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Friday, December 30, 2011

December 23, 2011

This is probably the hardest day to share with anyone because it was so special to our hearts. It was wonderful and yet so terrible and sad. I’ll try to explain. Please take the time to read this.
The cooking room, pots and pans in one corner and a corner that they do laundry and store wood.
Steven and his family

At the Kenya Nairobi Mission Office, we have got acquainted with a member of the church who occasionally works as a driver for the mission. His name is Steven. He has served a mission and now has a wife Florence, and 2 living children, Derrick and Rita. Their first baby died after living only a few months. He had a brother who died and left 2 children orphans. His mother was old and unable to help with raising another family. Steven and his wife decided they would raise them as their own. In time they felt they needed to help other children that had been orphans in the slums, many whose parents had died of aids. Slowly the number increased and he was able to rent a building and start an orphanage.

Today, Steven has over 70 children in the “Nazarene Children’s Home” in the midst of the Soweto slum, which is the second largest slum in Nairobi. He does not live in the orphanage but he is trying to fund the over-head, teachers and care takers with 70% of his profits from selling his carvings. Note: the teachers and care-takers live in the slum and some of their children attend the small school area.

As missionary couples visited the orphanage, we could see that Steven, a wonderful, quiet member of the church, needed some assistance. The conditions are clean but impoverished. The children’s living area has no latrine facilities and the small school classrooms were muddy and wet because the tin roof had so many holes. Never at any point did Steven ask for any funding. In fact when we inquired about helping, he told us that if we did too much to the building they would raise his rent. Bruce shared this information with the friends he works with at HAFB. They surprised him with collecting $500 dollars and wanted to help Steven. Other mission couples joined in and we were able to put together some school supplies, hygiene items, and bought tin to cover the roof of the classroom. We spent the day with the children, Steven and his family, and some of the teachers. President and Sister Broadbent along with six couples, watched as they put on a short program for us. We then played games, shared peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and even had a visit from Santa. Most of these children have never experienced a Christmas of any kind. They were delighted with their bag of goods, their oranges, and loved having their pictures taken. We plan to visit again but we will not take items. We will go and play and love them. Steven doesn’t want white people to be associated with bringing gifts. This he says causes begging. We will however give Steven maize, rice and beans. We have funding to also help with some better cooking pots and cooking fuel. Although it was a place of much poverty it was also a wonderful, wonderful experience to be with them that day.

The school was a short way from where children eat and sleep. They sleep 4-5 to a small bed and they put down foam on the floor for others. Some chldren sleep in other families shacks and then return in the morning. They are just over crowded with so many children.

December 22, 2011

We were only able to attend two of the branch Christmas parties but what fun. They were well attended and so much food. The Primary sang many songs, and then the Young Women sang. They had a play of the Nativity and watched a video of the Savior’s birth. Large kettles of rice, pilaf (rice with meat and seasoning), and large chipoties were served to all. (I’m sure my spelling is wrong but a chipotie is a large bread like tortilla made from yeast dough and oil. When I say large, it is about the size of a dinner plate and they love them. The saints eat a lot of food and warm soda. What a happy and loving people.

December 21, 2011

We have been teaching our Teacher Development classes and they have gone really well. Mitini Branch had 43 that attended at least 6 lessons and they were very happy to get certificates, juice and bread. The other branches have smaller classes but are still committed and we should finish in January.

December 15, 2011

Bruce and I have planned to have a “Family Day “with each branch. The youth are all home in December, so we thought that would be a great time. Our first “Family Day” at Ilima was a real learning experience. The families were divided into three groups and they rotated to each area: Simple family games, a Church Video (stressing the importance of strong families in Africa), and a Family History (youth assisted families in writing family memories). We were totally surprised with how many people came, (close to 300) We had planned too many activities for the 3 hour time period. Even with the help of the missionaries, the Branch President and his wife, it was huge job. The people were patient and seemed to enjoy it all. Refreshments are always a hit. Each person got a half loaf of bread and juice. We have 3 more branch Family Days, and we’ll be ready for large crowds.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December 14, 2011

I just want to share with you some pictures of "Christmas in Kilunga Hills". A totally different, beautiful, and inspiring experience in our lives.
Heavenly Father truly loves all of His children. "God loved us so He sent his Son" is embedded in my heart.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

December 10, 2011

Bruce went to the baptism in Kyambeke while I went visiting teaching with the Relief Society President, Sister Elizabeth from Ilima. I met her at the church and we had a prayer first and discussed the lesson then we headed up the hills. The sister all love her so much and were very happy to see her come. I was so moved by the compassion she has and yet she motivates the sister to move forward. At each home we had a word of prayer, she listened to their problems, and then I gave the lesson. Time only allowed us to visit three sisters but I will never forget that sweet experience.

Friday, December 9, 2011

December 8, 2011

We have had a wonderful week visiting with our branches and sharing lessons with them. They have been so committed to come each week and it’s the best part of the day. I have been meeting with the different Relief Society presidencies for leadership training. Each one has different strengths. I have enjoyed getting to know them better and trying to understand their challenges. The things we have observed and have been doing all our lives are just new to them. They don’t have examples nor a pattern to follow. They all have been very humble and willing to learn.

On Sunday we invited the Kellems, new mission couple, to come with us to Kyambeke for Church. I was so excited. I felt like a proud mother showing off her children. I think Bruce and I talked too much. They loved the Hills and meeting the people. It’s a long drive but they’ll never have this kind of Sunday experience attending their ward in Nairobi.

The Babcock’s brought up some good cheese from Eldoret so we have been enjoying fresh tomatoes and cheese sandwiches. I have stopped drinking milk because it goes soar so fast. Bruce is braver than I am; he still has some with cereal and a banana every morning. I eat yogurt, I know it is suppose to be sour.

Thursday we were able to take Lucy’s keyboard out to her. She just beamed she is just so strong in the gospel. Her parents are not members but I’m sure with a daughter like Lucy they will be some day.

She did it! Lucy completed all the requirements to receive her own keyboard (made available by the Harmon Scholarship Program). She has been a member for 1 year and has been very diligent at practicing. Sister Blake got her started and she just took off with her talent. We are so proud of her and she was very very happy. We just love her, she is preparing to serve a mission.

Bruce with Justus and Elder Kellem at Kyambeke. Justus asked for a blessing for help with a word of wisdom challenge.

Eunice Myself and Faith, These sweet young women go to boarding school. They are home for Summer Break.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December 3, 2011

We were able to go out this week to all of our Branches except Kilili. I always get my happy-fix when we visit the Hills. I just love it. Our lessons were well attended and had a good feeling. It felt so good to be with them. We really did miss them. Ilima had a visiting teaching workshop after our usual classes. They had such a nice program and even did a skit for me on prepared visiting teaching and unprepared visiting teaching. I loved it. This branch has a very committed Relief Society. They are always busy doing compassionate service. Sister Byrd’s sons brought material for Ilima when they came to Africa. Sister Elizabeth already has the sisters sewing and working on some clothing for the children in the branch.

On Saturday we had three sisters baptized and then we held our Youth Council Meeting.

Each branch came with 3 young women and 3 young men, their leaders and the Branch President. There was about 50 members. The youth conducted and made all of the decisions for Youth Conference and the up-coming Kick-Off parties that will be held the last week of December in each branch. At the kick-off party all youth will receive their own personal scriptures and a challenge to read the Book of Mormon before August 2012. They selected “A Light to the World” as their theme. They also chose their color for their Branch Flag. We also learned the song “Books of the Book of Mormon.” Oh of course we had refreshments; banana cake, bread and juice. It was just wonderful. I am just glowing inside as I write about it. I LOVE THE YOUTH. Bruce is lying on the couch still suffering with some back spasms from the kidney stones. We are praying that he will get healthy and free of these worries.

Mitini Branch Youth Council. We took them a copy of this picture a week later and they were very happy.
Aren't these ladies just beautiful?, Sister from Iilima Branch, showing some of the material sent to them from Utah. They are making clothing for the children
I love this picture. I want to enlarge it and put it on the wall. This is just such a good example of the children in "The Hills" They call these hats "Monkey-Face hats"
Sisters at Joni's Printing Shop in Nunguni the copier was very slow but the girls were sweet and very shy.