Monday, August 18, 2014

Back in Mautuma with the Kisamba family

President Kwendo and Daniel.  He is the most dedicated branch President Daniel has served with.

Brother Walter and Family

Mama Daisy and Dan.  She is a less activte member they are trying to reactivate.  She came to Mormon Helping Hands.

Daniel's main man, President Edward.  Back in Mautuma.

Zone Conference

Lighting Strikes!

First off.....   HAPPY BDAY HAILEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 19 years of greatness.
This past week went by super fast, and was super busy!!
One Tuesday, I was able to go on exchanges back to Mautuma with elder Eveson.  It brought back sooo many memories! The 15 km bike ride on a muddy road, the flat, the members, and just sooo many things! It was cool because while we were there, i was able to see some of the awesome members like the Busolo family, Kisamba family, Bro Kabasi, Sister Jane's family, and Brother Christopher.  Just a ton of people! And especially Pres Edward Opiayo!! He is my favorite person there.  But wow, Mautuma branch is on fire these days! Since i have left, they have had over 20 convert baptisms. 
And while there, i had to chance to teach some great lessons with some of the investigators there.  One of which is super super powerful!!! His name is Francis, and he was a refferal from Sister Jane.  When we met with him, we just followed up on the Book of Mormon and answered questions.  We were also able to talk to him a little bit and see about his background and WOW! let me tell you.  He started off as a normal guy here, addicted to drugs and alcohol.  Had a desire one day to stop, so he started going to a local church.  Then he decided to become a pastor for a church and had a healthy sized congregation.  THEN! He got thinking about some of the things he was teaching, and saw that there were some things missing from what he was teaching.  So he didn't feel it was right for him to be a pastor anymore.  So he quit and didn't go to church for 4 months, and during this time he said that he prayed everyday that God would lead him to the truth.  Then one day a member, sister Jane, invited him to church, he came, and said he finally found it!!!!! ohhhh yaaaa!!! It was such a cool thing to hear about.  Its awesome to see the Lord preparing his people in a variety of ways!!! awesome lesson, and a great time in Mautuma!

On friday, Elder Dick and I had a great after baptism lesson at Brother Walters home about the plan of salvation.  While there, we were sitting outside for a while waiting for Walter to arrive. But then, as usual, it started raining super hard! so we went inside his home and waited for him.  while waiting there, out of nowhere, lightning struck!! Right in the same location that where we were sitting outside, just minutes before!! it was crazy and super scary.  Elder Dick and I were in shock.  Even! In Walters home, they dont have electricity, just a little solar panel light thing.  After the lightning struck, it turned on.  And we tried to turn it off, but it just stayed on.... to much electricity in the air!! hahah crazy. 
Saturday was Mormon Helping Hands in Kitale! Sooo much fun!! We did a service activity at an orphanage called Great Mercy.  It needed a lot of work  done, so we washed clothes/blankets by hand, dug some trenches, leveled a field, swept and mopped, and just some other little things.  I helped out a lot with the washing of blankets! I was out there in the trenches with the mamas slaving over those blankets, makin sure they were spick and spam.  I learned some awesome hand washing tricks that im going to apply to my own clothes! It was a ton of fun, and the people at the orphanage really appreciated and loved our efforts!! GO SERVICE!
Sunday we were in Sikhendu for church.  Not to much interesting but!  Fast fact.  In Sikhendu, it is primarily the Bukusu tribe that lives there.  So, they have a very strong tradition, that happens every other year, and its a huge event! In order to become a man, you have to be circumcised.  So they make a big deal about it and paint up the kids getting circumcised and have a parade thing around the village, getting everybody all fired up for it! Its interesting, and if i get invited to one i might have to decline.  ALSO! I thing August is national get drunk everyday month. Every single person we contacted on Sunday was drunk out of their minds.  Its really sad to see people like that,  but hey thats why we have the gospel and repentance.  And the word of wisdom.

But other than that things are going great!!! Odwor is still going strong, even came to the Mormon Helping Hands and was working super hard.  I love being out here in Kitale and serving the Lord.  Transfer news tonight... so not sure but i think that either Elder Dick or I will get transferred.  Not sure who tho! hahah but love you alll!!!
Elder Thomas

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Best Zone:  Daniel, Elders Mwashi, Dick, Makazi, Moline, Molosankwe, Eveson, Kisekka

The boots were made for walking... in the mud that is.

Sister Rhoda's family.  She is a member of the branch but works everyday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.  So they visit her kids, they are awesome!

August 11, 2014

Another nice week out here in Kitale.And it FLEW by!
On Tuesday and Wednesday, we were able to see a lot of less actives.  And by a lot i actually mean a ton! We were all over Kitale visiting less active members left and right.  This is something that our Branch President, Pres Kwendo, has really asked us to do.  So we are following his instruction! But getting less active members back to activity is always a struggle.  Most of them usually have a pretty big problem that keeps them from coming, or they just don't have a testimony at all, which is sad.  Nevertheless we still do our best to help them.  One family that we are really working with is the Muricho's.  They have about 4 older kids who live around them, all of which are members but have not coming to church for the past 3-4 years.  They have some major difficulties, from money struggles to really poor health.  But we have been visiting them weekly for the past 4 months or so with no real signs of progress. BUT! Out of nowhere these past two weeks they have came to church! Even last week, Paul (the father) got up for fast/testimony meeting to bear his testimony.  He even gave us a little shout out saying how grateful he was that we have been visiting him and showing him that we care about him and his family.  So that was really cool.  But even this week we had 9 less active members come to church!!!! ohhhh yeah!! Finally starting to see some of these people come back around to activity.  Its cool seeing them come to church, but what's better to know is that every step they take in the right direction leads them closer to Christ. 
Thursday and Friday we went down to Eldoret for zone conference! On Thursday we drove down there and were able to play soccer for a little bit with the other elders there.  It was a lot of fun.  I love soccer!! Its one of my new favorite sports.  I'm like Messi these days always puttin the ball in the back of the net.  Hahah just kidding.
But the Zone Conference on Friday was awesome.  One of the main things that President Hicken really focused on was the need for us to teach with power and authority.  He talked about 3 main things that missionaries all over the world struggle with: 1) Companionship study. 2) Planning 3) teaching with power and authority.  So he talked a lot about some things that keep us from teaching with power and authority and the ways that we can improve on it.  The biggest thing he said was that we have to be personally worthy and obedient to the commandments and mission rules.  Its was really nice and i learned a lot, especially on things i could improve on.  But I love president Hicken! He is awesome and is really trying his best to help us to become not only the best missionaries we can be, but also the best men that we can be. 
Saturday we were in Sikhendu.  And we got POURED on!!! It was raining sooo hard it was ridiculous. We were soaked to the bone.  But the more you get rained on the better lookin you wife gets.... and that doctrine is found in D&C 139.  I hope all of you look that up.  haha.  But we are still visiting a lot of less active members in Sikhendu.  Still only have one investigator that side, but we got a referral last week,  this guy named Fanwell, and he has came to church 2 weeks in a row! We have only been able to meet with him once.  The problem is that he lives 2 and a half hours away walk from the church.....  so he stays far.  But hopefully he will continue to progress. 
Other than that things are great.  Odwor and Sister Jane are still progressing really well! We hope sometime in Sept. they will get baptized. We are really focusing on those two. 
But glad to hear that Emmy and Joe are steppin up into new schools!!! A new sabercat and toro in the thomas family.... hahha.  Nawapendeni wote!! Wiki njema  mpaka wakati mwingine. kwahereni!!
Elder Thomas
PS i got the package with the protein bars from Bernie.... thanks!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Elizabeth Njorage investigator, she makes a mean chapati

Animal orphanage

10 minutes of talking, a little Swahili, and 300 shillings can get you this close to a cheetah!

Cheetah boyz

The view of Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria

August 4, 2014

Well this was quite the week we had out here in Kitale... ha.

Firstly. We were expecting to go to Eldoret just for one day to have interviews with Pres. Hicken.  But that didnt happen.  Instead, last second everything got changed around, so we just went south of the Equator to KISUMU! It was soo cool to go there.  We were there from Tuesday to Thursday.  We had some extra time while there, so me and Elder Dick got the chance to go out and around in Kisumu. We first went to Lake Victoria and checked it out, it was pretty cool but also pretty dirty, people go to it and wash their cars in it ha.  After that we just walked around the town and just contacted people.  And while we were walking around, all the sudden i look thru the gates of this compound and see some Zebras and impalas! I was like oh snap we got to get in there.  Turns out it was it was the Impala sanctuary national park. So we walked around and enjoyed all the animals and the nice view of Lake Victoria.  We went off roading a little and somehow got into the zebras area and got super close to them haha.  Then! I knew that this place was notorious for people getting to pet cheetahs... so i found the closest worker and bargained big time to get into the cheetahs cage! 10 minutes and 300 shillings latter we found ourselves in there.  It was way cool, the cheetahs were super cool and while we were petting them they were purring big time ha. Lesson learned, if your persistent enough, you can get anything!   But really cool trip.
On Friday, we had a really great lesson with Odwor, Walter, and his family.  Since Walter is now a recent convert, we are really focusing on getting his family to follow his example.  But we had a really nice lesson about the Book of Mormon with all of them.  The spirit was really strong and we felt pretty confident that all of them would start reading the Book of Mormon.  One funny/kind of bad thing tho.  So Walter lives really far from the church, and Odwor lives even farther away from him.  So while we were talking to Odwor last week at church about where he stays, we got the impression that he lived past Walters place on the same road.  So we thought it would be great for all of us to meet at Walters place, thinking it was a central point.  We were waaaay wrong.  We actually doubled Odwors travel.... he actually lived in the complete opposite direction.  So instead of him traveling about 12 kilometers by bike, we made him go about 20 or so.... haha we felt sooo bad! But Odwor is such a positive happy guy, he was just happy to see us! So it all turned out great.  Odwor is really a powerful guy and progressing really well. 
Also this week, we had kind of a do or die lesson with one of our investigators, Elizabeth Njoroge.  She is a sister to one of the members in the branch Bro Nd'ungu (his son was in my MTC group by the way).  We have been teaching her for the past month or so.  Every lesson we have had with her has been really powerful and spiritual, but when it comes to her coming to church she never comes.  So we talked to her about how we  love coming to see and visit with her, but we told her about our purpose as missionaries.  We even had the branch president with us and he made a huge impact on the lesson as well.  After the lesson, we were really unsure if she would come to church or not, but we had faith that she would.  And she did!! It was soo cool seeing her come to church.  A really big step for her. It was cool just seeing one person make a big step towards coming closer to Christ.  For people here, going to church is a really big social thing (even more so than spiritual). So for someone to leave their initial church and to take a leap of faith towards what they have come to know to be true, its awesome to see! I'm really grateful that is preparing his children, even in the little ways, to receive the truth.  Its upon us tho who already know the truth to reach out to those others who are still searching, and help them up. 
Other than that a nice week.  Had 9 less actives at church!!! WOW! 2 of which were Paul Muricho and his wife.  We have been workin super super hard with this family (since i have been here) and have seen no progress.  But i guess the spirit must have been working within them and they came! Soooo awesome!
But time is really flying and its crazy.  Probably one of the fastest weeks of my whole life haha.  But i love my time serving the Lord.  One thing i picked up this week from reading the Book of Mormon was in 3 Nephi 6-7.  It talks about how the Nephites and Lamanites of this time went from Righteousness, to complete wickedness in a very short period of time.  But in Ch 6:14, and 7:21, it talks about the few people who did not fall away. In both scriptures it describes these people as being "converted unto the true faith" and "converted unto the Lord".  This is why they did not fall away, even when things got tough and even while there was complete wickedness around them.  It was because they were converted, having that sure knowledge of what they knew to be true.  They had received a sure knowledge from the Holy Ghost (vs.21) and became "firm, and steadfast, and immovable, willing with all diligence to keep the commandment of the Lord" (vs14).  This is why they did not fall, but stayed firm and true.  We must all convert ourselves! And it comes through constant effort and time keeping the commandments, studying the scriptures, and praying for the strength to overcome. 
Elder Thomas

Monday, August 4, 2014

Enjoying zone lunch

Rain...had to pull out the gum boots for this!

Elder Mwashi and his great uncle that they ran into, small world!

Daniel and Sister Rapudo, a less active member that they visit a lot.

July 28, 2014

Soooo, another nice week out here in Kitale. 
Beginning of the week, we went on exchanges with the Misikhu elders, so elder Mwashi came out to Kitale to be with me.  A really great exchange!  On Tuesday, we were able to set two baptismal dates!! One of which was with Jane Osimbo and also another guy named Preston.  But Jane is really showing a lot of potential and progression.  She already loves coming to church, and the members are doing a great job of fellowshipping her.  We were able to teach her about the restoration this week, and it was a super great lesson. 
Wednesday was pretty cool.  First, something pretty crazy. As me and Elder Mwashi were walking down the road, we saw the couple missionaries and started talking to them.  As we were talking, all the sudden, this old mzee walks by and Elder Mwashi starts talking to him.  I thought that he was just contacting him, but then i noticed that they weren't speaking Swahili but a tribal language, so i was like what's going on here.  After about 2 minutes or so, elder Mwashi turns to me and says "ohh my goodness, Elder Thomas this is my GRANDFATHER!" ( he actually met great-uncle, but they consider them to be the same in Kenya).  Hahaha! it was pretty cool, elder Mwashi was super excited to see him and they got to talk for a few minutes.  Small world.
After that, we met up with our branch president, President Kwendo, to go visit some people in this area called Mitume. Had some super great lessons. One of which was with this guy called Odwor, who we contacted 2 weeks ago.  He has a really cool story.  In 2003, Odwor was living in Nairobi in Kayole.  While there, he was walking around one day, when he walked by a church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He got really interested and wanted to go inside and learn more, but the gate was locked, so he was not able to.  Since then, 11 years have passed and he has not seen the church since then.  But when we contacted him, he was super super happy and excited to see us.  He told us his story and how he really wants to become a member.  He has come the past two weeks in a row, and is SUPER DEDICATED.  He rides his bike for 2 hours plus just to get to church..... no joke.  He is a baller!! We also set a bapt date with him for September, so looking forward to that!!
The rest of the week was a little tough. Thursday, Friday, and Sunday it rained , and by rain i mean we got dumped on haha.  It was really crazy how much it rained.  I had to pull out my gum boots to proselyte.  It was mud-metropolis her in kitale. Even on Sunday, we went to go visit some recent converts. The whole day it had been raining pretty hard, but didnt think much of it.  As we were approaching arriving to their home, both me and elder Dick were walking with our heads down (focusing on not slippin in the mud), when all the sudden some mamas start hollerin at us, saying "wazungu! where are you going??" I look up and say "just there", and as i looked up i realized why they asked.  Where there used to be once a nice path, was a 50 foot wide river.... impassable.... hahah! it was pretty crazy, and unfortunate because we walked for 1 and a half hours to get there. But its all good! pretty funny tho.
Other than that things are not bad.  Elder Dick and I are still trying to help our investigators to progress, and also visit with the less active members. Time is flying by tho... haha days are just gone like nothing and the months keep coming and going .  But I'm really loving this time.  Especially the spirit that is felt and the things that i am getting the privilege and opportunity to learn.  One scripture that i read this week that really meant a lot to me is Helaman 3:27-29, and 35.  Just that God really does love us all, and wants us to return back to his presence. But its upon us to "lay hold upon the word of God" do those things that lead us back to His presence.  What's more important than knowing the gospel, is living it.  Just something that meant a lot to me.
Congrats Benny boy for puttin a ring on it!   Hahah pretty crazy stuff ehh?? ha but love you alll!!!
Elder Thomas