Monday, March 10, 2014

Week 21: "Collective" Update from The Kilungu Hills

Brandon is in the "Hills" and although he didn't have a chance to write much, his one line email to me said  Kilungu Hills is Amaaaaaaaazzzzzzzing!  So, there you have it.  :)

The area is southeast of Nairobi:,37.4236111,8z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x18255a55c7758efd:0xc72e0b020d57af21

Brandon had some quick and very short email exchanges with Ray and Tyler.  Here's what they learned:

Once a month, he rides a bus (see link below for pix of buses) for 3 hours one-way to go to the Market for food.  He buys one month of food (hopefully calculating and planning correctly) on this outing.  6 hours on the bus (with live chickens tied to the top -- seriously!) over dirt roads for their "quick trip" to the market, not counting market time.

Hills, hills everywhere.  And the rainy season is just beginning.  Definitely needs shoes with traction -- is purchasing hiking boots when he goes to Nairobi next week for a conference.

Due to the hilly terrain, the last Missionary there was not inclined to actually get out and find people.  Brandon is.  Members in some areas walk 3 1/2 hours each way, over the hills, to get to Church on Sundays.  In other words, they leave their homes at 6:30 AM to arrive at Church for a 10:00 AM Service.  Afterward, it's another 3 1/2 hours home.  And they all walk it.  Even the little ones.

This provides a sense of how vast this area is.  Makes those stories we heard as kids of people walking uphill both ways to school in a snow storm seem kinda lame by comparison. . . .

He and his companion are the only Missionaries in the entire area.  His companion is a White South African from the Eastern Cape of South Africa, and is an Avid Surfer, so the two of them could not be more happy to be together and seem to have plenty of stories to share on their walking adventures.

The reason kids yell "Muzungu! Muzungu!" and run away from whites is because most of them have never seen a white person in their entire life.  AND they were taught from a very young age that white people will kill you and suck your blood, so they are scared of white people.  Pretty sure that is not Brandon's plan.  He said when they yell, "Muzungu" he yells back "Amerkani" which means "American" because "Muzungu" actually means a White Brit.  Nevertheless, they have to develop trust with those they work with.

And speaking (earlier) of the Cape . . . Cape Town is where Brandon's buddy, Kash Ellingson, Canadian from the South Africa MTC, remains.  His paperwork, and the paperwork for all Missionaries that arrived after Brandon - and were called to the Kenya Nairobi Mission - has not been approved, and they do not know if the Kenyan Government will decide to do any more approvals.  The Kenya Nairobi Mission is functioning as best they can on about 1/2 their normal number of missionaries.

Brandon keeps in touch with Elder Ellingson who said he has had some pretty hairy experiences in Cape Town.  Having traveled to South Africa, and visited Cape Town, one can only imagine.  Wish he had a blog.

There are not a lot of English speakers in Brandon's new area, and they do not speak Swahili.  They speak Kamba.  So for those keeping track, this is Brandon's 3rd language of his Mission: Kamba in Kilungu Hills, Swahili in Tanzania, and Zulu in Durban, South Africa.  He is also fluent in ASL (American Sign Language), so we'll see what skills he applies throughout his lifetime.  Guessing he will use it all.  It's Brandon.  :)

We found a great description of Brandon's new digs on a post from an Elder that had served there: 

"Our running water is a water tank on our roof that has a pipe running into the kitchen, our shower is a bucket and cup, our toilet is a long drop. . . ."

That is from an Elder that was there in 2010, and not sure if it has changed much.  Here is the link I mentioned above, with pics of the huts (houses), buildings, oxen pulled carts, and the infamous buses:

We still don't know about internet access (ie, whether the quick email exchanges were from the town where he travels for their grocery run or if he actually had access in Kilungu Hills) or length of time for mail delivery, etc.

The last thing Brandon said to Ray is, "I'm making it the BEST Two Years!"  He only has 19 months left.

Love to all!


Elder Eveson's Mom

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