Monday, June 30, 2014

Paul and Esther - June 30, 2014


Here is a quick update on the work in Lira.

Things are going well and the work is moving forward. This area has a lot of potential and

things seem to be building. This past week we baptized a brother and sister named Paul and Esther and their story is pretty interesting. They are both retired Ugandan soldiers and had been fighting the rebels in Congo. They arrived in Lira two months ago. When we first came in contact with them, they refused to meet with us. Honestly they wouldn't even speak with us.

We just grabbed a pamphlet that addresses Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. We wrote our names and our contact information on the pamphlet, gave it to them and they kind of just sent us away. A few days later we were walking down that same road and we just heard clapping and yelling. We looked around and it was Paul and Esther calling us over.

We walked over and greeted them and asked what we could do for them. They said that they needed to learn more about this church and specifically the Book of Mormon. We started teaching them and they were baptized this week. They bore awesome testimony about how when they came from the war they wanted nothing to do with God. They knew nothing of him. That has all changed now. They now know that He is there and that the Book of Mormon is true.

It is really awesome to see how the gospel really helps people to improve their level of happiness.

After his baptism, Paul said, I want you to teach my friend. He introduced us to his friend Tony. Tony is a great guy and we have been teaching him at Paul’s place. During the lessons we found out that Tony was married and had five children. We were surprised because he looks so young. Turns out that looks are really deceiving. He looks 25 but is actually 35 years old.

As we taught Tony you could just tell that he was understanding and it made sense to him. After sharing with him for some time we closed the lesson and committed him to share his learning with his family and invited him and his family to church on Sunday. The following day was Sunday and sure enough the whole family came rolling in together. It was an awesome thing to see as they came in together, sat down together, learned together and stayed to the end.

Paul asked us that day if we would come to his home and teach him and his family together. We committed to go. Little did we know just how far away these people live? We walked for about 45 minutes at a brisk pace. When we reached his home they were all sitting there waiting for us and were exciting to meet.

It is great to teach a family as they really help and support each other to grow and become better. They push each other forward.

This was a great week over all and things are going well! I sure love you all and hope that all is well at home. Enjoy the Fourth of July. It is an important day for sure.

Love Ya All,

Elder Bitter

Monday, June 23, 2014

Baptism without Water - June 23, 2014

Hey everyone!

This week was fantastic. We had a lot happen. The Lord gave us several tender mercies. This week there has not been any water in all of Lira. No water in houses, taps, spigots, faucets. Nothing at all. So when Saturday came around and there was still no water to fill the font for Simon Opio’s baptism, I just could not get the courage to tell him that we would have to push his baptism back.

He had worked so hard to get everything done. He had organized the event so his family could come from their village. He had traveled to his village multiple times to get proof of his marriage. He was committed to being baptized.

As we constantly tried to find a solution to make it work. Nothing was coming together. It looked like it was not going to happen. I just could not get myself to tell him that he would have to send all of his family back.

After thinking and working for a long time trying to get something to work, we took a little hike to the Adyel branch. It’s another branch up here that is in the same Zone. When we got there, we saw that they didn’t have any water either. They had been experiencing the same thing we had been going through. At this point, our disappointment was complete. We dejectedly walked over to the branch’s outdoor baptismal font. To our surprise, it was completely full!! The Adyel branch had had a baptism the previous week and had forgotten to drain the water. Woot, Woot!

We were so relieved! I cannot express how relieved we were that the water was there. It was really a tender mercy. It was an awesome baptismal service. Listening to the service, the searching and hunting for water was all worth it. As his family poured in to participate in the service, there was such a wonderful spirit in the room. After he was baptized, he bore a powerful and undeniable testimony to his whole family. It was awesome.

For the past five or six weeks, we have been teaching a family (Parents’ names are Dennis and Agnes). Dennis is an alcoholic and his niece is a member. This week his niece stopped us on the road and said, “Don’t give up on my uncle. He is changing. He often refuses to leave the house now so that he will not go out and drink.”

On Sunday, we were very hopeful that they would come to church. (He has not been coming even though Agnes has attended church.) Dennis and Agnes were not there the first hour of church. The second hour went by and they still were not there. Then the third hour to our surprise, we looked back and they were standing in the door way.

Agnes was trying to convince him to come in. He was just standing there looking so nervous. He had not entered a church in a very, very long time. As soon as we saw him, we jumped up and ran over to him giving him a huge smile. We grabbed him by the arm and said, “DENNIS YOUR MOST WELCOME!!” He then smiled and loosened up a bit and hesitantly walked in. He stayed for the last hour.

After church was finished, he stood up, looked at me, shook my hand and said something I will never forget. “You and Elder Sithole are always welcome in my home.” It was awesome to see him feel the difference in his life by just attending church. Dennis and Agnes have both accepted to be baptized in July. We hope and pray that they will continue moving forward and progressing.

Oh, I almost forgot, we had transfer news today. I am staying and so is my companion. Haha. No surprise. There is no problem with staying. Things are going so well.

Calisto the man that we baptized the previous week has given us permission to teach the rest of his family. We will start teaching them this coming week. We hope that it will continue to go well with all of them. Being together as a family for the eternities is what life is really about.

Things are going well and moving forward. We are coming to the hot season in the next couple months so we will see how hot this earth can really get. LOL

I sure love you all and hope that all is well back home. You are all awesome and I appreciate you all.


Elder Bitter

Monday, June 16, 2014

Runaway Horse - June 16, 2014

Hello family:

This week was another great week. Things are moving quickly. I feel like I am on a runaway horse and I am hanging on tight. The work is really picking up. Awesome, right!

We had a baptism this week. Brother Calisto (the doctor I spoke of last week) was baptized. It was a wonderful baptism. Our Mission President came to witness the baptism which was really cool. I guess he was out our way and decided to drop in. This was a treat for us and Brother Calisto.

The Mission President gave the welcoming remarks to Brother Calisto. He talked about how we are not a Sunday only church but we are an everyday church. And that we should always seek God and be involved in the church every day of our lives because that is how the blessings come. It was an awesome talk.

After he was baptized, we even gave him the opportunity to bear his testimony. It was powerful. As he shared his testimony a wonderful feeling came into the room witnessing that he knew what he was saying was true. He testified that he not only saw that members of the church were different in the way they conducted themselves but that our approach to the gospel is different. We don’t just listen to it but we apply it. Then he went on to talk about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. He said other things but those statements were the most impressive to me.

If you recall last week there was another man that was supposed to be baptized--Brother Simon Opio. He called us the day of his interview and told us that he didn't want to be baptized. We were shocked! He had already read half the Book of Mormon and loved it. We had no idea why he would want to cancel his baptism.

So we cancelled the interview and went over to his house to spend some time with him hoping to figure out his concerns and what was stopping him from moving forward. After talking with him for quite some time, he finally admitted that it wasn’t the church that he was concerned about. It was the interview that was stopping him. He thought that he had to answer all the interview questions in front of the whole church.

Once we explained it was just an interview with one person. Completely one on one and that it would not be in front of the whole church, he smiled and laughed with relief saying, “Okay I am ready to be baptized then.” I was pretty amazed that it was such a simple thing that was stopping him. We still couldn't do the baptism because we had already cancelled the interview. So he will be baptized next week. He is really excited to be baptized and all things seem to be cleared up.

Last an update on the “mouse hunt.” I think that there are two rouge mice left. I caught one last week. I am working on catching the last two. Hopefully that will give our house a cleaner feeling. I will keep working on it. Hahah!

Well things are really going well. No worries there. This week we have not found anyone new that has stuck but it is okay for now because we have a good group of people that we are teaching. This week we are hoping to find new people that will want to move forward when they hear the word.

Sure love you all!
Elder Bitter

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mouse Hunt

I am glad to be here! :)

I think I will start with my mouse extermination in the Lira apartment. Muhhahaha.

So the Lira apartment was in rough shape when I showed up. We are working on repairing everything and getting it back into working order. The part that I would like to talk about today is the mice.

When I showed up in Lira, I was shocked. As I walked around the house, trying to figure out where to start, I was completely shell-shocked. The most shocking thing was the rat and mice droppings. They were everywhere! Okay, I wasn’t surprised about the droppings but about the quantity. As I was looking at the sheer amount of raisins throughout the house I came to the conclusion that the past elders just didn't care. And that after I caught the rodent, we would be able to live in a clean environment.

During the first week I went into a deep cleaning mode and tried to remove all the bread crumbs from our home. As I was removing all of these mice and rat crumbs, I finally reached the end of the house and was feeling somewhat accomplished, like hahahah I have done it I have begun this project and I have taken care of step one. Well after cleaning, we went on with our day and then retired to bed that evening.

The next morning, I woke up and could not believe it! As I walked into the kitchen, I saw a large collection of rat and mouse Beebe’s everywhere! Now obviously it wasn't the same amount as I had cleaned up the night before but it was still a lot for one night. I realized that it wasn't just the elders not cleaning but probably a small family of creatures living in our home that needed the boot.

I was then determined to find a solution and I found just the thing. On Tuesday of last week, I found a “sticky trap”. I could not believe my luck in finding it. It was a little bit expensive but hey, money is not the problem, finding how to spend the money is the problem. This was definitely something I was going to buy. So I bought this gem and carried it around all day just smiling waiting to take it home.

That night I placed it in the doorway where I had seen two baby mice running the night before. I then went to bed waking up the next morning with success. I had already caught two of them. Then came the dilemma, I couldn’t just throw away the trap because I can’t afford to buy a new one each time I catch a I came to the conclusion that I would have to get plastic shopping bags and remove the mice and "dispose" of them.

This worked out well. After doing that, I placed the trap underneath the area where we put out our trash and went to work. When I came back that night, I felt like the guy from Crocodile Dundee because I said, "Crikey it’s a big one!”

I decided to try that same spot again. I felt that I had put a pretty big dent in our rodent population but I was wrong. I woke up the next morning and checked the trap; there were three in a perfect circle. I wish I had taken a picture. I thought, “These things aren't very smart!” You would think that they would learn from one of their friends and they would avoid the trap. Not so!

This little process went on for the ENTIRE week. I think we have gotten all of them. I caught nine in all. I am hoping to catch one more then I will be in double digits, LOL. We cleaned the house again really well today. We will keep our eyes peeled for droppings. But I really think we have conquered the problem. But we will find out in the next couple days. An update will occur next week on how the end of the "open season" went.

Let’s move to the important stuff. This week was actually probably one of the better weeks that I have had on my mission. A lot of different things fell into place. We had two baptisms and will be having two baptisms this coming Saturday. Two brothers will be baptized. The first is Brother Calisto and the other is Brother Simon Opio.

Brother Calisto is a father of a large family that we started teaching a few weeks ago. He said that he wants to be baptized before the rest of his family and once he is baptized that the rest of his family is allowed to be baptized. This seems to happen a lot here and I am not sure why. Hopefully, it is because they want to set the example. The rest of the family is willing and ready to learn more so we are very excited.

Brother Calisto is a doctor and 40 years old. He is very smart and does well for himself and his family. He is a great guy and loves the gospel. He is so willing to share the gospel with anyone. When we visit him (which is at his office. This is at his request) there are always other people with him in his office. He will include whoever is with him and say you need to listen to them and then he bares his testimony. He shares why he knows the church is true and how he found out that it was true. This is so awesome to see.

Brother Simon Opio is also a father to a very large family. His daughter is a member and is a very committed to the gospel and the church. She introduced us to him asking that we teach him about the gospel. He is going to be baptized this Sunday. He is retired. He is 65 years old and is a great man. I think that all will go well with the rest of his family. We are looking forward to being with this family.

This past week we found a lot of people. And almost all of them came to church. It was a great week. I really think that a lot is going to work out and happen as long as God is willing of course.

Lira is a great place to be! All is well.

I am sorry that the part about the work is short. I didn't balance my time very well this week. I am out of time so I have to go.

I sure love you all,


Elder Bitter
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Monday, June 2, 2014

Power of Persuasion - June 2, 2014

Short Story: I thought that I would tell you about our house in Lira and what we have been doing today. So the house in Lira was trashed when I showed up! I don’t know what it is about the houses I get put into but it seems that I always get placed in houses that need a lot of work—cleanliness, electrical problems, sink problems etc. (Recall: Last apartment had only two electrical plugs that worked in the entire house. I fixed them all so that now that house has full power, working electrical sockets, sink that drains and a clean place.)

So these past few weeks, I have been persuading the elders in the Lira house that cleanliness is important. They all agreed but it took a lot more persuasion to get them to dedicate some time to cleaning and getting it into proper working order. Well this Monday was the day!! We all got to work and it feels great! I wish that we had taken some photos of the house before and after but sadly I did not do that so I will just have to let you imagine a dirty nasty house transforming to an awesome clean nice house.

This week was a really awesome! My companion and I had to make a trip down to Kampala this week to take care of some stuff. The trip takes about 5 hours or so (10 hours round trip) just depending on weather and traffic. Fortunately we made it there without any major problems in traffic etc. We were really glad to get to Lira so that we could get back to work!

We followed up on some of the people that we have found in the past two weeks. We have good news about one of them. He has really begun the process of conversion. This brother’s name is Johnson. He is awesome. He really wants to learn about the gospel. Anything we have asked him to do, he just does it without any hesitation. He is a dedicated guy. He owns an internet cafe which is wonderful because that means that he is very flexible with his time. He has a lot of people working for him which is nice for teaching him but even more importanly it is great for the ward.

To have someone with a flexible schedule that is committed to doing the Lord’s work is a wonder. He will be a great blessing to the church and consequently, his life will be even richer. I just remembered that when we found him he said that he had been looking for the true church ever since he and his wife separated.

It is wonderful to watch him as we teach him a new principle. He will sit quietly, ponder and then tell us he will need to pray about this. Incredible! And when he sees us at the next program, he always tells us how his reading and praying went regarding the principle that we taught him at the prior lesson. It is an awesome thing to see.

So this past week my companion and I have really been trying to not only continue to teach those that are on the way to baptism but also to find and continue to build the amount of people that we can teach so you never have that moment when you look at your investigators’ list and there are none left. hahaha. We have been trying new areas and letting our minds be open to all possibilities. As we have been doing this it has been going really well. There are a lot of people here that are ready to be taught and hear the gospel.

This is a wonderful place to serve and most people that serve here just love the work. The thought is that this is the place to find and teach every day. I have found this to be true. I am really enjoying it!!!

Well that’s all for today. I sure love you all and hope that all is well back home!!!

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Elder Bitter