Hello Family and Friends!!! Greetings from Uganda!!!
It sounds like you got an email from the mission home letting you know we are safe and sound. I'm glad they sent that, especially since all the internet in the entire town was down yesterday (P-day) :( I hope you guys didn't worry too much when nothing came through from me on Monday. I guess we will never know if the internet will work or not so the only thing I can tell you is that: no news is good news...so please don't worry if something doesn't come through one week, we will try to get into town and email sometime during the week if P-day doesn't work but sometimes we won't be able to do that.
Well first things first...the flight from Joburg to Entebbe (Kampala) was great. We flew on a A-319 operated by South African Airways. The plane is even a little smaller than a 737 (like what Southwest flies) but the flight was only 4 hours so it wasn't too bad. My favorite part was coming in for landing because we descended over Lake Victoria. I don't know if you can see it on Google earth but the airport is right on the West side of the lake and the runway comes right up to the water. You'll have to check out the picture I took, there are lots of small islands where people have little huts. It's really cool, having your own island!!! There were also a lot of canoes and small fishing boats people were using. Kind of an auqa-life of sorts. :) When we got out of the airplane the first thing I felt was a stifling, wet heat :/ We landed at about 7pm and the sun was just going down but it was the hottest feeling I have felt in a long time. I'm told that it is only about 85-90 degrees at the hottest times of the day but with 60-80% humidity depending on the time of year that can feel a lot hotter. We were greeted at the baggage claim by President and Sister Jackson, as well as the Assistants to the President. (For those who care, Elder Rennie was the first person I saw, cuz he's like 6' 6" or something crazy tall like that :) We were shipped around the Kampala area to various missionary apartments to stay the night, then in the morning went to the Mission Home (Nakawa House) for Breakfast and a day of orientation. This was the first time I met my new companion!!! It was kind of funny because I walked into the room and saw him and said to myself, "he's the one...". His name is Elder Butawo, he's a 24 year old from Zimbabwe. I am his 3rd "Greenie" so he knows all the "tricks." He has been in our area for 3 transfers now so he knows the people as well as the area really well. I've been told to not tell you my specific area is so that you can try and guess but I want to tell you really bad so here it goes. I am (as the email from the mission home told you) in the Jinja zone. My specific area is a small village called Walukaba. It is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Kampala. I LOVE BEING IN A VILLAGE!!! I don't know what the Lord has in store for me but I hope that Walukaba or other small villages like it are in my future. My favorite part about being in Walukaba is that everyone is always around. I've heard that the Kampala missionaries have the hardest time meeting with people because there is so much to do in the city. We have been working with a recent convert who has been coming around with us to our visits. His name is Moses and he was baptized 2 weeks ago. He is really excited about missionary work and plans to serve once he has completed his schooling. I guess here in Uganda (and all of Africa for that matter) you take schooling when you can, that is the reason that most of the African missionaries are several years older than us from America.
So one of the coolest things about the missionary work we are doing right now is the way we are doing things. All I can say is to look out for Preach My Gospel 2 (second edition). In the last six months the church has changed the way missionaries approach potential investigators. In the past, the Restoration has been the main focus. Now, we are focusing in on what is called the Doctrine of Christ. I would like to challenge all of you to go read 2 Nephi chapter 31, this is where the Doctrine of Christ comes from. Our main focus now is on people and giving them the desire to be baptized. No matter whether it's a contact or a first scheduled lesson we are teaching the Doctrine of Christ. This means that we will read through several specific verses of 2Nephi 31 about Christ's baptism then talk to the investigator about following Christ's example of being baptized by immersion by someone holding the proper authority from God. The statistics prove everything. Today, I went on splits with another missionary while my companion (who is a District Leader) had some training to go through. We found two people (both by knocking on doors) whom we taught the Doctrine of Christ. They both committed to prepare themselves for baptizm by receiving the missionaries and learning the lessons. We have a tenative date of July 3rd for both these individuals. I hope this gives you a good idea of how effective the Doctrine of Christ lessons are. Most people (unless their Muslim) want to follow the example of Christ, and when we read to them from the scriptures the example Christ has given us they willingly submit to follow that example.
Okay, a little bit about my apartment...We stay in a house with two other missionaries. Each companionship has their own bedroom then we share a bathroom and kitchen. I included a picture of the exterior of the house as well as our kitchen. The little colorful lizard thing is our Gecko friend. He stays in our bathroom above the curtain rod. I guess Geckos are very common here and it is likely we will have 6-7 running around our apartment at any given time. Our kitchen (and rest of the apartment) was a mess when I arrived!!! I don't know how the other elders have survived in such filth. It's not like it is a dump, it's not the nicest of places but with a little cleaning up it will be. I took 3-4 hours on P-day to do some cleaning. Imagine this...there is not ONE hand towel in the entire house, not one bar of soap, not one speck of dish soap!?!?!? My food budget is going to be a little slim this month because I got some soap, towels and other NECESSITIES at the general store in Jinja Town. I hope that we can get this operation turned around and make the living circumstances livable :D
As you can see by one of the pictures, I'm doing just fine with eating. I'm grateful I actually listened to my Mom when she was teaching me how to cook. The other elders were eating Ramen noodles and toast :D The plate you see there is: rice, chicken (we actually killed and gutted it...:/ story for another time) raw carrots and cole slaw. Needless to say, we ate like kings last night.
THANKS A MILLION for the letters sent through www.dearelder.com. They got to me on Sunday, which was lucky because I'm two hours away from the mission home. I guess that some of you have sent your OWN letters through the pouch system and this is fine (I haven't received them yet but I'm sure I will), but it sounds like DearElder is the quickest way to contact me (other than email of course...) So thank you: Siera, Tali, Aila, Sister Fridley, Brother Fridley, Jessie, Erin, Stephanie, and anyone else I can't remember right now!!! It is soooo fun to be able to sit in bed before going to sleep and reading a letter from home. To be honest I really am missing home. I miss the people, I miss the climate (IT IS SOOOO HOT HERE!!!! I haven't been dry since I arrived) I miss the good food, I just miss Utah PERIOD!!! I know that Uganda is where God want's me right now so here I will stay, but I will be very glad to come home to all of you my Friends and Family.
I hope I didn't bore anyone with this long novel but I just had to get it out. Please continue to write (DearElder) and email (if you have my address) I love to hear from you.