Friday, March 31, 2017

Mombasa Members Happy at Church

The Bamburi Branch in Mombasa has about 70 people crammed into a small building on a hot day.  But they're happy to be at church and happy to belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We take so much for granted in the West, such as going to church in beautiful buildings with plumbing that works and air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter and lots of teaching manuals, and crayons and scissors in the library.  The members here do cheerfully with so little.  A good example to us all.  It is not things that make us happy.

Note to our sister and brother-in-law, Colleen and Craig Smith -- be sure to tell Dave Prete about the Mombasa returned missionary who knew him in Malawi.  See photos below.  Dave Prete talked to us so enthusiastically about missions in Africa a couple of years before we put in our mission papers.  At the time, the thought came to me, yes we'll probably go to Africa, though that was definitely not our first choice!!  Then what a surprise when we were actually called to Africa!   By the way, Kenyans don't really consider this Africa; they consider it simply Kenya.  Africa is a huge continent with 54 countries.

Another thing we take for granted in the west is the relative peace we enjoy.  No barbed wire or guards or fences or walls surrounding our churches and our homes.  Sad that here in Kenya there has to be guards and fences and walls.

Elder Torrie chatting with a member of the branch presidency.

Before church, we met for a short choir practice.  Sister Jensen is helping the new choir and today will be their first performance.  Elder Torrie and I joined in too.  The members here know few hymns since no one plays the piano so they only sing a capella the few that they know.  One of the purposes of having the choir is to learn the hymns.
Colorful dresses and lovely smiles.  These people love to sing.

Basses and tenors needed a bit of help so Elder Torrie stepped in.  One of the young men had a deep bass voice and sang beautifully.

The chapel is long and narrow and breezes blow through the grating at both ends but it doesn't help to make you feel cooler.  Everyone, not just the mzungus (white foreigners) who were there, was sweating to beat the band.

Lovely people!

Interesting that everyone wants their picture taken but no one asks to see it.  Don't these young men look nice in their white shirts?

This lovely woman taught a very good Relief Society lesson from a talk by our prophet and president, President Monson.  Lots of questions and discussions.  Her dress is cute too.  It was sewn by a tailor in Mombasa.

More cute young men.

Fathers love their daughters as much here in Africa as they do in the West.  We have much more in common with Africans than we think.  We are all children of the same God and we are all brothers and sisters.

LeRon got talking with this returned missionary and found out that he went on his mission to Malawi and that he knows Dave Prete from Cardston who is a friend of our brother-in-law, Craig Smith.  So Craig & Colleen, be sure to tell Dave Prete and his wife that we met George Masika and that once-Elder Masika remembers them well.  It's a small world.

George Masika, LeRon, and Mombasa District President Msafiri.  LeRon always calls him "Msafari" which makes everyone laugh since Safaricom is the internet provider.

After church we were back in a hot little classroom for the regular choir practice.  Our choir number went okay for a first time but there's definitely room for improvement.  The problem is that they need a choir director as well as an accompanist.  Oh well.  They need singers too.

So fun to learn the hymns of Zion.

The young women love to get their picture taken but this time she asked to see the picture.  I took three pictures before she was satisfied.  Women!  We are so particular about our looks, aren't we?

Another lovely lady.  I wonder if the towel was used to wipe the sweat off her kids' faces.

This young single mother of 5 children is going to take piano lessons from Sister Jensen.  She's excited to learn even though she knows she has to practice 1/2 hour per day.  That's quite a commitment with five young children to care for.  But it would be great if someone could learn to play to accompany the singing in sacrament meeting.  Music really adds to the spirit of the meeting.

Today, March 31, while I was waiting for LeRon to finish his work in the office, I worked more on this blog.  Many times we are still in the office by 5 or 6 p.m. but usually on Fridays we are headed home by 4 p.m. Today LeRon had tons of work to do so we were still at the office when a man from Mombasa walked in.  His name is Aloo and he had a wonderful spirit about him.  He needed to speak with the Mission President who happens to be out of town.  But we were able to connect him with the president.  He is one of the first members in Mombasa and has been a member for almost 20 years.  He has been to many temples, including 7 in Utah.  He loves to attend the temple and does so wherever he is.  He had such a good spirit about him that I wasn't surprised that he's a temple-going man.  It was a good experience to talk with him.  He has a strong testimony of Jesus Christ and of the blessings of worshiping in the temple.  He belongs to the Bamburi Branch in Mombasa and was the first branch president.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Mombasa Missionaries

I know that all you missionary moms and dads are anxiously awaiting pictures of your missionaries in Mombasa.  Well, here they are.  We had a great time Sunday evening with all the missionaries at Elder & Sister Jensen's flat.  So nice to have senior missionaries to provide a bit of home once in awhile for the junior missionaries.  A home-cooked meal is always appreciated.

Sunday morning we arrived bright and early to the Bamburi Branch meetinghouse.  It's down a little lane that houses small businesses, little homes, and goats tied up across from the gate to the church.

Elder Soita and Elder Fuller are the missionaries assigned to the Bamburi Branch.  Everyone calls Elder Fuller "Elder Foo-lah" because they can't say their "r's", this being a British-English speaking country.

Ha ha.  Elder Fuller is trying to act scary but these kids aren't scared; they just think he's funny.  It's SO hot in these classrooms.  No air conditioning but they badly need it.  The fans just blow the hot air around and make it hard to hear and the fans actually act more like a furnace.

Sunday evening the missionaries gradually congregated at the Jensen's flat (which does have air conditioning).  I haven't seen Elder Estheimer since he entered the mission in June.  Elder Torrie and I were so new then.  We hardly knew what we were doing and we didn't take many pictures during that transfer.  It was President and Sister Hicken's last transfer.  It was the first time Elder Torrie and I processed the incoming missionaries by ourselves and there were 14 of them.  So nice to see Elder Estheimer.  He looked happy and well.

Elder Estheimer and Elder Ochieng eating popcorn and studying their scriptures.

Elder Torrie can never resist playing a piano.  Elder Ochieng and Elder Estheimer joined in the singing.

So fun to sing with Elder Estheimer, Sister Jensen (who has a gorgeous alto voice) and me.  Always nice to sing the hymns of Zion.

Elder Ochieng had many favorites and we sang them all.

Ready for Sister Jensen's good cooking.  There's Elder Mwaja, a missionary from Tanzania.

Elder Fuller, Elder Card (our favorite Elder Card from Cardston, Alberta -- yeah for the Canadians!), and Elder Estheimer.  Of course we love all our missionaries but we have a kinship to the Canadian ones!

Elder Estheimer, Elder Ochieng, Elder Soita helping themselves to home cooking.  I think they're getting tired of ugali!  See a few pictures down for an explanation of ugali.

Bring on the non-ugali food!

Cute smile, Elder Mwaja!

Elder Mwaja and Elder Soita sharing a brotherly hug.

Elder Card and Elder Ochieng sharing a moment.

And another moment!

Kitchen duty calls.  Nice to help clean up after a good meal.

No, Elder Card, Elder Fuller and Elder Estheimer are definitely not pregnant!  They are showing off their "ugali" stomachs.  They generally eat ugali every day.  It's a very cheap, easy to make meal that is very filling.  Basically it's a very thick cream-of-wheat type porridge (only made with maize meal), so thick that you can cut it with a knife.  It's eaten with a meat and/or vegetable sauce that consists of tomatoes, onions, green leafy vegetables such as spinach (which is high in iron and protein), and a bit of boiled beef.  Africans, of course, eat it with their hands. 
Looks like Elder Estheimer's mother has taught him well!

Elder Mwaja has had some serious health challenges and needed an early release.  This was his last evening in the mission and he left for home the next day.  He hopes to come back to finish out his mission.  He and Elder Card were companions.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Scouting is Hot in Mombasa!

I thought Dar Es Salaam was hot.  In Mombasa, it's hotter.  You are continually dripping with sweat and not just us foreigners.  Everyone is dripping with sweat.  You can't survive without air conditioning in homes and vehicles.  It must be brutal for those with no air conditioning and for those who ride hot matatus and tuk tuks.  And that is one of the purposes of LDS Charities -- to help those in need to improve their quality of life without regard to religion.  But more on that in an upcoming post.

We flew down to Mombasa so LeRon could train the branch clerks in their financial duties.  So important to be accountable and to learn how to do things properly.  We stayed with Elder & Sister Jensen, farmers from Utah.  So fun!  We met up with the Elders there and I'll put pictures in my next post.  So hang in there, you missionary moms and dads.  Pictures are coming.  I'm just really tired tonight and I don't know how much I'll get done here.

We got to attend a Scout-arama.  Scouting is big in Kenya -- they have land, sea, and air Scouts.  Lord Baden Powell, the founder of the Scouting program is buried in Kenya.

I've learned which side of the plane to sit on so I can see Mt. Kilimanjaro.  It was quite far away this time but still jutting out of the clouds.  It's nearly 20,000 feet tall and the plane flies at over 30,000 feet so you can often see the mountain.  It's the taller one on the right.  Doesn't look like much because it's so far away but it's the tallest mountain in Africa.

Mt. Kilimanjaro takes 5-10 days to climb.  Wish I were younger and that my sciatic pains weren't so bad.  My growing-up family used to hike in the Waterton Lakes National Parks mountains a lot.

Elder & Sister Jensen picked us up at the airport but not in a tuk tuk.  We've ridden in tuk tuks in Thailand and it was actually quite fun.  But our mission rules say we can't ride in these kinds of public transportation.  Mombasa has LOTS of tuk tuks.  You hardly see them in Nairobi.

I'm continually amazed at what Kenyans carry on their heads and on their shoulders.

And what they push or pull on their handcarts.  Kenyan men and women are very strong.

Mombasa is on the coast of the Indian Ocean.  Lots of big containers being pulled to port by tractors.  Mombasa is the port for several landlocked African countries such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and others. 

The Kenyan Scouts held a Scout-arama (it's called that in Canada anyway).  Lots of troops showing off their scouting skills.

The little Scouts were thrilled when I joined them at their "exercises" while rock music pounded over loud speakers.

Now Sister Jensen has joined in too.  We weren't exactly sure what to do and the little boys were not much help but they were enthusiastic and happy that we joined them.

Cute young Scouts.

Beautiful white smiles too.

Elder Torrie had fun visiting with the Scouts and telling them that he was once a Scout too.  The Scouts showed him their lashing skills.  They had built some very fine things.

This wonderful woman runs a Primary School in which Scouting is part of the curriculum.  You'll see more pictures of her and her students because a couple of days later we got to visit her school.  The girls in the back are Girl Scouts.

Girl Scouts in their uniforms.  They were happy that I would take their picture.  And not one asked to see the picture after it was taken.  Just happy that white foreigners were interested in them.

These young Scouts shouted out the Scout Promise in amazing style.  Sister Jensen thought she had videoed it but she hadn't.  Darn.  They enthusiastically "yelled" the Scout promise twice for us.

And their leader drilled them in military salutes and stances.  So cool.  Two days later we learned that this troop won First Place at the Scout-arama.  They will go on to compete in the nationals at Nairobi.

All the little Scouts wanted their pictures taken.

The little kids are just darling and so friendly.

These older Scouts were excited to show us their cooking.  Unfortunately we didn't want to taste it as we have to be sure everything is cleaned properly and prepared properly or we white mzungus will get sick.  They were disappointed.

This man helps with Scouting in one of the schools.  A very community minded man.

And a gorgeous flowering tree.  Couldn't resist zooming in on these beautiful blossoms.  This tree was in the school yard where the Scout-arama was held.

Elder Torrie never misses anything to do with farming!  It's in his blood.

Interesting to see palm plants by grain bins.

It's not a John Deere but it does the job.