Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Tender Mercy from the Lord

Just a quick note about a recent miracle in the midst of tragedy.  Last Saturday when we were in Dar Es Salaam, we got a phone call from a very distraught father saying that his son had just been killed in a car accident in Utah.  This father's other son is a new missionary here in our mission.  He just arrived about 3 weeks ago.  So we needed to contact this missionary.  He was serving in the Chyulu area which is a 4-5 hour drive from Nairobi.  The father had been unable to get hold of President Msane and at first we were unable to get hold of him too.  But miracle of miracles, President Msane happened to be right in Chyulu with plans to interview all the missionaries, including this missionary, Elder F.  We weren't aware that President Msane was going to Chyulu -- of all the places he could have gone in the two countries of Kenya and Tanzania -- last weekend.  But the Lord knew.  President Msane was right where he needed to be and within an hour was comforting this wonderful young missionary, Elder Fraga, and helping him to make contact with his family.  What a tender mercy from the Lord.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Hot, Hot, Hot in Dar Es Salaam

So hot in Dar Es Salaam!!  Thank goodness for air conditioning in houses, vehicles, and stores.  I can see why people die in heat waves in big cities when the power can't keep up with all the air conditioning needs.  Wow.  How do people survive?!  It's hard to breathe when it's so hot!  Made me appreciate the cold in Nairobi.  And by the way, now that we are back from Tanzania, it has turned cold again.  Cold and rainy in Nairobi.  So it's been basically cold for 7 months!!  And at the equator too.  Who would have guessed?  But elsewhere in Kenya and Tanzania, it is hot, hot, hot.

Sister Jones gave me this lovely picture of Elder Akpu (on left) and Elder Cotts (on right) at a baptism in Dar Es Salaam.  Elder Akpu and Elder Cotts stopped by to the Jones's when we were there and we had a great visit with them.  They even ate lunch with us (it was the feeding of the 5000 or rather the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes -- there was enough and we were filled).  But I totally forgot to take a picture of the missionaries.  They looked so cool -- so black and white with dark Elder Akpu and very blond Elder Cotts.  I was so mad at myself for not taking a photo.  So to Elder Cotts parents:  he looked great.  And not even sun burned for the amount of time he spends out in the sun.

Do you think Elder Torrie could pull a handcart loaded with huge containers of water like these people do?  Maybe in his younger years.  This handcart is much smaller than most.  Don't know how they push and pull them up hills and down and loaded with heavy stuff.

Bananas growing in the backyard of the house where we stayed.

I'm entranced with these fan palms!

They feel so interesting too.  So firm and cool and smooth.

Monday all day Elder Torrie spent training Elder Jones on all the financial ins and outs.  So fun to find out that they both served missions in Japan in the Japan Nagoya Mission in their youth.  They overlapped about two months with LeRon going home and Elder Jones coming in.  So they had the same mission president -- President Sato.  And then to make a further coincidence, both Elder Torrie's and Elder Jones's fathers served in the same mission in their youths -- the Northern Great Lakes Mission in the United States.  Probably not at the same time though.

Enoch assists Elder Jones with things to do with missionary apartments and office computers.  They sent him back to the store to get cordless mouses (do you call them mice?)  Enoch had never heard of cordless mice.  I wonder if he's heard of Three Blind Mice?  If I was the farmer's wife, I would have cut off more than their tails.
And this is John, who helps Sister Jones with Immigration in Tanzania.  And his lovely wife of course.  I told him how much I love their white smiles.  John said, "Well, we have to smile because if you can't see our white teeth, you can't see our faces at all!"  So funny.  President and Sister Hicken:  John and his wife say a big hello to you.

Sister Jones, Sister Mwingira, Sister Torrie

Now here are LeRon and me with Elder and Sister Jones.  We had a lot of fun with them.  So good to get to know them.  They are doing a great job in Dar Es Salaam.  The missionaries and the members love them, we can tell.

We drove past the Mbezi Beach LDS Church.  Notice the sign in Swahili.  Everyone speaks Swahili in Tanzania.  Even the church meetings are in Swahili.  But maybe because we were there, it was part Swahili and part English.  At least it was in the Kinondoni Branch that we attended on Sunday.  The chapel was beautiful and very clean and the people were friendly.  Did they ever sing enthusiastically!  They put our western wards to shame.

We visited the Mbezi Beach sisters.  Lovely young women.  Sister Njoroge on the left and Sister Bungei on the right.

Don't I look sick next to these lovely ladies?  Sister Njoroge, me, Sister Bungei, and Sister Atieno.  Good missionaries and fun, nice young women.  They are in a threesome.  Not enough sister missionaries for them to be two-by-two.
Now we're on the way to the airport to fly back to cold Nairobi.  I snapped quite a few pictures out the windows but not too many turned out.  The street markets were very similar to Kenya's.

Tried to get a picture of the cemetery.  I've never seen such unkept cemeteries as I've seen in Kenya and Tanzania.  

More street vendors.

These are the only foraging animals I saw in Dar Es Salaam.  In Nairobi, we often see cattle as well as goats and sheep.  These goats were on the side of the road.

More street scenes.  Lots of Muslim women wrapped up.  Where we stayed we heard the Muslim Call to Prayer every day but it was a lot longer (very much longer) than we've heard it in Turkey, Jordan, Israel.  I really like the call to prayer.  Every muezzin does it a little differently.  Some can really sing; others can't but they try.  They call the faithful to prayer five times a day.
On the way to the airport we sat in a "parking lot" on the road for about 45 minutes waiting for traffic to move.  We really got hemmed in.  Big trucks in front, beside, and behind.  Glad it was daylight.  I would have worried if it had been night and we were white.  Not a good situation to be in.

Hawkers were selling their wares while we waited.  Mostly pop, water, fruit.  We didn't buy any.

So interesting to see men carrying things on their heads.  In Nairobi, we mostly see women carrying the heavy loads on their heads.  The men generally push and pull heavily loaded handcarts.  They're very strong.

The farmer in us noticed the grain bins and grain elevator. 

Here are the grain bins by the flour mill.

And now we are entering the airport.  Whew!  We just made it.  I like these white uniforms.  Police in Dar Es Salaam wear white whereas in Nairobi they wear gray (I think).  These white uniforms really stood out.

Last look at Dar Es Salaam and the Indian Ocean.
The sun low in the sky at 5:30 p.m. was gorgeous.

I got seats on the left side of the plane so we could see Mt. Kilimanjaro.  That gray peaked thing that is poking through the clouds is Mt. Kilimanjaro.  (It looks like a dark mass of perhaps water but it is really the mountain).  Was hard to photograph in the waning light.  Click on it to enlarge and you'll be able to see it really is the mountain.  It was exciting to see it for a few seconds.  Mt. Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in all of Africa at 16,000 ft and 19,000 feet above sea level.

Monday, November 21, 2016

First Look at Tanzania

We flew into Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania Friday evening.  You pronounce Dar Es Salaam like "Jerusalem" only with a "D" instead of a "J."  I won't attempt to tell you how to pronounce Tanzania since people say it so differently.  Elder & Sister Jones, who have only been here a month, picked us up at the airport.  They are adapting very well.  And interesting thing . . . Elder Jones and Elder Torrie were in the same mission in Japan in their younger years!!  Fun to hear . . . "do you remember eating  . . ." and to hear a smattering of Japanese.  And even more interesting, their fathers also served in the same mission as young men although not at the same time.

I need to tell you about a funny sign I saw in the Nairobi airport AFTER we had cleared security.  I wanted to take a picture but didn't dare.  The sign said, "If you have firearms, spear guns, or harpoons in your luggage, see an agent."  How funny is that?!

We are staying near the Jones's in a house -- yes, a real house not an apartment -- that the church rents.  It's not like home but nearer home than an apartment is.  Senior couples lived here when there were more of them but we are down to only 7 right now in the two countries.  Senior couples are desperately needed.

Love these fan palms!!!!

All palm trees are interesting to us.  Where we live in southern Alberta, it's very hard to get trees to grow at all.  Around our house on the farm we have planted and re-planted and re-planted.  Very hard for trees to flourish in our windy, cold climate.  I love trees.

Tractors in Tanzania!!  Fun!

The Jones's are making sure that each missionary companionship receives a microwave oven.  Elder Christensen is happy to get one! 

Elder Odhiambo and Elder Christensen stay in one of the nicer apartments in our mission.  Tanzanian building standards appear to be higher than in Kenya; housing is also cheaper.

Elder Christensen and Sister Jones sharing a laugh.  So good to have senior couples near the junior missionaries.  Gives stability and a little taste of home.  Elder & Sister Jones are doing a great job taking care of the missionaries and working in the satellite office here in Dar.

I was happy to see both missionaries but Elder Christensen is particularly my "baby" because he stayed with us on his first night here in the mission when he was new and a little culture-shocked!  We were pretty new too.  He's doing great!

These Tanzanian men are just as strong as the Kenyan men.  In Kenya, I only saw women carrying things on their head, but here in Tanzania, men do it too.

Loading the trash on trash day.

Cute kids, eh?

More street scenes.  Pretty similar to what we see in Kenya.

Now that they got their microwave, Elder Mlambo and Elder Christensen (two on the left) are off to share the gospel.

Strong Tanzanian woman!

John helps the Jones's with missionary immigration in Tanzania.  He just got back from Johannesburg, South Africa where he attended the temple.  He flew this time but the last two times he took a bus -- four days there and four days back (without an overnight stop).  If you could see the buses, you would know it's not a pleasant trip.  But John says it was never a sacrifice.  He was so happy to have been able to attend the temple.

Elder Mlambo and Elder Mboya with Sister Jones.  It's sizzling hot today.

Sister Jones brought them several things they need for their apartment.  Elder Mboya is demonstrating how you carry things on your head.  I don't think he could carry that bucket for too long.  He needs a hat to keep the bucket on his head.

The church building here in Kinondoni, Tanzania (an area of Dar Es Salaam) is very lovely.  Well taken care of too.

Saturday afternoon, LeRon spent time training the district and branch clerks.

Here we are at the Indian Ocean for the first time!  Hot, hot hot!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

We are Never Bored!

This assignment to work in the mission office is perfect for us.  The Lord knew what he was doing when he called us to serve here.  We leave for the mission office about 7:30 each morning and we work until the work is done -- sometimes till 4 or 5 p.m.  There's always a lot of immigration work to do, new missionary recommendation papers to go through and emails from parents and infield missionaries and upcoming missionaries.  LeRon keeps very busy with financial matters.  In fact tomorrow we are flying to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania to train the branch clerks in their financial duties.  We are never bored.  Often tired, but never bored.

We had a fun experience in a store the other day.  As we talked to the cashier fellow about eternal families, we told him that we've been married for 41 years.  He was shocked.  He said we didn't look old enough.  He made my day!  Then he asked seriously what we do to stay young.  So I told him about the Word of Wisdom, which is the Lord's law of health.  I told him how important it is to abstain from things that hurt our bodies and to eat nutritiously.  He was intrigued.  Was a nice experience!

On Saturday, which is our "preparation day" we went to a local farmer's market.  This lovely lady was making sugar cane juice.  I told her that I couldn't drink it because it's pure sugar and I'm diabetic.  She said that actually sugar cane juice has "low glycemic index" and it won't affect the blood sugar at all.  I didn't believe her so she told me to look it up on the internet, which I did.  This is what it said, (if you can believe what you read on the internet):
"Sugarcane has glucose but also has a lower glycaemic index than instant sugar, making it the perfect energy drink for diabetics. Not only does it give them essential amounts of sugar but also does so safely. So, if you are a diabetic and crave something sweet, sip on a glass of sugarcane juice for that instant fix."

These sugar canes have been peeled.

She fed a sugar cane into the machine, then added some lime and mint.

I had a sip of LeRon's juice and it was actually delicious.  But I'm still not sure I would want to drink a whole cup of it.

Close to where we live are trees loaded with weaver birds and their nests.  The guard we talked to said that the opening of the nests hang down so that snakes can't get into the nests.  Interesting!

Hard to understand how birds can make such complicated nests!

Here's one of the many weaver birds that nest in these trees.  Lovely yellow bird.

Interesting flower on this huge cactus plant.

Remembrance Day pictures.  We're wearing poppies we bought here in Kenya.  Kenya was a British possession and there are many people here with British roots.  Lots of British people were born and raised here, including Anna, the lady who cuts my hair.  Lots of British ex-pats here too.  These paper poppies are just like the ones we've seen in England.  They probably came from England.  Many things here are similar to England.  Some words, such as "zed" which is what we Canadians say also, and "holiday" rather than "vacation" like the Americans say.  

Here's one of our few selfies.  I'm wearing the poppy I brought from home and LeRon's wearing the one we bought here.  I know I brought two poppies from home but I can only find one.

We feel very at home here.  When we first were here, if I waited in the truck while LeRon ran into Galleria Mall, I would lock the doors and keep the windows rolled up even if it was hot.  Now I sit in the truck with the windows open, enjoying the fresh air.  I feel safe here as I watch the armed guards patrolling the parking lot and families walking together.  At least in the day time I feel safe doing that!  Today I noticed some lovely flowers by the parking lot.  So I got out my trusty point-and-shoot and snapped a few shots.

And isn't this shot interesting?  I zoomed way in and caught the sunlight shining on the flower with the dark rain clouds behind it.  Pretty good for my little camera.  And the wind was blowing too.

Then I saw this yellow bird.  Wish it would have perched in front of the branch.

LeRon popped back to see if I was okay.  I've been having problems with my sciatic nerve so I just sat in the truck while he went into the store.  Doesn't he look handsome?!