Good Morning, Afternoon, Evening, etc...Friends and Family!!!
Greetings from the Uganda Kampala mission!!! I'm loving it here in the Walukuba district in the Jinja area!!! I'm kind of torn though, I really miss everyone and everything at home, but I really love it here too. Have you ever really wanted to be in two places at once!?!?!?!? IT'S REALLY TERRIBLE!!!! :) I've just been telling myself to enjoy the time I have here while it lasts and that I will be back home in 23 months and will then be able to enjoy it there. I guess I'll start by giving a little bit more info about Walukuba and the people and culture. Walukuba, as you probably know, is a village on the North-West(ish) shore of Lake Victoria. It is about the size of Lake Point and since we are a walking mission I have walked every inch of it now. On average we are probably walking 10-12 miles per day with the longest days ending up around 15 miles of walking. I think I've lost a few pounds off of my "gut." :D I'm slimming down but am exercising every day to maintain my muscle. I really should eat more protein but the sources are limited. Peanut butter is about 3.50$ for a small jar so that isn't very economical, beans are plentiful but take a long time to cook and we are never at home, meat is available but only in Jinja Town and again takes time to cook...so I'm trying my best to plan so that I can get a proper diet of protein :D Okay...back to the area and people.
Walukuba USED to have two branches consisting of about 250 people each. They have a beautiful chapel with electricity and running water and everything (that is, when the bills are paid they do) Right now the building is running on a generator because bill payment has been a problem, we have power when we need it but gas, "petrol" is expensive so using the generator isn't the best idea.
Okay...so I said that Walukuba USED to have two branches. Starting about 1 1/2 years ago, people just stopped coming to church. We've talked in PEC about the causes and one possibility is that living circumstances got better so people "decided" they didn't need God anymore...:/ The Book of Mormon warns of this again and again, once the Lord starts blessing people they become prideful and stop praying, relying on God. One of the biggest roles of the missionaries here in Walukuba is to re-activate those members who have gone less active. It's not easy, because once people get in the habit (or out of the habit) of coming to church it is tough to help them change. One of the things we do each day is street contacting. We have a small market near our apartment that is really busy from about 6-8pm at night. Each day we have a goal to contact and invite to church at least 25 people. Out of these contacts we also find less-active members and new investigators that are open to us visiting them and teaching them. This street contacting is successful some days and very discouraging on others. One great contact we had last week was Sister Vivian.
~OKAY~ I have to add a little side note here...The most difficult thing for me here is remembering everyone's names and faces. Here in Uganda (and all of Africa I understand) people are solely on a first name basis. This is all great except...all the women here are named either: Esther, Teddy, Sandra, Harriet or some other name like that...With the men it is just the same: Dennis, Francis, Issac, Joel, Moses...so my difficulty in putting the right names, with the right faces, with their place of residence is almost nightmarish :D I'm getting pretty comfortable with the layout of the village but remembering everyone and where they live has been difficult. I shouldn't be too hard on myself, I've only been here 1 1/2 weeks and I need to give myself time. haha, okay back to Sister Vivian.
Sister Vivian is a 16 year old girl we met at the market while she was on her way back from school (School here is a lot more time intensive than school back in the states, children be glad that you don't have to be at school at 7 and don't get out till 6pm :D) So we met Vivian and talked to her for a few minutes, we gave her a pass-along card with a picture of the Book of Mormon with our phone number on it. We thought nothing else of our simple "contact" until we were on our way home and a woman called us. She told us her name was Sister Teddy and that she was Vivian's mother. She said that when Vivian came home with that card she just had to call us and learn more about the Book of Mormon. We set a time to meet with her and her two daughters and taught them the Doctrine of Christ (2Nephi 31). At the end of the lesson both Teddy and Vivian said they wanted to be baptized and that they would prepare themselves by coming to church and listening to the missionary lessons. Elder Butawo and I were SO HAPPY!!! I know that street contacting is hard and tedious (especially at the end of the day) but it is worth it. "If ye shall bring but one soul unto me how great shall be your joy!!!"
So I guess some of you are probably wondering about the money here and how things work covering my expenses as a missionary. As I was walking to the Internet Cafe I passed an money exchange place and the rate was 2400 Ugandan Shillings to 1 US Dollar. I have been using 2000/1 in my calculations because it is easier but it also gives me a little cushion of safety if I mess up on some of my math :D I have been told that we as missionaries each receive 360,000 Shillings per month to be used for: food, transportation, fast offering (yes we pay that still :D), toiletries, and other living supplies.
I think I mentioned what a mess the apartment was when I got there. I am starting to feel more at home with such essentials as: hand soap for the bathroom, dish soap for washing dishes, hand towels, etc...I still can't believe that the missionaries have been living without these things. Still, I'm the only one that is really taking advantage of them, the other elders are still pulling a plate from a dirty stack, rinsing it off then using it to eat off of. The most disgusting thing is the eating utensils. I actually pulled a set of fork, spoon and knife out of the sink and sanitized them by boiling, then put them in my suitcase to be used SOLELY by me!!! If these other guys want to live in filth they can, but as for me and my house, we shall be sanitary :D
Sorry for the quick vent session...so we are given 360,000 Shillings a month. This is pretty adequate as long as you plan for your expenses. Each time we come into town we have to take a pedal-boda (a bicycle taxi of sorts) this usually costs between 700-1000 shillings one way per person. So we need to budget at least 8,000 per month if we are coming in to email on P-day. We also have a ward member that washes our clothes, this is 5,000 a week or 20,000 a month. As you can see it adds up pretty quickly and if you don't plan you could be out of money two weeks into the month.
So here's a quick Ugandan math problem for you. I can buy 4kg of potatoes for 4800 Ugandan shillings. What is this in US Dollars and lbs? Is it a good deal? Should I include more or less potatoes in my diet from a point of economy?
Alright, a little explanation of pictures attached...In our back yard we have quite a few trees. I went exploring around last week and found that we have two banana trees, one of them that will have ripe bananas in probably 2-3 weeks. I included a picture of the bunch that probably has 50-60 bananas on it. We are going to have a banana feast when they are ready!!!! We also have a few mango trees, but mangos grow VERY slow and the elders in the transfer before us picked everything so we probably won't have mangos available this transfer. We also have an avacado tree. They don't look anything like the black avacados we have in the states. These are a bright green and will remain that way all the way up to when they are ready. The best way to know that an avacado is ready is to look at it. If it is hanging from the tree, it is not ready, if it is on the ground it is ready :D I've started to look around the tree every morning for avacados then put them in the refrigerator to keep until we are ready to eat them. YES, I have become an avacado eater, I know I had a reputation of hating avacados in the US and I probably still will when I get back :D These fresh from the tree avacados are great!!!
Also I've attached a picture with the two senior missionary couples and a recent convert (Alice) One of the senior couples is from Alberta, Canada and when I asked them if they knew any Vances they said they did. Sister Shipley knew Jim Vance pretty well and went to his wedding. So any Vances who read this...maybe you could let Jim know that I met the Shipleys and that they will be coming home to Alberta in 2 weeks.
Okay, I have to remember what each photo is, I can't see thumbnails on this computer so I'm going off of numbers, hopefully I explain everything clearly, if I don't just use your imagination to come up with the most interesting explanation you can :D As you can see, I have photographed the "Plate of the Week" again. I think I'm going to keep doing this just because it is fun. I hope all my Lion House friends are proud of me :D I've learned a lot working there and no elder that works with me is going to complain when it is my turn to cook :D
Okay, that's all for now folks!!! Just a quick scripture for you. Remember in the New Testament when Jesus is talking to Peter?
Jesus: Do you love me?
Peter: Thou knowest I love thee.
Jesus: Feed my sheep.
I always like to apply scriptures to myself and my life (1Nephi 19:23) so here goes my interpretation of the scripture.
Elder Winters: Friends and Family, do you love me?
Friends and Family: Thou knowest that we love thee.
Elder Winters: Fill my mailbox!!!
I am thankful for everyone that has sent me letters through DearElder.com. That is the only way I have gotten letters so far, for those who have sent something through the pouch it must be taking a REALLY long time. Keep the letters coming and keep me informed. WHERE DID JIMMER FREDETTE GO IN THE NBA!!!! YOU GUYS ARE KILLING ME. WHO TOOK THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR!!!! Heat? Maverics? I guess I'll have to wait till next week to find out. Make sure you tell me!!!
Be prepared next week for a story with prehistoric significance!!! (Just thought I'd keep you guessing :D)