Monday, July 28, 2014

Blessings and Challenges - July 28, 2014

I think this week I received more photos than I have on my entire mission. Ha-ha. It was awesome! Thank you! I love photos!!

Let’s start with the important stuff. This week was awesome because Tony and his family were all baptized. Tony, Delish, Solomon, and Sharon were baptized and confirmed on the same day. As I said before, this is a first for me on my mission. It was wonderful to witness. It was a highlight for sure!

Since we had such a great blessing with Tony’s family, a challenge has to come as well. We were teaching a lot of people that seemed to be progressing. This past week they all did a one-eighty and asked us to stop coming. So basically this week will be a lot of tracting. We are looking forward to finding the new people the Lord has in store for us.

We are hoping that this week will be another building week with great things coming with it. I really feel that everything is just going to fall into place and we will find some really great new investigators to teach.

I received some good news this week, about William, Faith and their family. (William is the man who travels to China for two months for business. We taught and baptized them in Jinja a while back.) Well I just met some of the missionaries that are serving in Jinja now and apparently William is now the Second counselor in the bishopric! Super Cool! I was so happy to hear that he and his family are faithful and doing well.

Wow, I have a guy that works in this internet cafe leaning over my shoulder trying to read my emails. I’m writing this paragraph to see if he is really reading my letter. Hmm, he is squinting right now as I scroll the page up and down so I guess he is trying to read my letter. Bother! Ha-ha

We did a lot of traveling which cut into our teaching time so I don’t have a lot to say. I sure love you all and appreciate all that you do.

Have a great week!!
Elder Bitter

Monday, July 21, 2014

Miracle growth in Lira - July 21, 2014

Well hello everyone! I’m here again tuning in from the internet cafe with good internet and bad keyboards. Let’s see how this goes! Ha-ha.

I guess I will start with the bad news. My memory card is corrupted. I lost about 500-600 photos this week. All the photos from the past 6 months or so are gone. Unfortunately I won’t be able to post any pictures on the blog. Sorry guys.

So this week was awesome! Things are moving quickly and forward as well.

This upcoming Saturday will be a big day! This will be the first time on my mission that a whole family will be baptized all together at the same time. Tony and his family are ready to be baptized. They are anxious and looking forward to it. The family members that are old enough to be baptized are Tony and Delish (the parents), Solomon, and Shannon.

I am really looking forward to the baptism. Here is a little about Tony and his family. Tony grows cash crops for a living. When it is not farming season, he fixes shoes so that he still has work. The parents have already finished dowry (paying cows to the wife’s parents) and they have been married in a church. A church marriage is unusual. I am so happy about their commitment to each other. It is easy to break off a dowry marriage in Uganda but a church marriage is very difficult to discontinue.

Another reason this week was awesome is because I finally broke out my second pair of shoes!!! WOOT WOOT!!! My original slip-on Ecco shoes have taken quite the beating. Here is a brief eulogy about those shoes of mine. So these shoes have been walking the streets of Uganda for 18 month and have consumed enough shoe polish to shine all the shoes on the west coast.

These beauties’ original sole lasted for about 6 months. After six months, I went to one of the local shoe guys and had them remove the original sole and sew on a new Chinese made one. Well these Chinese specials don't last very long especially when you are walking a lot every day. As time went on, I was paying about 10,000 UGX (about 3 US dollars) every three months to have a new sole put on.

Then I arrived in Kabowa. A shoe guy there added an additional “tire sole” for double the price. Well these tires lasted for about 8 months and they were still holding strong but one problem started to occur. Because I had removed the sole from my shoe so many times the leather had a ton of holes from all of the different stitch jobs. So those little holes slowly joined forces and became large holes until I started having large holes in the sides of my shoes.

Every time I walked, my feet would get wet because they weren't sealed anymore due to all the holes in the shoes. So I broke down and took out my other pair of lace up Eccos. They are awesome and it is so nice to have shoes that look good again!!!!

Yesterday the Lira Branch had a new all-time high for sacrament attendance! Yesterday there were 93 people at church. This is a huge increase from previous sacrament attendance. A few months ago there was on average between 58-70 people at church. This week was legendary.  I really give the credit to our awesome branch president (President Patrick). He goes out of his way to warmly welcome each and every person who comes to church every Sunday.
The other reason the branch is doing well is the members are so willing to help any new person that comes to church. It is awesome to see the church grow so quickly. Things are really going well thanks to the members and the leaders.

Well that's all I got for this week,

Sure love you all,
Elder Bitter

Monday, July 14, 2014

No Tea for Tony - July 14, 2014

You are going to have to forgive me for the short letter. We decided to go to a new internet cafe that is known for having faster internet and it is a lot faster but the keyboard is making me crazy. Some of the keys do not work so it hard to type.

Sarah was baptized! She was ready. She has been attending church for so long that most of the ward members thought she was a member. After her baptism, she bore her testimony about the journey of coming to this point. The best part for me was that she didn't really talk about the missionaries and how they helped her. She spoke about how the members reached out to her and taught the gospel in simple ways. I wish that all of our converts could have this experience. I really think if this happened that the new members would have a much deeper-rooted testimony.

I have found that a solid testimony comes from all of those around you. You lean on others until your desire to learn takes over and pushes you to understand for yourself. When the original growth of a testimony comes from the members there is a greater opportunity for success.

We have continued teaching Tony and his family. The first time we met, I misunderstood him. He has five children and an adopted son as well. This family is awesome! They are the kind of people that you pray for as missionaries. At our first appointment with them, they offered us some tea to be friendly and kind. We politely refused telling them that we believe that its harmful to our bodies and our spirit.

Well this week we taught them the Word of Wisdom. After we finished the lesson, we asked if they would make a commitment to obey the Word of Wisdom specifically to not drink tea. They smiled and said, “We stopped taking it three weeks ago.”

I was really confused and asked them why because we had not taught them this principle yet. Well it turns out that when we told them that it was harmful to the body and the spirit the first time we met, they chose as a family to stop drinking tea. Wow!

It was pretty cool! This family has truly been prepared by the Lord for the gospel. Every time we meet with them, they have well thought out questions. They are not attacking but just seeking for knowledge. It’s a really cool!

The Lira Branch is changing. There has been a great shift in the branch from just youth to a nice mix of youth and adults. The branch is working together to make things happen. This attitude really makes missionary work so much easier and more enjoyable.

This keyboard is ridiculous! I am going to give it up. The church is true and we are truly blessed because of it.


Elder Bitter

Monday, July 7, 2014

Memory Restored - July 7, 2014

Hey everyone, I hope that all is well back home!!

The letter of the week!

This week was a week of miracles. Elder Sithole and I have really been praying and hoping for the opportunity to teach stable and solid families. This week our prayers were answered. Our recent convert Paul and Esther referred us to a family of six. Then that family referred us to another family. AND one of the families that we have been teaching finally started progressing this week. The Lord just placed it in our laps. It was a great miracle! We really needed people to teach and the branch needs families. The Lord gave us both at once.

These families that we are teaching are super awesome. One of them actually stood up this past Sunday and bore testimony that this would be the church that he and his family would be attending until the day they die. He said he can see that things are different here and that he can feel the difference. It was a really powerful testimony. This family was referred by Paul and Esther. Their names are Tony, Delish, Shannon, and there is two more names that I won’t even try to spell because they are ridiculously hard to say and even harder to spell.

This past Monday after emailing and doing our p-day stuff, we went to an appointment with a recent convert. It turned out that he was not able to meet with us. I was disappointed because that meant we would have to tract on a p-day. But after I stopped feeling sorry for myself, we picked ourselves up and started tracting.

As we were tracting, we heard a guy yelling at us. We looked over and I thought to myself, “He looks familiar!!” As we walked over, he looked at me and said, “DONT YOU REMEMBER ME!?!?!?” As most of you know, names and faces are something that I have struggled with my whole life. As soon as he said that I just stared at his face praying that I would remember him. The word “Muntungo” came to my mind.

So I looked at him and said I met you in Mutungo. He smiled saying, “Yes, you do remember me!!!” I couldn’t believe it. That was a miracle right there. It turns out that I had taught him my second transfer on my mission which was more than a year ago. Apparently I had been teaching him in February of 2013 with Elder Bulloch my second companion on the mission. (His name is Charles.)

The reason we had stopped teaching him is because he had moved to Lira. And so we lost track of him. After figuring this all out he then smiled and said "I knew that you or Elder Bulloch would come and find me and teach me again. I have been waiting for you." I was shocked!! That was a super cool experience for me. I was really pumped about that. Now we are teaching him and things are going well.

Another miracle that I heard through the grapevine is that Danny Ruduhunga is planning to serve a mission. If you don’t remember him, he was a guy that Elder Terry and I found and baptized in Rwanda. (His father was over the ministry of defense for Rwanda or something like that.) He is doing super well. I was so happy to hear how well he is doing.

I can’t remember if I have you about Dennis and Agnes. We have been working a lot with them. This week they told us that they have started praying as a family and obeying all the commandments that we have taught them. They want to be ready for baptism so their family can progress. They came to church this week and stayed for all of the meetings AND they sat together as a family. It was super awesome to see.

This family has changed a lot. I love them. The best part about the change is that we are not the only ones noticing it. They see it also! From these changes they said, “We have seen blessings come into every aspect of our lives.” It has been amazing to see them step forward, trust in the Lord and watch the blessing roll on in.

Things are really moving out here! Things are looking good too. I am really looking forward to the next couple weeks. Next week we will be baptizing a sister named Sarah. She has been coming to church for some time and has really studied the Book of Mormon. She has learned for herself that it is true. She told us that she is ready and willing to be baptized. She will be baptized this week.


Elder Bitter