Elder Grilliot in Uganda

Elder Grilliot in Uganda

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Lady from Lira

Dear Family and Friends,

      It seems that the longer I am in Uganda the more I have learned to respect the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It may seem simple at first: Faith, Repentance, Baptism, etc, but really, there's kind of a beauty behind it all. Learning more about the Gospel and how it changes lives, thoughts, and behavior, makes me realize how important the Church of Jesus Christ is to the whole world.

        In this mission because of how young the church is here (every single member in Lira is a convert) the largest part of our job as missionaries is to help the church to develop and become more like the organization that you find in the States, Europe, and other parts of the world. We need to help the church to learn to function, and become more like you see it around the world. Sundays can be a little stressful at times because its up to us missionaries to guide the church meetings and members to fulfill their callings. It may take a few years but I really hope that I can see the day that the church in Lira operates the way that the church was meant to. I think that's the reason why most of the missionaries in Uganda are either from the States, South Africa, Zimbabwe, or Kenya. In all of these places the church has been around long enough that it operates the way it's supposed to.

      This week I had an interesting experience with an older lady who chased me down as we were going to an appointment. She chased us down shouting something in Langi (the language used by locals in Lira), and when she got to us she got down or her knees and started pleading with us in Langi. It was kinda freaky cause we had no idea what her problem was and she made us feel really uneasy. We were getting ready to walk away from her (because for all we knew she was probably just asking for money or something) when she then took out a picture of a young Ugandan man wearing a white shirt and tie and a black name tag that said "Elder Sencka" and "The church of Jesus Christ of latter day Saints" We managed to grab someone off the street that could translate for us and then this lady told us a story about the missionary in this picture, "Elder Sencka". What had happened is that her son, Elder Sencka, had moved to Kampala in 1992 and stayed there for schooling. While he was there the missionaries found him and converted him and he became a strong member of the church. In fact he even decided to serve a mission, and went to serve in the South Africa, Cape Town mission. He served his 2 years and then came home and got released, but then rather than stay in Uganda, immediately after being released he used the visa that he had received from his mission (it hadn't expired yet) and returned back to South Africa, where he lived as an illegal immigrant. Since then he has gotten married and become a citizen there, but now It's been over ten years since he has ever seen his family and this old Lady (his mother) was now pleading for us to bring him back to Uganda (even though we really have no control over that). As strange of a circumstance as this was my companion and I were talking and it turns out that his isn't a rare thing. Especially back in the 80s when the church was just developing in Kenya there were missionaries who would go on missions to the States, and then some of them wouldn't even finish their mission, they would just disappear. Become Illegal immigrants. That's why today most missionaries from Africa serve in another African country. Occasionally you'll hear about an African missionary serving in the States but it's really pretty rare. 

       Honestly you don't realize how good you have it untill you come to a 3rd world country. Everyone back home needs to take full advantage of the life that they live and live it to the fullest. I know I will whenever I return home.

       Have a great week everyone, and I'll update you next time.

MOM- Got a package from you this week Thanks for the power bars and pictures of the familly. Honestly though my favorite part of the package was the letters from Todd and Sarah. What's Todd's and Sarah's email, so I can talk to them as well. It was really good to hear from them. 

           You know that blog that you were reading before I left on my mission. The one by Elder Brandon Winters serving in the Uganda Kampala mission. Well he's sitting right next to me right now. We live in the same house and he's my Zone Leader. Just thought you might be interested to know.

           To Answer your questions:
Were you able to get photos taken (by borrowing a camera) of the last two companions? (His last one broke)

1- I was able to get photos taken by companions but none of them ever had a cord to connect their camera to the computer so I was never able to send you any pics (sorry).

Glad you got Linda’s package. I know she is happy to have gotten the shoutout in the last e-mail. What cool stuff did you get from them? (Thanks for looking out for our Elder. Linda you're awesome!)

2- Linda got me some sweets, some cliff bars, some really cool looking ties, and some word find books. Really liked the bubble gum they sent. Its really funny to blow a bubble in front of some little kids (who have never seen bubble gum) and they freak out. It's hallarious.

  Are you rushed on e-mail time? How much time are you allowed? Your last e-mail was short..I love the long ones the best! Sarah and Todd both wrote letters and they will show up in the package that I sent maybe a week ago.

3- I get 2 hrs to email, but honestly its hard sometimes to think about what I should email you. I like it when you send me questions, it makes it alot easier for me to know what to email about. I think I got the package with the letters in them, and I got the pictures in them as well. Everyone in my house was interested to see what my family looked like. Good to finally have pictures of the fam. 

 Are you still losing weight?

4- Ya I'm still losing weight. Really fast too. The suite coat that I came with is huge on me now. soon I'm going to need a new one.

 How are the shoes holding up?

5- The shoes are still going good. Their supper dirty all the time but they're champs. I could see them holding up for another 12 months at least. I look at the shoes that the older missionaries have and how poor of a state their in and I'm really glad I came with 2 pairs of shoes. 

 Are you still working out in the mornings?

6- Working out has become much more difficult since I became a District Leader. I usually need to stay up later than normal because I need to receive/ send reports and this makes me much more tired in the morning. I sometimes find myself falling asleep in the living room while stretching before workouts. I'm trying to get better at going to sleep on time, but it's really hard sometimes. 

 Sarah wants to know how your“pigstead” is doing? Hehehehe (Inside joke)

7- Tell sarah to email me and then i can tell her how my pigstead is doing.

  Let us know when you get your debit card in the mail, okay?
8- I will don't worry.

Love you guys have a great week. Stay strong in the church and Love everyone as the Savior did.

            -Elder Grilliot

Monday, February 18, 2013

Insight into the Lira Mission

        The mission in Uganda is about to become reborn. In the next 6 months were going to loose about half of the missionaries that are in this mission currently, and receive over 100 new missionaries (including a new mission president). I've also heard talk of them making Ethiopia its own mission sometime in the next year or so, that would be really cool to see while I'm serving here.
         Recently Ive been feeling very well adjusted to the heat here, the only time I really felt horrible about the heat was on Sunday when I wore my suit to church. I was sweating like crazy that day. The dryness is really what gets me though, I don't think it's rained since new years except maybe once or twice, and now all of Lira looks like a desert. The dust and dirt and sand everywhere is awful, especially if its a windy day. On some days you'll get home and your shoes will just be full of sand. I'm looking forward to rainy season next month.
          Probably the most difficult thing about doing missionary work in Lira is just dealing with such a different culture. The culture of Uganda goes almost against the culture of the church, and helping people to understand and develop Christlike attributes can really be a struggle. In Uganda the biggest things we missionaries struggle with is:
  1- Lazyness. Even if people have a testimony of the gospel getting them to church is so difficult to do. You can talk and talk and talk all you want but many people have such a trial in overcoming their laziness that for some people even if you baptize them they will become less active very fast.
  2- The law of Chastity (A.K.A. SEX). In the culture here in Uganda its actually acceptable (and sometimes even celebrated) for a couple to have their first child before marriage. This can cause so many problems for not just the marriage but also for the child, especially if the husband leaves before the child is born, or if the husband is expected to pay dowry before marriage and never comes up with the funds.
  3- Going to church for the wrong reasons. For about 90% of the people in Uganda they are Christians (I'd say about 9% Muslim and 1% Jew). And for all of these Christians only about 5% of them actually know why they are Christians, the rest of them are only a member of their church because that was the church they grew up in, and it's more of a culture than a church, Which wouldn't be so bad if the church's here did their part in teaching them true doctrine. Most of the churches here basically just rob their congregation. They make them pay for baptism, for repentance, for listening to the service, everything. And because people are so dedicated to their church they'll eat it all up, no matter how much they have to pay. Honestly these churches and these pastors have no idea what they're teaching most of the time either, they just do it because they know that there's money in it. I can't tell you how many people I've asked if they know what faith is, or what baptism is for, or why Jesus came to the earth, and they honestly have no clue. Its really disappointing to see, especially when people are so dedicated to their church that they will never leave it, no matter how much we teach them.
    Notwithstanding all of these problems Uganda is still a great place to serve a mission, the people here can be frustrating at times but really all of them have good hearts. And they're are lots of people here who really do recognize truth and convert to it. It's just that because people are so rigidly following traditions that they halt their own progression. I think it was Albert Einstein who said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result each time. That's really what you see in Africa today, people always talk about wanting a change but no one is willing to do anything about it. There was an apostle that was asked once "when will Africa stop suffering so much" and the apostle's reply was "When people stop following the traditions of their fathers, and members of the church consistently pay their tithing is when Africa as a whole will begin to prosper". From what I've seen here in Uganda, I believe that 100%.
    I would like to thank Aunt Linda and Uncle Gene for sending that care package (just got it this week), it was such a good suprise. Thank you so much!
    Have a good week everyone, and I'll talk to you all next week -Elder Grilliot

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New Companion Elder Wangui

     This has been a pretty crazy week, lots of changes. At the beginning of this week everything was fine, Elder Anderson and I had a really good time together (he's been a really cool companion and we got along really well) and got lots of work done. Really, I liked everyone in my house and it's been a really fun transfer to spend together. So then when Transfer news came lots of changes were made. Our whole house has pretty much changed ownership and even my companion (Elder Anderson) was shifted to Mbale, and made a zone leader.  Now it's just me left and I've even been made a district leader. Things just feel very different in our home now, almost like it's a new house.
      My new Companion is named Elder Wangui, and he's from Kenya. He's been on his mission for about a year and a half but he's spent the last 7 or 8 months in Ethiopia. He's had some crazy stories about things that have happened to him in Ethiopia. Man, that place just sounds like a completely different mission. They have to learn a new language, (Amharic) they have to learn a new culture, and getting lessons/baptizing is much more difficult. To be honest I hope that they never transfer me to Ethiopia (even though I've heard that it's a lot cooler temperature wise). Ethiopia is not how most people imagine it, or I should say it's not how I imagined it. I used to think Ethiopia was the poorest country in all of Africa, that It was just a giant Savanna. But From what Elder Wangui has told me Ethiopia is actually very mountainous. It usually is like 70 or 80 degrees most days just because of how high the altitude is, and because it's further from the equator than Uganda is. Ive also been told that in the last few years Ethiopia has gotten lots of help from China, and that because of that the larger City's have gotten quite a bit more advanced. In some parts of Ethiopia you can forget that your in a 3rd world country. 
     Thanks for all of the Love and support from all of you.
     -Elder Grilliot

Monday, February 4, 2013

22 Investigators 50 Lessons

Dear Family and Friends,

       This has been an insane week. Elder Anderson and I evaluated ourselvess, and all of our current investigators earlier this week and realized that a really large portion of our investigators were not progressing and we needed to start anew. So Elder Anderson and I worked super hard this week and tracked our butts off. At the end of the week though we had 22 new investigators and over 50 lessons. Alot of them are really promising too and I could see 7 or 8 of them getting baptized. This week I've been eating really well too. We've been fed 3 times this week by members (which is like a new record for me), and even the senior couple missionaries are feeding us tonight. Also On Sunday to break our fast all of us missionaries in our home pitched in some money and bought ourselves 3 Kilos of freshly killed Beef (so fresh we literally watched the cow get killed in front of us). We also got some potatoes, carrots, and onions and made ourselves the best pot roast of our lives. Seriously though I don't think I've ever had meat that good. If you really want good beef, try to get a fresh kill.
         This morning instead of playing soccer like we usually do, we found a football and taught a bunch of Africans how to play American Football. It was kind of funny to watch them learn, but to be honest they caught on really quick. Next week were thinking of teaching them dodge ball.
       The work is going good in Lira. This week is Transfers (Wednesday we get our news) and so I'll let you guys know if I get shifted.
Love-  Elder Grilliot
In reply to Dad's E-mail:
        Yes Murchison Falls is exactly where I was last week. It was such a cool place. We asked about the history of the place while we were there, and it turns out that the lodge was at one time a hospital that Kony had invaded so that his troops could use it as a place of refuge. And then like 15 years or so later a bunch of missionaries have the best breakfast of their life. Wouldn't you know it.
        Thanks for updating me on the others. It's good to know what's going on in the life of the family. That's crazy to hear about the bishopric being reorganized, and with Kelly Swarts being the new bishop, man that just seems weird to me.
      I've been loosing weight like crazy out here I'm down like 2 or 3 belt buckles from where I began and my shirts are enormous on me now. Between me riding/walking everywhere and working out every morning I losing lots of weight. I wish i could find a scale somewhere so i could know exactly how much I've lost.
      I read your email about the Super Bowl, that sounds like it was an incredible game. Between playing football this morning (see other email) and reading your email, I'm remembering just how much I miss football. Just once, I wish that I could just walk into an investigators home and see them watching American football instead of dumb old soccer.