Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dec 20th 2011

Last week our family brainstormed a bunch of questions for Elder Winters…things we would like to know about his new area.  Here are his answers.

Question: do you have a cell phone?
Yes we do. Each companionship in the mission has one. We use them to contact investigators and confirm appointments, etc...In fact, I will be buying a sim card to plug into the phone to call you with on Christmas. 

Question: What does your house look like?
It is actually a really nice house. Probably the nicest I've been in so far. It has tile which is a big difference from teh red concrete in my other two apartments. I sent a picture this week so you should be able to see the outside.

Question:  How many other elders do you live with?  Where are they from?
I live in a district with 3 other elders (including my companion Elder …. [Kenya]) The other two: Elder (Kenya) and Elder …. (South Africa).

Question:  Are there any other American elders in Busia?
Nope. In fact, I think I might be the only American in 100km. The only other white person I've seen was a missionary from a different area (Mbale) when we went there for a zone conference. :D

Question:  What do you eat for breakfast in Busia?
Breakfast is usually very simple. Not a lot of fancy foods here, so usually Banana (Bugoya), Hard-boiled Eggs, and Carrots. ;) Pretty funny huh? But I've got to eat what I can get!!!

Question:  How many miles are you walking each day?
It depends on the day, but I would have to say that we walk between 8-12 miles per day. Our area starts about 35-40 minutes walk from the apartment so that adds significantly to things. I must say, I'm staying very fit!!!

Question:  Do you have power all the time?
Hmmm...Power is a big problem here in Busia (well, here in Uganda as a whole). My first week here we had power only 2/7 days. The past few weeks haven't been too bad, we have had power about 2-3 days. One nasty habit the power has here is to be on all day long, then go off when we are about to get home for the evening. ;)

Question:  Do you have a hot shower?
Not really, our hot water tank is only about 1.5 gallons so by the time you get in and get the water turned on it is half gone. One nice thing is that it is usually way too hot to want a hot shower. I have taken up the habit of sticking the shower hose out the bathroom window and taking a shower out in the sunshine. It is almost like swimming, which is something that missionaries miss really bad!!!

Question:  Does your toilet look like the one in the picture you sent last week?
haha, we have a normal toilet. One thing is that it doesn't flush like a "normal" toilet. People from America always ask "which way does the toilet spin?" Well, here in Uganda, we are right on the equator, it doesn't "spin" at all, the water come from the front of the toilet bowl and forces everything down that way. :D

Question:  Is there a bathroom in your apartment?
Yes we have a bathroom. It looks pretty much like our upstairs bathroom except the toilet is combined in the same room as the tub.

Question:  How many people attend sacrament meeting on Sunday?
haha, that's another funny one. Let me give you the rundown on church attendance for my four weeks here: 1st 65, 2nd 35, 3rd 68, 4th 48... One thing I am proud of is that usually about 25% of the people at sacrament are investigators.

Question:  Is there anyone getting ready to be baptized right now?
YES!!! We will be having baptisms on the 31st (New Years Eve)…. Me and my companion are hoping to have 5-6 baptisms.

Question:  How is your grocery shopping in this new place?
What grocery shopping??? haha. There is a small supermarket on the way home from our area so we usually hit that for manufactured things like drink mix and pasta. For everything else we have an open-air market with fruits, vegetables, and rice/beans, etc...BY THE WAY!!! It's pineapple season again!!! I got one for breakfast yesterday at about 35 cents!!! It was delicious!!!! Best time of the year ;)

Question:  I am making lemonade.  When is the last time you had lemonade?
Let's see...the last time I had lemonade was on May 17th, 2011 in the Chicago O'Hare airport with a Spicy Italian Subway sandwich on Italian herbs and cheese bread, with all the toppings and pepperjack cheese. OOH, just writing about it makes me hungry. They do have some powdered drink mixes here but the only good one is called Dovita. I can only get it in Mbale or Kampala (both places are further than 2 hours drive) so I have to stock up really good. I have been drinking a lot of milk here in Busia because I need to get some protein and calcium. I boil it really well so don't worry about that.... ;)

Question:  How are your shoes holding out?
Shoes are doing okay. The insides are going to wear out a lot quicker than the soles. We get quite a bit of rain here in Uganda (just in case you were wondering...) so we walk in wet shoes a lot and that doesn't help the wear and tear factor. One of my Eccos has a crack along the bottom going from one side to the other (left to right) and I can almost bend the shoe in half :D There are plenty of places to buy shoes here though, so don't even worry about trying to send me more. The shoes I brought will probably last me at least through October of 2012 so I'll be fine. Thanks for asking!!! :)

Question:  What is your favorite African food?
My favorite "Ugandan" food (cuz the foods are different depending on which country you are in) is Matooke (MUH-TOKE-AYE), like a green banana steamed and mashed, and G-nut sauce (peanut sauce) I think I love it so much I might have to bring a tree home with me and grow it in a green house. ;)

Question:  Is there a bishop in Busia?
We don't have a bishop here in Busia. We don't even have a branch president...the church is only about 7 months old in Busia so we have what is called a group, run by the missionaries. We teach all the classes, and help the group leader to plan the sacrament meeting. It's a big job but is really fun and I have learned a lot about how to run the church.

Question:  Is that mosquito netting we’ve seen on your bed in the pictures?
Yep, I have to say I feel like a princess in some fairy tale every day when I wake up. ;) The netting does a good job, we spray it with Prometheryin about every 3-4 months which keeps them away even better.

Question:  How do you find people to teach? (street contacting, referrals?)
Most of the people are found while trackting or street contacting. We do ask the members for referrals but since there aren't too many members around it is kind of tough. 

Question:  Do you have any trees with “fruit” on them that you can eat?
Well, we don't have any tree which are OURS if that is what you want to know. Yes, there are trees everywhere with: Jackfruit (those big green bumpy things), bananas, passion fruit, papaya, and matooke. Usually we just buy things from the market rather than try to find someone to let us harvest their tree.

Question:  Are the DVD players in your area NTSC or PAL?
WOW, that question is way out of my league. They play dvd's from America just fine if that answers your question.

Question:  We saw you riding a bike.  Was that just for pday or do you get to ride other times as well?
That was just for fun. We don't have bikes here in Uganda, I have heard that the missionaries in Ethiopia do have them, but for now, I'm in a walking mission.

Question:  How many missionaries are in your zone?
We have a total of 8 missionaries. 4 in Busia and 4 in Mbale.

Question:  How are you going to celebrate Christmas?
I am going to go to church in the morning, then come home and sleep (I've been really tired lately, and I'm fighting a cold), then I'll get up at about 8:30pm (Uganda time) and call you guys!!!! I CAN'T WAIT!!!

Question:  Do you have a fridge?
We have an appliance called a fridge in our apartment. It doesn't always get to live up to its name however because the power is out so often. We really just use the "fridge" like a cupboard to keep things in. ;)

Question:  How long do you get to study scriptures each morning?  How often and what do you do for exercise?
We have 3 hours for study in the mornings right now. 1 hour for personal then 2 for companionship study and daily planning. I usually work out in the evening because I have found that if I work out in the morning I might not be able to get through the day...;) I've just been doing pushups and crunches and some pull-ups, but I plan on really working out hard the last 6 months of my mission so that I can compete with the six-pack Jacob is working on, and also to impress the ladies :D

Question:  After your emails and laundry, what do you do on pday?
SLEEP!!!! Missionary work is hard. We walk so much during the week, and it is hot, so on P-day we usually just sleep. At 6pm we attend "family home evening" at the church. This is a fellowshipping time for people to just come and get to know each other.

Question:  What is your favorite thing about Busia? 
Hah, it's got to be how green everything is!!! I've not seen so much of one color in all my life (unless you count the sky...) Life is really simple here, I love that.

Question:  Is your weight and muscle mass stable?
Yep, since my initial weight gain during my first 2 transfers I have been stable at 150lb. I'm planning on working out pretty hard the last 6 months of my mission and maybe put on another 10 pounds of upper-torso muscle.

Question:  Are you learning any other languages in Busia?
Swahili is a big language here, almost everyone knows it. I have learned a little bit, but haven't been able to take much time to study it. "Abari!!!" (UGH-BAR-EEE) That means Hi!!! How are you!!! You would respond "Muzuri" (MUGH-ZOO-REE) Which means "Okay"

Question:  Is your body adapting to the humidity so that you sweat less?
Nope, I sweat like nothing else. People are always laughing at me when they see me with big beads sweat running down my face. I've used it to my advantage though, it opens up a conversation of where I came from and why I'm here. ;D

Question:  How big is Busia?  Population?
Busia is in two parts. I guess I'll answer part of one of your next questions. We have Busia Uganda and Busia Kenya. The Church has missionaries in both sides. I haven't seen the other missionaries but I have called them to give a referral once or twice. Busia town itself is pretty densley populated. I can't give you a good estimate but maybe about the population of Tooele county (Tooele valley that is)

Question:  In general, how is sanitation – water and toilet facilities – in the village?
Sanitiation is pretty good. The water is all gotten from either wells, pumps or natural springs. I'll try to get a picture of a natural spring in our area, it is beautiful!!! For toilets, the Long Drop is pretty typical. A big hole is dug in the ground and a cement building with a hole in the floor is put on top. Surprisingly, the hole never seems to fill up. I don't know if things decompose so quickly or move around into the soil or something, but I have never seen a "full" long drop.

Question:  Have you been to Kenya yet?  It looks like the border runs right through the village?  Do you have to stay on the Uganda side of the line?
I haven't been to Kenya. It is outside of the mission boundaries and we aren't allowed to go without specific permission from President Jackson. I have been up to the border, so I guess you could say I've "seen" Kenya. :D

Question:  Do most of the homes have flooring, or the dirt like we’ve seen in some pictures.  We’ve wondered if those with the dirt floors are outdoor kitchens or something.
All the homes have dirt floors here. There are a few which have concrete but they are definitely a minority. Usually what people will do is buy a plastic sheet thing (like linoleum or something) and put it down on the floor. Ugandans (and Africans as a whole) are very clean people. Every morning you will see all the women out sweeping their homes and "yards." It is really cool!!!

Hangin' with some investigator kids

Spider bites I got during a teaching appointment (they were gone after a few hours)

Front of our apartment

Path leading away from our apartment

Banana Grove

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dec 12th 2011

Hey guys...It's one of those weeks. I have been in the internet cafe for 2 hours now trying to respond to your questions and upload pictures, etc...

The power has been on and off the whole time and when the power is on, the internet is off.

I just wanted to let you know that I'm okay and that I hope I'll be able to do stuff next week.
Have a safe week, hopefully things will work better for me next week.


Me with Investigator family

Plate of the Week (typical lunch)

Eating Matooke with ground nut sauce
(MATOOKE is Buganda's traditional dish and one of the most
common foods in Uganda. The green plantains are peeled and cooked
in water or steamed in banana leaves.  When ready, matooke turns soft
and yellow. Some people mash it, while others do not. Matooke is
usually served with groundnut sauce, meat, or vegetables.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dec 5th 2011

Hello friends and family!!!
Sorry for the lack of communication last week, I was still trying to
figure things out here in Busia and I guess I didn't manage my time
very well. Things are going great and I am getting to know the members
as well as the area quickly. I don't want to spend a lot of time
talking about Busia today, rather I would like to share something I
have been studying for the past week and which has been on my mind a
lot since I came on my mission.

I have been studying about our life desires and dreams, and where they
should be focused. The teachings are so significant that I want to
share them with you even though my computer time is somewhat short. I
want to begin by discussing 3 Nephi 13:19-20 when Jesus Christ himself
is admonishing the Nephites to "Lay up for [themselves] treasures in
heaven." This comes after telling them to stop focusing on things of
this earth, namely temporal luzuries at the expense of spiritual
things. (See also Matthew 6:19-20)

Why is it important to concentrate on the spiritual things rather than
the temporal? Because Jesus teaches us that the things of this world
will remain with this world, and the spiritual things we gain in this
life will come with us as we pass on. Many people all over the world
have a "When I am temporally provided for THEN I will turn my
attention to learning about God and doing his will." Jacob a prophet
in the Book of Mormon points out the flaw in this reasoning in chapter
2 of the book which carries his name. "But BEFORE ye seek for riches,
seek ye for the kingdom of God. And AFTER ye have obtained a hope in
Christ ye shall obtain riches if ye seek them..." (Jacob 2:18-19) Here
we read from a prophet of God that AFTER and only AFTER we obtain a
hope in Christ can we turn our attention to the pursuit of riches.
True, the necessities of life are important, but not as important as
the spiritual knowledge which we have the opportunity to obtain here
in this life.

Paul has some powerful words for us on the subject as we read in 1
Corinthians 8:8. "But meat commendeth us not to God; for neither, if
we eat are we better; neither if we eat not are we the worse" This is
a somewhat morbid way to view life but it is true nonetheless. If
someone has accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ into their lives and
has been baptized by immersion by someone who holds the proper
priesthood authority then they have no need to fear. Essentially, they
could starve to death and still be assured of a greater reward in
heaven than the millionaire who rejected the message. There is a great
parable in the book of Luke 16:19-25. Because of time restraints I
won't cite the story, but will give you the opportunity to search it
out and learn for yourself.

If I have only learned one thing while here on my mission it is that
the things of this life really don't matter in the eternal scheme of
things. The things which really matter are found in the 4th Article of
Faith: Faith, Repentance, Baptism by immersion [by the proper
authority] for the remission of sins, Receiving the Gift of the Holy
Ghost, and Enduring to the end. As Jacob teaches, riches take 2nd
place to this much more important purpose. Heavenly Father's "...work
and [His] glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life
of man." (Moses 1:39) By offering His son as a sacrifice for the world
he has given us the opportunity to return and live with him once more.
He cares about our temporal needs but not at the expense of our
spiritual needs.

I know that we have a God in heaven who not only knows us, but loves
us. If we will devote our lives to coming to know God and his son
Jesus Christ (John 17:3) then the temporal things of this life will
become transparent as glass. We will know what TRULY matters!!!

I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

 ....here is a little news from some of Brandon's emails to the family

............It's good to hear that members of the ward still remember me. :D As long as the card comes I really don't care when. Being all the way out here in Busia, mail and packages only come once per transfer so anything that the mission office can send tomorrow when President Jackson comes will get to me before the new year.

Christmas decorations are almost non-existent here in Busia at least.
I have seen a few pretty sad decorations in a few supermarkets back in Kampala but we are pretty much resigned to face two Christmases without decorations. We will be going to Mbale (about 2 hours north) Christmas eve to have a Zone Christmas party. Then we will travel back to Busia for the Christmas day church services and a day of rest. Then I will call you guys when you get home from church!!!!!

I really miss all the Christmas performances, they were and will always be my favorite. I hear that the Christmas Devotional was yesterday or sometime in the past week. How did you like that? I know that I always "seem" to sleep through those things, but I really enjoyed them and can't wait until I can hang out with the family again in the basement!!!

In answer to your question, yes, I do enjoy being back in the village.
I made lots of good friends in Ntinda and I will never forget them, but there is something about being in a village away from everything. We truly are OUT THERE!!! Yesterday we went to an investigator family who stays 8km away from town. We were able to take pedal-bodas (see pics from yahoo email) there, but back is all uphill so we couldn't find anyone to pedal us home, so we walked it...:D That is the Uganda Kampala Mission in my eyes. Not hanging out in town with the "same"
amenities as back home. Every p-day here I wash my own clothes by hand. A lot different than back in Ntinda where we had Sister ... to wash for us. I will say that is a good growing experience and makes me really grateful for washing machines back home. haha, when my kids come along, I'll be able to tell them that I washed my own clothes for 6 months (probably how long I'll be here in Busia) of my life and that they'd better stop complaining about having to sort the whites and colors. :D


Keeping up with the Garden

Runaway bike

Getting home on a Rainy night

Longdrop (Outhouse)

Pedal Boda-Boda (Uganda Taxi)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Nov 28th 2011

Brandon has been transferred to Busia, a village on the border of Uganda and Kenya; he also got a new companion from Kenya.  The Internet there is extremely slow, so he was only able to send pictures this week...

Monkey Crossing

New companion

Great view of the river