Sunday, July 24, 2016

LeRon's Missionary Experience

You hear all the time from me (Colleen).  And I've done several posts just today.  Now here is an experience that LeRon had this week at the Chemist's (the drugstore).

I had a wonderful missionary experience yesterday in a drugstore that I want to record.  We have heard and found it to be true that almost all Kenyans are very polite and will listen to a short missionary message without rolling their eyes or cutting you off.  We have found this not only to be true, but that some Kenyans are quite interested.  This happened to me yesterday.  I was in a pharmacy buying some more of the Singulaire antihistamine pills.  As the druggist finished telling me about the pills, I pulled out an Articles of Faith card, which I always carry, and proceeded to explain a bit about the church and what we believe and handed him the card. 
The store was empty of customers.  There was another druggist standing next to him.  He had been a few steps away but reached out for the card and asked if he could have one too.  I had 4 in my pocket total and 5 or 6 would have been better but they said they would share.  I turned to my left and there was another girl who worked there listening.  She took one and the cashier girl walked over and all 4 took the cards and began to read.  One of the girls read my name tag and asked what “Latter Day Saint” meant.  So I explained about the restoration and latter-day versus former-day.  I mentioned a few things that had been restored like Priesthood and Temples and the Book of Mormon.  It turned out that the first druggist had just been recently married and so I asked him if he loved his wife.  Of course he said yes and then I said that Colleen and I had been married 41 years and I talked about the world’s view of marriage “till death do you part” versus “families can be together forever”.  The other druggist then asked if that really meant what I said it meant and I said yes.
I felt I had taken quite a bit of time so I just invited them all to call the missionaries whose phone number I had written on the cards and to look online at for more information.  One of the girls lives close to one of our chapels so she was familiar with the Church, at least where it was.  Anyway, it was a very choice experience to have the opportunity to tell people about our Church and its beliefs and have them all listen so attentively.  I need to work on my presentation some more.  I am not sure if I testified enough, in retrospect.  Anyway, it left me on a spiritual high that lasted throughout the day.  A mission is quite an adventure.

It's a Small World After All!

Last Sunday at Church, we met a young American -- Tim Olsen -- who was in Kenya for a conference.  Turns out he's related to Reva (Woodruff) Lybbert.  Reva grew up a mile away from us and we practically helped to raise her!!  She even babysat our kids.

You never know who you're going to meet.  I remember running into one of our son Craig's good friends from high school -- Aaron Van Kasteren -- in the jungle in Peru!!  (We were glad we were behaving ourselves -- which of course we always do!)

We invited Tim to hang out with us as we went to the Rongai Ward and then home to make some supper.  Then later in the week, we took him to the Kazuri Bead factory and then out for supper at the Karen Blixen estate.

Here we are with Reva & Justin Lybbert's cousin, Tim Olsen.

Our little "grandchildren," Joy and Prince, came over to see "the tall man" who was visiting us.

This picture should have been first.  Oh well.  I finally got a picture of this sign in Carrefour, a large Fench department store in "The Hub", one of the new malls.

And here's a "polite notice" sign.  You see these signs all over the place.  Kenyans are very polite people.  Click on the picture to see it close up.  This is in the Kazuri Bead factory.  I've told about Kazuri Beads in another post.  The factory started 40 years ago to give single mothers an income.  Now they make not only beads, but also pottery.  The clay comes from Mt. Kenya.

These look good enough to eat!  Yummy chocolate!  (Well, it looks like chocolate anyway).

We were lucky to be here near closing time.  The girls were loading the kilns so the beads could be fired overnight.

So interesting how they stack the beads inside the kilns.
The girls really enjoy working here.  They move around to different jobs so they don't get tired of doing the same thing over and over again.  And they love to get their picture taken.

Putting the beads together.

They make other kinds of pottery too.

On the left is before firing and on the right is after firing.  All the pottery is made to be food-safe and dishwasher safe.  I've never seen any dishwashers here in Kenya but maybe some of the wealthy people have them.

Tim Olsen tried a "Kenyan" dish at the Karen Blixen restaurant (Tamambo's).  I think the meat was a little tough.

Here's LeRon's food.  Some kind of fish.

This was my meal.  The salmon is always very tasty and the food well-presented.

Family Home Evening and Ugali

I'm doing several short posts today to make it easier to read.  So here goes this one:

We take turns having Family Home Evening with the Assistants to the President (young missionaries) and with the Msanes (our Mission President) and us.  Last week we went to the Assistant's house and they cooked us some authentic Kenyan food.

Ugali (pronounced oo-gall-ee) is a staple around here.  Everyone makes it and everyone eats it.  LeRon and I were first introduced to it by our son-in-law Andy (married to our daughter Michelle) who learned it from a Kenyan friend.

Ugali is basically a cornmeal mush that is cooked till it's very solid.  And you use white cornmeal, not yellow cornmeal.  Africans only use yellow corn if they have no white corn.  When there was a crop failure one time, western nations brought in yellow corn for them and nobody liked it!

Then you cook a meat dish with greens (sukuma wiki -- which is actually kale).  You scoop up the meat dish with the ugali, using your hands.  Enjoy the photos!

Elder Wafula is chopping kale with a very sharp knife and he's holding it in his hand!  He said his mother taught him how to do it and he's never ever cut himself.

Nice smile, Elder Wafula!!  After the kale was chopped, Elder Wafula cooked it in oil.

Now here's Elder Arudo getting ready to cook the hamburger.  I can't remember what they call it but they don't call it hamburger.  Minced beef I think.

The Assistants often host other missionaries who are transiting through Nairobi.  Fun sign telling them to clean up after themselves!

Now Elder Wafula is starting the actual ugali.  Just white maize meal and water or was it oil?  No salt.  I'm afraid I had to add salt to mine.

Elder Arudo cooking the meat with onions.
Now I'm eating the finished product with my hands!  Kids would like that I bet.  I wished I'd had a fork!

Two other missionaries joined us for the evening.  Don't they have great smiles?

Pioneer Day

Today, July 24, is celebrated in the Church as Pioneer Day.  It's the day that commemorates the pioneers' entry into the Salt Lake Valley after a rigorous march beside wagons or pulling handcarts from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah.  One of the Torrie ancestors, Hans Ulrich Bryner from Switzerland, walked all the way hanging on to the back of a wagon.  He was blind.  His posterity is still strong in the gospel.

Pioneer actually means "one who goes before."  Today I led the Primary children (ages 3-11) in the Langata Branch in singing pioneer songs.  "Pioneer Children sang as they walked and walked and walked and walked . . . "  And "you don't have to push a handcart . . . or walk a thousand miles or more to be a pioneer.  You do have to have great courage, faith to conquer fear, and work with might for a cause that's right to be a pioneer!"  Church members here in Kenya are definitely pioneers.  And they know what pushing and pulling handcarts is all about.  Just google "Nairobi handcart images" for pictures of the handcarts we see regularly here.

Kenyans are pioneers in that the Church is very new here.  The Langata Branch meetinghouse is only 22 years old.  It was the first church building in East Africa and the first in Kenya.  So the Church is very young here but many members are strong in living the gospel.

I took these pictures on the way to Rongai Ward to show how hard working Kenyans are.  So many businesses.  Everyone trying to make a buck to feed their families.  So many happy people!

We wondered what "Bedsitters" are.  Maybe babysitters? (Later:  I found out that bedsitters are studio apartments.  Just another name for a room with a bed, fridge, and cooking appliances).

These bunk beds are actually very well built.  We've been told that if you want a quality product, you buy it on the street and not in one of the big box stores.

Nairobi is very Christian.  Lots of Christian churches and signs everywhere.  Many people go to church every Sunday.

Another picture to show how hard working and productive these people are.  One Kenyan told us that "Kenya is the promised land where anyone can do well, especially if they get an education."


So fun to see animals in the wild.  We were driving last Sunday from our Langata Branch to the Rongai Ward and there, right by the road, were several baboons.  They are not as big as I thought they would be.  I rolled down my window to take some better pictures, then wondered if the baboons would hustle over and grab my camera but they didn't.

Cute, eh?

Coming home today (July 24) from the Rongai Ward, we saw baboons running across the road.  I wasn't fast enough to click a picture.  These were on the side of the road, not crossing the road as we saw before.

Interesting how they hold their tails.

There were actually five baboons but only these pictures turned out.

Wild warthogs by the side of the road.  They are really dangerous animals.  Can turn and rend you.  And there were people close by waiting for a matatu (a small bus).  They didn't seem scared of the warthogs but I would have been.  Glad I was in the car.
Fun to see a donkey pulling a handcart.  Usually men pull the handcarts.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Flowers and Things

First . . . We are devastated by what has happened in France and Turkey recently.  We have a very special sister who lives in France and our hearts ache for her fellow countrymen.  We have a love for France and a love for Turkey; we've traveled several times in both countries.  God bless and help you all.  Pray for the peace of the world.
A few more pictures . . .
On our way home from Zone Conference we drove through an interesting street lined with clothing for sale.  When we used to travel regularly to the old office, we always drove on this street but never saw so many things for sale as we did on this day.  I can only think that there's more wares out since the rainy season is basically over.

The drive home from the Zone Conference (at Upperhill, where our office used to be) took us 2 hours.  We're not supposed to drive at night but we had to in this case.  I tried to snap a picture of all the traffic.  Actually there were three buses trying to merge into one lane.  It was funny.  But I missed the funniest part because my camera is so slow.  Oh well.  I tried.

I love Bougainvillea.  The lovely pink blossoms are really not blossoms at all but are actually a leaf.

This is the first time that I've noticed actual Bougainvillea blossoms.  I used to try to grow these at home.  They didn't do much and of course never survived the winter.  They never blossomed like this.  So interesting.
So many hedges and shrubs and many are sculptured so beautifully.  All cut by hand with shears or long "whackers."

Another view of the sculptured hedges.

This is a gym being built in our compound.  Interesting to see the building techniques.  Everything is hard hand labor.  But at least it gives people work.

There were two huge piles of these concrete blocks at the start of construction.  Each block was hand-carried on a man's shoulder to the work site and hoisted up by hand to where it needed to go.  They pile them up and put a little bit of mortar between them -- a very little bit.  It's mostly just one brick on top of the other.

Nairobi Zone Conference

Back L-R: Elder Petersen, Elder Wafula, Elder Torrie, Elder Odundo, Elder Ford, Elder Rasmussen, Elder Lyman, Elder Otika, Elder Ang'ila, Elder Mugele, President Msane, Elder Manu, Elder Boaz, Elder Pavik, Elder Vidonyi, Elder Hales, Elder Emmanuel, Elder _____, Elder Limu, Elder Mwanziu, Elder Arudo, Elder Soita, Elder Agesa.  

Middle L-R: Sister Petersen, Sister Torrie, Sister Ford, Sister Lyman, Sister Mayoli, Sister Msane, Sister Shanya, Sister Alinyo, Sister Were, Sister Ndong'a, Sister Kiio, Sister Njoroge.  

Front L-R: Elder Musonda, Elder Mwashi, Elder Kiio, Elder Mlambo, Elder Mwaja, Elder Chenani, Elder Lotulelei, Elder Muthiani, Elder Ngabonziza.

Our first Zone Conference!  It was great.  A zone is an area covering several "districts" and "districts" have several companionships of missionaries.  There are 16 companionships in the Nairobi Zone (so 32 but actually 33 missionaries since one companionship has three missionaries).  Then when you count the 4 senior missionary couples (including us), that's 41 missionaries plus the President and his wife.

At a Zone Conference, which is held once a quarter, we receive instruction from the Mission President and his wife and from the Assistants to the President.  The theme of our conference was "Obedience is a Choice."  Elder L. Tom Perry, of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles said that obedience "is a choice between our own limited knowledge and power and God's unlimited wisdom and omnipotence."

Elder Boyd K. Packer, another of our Apostles (who recently passed away), said, "Obedience is powerful, spiritual medicine.  It comes close to being a cure-all."  I like that.  So important to obey.  With obedience comes safety and a multitude of blessings.

Another thing from Zone Conference:  "We teach people, not lessons."  And another:  When we are asked to do something by the brethren (who speak for the Lord), we should ACT and not just ask WHY.  Then, as we act, the answers to the "why" will come from the Lord to us individually or from the brethren who speak for the Lord.  It's actually quite simple.

Elder Pavik is quite a bit taller than Elder Torrie and me, wouldn't you say?!  Here's a picture of us after the Zone Conference.  We were helping Sister Msane to clean up.  We served Kentucky Fried Chicken with chips and Sis Msane's homemade pasta and cabbage salads.  The missionaries gobbled it up!  (By the way and this is for Elder Pavik's mother:  He looked great!  He's a good missionary.  We enjoyed getting to know him.)

Fun to help Sis Msane feed all those hungry missionaries!

No one wanted to leave after the conference.  Fun to be together.  Here they're helping carry things from the kitchen to the vehicles.  Back L-R: Elder Lotulelei, Elder Hales, Elder Pavik, Elder Rasmussen, Elder Arudo, Elder ______.  Front L-R: Elder Mwashi, Elder ______, Elder Emmanuel.

Fun missionaries -- black and white.  And by the way, it's politically correct to say Black Africans and White Africans and then of course there are the Mzungus (the white foreigners).  Back L-R: Elder Hales with Elder Mwashi in front, Elder Musonda, Elder _____, Elder Emmanuel, Elder ________.  Front: Elder Odundo.

Everyone likes to get in on the fun.  Back L-R: Elder Hales, Elder Pavik, Elder Rasmussen.  Front L-R: Elder Mwaja, Elder Mwashi, Elder Musonda, Elder Arudo, Elder Emmanuel.

Four of the five American missionaries in the Nairobi Zone:  Elder Lotulelei, Elder Hales, Elder Rasmussen, Elder Pavik.  Just missing Elder Manu (who is also very tall).  He must have already left.

Elder Mwaja (from Tanzania) and Elder Musonda (from Zambia) with Elder Torrie

Elder Chenani with Elder Torrie and me.  It's fun to meet the missionaries after weeks of getting their documents ready prior to their arrival in the mission.  I always get to see their photos and then it's interesting to actually see them in person.  Elder Chenani was one of 14 new missionaries who arrived in June.  He's doing great!
Elder Agesa, Elder Emmanuel

Elder Ang'ila, Elder Kiio

Elder Manu-Tuinei, Elder Vidonyi

Elder Mlambo, Elder Ngabonziza

Elder Mugele, Elder Limu

Elder Musonda, Elder Lotulelei

Elder Muthiani, Elder Pavik, Elder Chenani, Elder Rasmussen

Elder Mwaja, Elder Hales, Elder Musonda

Elder Mwanziu, Elder Soita

Elder Mwashi, Elder Boaz

Elder Odundo, Elder Otika
Sister Alinyo, Sister Ndong'a

Sister Mayoli, Sister Kiio, Sister Njoroge

Sister Shanya, Sister Were