Monday, November 24, 2014

Fire Pit - November 24, 2014

Email time again! This letter will be short again because I don’t have a lot to say.

This week went by really, really fast! We are teaching a lot of great people. Each of them is scheduled to be baptized around the end of December. We have seen so many miracles as we teach these people. If you remember, we had a lot of referrals over the past few weeks. ALL of these people are progressing and learning about the gospel. Each in his/her own way is showing great interest in the gospel. The best part is that they already have a “friend foundation” in the church. This is so crucial to progress. When an investigator is introduced as a friend to a member, they feel more comfortable and welcome.

Over the last week, I have received phone calls and requests from people wanting my stuff. It is kind of funny.

Elder Leavitt, Whitworth, and I are currently digging a pit in our yard. We plan to line the pit with brick. On Thanksgiving we will be making tin foil dinners and cooking them in the pit to celebrate. And on top of that, the next missionaries will have a bonfire pit for roasting meat etc. It will be awesome!

Sorry that is all the time I have. This upcoming week will be a busy one. We will be traveling a lot, delivering stuff and other zone things. I will try to allow more time next week.

Sure love ya all,
Elder Bitter

Monday, November 17, 2014

Starting from Scratch - November 17, 2014

Well hello everyone!

This week went by really fast because we had a lot of work we needed to do. Two weeks ago, a large majority of the people that we were teaching decided they no longer wanted to learn about the gospel. So we had to start from scratch.

This past week, we were rushing as fast as we could to find and set up things so that we would have work for the rest of the year. We spent a lot of that time talking to members and getting names of people and then visiting with them. It went pretty well. I was surprised actually how well it went. The Lord really helped us out!

We were introduced to a lot of extended family members that are interested and happy to hear the gospel. This is just awesome. Because branching out and bringing families together in the church is what it is all about. I really love to see families being linked and united!

The people that we are currently teaching are Jannat, Hellen, Vincent, Kennedy, Amos, and Margaret.

Jannat is Tony’s niece. She is living with him and his family. She is planning to live with them for years. Hellen is the sister to Grace (The older lady that was baptized some time back). Hellen lives in Mbale just near the chapel. I am so grateful about this because when she goes back to Mbale, she can still attend church. Often when someone moves back to their home village or town, there just isn’t a church within reasonable distance.

Vincent is another relative to Tony that has a business in town. He is a smart guy that lives on his own but is doing well for himself.

Kennedy and Amos are friends to a member named Geoffrey. They were introduced to us and we are now teaching them as well. They actually work together in a landscaping business.

Margaret is the only person in our previous investigators that did not decided she wanted to stop taking the lessons. Margaret and her husband are investigating the church. Margaret’s husband is currently unable to attend church due to having a stroke about 4 months back. He is slowly regaining the strength to walk and move around.

That’s all I have for today. Sure love you all!

Elder Bitter

Monday, November 10, 2014

Beauty of the Wild - November 10, 2014

Woot, woot! Hello everyone I will start by telling the story of the week (maybe the story of my mission)!

I have now been in Lira for almost six months. Some of us have been waiting for approval to go to a game park. Last week we finally got the okay. We piled in our truck (it was a little tight) and we drove down to a game park called Chobe at about 3:30 in the morning. Our purpose for leaving so early was to witness the sunrise at 6:00 am.

We made it just as the sun was coming up. We convinced the security guard to let us in before opening time. While one Elder drove the truck, the rest of us hopped into the back of the truck with our cameras and slowly began the drive through the reserve looking for the wild animals.

After driving for some time, we saw a herd of giraffe. Elder Frakes stopped the truck. We were all going crazy with our cameras. We were literally chasing them on foot hoping to gather them into a circle so that we could take some amazing photos. It was awesome!

We took a ton of pictures and did not succeed in gathering them into a group. In fact we accomplished just the opposite—we chased them away. When they were out of sight, we slowly worked our way back to the truck. We began to drive very slowing anticipating seeing more animals. THEN (I am not exaggerating) about 35-40 giraffe just starting running across the driving trail! As we watched these magnificent animals, we were yelling, cheering and screaming. It was an incredible experience!

After we watched the giraffe to our hearts content, we drove on. We were able to see wart hogs, weird birds, water buffalo, hippos, and monkeys. It was awesome! But the giraffe were the coolest of all.

Now for the work! Christine was baptized this week! This was a sweet experience—baptizing first Kalisto, then a little later his two boys, Ronald and Emmanuel, and now Christine. This brings the number to three baptized families in the last six months in the Lira branch. There are not many families in the Lira Branch so these families really increase the size of the branch. The really exciting thing about this family is that they are already talking about getting their passports so that when the time comes they will be ready to go to the temple! This is so cool and a great example for the rest of the members.

Kalisto has received the priesthood so he was able to baptize Christine. It was a really cool baptismal service. There was a different feeling at this baptize than the other baptisms for the other members of the family. I think the very fact that Kalisto was able to perform the ordinance made all the difference. Christine bore a super testimony about how she had been determined to never join the church. But after Kalisto’s baptism and over time, she saw the Lord blessing her family. She witnessed change in her family. When she finally agreed to take the lessons, she realized that there was something different about this gospel. She bore her testimony with humility and power.

Sure love you and hope all is well!

Have a good one,

Elder Bitter

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Tight Squeeze - November 4, 2014

Yes, I am a day late but I am doing well and that is what counts. Yesterday (Monday) was quite the day.

Sunday night the whole Gulu zone came down and stayed in our apartment which made the total number of people 18! It was a little tight. Getting all of the Elders into our house and situated to spend the night kept us up until around midnight. I had to wake up at 3:30 am and practically throw my companion in the car to pick up the other elders in the Lira zone so we could all travel together for a meeting with an Area Seventy (Elder Ellis in the southeast region of Africa).

After picking up the Lira Elders, I dropped them at our house and went to the private taxi driver’s home so that he could get his large van to help transport all of us to the meeting with Elder Ellis. He then followed me back to our house. When we got there, we started packing missionaries into vehicles. We put 12 people in the taxi (they are big and spacious), five in the Gulu truck and then five in our truck. Elders Levitt, Whitworth, Bakari, Assimwe and I were in our truck.

We began our drive to Mbale at about 5 am! I had managed to get all that done—eat breakfast, shower, pick up the Lira Elders, and get the taxi driver in an hour and half. Normally, the drive to Mbale is about four hours. About three quarters of the way there, we hit an area where a section of the road had speed bumps every 20 feet!! This lasted for five miles. This led to a lot of upset stomachs and headaches throughout the rest of the journey.

After tackling the speed bumps, we continued on and eventually arrived about 10:30 a.m. We had a great meeting with Elder Ellis until about 2:30 p.m. He talked about a lot of different things. One of the things that impressed me was the need to pray for miracles in our life and then express gratitude when they come to pass. It was a pretty awesome meeting. The whole purpose of the meeting was to learn how to recognize the Spirit. He was a great speaker and REALLY knew his scriptures.

After the meeting, we had lunch and piled back into the car to drive back. By this point, I was very tired of driving and the thought of getting back in that driver’s seat was just not appealing. We reached Lira at about 8:30 pm. We were all very hungry. We went to a small restaurant and asked how long it would take to prepare the food because we needed to be home very soon.

The owner smiled and said thirty minutes. We were relieved and told him that would not be a problem. Well an hour and fifteen minutes later our food was ready! By this time, we were all wiped out. We asked him to pack the food to go. The Gulu and Lira Elders went to our house, ate their food in their make-shift beds and then crashed! Now you know why I didn't email yesterday—I was driving across the country. Ha ha ha!

Things with the work are pretty exciting! (Especially with Christine). We have seen Christine take the initiative in preparing for her baptism (which is this coming week). In the past, she would wait for Kalisto or us to make appointments. However last week she made the arrangements.
When we met with them some really great things happened. She told us how she and Kalisto have been praying and reading the scriptures together every single night. (I mentioned this in the last letter.) BUT she told us how this has strengthened her testimony of the gospel of Christ. They both shared their feelings about what has happened to their family since Kalisto joined the church. They had both noticed a change in their home. But ever since Christine has committed to be baptized the home has been filled with peace, happiness and joy. I felt so good! To see and hear from the family how the gospel has really changed their lives was such a wonderful reward!

We are still working with the other people that I usually write about. We are also working with a woman named Margaret. They are all doing very well.

A new person that we started teaching is Johnathan. He works for the Baroda bank and is a smart guy. Apparently a long time ago, Elder Sithole and I opened a gate for him and he was really impressed by that small act. When we were contacting, he let us share with him. (I do not remember this simple thing but it was truly a miracle!) He came to church this week and it was really awesome to have him around. He seemed to enjoy church. We will have to see how it all goes. It is too early to say.

Sorry for not emailing yesterday.

Have a good one!

Elder Bitter