Monday, April 29, 2013

Rwandan Taxis Are Amazing - April 29, 2013

Hello! Well this new emailing system is really weird. I am writing this letter in a chat box. It’s really confusing.

Well this week has been pretty good overall. I really enjoyed the entire week. This week is the last week of the transfer so we will find out transfer news on Wednesday. I will learn whether I am staying or going. I really hope I get to stay! Rwanda is really nice because the people are awesome. The people in Uganda are awesome too. So either way, it is all good :). The weather is cooler all year which you all know that I love COOL weather. In Rwanda I don’t sweat to death every day.

The week has been pretty uneventful. But I will run through the week; however, I will tell you some stories from the past that I have not related thus far to keep things interesting. We had a pretty good week in comparison to the past few weeks. On Tuesday, we had the opportunity to visit a lot of the recent converts which was cool because I really enjoy getting to know all the members of the branch. I like knowing where they live and what they like to do, etc.

On that same day, we saw one of our recent converts who is named Viatear. He is jolly and a go-getter. He is like a little kid in a grown body. One of the best things about teaching him is that he really understands everything that you teach him. It’s pretty cool to see how people once they have the Holy Ghost progress in the gospel. But an additional blessing is watching how fast they begin to learn new things. For example, many of the members when they are baptized do not speak any English at all. But over time, the Holy Ghost helps them grasp the language.

I will relate one really funny thing about Viatear that shows how young he is on the inside. When we got to his home, he was so excited to show us his new talent. His talent was using his hands and turning them into a flute. He was pretty skilled at it. He did it in the weirdest and humorous way I have ever seen. I really laughed a lot when he did it. He mashes one of his palms against his mouth and then he places his other hand over that one and by moving his fingers around and shifting his hand around he is able to make different flute noises. He can play a song or two. It was pretty weird and funny at the same time!

On Wednesday, we were able to see a young man named Joseph who is an awesome young man. Well I shouldn’t say young man because he is about the same age as Jon (27). But he seems really young. He is about 5 feet 2 inches. Even though he is small, he is the coolest of guys. I really love this guy. He just smiles and welcomes us all day long. This is such a nice feeling.

When we call him with the little kid from Rwanda we know, we ask him if we can come to his home with a translator. He always says, “Neago you greeno!” This means, “Yes, you come.” As we arrive, he is always standing outside (he is a guard) waiting for us greeting us with a nice warm handshake. This means so much.

After we arrive and go into the place where he works, we talk and teach him. We use a translator of course since my companion and I don’t speak enough of his language to actually teach in his language. But one of the coolest things is seeing this guy just smile, learn and love every moment of it. He is really a remarkable guy. I always look forward to seeing him.

On that same day, we also had the opportunity to pick up two new investigators which was awesome. It has been a long time since we have had new investigators who are truly serious. We met a man named Deodonnie and a man named Repone. Both of them are just so happy to learn about the gospel. Their hearts are open and ready to learn. I love teaching people like that! It’s so rewarding! :)

I have wanted to tell you a story about the taxis here for a long time. I just kept forgetting to do it. Now I can. The taxis here are something else! The taxis in Africa are small little vans that the Ugandan’s and the Rwandan’s have stripped and welded their own seats in. These little vans are used to the extreme! There are four rows for passengers. The front and passenger seats are made of makeshift metal benches.

Well this van when it is being used correctly should seat 7 maybe 9 give or take. But when they have transformed it into a transporting sardine can, it can easily transport 20 people. These vans when packed to the brim, which is often, literally sag in the back. Hahah!

Another funny thing about these vans is that they have been painted up in some type of theme. The driver of the van is pimped out to match the theme. Each van blasts and I mean blasts music that seems to follow the theme. Today we got in a taxi that was all painted up like a bunch of different people that rap like Little Wayne, Eminem, Tupac, Soulja Boy, 50 cent, Biggy Smalls, and so on.

This van not only had music blaring in it so loud that you couldn’t hear the person right next to you when he was yelling at you but had a sub-woofer that was so powerful that you were literally shaking in the taxi. All in all, the taxis here are really interesting. However, the plus side is that they cost next to nothing to ride in. If they did cost a lot there is no possible way that we would see all our investigators in one day. They all live so far apart. Traveling from one appointment to another sometimes can be a 40 minute ordeal and that is with a taxis and walking.

On Thursday we had kind of a sad day. One of the people in our branch named Andre who is a recent convert from some past missionaries, has a problem with alcohol. It was a really big bummer because he has always been so faithful when it comes to coming to church. Also he is always so happy and smiling when he comes to church. He loves the church but we found out he has a big problem. But it’s good that we know so that we can help the branch get it all taken care. Hopefully it does not get any worse or cause any problems for him in the future or anything like that.

On Sunday we had the opportunity to finally watch general conference. The branch finally got ahold of a copy of general conference. As a branch we were able to watch general conference which was awesome. :) It was the fastest general conference ever. It felt like it had just started then it was all over. I think this happened for two reasons. First, being on mission really makes you appreciate conference and really helps you see how amazing conference is. And second, it also felt really short because we got just a few hand selected talks. We really only watched two hours of conference all in all. This is the total amount that we will be watching is kind of a bummer. The talks that we got to watch were just awesome I really loved them.

Well in conclusion I want to just give a shout outs to a few different family members.

To all of you who work on the Weber farm who grow real crops--the onions on your farm are real onions. The average onion here is about the size of a golf ball. Haha! I can’t help but thinking of how awesome all of your crops are in comparison to the stuff they have here. So whatever magic you are working on those crops is awesome because I wish that the onions here were like the onions off of your farm. I love ya! All of you are all so fun to visit and hang with! :)

Grandma Bitter, I miss ya! I miss coming over and hanging out with you and eating some homemade bread. That stuff is the best! :) Also you better go visit my parents and keep them in line for me. Make sure that you eat my helpings at dinner time with my parents because we don’t want too many left-overs. I love ya.

Anne it’s almost birthday time! You’re gonna be sixteen and driving. That will be awesome! :) Don’t forget that slowing down in snow takes a while and that the blind spot is always the place where cars will be hiding :) I love ya, Anne!

Mom and Dad I can’t wait for Mother’s Day. It will be awesome to talk to you all and I love reading your emails :) Thanks for the great example. You all are to me :)

Jon and Sarah keep it up you are all awesome and I love you! :) You guys are the best and are such great examples. :) I hope all is well. :)


Elder Bitter/ Steve

Monday, April 22, 2013

Pancake Maggots - April 22, 2013

Well good morning America. This is Elder Bitter speaking and it’s nice to be back broadcasting to you from Rwanda.

This week has been a pretty good one even though I have been fighting off some illness. I have almost knocked it out completely so life is awesome! I started out the week feeling bad physically. My whole body was pretty weak and I was having trouble making it through the day. The symptoms started with a lot of headaches and then it migrated from my head to my throat and then to my lungs. My lungs felt cold. It felt like I was in water polo again. I remember when I used to play water polo I would get cold lungs randomly. It would feel like my lungs were full of mint gum. They would get so cold when I would breath -- kind of like how your mouth does when your chewing mint gum. The cold lungs went away on Thursday and I was still a little weak on Saturday. Today I can officially say that the fight is basically over because I feel really good. No more headaches, no more weak joints, no more weak muscles and no more cold lungs! Life is awesome :) One of the cool things about getting sick is that it really makes you appreciate being healthy. It is nice to feel good after walking up a hill.

Don’t worry about my health. I am not taking any chances. There have been a lot of foods where I see something in them that does not look right. I am unhappy since I paid money for the item and then decide to toss it. I would rather be healthy then sick and stuck in bed. I am one of the few missionaries that actually take the malaria pill every day. Most missionaries don’t ever take it then they are curious as the why they get sick. Some missionaries are a bit thick. I am doing everything in my power to stay healthy and lean.

A perfect example: I was kind of tired of porridge for breakfast so I decided that I would spend a good chunk of my money and buy real flower and make some pancakes for breakfast. I was so excited. I bought real milk, real flour, vanilla, and baking soda. I make a perfect batter and then cooked a lot of pancakes so that my companion and I could just really enjoy a breakfast for the first time in a long while. Well I mix up the batter and I start cooking some gorgeous pancakes. They were just looking awesome. After cooking most of them I ladle another portion of batter in to the pan then I decided that I would watch this pancake cook from start to finish. I then see something black in my pancake and investigated. I stuck my finger in there and scooped out the dark spot. It turns out to be a lovely maggot looking thing in my pancake! All of my batter was full of these maggots and I was cooking them into my pancakes. I was really mad. I had been looking forward to this meal all week long!! It turned out that my nicely wrapped store bought flour was packed with maggots. My newly purchased flour hit the trash can at about the speed of a water polo skip-shot. The pancakes were tossed as well.

Long story short is that I’m trying to stay healthy and lean. :)

But that’s old news. This week was a little bit tough because my companion and I both were sick. My companion had the flu and I had my above described illness. In spite of the rough start, there have been some pretty awesome things happening this week. I am excited to tell you about them.

You remember Emmanuel and his wife Mary. When I first came to Rwanda they were living together so they couldn't be baptized. We had explained this to them and they weren't too happy about it. In the end they agreed to get married so that they could be baptized. Since that time they have been saving every little piece of change they could find. They have been pinching and scraping every last coin. We visited their home last week and they were excited as could be. He was smiling and just pumped up. After we sat down he told us how they were getting married on the 18th of this April. I thought it was great that they committed to get married and even greater that they followed through with it.

The wedding day finally came. They got all dresses up from head to toe in their best. They were just glowing. You could tell that they were so happy that they had the opportunity to be married. They had been living together for 7 years and have a couple kids as well. It really goes to show how marriage is so important. They had been together for a long time and they were living like a married couple and doing everything that a married couple would do but they weren't actually married. When their wedding day came, they were so happy and it really showed. As they were married Emmanuel swept Mary off of her feet and carried her around. She was smiling and laughing like crazy. The pictures that Elder Terry took were awesome. Seeing a simple change like this in someone’s life and how big of a difference it makes made me realize even more how important it is to get married. It is not right to just lounge around in a home with your girlfriend or boyfriend. It’s interesting to see how these people really didn't change their outward behavior after they got married. They still lived together, they still had multiple children, they still loved each other and they were still happy to be together. All that changed was they went from being a couple to becoming husband and wife. That title changed the countenance of this couple. It just goes to show how marriage really changes it all. How important it is and how it blesses people.

After the marriage they were able to be baptized. On the April 21st Emmanuel was baptized. He was able to enter the water completely prepared for baptism. Mary came and watched him get baptized and she smiled the whole time. Emmanuel fears water yet he knew how important it was to be baptized. He was willing to get into the font and be baptized. He stood at the top of the latter and stared into the water for a little while. Then he got in and looked so worried -- not because of the baptism itself but because he was about to be dunked under water (that is only 3 ½ feet deep he is like 5 foot 11 inches). After he had been baptized the biggest smile came across his face. He just seemed so relieved that it had finally happened and you could tell that he was just happy as could be. After being baptized feeling happy he then decided that he wanted out of that font. He went straight for the stairs so that he could get out. Kind of fun.

Sadly, Mary has still not accepted to be baptized. She says she knows it is true and she knows that it is important to be baptized but she is not ready for the change. I think that she will accept a baptismal date eventually and will be able to join her husband.

On Saturday President Jackson (my mission president) flew into Rwanda to visit us. It was pretty nice to see him. We haven’t seen him in a long time and I think he likes to see all of his missionaries occasionally. It was pretty cool to get to spend some time with him. Since there are few missionaries in Rwanda we get to spend some really good personal time with him. I have have been able to get to know him better and it has been a really great experience. Most missionaries get to know president really well and get to spend a lot of time with him. Before Saturday I had probably have spoken less than a 100 words to President Jackson. I just never got to have a one on one with him and get to know him. I never really got to shake his hand much since arriving. That has all changed this week. He came to Rwanda to dedicate all of his time to us. He just talked with us to make sure that we were happy and enjoying the mission experience.

President Jackson is a really remarkable man. He brings a great spirit to the room. When he walks in, you just can’t help but smile. He is a shorter and broad shouldered man from Oklahoma. He is just happy and full of energy. He is always really welcoming and always gives you a big hug when he sees you. I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to finally get to know him a little bit better. The nice thing is that it isn’t over yet. After we finish emailing this letter we will get to go spend the rest of the day with him. We will study the scriptures together and other training. Nice.

I love you all.

Things are awesome in the heart of Africa. I’m healthy, happy and loving the work.

I hope that all of you are safe and enjoying life


Elder Bitter/ Steve

Monday, April 15, 2013

Genocide Week in Rwanda - April 15, 2013

Well Hello World :)

It is good to be back and emailing again. It’s always nice to sit down and hear from everyone. I really love hearing how you are all doing and how well things are going. I’m glad that general conference was good. I have been hearing a lot about it and will be able to listen in myself in a few more weeks. We all get sent the DVDs of general conference. All the missionaries and all the members of Rwanda are really anxious to see and hear what was said and find out all the new good news :)

This will probably be a shorter letter. I have been sick all week and have been really weak. Running has not been in the schedule this week. I have have to save up all my energy for the day and then try to make it through the day. When I come home I close the day with Elder Terry then just go to bed so that I can make it the next day. It has been kind of an interesting and weird sickness. It has been changing a lot. At first it was a head ache, then it was a sore throat, then it was the sinuses, and now it is back to a light head ache and feeling weak & tired. The good news is that it is slowly going away. I’m not sure what it is but I must of just picked up some random bug. I am getting better slowly. It is hard to not be happy when you’re on a mission. So, Oh well :)

This week was Genocide week in Rwanda and has been tough for everyone. Before I entered the mission field I had seen the movie Hotel Rwanda. I had assumed that after seeing that movie and reading about it a little bit that I knew a lot about the events that had happened here. l was wrong. Hotel Rwanda is a watered down version of what really happened here in Rwanda. Genocide week is where everyone gathers together and tells their stories of how they survived the mass genocide. Most stories are really disturbing. Both tribes gather together and talk about all the events that occurred to them and their families. It has been really interesting to see how people have opened up to help Elder Terry and I understand what really happened to them. The main purpose of this week is to remember all the people that lost their friends and families. It is to remember what happened 18 years ago so that it never happens again.

This is such a big event and there are memorials all over Rwanda to tell the story of what happened what caused it, how it could of been stopped, the events that happened to people, and what finally ended the genocide. We decided that we should visit one of these memorials so that we could truly understand what happened. These memorials do not hold anything back. They tell of the horrors of the event and the courage shown by the people that protected others in their homes (in miraculous ways). I couldn’t help wonder how anything like this could ever happen. I came to the conclusion that Satan knows our weaknesses. He wants us to see the differences in other people, not the similarities. He wants us to see attributes where we are better and where others are worse. I haven't been able to stop thinking about this. I concluded with the thought that all of us are basically the same. We may be shorter or taller, black or white, or whatever, but yet we are all the same.

A thought came into my mind that Elder Migijima shared with me (we were in the MTC together and in our last area together). He told me that the more you understand the scriptures and the more you understand the gospel the less you see differences in color or other things. It really made me think how important the Lord’s work is everywhere in the world. Not just in Uganda, Ethiopia and Rwanda but literally everywhere. If everyone had the gospel and understood the scriptures, we wouldn't see any differences in others anymore. There would be a lot more peace.

This week has been a bit slow because of the Genocide Week. Most people avoid doing anything this week because they just want to commemorate and relax. They desire to help everyone understand what happened 19 years ago so that it doesn’t happen again. This week basically ended up being one of our lowest weeks ever. In some ways this is like the USA remembering 9/11 or how we celebrate The Fourth of July.

This week we finally had the opportunity to go to Danny’s home. I have gotten really use to meeting in really small one-room homes without furnishings. It was a really big surprise to walk into Danny’s home for the first time. Danny’s home is very beautiful and reminds me of a home in the USA. We were were welcomed in very nicely by his whole family. This is the first full family I have met in a long time. There are four sisters, Danny and his parents -- a family of seven! We had the opportunity to sit down and really get to know them all. After getting to know them Danny wanted us to teach him. His family said that the next time we come they will schedule time so that they can meet with us as well. It was really exciting to see them all and see how welcoming they were.

Danny is a remarkable investigator he is always inviting his friends to church and he is always very excited to learn more. He has already decided that after one year of being a member (he is not yet baptized) that he will serve a mission. He is so engaging and full of energy. I always look forward to meeting with him since he loves to learn. We taught him the first half of the Plan of Salvation (where we came from before we were on this earth and why we are here on earth). After we had gotten to that point, we stopped and said, “We are going to leave you here and let you think about what happens after this life”. He just looked at us and smiled and said, “I don’t want to think about it, I want to know now.” :) We all laughed and smiled. It was awesome. After letting him think about it for about two days we met with him again and explained what happens after this life. He loved it and was really excited to learn more.

I can’t explain how grateful I am for you all. You all are amazing people. I’m pretty sure that everyone reading this has known me at one point or another and has affected my life. You have helped me in some way or another. I owe you all for shaping me for who I am today.

I love you all


Elder Bitter/Steve

Mom, Dad and Anne: I look forward to mother’s day. It’s coming up fast and we will be chatting before you know it :)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Climb a Mountain to Reach Your Goal - April 8, 2013

Hey, Hey, Hey – It’s me again :)

This was been a pretty good week and the work is really starting to just move forward. It is pretty cool to see how the Lord helps us in everything we do. :) We have had a lot of people re-surface that were kind of hiding from us. They have ‘come out of the wood work’ and have contacted us so that we can teach them and they are progressing.

The week it started out awesome and pretty much ended the same way. I’ll start by telling you about Emanuel's family. They live about two hours away so when we visit them we have to dedicate a lot of time. We begin by walking for about 45 minutes to a bus stop. Then we have to take a 15 min taxi ride to another bus stop. After that bus stop we have to use our ‘Footsubishis” (Uganda slang word for “I don’t have a car so I have to walk on my feet instead of driving a Mitsubishi car”). All I can say is that my companion deceived me on how much we would have to use our Footsubishis. I asked him how far away do these people live? He said just a few minutes from our last taxi stop. In my mind, a few minutes is a 15 minute walk. Oh man, was I deceived. The walk was not a walk -- we climbed a mountain to get to Emanuel's home -- back hunched over, leaning forward, trying to keep traction in my nice church shoes, as we hike up this mountain. After about 20 minutes of this I thought, “holy cow, how in the world can anyone walk up this everyday”? This house was literally on the peak of a mountain. My companion just kept saying, “We are almost there.” I would just kind of smile and say, “OK, good”. I could of sworn I was on a scenic hike. In the end, we hiked this mountain for about 35 minutes at a very quick pace. When we got to the top it was a remarkable view. It was just absolutely stunning and looked over the whole Kigali area.

After we had reached the top, it made sense why this family would hike this trail every day. The view and surrounding peace up there was definitely worth it. Once we had gotten to Emanuel's home, we caught our breath, entered and taught them. As we sat down they were just glowing with excitement. I was really confused as to what was going on. They looked at us and said that, “we can now be baptized.” Previously they couldn’t be baptized because they still weren’t married. We were waiting for them to sign up for a marriage license and get married. After their comment, I just smiled and said in a nice way that they would have to be married before they could be baptized. After I had said that, he just looked at me and smiled again and said, “I know”. :) By the way, this is all through a translator. I then said, “So what’s going on? What is happening?” He then smiled at me and said that they had gone to government and were approved for marriage. They be married on the 18 of April.

I was so happy I felt like jumping up and just screaming GO EMMANUEL AND MARY!!! I was so pumped up. To put this into perspective, the people here consider gaining a government approved marriage as being kind of useless. They consider living together as a marriage. Getting someone to do an official marriage is nearly impossible. Needless to say, we set a date for baptism date for the 21st of April. They will be baptized in two weeks! I can’t wait to see their marriage and baptism a few days later. I can’t explain how excited I am for them. Marriage is a cool thing. Being baptized and getting married in the same week is an awesome thing.

Success number two for the week is a guy named Modest. He has been a hard person to get ahold of and has been avoiding us. We stopped trying to meet with him because he kept canceling at the last minute and would mess up our plan for the day. He just called and set up an appointment with us. Even better is that he actually came and met with us. Neither of us thought he would show because he had cancelled so many times before. After we waited for a few minutes he showed up all dressed up from head to toe in a really nice suit. It was even more surprising because he isn’t wealthy by any means. He lives in humble circumstances by Rwandan standards. After we had taught him, he started asking a lot of questions about the church, about Joseph Smith, and was really showing a great interest. We answered his questions and he indicated that he wants to meet again. I am excited.

One of my favorite things is when you have given up on someone and put them on hold, and then they contact you and tell you that they have been doing some reading and want to meet. When we meet I see that they have been progressing by themselves. It makes me feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel and hope for the person. It is one of my favorite feelings to see someone with no interest whatsoever grow into a person with motivation and a lot of interest.

This thought is completely off topic but it’s kind of cool. If you truly read the Book of Mormon and study it, the truthfulness cannot be denied. Everything just fits perfectly. If every person were to just read the Book of Mormon slowly, truly pray and ponder about what it is saying, will find that it is true -- for sure. This is something I have really learned as a missionary. If I just read slowly and really try to understand the scriptures (and really pray about it) they become as real as life and the truth is known.

Back on topic. The last person I want to talk about is an investigator named Danny. He is the best investigator I have met. He wants everyone in the world to hear our message. He is always bringing his friends to meet with us and to church. Danny is going to be the best missionary. Every commandment or doctrine we teach him, he just says, “no problem, I agree and I’ll pray about it and find out if it is true or not”. He wants to share the gospel with friends. He wants to know if it is true and he has hope. He is just such an awesome guy.

I love being on mission. It’s a great learning experience and it teaches me a lot. I know that anyone who goes will learn a lot :) ---so everyone go on a mission!

I am sorry this letter is a little shorter than the rest. I wrote longer personal responses to all the family members today :)

I love you all.


Elder Bitter/Steve

Monday, April 1, 2013

Paradise Called Rwanda - April 1, 2013

Dear Everyone

Well, Rwanda is awesome. I really like it here it and it has been a great experience so far. It’s remarkable how much the people here in Rwanda need and are ready for the gospel. The people in Uganda were also very prepared for the gospel. Let’s just leave it with the idea that the people of Rwanda are just as or more ready.

We are not yet allowed to tract or contact people on the streets. I was a bit confused on how we would ever get any work done. We basically walk in circles around the cities with hope that someone will talk to us and ask us what we do. An alternative is that we can have members from church introduce us to people.

I have since learned that the people of Uganda are really curious about everything. They can’t help themselves but to ask when they see two white guys dressed up nicely walking around the cities and ghettos. They just come up and ask us what we are and what we are doing. To be honest we really do stand out. As people ask what we are doing we explain to them that we are missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. After explaining all that we really can’t say much more. At that point we ask if this something that you would like to learn more about. If they say yes, we have to schedule an appointment for a later date and hope that they will be there and be ready.

It is an adjustment from Uganda where we would stop every single person we saw to talk to them about the gospel. Here we can’t stop and talk to anyone unless they talk to you first. We can’t teach them in the streets like we did in Uganda. What I have learned from Rwandans is that they are really good at keeping commitments. If we set a time and place to meet they usually will come about 30 minutes late -- but they will come. The people here are awesome -- they are clean and they are extremely happy. They really have pride in their country, respect it and take care of it. The police here are serious business so the streets are always safe. It is really just a whole different world from Uganda. I really enjoy just seeing how the people here are so grateful that there is peace in the land, and that they are free from war.

You recall from my last letter that there are the two tribes in Rwanda. You can see the difference in their facial structures. Even though there are physical differences there is no hatred towards each other at all. They see each other as equals and treat each other as if there never was genocide. It is truly remarkable. If the whole world had the desire for peace like the Rwandans, then the world would be wonderful. It’s really remarkable.

Once a month the Rwandans do something called ‘muduganda’ which is a holiday held the last Saturday of each month. Each and every citizen of Rwanda is required to go outside at 8 am and clean the streets, sidewalks, buildings, work in public gardens and many other things until noon. Picture this, all of Rwanda, going outside and cleaning the country for four hours each month. It really brings a lot of unity to the people. The saying ‘a family that works together stays together’ applies to countries as well. So, food for thought, ‘a country that cleans together stays together’.

April 7th-14th is genocide week in Rwanda. This is going to be a really interesting week. From what I have heard from the locals, genocide week is a special experience. It is a time where everyone stops being secretive about the genocide. During this special week, natives are allowed to tell their genocide story. They will be able to tell their stories and experiences to everyone. It is kind of like a week of mourning and reflection. The people have peaceful parties and tell their stories. From what I have heard the people here will probably tell the missionaries a lot. I am not expecting them to tell me much because I am not a Rwandan. We will have to see what happens. Elder Terry and I decided that we would go to the Genocide Memorial in Kigali on the 8th out of respect. We desire to learn more about it so that we can truly understand. I think it will be a big learning experience for me and will help me to better understand the culture.

Let’s talk about Danny, a new investigator that we are teaching. We found Danny through a referral. He is 23 and his uncle (the person he lives with) is the leader of the Ministry of Defense for Rwanda. We met with him for the first time last week and it was an OK lesson. He didn’t seem too excited or interested about anything. We thought that we would teach him one more lesson to see what he thought about it all. We set a return appointment with him and prepared to teach him the Restoration (in this mission we teach the Doctrine of Christ first then the restoration second). As we met with him again his whole spirit had changed. When he showed up he was very excited to see us anxious to learn more about the gospel. We taught him about the restoration and he remained excited to learn. He kept just asking really good questions that showed that he was paying attention. It was just a really great lesson.

After teaching the lesson we set a baptismal date with him for the 21st of April. He gladly accepted it. After we set a date with him he indicated that he wanted to see where it is going to happen with a huge smile across his face. Elder Terry and I just looked at each other and said OK, let’s show him the place we do baptisms. :) We walked him in and as we entered he just kind of gasped and became very quiet. He just stood there and just stared. I thought he was scared out of his mind because it seems everyone in Africa fears water. The tank that we baptize in is kind of deep…… I soon found out that his gasp was due to his being very very excited to be baptized.

Danny came to church on Sunday. We had scheduled the baptism of a young girl named Brenda who was the daughter of a part-member family. Danny just soaked up everything that the teachers were teaching. He just seemed that he could not get enough of it all. After the third hour of church was over I asked him what he thought of church and instead of giving the usual answer that everyone gives (“it was fine”) he said "it was amazing". This was a big surprise to me. This was the first time I had ever heard anyone say that three hours of church was amazing. :)

Because he enjoyed church so much and he seemed like he didn't want it to end, I decided to invite him to the baptism of Brenda. He gladly accepted the offer and stayed after church to watch the baptism. They had a few speakers before the baptism that were alright. Then it was time for Brenda to be baptized. As we walked into the baptismal room Danny became quite again as he had before. As the baptism was being performed, he just stood quietly watching carefully every little detail. After the baptism was complete we went back into the room where the talks were given. I looked at Danny and just smiled. After I smiled he looked at me and said "I’m Next". I was so caught off guard I couldn't figure out what he meant by "I’m next". After sitting there for a second I figured out that he meant he is next to be baptized. I just couldn't help but to smile.

We still have a lot to teach him before he can be baptized. We really like people to come to church a few times before their baptism day. I told him that his day is coming soon and he just smiled and couldn’t help but to be excited. I think Sunday made him really realize that he wants his whole family that he lives with to have the gospel and to enjoy the same feelings that he had at church. I think that he will be introducing us to his relatives that he lives with very soon. We will be teaching them as well. I’m excited about Danny for many reasons. First he is a super powerful investigator, second he is already excited about reading the Book of Mormon, third he can’t wait to be baptized, fourth I think he will be introducing us to his relatives soon, and fifth his uncle is the Ministry of Defense leader of Rwanda. I think it will be very cool to get to know his uncle and teach him the gospel.

I have a funny story to tell. So in Uganda my companion and I were running every single morning and we were eating really healthily. It was awesome and was easy to stay in shape. It was fun to work out every morning. When I came to Rwanda, I got a companion who used to be a cross-country runner. I was pumped. I thought that this guy is going to be kicking my butt every single day and really motivating me to run more and more. I was really excited to meet Elder Terry and to start running with him. All I have to say that Elder Terry is the funnest companion in the world. We get along perfectly and we know how to be serious when it’s time to be serious and we know how to have fun when it’s time to have fun. It’s just an awesome companionship.

Back to the running. I was all pumped to have a cross-country runner as a companion. I quickly learned that "used" to be a cross country runner is very different than "is" a cross country runner. Don't get me wrong, he is in great shape still. Running is just not on his list of things to do in the mornings. Every single day I’m practically begging him to run with me. He is just trying to gain weight (he probably weighs 145 and is about the same height as me). He says that if he runs he will just disappear. To this point it has been a battle of convincing him that running is a great thing and that being thin and in shape is an even better thing :) We will see how that all goes. I’m hoping that he will soon start enjoying running and start looking forward to it so that we can run a little further and run a little faster.

I’m sure he will come around to the idea of running every morning. It will just takes a little convincing since he isn't a morning person. Either way, he is an awesome companion and such a blast to work with.

I can officially say that I have gotten use to sleeping under a mosquito net every night. It was really a struggle to learn to sleep under that thing because I would wake up in the middle of the night and stretch my arms out and would run into a weird feeling wall that seemed to be all around me. After feeling around for a little while, my mind would eventually leave its dazed state and I would figure out that it was a mosquito net. Now my mind instantly knows what it is. I know it sounds dumb but it is nice to finally get used to it and not get confused at night when I wake up.  It is the small things that make us happy.

Things are going well here. I really enjoy Rwanda. I love the people.

I love you all and hope all is well.


Steve/Elder Bitter