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

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