Monday, June 24, 2013

Pumping Iron - Ugandan Style - June 24, 2013

It is Monday again. It is nice to be back emailing.

It was a pretty good week. I have a lot to write about. Life is good and the mission is awesome. :)

I’ll start off with the funny story of the week which concluded about 5 hours ago. A few days ago my companion and I decided that we would try to find a gym that we could visit on Mondays (and would not break the bank). We asked a few locals where the cheapest gym was so that we could go and check it out and do a work out this morning. A member of the ward named Emmanuel described to us how we could get to a local gym. His description is something like this.

· "you know the American supermarket?"

· "yea the one that is right by the local outdoor market?"

· "yea so right next to that, there is an alley-way and if you go down that ally-way and turn right you will see the gym"

That is exactly what we did. We went to the American supermarket, and then we went down this grimy dirty nasty alley-way. At the end of the alley we turned right and I could not help but smile and laugh. I felt like I was in a Rocky Balboa movie. There was this bright yellow little building that said bodybuilding and boxing. We walk inside and pay the entry fee (2000 Ugandan shillings = $00.95 us dollars). Oh man, did I feel out of place. As soon as I stepped inside the whole place went silent. Everyone stopped lifting and just stared straight at me. I knew that they were all thinking ‘what in the world is this mazoongu (white guy) doing here’. The fact that my companion is an African American just made it worse because then I was just flying solo on this one. I didn't want anyone to stare at me for too long so I jumped onto a bench right away and started lifting. As I started lifting, the staring receded slowly and the awkward feeling stopped. Then the best part happened.

As I was lifting a guy next to me was using dumbbells that looked like they weighed about 150 pounds each. He was curling them like they weighed nothing. I just watched in amazement. As my companion finished our set on the bench we both decided that we would move do doing some dumbbell flys. This gym had a serious lack of dumbbells. There were two sets of dumbbells: ones that looked like they weighed 150 pounds and some that looked like they weighed about 10 pounds. Elder Seyoum reached for one of the 150 pound weights just to see how heavy it was. He braced himself as if to pick up something really heavy, grabs this giant dumbbell and gives it a huge tug hoping that he could get it off the ground. The weight went flying and luckily he held onto it and didn't throw it across the room. We soon found out that all these "huge" dumbbells were just for looks. They weighed maybe thirty pounds each. It was so funny I couldn't control my laughter when I started using these dumbbells to do flys. If we used that weight back in the states for flys, every single person in the gym would think you were the world’s strongest man. All in all, this gym wasn't a gym to get stronger, it was more for looking strong while you’re working out. It was awesome. We just really enjoyed ourselves. It felt really good. :)

Well now about the important stuff.

This week we had a lot of blessings come our way.

This area has been lacking for a pool of progressing investigators. When we were assigned here, we really wanted to improve in this area but struggled because we have had a lot of exchanges and a lot of recent converts that we needed to visit. We decided that we would spend one day seeing recent converts (Tuesday). As we looked through the people that we really needed to visit we decided that we would just work out the day so that we could see them all. It was an amazing day. We not only were able to see all the recent converts but we were also able to go and see some of our investigators as well.

I really felt like we were being taken care of this day since it really seemed like time had been slowed down for us so that we would be able to see all the people that we needed to see. While visiting, we were introduced to a young man named Paul. Paul is a man that is attending university and studying chemistry. Paul is the investigator that I am always praying for. Paul’s attitude on life is just remarkable. He is just positive, happy and always wanting to learn more. As we taught Paul he would not only ask good questions that really showed that he was listening but he also made comments that really showed that he was thinking ahead as well. He is progressing very well and he is happy to learn more and more each day.

On Wednesday we had a ZDM (Zone Development Meeting). All the people that we had asked to give trainings did a stellar job. They had studied their topics and conveyed them in a way that was a good learning experience for us all and conveyed a nice spirit. My favorite part was that each and every person hit on some of the key things that their companionship needed to work on. There was no finger pointing just discussion about the blessings that will come with obedience in the particular area. I could see that each and every one of us has weaknesses and that we can all keep improving.

On Friday we really had some tender mercies. Up to this point in the week, we had been struggling to get new investigators. We were worried that we might go through the whole week with only getting one new investigator. We had a few appointments with some recent converts that we had been asked to visit. As we visited them, each and every person invited us to visit with their friends that they had been talking to about the Gospel. I was so grateful.

This helped me realize how the Lord takes care of us if we are doing the right thing and we are trying our best. It is an awesome thing to see. It is interesting to think about how many of these kinds of things go by unnoticed. This one just really hit home for me because it was something that I had really been struggling with and was worried about. In the end, the Lord takes care of everything. All we have to do is try our best and never give up.

One of the referrals is a man named Solomon. Solomon is attending school and lives somewhat close to the church. He is busy with his studies but still has a strong desire to come to church every Sunday. He just keeps saying, “I have to be at church on Sunday. It is the day of worship. I can’t miss. I need to be there”. Hearing this just really makes me smile inside and say to myself, "that's a good answer". :)

This Sunday there was three baptisms in our branch. One of the baptisms was from our companionship. His name was Ammon. Ammon is one of the most powerful 9 year olds I have met. He is the son to the relief society president in the branch knew everything before we even taught it. He is reading The Book of Mormon deeply. It was pretty awesome to see how well his parents have taught him and how strong his desire to learn is. I had the opportunity to baptize Ammon.

The amazing baptism of the day was a lady that was in her thirty's or so. Her name was Sister Monica. Sister Monica is deathly afraid of water. The idea of someone pushing her under water just tips her over the edge. As she stepped into the font, she just about burst into tears. She started chocking up and moving slower and slower as she was stepping into water. I felt horrible because she was so afraid of water. The amazing part to me was that she never once complained. This lady was so sure that the church was true she was willing to overcome her biggest fear so that she could be baptized. Here in Africa, the fear of water is common. Often times you need to convince them to come with you into the water. This lady was scared more than anyone I have seen. After she got into the water she controlled herself and allowed herself to go under the water. This sounds kind of weird but it was a very spiritual experience for me to see someone overcome their fears to be baptized.

Anyone that is willing to overcome that strong of a fear to become a member of the church has nothing but respect from me. It was a cool thing to see.

Well I’m done writing for the day :) I have just hit that point where I am tired of staring at a computer screen.

I love you all.

Have a great week!

Seek the spirit


Elder Bitter

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Jinja Transfer: Driving Stick Shift and Lots of Mud - June 17, 2013

Dear Family,

This letter is going to be short because there is a lot to do today and I have to send home some pictures to keep everyone happy (depending on how much time I have and if this key board will work). I have to like punch the keys on this key board to get them to work. Annoying, but oh well.

I have been transferred again. At this point it’s not all that surprising anymore. It seems that I would stay for a few transfers for every area I land in. I get transferred all single transfer. I am not complaining because I really enjoy it. It’s kind of fun and it has been a really cool experience to see how each and every area is struggling with its own things. I really like to get to know the new areas, to see how each is laid out and how each is different in some way.

This new transfer came with even more surprises then just getting transferred. I was recently transferred to the Jinja zone and I am in the Jinja 1 area. The Jinja zone is a little bit bigger of a zone than most zones. It is the third biggest zone in the mission and has a lot more jungle than the other areas. It is also very agricultural. There are miles of sugar cane and tea fields. It is really cool to see how beautiful a nice field looks. The remarkable part is how much sugar cane there is and how much ground it covers. All the work is done by hand in some truly back breaking work. Another thing surprising about this transfer is that I was placed as the Zone Leader. I thought for sure that I was going to be the District Leader in Entebbe for a long time.

One cool part about being in this area is that food is very cheap because this is where everything is grown. This is where all of the sugar for the country comes from. And another cool perk about being the new leader of the Jinja zone is that I get to drive a truck that enables me to cover all of the areas. The best part of it all is that it is stick shift. I have been missing out on the joy of stick shifts my whole life. In my opinion a stick is just so much better. I have more control of the car’s power, more control over braking, and just handling the whole car a whole lot better. I can’t see going back to an automatic transmission because the stick just makes driving so much more fun.

Driving here is like a video game with a maze of cars that you have to work your way through. You have to slide around in the mud when it is raining. It is something else. I love it. Talk about a dream come true -- a pickup truck, a stick shift and a place full of mud and water. What more could a person ask for in life. :) It is expected that I drive through the mud so it’s not like I’m breaking any rules. When I’m driving through the mud to get to another missionaries’ area to check up on them, it is the best. Go the Uganda Kampala Mission, the mud, and the trucks with stick shifts! :)

Driving in Africa is nuts! Driving consists of dodging pot holes and avoiding cars and motorcycles that are over packed with luggage. Every road basically has three lanes in total. There is a lane for going north, there is a lane for going south and then there is the middle lane which is used by both sides for passing. The middle lane is a tight fit when you get four cars across—one going north and one going south and the other two trying to pass. It is important to be aware of the width of your vehicle at all times.

This new area is pretty good overall. Normally I like to tell you about our investigators but I have been in this area for about three days and two of those days were spent going to each area in the zone to check on things and make sure all is well.

So this week consisted of getting picked up from my old area in Entebbe and going to the AP’s apartment. Once I had reached the APs apartment, I spent the night there. At about 9 am on Thursday, I was taken to my new area where I met my new companion whose name is Elder Seyoum. He will go home in about 9 weeks. It is pretty cool to have him as a companion because he really wants to end his mission strong. So we have been working hard these past few days which makes time fly. I really enjoy working hard.

Elder Seyoum is from Washington DC and he is a really cool guy. I enjoy serving with him. He truly has love for the people. It helps when both missionaries love the people. Besides loving the people, he is a fun loving guy that works hard and wants to have fun while doing the work! Score!!!!

When you get a companion that sees a mission as a job to complete so that you can 'check the box' in your schedule planner, the work goes by so slow and it is not nearly as enjoyable. A companion like Elder Seyoum who loves the work and likes to make the work fun, it is the best possible situation. It changes everything. Tracting is no longer just walking from door to door in the hot sun; it is smiling and laughing and enjoying life as you go from door to door trying to invite others to come unto Christ.

It’s amazing to see how the gospel blesses people’s lives. A great thing about this area is that the missionaries are loved by everyone. It is wonderful when you go to church and get a warm welcome.

I’m sorry about how this letter is turning out. I really haven’t talked much about the investigators in this area but I really haven’t met them yet. This week has been all about taking care of all the areas in the zone. Starting tomorrow we will be focusing on the investigators and finding some more people to teach.

I will throw in one last thought that has crossed my mind.  Since the first day of my mission, I have been planning to have a huge party on my 6 month anniversary. I had it all planned out and was preparing to enjoy some nice food with my companion. Recent events dashed my plans for a huge fiesta.  It turns out that the day of my 6 month anniversary (June 27th), my companion and I will be doing a road trip to Kampala.  We will need to wake up very early, hop in our truck and make a very long journey to Kampala. We are having a Zone Leader Council, welcoming the new Mission President and saying good-bye to President Jackson. Our new mission president is President Chapfield. He is from Utah and will arrive on the 28th of this month.

President Jackson decided that he would do ZLC a bit earlier since it is his last and it provides him an opportunity to introduce us to President Chapfield. This should be a spiritual feast. :)

Well I am totally out of things to say and I am tired of this key board. My fingers are numb from pounding the keys so hard to get the letters to register in the document. I will upload some photos with the rest of my time.

Love you all


Elder Bitter / Steven

A few pictures:

Local Market Place in Entebbe

Everyone is Your Friend

Jinja Morning

Monday, June 10, 2013

Falling Down the Rain Catch - June 10, 2013

It’s to say hello again :)

I’ll start my letter this week with a funny little story that will make everyone laugh a little. This is something that belongs in a cartoon.

On Friday my companion and I were walking home after a good day but it was a really late evening. The time was  after 9:00 pm. As we were traveling home on Entebbe Road it was extremely dark. Just so that you all know, Entebbe road is one of the nicer roads in my area, It is actually paved and looks somewhat like an American road. We were walking on the shoulder of the road at a nice quick pace. I saw a giant hole that is used to catch water when it rains heavily. As soon as I saw the hole, I did a little side-step and just walked around it. As I walked by it I looked down to see how deep it was. It was actually really deep -- about 5-8 feet deep. After walking past that I just thought to myself, “Dang, I’m glad I didn't fall down that thing”.

After having that thought, I decided to use the flash light that is built into the phone so that I would not accidentally fall into the next rain catch. I worked to switch on the phones flash light setting. As I tried, the light at first would not switch on. I tried again and it turned right on. Little did I know was that this thing is very bright and it basically blinded me. I continue on with no night vision and then heard, "COMPANION WATCH OUT!!!" WHOOSH. IT WAS TOO LATE! I fell straight down one of these stupid rain holes. As soon as I hit the bottom, my adrenalin kicked in and I jumped right out of the hole as if there was a trampoline at the bottom. As soon as I had jumped out of the hole a shearing pain hit and I thought that I had broken my leg or something.

Little did I know, was that all the locals had been watching in amazement. Finally one of the Africans said, “hahahah MAZOOOONGU (white person)!” Then out of everywhere, people were either laughing or they were just saying, “Sorry Mazoongu. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry”.

I just hopped right up and started walking as if nothing had ever happened. My companion was walking right next to me and kept saying, “we should slow down, you should stop and rest or something”. I was not slowing down any time soon and I was not stopping until we had gotten home. There were too many laughing people and way too many people crowding around asking if I was OK.

Once we had reached home I instantly stripped down and got into some work out clothes so that I could do a self-check on my body and see if everything was still in working order. I looked around I just found a few scrapes on my arms. Then I checked my left leg it was all OK and man oh man did it look nasty. My leg had formed a second knee. Apparently when I fell down this hole my shin hit the other side of this hole and broke my fall before I hit the ground. I literally had two knees at this point. My original knee looked normal and fine. My newly grown second knee was black and blue and super bloody. I started to think that I had broken my shin because my leg had this HUGE square bulge in the middle of it. I fearfully reached and touched it and to my great relief, it was not bone but just very swollen. As soon as I came to the conclusion that my leg was not broken, I was happy as could be. :)

I just started laughing and smiling. I felt like I was blessed. I seriously thought I had thought that I had broken my leg but in the end I had just formed the biggest bleeding bruise type injury that I have ever seen. I would like to come up with a fancy word for it but I’ll just send a picture next week. I left my patch cord at home so I can’t send any pictures today. Sorry folks.

The sad story of the week: My companion went home.   Elder Tracy went home and it was a really sad day for me. We were planning out our day and we got a phone call that he was going to be picked up in a few hours and that I needed to help him pack. I cancelled all of the appointments for the day. It was rough helping him pack and it was really sad too. The good news is it was just health issues not the other possibilities. Elder Tracy has had nothing but health problems on his mission. His body could not handle Africa in any way, shape, or form. My body doesn't like it. His body just refused it.

We just packed all his stuff and it was very quiet and very sad in the apartment. After a few hours the mission driver came and picked us both up and we drove Elder Tracy to the Presidents home where he was handed a few papers from President and was given a lot of love. We continued on to the airport and he flew home.

I now have a new companion and his name is Elder Ojjogolo. He is from Africa and he is an unreal runner. Man, what a mistake to ask him if he would run with me every morning. I get worked like no other every morning. He is from Kenya and apparently all that Kenyans like to do is run. Every African from Uganda or South Africa always says to me, “Oh man, you are running with a Kenyan! That is tough.” It seriously is tough. A run that used to require 28 min to complete is now taking 13-15 min. We are going to have to extend the run so that we can use the full 30 minute workout time. It will be interesting when we have to extend. We are to do it tomorrow. Happy day -- more running at ridiculous speeds. haha :)

This week we had a baptism for Jockiem. I have been saying and spelling his name wrong since day one...whoops.... oh well. He was completely ready and is happy as can be to be baptized. He is now working on how he can serve a mission once he has been a member for about one year. This is extremely exciting to me. Knowing that he has such a strong desire to serve a mission really just makes me happy and smile.

Charles is still progressing towards baptism but is really struggling. It has been really hard to meet with him this week because he is not only working to supply for his family but he is a full time Ugandan soldier. Lately the base has been calling him in for drills with the helicopter. He has been sent to Gulu (northern Uganda and it is hot as can be there). He is going to be there for two weeks. We are extremely hopeful that he will not lose hope while he is there. He has been wavering a little bit lately and I am hopeful that this trip does not ruin it for him. He is such a great man and an amazing family man. He would truly be a great help to this ward and would be a great member of the church.

This week we tracted into a man named Adam. Adam is about 30 and he is still going to school and working as well. He is an awesome young man and I love spending time with him. He is a great investigator. You really know someone is a great investigator when they are willing to schedule an appointment during a Ugandan soccer game. If someone is willing to do that then you know that they are really serious. We met Adam about four days back and he was extremely excited and wanted us to come back right after we had finished teaching.

Adam came to church this Sunday and stayed for the first two hours and then he had to leave. I was kind of sad that he did not make it to the end. We forgot to tell him that church was three hours. It was nice that he was at least willing to stay for the first two hours.

Another man that we met this week was a man named Luke. Luke is about 40 and he is a great guy as well. He is really easy to meet with since we are even able to meet him while he is working. :) I forgot to mention he works at the ZOO and he lives there also. :) Whenever we get to go see him, we get to walk through the zoo for free. Since he lives in the very back of the zoo we get to see all the really weird animals that they have in Africa -- and we get to see them for free (which makes it even better in my opinion).

He came to church this Sunday and it was really awesome to have him there.  He got extremely dressed up as well. Usually investigators show up in pants and a T-shirt. He came in a full tux – just awesome. He looked better than most everyone at the church including myself. I was so proud of him.

My last story is that Saturday night we came home and the guard was catching all the crickets that were flying around. They were everywhere that night! We asked him why he was catching them. He said that if he catches at least 50 he is going to cook them and eat them! We decided that we would make things easier for him and we helped him catch the crickets :) Let’s just say that I am pretty pro at catching crickets especially the really big ones. :) After catching about 200 of them we helped him prepare them so that he could cook them. Just so you know, ‘incenena’ (fried crickets) is one of Ugandan’s favorite foods. Since we had caught so many and helped him prepare them, he was grateful for all of our help. In fact, he was so grateful that instead of just smiling and saying thank you he insisted that we all eat them with him. He asked that we sit down together and enjoy some nice fried cricket. In Uganda, refusing food is one of the rudest things you can do. And since I kind of wanted to try them, I gladly accepted :) The next thing you know, we were sitting outside enjoying some fried crickets at like 9:30 at night :) It kind of reminded me of popcorn. He was really kind to share his crickets. To buy a batch of fried crickets like that is extremely expensive so he was being very generous to us. It was a pretty cool experience and my taste buds have officially changed. I now enjoy all of the Ugandan foods. :)

I’m out of time and this keyboard is horrible. I have to go. :)

I love you all!


Elder Bitter/Steve P.S. For anyone who is thinking of going on a mission -- all I can say is “GO!” It is worth the time and it gives back to you more than you give to it.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Understeamed Kalo is Not Good For You - June 3, 2013

Well to start Happy Birthday, Jon!!! And Happy Father’s Day, Dad :)!!!

Well this week has been amazing but also a big letdown. I hope that I can convey it clearly so that it will be understood.

On Tuesday, we had a meeting with President Jackson. It was all day long so we were unable to go out and teach. So we were behind in our schedule by a whole day. We felt such a loss in the work. But it was all worth it because it is the last time that I will be meeting with President Jackson. He is going home in about 15 days or so. This meeting was like a farewell zone conference. His message was powerful!

He used a 2X4X8 as an object lesson to teach the principle that he wanted us to learn. He spoke specifically about the stress points of that board and that this is the standard piece of wood for building homes. He explained that if you get one 2X4 it will hold up to 480 pounds (if I remember the correct number) and if any additional weight is placed upon it then it will break. He then asked everyone attending the zone conference how many pounds two boards right next to each other can hold. Many people instantly said 960 pounds. He just smiled and said does anyone else want to make a guess. I threw out the number 1500 pounds. He then looked at me and said, “Good guess but not quite.” He then went on to tell us that two 2X4s when they are placed right next to each other can hold 2800 pounds. That is a little less than five times the original weight. Wow that is a really cool fact.

Once he had shared that little fact with us, he looked at us and said, “Why do you think you are in companionship's instead of sent out on your own?” Well the answer was obvious! When we are in a companionship, we can accomplish a lot more work than when we are working alone. If our lives coincide with the analogy of the 2X4s, we should be able to accomplish nearly five times the amount of work as a companionship than doing the work on our own. It was a really cool analogy and really put a lot in perspective for me.

Right before the meeting was over, President let us know that he was still expecting us to meet the mission goal on teaching even though we are short one day. After that we statement I thought, “Oh man, we have got to kick it into gear this week!” (To meet the mission goal, we need to teach 42 lessons in the week.)

The next day we hit the road. We started teaching our investigators and doing a lot of tracting. We had more blessings then I could ever imagine! We were able to teach at least 8-10 lessons a day which was really amazing. My companion and I began to see the possibility of accomplishing the mission goal. We went around the whole week with huge smiles because of the anticipation of pulling off the teaching goal AND we had three baptisms scheduled for Sunday. We were pumped!

We hit Thursday and the week got tough. My companion woke up with a horrible stomach pain. We did not do our routine run. I knew that if he couldn’t do our short little run that it would be impossible to tract at our normal pace. (We are good at speed walking.) So the whole day just slowed down. We had a miracle that day because we still got the desired number of lessons for that day.

On Saturday, we decided we would treat ourselves to lunch. I ordered some Kalo which is a local food that has about the same texture of bread that hasn’t risen yet. Apparently, if Kalo is not prepared correctly, it really makes the locals’ stomachs angry. Well lucky for me I’m not a local! When I ate the Kalo, it not only made my stomach angry but made my whole body angry. I felt like my stomach was about to burst. Sometimes, I would literally have to stop and just stand waiting for my stomach to relax a little so that I could walk again.

Later that day, we visited a less active named Ester and she asked me what was wrong. I told her that I eaten some Kalo that wasn’t prepared correctly and I was suffering the consequences. She said. “Oh, oh, oh, I’m sorry! That cook must of been no good! She is not a patient woman.” I just looked at her saying, “What do you mean?” She then told me that the only way you can prepare Kalo wrong is not letting it steam long enough and rushing it instead of being patient. I thought, “Someone’s lack of patience is doing this to me now that is just not fair!” Hahahahahhaa :)

Well by the end of the week, we were still blessed to meet our mission goal which was awesome. But sadly our three baptisms fell through. Two of them said that they weren't ready. Translated to American English means, “I don't know if I want this anymore.” (People in Uganda fear using the word no.) The third planned baptism decided to postpone for holiday. :)

This week was good except for the cancellation of the baptisms. We met with Charles a lot and he is still working towards baptism. He is a really a remarkable guy just tough as nails. He is a gunner for the Ugandan air force. He rides on the side of a plane and when the target comes into range he leans out of the plane and fires. These gunners (as they are called) cleared south Sudan of most of the rebels.

He has been shot two times and is still kicking and loves a good laugh. He is struggling though with the idea of not being able to drink coffee especially since he grows it. It is always around and very plentiful. He has quit drinking tea and smoking. But coffee is still a struggle. I really like Charles. He is extremely humble. He is a great guy. When he is around the room feels happy. I am hopeful for him. :)

Jakoon is still progressing really well. Actually he is so awesome it is hard to explain. He not only has a love of the gospel but he also has a deep love for missionary work. He is just always so happy to be around the missionaries. He is looking forward to serving a mission which will be a great blessing for him. He knows how to work. Every time that we are with him, it is amazing how hard he works and how much he is willing to give up to become a member of this church. He gives up hours of study time so we can teach him and so he can go to church. However, the best part is when we are finished teaching him; he smiles and asks when we can meet again. We have yet to ask him.

Well this Sunday we really saw the Lord’s tender mercies. We were struggling to find new investigators that were serious about learning the gospel. In Africa you can get anyone to sit down with you and listen for a few minutes. But finding someone that truly wants the gospel is not easy. Yet on Sunday, the Lord really took care of us. We came to church expecting to have about 4 investigators attend. But in the end, we had 9 investigators at church. Five random people that had never heard of the church saw the sign out front and decided to check out this church. We have taught all of them. They are all such wonderful people and prepared for the gospel. Their names are Mike, Masuzi, Dyson, Joffry, and Okin. All five seemed really ready for the gospel but Okin’s desire to change needs our prayers. We will see how it all goes. We are both very excited :)

Well I’m just about out of time so I have got to go. I love you all and hope all is well. :)


Elder Bitter

Ugandan Shower Snake - May 27, 2013

Well hello everyone it’s good to be back on and emailing you all again.

This week’s letter is going to be a little bit shorter just because time is extremely crunched. My letter home today is going to consist of two things: The first part will be my short funny story of the week. The second part will tell you about our best investigators and what is going on with them right now.

This week’s funny story starts early in the morning. I wake up about five minutes before the alarm goes off like I do every other day. I just rested there and waited for the alarm to go off. As soon as the alarm went off, we got out of bed, said prayers and then off to our daily run. The run went really well and I had an unusual amount of energy that morning. I felt like I was flying across the dirt roads. Once the run was over, my companion went straight into the shower. After he had finished his shower it was my turn.

I was enjoying another nice cold shower and not thinking much because the power was out and I was showering in dim light. I looked down at the floor and instantly had a great reminder as to why I don’t drink from the shower head like I did when I was back in America. Also why I filter or boil everything that enters my mouth. When I looked down I saw something that looked like a piece of mud. I couldn’t figure out quite what it was. After my eyes had adjusted a bit, I realized that it was a nasty little worm. This was unlike any earth worm from back in the states. It was black, extremely thin and as an added bonus it had a mouth with a tongue-like mechanism. This tongue would come out of its body as it felt its way around the shower floor looking for a tasty Elder Bitter snack.

Needless to say, I lost my cool once my mind processed all of this. What it was and how it got there all jumbled together with the only solution is that it came out of that very same shower head that I was using! My one source of getting clean is no longer a safe option. Well to make a long story short, this little nasty thing died a simple and quick and was sent down the drain. Now every time I shower, I am on high alert looking for anything coming out of the shower head. For anyone traveling to Africa any time soon, BOIL OR FILTER EVERTHING!

Our investigators: Right now we have a few key investigators and few key less actives that we are focusing on.

Success so far has come with some of the less active members that we are working with:

1. Ester: Ester is a single parent whose husband died a few years back.
She is the one of the shiest people I have ever met. She also has one of the strongest testimonies. She has been less active for a long time. It turns out that Ester just needed a friend in the church. After
Elder Tracey and I had visited with her a couple times she has become a fully active member with a testimony that could move mountains. Sadly, she is still being tested. Her family survives on the smallest wage I have ever seen. She sells on average about 12 chapattis a day translating to 2400 shillings or less than one US dollar. With that kind of money she can barely support her two children let alone pay for rent and food for herself. We are always trying to help her by motivating her to open a chapatti business in Bita (20 min walk). There is no overhead there and she already has all the supplies. She is afraid of change. She could do it and just needs encouragement. If she does it, she will then be selling on average about 80 chapattis a day. This is because it would be a prime spot for selling chapattis -- especially at her cheap price pricing.

2. Stella: Stella has been struggling for about 8 months. She has been struggling since a few rough
times in this ward. Because of those experiences, her testimony has been shaken. The good part is that she still believes in the church -- she just doesn't come on a regular basis because she feels “off” when she attends. Another challenge is that she lives in a compromising area of the town. All of her neighbors are quite bad influences on her. It makes it extremely difficult for her but we are hoping for the best.

3. Brother Fred and Sister Prossy: They are both return missionaries from this ward and have fallen away from the church since returning from their mission. This ward has eight returned missionaries -- six of
them are active and hold a calling. Brother Fredrick and Sister Prossy are both struggling and trying to get them to let us in the door has been a challenge. They have been pretty consistent at cancelling appointments and avoiding us. I know that they want to come back but just something is just in the way. To have two more return missionaries back in the ward would be a wonderful addition and an added strength.

4. Moses: Moses was recently baptized. Right after he was baptized his schedule was switched from the night shift to the double shift that some police officers have. His pay does not increase he just has to work twice the hours. He literally gets on average about 4hours a day at home and the rest of the time he spends working. All we can do for this one is pray that his boss changes his schedule back to the night shift so that he can get more rest, see his family more, and have the opportunity to come to church again.

Our key investigators:

1. Charles and his family: Charles is an amazing investigator. He is just awesome and is married to his wife through a church marriage. He is supposed to be baptized this Sunday or next Sunday depending on how the rest of the lessons go. He has a large family of four boys that are all old enough to be baptized and be priesthood holders. We are really striving to have the whole family baptized because then they could all support each other as they grow in the church. All in there are four sons, Charles and his wife. We have just been praying a lot for him and hoping that he will continue to lead his family.

2. Jakoon: Jakoon is a man that works at the state house. He is supposed to be baptized this Sunday. Jakoon has a huge desire for the gospel and already wants to be a missionary. I am not too worried about Jakoon fading out. My concern for him is that he might get burned out on the gospel and lose his desire. I believe the chance for that is slim. I always worry. I am also hoping that his job schedule doesn't change so that he can continue to have Sundays off so he can continue coming to church.

3. Tony: Tony is our biggest struggle this transfer. He has been so ready for the gospel ready for baptism. We haven’t been able to baptize him yet because he has been very inconsistent when it comes to attending church. President Jackson doesn't want us to baptize anyone unless they are fully committed. We already have a lot of less actives and people that are struggling that we have to work with. Tony really just needs that consistent desire to come to church. He needs to stop having so many conflicting things that block his ability to come to church. He believes and accepts all the messages. His only struggle is committing to come to church every week. Once he commits, he will be able to be baptized.

I know that this letter didn’t flow all that well. I was really pressed for time this week so I just wrote quickly.

I really love you all and hope that all is well.

I have been trying to find time to send pictures home but it is really difficult because the computers here are so slow. By the time I finish loading two pictures, my time would be completely up. Well, I’m out of time

I love you all and hope all is well.

You are all in my prayers and I miss you all.

Elder Bitter/ Steve