Monday, April 28, 2014

Planting Seeds April 28, 2014

Dear Everyone:

I hope my memory card has reached there safely.

This week has really shot buy. I know I say that every week but I cannot explain how fast the weeks are going by. Time is speeding up for me. It is remarkable.

This past week my companion and I went to Masaka to check out how the Elders are doing. The four elders in Masaka are just the greatest bunch of guys that you could ever come across. No one person was trying to out-do the other. During the time there, we saw how each elder is very different but they are all driven to accomplish the same task. Their district is one of the best I have ever seen.

About a year ago, I had the opportunity to serve in Entebbe. While serving there I taught a guy named Enoch. He struggled with the word of wisdom. He enjoyed drinking. He was not an alcoholic by any means but he enjoyed a drink now and then. After a time, I left Entebbe and my companion went home. Enoch was no longer visited by missionaries. The only record of Enoch was in our little “missionary book” which told of teaching him and where he lived.

A week ago we were called to Entebbe to go and do an interview. We knew that we would be each interviewing one person because two people were going to being baptized. During our drive, we discussed the interviewing process. As we reached Entebbe, the missionaries picked us up and took us to the home of the people being baptized.

As we entered the home I could not believe my eyes. There sitting on the couch was Enoch! The same guy that I had taught a year ago! When I came into the home, he smiled and said, “Elder Bitter, how are you? It has been a long time!!!”

I couldn't believe it. It was so cool! This was probably one of my favorite experiences in a long time. It just goes to show that we do plant seeds. I'm not trying to take credit for the Entebbe baptism. The elder did a lot of hard work. But it was the coolest thing.

So if you are sharing or talking to people about the gospel and it just doesn't work out the way you expect, don't worry a seed was planted for the next guy. Your effort was not in vain!

Over the past week it seems that a lot of our investigators have lost interest or become distracted in one way or another. The only ones that are hanging strong are Sister Judith and Brother Jimmy.

Elder Stewart and I are really looking forward to this upcoming week. We have a lot of new ideas for finding people. Instead of the traditional door to door approach, we are planning on trying some new ways. We are hoping it will be a better and more efficient way of finding some more of God’s children.

The work is awesome! Anyone that is on the fence about serving a mission, don’t hesitate. Just do it. It is a once in a lifetime experience. It is worth it :)

Here are some photos for you all to enjoy :)
Suit man with Mario Cap
Uganda's Tortillas

On the equator!

Love you all!


Elder Bitter

Monday, April 21, 2014

Rainbows Sandals in Uganda, April 21, 2014

A good story for this week: We were tracting and met a guy that had a pair of RAINBOWS!!!!!! [These are sandals that are very popular in California.] I took about ten pictures of him holding them. This confirmed my opinion that Rainbows are awesome and that they last a life time. Someone donated them and they were sent through Goodwill or some such organization. They even last in Uganda!!!!

This week I don’t remember that much because we didn’t have anything unusual happen. So I will write about our investigators. But first I want to thank everyone for the awesome emails this week! I really appreciate them and I love you all!

Our focus this week was teaching about Easter—the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ hoping that those taught would come to church, partake of the sacrament and remember all that Jesus Christ has done for us. The best part of the week was the reception of our message. Everyone loved the message. We got into a lot of homes that we normally do not get into.

One of the homes we took this message to was a lady named Josephine and her family. Her husband travels to Japan about two or three times a year buying motorcycles that he distributes to the dealers throughout Uganda. After we met her, we asked if we could set an appointment to deliver the message so that we could get a member to come with us. She gladly agreed.

Her home had a great feeling and she was so grateful to see us. We taught her and her children a little about Easter and about Joseph Smith. It was a wonderful lesson. When we invited her to church, she responded, “Yes!” She also indicated that she would bring her children and that when her husband comes back that she wants us to talk to him as well. It was wonderful! I was so excited after teaching them. Her children spoke perfect English so everything we taught, they not only understood but they could comprehend the meanings of the message as well. It was amazing!! She then invited us back! Whoot! Whoot!

Now I want to write about Jimmy (He is the man that we have been teaching that is very faithful and has wanted to be baptized for some time now but needs to get married first.) Well this week he gave us good news. He has finally saved up enough money to bring his wife down from the village so that they can get married in the church and then he can be baptized. Apparently he has been calling his wife on a regular basis and sharing with her all that we have shared with him. Now she is calling him every Sunday morning and telling him to wake up and go to church. LOL! This is just awesome.

Every time we visit him, he looks at us and says, “The Madam is really feeling the Spirit of it all now!!! And she wants to come.” This is super cool because most of the time when you try to get a man and woman who have a family to marry, usually one or the other don't want it. It is very normal for couples to live together for 20 years but they still do not want to get married. I don’t understand it and it is really shocking to me. But Jimmy and his fiancĂ©e have passed this cultural hurdle and do want to get married!!!

Finally, my companion hit his one year mark this month so we went out and bought a bunch of eggs, a lot of bread and some syrup. We had an awesome breakfast together! We ate French toast like crazy! hahaah :)

Well I’m sorry for the short letter but that is all that I have for this week. Hope all is well and that you had a wonderful Easter!!!!

I sure love ya all

Elder Bitter

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tear Gas - April 14, 2014

I feel like my mission is a runaway train! I just wrote yesterday! LOL!

This past week was a week that I won’t forget. Over the past few weeks Elder Stewart and I have been trying to really seek the Spirit in EVERY lesson. We wanted to teach as the Lord teaches which means that we needed to follow the prompting of the Spirit and not rely on reciting of lessons. Well this week the extra effort and work really paid off.

We have received countless blessings from changing our approach to teaching. We were constantly able to find the people that we needed and they wanted to learn. This Sunday we had more investigators at sacrament then I have had in a long time. The best part is that a quarter of them already have baptismal dates.

The others are so focused and progressing, we really feel that they will accept the gospel of Christ. This Sunday, Kabowa DL and our side saw the best results for the work in a VERY long time. I know that the Lord really gave us this one. And I know that we couldn't have done it without him.

Missionary work is so cool. Seeing lives change and improve through the gospel is just remarkable. I know for a surety that the Church is true and that it is the only church that is led by a true and living prophet. How lucky to be a part of it. More than ever, I'm ready to do what it takes to make sure that I do all I can to make a difference in the lives of Ugandans. I'm so grateful for this opportunity to serve in this mission and the tests and trials that come from it.

This week everyone that could, came to church. It was so cool to see them flooding into the church, smiling and ready to learn about the Gospel. I only have time to talk about three people. I want to focus on: Prosper, Jimmy, and Robbin.

Let’s start with Prosper. Finding him was a blessing all on its own. As we were tracting a few days ago, we were trying to find someone new to teach. We found Samuel. We sat down in front of his house and began teaching him. He didn’t show much interest in the message but as we were finishing the lesson, a random man kept staring at us. He appeared to be listening to what we were saying. As we finished, we greeted this man and yes it was Prosper. We chatted with him for a few minutes and then invited him to church. We also set a date to teach him.

When we were able to meet with Prosper in his home, we discovered that he is a great guy. He has a home here in Kabowa and another home in Masaka about 120 km away. As we visited, we found out that he has a family (with a wife) and that he wanted us to share our message with them as well. He is pretty independent as far as his work goes, so he is available most anytime which is so nice. After teaching him in his home, he came to church. He took notes and then said, “I am ready to know more and continue in this church.”

Second person: Jimmy wants to get married to his wife in the church and has asked us to teach them when she comes back from her village. He used to smoke and it was a struggle for him to quit. Since we have been teaching him, he has been able to quit smoking! It has been two full week without a smoke. He told us that he is no longer tempted. This is awesome!

Jimmy is just full of the Spirit. He is a bit older and free every Sunday. He reads the Book of Mormon regularly. He calls it "his movie". He told us that as he reads he understands and feels the emotions and messages as if they were a movie. This is so cool because in Uganda it is hard to find people that can read well enough to understand the scriptures.

The best part about Jimmy is that he is willing to do whatever it takes to be baptized. All he really has to do is get married. Hopefully, once his wife returns from her village, they can get married and he can be baptized and then we can start to teach his wife as well.

Lastly Robbin. He is the son of a very well-known man in Kabowa. Robbin is living alone and a cool guy. The great thing about Robbin is his desire to change. He used to be addicted to drugs when we met him. He has not used drugs for quite some time. Thankfully, his addiction was to some of the milder drugs instead of heroin or something like that.

However, he was addicted and he was stuck until he heard the gospel of Christ. Now that he is off drugs his entire countenance has changed. You can see the light in his eyes and he is just so happy. He is really looking forward to becoming a member of the church. He walks around and warmly greets everyone at church. What a miracle to witness. Attending church has really helped him because now he has good friends.

For all of you that endured this entire email, now a story. This week my companion and I experienced tear gas for the first time. Luckily we were not right in the middle of it. We were a few yards away from the center of the commotion. The police were pretty aggressive throwing the tear gas canisters. I can now positively attest to the fact that the stuff works. I was so grateful not to be in the center of the chaos because even where we were I got it in my eyes nose and throat. Coughing, tearing, sneezing was the result. Hahaha. That’s my crazy story for the week!!!! Well family, I hope that all is well and that life is great! Sure love ya all!!!

Love you, J

Elder Bitter

Sleeping on the Job - April 7, 2014

It is raining like crazy! We are having a huge storm. The storms are unreal here.

I am going to try and write quickly because I have a lot to say and not a lot of time. So beware of spelling and grammar errors.

Ok so I am going to tell a little story that took place last P-day. I am not really proud of this story. It’s not really bad just a little bit on the ridiculous side.

On our last P-day my companion and I finished our emails at about 4:30pm so we decided that we would go home, eat and take a nap for about 45 min. And then we would start our working day at 6:00. Normally a P-day should end at 6:00 p.m.

After reaching home, we cooked a quick meal of Spam and bread (Yes I eat Spam from time to time). We then laid down for a quick cat nap. We must have had a food comma because we fell asleep immediately. We had both been pushing it and so we were exhausted.

We were so tired that we were literally dozing while eating. As we took this wonderful cat nap we eventually woke up to an annoying sound of Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep. I sat up and saw that it was twilight outside. I thought to myself, “We need to get up and go to work.” I then realized that it was not six in the evening but it was actually 6:30 in the morning the next day!!

I felt pretty bad for sleeping through the whole day and missing all of that time. Luckily we didn’t have any appointments but we missed the opportunity of tracting. But after I stopped feeling bad, I realized the sheer magnitude of what had just happened! We had literally slept for 13.5 hours!!!! I went into hibernation mode. I know for a fact that I have not had that much sleep since I have been on my mission if ever!

(NOTE FROM MOM: As I was reading this letter, I had the impression that this was an answer to our prayers each day that Steven would be safe on his mission. What a blessing that the Lord is in charge!)

Today was an awesome day! We went to the Mission President’s home and had a meeting with the whole Zone. Today President focused on obedience and that nothing will happen in the Lord’s work unless we are obedient. I feel his message will help a lot. I have testimony that it is not just the big things in the work that make the difference but it is in the little things as well. Truthfully, the devil tries to get your focus on the big things and to forget the small things. The small things really affect the work. I was so glad for this reminder.

Ben got confirmed! He is such strength to his family now that they are all memebers.

I had a top ten event for my mission happen this week. It started out that Saturday was one of those rough days. It seemed that everything was going wrong. Almost every appointment we had planned not only “was a no show” but they had told us they would be there when we called earlier that morning and then turned off their phones so we could not get a hold of them.

During the entire day we ended up knocking doors and trying to find new people to teach. This didn't seem to be working out at all either! Hahaha But as we pushed through tracting and contacting, we eventually got into a house that was owned by a guy named Robbin. He lives in a nice home alone. His job is basically a “rent collector”. When we met him at the door, he warmly welcomed us in.

As we were sharing, we found out that he did not know a lot of English but he is better than most. We slowly shared with him the restoration. It was a good lesson—nothing spectacular. After we finished the lesson, we invited him to church and he accepted. After leaving his home, we continued searching for people who might be interested but we didn’t have much success.

That night as we went home closing our day, we were pretty beat and discouraged. As we were recapping the events of the day our phone rang. We looked at the number and did not recognize it. After answering this is the conversation:

Elder Bitter: “Hello this is Elder Bitter?”

I then heard a familiar voice that said, “Hey how are you Elder Bitter???”

I still didn't know who I was speaking to and so I said, “I’m good. Who am I speaking with?”

He laughed and said, “This is Robbin.”

I smiled and said, “Oh Robbin! What can I do for you???”

Now the awesome part: He said, “No, you don’t need to do anything for me. I just had a feeling that I needed to call you so I called.”

After that he had no idea what to say so he just chatted with us and wished us a great night. I need to explain that in Uganda phone calls are counted by “airtime”. So most people will call you and then hang up expecting you to call them back so their airtime is not used. It was such a surprise that Robbin would use his own airtime! But even more amazing, he called to check on us!! This has never happened to me or my companion.

What a blessing to see how following the Spirit during a really hard day comforted us. My whole attitude towards the day changed. It became the best day ever. I really believe that Robbin was prompted by the Spirit to call and check on us. AND he obeyed.

More good news: He came to church the next day and stayed for all three hours. He was very outgoing and made a lot of friends at church. BEST NEWS: He accepted a baptismal date after attending church for the first time.

Robbin was the highlight of my week. Things are going well here. We enjoy being missionaries. I hope that all is well back home. I sure love ya all!


Elder Bitter

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Strength of Complete Families - March 31, 2014

Hey everyone!!!!!

This week I wanted to talk about a baptism that we had last Sunday. From this baptism, we had the opportunity to complete a family. This family has had many different missionaries. Since I have been in Kabowa, we have been working hard to help this happen. Ben (the last member of his family to join the church) was baptized March 30.

Before this past transfer, Ben would avoid the missionaries. During the past six weeks or so, he really opened his heart and allowed the missionaries to share and teach him. It was wonderful! As we taught him, you could see Ben changing. One very noticeable change was how he committed to attending church, serving at church and participating in the activities.

Since Ben has been going to church and now that he is baptized, the family’s strength has increased so much. They are the only family in this ward that comes together and sits down together. The family takes up one whole row. There are so many of them! J But the best part is the time and energy they spend on strengthening and supporting each other. They are truly learning and growing together.

There is a night and day difference between a part member family and a whole family being members of the church. I know that the church needs more families. I now understand why.

I know the church is true and has been restored. And these people need it just as much as we do.

This next week will be a huge week. We will be determining who we will be able to be baptized in the month of April. I’m actually really excited. The week always goes by so fast when we have lots of work to do. It is always a challenge to be spiritually in tune to know which investigators are ready to be baptized and which ones just like our company.

Well transfers are done. Elder Stewart and I are still companions. We have another six weeks together.

I have been with Elder Stewart the longest thus far on my mission! I am totally ok with it! :) We get along perfectly, we both like to do the work in the same way and we enjoy the same things.

So if you are wondering about William (struggles with alcohol). We are still teaching him. He still struggles with his addiction. BUT his countenance has changed so much. Even though he has a ways to go, the change is remarkable. I am happy for him. We don't meet with him that often. I know that he will get baptized someday and when he does he will be a faithful member of the church. He comes to church every single Sunday. He knows the church is true already and bares his testimony constantly.

This will probably take some time and a lot of work on his part but he seems to understand that it will be worth it. I'm really happy for him.

Well that’s about it.

I want to wrap up with my testimony.

I know that the church is true. I don't know this because someone told me. I am not relying on another’s testimony. I know it is true because I can feel that it is true every time I read the Book of Mormon and pray.

This church does have a true and living prophet who receives revelation from God. As we listen to his words at general conference, I know that what he says has been directed by God. God knows what we as members of the church need.

I know that anyone who wants to know if "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" is true can pray and they will receive an answer as long as their mind and heart are open and willing to receive an answer and are willing to follow that answer when they receive it.

The church is true, Joseph Smith was a true prophet and Thomas S. Monson is our living prophet today.

I sure love you all and hope that you all know it.


Elder Bitter