Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Oweno Market - March 4, 2013

Well the weeks are starting to fly by; however, the days seem like weeks. The weeks seem like days. It’s kind of crazy.

Well I can officially say that I baptized someone. I had the opportunity to baptize someone whom I have taught from day one. I didn’t inherit the investigator. We met a young man named Robert about a week and a half into my mission and we have been teaching him ever since. We taught everything extremely slow because his English wasn't very good. We usually taught a half a lesson at a time or so. As we taught him, he began to understand English better and better which was really exciting. As he learned English,he began to understand our teachings a lot better as well. As his understanding improved his testimony really improved. He was one of those perfect investigators where if you set up an appointment with him he will always be there on time like he promised. In Uganda this is really appreciated. The people here do not understand time. If a meeting is to start at 9:30, it means he will be there about 10:15. I always deeply appreciate it when we run into someone who keeps there appointments exactly on time.

This week we had the opportunity to do some more tracting. We had really hoped that we would find an investigator that was truly interested in the church and not just interested in having company over. Often times people will invite you in because they want company not because they want to learn about the gospel. So as we were tracting my companion and I saw a young man that was sitting on a bench in front of a "pharmacy" (not what you imagine back home). We walked up to him and introduced ourselves and he invited us to sit down. After we sat down, we continued to get to know him and soon found out that his name was Charles. As we taught, he showed a lot of interest. He was not distracted. His phone rang and he shut it off! When we asked questions, he gave answers that showed he was paying attention. As we continued teaching the lesson, we knew he was interested in learning more. As we taught him the Doctrine of Christ in 2 Nephi 31: 1-14 he really began to pay attention.

After we had wrapped up the lesson, we then invited him to church and he gladly accepted. As we described how to get to the church, I had a feeling that we should offer to pick him up and walk with him to church. So I said, “Hey Charles would you like us to come pick you up Sunday morning and walk with you to church?” As soon as I asked, he got all quiet. To be honest, I thought I had just messed everything up or something. He then looked up and said, “I would love that.”

After saying that he would love us to come pick him up he then continued to tell us that when he was sitting alone on the bench, he was hoping that someone would come teach him more about Christ, invite him to church, and show him how to get to church. He wanted these things because he was brand new to the area. He had just come from Sudan four days earlier. In Sudan, he was a church going person but here in Uganda he didn’t know where to go and he wanted to learn more about Christ. After he had described this whole situation, I just sat there kind of amazed. It really goes to show how the lord prepares people for the gospel.

Another experience which was pretty cool, I was doing some reading recently. About this point, I was starting to feel pretty smart when it came to the gospel. To be honest I thought I was improving rapidly and that my teaching skills were improving. Well after thinking this, I was doing some reading when I came across a scripture in 2 Nephi 20: 15 which said, "Shall the axe boast against him that heweth therewith? Shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? AS if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself as if it were no wood?" After reading this verse, I sat there and was like what in the world does that mean? After thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that it was kind of talking about the Lord’s work and being humble. Because when you’re teaching, yes you need to know the scriptures but in the end, all you are is a tool in His hands. Just like how an ax is a tool in a lumber jacks hands. So yes a sharp ax is nice but unless there is a lumberjack swinging it is useless. So I took from this is that it is good to know the gospel and it’s good to improve your teaching skills, but if the Spirit isn’t helping you teach, you’re really not going to do very much in the end.

So this helped me realize that it’s really important to study the scriptures and rely on the Spirit when teaching. If you try to teach on your own, it just have much of an effect on the person. I don't know if that makes sense to you in relation to that verse but it really made a lot of sense to me and it was a heads up to always rely on the Spirit when teaching.

I learned something interesting this week. It’s crazy but if you let something bother you, it can affect the work and the day. In the beginning of the week, Ii was kind of in a bad mood. Our lessons were going nowhere. It seemed that all we did was teach and then leave. The people we were teaching were not getting anything out of it. I came to realize that the bad attitude that I was in was killing the work. SO it really made me realize how important it is to be happy and positive at all times when you are teaching others.

There is a guy named Eric who is an amazing artist out here. My companion and I teach him quite often. He is a really good guy and seems to love the gospel. It’s sad though, he is fighting alcohol addiction. When we meet with him, he is always sober because he knows we won’t teach him if he isn’t sober. But it’s really sad because he is trying really hard to quit drinking. With the friends he has it is near to impossible to stop because his friends drink all day every day. They literally wake up at 10:00am and start drinking. Then they drink till about 9:00pm at night. They then sleep it off and wake up the next day and start again. Well Eric has been avoiding it as much as possible. It’s really cool to see his spirit and happiness grow. As he drinks less and less, you can see him become more and more happy. He smiles more and jokes more. In general he is just happier. It’s a really cool thing to see. But it’s really sad when he slips up. You can see in his eyes that he already regrets it as soon as it happens. I really love him and hope that he can continue to improve and have the opportunity to overcome his addiction. I hope that he continues to read the scriptures because as he reads he becomes more determined to quit. He gets strength from the scriptures.

One thing that is tough about this country is the living standards. They truly live with nothing. I think this is why they are so willing to let anyone into their home. It’s not because they just want company, I think it is also because they are so humble. There is a young man named Tagaba who is a perfect example of this. He lives in a small little house that is about the size of my closet. Not only does he live in there but two of his brothers as well. So in this little one room home live three teenagers, Nathan, Immanuel, and Tagaba. And when my companion and I show up it’s a tight fit! But the coolest part is the feeling that is there every time.

When you walk, it is like a muggy stale oven in the home. But once you get past that feeling you really start to have a feeling of happiness. These three young men are as happy as can be and yet they have nothing. They are so happy that it does not matter to them how big or small there home is. They are so humble that the gospel sounds fun and exciting to them. It’s really remarkable to be honest. When you walk in the home, you feel at home. When you walk in you can’t help but smile. I really don't know how to describe it. The home is not decorated or really clean (not really dirty either, just normal for Uganda). It is extremely plain--just concrete walls. But you feel welcome when you enter the home.

Well here is my cool story for the week. My companions and I went to something called "Oweno Market" in Uganda Kampala. This was an experience of a life time. I will try to describe it but Ii don’t think it will ever have the effect that it has when you are there. So we drove to the market. And when I saw the entrance, I was instantly disappointed. The entrance is a little tent tunnel that is about 7 feet wide and 15 feet tall. As we walk in everything inside changes. This is the market of markets! They sell everything you can imagine. The walls are covered in stuff from backpacks, food, shoes, clothes, watches, hats, and belts, literally anything you can imagine. This place has it. But this place is all covered. To start there are tarp walls everywhere. It is a large tunnel made of logs and tarps. As you enter the tunnel there are 4 different ways you can go. Each tunnel heads in a different direction.

This place is literally tunnels upon tunnels upon tunnels. Each tunnel is completely covered and made of tarps. It is insane! There is about two feet of walking space on each side. All the other space is just smothered with items that you can buy. I wanted to take pictures but to be honest from what I have heard, it is best to bring nothing there except for money. It will get stolen. Oh my goodness, I am glad that I listened and didn't bring it. They were totally right. Anything in your pockets would have been ripped off for sure. Some people said we should even put our money in our socks because it is that bad. The place is packed with merchants and salesmen selling every type of item in the world.

There were people everywhere. There was probably at least a good 10 miles worth of tunnels turning and curving in every which way. It was literally a maze made for humans. People live in this thing and sell their stuff all day every day. You need to look this up online. I am sure someone has been crazy and daring enough to take pictures inside of there at one point or another. I literally cannot describe this place. It was remarkable. I have never seen anything like it on TV or in pictures or even in my imagination. This was no ordinary street market. It was truly a memorable experience.

Well I can honestly say that my speaking and writing grammar is getting worse and worse every day. I am starting to pick up some of the Ugandans’ phrasing. The phrasing makes no sense to be honest. When I first came to Uganda, I could not follow their speaking. It just didn’t make sense. Now that I have been here for a little while, it makes perfect sense! Scary! I use it all the time now. So I think I’m doomed when it comes to grammar and correct English.

Sorry for all the grammar mistakes in this email and all the spelling errors, my English really getting torn apart out here. I tried to use spell check as much as possible but I know it doesn't catch everything.

Well that's all for this week :)

I’m glad I got to read all your emails this week and that I got to respond to them as well :)

I hope this email made up for last week’s email.

I love you all!


Elder Bitter

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