Dear family and friends, It's good to hear from you all. Life in Seeta is Good right now I feel as though God is really blessing my companion and I this transfer. Things are just going very smoothly.
There are some people that I really feel as though I have helped this transfer. There is this one guy named Issac for instance (who was baptized this week), he had actually been investigating the church since 2004. Even read the entire Book of Mormon... twice. But his problem was that while he was investigating the church (in 2004) he was only 17 years old, and his parents wouldn't let him be baptized into another church. So he continued to attend church service but he never got baptized. Eventually missionaries just forgot about him until it came to the point where the missionaries and most member just assumed that he was member of the branch. Even after he moved out of his parents’ house and got a place of his own years later he continued to come to church but he was never baptized as a member. It's kind of crazy to think about, but this guy had been attending Seeta branch longer than most of the members of the branch had been. Anyway my first Sunday attending the branch I walked in and decided to make myself familiar with the branch members, so I went in and greeted the members and introduced myself and learned their names in return. As I went from member to member shaking hands and trying to be social I found myself greeting Isaac. I felt like I needed to sit next to him during the service so I sat down next to him and we began to talk a little as we waited for it to begin. As I was talking to him I realized that he really knew church doctrine well and I felt as though he must have been a member for quite some time. When I asked him how long he had been a member of the church he told me that he had been a member since 2004. I felt satisfied with that answer but at the same time I felt as though I needed to ask a little deeper so I asked "do you remember the names of the missionaries who baptized you?" to which he told me that he had never been baptized and that his parents wouldn't let him be. I was super surprised at what he was telling me because he was about 25 years old and living on his own and yet he was telling me that the reason that he was not baptized was because of restriction from his parents. I learned as I continued to talk to him that he wanted to be baptized badly but he believed it to be a church policy that you can't baptize anyone (no matter the age) if the parents don't allow it. After the church service I talked to the branch president and asked if he had realized that Isaac wasn't baptized, and learned that the branch president knew that he wasn't baptized but the branch president thought that Issac didn't want to be baptized without approval from his parents, as we explained we both realized that, that was just mis-communication. So we scheduled an appointment to see Isaac and got him baptized a few weeks later. He's a really funny guy though, Even though it's kind of an outrageous story about how he got baptized, it's still really cool as well.
There's another two investigators that were found last transfer by the missionaries before I came. They're getting baptized next week. One of them is a guy named James and also his girlfriend named Febe. They live together and even have one child, but have never been married. As part of Ugandan (and African) culture the husband is supposed to pay a super expensive dowry to the father of the Lady that he wants to marry. I don't know the exact price but usually it involves buying a whole bunch of livestock and stuff. It's extremely expensive and most Ugandans don't have the means to pay that much. Many families don't have legally married parents until the parents are in their mid 40's or so when they finally have saved up the money to pay for their spouse (I even met this one couple who were in their 60's and still had never been properly married). It is a wicked practice and causes the law of chastity to be broken all throughout Uganda. Anyway this young couple were in this same situation when the missionaries met them for the first time, no way to pay for each other. As we continued to visit them they continually asked for us if it would be possible for them to get baptized, but we could not baptize them unless they first were married. Luckily the church performs Legal Church marriages for free, and we could marry them easily, but the problem was that if they got married at the church then most likely the Father of Febe (the wife) would dis-own her completely for being married without paying dowry. Both James and Febe wanted baptism super bad but they were to fearful to consult the father about it. As my companion and I thought about what we needed to do to to help them we decided to fast (both me and my companion and James and Febe). We started our fast Saturday Afternoon and planned on breaking it Sunday Evening. As we came to church that Sunday, James came running up to us and told us of something that had happened that very morning. He told us that, that very Sunday morning Febe's father had come and surprise them by visiting them at home. As he was visiting them, it came up that James and Febe wanted to get married at church. As they discussed about it the father began to get more and more upset until he was in a rage. The father left them and told them that if they were married outside of tradition then they would not be a part of his family. When the father left though, James and his wife said that at that time they felt more comforted and more happy than they had in a long time. They knew with all certainty that a church marriage was what they wanted to do no matter the consequences. This Saturday is going to be their marriage at the Chapel in Kololo. Sunday is going to be their Baptism. I'm super excited for them.
Love all of you guys. Do your best to be great member missionaries!
1- In this new area are you able to teach single sisters? In Lira that was discouraged for the lack of priesthood
2- Any news on the new building? Any progress towards finishing before the end of August?
3- You seem to like this new area or am I reading your e-mails wrong? There seems to be much more convenience and more abundance of shopping? How is the missionary work going?
to answer your questions
1- Teaching sisters is still frowned upon unless they show lots of potential. Really the focus is on families and potential priesthood holders. There still are not allot of priesthood holders even in Seeta. The attendance per week is like 60-70 people but only about 8-12 of those are Melchizedek priesthood holders.
2- The chapel is going to be finished in October this year. I don't really know if I will still be around for it.
3- I think that I really like this area. There are some bad things about Seeta and also some good things, but I think that the good outweigh the bad right now. I'm having lots of success in this area right now. I feel as though the lord is really blessing me at this time. I also really do like the shopping, but we don't get nearly enough money per month to get very much food. Things like bacon and sandwich meat are so expensive that I have been found crying in supermarkets as I stare at the forbidden fruit.
1. Are you still a district leader?
2. Do you have more than one Zone for all of the missionaries in the Kampala area?
3. Elder Bitter, who I believe is in Jinja right now, talked in his letter last week about several members of his district getting sick because they got careless with their drinking water. You haven't mentioned anything about that, so I'm hoping that hasn't been a problem with you or any of the missionaries in your district?
4. Do many people smoke in Uganda? Is alcohol your biggest Word of Wisdom challenge?
5. So what kind of suit or clothes did you get? I noticed that you had withdrawn money from your account.
6. Are baptisms as frequent in your new area as they were in Lira?
7. Are you enjoying the weather in Seeta?
1- yes I am still the district Leader.
2- There are three zones in Kampala. Right now I'm in the biggest zone
3- I haven't heard of any problems with people not drinking clean water, but I know that sometimes if the filters break and you don't realize in time then you can accidentally drink unfiltered water. But for those of us who are obedient we check the filters regularly and change the filters regularly.
4- Honestly because Uganda used to ruled by the British Empire the biggest Word of Wisdom problem most people have is drinking tea. Alcohol and smoking is here, but it is looked down upon by most of society so it's not a huge problem for most.
5- I withdrew the money to get a better suit and also to buy some exercise equipment (jump rope and a few weights)
6- Seeta has a history for being kind of a dead area as far as baptisms go (in the last year there were only 8 baptisms) but I'm actually getting more baptisms in Seeta right now than I did in Lira. We had one baptism this last Sunday and 3 more planned next Sunday.
7- The weather here is very cool. Some days it can be kind of warm but there is always a nice breeze wherever you go.