Elder Grilliot in Uganda

Elder Grilliot in Uganda

Monday, January 28, 2013

Zone Conference at a Beautiful Resort with President Jackson

    Lira has been extremely hot this last week. It seems like each day is more hot and more dry than the last. I don't think it's rained since New Years, and some days it feels like I'm living in a desert. Everyday I drink between 2 and 3 litters of water but I never really feel like it's enough.
    Because of how dry everything is this time of year this is also the time where all of the dirt roads in town become repaved (they can't repave the roads when it rains. When I first learned this it made me happy because a lot of the roads in Lira have massive pot holes. Riding your bike on these roads can be super bumpy and can really hurt your butt after a full day. Sometimes it feels like I'm riding a bull that's trying to buck me off rather than a mountain bike. Latter on though my happiness became disappointment, I found out what it means for them to repave a dirt road. What it actually means is that they take a plow and tear apart all of the dirt roads and just leave it like that. So now instead of being bumped around on the road, it's like I'm trying to bike through sand. There's almost no traction. some days we just ditch the bikes because they can just be more of a hindrance than a help.
    This week has been really nice though, regardless of the heat and roads. President Jackson (our mission president) came to Lira this week (on Friday) and we had our zone conference. I was even asked to give a training at zone conference about receiving revelation through prayer. Zone conference was really nice, it gave me an increased resolve to work hard and it was very spiritually uplifting. After Zone conference we went to the best restaurant in all of Lira. It was like this buffet place that was attached to a really nice hotel. I had the best food there that I've had since I've come to Uganda.
    The best part of this week though was earlier today. Our whole zone (8 of us) got us at 5 o clock this morning to go to this resort between Lira and Gulu. We piled into the back of the Zone leader's truck and drove for about an hour before reaching our destination. Because the truck (a 2013 Nissan Hardbody) can only hold 5 passengers, me and 2 other missionaries had to sit in the bed of the truck. It being so early, and that we were going about 100 km an hour, and that I was sitting in the bed of the truck, the wind felt legitimately cold passing by us. It was probably the first time I've actually felt cold in Uganda. Then when we finally arrived at the resort, the sun was just beginning to come up. It was the coolest thing, we were driving along this road in the resort watching giraffes, elephants, baboons, and all other African animals, just as the African sun was rising. It was sweet just to be there.
    This isn't all to the story though, it gets even better. We finally arrived at the end of the resort where there is this really ritzy looking lodge. Like 5 star kind of lodge. Like better than most lodges in America, let alone Uganda, kind of lodge. Like how in the world did this get here, in the middle of the African jungle, kind of lodge. Just walking between the two massive fountains and into the lobby of the lodge we were blown away. The Lodge sat right along the Nile river, and had this amazing spectacular view of it. You could look down over the railing in the lobby and see the Nile flowing past with all kinds of Hippos and gazelles and Hogs drinking from it. It was an amazing view. We sat and just relaxed in the lobby for a few minutes, eating up the view. But wait, it gets even better. While we were all siting there in the lobby, amazed at the small piece of heaven we had stumbled upon, President Jackson walks in, our mission president. Turns out that after doing Zone conference with us in Lira he had went up to Gulu to do their Zone conference. On his way back from Gulu, President and Sister Jackson had decided to spend the night in this Lodge, before making their way back to Kampala. So when we arrived by chance at this lodge, he bumped into us and greeted us with open arms. In fact he even went as far as to treat us all to breakfast. So now we were all eating breakfast at this beautiful Lodge with our mission president, with an incredible view of the glittering Nile river, eating REAL BACON. REAL BACON! I don't think I've had a breakfast that good in... I don't even know how long. I had to pinch my self to see if I was dreaming. Really it was an amazing morning, and one I don't think any of us missionaries who were there will ever forget.
      - Elder Grilliot

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Monday, January 21, 2013

New Companion Elder Anderson

     Uganda is a crazy place. The longer that I'm here the more I realize that we take things at home for granted. Consistent electricity, supermarkets big enough to fit thousands of people in at once, and a stable economy. And so many people here can have a steady job or two and still be living in poverty. Back in the States no one lives in true poverty. Unless your living off of less than 50$ a month your living better than most people here. It makes me proud to be an American.

    This last week has been pretty nice. Transfers were on Wednesday, and I now have a new companion, Elder Anderson. He's a really cool guy from southern California. We get along pretty well and he's taught me a lot so far. He's very well rehearsed in his scriptures and he’s pretty good at teaching people using the scriptures. I've picked up a lot of his teaching methods and have been using them as well. Elder Anderson is a pretty big dude too, before coming on his mission he could bench almost 400 lbs. He's lost some muscle since then but he's still in very good shape and he's been helping me to get a nice work out in every morning. We've made it a goal to do 100 pushups every morning, 250 crunches, and 300 squats. the first few days of working out with him my whole body felt like a wet noodle.

    My old companion, Elder Cardon, was transferred to Rwanda, and now is one of 6 missionaries to ever been sent to work in Rwanda (aside from the mission pres. and his assistants). It's pretty sweet to see how fast the church is growing out here. Even in South Sudan the church is growing super fast, and in this last week the missionary couple that works up there baptized 10 people.

      I've been reading a book called Jesus the Christ the last couple weeks, and It's a pretty sweet book. You learn more about the life of Jesus in this book than from any other book I've read. Especially when you get to the part of Christ's Earthly ministry, the author James E. Talmage, uses scriptures to really break down every single statement that Christ says and expound it in a way that helps you to learn about Christ, beyond ordinary understanding. It's a sweet book.

      This week I've really seen the protection that god offers those who are in his service. Early today Elder Anderson and I were riding our bikes to town when we were rounding a corner along a small path near our house. As we slowed down to turn the corner a boda-boda (motor bike) zooms in out of nowhere and runs strait into my bike, turning my front tire into a pile of twisted metal. I go flying, and land about 10 ft. away from my bike, but amazingly don't have a single scratch on me. Even my clothes were pretty much unscathed. I felt so protected today that I didn't get hurt at all. What’s even more is that the repairs on my bike weren't even that expensive, about 15,000 Ugandan shillings, which is much less than I had thought it would be. One thing I've learned today is that God watches out for his missionaries.   

     This last Sunday was really disappointing, only one of our investigators came to church this Sunday, even though we have like ten of them with baptismal dates. We've had to push back some baptismal dates and drop some investigators this week simply because they refuse to come to church. It hurts me to see that people recognize truth, and honestly want to be baptized but have no desire to come to church. I've realized that unless they truly understand the sacrament they have no real desire to come to church. It's easy for them to understand faith, repentance, baptism, but when it comes to the sacrament they have no understanding and simply don't care to understand. That's not for all of our investigators, but sometimes it just seems like we’re trying to save someone when they have no desire to save themselves. 

    For others that we've been trying to teach, they are just too stubborn to give up their other church. They are too attached to their beliefs that even if they realize that our church is unlike any other church on Earth, they are unwilling to change. We've even had one investigator who had prayed about our church and told us that he knows that ours is the one true church of Jesus Christ, but that he is unwilling to change churches because he’s been going there so long. It hurts to know what they are missing out on and not be able to do anything about it.

    I've seen so many lives become changed because of this church, and that those who are truly seeking Jesus Christ will find solace in this message: He lives and his church lives, and that God still speaks to us today. I know that this church is the only way to truly become converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that any other path is a noble effort, but will put you short of the glory that God and Jesus Christ want for us. And I know that by praying with a sincere heart, real intent and faith in Christ the truth of this message will be manifested unto you by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

    To each of the people in Uganda that I bear this testimony to, some of them take it seriously and some do not. But those who listen to this message and take it seriously, improve their quality of life beyond that of people who are living in much less humbling circumstances than they. I didn't know how much this church can change a life until I came to Uganda, but I can honestly say now that there is no other church like this on earth.


     -Love Elder Grilliot

Monday, January 14, 2013

 Dear Family and Friends,
   I really enjoyed all of the pictures and love that I received from the emails this week. It feels good to hear all of your love and support for me. Sorry for not being able to send more pictures to you guys but my camera broke this week. I don't know what happened to it but one day it was working fine and the next it just wouldn't turn on. I still have my SD card though so when I get a new camera I can send you pictures again.

    This last week my companion and I had some pretty good success in our teaching. During our weekly planning we thought that we should concentrate on teaching the less-active members of our branch here in Lira so we decided to dedicate at least one lesson a day on less-actives. By the end of the week we had taught 8 less-active members and 7 of them came to church this Sunday for the first time in a long time (for some of them it had been over a year since they had last come to church). One of these people we taught, named Gloria (different from the other Gloria mentioned last week),  no one had seen in over two years, but prior to becoming less-active she had been very active and was even preparing to serve a mission. Missionaries and home teachers alike had passed by her house several times since then but had always been unsucsessfull in their attempts to bring her to church. Elder Cardon and I felt like passing by her house on the way back from an appointment and to see if she was home. We found her, and at first she was a bit reluctant to see us, but then her older brother (we had never met him before) who was there was very excited to see us and welcomed us in with open arms. We decided to share with her about the Savior, His love, and the atonement power of Jesus Christ. We sealed our lesson with our testimonies and the spirit was so thick after, you could practically feel it like fog surrounding us. She ended up breaking down and crying and telling us about how when she used to be active in the church and getting ready to serve a mission she had accidentally gotten pregnant. She had felt so ashamed about it that she left the church in fear of judgement of others and she said that she had felt "unworthy to come to church". We shared with her a scripture from the Book of Mormon about putting trust in the lord during our trials, and we explained that we were representatives of Jesus Christ and would do anything in our power to be able to help her. We also told her that our branch president was a man called of God and that he would be able to help her through her troubles as well (we introduced her to our branch president on that Sunday). It was such a cool experience, and even her brother (who sat in on the whole meeting) came to church that Sunday. He sat next to me during Sunday School where the lesson that day was about baptism, and asked me after class when could he be baptized. Since then we've set up appointments with him to give him the lessons preparing him for baptism. It was such a cool experience overall and really lifted up my whole week.

    This week has also been a little difficult over the last few days. Transfers have been changed again this week so rather than get transfer news on Friday, and Transferred on Monday, we now find out transfer news on Wednesday morning and then get transferred either Wednesday afternoon or Thursday night. For me I don't mind the change to much, but for everyone else in our apartment they're really mad at this change and at the mission president. It gets tiring to have to listen to everyone complaining about it, and for the other set of missionaries I can see a visible change in their work ethic because of this.

     I'm so gratefull for all of your love and prayers that I've felt this week. There have been times where I've been able to feel the prayers helping me to stay safe and to be able to work harder in this mission and I really appreciate it.


                 Elder Grilliot

Monday, January 7, 2013

Investigators Ruth & Gloria

Dear Family and Friends,

  This week has been very hot. Like even hotter than normal I think. From like 10:30 to about 6:30 I feel as though the hair on my head will burst into flames. I wish that I could trade you some of my Ugandan heat for your guys winter cold, and then no one would feel too hot or too cold. I've learned how to tell people "It's way too hot!" in their local language, Langi. So every time they ask me if im hot I tell them "ping leat leatturu" (pronounced "ping lee-et lee-et-toro"), and then they instantly think that you are fluent in their language and their mind is blown. It's pretty funny. I've memorized all of the typical greetings and stuff like that, but I've also learned a few other phrases that I've found useful, like how to invite them to church, or how to ask them to pray, and just small stuff like that. They always think it's awesome if you can speak the local language and I've found that it often helps them to feel a little bit more comfortable around you. The only problem is that if I get transferred there's an almost 100 percent guarantee that I'll never use Langi again. Because there are three Zones in Kampala there are some people who stay in Kampala their whole mission, or most of their mission. So by the end of their mission they can be fluent in Luganda (the language of Kampala and the unofficial language of Uganda). My companion right now has spent about 7 or 8 months in Kampala so he knows quite a bit of Luganda, which helps if we find someone who has moved from Kampala to Lira.

   This week has been difficult with one of our investigators, Ruth. She was coming along really well, keeping commitments, reading the book of Mormon, heck, she was even asking us if we could teach the rest of her family. Then the week right before she was scheduled to be baptized she called us and asked us if we could rush to the hospital. We got there and she took us to her father who was sick with malaria and was so sick, the disease had put him in a coma. I would have guessed he was already dead except that he was breathing heavily and he was sweating terribly. Ruth asked us to give him a blessing so we did, and right afterwards her father stopped breathing as hard and he seemed to be a little bit more calm. We all felt a bit better afterwards so Elder Cardon and I tried to comfort the family and left soon after giving the blessing. Thirty minutes later we got a call back from Ruth telling us that her father had past away. We felt awful that he had died but then even worse when we heard that his burial would be that weekend in a village about 20 kilometers away. There was no way that Elder Cardon and I would be able to attend the funeral and it was so difficult to have to tell her so. We haven't seen or heard from Ruth since then, but we hope that if we just give her some time then she'll come around.

   On a positive note for this week, we had more of our investigators and recent converts come to church this Sunday then we've had in the past. We even had this one young lady, named Gloria, who saved up her money for two weeks to be able to travel the 20 kilometers to our church by taxi. When we saw her we didn't recognize her so we went up and introduced our selves and asked where she was from. When she told us and then told us how far of a travel it was my mind was blown. We asked her how she had heard about the church and the story she had told us was pretty amazing. About 3 months back some missionaries from Gulu had been prociliting in town and had given a pamphlet about the restoration to guy, and wrote their phone number on the back of it. The guy who they gave the pamphlet to didn't live in the town of Gulu but he actually lived in the same village that Gloria lived in. So when he traveled back to his village he took the pamphlet with him. At some point he needed money and tried to sell the pamphlet that the missionaries had given him to a local baptist priest in their village for some extra cash. The priest bought the pamphlet but rather than use it he gave it away to someone else, Gloria's father. I guess that the priest was looking through it one day and Gloria's father saw it and became interested so he asked if he could barrow it. The priest let him so the father took it home, where it was then Gloria's turn to find it. She began reading through it and read it from front to back. She even showed the pamphlet to me (yes she still has it) and there are notes written all over the pamphlet by her. You can tell that she definetly studied that book from front to back. She then prayed about what was written in the pamphlet and found that it's message was true. From there she called the number on the back of the pamphlet and got in touch with the missionaries in Gulu, and was directed to the closest LDS church to where she lives, which is ours in Lira. My jaw dropped when I had heard this story, I couldn't believe how much the Lord had guided this small booklet to be able to bring someone to the truth. It really was an amazing story. The only problem now it that I have no idea how missionaries are going to be able to teach her if she lived that far away and if it's that difficult for her to come to church, but either way she is pretty amazing to be able to come this far just to seek after truth. We left her with a book of Mormon and with a few other booklets (Plan of Salvation, Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the testimony of the prophet Joseph smith pamphlet) and encouraged her to read. But to be honest I don't think she needed any encouragement to read at all.

   The next transfer is going to be weird. To be able to adjust to the MTC becoming a two week long course instead of a three week long one, we are making our next transfer only 3 weeks long. This also means that everyone's return dates for this year have been shifted. Some missionaries are going home 3 weeks late and some are going home 3 weeks early. This applies to all missionaries going home this year (2013). It's  definitely going to be a big change for some missionaries.
   Thank you for all of the wonderful and supportive emails. I always enjoy hearing from you guys.

            Love   -Elder Grilliot