted bushes

An African Tulip Tree

Marist College has beautiful grounds.  We walk past it on our walks.

Wish we could grow these kinds of plants in Alberta!

The Weaver birds build such interesting nests.  Apparently snakes can climb trees.  The weaver birds build their nests with the opening in the bottom of the nest so that snakes can't get inside. Crazy!!

Is this a gorgeous trumpet flower?

So interesting that at Marist University College, there is a dress code and no hooting (honking) and no smoking.  It's been so nice here in Kenya because so few people smoke so I don't have to deal with the cigarette smoke that I'm allergic to.

We pass the Marist College every time we walk in the early evening.  We speak to many of the university students.  So interesting how they look so solemn until you say hello and then they brighten up with a big smile and say hello back.  LeRon thought this motto was interesting.  We know that Jesus Christ is the light of the world but we also know that we need to shine our lights too.  Hopefully people will see the light of Christ in our faces.

Neighborly Neighbors

I just did a post about members and missionaries and now I want to talk about great neighbors.  Jesus taught us to love our neighbors and all those we come in contact with.  It's not hard to do here.  We live in a great compound with great neighbors who have become good friends.  They are from India, Japan, Tanzania, Uganda, Slovenia, and Kenya of course.  (Our neighbors from South Africa and Sweden have, sadly, moved back to their countries).  We discovered last year when there was a fire in our compound how much we have learned to pull together as a community.  Our landlord also lives here and is a member of parliament whom we enjoy visiting.  These people are very good people.  They are Christians and Muslims and Hindus and atheists.  All good people.  We couldn't ask for any better place to live.  God knew we would thrive living here.

Chitra and Prem have recently moved into our compound.  He is a cardio surgeon from India who works at the nearby Karen Hospital.  He works with our long-time neighbor, Shrikant (and Pooja) whom we love dearly.  It has been so nice to get to know them.  

Prince and Joy stopped by to tell us the sad news that they are moving.  We will miss them.  Prince, Joy, and Faye were the first people to welcome us to the neighborhood.  I remember how they rang our bell on the second day that we were here and they said, "Welcome to the neighborhood!"  How sweet of them.  They have been good friends, actually good grandchildren.  They even call us Grandpa and Grandma.  We love them and their parents, Sammy and Nancy.

Then some of the other neighborhood kids dropped by.  Faye and Dan have joined Joy and Prince.  We love them all, and their parents too.

At last . . . I am in the picture.

Funny Dan!  His mother is a ranger who works at the Masai Mara keeping the poaching to a minimum.  She has stories to tell!!

Dan is quite the card!  

And now Prince is getting into the act.

Prince and Joy's parents, Sammy and Nancy stopped by to tell us good-bye.  So sad.  They were our first next-door neighbors.  We knew that if we had trouble, we could call on them, and they knew the same.

Joy is in the above picture and Prince in this one.  Below are videos of Prince and Joy playing the piano for their parents.  Elder Torrie has taught them a little ditty that they love to play.



Yes, I'm here.  You might never know it as I'm always the one taking pictures.  I am aging, sadly.

Prince has a gorgeous smile!

Now just tonight, a month after they moved away, Prince and Joy and their parents have popped over for a visit.  So nice to see them.  Hugs all around.  Should have taken pictures of Nancy and Sammy too.

Here's Faye (center) with Joy and the two young girls who have moved in next door (into the big house that Mariska and Jaco moved out of).  They are Muslim and we have enjoyed meeting their parents.  I need to take them some brownies.

Another night out with Prem and Chitra.  They are so fun and Prem is closer to our age although Chitra is a lot younger.  We are the oldest ones in our compound so it was nice when Prem moved in!!  

We had a great evening with Chitra and Prem.  I just wish I could visit her more often but I'm working at the mission office in the day and then when I come home, I'm so very tired.  But it's important to be friends.  So many nice people here.  Not all want to hear the gospel message but that's okay.

Members, Missionaries, and Memories

As our time is slowly drawing to a close here in Kenya, we realize how much we will miss these wonderful people.  We no longer see black and white; we simply see good people who are trying to live the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We truly feel that we are brothers and sisters, and really, we ARE brothers and sisters.  We are all children of the same God.

Elder Torrie has found out to entertain children -- make paper airplanes after Primary!  An easy way to become popular!!  L-R: Precious, Barak, Ezra, Jimo, Daisy, and of course Elder Torrie doing what he does best.

Barak, Solomon, Ezra, Jimo and Precious learning the fine art of stapling the wings of the plane so it stays together.  As you can see from Elder Torrie's face, he loves helping the kids.  We will miss these sweet children!  Thank goodness we still have a couple of months left.  The time has FLOWN by . . . Ha ha.  Pun intended.

Daisy having great fun with her paper airplane.  Yes, many of the girls have their hair shaved almost right off.  Must be easier to care for it.  Daisy is a very fine young lady and I love her a lot.  She knows her scriptures, loves to sing, has a great memory.  She'll go far, or rather, she'll fly far!!

Precious and Daisy with their paper airplanes.

Elder Torrie helping Ezra and Jimo.  Jimo speaks very little English and even though he doesn't understand much of what goes on in Primary, he comes every week and stays the whole time.

Barak enjoying his airplane.

Solo has a beautiful smile.

Solo and Barak

Jimo with the top of Elcan's head in the picture.  He lost his airplane somewhere.  Hopefully he will find it.
Ah . . . the lost is found.  Doesn't Elcan look cute in his suit?  He and his family are from Ghana.  They have also lived in other places, such as the US.  His dad is our branch president.
Now we're off to Rongai so LeRon can give piano lessons in the Rongai Ward.  This is the building they meet in.  They have the whole 4th floor which, in the West, would be the 5th floor.  Lots of steps to climb to get there.  I count them every time but I can't remember right now how many there are.  They are the most uneven stairs we've encountered thus far.  And we've encountered a LOT of uneven stairs!

I'm standing on the 4th floor of the Rongai Ward.  Love the curves and the interesting designs.
Sister Masibo, one of our missionaries, is leading the Rongai choir.  She's a great choir director.  And the choir sang at the recent Stake Conference and they sounded like angels.  They sing a capella and they are great at singing in harmony.

Here's two more of our missionaries.  Sister Matata is on the left in the front row and Sister Bamutesiza is on the right.  These two, along with Sister Masibo are a missionary threesome.

Elder Ang'ila is another of our returned Kenya Nairobi missionaries.  He's now in the Rongai Ward, enjoying singing with the choir.  Kenyans love to sing!

More Rongai Ward singers.

Sister Bamutesiza, front and center, waiting for the song to start.  She is a lovely girl from Uganda.

Love that smile, Sister Matata (on left).  She is from Kenya.

Sister Masibo; Peter's wife, Pauline; Sister Evelyn; Sister Matata.  

Now we're at Nairobi West Stake Conference.  Elder Lotulelei, Elder Ellis, Elder Kiio, Elder Kyomya, smiling Elder Jameson.  Does he ever not smile?

Elder Torrie is here with two of our favorite people -- Andrew Kiserema from our Langata Branch, and Scriven, our adopted Albertan.  Scriven spent 7 years in Edmonton, Alberta, studying at the university there.  He has the Albertan lingo down pat and if you weren't looking at him, you'd never think he was Kenyan.  Andrew too spent time in Canada when his father worked at the Kenyan embassy in Ottawa.  Andrew lived there about 5 years but doesn't have the Canadian accent.  We love both these young men.

Sister Maina (pronounced My-ee-nah) is a returned missionary from our Kenya Nairobi Mission.  She gave a great talk about the temple at the Saturday session of stake conference.  Elder Torrie and I also spoke at stake conference but in the Sunday morning session.  Because there were so many speakers, we didn't really have a chance to give our talks but were able to bear testimony of the importance of the temple in our lives.  I quoted Elder Bednar who promised young people (and also adults) protection in their youth and throughout their lives if they would participate in family history work.

The missionaries love to get together whenever they can.  Elder Ellis, Elder Carlson, Elder Jameson.

Elder Mbaya is from the DR Congo and is doing well learning English.  French is his main language after his tribal language.  Africans are proficient in many languages -- often one or two tribal languages as well as their national language.

Elder McGrath (with a suit that is now way too big for him!), Elder Jameson, and Elder Somniso with a Kenyan member.

Elder Breidenbaugh

Elder Manu-Tuinei and Elder Breidenbaugh are companions.

Elder Jameson, Elder Lotulelei, Elder McGrath

Elder Mwashi on left and Elder Kyomya (pronounced chome-ya)

Elder McGrath and Elder Ellis

Sister Bamutesiza in middle and Elder Kyomya

Elder Mwashi and Elder Ellis are Assistants to the President.  We are not supposed to call them "AP's".  They are called "Assistants."

Sister Dhaima and Sister Auma are companions

Ha ha.  Sisters are always so particular about their pictures!  Sister Auma insisted on a closer pictures.  These are lovely sisters.

And here I am with Sister Masibo.  Nice to be in a picture once in a while!

Elder Vidonyi is a returned missionary from our Kenya Nairobi Mission.  He is planning on wedding bells in the near future.

I tried gathering some of our Langata Branch members.  So nice to see them at stake conference.

Because I work in the Primary at church, I don't know all the names of other people in the branch but I certainly know their faces and I love them dearly.  Back row L-R: I know this sister but not her name; Precious and Patricia's mother; Emma Baddoo (wow -- she's really grown since we've been here), Sister Young Women president; Sister Baddoo (the RS president); this young man I know by sight; tall young returned missionary who really understands the gospel.  Front L-R:  Precious, Jimo, Whitney, Patricia.  Aren't they a handsome and beautiful bunch?