Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I Found the Source - February 18, 2013

Hi everyone! :)

Well this has been a good week. I cannot believe it is time to write home again. On Saturday I remember sitting in our apartment and then I just looked over at Elder Chuya and asked him, “What day is it.” He answered, “It is Saturday.” I literally could not believe it. I was blown away. It’s remarkable how fast the weeks can go by if you really don't count the days and you try to make the days count.

I remember my first week, I thought I am growing spiritually but the week is crawling by. I was exhausted every day and I was barely able to finish the days. It is really remarkable how things change if you really take the advice of the scriptures and just trust in the Lord and lean upon him and not on your own strength. During my first week, I was so exhausted every day. Now it is much different. Yes, I’m tired but I don’t feel like sitting down at all. I feel like teaching all day long. The Spirit is definitely there to teach us and give us guidance. But man, he does so much more than that. He really motivates you as well.

I always thought to have the Spirit it needed to be that overwhelming feeling you get when someone is giving a powerful talk. But after being on my mission, I have started to realize that having the Spirit is not always that crazy powerful overwhelming feeling. Often times it is just the feeling of calmness in stressful situations. Or hard situations aren't so hard because your mind is clear and you’re not getting frustrated. I remember that I used to think that I only had the Spirit with me when it was overwhelmingly. But that is so not true. I now know that often times having the Spirit is just being calm, relaxed, clear minded, and happy even when you should be the exact opposite. I now see how the Spirit truly is a "still small voice". The feeling is different than I thought. So I’m glad I was able to figure that out this week.

Well I’ll go ahead and tell about the week. For starters, Tuesday was an unbelievably long day. I know that is super contradictory to what I said above but all the other days just flew bye. But on Tuesday, I was the guy who drew the short straw. I was asked if I would be willing to do an exchange with a missionary whose companion has been in the hospital for two days.

Elder Bulloch drove me to the hospital and I walked in and I replaced the healthy missionary that was staying with the sick missionary. It was a LONG day because I had to sit in a strait back wood chair all day long and watch a missionary lay in a hospital bed. It was really, really boring. Can I say that again? It was boring.

I had the opportunity to study my scriptures but after a few hours I was totally maxed out. I really just wanted to be out teaching someone the gospel. There isn’t much to say about this day. I basically just sat there and occasionally had the opportunity to talk to people walking by about the gospel but that is just about the gist of the entire day. Oh yea the hospitals here are something else. They are definitely not like the hospitals at home hahaha. Being there made me want to continue to be very careful with what I eat so that I can avoid ending up in one of these hospitals at all costs. The hospital is basically a large room that was divided by sheets hanging from the ceiling to form small cubicles for patients. And it was like an oven in there! Man it was hot. But yea that’s all there is to say about that.

Well on Wednesday it was pretty interesting, we were walking around knocking doors trying to teach new people about the gospel. People here are always willing to invite you in and let you sit down. But often times they do not agree with what you say but they will still sit there nodding their head. Later they will then ask you to move on.

On Wednesday we knocked on a home and a father (Seboo) answered the door. He kindly welcomed us in and was willing to hear our message. He had his whole family sit down and listen to us out of respect for someone teaching the gospel. After giving about half the lesson, we could tell that this was not going anywhere. But we continued on and finished our lesson. It was kind of sad that we could tell that they were not interested because to be honest it was a really powerful lesson. It was one of the better ones we have taught together. When we finished our message, the father took over and said in a polite way that he wasn’t interested. But once he had finished talking his daughter who had been dead silent the whole lesson spoke up and said "I want to learn more about this church". I was surprised to hear the daughter that still lives at home say anything like. The young girls never speak anything contrary to their fathers. It is just a social rule.

After she had said she wanted to learn more, I instantly thought there was going to be a lot of contention in the home. It was pretty cool the father just kind of sat there in shock for a little bit. Then you could see his face change from a stern to a soft. He then answered in a calm voice, “It is ok if my daughter wants to learn more, she can go to your church but I will not come. " I was blown away. I was amazed for a lack of better words. She had really felt the Spirit and had braved going against her father’s wishes. It was obvious she loved her father. That took a lot of courage! I cannot explain how shocking and amazing it was. Culture here is so strong and things like that are not welcome.

On that same day Elder Bulloch and I walked down a hill and we saw a young man that we were teaching named Tagaba. He was very excited to see us and said, “ELDERS, ELDERS, ELDERS COME TEACH MY BROTHER!!!” So we smiled and were like why not let’s do it. So he lead us to the bottom of a hill and then we started to take all of these turns and different paths until it opened up to this huge prairie like area that was flat and had very tall weeds. The weeds were everywhere around his brother’s home. It was a very humble home but it had a view of the flat grass lands that would blow a person’s mind. I literally didn't want to go in the home because I wanted to keep admiring the view. Well the brother came out and greeted us and brought out stools for us to sit on. So we ended up teaching outside which was so nice because it was starting to cool down.

Right when we were about to start our lesson, the brother (Tom) said, “Hold on one second”. He walked away and pulled these large bamboo like plants out of the ground--he literally pulled them out of the ground right in front of us. They were about 5 inches in circumference and they were about 8 feet tall. He took this large knife and started chopping it up into 4 foot sections. After that he pealed the outer layer off and handed a long chunk to me. And he said "you partake" I looked at my companion like uhhh what is this thing and he gave me a biting motion so I bit off a piece as if it were a ice cream bar. Well it might as well of been an ice cream bar! It was crazy sweet. I soon found out that he grew sugar cane on this prairie like area.

So my companion and I sat and taught a lesson while we munched on some huge sugar cane. This is not the best part. As we sat there munching on sugar cane and teaching a lesson, the sun began to set to our left. So it was the coolest environment ever. We sat with Tom and taught him the Doctrine of Christ while we munched on sugar cane and watched the sun set over this huge cane field. It was really spiritual and so beautiful.

Well that’s the end of that story. Elder Bulloch and I have been teaching two guys--Mathew and Isaac. They are two of the most perfect investigators ever. We have set a baptismal date with Isaac for March 17. We are still working on a few things with Mathew. He has a wife that he isn’t married to yet. This is extremely common in Uganda because the people here can’t afford weddings. They can’t afford to pay introduction (basically a bride price like in Johnny Lingo the movie). They are remarkable.

We have been teaching them for two weeks and they are such amazing guys. They are always so nice and so welcoming to us. They are always anxious to learn more about the gospel. They are both from very humble circumstances. But the best part about teaching them is you can literally see them progress and learn as they sit there. Their will eyes light up and you can see that they understand the message we are teaching them. It’s a way cool thing to see I love it.

Well Mathew always has these sandals on that everyone in Uganda seems to have. There sandals are made of used tires. They are extremely thin but they last for a life time. These sandals are sold everywhere but there kind of expensive and I could never figure out how all the locals could afford them. So I eventually asked Matthew. I told him that I wanted a pair of the tire sandals but they seem very expensive. I asked if there was a place that I could get them for less money. He just looked at me and smiled. He let me know that the sandals that are sold everywhere are for people who are rich enough and dumb enough to fall into that money trap.

He asked if I had five minutes. I looked at my companion and we decided we did. He started walking us through this super ghetto area that was full of people who are not the best of examples for how we should live our lives. But then we rounded a corner and there were about 20 teenagers sitting on the ground cutting up huge used semi -truck tires. They then stripped them apart. Making the sandals right there. I HAD BEEN SHOWN THE SOURCE :)!!!! These guys were using extremely sharp dry wall knifes to cut through the tires. They would do one cut then they would rub it on a wet stone that was right next to them. Then they would do another cut then sharpen the knife again. It was so cool to watch.

Well Matthew started bartering with them for me in their language and got it down to a good price (the equivalent of about 2.25 US dollars). That was way cheaper than in the shops everywhere! Trust me I was really excited. They started measuring my feet right there and they asked me how I wanted the sandals to look and how thick I wanted them and what designs I wanted on them. So I basically got totally custom Ugandan sandals for about 2.25 US dollars. And the best part, these sandals do not wear out, like never ever. People here wear these sandals every day all day and they last for years upon years upon years. So I basically just got custom sandals that will last me for a very long time :) I’m pumped! They are cool looking too. I will take a picture and send it next week :)

Well back to the spiritual experiences. The Lord does answer prayers. Elder Bulloch and I had decided that we would pray together and ask to have the ability to work hard and work diligently throughout the day. So it was a pretty simple thing to ask for in the prayer. So after discussing what we wanted to pray about, I volunteered to pray for us. Well apparently instead of asking for help that we would be able to work hard throughout the day, I asked in the prayer, “Please help Elder Bulloch and I learn how to work hard.” After I finished the prayer, I stood up not realizing what I had just done. I looked up and Elder Bulloch was just staring at me wide eyed. He was like "Do you know what you just asked?" I responded "No what did I ask?" He then responded "you asked the lord to teach us how to work hard, instead of help us work hard". I stood there and I was like oh no today is going to be a tough day......

Let me tell you that prayer was answered! It was the toughest day that I have probably ever endured. We started working at 10:00am the normal time and we got home at 10:00pm. We basically worked straight through that whole time and we barely made the mission daily goal. From 10:00am all the way till 5:00pm, we only had one appointment. Everyone was canceling on us or not wanting to hear what we had to say. So we literally had one lesson and the rest of those hours were constant knocking doors with instant rejection. Hahahaha! Well after 5:00 pm came around we began to realize that we were really being taught how to work hard. Well from 5:00pm-9:00pm we literally had to do a whole days’ worth of work. I don’t know how we did it but we did. We were praying all day long that we would have appointments that would work out. Well we somehow pulled it off. It was a testimony in itself that the Lord does hear and answer prayers. He definitely taught us how to work that day. I’m grateful for that day honestly! It really taught me how to rely on the lord and just work hard.

The church is true guys. There is no doubt in my mind. The Lord loves all of us. No matter who you are the Lord loves you. He wants all of us to come back to him. So seek the Spirit everyone. I love you all


Elder Bitter

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