Wednesday, April 28, 2010

An Historic Sunday in the South East Africa Area . . .

We got up this morning anxious to go to church. Today was special, no it was history in the making. It was the first time that the members in Uganda would see and listen to a General Conference of our church. Today, all over our region, from Zimbabwe to Ethiopia members were gathering to take part in this historical event. Imagine, every stake, ward and little branch had a TV and a DVD player and were gathering to listen to the prophet speak and for most it was the first time they would see the prophet and not just know him by a picture.

When we arrived at our ward the people were greeting each other, happy to be together and sharing this experience. Our 4 missionaries in our ward were there with investigators in tow and were welcoming everyone. They knew they were having a historical mission experience.
(Elder Andika (Kenya), Elder Amott (Smithfield, UT), Elder Glad (New Jersey) and Elder MacMillan (So. Africa). Very special Elders.) 
We watched the first session. There were many small children in the group but they sat quietly through the full two hours.  - 87 people came to experience this conference.

There was to be a 30 minute break between sessions so we went out into the church yard. After sitting so quiet the children needed a little run and a cookie before they sat through the second session.

We first thought we probably ought to feed everyone lunch between sessions and then realized that if you only eat one meal a day lunch is not a necessity. So we brought cookies and shared them with the children who had not brought a snack with them.

Just as we started the second session the power went out. We waited while they sent someone to get a generator but before they returned the power came back on.

As we listened to the second session we realized that all the talks gave us great comfort. Life is a gift. There are no guarantees and life does bring pain and sorrow but also gives great joy and comfort; sometimes from the same experience. It is all perspective and how much we trust in our Father in Heaven; and how much we rely on our Savior and his great gift.

Doreen, a member of the Young Women’s group in our ward came up to me and showed me her Conference Notebook. Last week I had given each Young Woman a copy of the “Conference Notebook” that Carrie had sent to me. It is a booklet that you write your thoughts and feelings in about conference. There is room to take notes on all the talks and several pre- conference activities to help you get ready to listen. I had noticed several of the young women but none of them had their notebook with them. Then Doreen came up and showed me she had been using her notebook while she watched both sessions. I was so pleased.
I had a chance to meet her mom and I asked her if she was doing personal progress with Doreen. She said no so I took the opportunity to explain to her how good it would be if they worked together on personal progress and experienced the program together.

What a great day! We were really feeling the Spirit and were so glad we could be part of this experience.

As we were leaving the bishop asked if we could help Godfrey get home with his generator. As we were the only car that comes to church it was pretty obvious who was going to help Godfrey.
The Bishop said, “Elder Barlow, it is right on your way so it should not be any problem.” Farrell and Godfrey loaded the generator in the truck with help from the missionaries and we headed out. Now most people don’t drive in Uganda so when they give you directions they are talking from a WALKING perspective. They wait till you are in an intersection before they tell you to turn and have no concept of the difference between a road and a trail.

We started down the road we usually take to go home and then Godfrey had us take a few turns and then a few more. The road got worse at each turn till we were in a rutted trail. Actually we felt quite at home as if we were in the Congo. We were in to the community
(hunger - survival)
and the sights, smells and sounds were right there, we could reach out and touch them through our open windows.
(The Butcher Shop)
We got Godfrey and the generator to his home. The road was so narrow there was only room for one way traffic and impossible to turn around but Godfrey told us to just keep going straight and we would hit the Clock Tower roundabout. Ah. . . we know the Clock Tower roundabout so we were in good shape.

We went straight and kept going straight till we hit a T in the road. No clock tower was in sight. We asked directions and as one man started explaining his ideas another man with great authority told us to go straight and then make a right turn and then when you hit the bridge don’t’ go over it turn right again and then you will reach the Clock Tower. So we followed directions and passed a lovely little church among the shacks and food stalls. We continued on and then we saw the same lovely little church again and the same butcher shop and knew we were really lost.
Now this trek was difficult and we about took out our oil pan twice and on each side of this trail was a big drainage ditch.
So not only did we have to navigate the pot holes but we had no leeway on the sides. We finally saw a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) and asked him how to get to the Clock tower. One of is passengers jumped off and said, “I’m going that way. I’ll show you.” He jumped in the back seat and had us turn around (huh? Turn around where?)
All things are possible.  We got turned around and it wasn’t long before we were at the clock tower.  We were so happy to find a familiar landmark we didn't get a picture of it.   It was only 2 hours since we left the church to haul Godfrey and the generator to his house.  We made it  home, safe and sound.
So there you have it - a very historical Sunday in Uganda.


Alesia O'Keefe said...

This is so fabulous! Thank you for sharing! Much love!!!

Angela said...

Those boys in suits were so darling! Good looking kids- sounds like one crazy night in Uganda.I can't believe the way everything looks there or living like that- it reminds me of what we saw in Jamaica. Aren't we just so fortunate here?

Suzy said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and pictures of our favorite missionary. We hope you come to love him almost as much as we do!! Love, The Glad Family