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