Monday, July 22, 2013

Death of a Popo Tree - July 22, 2013

To start I want to thank everyone for their awesome letters this week. It is fun to hear from everyone and to be updated on things back home. :)

Today is transfers. We haven't found out anything yet. We will probably find out about the transfer news on Wednesday. I am guessing that I will be staying and my companion will be transferred. He has only four weeks left in his mission. I am okay with staying because the area is nice and a great place to be as a missionary since the people are generally accepting of us. The reason the area is liked by the missionaries is because of all the referrals. The people trust the missionaries. This is such a blessing. The work moves much faster with referrals.

This week flew by! On Saturday morning, my companion said, “Can you believe it is already Saturday!?” I was in awe as I realized that the week was already over and the next transfer was almost here.

As always, I like to start with a story. So you will know a little bit of what goes on in the life of Elder Bitter and Elder Seyoum. Here goes. On Saturday, we went to visit a family recently baptized. As we looked in the compound where she lives, there was a huge lot that was full of the debris from trees that had been cut down. In the yard was one giant Popo (papaya) tree, it was about 35 feet tall!

As I looked at tree, I noticed that this giant tree had burn marks all around its trunk. My curiosity was peaked! I couldn’t help asking about the burn marks. The lady that owned the house told us that the people that cut down the other trees left that giant tree because they didn’t know how to cut something down that big. She said, “They didn’t know how to handle it.”

So their idea was to burn it down. They forgot to consider that Popo Trees are full of sap or juice as they say in Africa. So no matter how they tried to burn or how long they tried to burn the tree, it would not catch on fire. Elder Seyoum and I looked at each other and said, “No problem. We can cut it down for you.” :)

She just looked at us and said "Hum. . .you know how to cut down trees? I don’t believe." After a little persuading, she agreed to let us try. As she went to get the "tools", Elder Seyoum and I discussed how to cut the tree down without damaging anything around it such as the gates etc. We came to the conclusion that I would climb up about 7 feet. I would cut it down from that point; thus allowing the cut portion of the tree to fall without hitting anything but ground. We felt pretty smart.

We were really excited to cut down this tree UNTIL the owner rounds the corner holding nothing but a ponga or machete in American. OHH BOY! We were expected to cut down this giant tree with a machete! I just looked at it, smiled and laughed saying, “Oh well, let’s do it.” In a moment, I am up in the tree bare-hugging the trunk with one arm and whacking away at the tree with the other arm.

This is how it went. Whack! Whack! Whack! Whack! Whack whack! Whack! Whack whack! Hack whack! Whack! Whack Whack! About ten minutes later, it went Whack.... Whack……Whack......... Whack.........Whack....... Whack..... Whack........Then I hear the lady of the home say, “Ahh he is getting tired. Just let him come down. It doesn’t have to get cut down today.”

Right before she speaks, I am getting tired. But when I hear her say those words, my mind yells, “NO, No, no! I am not quitting until I yell, “Timber.’” My effort changes again to Whack! Whack! Whack Whack! Whackwhack! Whack! for another five minutes or so. Then the joyful noise of wood twisting, cracking and then my famous TIMBER!!!!!!!! With one final, fatal swoop of the machete, I took down the monster. All in all it was pretty fun.

After cutting down the tree, we taught her a lesson about Abe Lincoln. This story is basically about if he needed to chop a tree that would take six hours , he would sharpen his axe for four hours then he would spend two hours cutting it down. We related that to life. We need to spend most of our time getting ready for the next life. It was a great object lesson and related so will to chopping down the tree. The family was glad the tree was gone and really liked the analogy.

This week we were really blessed again. We decided to continue finding in this new area we had been working. As we were walking in this area, we came across a guy walking. We stopped him on the road and introduced ourselves. We talked to him a little bit about the gospel there on the street. In just a minute or two, he said, “Why don’t we just go to my home and talk there.”

YES JUST WHAT I WANT TO HEAR :)!!! As we are walking to his home, we ask him questions about his life. We used almost all of my “get to know you” questions.” As we are talking, we walk into his home and he instantly introduces us to a few other people that live in the same area. What a blessing!

As we sat and talked to Kevin, Andrew and Sandra about the the Doctrine of Christ, someone came into the home and tried to call Sandra away. He wanted to talk to her about work. Something happened right then that I had never seen before. She just looked over at the person and said, Can’t you see we are in a meeting right now and were discussing something important.” I was amazed! Stuff like that never happens in Uganda. Usually people are more than happy to just pick up their phone and walk out of the room and talk to someone. But these three people had given us there undivided attention! It was really, really cool. As we continued to talk about the lesson they became more and more engaged until it came to the point that they were pounding us with amazing questions that were just perfect. At the end of the lesson, we asked them if they would be willing to accept baptism and they all accepted it gladly.

After we finished, they looked at us and said, “When are you coming back? We should make an appointment now. :) I was so happy. I just said yes we should. So we scheduled an appointment for two days later. We set it for 5:30pm. Two days later we were walking towards their home around 5:00. We were about 5 minutes away and our phone rings. It was Kevin. He was excited and happy to talk to us. He said, “Hey I just wanted to remind you about our appointment so that you wouldn’t forget. It starts at 5:30.”

That was a first for me on the mission. I have never had someone call to remind me about an appointment and tell me that they are waiting for us. It is rare for an investigator to use their minutes to call for any reason. It is very expensive here. So at this point, we knew that they are really serious and ready for the gospel.

We are still teaching Eve the Gospel and it is going really well. Sadly though we haven’t yet been able to meet her family because they are all so far away. But we haven’t given up.

Well I’m just about out of time and I still want to send a few pictures.

I love you all and things are going great on this side of the world. Hope all is well with you too.


Elder Bitter

Awesome Elders

Popo Tree Under Siege

Service Can Be Fun

1 comment:

  1. That was a huge papaya tree, Steven! No wonder it took you some great effort to cut it down. And aside from helping the owner of the tree to get rid of it, what I like most is when you relate cutting down such a huge tree as that to life. The story is truly inspirational. Thank you for sharing that!
    Melva @ MPDT