Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Babe Ruth & The Snake - October 27, 2014

Dear People:

This was a week of miracles. I will relate three. Miracle number 1: Let’s start with a follow-up on Christine the wife of Kalisto. Her progress is awesome! Christine and Kalisto are now praying together every night and studying the scriptures together. She continues to come to church and is getting more and more excited for her baptismal day. This is so rewarding because then whole family will have the opportunity for eternal life. The best thing to report about them is that they are already talking about going to the temple. YEAH!

Miracle Number 2: We were hiking around looking for a guy’s house that we had contacted named Olila. As we were looking for his home, we asked around and someone directed us to this massive gate. Assuming that it was Olila’s home, we barged right through the gate acting as if we were meant to be there. As we approached the very large home inside of this compound, we spotted a man sitting outside. I assumed that it was him. I said, “Olila how are you!”

He looked at me and said, “I’m not Olila. I’m Michael.”

I kind of chuckled and said, “Oh! Sorry for just barging through your gate. We must have the wrong house. We are looking for a friend of ours named Olila.”

He said, “It’s okay.” We chatted with him for a short time and found out that he is one of the head employees for a distribution company for 65 countries in the world. The company deals in distributing all sorts of perishable goods. After our chat we made an appointment for another time to teach him. We also gave him a Plan of Salvation pamphlet.

A few days later, we went back. He was waiting anxiously for us. He had not only read the pamphlet but he had great questions about the material!! He was so excited. The short of it is that he asked us to come back and committed to come to church next week with his entire family of eight!! Our next appointment with him is this Saturday. We will teach him about the restoration and the Book of Mormon.

He has lived in the same house for fourteen years. He is in a very tracted area for missionaries. He has never had anyone knock on his door. He is excited about the gospel. I know that it was only the first lesson but the Spirit was powerful as we shared with him. It felt different than any other teaching opportunity that I have had. I have great hopes for him and the rest of his family. I pray that all may work out so that maybe just maybe he could lighten the load for President Patrick (The Branch President).

After teaching Michael, Elder Whitworth was infused with excitement for the work. He is motivated more than ever. He is going strong! He is improving every time. He is a great missionary. He is bold and uses the Book of Mormon in every lesson. I am so grateful.

Miracle Number 3: We found another investigator, Tony that was previously taught by missionaries a while ago. He loves the missionaries. He is successful and has a large family. He is in the transportation business. He supplies a driver, car and plans the routes for your vacation in Uganda. His goal is to make it an easy and enjoyable experience while vacationing in his country. He is very easy-going, easy to teach and he really understands the principles that we are teaching. He wants to know what is right and how to succeed at doing the right thing.

Crazy story: Another snake! Elder Ngesi and I went over to Adyel (a division of Lira) to work with the missionaries there and help them out a little bit. After working, we went to their house to close the day. After doing our routine, we all went out into the main room to chat. Elder Chapendura wanted to shine his shoes. As soon as he picked them up, he screamed and threw his shoe in the air!

I looked at him and said, “What are you screaming about?!”

He replied, "There is something in my shoe! I don't know what it is!”

I assumed it was a rat because they are so plentiful here in Uganda. I slipped on my shoes preparing to stomp on the rat. I grabbed the shoe that he had just thrown and began shaking it hoping to get the animal out. After about three or four good shakes, out slid half of a huge snake!! (Mom’s comment: Thankfully not the head!)

Yes, I screamed, “Snake!” throwing the shoe down and jumping onto a couch near me! LOL! The size of its body was probably close to the same circumference of a quarter maybe a little bit bigger. After staring at the shoe for some time we all went out and grabbed sticks, shovels and hoes! We used one of the sticks to pick up the shoe and began to shake it. After some serious shaking, the snake popped its head out biting the long stick! We were okay because we were so far from it.

The snake did not want to come out of the shoe so we continued to harass it by shaking and hitting the outside of the shoe. Finally it slithered out of the shoe making a break for one of the missionaries. "The Babe Ruth" in all of us came out and we just started swinging sticks and shovels as fast as we could. I am sure that we looked hilarious but it is a little freaky having a huge snake come after you!

Well after a lot of yelling and hitting we once again triumphed over the large snake!! Woot, woot, go team! I would send you a photo but I only have a very long video of this whole event and of course the computer will not accept that much digital information. You will have to wait to see the conquering of the snake.

I sure love you all and hope that all is well back home. Have a good one!

Happy Halloween Everyone!


Elder Bitter

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Unusual Rat - October 26, 2014

It is time again to let you know how I am doing! This week was a good one. I will start out with a story. A few weeks ago Elder Whitworth and I were coming home for the day. As we were walking along, we saw a massive rat! We decided to chase it down because they are always digging in our trash and making a mess.

As I ran towards it, I started to question whether it was a rat (because it wasn't moving very quickly). As soon as it saw us, it tried to dive inside some bushes. I stuck my foot out to blocked it. When it ran into my foot, it rolled up into a little ball???

We then realized this was not a rat but was actually a Porcupine! We picked him up and realized that he was very young. We took a bunch of photos with him. He was pretty awesome. His quills are SHARP! After taking some pictures, we let him go. He waddled off and all was good in the world.

A few minutes later, we showed our neighbor the photos. Instantly, he wanted to find him. I looked at him and said, “What do you want him for??” He then told us that porcupines are the most tender, tasty meat that Ugandans can get their hands on. Thankfully, we told him that we were sorry but he was long gone. He was sorely disappointed. Poor little porcupine!

There is a lot happening in the work right now. Elder Whitworth and I decided last week that we would spend at least 50-60% of our day trying to find new people. Our goal is to always have lots of people to teach. This really makes for long day! But it is really worth it.

We have been so blessed because we have found people that are showing great potential. We are focusing our extra time on George and his family and Christine, the wife of Kalisto. They are both awesome and are doing well. Christine is involved in the gospel. She is finally beginning to grasp the magnitude of the message that we have been sharing with her and Kalisto.

As far as George, he missed church this week which was a bummer. We haven’t been able to find him home so we are assuming that he is out of town for some emergency or something. These types of things are pretty common here. I am not worried yet.

Well that is all for this week.

I sure love you all!


Elder Bitter

Monday, October 13, 2014

Steven's Tire Shop - October 13, 2014

This week was a good one. We had some awesome things happen as far as the work goes. The Lord is really taking care of us. It is fun to watch the Lord work.

Sister Christine (the wife to Kalisto) has accepted the challenge to be baptized. She bore a nice testimony on how the gospel has blessed her husband. And as soon as she started to participate in the challenges we gave her, her life was blessed as well. She will be baptized on November 8th. The reason it is so far out is because we can only meet with them once a week because of their work schedules. However, this is not a problem. She is committed and loves the gospel. All will fall into place soon enough.

We had another baptism. This was cool baptism because Sister Moreen Akullu chose Elder Whitworth to perform the ordinance. I wish you could have seen how excited he was. He was just smiling and glowing with excitement! Moreen bore a nice testimony. She talked about how grateful she is for Joseph Smith because he restored the gospel. She also mentioned how grateful she is that she has found the church.

This past week Elder Whitworth and I fasted to find families who were looking for the gospel and the truth. It has been remarkable watching the Lord guide us to different families. The best of all was a family that we found with a father named George. He is awesome. He really takes care of his family. He actually owns his home! He is very permanent and successful. He has four children; two of which are over the age of eight. This week we found and taught him. Then he agreed to an appointment for the first lesson.

After the first lesson, he gladly accepted the baptismal challenge. He then followed up his commitment by coming to church and participating in the second and third hour. This was awesome! He was really excited to have us come back again. He then told us that he wanted us to start teaching his children as well which will be awesome. Sadly his wife ran away some time ago, so there is no mother in the home.

Another really cool thing that happened this week is about Elder Whitworth. He asked me about transfers and how they work. I explained about it and then he said something that really showed how aware and even anxious he is about the work. He said "You better teach me all the parts of the area really well and help me really understand the location of all the people that we teach so if you leave, it will be okay". I was so happy. What an awesome elder! It doesn't matter if I leave or don’t because he is willing to do what it takes to keep the work moving forward.

Here is the odd moment of the week. We were teaching a family that we had just tracted out. While we were teaching them about the Plan of Salvation and specifically about how our actions really matter here on earth, the father’s phone rang. He pulled the phone out of his pocket, looked at it, stood up and went into a pitcher’s stance throwing the phone as hard as he could at the wall. Needless to say everyone went silent and stared at him. We could not figure out what had just happened and what was going through his head. He then sat down and starting ranting for a bit and then said, “Okay let us continue.” Of course, we finished the lesson but looking back I cannot imagine what was going through his head. It’s hard enough to save up the money to buy a phone and then to just chuck it full force against a wall seems crazy.

Since the beginning of the mission, I have gotten really good at changing tires. On average I probably change at least one tire a month. Since the roads are covered in trash and pieces of metal, I am a master tire changer! For example just two days ago, I walked outside and there sat the pickup with a flat tire. I tried to think how it had happened because I had not driven the truck in quite some time. I even began to think that someone might have slashed the tire. I then realized it didn’t really matter and I hopped over to the truck and changed the tire. The first time it took me about thirty minutes to accomplish the task. But now days, it takes about ten minutes! Things do get easier when you do it a lot.

Things are good and we have a solid teaching pool. Have a great week everyone!

Elder Bitter

P.S. Just a shout out to Grandma Bitter! Happy 92nd Birthday, Grandma.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Demolition Team - October 6, 2014

Dearest people in the world:

This week I will to try to write a nice email including the work and cool things that have happened.

We had many cool things happen this week. I will mention four. I will save the best for last! This week we were walking around trying to find someone to teach and we saw two large guys breaking down a house. We walked over and started talking with them. We were trying to figure out what in the world they were doing. As it turns out, they were the demolition team for the house. The owner wanted to rebuild the house bigger and better. We chatted for a little while and then we dropped our bags and said let us help.

We did not give them an option. We did not ask, we just told them we were going to help. With a little joking and teasing, they finally agreed. Man did we have fun!

We had picks, sledge hammers and the like. We were kicking down walls, pulling down the roof and having a blast doing it. As time went on, all the workers ended up joining us. We were laughing, joking and really enjoying ourselves.

After demolishing 95% of the house, we had one extremely large wall that was about 9 feet long and about 10 feet high. We decided that we would try to push over the whole wall at once. We were heaving, pushing and kicking the wall laughing all the way. Finally it started to sway. We began to rock it back and forth until TIMBER!! The wall tumbled down and landed with a loud THUD. This service was fun and therapeutic at the same time. Hahaha!

After we finished taking down this house, we sat down and taught all of the workers about the gospel. It was pretty awesome. The only one that is really showing potential so far is a man named James. He is the head of the demolition team. We will see how it all goes.

The second really cool thing that happened this week was with the shopkeeper for one of the local grocery stores. At this store, I am a well-known and loyal customer. I have been in Lira for about six months now and I go there probably three times a week. So basically we are all on a first name basis. I was visiting with the owner of the store and he said, “I want you and your friends to come to my house this week and celebrate the holiday with me.”

We smiled and told him we would love to celebrate with him. We showed up on Saturday and discovered that this man probably has the nicest home I have been in during my whole mission. While we were there, we chatted and told him about the gospel. It was really cool and relaxed. After a while, he said, “It is time to celebrate.” He then leaves the room and his family brings out a large mat which they placed on the floor. They then all sat on the floor. After sitting on the floor, the house workers brought out the celebration food.

They brought out platter after platter of food. I am not exaggerating! They brought out a platter of Pilau (a rice, vegetable, and meat combination) that was probably close to 15 pounds. They had killed four chickens, a whole goat, made two kilos of chapatis, and probably 5 pounds of fish. And then there was a variety of sauces and gravies and all sorts of other things like matloke, gnut, and other foods that no one at home would really recognize.

Well after they brought this out, the shopkeeper came in and looked at us (His family got up and left which left six missionaries and three of his friends) and said, “My friends this is for us. There is more food in the back for my family.”

We were the guests of honor. I think he wanted to destroy us with amazing food. He then told us that we don’t stand up until the food is gone. This is the holiday’s tradition! I could not believe it. His other friends knew of the tradition and agreed. Believe it or not with shear grit and determination and a stomach of steel, we conquered the mountain of food.

Elder Ngesi who is someone that came out on the mission with me, looked at me half way through and said, "Elder all those days of work where you feel nothing has worked out and you hoped for more this is the payment for those days." We all laughed and joked and ate and ate and ate until we were all sick of food and stuffed to the tops of our throats but we finished it. This gift was given by Mbrook the big man of Lira. It was super awesome. We are going to continue trying to teach him. We will see how that goes.

The third amazing thing that happened this week is that over the past few transfers (about 20 weeks), we have constantly been talking to Calisto's wife (the doctor that we baptized some time back). During this time she has refused our message and the idea of attending church. I have introduced Elder Whitworth to her multiple times and this past week she not only committed to come to church with her husband, she actually came! I really believe the Lord was saving her change of heart so that Elder Whitworth could see the miracles of the work.

He truly saw the miracle! She not only came to church but she brought all her children and she sat with her husband. My companion at that moment saw the “greatness” of this work. When something amazing like this happens, it just motivates you and invites the Spirit instantly into the room and into your heart. If she joins the church, this will be the third complete family in the branch. This will be a wonderful way to start Elder Whitworth’s mission. Please pray for her!

I never could understand why she refused for so long to accept the gospel. But now that it has happened and she has admitted that she might join the church, I understand part of the reason it took so long. It was so Elder Whitworth could see the Lord’s mighty hand in the work. It is HIS WORK!

Elder Whitworth will be an amazing missionary. He teaches with the spirit. He acts like a missionary. He talks and dresses like a missionary. These things make a huge difference in the effectiveness of the missionary.

Finally, miracle number four is James! He is different from the James mentioned in the above paragraphs. We have been teaching him for about four months and he is ready for baptism. He will be baptized on December 6, 2014. The reason for the wait is he is getting married on November 29. He has been living with his fiance for a few years but he is now going to get married.

The date is set and we are invited whoot, whoot. James is a really amazing guy. He is 31 and is an accountant for a Big NGO organization out here. He does very well for his family and is a very successful guy. He has read about 3/4 of The Book of Mormon and will complete it soon. I really like this guy a lot.

Thank you for the encouraging and kind words in the emails. It is always nice to read them. I can now say that I am finally over that sickness that I talked about a little while back. This is really a great blessing! I am ready to continue on with full strength. Thanks for all you do! I sure love ya all! I hope that all is well.

Love you!

Elder Bitter