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 :)

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