Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Ghost Towns - December 30, 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Happy Birthday, Dad!

This week was uneventful because of Christmas. As we were tracting and trying to find new people to teach, no one was around. I learned a little secret about Uganda. During the year everyone comes to the city to work since there is no work in the villages. During the Christmas week, everyone travels back to their village. During the season of Christmas, the cities empty out and become like ghost towns.

So our work consisted of us visiting members and people that have recently joined the church. This was awesome but it was a little bit of a bummer since people we had hoped to see again were not around.

Fortunately, Kennedy didn’t go to his village. Thus he is progressing well. We spent some time with him this week. He also invited us over for Christmas. He served so much food! I am not exaggerating when I say that he had cooked for twenty people. We were there with a couple other people. We kept eating and eating. It was good but I was stuffed.

Christmas was good. I got to spend time with the members and call home to my long lost family.

Even though this week was slow, we are expecting great things this next week.

Love ya all,

Elder Bitter

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Awesome Eats in Masaka - December 16, 2013

Hi All,

This week was awesome.

Sunday was probably my favorite Sunday to date as a missionary.

During the week we passed by a nice home, stopped in and asked him if we could share a message. The homeowner is named Kennedy. He is in his thirties and is doing financially well (e.g. car, home, etc.,) As we met with him, we shared a gospel message and taught him the restoration then set up a return appointment.

When we came for the return appointment, he said he needed to be honest with us and said, “I was taught by missionaries many years ago and I had no interest in the message. He then showed us a Book of Mormon that he has received at that time. He also indicated that he had not gone to church in over twelve years.

After that bit of news he went on to tell us that he really wanted to learn about the church and wanted to come closer to God. Basically his priorities had changed from his first visits the Elders over four years ago.

We taught him again and the best thing happened on the following Sunday (yesterday). Kennedy drove his car to church and showed up twenty minutes early. He sat there and read the gospel messages out of all the pamphlets that he had received. He stayed for all the meetings and then stayed for the baptismal service that we held just following. After all of the services, he told us that there was something different about this church than the churches he had attended in the past. He wanted to learn more.

Bonus: He wants to have us over for Christmas as well.

I am always amazed to see the impact that the Spirit can have to change the way a person feels. I hope to have many more like this and I hope that Kennedy continues to progress as he is right now. The thing that I really loved is how he said that there is something different that he feels and when he is here he realized that he has a lot to learn and he said he wants to learn it. It’s just great to see the spirit really hit someone and they start to notice things about themselves previously unnoticed.

Now for some fun.

This week we traveled down to Masaka to visit the Elders there. It was a really long drive -- not so much because of the distance, just because the roads are far from okay. This also means that I had to cross the equator. I took a photo of me standing on each side of the hemispheres. Success!

When we reached Masaka it was all worth it! Masaka is the most beautiful place in the world. Food is plentiful and we ate like there was no tomorrow. Apparently there is a Masaka tradition that when we come down, we are to buy two chickens to feed all the missionaries there (including the couple missionaries as well). Man, did we eat good food. It was marvelous how much food we ate. It was just awesome! :)  Did I mention how good the food was.

As an added bonus I have been having a great time with my two companions. I have Elder Allen and Elder Cockbain assigned to me right now. Elder Allen is temporary -- but the three of us really love working together. I will just enjoy the moment while it lasts.

The mission is awesome.

I really love you all and hope all is well back home!

Elder Bitter

Monday, December 9, 2013

Full Head of Steam in Kabowa - December 9, 2013

This week was a very, very busy week! I felt that it ended before it started. Weird.

On Tuesday the elders from Masaka came to stay at our apartment so that they could attend the zone development meeting (all the missionaries in a given area gather together and have a meeting). Masaka is so far away they had to come in a day earlier than the meeting. We spent a day working with them which was nice.

On Wednesday we had our zone conference. It went really well. We talked about a lot of different things. But most of the discussion was around the business side of a mission.

On Thursday the Masaka elders stayed with us as well. We split with these elders and we went to Entebbe for our exchange. After reaching Entebbe, we worked there the entire day and slept over that night. After spending the night in Entebbe, we grabbed all of the elders in Entebbe and they came back with us to Kabowa. All the Elders and Sisters gathered together and we traveled to Kampala for a Zone Conference. (A zone conference is where a large group of missionaries get together to sit down with the mission president to discuss goals etc.)

The mission president focused on being bold. President Chatfield focus has been “Be not afraid only believe.” (From the New Testament Book of Mark) It has been really cool to see how not being worried and really proclaiming the gospel without fear really helps people want to learn more and increases the missionaries’ faith.

His perspective touched me. “If you know the gospel is true and you understand how much it blesses your life. Why would you be afraid of telling anyone about the gospel? We each know that we need it so other people need it as well. Therefore, if we are not bold with sharing the gospel, we are literally taking away someone’s opportunity to the truth now and extending the period of time until they accept the gospel.”

He also pointed out that since we know God is real and have a knowledge that we can be forgiven of our sins we are free from the burden of guilt, shame etc. He then pointed out that as we share the gospel we are helping them draw closer to Him and giving them the opportunity to repent of their sins so they can be free of that burden as well.

President Chatfield is a spiritual man!

Now let me tell you about a man that we have been teaching since I arrived in my new area. His name is Richard. He is a chef at a high end hotel in Kabowa. This is a primary hotel for businessmen and tourists. Richard loves the gospel. It is amazing to see how he accepts the gospel and allows it to be part of his life. Some of the commitments he had to work on but he knows the church is true and is committed.

Richard is scheduled to be baptized next Sunday. This is very exciting because he has been waiting a long time. This past week we taught him about the importance of the covenants he will be making with the Lord at baptism. He was so excited to know about these promises. He was even more excited about the blessings he will receive as he is faithful to these covenants.

Well I really love you all and I hope that everything is going well back home!!

The church is true for sure and it is a great blessing.


Elder Bitter

Great Sisters

First Week in Kabowa - December 2, 2013

Well hello everyone it is good to hear from everyone. And it is nice to be able to work in a new area. :)

I am officially in Kabowa with my new companion Elder Cockbain its pronounced Cobain. Kabowa is the place to be. I really enjoy it. Being in kabowa is a very different from any of the other areas I have served. Kabowa is in the middle of the biggest city in all of Uganda. Consequently it is very developed. The branch (Oops, I mean ward—hurray for a ward!) is extremely stable.

So basically this new area is bigger, more developed, and loaded with people. One thing that I really enjoy about Kabowa is the ward is as a whole has the Spirit. When we attend the meetings, the Spirit is very powerful. I feel really lucky to be here. I feel like this ward is one of the pearls of Africa.

I have one good experience to share (since I am so new here).

The important story of this week is that we tracted into someone this week that will be a great member of the church. His name is Paul. He is a very powerful man in Uganda. He has invited us to come to his home tomorrow. I am excited. I just want today to end so that I can go and see him tomorrow! I think that things will go really well. I am looking forward to the teaching experience.

I know this letter is short but my time is up. Have a great week everyone!!! Love ya all!


Elder Bitter

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tis' the Season to Eat Grasshoppers - November 25, 2013

Hello Family and Friends!

I’m tuning into you today from the "H.F.L internet cafe" :) I’m not so sure what H.F.L stands for but if I had to guess it would stand for something like this :)

· H: Hard to type on key boards

· F: Fairly dim lighting

· L: Low internet speed

This week was transfer news and surprise, surprise – I’m getting transferred again! :) I have come to the conclusion that I don’t stay in areas for to long. Some people stay in areas for a long time while others stay for only a short period. It all works out. I have officially been transferred to Kabowa. I know nothing about Kabowa, so I have nothing to say. I know that my companion is from South Africa, he is white and he likes to work out. The fact that he likes to work out is a huge plus, It is not too often that you get a companion that will work out with you. It will be a nice change :)

This week has been pretty awesome. Elder Alfred and I could not find enough time in the days. Each and every day we would just look at our watch and worry that we were running out of time again. Then, boom, the day would be over again. I would have to say that this week may have been the fastest week of my mission so far. It has also been a really blessed week all together.

We spent a lot of the time tracting and people just kept falling into our laps. It was remarkable to see. As we walked from place to place, fathers would let us into their homes, would welcome us and invite us to sit down and share with them.

The coolest part about teaching all of these fathers is that they lead very stable families. For the most part, families in Uganda tend to move around because the father often works for others. Self-employed people tend to stay in one place. Finding people like this is very rare and helped out this week over all.

Since I have very little news, I think that I will share what the mission has taught me so far.

One thing I have learned is that there is always much more to learn. There are a few other things that have really stuck with me and have helped me out.

1. When you are in the refiners fire you will become one of three things Gold, Silver, or slag.

2. This one I really like: Pride will tell you who is right, humility tells you what is right.

These next two months in Uganda are “Nsenene” or the season for cooked grass-hoppers. Ugandans catch these as they swarm, fry them and then eat them like potato chips. To be honest, I do too. They are pretty awesome and taste pretty good.

Have a great week everyone!

I love you all

Elder Bitter

The Jinja Branch

Ecco shoes are meant for 'city missions'.

Life in the Fast Lane

My Good Friends

Fun Times After Lessons

Best Primary Ever

Finding Happiness

Monday, November 18, 2013

Rainbow Sandals in Uganda - Who Would Have Guessed -- November 18, 2013

Hello Family and Friends:

Hey I hope that everyone is doing well. This week has gone by really, really fast.

So I have a little story for everyone.

This week we went and worked in Njeru. We spent some time with the elders to help them out and see how they are doing. During this time, I had the opportunity to work with Elder Calhoun and Elder Bawuti. I was happy to work with them since I have not had a chance to really get to know them.

As the evening approached, we passed a large church. I looked over at the church and a white guy came running towards me with the biggest smile on his face! He runs up and says, “Hey Mazongu!” This basically means, “Hey white guy.”

I laughed because he was white as well. After talking to him for a little bit, I found out that he is Jehovah Witness missionary. I looked down and saw that he was wearing sandals. But not just any sandals, he was wearing Rainbows. I asked him if he was from California. He smiled and said, “Yep!”

I then responded with a big smile and asked him where in California. He then shared with me that he was from Irvine! In case you do not know, Irvine very close to where I lived in California This was a big surprise and we had a connection. His name is Andrew. It was a cool thing to meet someone so close to my old homestead. :)

This week we tracted a lot. It was very unsuccessful over all. Hahaha So there is much to share about our week tracting. However, I will share about one of the people that we have been teaching for the past week or so. I will catch you up on James. He is the guy that called us off the street in the last email. He is doing amazing!

Over the past few times, we have been focusing on the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. As we have been teaching him, we have asked him for a commitment to pray and ask God if these things are true. We know that anyone can say that their church is true. But we learn from the Bible in Ephesians 4:5 that there is "One Lord, One Faith, and one Baptism".

Which means exactly what it says: there is one God, one church, and one form of Baptism. As we talked to him about this principle, we have been asking him how are you going to know if Joseph Smith truly saw God and Jesus Christ, that he was called to be a prophet and that he was called to restore the same church that Jesus Christ started when he was on the earth unless he prays about it. When he read Ephesians, it seemed to click. He really began to pray and wait upon the Lord for an answer.

If Joseph Smith is a true Prophet of God then the church is true as well. Or if the church is the one true church then Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. I know that if anyone prays asking God if The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints is the true church that they will get an answer. As long as they heed the advice in the scriptures about listening to the spirit, they will receive an answer.

In Galatians 5:22-23 it says "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." So it tells us that if we pray and ask God if the church is true, we need to wait for these feelings to come into our heart. When one of these feelings comes into our heart, it is the Spirit confirming the truth. As long as we ask a direct question and we are willing to stay on our knees until we get the answer and continue praying until we get the answer we will receive the answer. It might not be the first time we pray, it might not be the second time we pray but it will come! It is according to Gods time not ours.

So I know that if James continues to apply all of these things, he will know soon enough the truth about what we are sharing with him. I also know that if anyone wants to know if these things are true or not, all they have to do is apply the principle from above and pray. The answer will be given.

I hope that James continues to pray asking God if these things are true.

I love you all and hope all is going well back home.


Elder Bitter

P.s Happy Thanks Giving Everyone :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Mud Luge - November 11, 2013

Hi All,

This week Elder Alfred and I have been knocking doors in areas where stable people live. Since we have been knocking doors this week, it has not been too hard to get into the home but we have had difficulty getting beyond the first or second lesson.

One day as we continued this procedure of tracting, a man yelled at us saying, "Hey are you missionaries!'' We told him we were. He then asked us to teach him. We immediately sat down and started teaching him.

We found out that he was a successful doctor! We taught him the restoration and we made a return appointment. When we came back, he was there. This was awesome! We then taught him the Plan of Salvation focusing on why we are here on this earth and what we need to do to obtain the Kingdom of God.

After teaching him, he had a lot of questions which we tried to answer. He then said, “Well I feel like I need to pray and repent a lot. And after repenting I need to prepare myself for baptism.” What a super cool experience! This has not happened to me on my mission. We had such a cool feeling. The Lord really helped us out on this one. We did not do anything that special to deserve to meet a guy like that but the Lord just handed us a big blessing! It is so cool.

Lugazi is a great area. I really enjoy it. We do walk a lot because it is so hard to get people to teach. But it is cool to see how the people here always believe. I mean they always believe. It is a nice change and I really enjoy it. I don’t mind the work because I know it is totally worth it. :)

This week I had a funny experience. I found it humorous after the fact. So it has been raining non-stop for about the past week. At the beginning of the week, I was walking with one of the elders and we saw a bunch of kids carry “Jerry cans” of water up a steep muddy hill. As we watched them try to get up the hill, we both decided that we would go and help them up the hill and then walk back down the hill, get the cans and carry them up the hill.

As we worked our way to the kids, we were amazed at their determination to walk up the slick muddy hill while carrying 25 liters of water. They would get about four or five feet up this hill and they would instantly start sliding back down the hill. They would then start again. As we continued to watch them, we realized that this would not be an easy job. But we were up for the challenge. Hahaha

When we finally reached the kids explaining to them that we would help them get up the hill and then we would go back down the hill and then carry the “jerry cans” up the hill for them. Little by little, we helped the kids up the hill. After some effort and minute steps, we finally got them all up to the top.

After reaching the top, we worked our way back down and grabbed the next set of cans. As we were walking up the hill, I then realized it was even more difficult than we had expected. The hill was like a “Slip and Slide”! Trying to carry a Jerry can full of water just added to the difficulty. As I was working my way up, the dreaded moment started to take place! I began to slip.

I had stepped forward and then started to feel my foot sliding. I tried to dig my toes into the mud to create some type of foot hold but I could not grip the ground at all. Quickly, I decided to put the sliding foot back into the previous mud hole so as to regain my footing. As soon as I shifted my weight, SLAP, I fell onto my back (my clean white shirt) and started to fly down the hill at what seemed like the speed of light!

My shirt acted like a friction less sled that propelled me down the hill. I knew at the bottom of the hill there was a huge ravine full of water so I started scrambling trying to grab anything! The funny part was that I was only trying to grab things with my left arm because my right arm was holding the Jerry can straight in the air so that it wouldn't spill the water and waste the kid’s efforts.

As I continued to slide down this huge hill I was thinking, “OH MAN I BETTER NOT SPILL THIS JERRY CAN. THESE KIDS WORKED SO HARD TRYING TO CARRY IT UP THIS HILL!” And then the other half of my brain was saying, “STOP! STOP! STOP! YOU ARE HEADING FOR A HUGE LEDGE!!!” Fortunately, I was able to stop myself before reaching the ravine AND I had successfully held onto the can without spilling a drop of water! EUREKA! I had survived. :)

After I stood up, I looked up the hill and all the kids were staring at me in amazement. I laughed (by this point I had a lot of adrenaline in my system) and then continued trying to get up the hill. This time I made it work and got to the top with a full Jerry can of water and a very muddy shirt. :)

Unfortunately, I do not have a lot of time for emailing because I had some mission responsibilities that need attention.  I have got to go!

I love ya all and hope all is well back home or where ever you are!


Elder Bitter

Monday, November 4, 2013

Restoring Electricity: Ugandan Style -- November 4, 2014

Hi All,

I am back and I’m coming to you from UGANDA, Lugazi. It’s nice to be here!

To start I hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween! :)

Well this week, I will tell a short story. For about five days, we were out of power. It really made our evening duties/routine interesting. Candlelight is not all it is cracked up to be. When the power guys finally came to fix the power line, it was super late at night. (We had been waiting for them for some time.)

When they arrived, they saw it was us (the missionaries). They walked behind our house where the power line was located. As soon as they rounded the corner seeing the power pole, they said, “We cannot fix it tonight.” I looked at them and said, “Oh, why can’t you fix it now?”

They looked at me and said, “The pole is rotten. We can’t use our climbing spikes on a rotten pole. It might break.” Well I laughed because there was no way they could even see the pole because it was pitch black outside and they were 30 feet from the pole. They had not even touched the pole. I joked around with them and lured them towards the pole. After getting them right next to the pole, I asked if they were sure it was rotten? I asked if they could check it one more time. They didn't even look in the direction of the pole and said, “Yep it’s rotten.”

Well at this point, I was extremely tired of living by candlelight so I said, “What can we do to get this fixed then?” They responded with, “It won’t happen today.” I knew the pole was not rotten so I started trying to persuade the guys to climb it and really check it out. (They just wanted to go home.)

Well after trying for some time, I knew my strategy was not working. I needed to change tactics! I looked at the guys and gave them my biggest smile, and said, “Give me your boots and your spikes. I will climb the pole.” They instantly said, “No, no, no! We can’t do. What if you fall?”

So I hiked up my pants a little bit, hopped on that pole and started climbing. Just for information, I am in my proselyting clothes and shoes. I got about half way up the pole (10 feet or so). By this time I had demonstrated that the pole was not going anywhere so I started to shake the pole as hard as I could. I am smiling like crazy at this point trying to let them know that I was taking their lame excuse seriously.

Well after shaking the pole for some time and really letting the guys see that I knew it wasn't rotten  (which they knew as well), I slowly climbed down and smiled at them with all I had. I then laughed a little and said, “Well if it can withstand that, I guess it is good enough, right?”

They just stared at me for a moment and then started laughing. One of them said, “Yep, your right. It is just fine.” They climbed right up that pole and fixed it in a matter of minutes. After they climbed down, we all had a good laugh together. The power was back! YAHOO!!! Electricity is a good thing.

Well now to the important stuff about the work.

I think that Lugazi is my favorite area so far. It's really a great area. I really want to see this branch grow. It is so small right now and very weak. But it is so cool to see how it works. At church this Sunday we had a total of 49 people. This number tied for the highest number of the year. So that was cool over all.

The people in Lugazi are amazing. I don’t mean just the members, I mean everyone. The people here are different than anywhere I have ever served because they are more committed to what they say and do not vary in their opinions or actions. It’s the coolest thing. So far on my mission, I have had to work hard but in Lugazi you have to work much harder to get people to teach. However, it makes teaching all the more satisfying because you know they are truly interested if they let you teach them.

As we find and meet new people, it is interesting how they give us the warmest greeting when they find out that we are missionaries. But they don't always have a strong desire to know more and sometimes they even resent learning something new. But, one thing I know is that when the people in Lugazi accept the restored gospel which is in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and they become fully converted, they will let nothing stop them from continuing on in the path.

The people here are great. They are set in their ways which makes it a little bit more difficult. But it truly helps you to find those that are truly prepared and ready for the gospel. One thing I have learned on my mission is that the people that accept the gospel most of the time are the people that you least expect to do so.

This past week or so my companion (Elder Alfred) and I have really been working on finding people that are established and stable. We are looking for people who will not be going anywhere any time soon. The reason is to help the branch. It really needs people who can lift where they stand. With regards to Lugazi I think it is going to be one of the tougher areas I will have in my mission but I believe it will turn out to be my favorite area of my mission.

I know that the people here in Lugazi really need the gospel. In this area, there is one business where almost everyone works. It is called Mhetta. It is a giant factory that makes sugar and they work the people to the bone. But because of this, the people are strong physically, mentally, and most importantly spiritually. The poor treatment has resulted in them putting their trust in God. Their trust is really strong. So I know that when the people catch onto the gospel, they will flourish as well as the branch.

This week we have been looking for those that can lift where they stand. This has resulted in knocking on a lot of doors. This week, we had a really big success. We met a man named Noah. He used to work for Mhetta. After a time, he decided that he could make more money working on his own so he quit his job. He started his own business. Now he owns a couple schools and a few businesses. We tracted him on Friday. We taught him a great lesson about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and how it was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith.

He was extremely excited. Sadly he did not come to church. I have a feeling we need to teach that lesson one more time so that he can grasp the importance of it. If someone understands the fact that Joseph Smith RESTORED The church of Jesus Christ (which is the same church during the time of Christ) there is no way that anyone cannot want to be part of it. I also recognize that the Spirit must testify to them that it is true. This takes repentance and faith. If they do this and receive the witness, they will know for time and all eternity that it is true.

I love being in Lugazi! I do not think I will be here long—maybe two transfers. But who knows. But I am going to make this time really count. Anyone who gets to go to this area is really receiving one of the pearls of the mission. It may not be an easy area but it is well worth the hard work!

I hope everyone knows that I really love you all. If I have ever offended any of you, I am sorry. I know that if it wasn't for each and every person, I would not be who I am today. Thanks for everything that you have done for me. Thank you all for the awesome emails and letters. I appreciate them a lot.

The church is true. That is for sure.


Elder Bitter

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Emergency Transfer - October 28, 2013

As a missionary, I am always surprised and never know quite what’s coming.

On Monday, (October 21, 2013), Elder Kanthunkako and I came home from a normal P-day. We planned to enjoy our evening and prepare for the next day. In the evening, we started our work out, planning to relax afterwards and enjoy the rest of the evening before we did our reports. As Elder Kanthunkako reached for the phone to make his report, he said, "Whoa, Whoa, President Chatfield called!"

I was confused. Thinking to myself, what are you talking about? He then looked at me and said again, “President Chatfield called.” He threw me the phone and sure enough we had a missed call from the president.

I kind of smiled and then laughed. It’s not every day that you have a missed call from the president of the mission. I called him back immediately. The phone rang and rang. Finally, President Chatfield answered. I let him know it was me and said, “How are ya!” He told me he was great and then asked how I was doing. I told him I was doing well. We then had a warm and friendly chat.

After chatting with president for a bit, he then said, “Elder Bitters, I need you to do something.” I said ok. AND then he told me to pack my bags and meet the AP’s in Lugazi at 6:30 AM the following morning!

I was a little confused at this point but I obviously accepted and said, “Ok no problem.” He then went on to tell me that I would now be the Zone Leader/District Leader in Lugazi and that I was being sent there to take care of some problems that had been going on. (I had no idea about these problems). He then told me that I would pick up three of the Elders in the district and bring them to Kampala and that the fourth elder would be picked up by the AP's since there is not enough room in our truck for everyone.

He then said, “I will fill you in on everything else when you get to Kampala. Do you have any questions, right now?” At this point I was kind of stunned so I just sat there thinking. Finally, I said, “Hum, nope. I’m all good President. I will see you tomorrow morning.” Hahah. So after hanging up the phone, I then went inside and relayed the entire message to Elder Kanthunkako.

We sat there in amazement at the events that had just taken place. Then the reality of the situation kicked in! I had work to do! I had to pack all my bags tonight! I have been in Jinja for about six months so I had a lot of stuff to gather.

At 10:15 p.m., I started packing. I knew that I had a long night ahead of me. I packed and packed and packed until I thought I had everything. I was getting ready for bed and then a thought would pop in my mind of something that I had forgotten. I would stop and pack that item. This happened three or four times.

Finally, I had finished packing everything. I laid down at about 12:45 am. At this point I was exhausted!

I knew that I needed to sleep quickly because I had to get up at 5:00 am. The next thing I knew my alarm was going off. Boy was I tired. It hurt to move. I took a COLD shower so that I could wake up and be alert since I was driving in the dark.

After I loaded all my bags, we hopped in the truck and drove to Lugazi. We arrived at 6:27 am and to our surprise the APs were already there. They had already loaded up one elder. So we hopped out and loaded the other elders into the truck.

Man, it was the quietest drive I have ever had in my entire life. All the way from Lugazi to Kampala, (it is a little over an hour), it was dead silent. A couple of times, one of the elders would break the silence. The conversation would go something like this, “Hey Elder Bitter, look at that motorcycle. Pretty cool, huh!”

I would look but because I was so exhausted my response would go something like "not really." That would be the end of the conversation. We finally reached the mission office and I was able to drop the elders off. They obviously had figured out something was up because they were scared out of their minds.

Each of the missionaries got a personal interview with President. Then Elder Kanthunkako and I got pulled in. Up to this point, we knew absolutely nothing. Then President explained the problems that had been going on and then told us a few things that had recently been related to him by some other missionaries.

After he had explained everything, he told me that I would be over this district and that I needed to get things back on track and rolling again in Lugazi. He also told me that I would continue my responsibilities as Zone Leader but would also be the District leader for Lugazi. (Lugazi is in the Jinja zone). Elder Kanthunkako would stay in Jinja and that the Elder I was replacing would be his companion.

This concluded our time in Kampala. I then drove everyone to their respective areas and I went to Lugazi. When I got there, I kind of figured out that the past elders didn’t have anyone that they were really teaching. My new companion and I are tracting almost all day every day trying to find new investigators. Haha

One of the cool things about Lugazi is that it is a brand new area. It doesn’t have any history yet. So right now we are really building the foundation for the branch. Currently, sacrament meeting attendance is about 40 max. There are only two families in the branch. We are really focusing on finding families. The branch needs some strong, solid members to carry the load of running the branch.

I am grateful to be in Lugazi. It is a nice change. It will be good for me because I had been in Jinja for a while. I really knew the areas of Jinja so it is fun to learn new areas and find new people.

On the bright side, Salome and Geoffrey are still doing well. I followed up and things are still proceeding with regards to getting married and baptized. I was right when I said I didn’t think I would be there for the marriage and baptism. It’s ok so long as they are still on track. That is all that really matters. Life is good for sure. :)

Mom and Dad, I sent a letter with the memory card and I used a tracking number hoping that would give it a little extra protection as far as delivery goes. I love ya all!!!

Keep up the good work!

Thanks for all the awesome letters. A big thank you to Howard and Lori for the get well card. I really appreciated it! You guys are awesome! :)


Elder Bitter

Monday, October 21, 2013

Marriage of Geoffrey & Salome - October 21, 2013

October 21, 2013

This week I have do not have any time for emailing. So I really want to tell you about the best thing that happened this week. This will be short.

We met with Salome and Geoffrey this week and they had the greatest news. They said that they would not be able to pay for the dowry for a long time. (As I mentioned before they have very little.) BIG NEWS—they have decided to skip the dowry. I was shocked!!! No one skips paying the dowry, ever! It is a BIG deal to them. They want to get married and so that is what we are going to do.

They will be married in the church on November 9th and they will be baptized on November 10th. This is the greatest news!

I know that the Spirit really worked on them and helped them have the courage to make this decision. I know the Holy Spirit will continue to help them.

The Lord hears our prayers -- however it is on his timetable, not ours.

The Book of Mormon is true and is Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

I love you all,

Elder Bitter

P.S. Mom and Dad: A letter is coming home with a 4gb memory card. It is full of videos and photos so it should be there in no time!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Car Crash - October 14, 2013

The Lord takes care of his missionaries.

This last Tuesday, we went out to Njeru to do splits with the Elders in that area. In Njeru there are four Elders—Elder Smoot, Mukengashi, Dimingu, and Bawuti. I split with Elder Smoot & Mukengashi while my companion worked with Elder Dimingu & Bawuti. It was a very normal day. We ended the day about 9:30 p.m.

The next day, Wednesday, October 9 was Independence Day for Uganda. After finishing our daily missionary routine, my companion and I packed our bags. We loaded the truck and were ready to leave. As we were getting ready to leave, my companion said, “OH I forgot my pen!” He hopped out, ran inside and grabbed his pen. He then returned and we were on our way back to our area.

As we entered onto the main "highway" which is basically a local street that hundreds of people are walking on and the center of it is used for vehicles. As we were driving along on this highway (which is about as wide as a normal neighborhood street), I looked in my side mirror and at the top of the hill (about 600 yards away) I saw a white Corolla flying down the road. I immediately moved to the edge of the road so that he would have plenty of space to pass me. He was obviously in a hurry.

After moving the car over to the edge of the road, I continued driving at about 40kmh. Seconds later, I then looked in my mirror again. I could not believe what I was seeing! This little Corolla was at our bumper!!! He then realized he was going too fast and he tried to pass me. BUT it was too late to change lanes. He then made sharp turn trying to get around us. At this point, I was no longer watching him in my side mirror but I was watching him through my open window.

As he swerved to miss our rear bumper, he lost control of his car and it began to slide sideways. As it was sliding, he continued to pass us. Since he was sliding sideway and I was driving forward, I could literally see his face. At this point his front bumper was now facing the side of our truck. An instant later, the tires of his car grabbed traction and the car drove straight into the side of the truck. It was as if he had T-Boned us through a red light.

All of these events were happening as if in slow motion. He hit the front right corner of the truck and then his car began to turn with the tires lifting off the ground! Then his car began tumbling and flying through the air. It then hit the ground and began to bounce and roll as if it were a basketball that was pumped up too much.

I immediately pulled over. His car had come to a stop upside down. This entire story transpired in about 6 seconds I would guess. Adrenaline was running through my body and I realized that the guy driving the car might be dead! I looked at my companion and said, “You ok?” (I think I was yelling at him.) He said he was fine. So I tried to open my door. It was jammed. Leaning towards the center of the car and hitting the door with all my strength and momentum, the door burst open like party popper. I hopped out of the car and looked at our truck as I was running over to the guy. When I was about to his car, the guy crawled out of the car without a scratch!!!! I couldn’t believe it!

He then began to just yell at me. I think he was trying to put the blame on me. I could not believe the nerve of this guy! The Lord had just saved his life and he was trying to blame someone else. I took the guy by the arm showing him the skid marks, the direction of impact and the lines of where his over-turned car hit the road. I then told him how lucky he was that he had not hit or killed someone that was walking on the road. I then shared with him how lucky he is to be able to go home and see his family because a crash like that should have killed him. After I related all these things to him, he recognized the reality of the situation. It was his fault. AND beside all of this, we had about 70 million eye witnesses that told the police what happened as well.

After talking to him, I realized that he had a good sized cut on his arm. I told him that he should get that stitched up. Before he left, I called the mission office and told them everything. They told me to get his information while reassuring him that we would not sue. His only responsibility would be to fix the truck.

We then took the vehicle down to the mission office after gathering all of his information to get an estimate and start the repairs on the truck. There is a video of the damage on my camera. I will have my parents post it on the blog after I send the memory card home.

Reflecting on the story my companion pointed out that if he hadn’t forgotten his pen, we would not have been in that exact spot so the accident might not have happened. We decided it was the pen’s fault.  My companion and I had a good chuckle after everything had cooled down.

The next day when I woke up my shoulder was killing me, I was pretty confused. I really couldn't think of any reason why I should have such soreness in my shoulder. Then it hit me—I had used my shoulder as a ramming bar. No wonder it hurt! That was four days ago and now it is good again. :)

As I recall the whole experience, it seems somewhat surreal. It was a movie crash but real. This was the first time in my life that I had ever seen a crash like what we experienced which was not on TV. I was so thankful that no one was seriously hurt.

Now I want to talk a little bit about the work :)

This week my companion and I found a great new place to tract. This was super exciting because we had pretty much exhausted the areas we had been tracting. In this area, we found some awesome new people that we are really looking forward to teaching. They are the most consistent new investigators I have had since coming to Jinja. We have worked hard this week because transfers are coming and we wanted to set up the area for the next transfer. Neither of us knows if we are staying or going, we will find out tomorrow. Either way, whoever is here will have a lot of good people to teach.

We have also been helping Salome and Geoffrey understand the importance of being baptized. After talking to some other missionaries about their situation, they told us to help them understand the blessings and protection of being baptized. This made perfect sense. If we really help them understand the magnitude of baptism and how it can bless their lives in this life and the next, then they will understand and be able to make better choices.

When we visited Salome and Geoffrey, we went with one of our members named Richard. When we arrived, we found only Salome at home. We were a little confused why Geoffrey was not there. She told us that he had gone to their village to visit her parents. He wanted to try and work things out so that they could move forward. This was a big break through! I didn’t think he would ever do that. It took a lot of courage for him to talk to Salome’s parents.

The most exciting thing in my opinion is that he went and talked to her parents without us telling him to do it. This shows us and the Lord his true desire to be baptized. He is willing to do whatever it takes to have it happen. I was in a great mood! I know that at some point or another they will be baptized.

I know that I spent most of my time writing about the accident. But I wanted to show how the Lord protects his missionaries. If the driver of the Corolla had been killed, we would of have been in a lot of trouble with Ugandan police. Or we could have been hurt and the work would have really slowed down for us. OR our car could have spun out of control when he hit us. The variables are immense. I know the Lord was watching out for us. He protected all of us.

Thanks for all you all do and I appreciate you all a lot!

Love ya all,

Elder Bitter

Friday, October 11, 2013

Rodents of Unusual Size - October 7, 2013

Hello everyone! It’s good write again. :)

I hope your week went well and that you are happy.

First, “Happy Birthday, Grandma Bitter (Sunday, Oct 13)!

I haven't written about any personal stories for a while so here goes a few:

To start let’s talk about washing clothes. This transfer has been an interesting one regarding laundry. For the past five weeks, we have not been able to hire anyone to wash our clothes (the washing machine has been broken). We have been washing clothes the good old fashion way---by hand. For my companion, who has been washing by hand since he was ten years old, it has not been a problem. BUT for a greenie like me, it has really been a struggle! Ha ha, ha! Last Monday, I set a new record.

On that Monday, I realized I had been lazy all week. Every single white item that I owned was dirty. Four large basins of water were barely enough to cover all my dirty items. At this point it was about 7:30 a.m. As my companion walked by, I asked, “How long will it take to wash these clothes?” He smiled and said, “I could do it in thirty minutes.” I then asked, “How long will it take me to do them?” He indicated it would probably take an hour or so.

I decided that I could do it for an hour. I wanted them done. I had to go out and buy a large bar of washing soap. I then sat down in the shower and got to work. Well after finishing one basin of clothes, my hands were starting to hurt. I still had three more basins to go. Oh well, no big deal. I continued to work.

I scrubbed and scrubbed and rubbed and rubbed until another basin was finished. At this point my shoulders and hands were pretty tired and sore. I really wanted to quit! But I knew I was half done. Stopping would be foolish since the clothes were already wet and waiting for me. I decided to check the time to help encourage me. A full hour and half had gone by and all I had been doing was washing clothes!!!

Well that really got me motivated! I bent over and started washing as fast as possible. After what seemed like a REALLY long time, I was finally finished. It was a great feeling to be done. At this point it hurt to bend my fingers because I had rubbed the skin off of all of my knuckles. My tan on my hands was gone. So I basically spent the rest of the day with my hands covered in Vaseline to soothe them. Throughout the rest of the day, I tried not to move my hands because they were on fire! I had learned a valuable lesson! Wash your dirty clothes every single night so they don’t pile up.

Well this week we saw two of the largest rats I have ever seen in my entire life. If any of you have ever seen “Princess Bride” then you know about the Fire Swamp and the giant rats. I met their cousins in Uganda! I saw the rats this week with my companion, when we were leaving the house on Tuesday morning.

As we we left the apartment, we saw a dog eating some dead animal that looked like a rodent. We decided to check it out. As we got closer, we were both pretty disgusted. It was a giant rat. The rat must have weighed around 4 pounds. The rat’s body was so big I would not have been able to wrap my fingers around its body. (I did not try this of course).

At first I thought it was a possum or something like that. Yet the longer I looked at it, I had to admit it was a rat. I just couldn’t believe it. It was huge! (I have a picture on my memory card. I will have my parents upload it after I send it home.)

A little later we saw one of these monsters as we were driving to a place way out in the bush.  I saw the giant rat sprint out of the bushes and cross the dirt road in front of us.  I couldn’t resist. I jumped on the gas and steered to hit it. I just wanted some more proof of their size. Sadly I missed him. The rats in Uganda are HUGE!

I have two more short stories then I will update you on the people we are teaching.

This week we saw a car that had driven into a ditch that was about 5 feet deep. We pulled over and offered to help them. They wanted to use the mission truck to pull their car out. I told them no. I explained that it wasn’t our truck. As we stood around trying to figure out how to get the car out of the ditch, more and more people gathered around.

Finally one of the guys suggested we lift it out. I thought to myself, “Yeah, right!” Boy was I wrong!!!! As we all gathered around the car, we began lifting in unison and then dropping it. We repeated this action of lifting and dropping over and over. The car was bouncing like a basketball up and out of the ditch.  It was pretty cool to see a car lifted out of a huge ditch by 15 people.

This next story is super short. On Wednesday we were tracting in the evening. It was getting dark. As we were walking along the road, we would greet people hoping to set up an appointment or/and invite them to church. As we passed one man, I stuck out my hand to greet him. Then WHAM he slapped my hand as hard as he could and said “NO!!!” and continued walking. I wasn't mad. I wasn't confused. I was completely shocked! In my entire mission experience, I have never had anyone slap my hand as a greeting. Crazy!

This week was another speedy one. We had the opportunity to do some tracting and to continue teaching our regular investigators. We have been focusing on trying to find more people who want to be taught more than the one lesson. This goal has not been going all that well. I am grateful for the people we have been teaching.

As I have mentioned before, Lydia has been coming to church for a long time and has been doing really well. She has accepted everything that we have taught her so far and she has really enjoys learning about Christ. Lydia can read. This is very exciting because she can read the Book of Mormon without us. Over the past five weeks, she has been reading the Book of Mormon. Over this time she has changed and loves the gospel.

One thing that I have learned on my mission is that as people read the Book of Mormon and really want to know if it is true, they will receive an answer. And more than that, if they read the Book of Mormon with and honest heart and open mind, it will testify the church is true and the Book of Mormon is Holy Scripture just like the Bible.

One thing I wish I had done more of before I left on my mission is to read the Book of Mormon to learn not just to read. As I have studied, I have learned so much. I have learned things that I would never imagined possible. I've noticed that on almost every single page of the Book of Mormon there is something to help us become better. When I apply to principles that I learn, I become a better person.

To finish off, I will write about Salomé and Geoffrey. This is the couple that I mentioned in a previous letter that has to pay a dowry before they can marry. While this is a sad thing, I am so happy at their commitment to pay the dowry quickly so that they can be married. Often when a couple is faced with this type of test, they just give up on getting married. But not so with Salomé and Geoffrey, they are scrimping and saving so that they can pay for the dowry. They want to be baptized. Their desire is solid.

As we teach them a new principle, they both commit and stick to it. They try to apply everything they learn. It will take them some time to pay dowry but I know that at one point or another they will be able to pay it and will be able to be baptized.

Thanks everyone for all of the Emails. I really appreciate it!!

I love ya all!


Elder Bitter

Friday, October 4, 2013

Salome and Geoffrey - September 30, 2013

Hi All,

I lost track of time this week. I feel as if I emailed everyone just a few hours ago! I do not have a lot to say because the week has been pretty uneventful.

In the past few weeks, we have had a lot of our investigators decide that they are no longer interested in the church. It has been kind of a bummer. Consequently, we have had less people to teach and more tracting to do.

One family that we have been teaching for a long time is Salome and Geoffrey. They are a younger couple in their late twenties. They are the most humble, kind people in the world.

We have taught Salome and Geoffrey everything that they need to know to be baptized. The holdup is that they are not married. So Elder Kanthunkako and I have really been working on getting them to get married. They had committed to get married on October 12 and to be baptized on October 13 (Grandma Bitter’s birthday). They were happy to accept the commitment to get married and be baptized. However as time went on, they shared with us their problem.

The problem is that in Uganda when a man and woman get married, the man is expected to pay the woman’s parents a dowry. The man sits down with the parents and they negotiate a settlement of cows, chickens, goats etc. This is difficult for the young couple.

The same is true in Geoffrey and Salome’s case. The parents refused to let her get married until he paid a good portion of the dowry. This young couple have very humble means so the payment of this dowry will take a long time. After they explained the situation, I was afraid that they would lose hope and give up.

Thankfully, I was wrong. They said that they still want to be married in the church and be baptized. It was just going to take a little bit longer because the parents would be very unhappy if they disobeyed them. So the good news is that they get to continue on learning about the gospel as they try to pay the dowry.

This week my companion, a few other elders and I had a meeting for our mission. It was a great! It lasted for about 5 hours and it was a very productive. We discussed how the mission is doing and how things are moving forward and our weak spots. As I was sitting in the meeting, I kept thinking the Lord’s church is amazing.

It is remarkable to see the Lord prepare each of us to serve missions. The preparation is throughout our whole life. He gives us experiences that help shape and strengthen us. The church has been set up by the Lord. Every possible situation there is a solution. The work moves forward like a smooth running clock. It is smooth and efficient.

Well that’s all I have this week. I hope that everyone has a great week and that things are going well.

I love ya all!


Elder Bitter

No Fun Stories This Week - September 24, 2013

Hey friends and family, it is good to be back. I love everyone’s letters and emails.

This week was good as well as disappointing. I think that is part of missionary work sometimes. The disappointments sure help us remain humble and challenge us to never give up. One thing that I have realized about myself is that when something doesn’t work out, I want to work even harder so it will work out next time.

This last week we have been focusing a lot of our time on two people. They are Tony and a woman, named Lydia. Tony was supposed to be baptized about two weeks ago. He was exited to get baptized from the very beginning. As we have been teaching Tony over the past few weeks, he has gained a stronger and stronger testimony. As his testimony grew, you could see a change in how he carried himself and the way that he would talk about the church. For example he used to say, “How are things at your church?” We would respond by saying, “It is not our church. We are just missionaries for the "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints". However, as time went on, he would say instead, “How is our church doing?” Or “When can I visit our church again?”

He seemed to be proud to be a part of the church. This was cool. We could also tell that his praying had become more sincere and more frequent. Originally when he prayed it was rough and it was evident that he felt silly praying. This gave us confidence that he was doing his part.

As his baptism date got closer, he got more and more excited. Then two days before his baptism, he told us that his family discouraged him from getting baptized. Apparently, his family has been a member of the same church for years and no one has ever left that church.

After he had heard this from his family, fear took over. I do understand the fear. It cannot be easy to be the first person to make a change in faith that is tradition in your family. We asked him to really pray and ask God what he should do. He committed that if he got the prompting to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that he would continue forward. We have been helping him to understand the Spirit better and encouraging him to pray sincerely. We are really hoping that Tony (38 years old), will be able to move forward in faith and listen and recognize his spiritual promptings.

The other person that was supposed to recently be baptized was Lydia. Lydia’s story is cool. A long time ago, a missionary met Lydia and her friend on the street and made her promise that one day in her life that she would visit the church. After a long time, she decided it was time to fulfill her promise. We met Lydia when she came to church for the first time.

As she told us her story, we were so happy. Over the past few weeks, we have been teaching her the Doctrine of Christ. At first, she showed little interest. But as time went on things began to change. Instead of us asking when we could meet with her again, she started asking us when would be her next lesson.

This was such a great experience for us. The best part, however, is when we were teaching her the commandments. She told us that she had decided after graduating she was going to go out and break all the commandments to make up for lost time. (She had been spending a lot of time studying never leaving her room.) She shared how these desires have changed and now she wants to serve a mission after she graduates.

What a change in motives and desires! She has even recognized the change. The first few times she came to church, she refused to take the sacrament. She said, “I don’t feel right taking the sacrament.” We didn’t argue with her. We told her to take the sacrament when she felt ready. Well this last Sunday, she took the sacrament!” Afterwards she said, "As I took the sacrament, I felt different. I felt good. I really feel like things are changing in my life and I really feel like I am changing". That was one of the most exciting statements I have heard on my mission.

There are a lot of things that are exciting on a mission. For me one of the greatest things to see is the change of heart that comes to a person as they learn of the Doctrine of Christ. When you see the Spirit teach, guide and love, it is a really exciting. But it more exciting when the person recognizes the change and from whence it comes. Often people do not see it because it is gradual but those that are really aware of the Spirit see it and acknowledge it. This is amazing.

When Lydia noticed the change, it was so exciting. I feel that she will be baptized. I hope she will continue her course of learning the teachings of the Savior and that she will continue to draw closer to the Lord and find happiness.

Sorry I do not have any funny stories. This is what I wanted to write about this week. I hope the letter was enjoyable. :)

Lastly, congratulations Sarah on new baby! :)

I love you all and hope that all is well back home.


Elder Bitter

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Zone BBQ: The Ugandan Way - September 16, 2013

Hello family and friends,

This week was a good week -- a lot better than last week because I’m not sick.

I will start out with two or three stories and then continue on with an update on the work.

The Jinja Zone has been requesting a zone activity. As a result my companion and I have been trying to get a zone activity off the ground. The good news is that it happened and it was awesome. The Jinja Zone has a history of just playing soccer for zone activities. This just seems ridiculous and a cheap way out for the people that have to plan. When it came to our turn, I just said we are going to switch it up and do something a little more fun (and a lot better). After some thought we decided that we would do a giant BBQ. We had our doubters for success. Oh boy, were they wrong.

After getting everyone's agreement that it was a good idea, Elder Kanthunkako and I went to work picking up money from everyone and finding the stuff for the activity. Finding a grill is a huge task -- they just don't exist. The ones that do exist are mainly used for restaurants and those who cater. We wouldn't be stopped so we just kept looking and finally got one. :) One of the missionary apartments has a common-use grill. It was made from a giant used oil drum. It had been emptied, cleaned and then cut in half. Rebar had been welded to the half drum for legs. A huge steel grate was placed over the top of it to make the perfect home-made beast. It was an awesome find!!!!

Next, we went to work buying all the supplies for the BBQ. We started out by buying 10 kilograms of meat, 6 kilograms of rice, a lot of vegetables to be cooked in with the rice, and the charcoal for cooking. After finding all of these things I knew that we couldn’t cook the meat without marinating it first. The meat found here just isn’t all the great. It would be good for a pressure cooker or a crock pot but not for the grill.

After thinking about preparing the meat, my mind flashed to my dad and I instantly knew what I needed to do. I had to find some type of marinade that we could soak the meat in. After looking for a little while we found the jack pot in a store that sells American products. They had 5 bottles of Italian dressing! We bought all of them. After getting the marinade we prepared the meat late Saturday evening. We cut all the meat into cubes, removed the majority of the fat cap, and all the bones. It was ready for the marinade.

Well before I explain further, I have to say thanks to my mom. Before I came on mission she insisted that I bring lots of Ziploc bags. You can’t find Ziploc bags anywhere here and they have been such a nice thing to have.  After grabbing a good handful of zip lock bags we took the meat and divided it into each bag then added the Italian dressing, sealed the bags and tossed them into the fridge. We let them soak for about 2 days. On Monday morning (P-Day) we took it out and put the cubes on some homemade shish-kabob sticks (that some local guy makes). We were ready for business. The meat had become so tender and smelled amazing. Definitely not the missionary food we have gotten use to.

We took the grill to the church, fired it up and grilled the meat. We cooked all the rice and vegetables and had our huge party. It was a very successful activity and everyone enjoyed it -- lots of food, lots of soccer and other sports. I enjoyed it and it seemed like everyone loved it since the meat was 95% consumed and the rice was about 85% consumed. I was surprised at how much food they ate. Everyone was stuffed by the end and it was a good and happy p-day. :)

Good food, good weather, good activities and good people lead to a good day :)

That was kind of a long story so maybe I will just start talking about the important stuff.

This week we were blessed. One thing about Jinja is that there many wealthy parts where few want to hear the gospel. This is sad but OK because everyone has their individual agency. Since I have been in Jinja it has been a little bit of a struggle to get new investigators. This week all of that seemed to change. This week started out strong and ended strong. As we tracted this week, the Lord really blessed us. It seemed that every door we knocked on was willing to let us in and allow us to visit will them.

Each and every person that let us in was more than happy to learn about the gospel. These people are always so kind to us and so welcoming. One home that seemed to be the most promising is a man named John Peter and his family. John Peter is an older man that has a somewhat large family. When we knocked on his door he gladly welcomed us in, just smiled and allowed us to sit down. As we sat with him he was so kind and happy to be with us. After talking to him for some time we found out that he was married and that he had 5 kids. As we taught him a lesson it was cool to see how he wanted to learn more about the gospel and also that he wanted his whole family to learn as well. It hasn’t been easy meeting the whole family this week because they are all working. We have been able to meet with John Peter repeatedly. I have really loved it.

Another family that we are teaching is a husband, wife and one child (Salume (mother) Jeoffry (father) and the child's name has slipped my mind). They are a great family. They walk a long ways to church every single Sunday. This is just wonderful when they come. When they walk in they always have the biggest happiest smiles. It is so great to see a family coming into church together.

The downer for the week is that Tony (the man who was supposed to be baptized this Sunday) decided that he didn’t want to be baptized. He has been avoiding us since and ignoring our phone calls. I just feel bad for him because he was so close to receiving a great blessing in his life. Being baptized by the priesthood is just a blessing for everyone’s life. The work goes forth and the Lord will help him. He is a great man and has a good family.

I love you all and hope everyone is doing well.


Elder Bitter

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Week of Sickness - September 9, 2013

Hello world!

I’m alive. It has been a boring week. I will try to write something worth reading.

I spent Monday through Thursday in three places—my bed, the couch and the tile floor. My bed is not the greatest. It is made out of foam. Arghh! The couch in our apartment is more comfortable than my bed. Finally, the tile floor in our apartment is nice and cool. Sometimes I just felt so hot that I couldn’t stand the bed or the couch.

The reason I spent so much time in those three places was because I was sick. On about Monday of last week, I felt weak and tired. So I slowed down. On Tuesday I was completely out of commission. I felt lousy on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I was in the house the whole day. There is nothing to tell about that experience.

On Friday, we went out and taught for about three hours. We were able to see our key investigators. This was really important because we had not seen them for a long time. Finally, Saturday came around and I felt that I had enough that strength to work the whole day. Hooray!

On Sunday, something cool happened. We were at church and William showed up!? I thought, “You are supposed to be in China.” I asked him about it and he told us that his flight was moved to the 9th of September thus allowing him to attend church for one more Sunday. It was so fun to see him. He then invited us for dinner.

Of course we accepted! I expected the normal Ugandan fare—chapatis, kalo, posho, katoga, chavuvu etc. This is always served when we are invited to dinner. (Being invited to dinner does not happen often.) We walked into the home and there sitting on the table was noodles and sauce! Woot, woot! I was pumped to have a meal from back home! :) It was so nice to have something that wasn’t flour and water mixed together and then cooked.

After the blessing on the food, they looked at us and said, “Don’t be shy! It is all for you. We have already eaten. I looked at the food thinking, “Oh man this is going to be brutal! How are we going to finish it all?”

One of our investigators is an older man named Tony. We have been teaching him for about five weeks. He is progressing well. He is a happy and humble. He is very kind to us. As far as material things, he has nothing. His home is so small that when we come to visit him, we have to sit outside because we cannot all fit in his home. Yet he is amazing. He runs a small business that is growing rapidly.

His business is making and selling Ugandan pancakes. (Nothing like American pancakes.) They are a fried snack that people here love. And he makes the best ones in all of Jinja. I came to this conclusion because he sells more than any other person. He makes tons of them each morning and night. He sells them all each day. Tony is paying for his children’s schooling. His wife and children live in their village while he lives in Jinja trying to make money so his children can have an education.

Tony is to be baptized this coming Sunday (September 15). We are really hoping and praying that he will move forward with his decision to follow Jesus Christ by being baptized, by immersion, by someone holding the priesthood authority. If he does follow through, he will be an example for the rest of his family.

I know this was a short letter but that is all I have for today because my work week was so short. It is a bummer being sick in more way than one.

But thanks everyone for all you do. I love and appreciate you all.


Elder Bitter

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Short, Tired and Sick - September 2, 2013


I’m back and I am going to make this one short because I am super tired and I am sick.

This week was a good and we really were blessed. We had a day and a half taken out of our week this week but we were still able to meet mission goals. One thing I have realized about mission goals is that they are inspired. They are from the Lord and are set so that we will work until the work is done. The Lord doesn’t give a goal/principle/commandment unless he provides a way to reach it. I have found that if we are diligent, the Lord will provide for us.

I’ll just wrap this one up by talking about a man named Tony. Tony is bit older and is really progressing in the gospel. He has a love for the church and he doesn’t want much more than to be closer to God. Tony runs a small little business that is so simple yet he makes a fair amount of money. I like to see someone’s success in something and doing their best to make things work.

I love you guys,

I hope all is well back home

The church is true


Elder Bitter

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Understanding Ugandan Humor - August 26, 2013

Hello America,

Once again, this week has gone by quickly. I really enjoy it when we are busy and working hard. I always feel bad for the missionaries that say every week, "Oh man this has been a tough and long week. I don't know if I can do another one." I hope no one back home is having that kind of experience because that can really lead to a lot of gray hair. :)

One thing I have learned while being on my mission is that humor in Africa is a lot different than humor back home. Don’t get me wrong, both of them are pretty awesome but it just takes some time to get used to African humor. For example in Africa when you are eating dinner and the food is amazing, a compliment would be delivered in this manner. “This is so good, I’ll bite my tongue.” OR “It’s so nice you will bite your tongue."

The first time I heard this statement, I just sat and stared as everyone was laughing. Of course, I gave a token chuckle so I would not offend anyone. Yet now, I find these statements funny. I don’t really know why I find them funny, but I do. The tone of voice is a really big deal in Uganda. A comment can be funny just by the tone of voice. Before I came to Uganda, I didn’t notice the tone that much. But now I really do.

Here is an example of what I am talking about. On Monday night, we were invited to a member’s family home evening. During the home evening, they had a few spiritual thoughts and played some games. To my surprise half way through the appointment, the son of the home (30 years old) looked at me and said, “Alright now it is time for your assignment.”

I looked at him blankly. He repeated that I had to have some kind of assignment. No one is allowed to just sit. I smiled and said, “No problem! What’s my assignment?”

He replied, “Tell us a joke.” I was in the spotlight and I did not feel very funny. So I decided to use a classic joke used back home. This is how the joke went.

Elder Bitter: What do you call a cow with three legs?

Group: uhhhhhhhhh hmmmmmmmm? I don’t know. Tell us!

Elder Bitter: Lean beef! (All Americans get the idea that the cow is leaning because he has only three legs and beef is another word for cow. Lame I know, but it was the best I could do on the spur of the moment.)

Group: Silence and blank stares....

Elder Bitter: (Frantic thoughts: "Aha man, this joke isn’t happening. I can tell!") Hum, ya that’s the joke.

Group: WHAT?? That is not a joke! It doesn’t even make sense! A voice in the crowd says a little disgustedly, “American humor, I guess.”

Elder Bitter: Well that was a failure.

Group: Try again! It’s okay.

At this point, I feel completely lost. What would be funny to these people? In the end, I had to pull out another one of those lame “Laughy Taffy” jokes that are on the outside of the candy wrapper. This failed as well. I just gave up and laughing said, “I’m a joke!” Well that joke worked! Hahahaha :)

Ok that’s enough with the fun stories.

I have one significant story that I want to tell for this week. William called us and said that he wanted to make an appointment with us for a certain day at 7:00 p.m. He indicated that he wanted to talk to us about something. The request sounded ominous. This is very unusual. In Uganda, people wait for you to come to them, they don’t/won’t ask you to visit them. We arrived at his home at 7:03 p.m. He was not there so we called him. He asked us to wait a few minutes because he was almost home.

A few minutes later he showed up. We sat down with William and the rest of his family. We made small talk for a little bit but inside I was dying. What did he want to talk about? I decided to take control of the meeting and find out. I then said something like, "When we talked on the phone, you said you had something you wanted to talk to us about. Do you still have that question or is it okay now?" He then just looked at me, finally saying, “I would love to talk about it.”

The conversation proceeded as follows:

William: "Well, Elder Bitter you know that I can’t be baptized until I return from China."

Elder Bitter: "I know. Is that still okay? Or is there a problem now?"

William: "No, no! No problem! It’s just that I had a few questions I wanted to ask you."

Elder Bitter: "Okay what kind of questions?"

William: "Well to be honest my wife and I have been talking and we want to do a few things besides baptism."

Elder Bitter: Sitting still, nodding head, waiting for him to continue.

William: "Well I want to be baptized into the Church and my wife and I want to be married in your church. And we want to know what we have to do to get married in the temple."

Elder Bitter: (Thinking: "YYYYEEEEEESSSSSSS that’s the best thing I have ever heard on my mission!!") But I stay calm and just smile and say, “I think that is a perfect decision!” :)

William: "We would really like you to be there for it."

At this point I was pretty pumped! I explained to him that when he returns from China, I might not be in Jinja but that I would try in every way possible to be there. I would do this by speaking with the leaders in the mission. It was probably the best appointment for me on the mission yet.

Most likely, I won’t be in this area when he gets baptized. But it doesn’t matter because he will be getting baptized which is a saving ordinance and he will with time be getting married in the temple. It is so awesome for me to think of William and Sarah getting married in the temple forever. I am stoked! I would love to be there but we will have to wait and see the outcome. William and Sarah will go far.

To continue the amazing appointment, they then smiled and said, “This is a special occasion so we prepared something special.” (WOOT! WOOT! GO FOOD!) They had prepared Posho (This is not special. They eat it with everything.) and a special sauce that is made by the locals from this village. Apparently, it is hard to get the vegetables used for this sauce. In the sauce was Okra and g-nut mixed with a few spices. The sauce is simmered for a long time. It was pretty awesome! I don’t know if I will ever have that dish again but it may be my favorite sauce from Africa. It had a unique, intense flavor. I also liked the texture.

William and Sarah are just awesome and I really love visiting them. This letter kind of revolved around them but it was such an important step that they made this week. I was so happy for them. I just had to share it in detail. I hope everything is going well back home and that everyone is happy.

When times get tough, remember the Lord can help us. All we have to do is follow the advice in the bible in James 1:5. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” It’s really true. If we need something or we don’t know what do, all that is needed is to pray to God with faith and He will answer us.

I love you and appreciate you all.


Elder Bitter/Steven

Smacked by a Motorcycle - August 18, 2013

I'm back again with another report from the Jinja Uganda Area!

This week was a really busy week but it turned out to be a good week. I have a few stories.

This week we cooked the fish I bought. It was pretty awesome! :) I froze the fish since we bought it on Monday and we knew that we would not be able to cook it until Wednesday. After thawing it, I took it out of the warm water and it was as if it was alive! Crazy!

Then I cleaned the fish and sliced it open. I finally decided to stuff it with onions, lemons, seasoning, pepper, salt, and a little bit of sugar. I don’t know what led me to put sugar inside of it. It was a random impulse. A thought popped in my head saying that it would help it crystallize and make a nice crisp outside.

After stuffing the fish full of goodness, I grabbed the biggest pan we had in the house. I set the fish in the pan. The fish was too big! I was a little irritated by this fact. What should I do? Finally the thought came to me to cut off the head. With the dullest knife in the world, I did the deed. It now fit the pan.

I lit the oven and dropped that bad boy in and let it bake for a little while. After about 45 minutes, the apartment smelled amazing! I decided to check on it even though I was told to cook it about an hour. It was cooked perfectly. The meat was tender and moist. It tasted unreal! It didn’t look as cool without the head still attached but it was still an overall success.

Next story for the week: My companion and I decided that we would go on splits with the Njeru Elders. We called Sunday and told them that we would be coming out to visit them on Tuesday. We let them know that we would be working with them the whole day. Elder Kanthunkako (my companion) split with Elder Smoot and I split with Elder Dimingu. We were having a successful day. At 2:00 p.m. we were to meet with the other companionship for lunch.

We decided that it was time to head to the meeting spot. We were walking with traffic so that we wouldn’t get honked or yelled at. When all of a sudden, WHAM! I got nailed by a motorcyclist that decided he wanted to drive on the shoulder where people walk and was driving in the WRONG direction. I was talking to my companion not paying attention because I thought we were safe. Boy was I wrong! He hit me head on and nailed me!

When the motorcycle hit me, I just spun in circles as if I was a ballerina. Finally I was able to plant my other foot standing there in amazement. Elder Dimingu was stunned and was staring at me. He finally said, "Uhhhh are you okay???"

I moved my body cautiously, eventually realizing that I was TOTALLY OK except for my shoulder was a little sore where he hit me. :) I then turned around. The motorcyclist had somehow not crashed and was still flying down the road occasionally glancing back. He must of really wanted to get somewhere! Go team! No injuries, just another weird story.

This week my companion and I continued to teach a few of our best investigators. Out of all the investigators, the ones that I want to talk about are William, "Julius, James, Janon", and Ronald.

William is the man that we will not be able to baptize because he is leaving for China soon which doesn’t allow enough time to teach him everything. But he has asked that we continue to teach him until he leaves. He plans to get baptized when he returns from China.

William is a stellar guy. He is a middle aged man that works really hard and is successful. The best part about William is his spiritual capacity. Every time we teach William he has questions that go far beyond the average person. He also reads everything we give him. As we were teaching him this past week, my companion and I had come up with the idea that we should get a hold of all the different Ensigns, Liahonas, and any other church publication we could find. So while he is in china, he could read and learn and continue to grow in the gospel.

After teaching him, we told him about the different publications that we would like to get for him to read while he is in China. He just sat there quietly. I started to get nervous worrying that it was a bad idea or something. Finally he smiled and said , “I would love that.”

He then explained how he had been reading a few of the publications when he visited the church in Kampala a few days ago. He had wanted to get a hold of some more but did not know how to do it. It was such an awesome feeling to see his desire to learn more. I was happy!

Julius, Janon, and James are three people that live together and are all from the same village. Last week I had told you of only Julius and Janon. However this week Julius and Jannon (for short J&J) introduced us to one more person that lived with them. The person that J&J introduced us to was James. James is just like J&J but he is just a little bit shyer than the other two.

Teaching the three J's (Julius, Janon and James) is one of my highlights of the week. They are welcoming and receptive to the gospel. They never appear bored or try to entertain themselves. They are always engaged and happy to see us.

We recently taught them the word of wisdom and talked to them about tea especially. The next time we visited, all of their tea packets were gone. We asked them about them and they told us that they have no use for them anymore. In Uganda, tea is the breakfast drink for everyone. They don't really eat breakfast, but instead just take a cup of tea. Someone so willing give up tea is just awesome. Usually it is a lesson that we have to teach time and time again to help them understand the importance of the principle. The three J's only needed to be taught once. Nice.

Ronald is a person we have been teaching since the first week of this transfer (that was a weird way of saying we have been teaching him for about five weeks). We have been teaching him about two to three times a week and he has been coming to church regularly. This past week he had decided that he was ready to be baptized. We had taught him everything, he has a testimony and he has been keeping all of his commitments. Also Nice.

This past week Ronald was baptized. It was an excellent baptismal service. Some baptisms will only generate a small turn-out. This time there was a good turnout which is great for the person being baptized since it is a once in a life time experience. It was a great time to have many people there, hearing great talks, and everyone singing nice and loud.  I was happy for him.

It was a fast week -- a little bit stressful but turned out really nice over all.

I have no complaints.

Church is true.

Thanks everyone for your consistent emails. It is awesome :)

Love ya all,

Elder Bitter

Monday, August 12, 2013

Baking Biscuits and Preaching the Gospel - August 12, 2014

Hello People

Another week in Uganda has passed. It was a nice week over all. This week we were taken care of in a lot of different ways.

But before I tell you about our experiences teaching, it’s story time as always. :)

I don’t have any crazy stories but I have two stories that are kind of cool. One of my favorite foods for breakfast while living at home was biscuits and gravy. Since I have been on my mission, I haven’t had them at all. I have missed warm soft biscuits. SO this week I decided that I was going to learn how to make good biscuits. So I kept trying and trying and trying to make them. Every time they would come out of the oven like hard baseballs.

Well after a few attempts and a lot of wasted flour, I finally got it down! I now make amazing homemade biscuits. They impress even me! Of course I must remember that I haven’t had any biscuits in such a long time my taste buds may be deficient. But they are just perfect--a nice golden, crispy outside with a fluffy soft inside.

Story number two: So in Uganda and especially in Jinja, fish is extremely inexpensive. The reason is the River Nile starts in Jinja. I decided since fish is plentiful, I should learn to cook fish. I bought a fish. It still had all of its parts, so I plan to gut it. Then I am going to slice onions and lemons into discs and put them inside the fish and sprinkle some random spices as well. I will then bake the fish whole. (I am thinking of the most recent Spiderman movie.) I will be sure and take some pictures of my first experience cooking a fish.

Now let’s talk about the important stuff because we are not really here to learn about food. Although I have to admit good food is nice.

As I said earlier, this week was a good one. I want to start with Sunday. In the Jinja Zone, there are some people that haven’t come to church for a very long time. My companion and I had decided that we would try to focus on one or two people encouraging them to come to church. One of the people that we chose was Celine.

We chose Celine because her husband and daughter come to church every single week. We wanted to see them go to church as a family. We decided to walk to their home on Sunday morning and then walk to church with them. (We had invited Celine to attend church with us earlier in the week.) They live a long way from the church (about 1.5 hours). We started walking from our house around 7:00 a.m.

The walk felt like forever. When we arrived at their home, the father, Wilson and their daughter, Millicent were there but not Celine. At first, we were disappointed. But we chose to not let it show. We walked with Wilson and Millicent to church. As we were walking, we were stopped by people that would say, “I have wanted to learn about your church. Could you teach me?” or “Hey I was once taught by missionaries. Can you teach me?” This happened over and over again. It was a really cool experience.

We had been working hard to find new investigators and we had found some. But none of them really seemed to have a strong desire to learn about the gospel. At first I didn’t really notice the blessing. But after church, I realized that even though Celine didn't come we were truly blessed. This experience really taught me that we work, the Lord provides in His way.

This Sunday was the best in my mission thus far. It wasn’t because the speakers were great, or the weather was cool or anything like that. But this Sunday, we had a great turn out at church and a lot of investigators came as well. Some of the investigators we had just tracted out earlier that week. The icing on the cake was that they stayed for all three hours! It is common for people to leave after the first hour.

For me the most exciting of these people that we tracted were Julius and Janon. They live together and are from the same village in Lira. (SUPER HOT THERE) On Tuesday, they welcomed us into their home and allowed us to share a message with them. As we shared, there wasn’t anything overwhelming or amazing about it. But they listened, thanked us for the massage and asked us to come back. At the second lesson, we taught them the restoration and about Joseph Smith.

During that lesson, it was just about the same again. No amazing feeling. We wrapped up the lesson and left. When we have lessons like that I usually find that really happens. I guess I’m a doubting Thomas. On Sunday I was happily proven wrong. When they rounded the corner of the church dressed in their best with huge smiles, I burst into a huge grin. I was touched to see them dressed up knowing their humble circumstances. They gave me a warm handshake and continued into church. They listened intently during the meeting with huge smiles on their faces.

William is still coming to church and is progressing. He has really changed his attitude towards the church. He used to despise the church and wasn’t very supportive of his family being members. He now wants to join the church. He is an amazing guy. He will be a great strength to the branch. I’m excited for him. :)

Overall life is good out here. I have been trying to learn how to make the local food lately not because I love it so much or anything like that (laugh out loud). But it would just be cool to share it with everyone back home. For example I am learning to make Kalo, posho, maltoke, lots of sauces, and rolexs for everyone yahoo!!! The one food that is really awesome though is Injera. I can’t make that because I do not have the ingredients. But there is a restaurant in Salt Lake that makes it in case anyone wants to try it out.

Well I’m just about out of time again. I love you all and I really appreciate all your emails. I hope all is well in the land of the free and the home of the brave. :)


Elder Bitter

Monday, August 5, 2013

Mechanical Distractions - August 5, 2013

This week was unusual. We had to travel to Kampala for a meeting. It took most of Monday. The unique part of the day(s) is told below.

When I first arrived in Jinja, I was given a truck to drive. After driving it, I realized there were a lot of problems with the truck. While driving the truck, a ridiculously loud popping noise was coming from the front, right side of the truck. Also, it would pull to one side so hard that I would grip the steering wheel as if there was no power steering. The last problem was vibration. After driving it, I called the mission office and requested some maintenance on the truck. I requested an alignment check, a tire rotation, the oil changed and the steering column repaired. I knew that all of these things needed to be done. The truck had really been neglected by past missionaries.

The mission office accepted the request and said that at the next ZLC, we could drop the truck off at a repair shop. We arrived in Kampala safely and without any problems which was a relief. We left the truck at the repair shop and made our way to the mission office for the meeting.

After the meeting was over (Tuesday afternoon), we asked the office if the truck was ready. They told us that it wouldn’t be done till 7pm that evening. My companion and I just sat in the mission office for a few hours. We then we called the repair shop hoping the truck was done. They told us that they had driven the truck after the requested maintenance and repairs and it was still pulling to the right and the vibration was still there as well.

The shop informed us that it would not be ready until the next day. The bushings in the truck were dead and they needed to be replaced. They indicated that it would be done on Wednesday afternoon at two o ‘clock. So we spent another night in Kampala and traveling back to the mission office in the morning. Finally 2:00 p.m. arrived (waiting is a slow game). We called the garage and they indicated that it would be done around 5pm.

After exchanging a few words, we learned that no matter what we tried to do; we would not be able to speed up the process. This garage is the only one in the whole city that can handle these types of repairs. So we waited! Right at 5 p.m., we called them and they informed us that the truck was still not ready. The vibration was still there.

It wouldn’t be done until Thursday at 2pm.! ARGH!! We said, “What is the problem now?” They had found parts of the mounts had been broken and pieces had fallen off which was causing the vibration. The process repeated itself! Slept at the AP’s flat, went to the mission office to wait, and called again at 2:00 p.m. After waiting for a little bit, we decided to go to the shop and sit there until they had it finished. A visual reminder if you know what I mean. (The manager had given me his word that the truck would be finished at two.)

We arrived at 1:45 but didn’t get the truck until about 3:30. They had all of the parts set out for us so we could see the true damage and problems. It was an impressing array of damaged parts. I’m glad they found the problems and were able to fix it. In the end, I felt it was a great blessing that they were able to find all the problems and that we had been safe driving that truck before fixing it.

After I drove the truck, I could tell that the problems were fixed. It was a long week over all. This left us with only Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to proselyte.

We were able to visit William. He is a father of six and a successful provider. His wife is a member of the church. She hasn't been coming to church for some time; however, recently has started to come to church again. When she started coming again, she asked us to come and teach her husband about the Gospel. This is one of my favorite things to hear! It is so much easier when someone introduces you to an investigator.

When we met William he was really welcoming and kind. He had nothing but great things to say and was happy over all. As we taught him, he gladly accepted the message. One thing that President Chatfield has really taught is to teach with boldness which leads to a greater chance of acceptance. We are not to be pushy or rude but let them know how important the truth is for each person. I have really noticed that as you teach with boldness but yet kindness, people can really tell that the gospel is real and is important.

William gladly accepted the challenge to be baptized but sadly his baptism date is going to have to be a bit farther out because of his work. He is traveling to China in two weeks for a teaching job for about three months. He will then bring the students that he is teaching back to Uganda with him. They will then study in Uganda. I was kind of sad when I found out because we do not have enough time to teach him everything.

Yet after contemplating, I realized that it’s OK :) We will continue to teach him until he leaves for China We will give him a lot of reading material so that he can read during his flight and when he is there in China. But I know that the missionaries that are here when he returns will have a great person to teach and he will really progress in the gospel nicely :)

I really look forward to teaching him some more until he leaves for China. I can see him being a great strength to this branch. He will lift and support the branch.

And on the plus side we are invited over to his home for another appointment and he is going to feed us :) so no complaints there :) I already know what is on the menu its Kalo and some sauces to dip it in :) When you eat that stuff, I am guaranteed not to be hungry for a long time. I have never eaten anything that stays in your stomach for as long as Kalo. It’s probably because our bodies say, “What in the world do I do with this stuff?!” It’s all good and tastes alright. No complaints there :)

I hope all is well back home and I hope that everything is going smoothly.

Love you all

Elder Bitter