Monday, April 28, 2014

Week 28: Baptisms & Blessings along with Great Pix

Well another great week!

The first part was quite busy with appointments- Tuesday we had 6 lessons ending with the weekly mission prep class and we were able to stay quite busy. Wednesday after our hour walk back from our district meeting with the other Elders in Mitini, we walked another hour to a part member family's house and met with them. We are hoping to extend a baptism date for his wife this week but we will see. Then they were able to show us where some less active members stay which was good.

Thursday things just worked out- 5 people we had set to see but 0 were home...but ended the day with 5 lessons with others. Friday after our weekly planning we went to Mitini again for my companion to do some baptisimal interviews. Saturday morning they were baptized which was awesome to see. They all had to come down to our Kyambeke chapel because it is the only one with a baptisimal font. After, we headed to the field which is just about the only flat place in our area and had a nice soccer game with some youth and young single adults and the other Elders, about 20 people in total.

After playing soccer my companion and I ate some food that didn't go over too well. My companion started feeling sick Saturday night then myself Sunday morning. Ended up with us not being able to go to church yesterday and just started feeling better this morning. No worries though- all is well! Priesthood blessings with faith is the key. Took 6 months for me to get sick for a day here- I think that's really good.

In a bit sadder news, last Monday at 1 am a member died in a fire in his shop in the market, so it looks like we will be attending a funeral this week or next week. The story is pretty sad and a bit crazy, having to do with a psycho wife- I'll leave it at that.

As for questions-

What about the church building is it nice? It isn't anything like the ones back home, it's not a huge chapel, more like a school house type thing. A hallway with a few classrooms on each side then at the end is a open room for sacrament meeting.

Is it a branch or ward? Branch!

This week should be good- having our zone training meeting and then headed to Machakos again since it will be the first of the month. May already!

Check out the photos and descriptions below.  Finally able to upload a few pix. 

Having a great time out here inviting others to come closer to Jesus Christ.

-Elder Eveson

Carwash in Pinetown, SA

Our Durban Mission District at
Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban -
this is when we went for the Kaizer Chiefs
vs. Liverpool Legends soccer match.

Bishop Sabela of the Pinteown Ward that
I served in while in Durban . . . a powerful man.

Car I drove while in the Durban Mission. Parked here to
go tracting, and came back to lots of Monkeys.

President Zackrison of the South Africa Mission
saying Goodbye at the Airport.

Truck selfie!  Catching a ride in the back of our Branch
President's truck -- always nice to get a ride.
Usually, we are walking for hours.

Recent Zone Conference in Nairobi

Monday, April 21, 2014

Week 27: 6 Months Down, Signing, Small World (again) & Avo Season!

Another week, I hope you all had a great Easter Sunday along with a great week. It really is important to remember the meaning of Easter and what it means for us rather than the candy that may be tied in with the day.
Seems as if I hit my 6 month mark from leaving Oregon for my mission last week- time fliiiiies.
Well I'm back in Tanzania- I was transferred on Tuesday to Arusha. I'm about to learn Swahili fast, being indulged like this.

Just kidding. There wasn't any transfer news for my companion or myself, but both Elders in Kilili were transferred so there are no Elders there currently for this transfer. Now there are only 4 of us in the whole zone.. just like when I was in Mwanza. Kilungu and Mwanza zones are the 2 smallest ones in the mission.
Yesterday at Church we were able to watch both Saturday sessions of General Conference which was super nice. Pretty blunt on morality topics towards the rising generation- which is the best way to put things.

It was nice seeing conference close to after it happened- as we didn't have to wait for it to be translated into Swahili like they do in Tanzania. In Nairobi they loaded it onto a flash drive and sent it out here.
Since all the boarding schools don't start til the 5th of May there are still lots of youth in the area with not much to do except work in the shamba and hangout with friends so we are organizing a soccer game for this Saturday which should be fun and an opportunity to meet people.
Speaking of youth being out of school- one of their families we taught twice before their kid came back. The family told me they have a deaf son and said he knows sign language, but the family does not so they have to gesture to communicate with him. Now that he is back, my companion and I were walking on the road and met a group of people and it turned out one of them was him. I was able to sign with him just a bit. With my 3 years of sign language class in high school it seems I have forgotten a lot of it. Maybe it was just me somewhat similar to being 'star struck' and not knowing what to say. Anyways,we had a short convo and hopefully we will be able to meet with all of the family this week and I will be able to translate the lesson for him that we are teaching- even if it is a lot of finger-spelling because I don't know many gospel related signs, and the differences between Kenyan sign language and American sign language..
This past Friday we met a guy in the market who introduced himself as a member in Athi River (close to Nairobi) and was visiting his girlfriend's family for Easter weekend. Great family- they have us over just about every Monday night for Family Home Evening. After some conversing, I found out he served a mission 2008-2010. I asked where and he said Durban. I asked his areas and he mentioned that his first area was Pinetown/New Germany which is where I served while I was there! That was cool talking about the area and having a flashback looking through my journal that night for members' names. Then talked to him again at church, and found out that he and his companion found a guy named Michael, made a return appointment with him, went to his house and started teaching him and his family. Eventually he was transferred, and later in his mission after following up with other missionaries he found out they accepted to be baptized. The best part- it turns out, while I was there, Michael was married for all time and eternity to his wife in the Johannesburg Temple. That was cool to share with him.
In other news- some may be surprised to know that I ate Avocados this week- now that mango season is finished, avocado season is here with too many huge avocados.
Two questions I received to answer for today- How many people there don't speak English or Swahili? Very few that we have met don't speak Swahili, and if they do only speak the tribal language of KiKamba they are older. Adults that don't know us like to greet us using 2 Kamba greetings- both of which we know the Kamba reply to, so they are all shocked when we hit them back with the reply then ask them the other greeting.

How many not African people are there? Here in the Hills: a grand total count of 0. In Nairobi you can see them here and there, in Machakos I've seen one. People are sometimes surprised/shocked to see me and my companion when we are out and about since we are both white.
In answer to a few questions I have got in mail and Dear Elders, here are the responses (with a few repeats from emails prior) ...  sleeping in a net is fine, it might be weird going home and not sleeping in one; my companion's name is Elder Beacom, he is from East London South Africa right by the beach- one of the most southern parts of the continent; I am the junior comp as of now; I never have problems sleeping because of how much we walk and all the hills; haven't had any problems with dry skin/sunburns at all and I haven't had to wear sunscreen at all which is really nice.
6 months of the best 2 years is already finished- a bit crazy to think about. I'll be home in no time.
Have a greaaaaaaat week wherever you may be and whatever may be going on.

Love Elder Eveson

Check out the Size of these Avocados!

Elder Mutie and his girlfriend. Elder Mutie served his Mission in Durban. Small world!

Stick of Sugar Cane from outside our flat

Monday, April 14, 2014

Week 26: Planting Seeds & Strength in Numbers

Well another week in paradise!

Did some shamba (farm) work this week- cultivated, dug, and then planted maize and beans with a family in the ward. Took 3 hours, felt good to get a workout other than jumping rope. It is about the only service that is useful to anyone here so we'll end up doing it quite a bit I bet. That's what the photo is from.

Headed to Nairobi this week which was fun. Always good to see my old companion and all the others there in Nairobi. Found more connections with Lethbridge and Raymond Alberta- really it is a small world. Went there because my companion had a zone leaders meeting with President Hicken- the mission president. While they were in it I was in the mission office and was able to listen to the audio of a lot of conference which was nice.

The zone leaders from Chyulu weren't able to get a bus back to their area so the assistants to the president (APs) took them back in their car and we went also, they dropped us off on the way in Sulton Hammod (not sure on the spelling) then we took a short bus ride home. In the car though it was cool we saw Wildebeests, more Giraffes- 2 of them were on the side of the road..suuuuuper close to us, Gazelles, and a Hyena- although that one was dead on the side of the road. Pretty cool stuff.

Yesterday after Church in Ilima we went with 6 members of Kyambeke to a guy about my age whom we had never met before but had been told was sick. We were kinda stoked on how many people were headed there with us. Member present lesson to the max. It took an hour to get to his house and when we show up there are a lot of people. It turns out the boarding schools have closed for a couple of weeks and all those students are back from wherever they school at. After Church in Kyambeke they all headed up to his house. The guy is really sick and his joints arent too well. After some talking with everyone we had a lesson, which a member and good friend that went with us did a great job with, then my companion and I added to it as the spirit prompted us to. Ended up being 30 of us there total- super cool experience.

Another transfer (6 weeks) in the books. We get the transfer news tonight- I highly doubt anything will happen with me and my companion but 2 of the other 4 Elders in the zone there is a possibility for them to move areas- although anything can happen and it is all up to the Lord. Having been here 6 weeks in the area already- wow time has flown.

As far as questions go, copied right from the emails--
Hey can you tell us about the people you are serving? Pretty general question but they are super nice and welcoming- both nonmembers and members. Lots of them feed us either fruit from their shamba they grow or ugali, rice, meat, chapatis, hot chocolate things like that to name a few.

What do they do for a living? They farm. Most of their days are spent in the shamba either planting, cultivating, harvesting, things like that. They farm just enough to feed their family til next harvest season- here they can plant twice in a year. One problem is they cant irrigate their shambas so they have to rely on rain whenever it comes. And as far as drinking water- it is rain water or water they go and fetch from the river then carry back to their flat (house).

What about your living conditions? We live in a house here in Kyambeke. I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to find on Google Earth as it is right next to the branch presidents and only a few minute walk downhill to the market and the Kyambeke chapel.
Are you used to sleeping in a net?  Do you have mattresses? How do you sleep?
Yeah the mosquito net was easy to get used to- Ill try and get you guys a picture next week. It just drapes over the bed, not like a sleeping bag. Yeah we have beds, mattresses all that good stuff. I come home exhausted and sleep like a rock. Haven't had any problems falling asleep.

What are you eating? Foood. Breakfast- we brought back cereal from when we went to Nairobi, eggs, little smokeys, things like that. Lunch is noodles a lot of the time (quick and easy before we head out) then it varies for dinner since we have a bit of time to cook. Here we have to be in by 8pm, which is earlier than almost all the missions across the world.

How do you proselyte? Are you knocking on doors? The answer- What doors? More like curtains.. just kidding.. kinda. There aren't really that many homes close together so we waaaaaalllllkkk. But the other week we saw some houses across the valley we had not been to so we headed over and have taught them a few times now. Whenever we go to someones home they are almost always there- usually cooking or in the shamba just close to their house. As of right now, Mission President has told my companion and I to focus on the members then the less actives. Also, the investigators we have to keep teaching but not to find new ones because there are a lot of members in the records but about half show up to Church. There is going to be a district here soon, which is exciting.

How is the work going in your area?  Are people receptive / interested?  The work is good- lots of it. People are really receptive and open. We stay really busy since everyone is so spread out going from place to place. We have an hour a day allotted to study Swahili (10-11am) and because of our schedules we have only been able to do that once in 6 weeks since I have been here. And as far as Swahili goes- I can understand a lot of it and I know words but speaking it is where I'm stuck at, at the moment. Also I know a few greetings in KiKamba- the tribal language here in the area that is used allll the time. Most people know KiKamba first, Swahili second, then- if they do learn English, it is last. A lot more people know english here though than in Tanzania.

What do you hear from Elder Ellingson? 
He is doing super well- we email every week, he is enjoying his mission, as I am.

Have more Missionaries been allowed into Kenya?
Yeah so tomorrow we are getting 6 from the Missionary Training Center- the first ones to come direct since the group before me- in September. The last 2 weeks we have received half a dozen here and there. Things are looking up. Slowly but surely. President has been working a lottt with immigration and the fruits of that labor are showing.

What are your favorite foods to eat there?  Do you get to eat meat?
Chapatis, and yeah.

Hey how's the work coming?  Any good investigators?
It's coming along. The only problem we have is getting people to come to Church. Some reason we can't figure out is preventing everyone from coming. That is why we can't invite and give baptismal dates yet. Also clearing up things for investigators- like one thought the Church is all in English so she never went to it because she doesn't understand much English- whereas it is actually mostly Swahili and KiKamba.

Do you get a lot of fruits and veggies? Yeah- even like yesterday a member brought us 4 huuuuge avocados to church for us...   Avocado season is up and mango season has ended.
Well I will try and send some more pictures in a bit or later tonight. They just take a while to load along with lots of emailing credit.

Have a great week though- enjoy that sunshine for those of you in Portland that I have heard about.. I see that thing every day all day.

Until next week
Elder Eveson

Working in the Shamba

Monday, April 7, 2014

Week 25: Hanging out in the Mango Tree, Bonding with Dinner, Small World & Following Inspiration

Well another week come and gone. The week was great on my side as usual and hope it was the same for all of you.

I hope you all enjoyed general conference - I will hopefully see it in the next few months.  Check it out anytime here:

Few things- So whenever people ask where I am from I say one of 2 things- America, then they ask where, I say Oregon and they have no idea. I say it is close to California then they just think I am from Cali. They have heard of California and New York. The other- I have just started saying I am from Oregon and they just pretend they know where/what I just said. It confuses them but that way they don't have the wrong image of me- for example that I have money. I am in one of the safest places ever though so no worries.

I'm not able to send mail unless we go to Nairobi- which then it goes through pouch to South Africa then to Utah then from there to wherever. We get mail sometimes. Roughly maybe once every 3ish weeks. We got it this week because someone that works for the church came to our area for the day, but other than that the last time I got it was when I was in Nairobi. I also got the mail that went to my previous area before I was transferred that I thought I might not see. Thanks for everyone who has been writing! Super grateful for whenever it comes!

Last week we went to visit a member and he was working in his shamba and said he would be done and come up soon, and told us to hop up in the Mango tree- of course we did. Climbed up and ate mangoes while we waited for him. The lesson ended up going well. I love this mission- where else do you get to do that..

Also that reminds me, going to Machakos this past week we saw 18-20 giraffes and a dozen of those same ones on the way back.

Our zone came together for our zone training meeting which was great- all 6 of us.  After, we ate a goat which was reallyy good. Attached is a picture of me and the goat from the beginning of the process. Some good bonding time.
Alright the cool story I mentioned last week: Background info: So when Elder Anderson and I were getting transferred from Mwanza TZ to Kenya, we got into the airport, got through customs, and headed out to find the APs who were supposed to pick us up at arrivals. They weren't there and we weren't sure what to do. We looked for a phone but who uses a pay phone anymore.. We were about to ask someone to use their phone to call the APs when a man came up to us and introduced himself as a member in the Zimmerman ward in Nairobi. I asked if we could use his phone to call them and we got ahold of them- they were 45 minutes away stuck in Nairobi traffic.

Fast forward 4 weeks into the transfer, my companion and I went to Matwiku (not sure on the spelling) for the day to visit a few members of the Ilima branch. It takes 1 hour 45 mins to walk to- a long uphill walk and down the other side of the mountain into that valley. We dont go there that often because of the distance and the time it takes. We got to the first home of members we were going to visit, sat down and the mama said we were lucky that her husband was home and that we were going to be able to meet with him. I asked my companion if he was less active and he thought so because he had not met him. He came from the shamba and somehow looked familiar. They shared a reallly nice meal with us, and we got to talking. 

He had mentioned he met missionaries in the airport a few weeks ago that were somewhat stranded. My mind went to the January group of missionaries that came to the mission but because of the work permit problems they had to fly back 3 days later to their temporary assignments in South Africa til they are allowed in. Then I thought wait they weren't stranded- as I asked if it was only 2 missionaries or a group. Answered just 2 of them, and bam. It was me and Elder Anderson. It was him whose phone we used. He introduced himself as a member that lives in Nairobi because he is often in Nairobi for work and attends the Zimmerman ward when there, but Ilima is him home ward- one of the 2 branches we cover.

Later found out that he was the the first Kenyan to ever baptize a Kenyan which is his wife- pretty cool I thought.

I have a picture with me and my companion and them- I will try and send it tonight or next week.

This week right before we left our flat (house) I was prompted to snag 2 Book of Mormons- one in English and one in Swahili for an investigator we were going to stop by if we had time. One in each language so she could choose which language she preferred to read in. We went about our day, met with the wife of a member (that we hadn't planned on) who is a non-member, and we taught her the Restoration. She wanted a Swahili copy which I happened to have. Next appointment we meet with this guy for the second time and teach him, he had questions about who Joseph Smith was and his story from the pamphlet we left with him, so we went over that and went perfectly into the Book of Mormon. He preferred an English copy which I happened to have.

We didn't end up meeting with the lady I thought to take the Book of Mormons for, but the prompting allowed me to be prepared for the unforeseen opportunity of giving them out. 

I hired a member whom is preparing to go on mission to do my weeks worth of laundry for me, now I really dont have much to do on preparation days haha. It is really good though because he helps me out and I am helping him out. He is actually doing it right now as I type this.

Side note, a bit random- I have learned how to catch flies, kinda proud of that.

I have got questions that I have told some of you that I would answer in my weekly email- those will come next week and send any more if anyone has any.

Shoutout to my dad for this April Fools day article (yeah sorry I already spoiled it) I really enjoyed- having to do with the Church and NCAA basketball.

One thing I thought was really cool that I recently realized- I have served in 3 areas (Pinetown, Mwanza and Kyambeke), had 3 companions from 3 different countries (Madagascar, Florida, and South Africa), and those 3 areas have been in 3 different countries (South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya). Not sure how many others can say that. 

Hey - was able to hop back on for a few minutes.  Just got back from Family Home Evening.  As far as the pictures go - the man I met at the airport, then again with his wife in their home.

Another is a decent sunset walking home this week.

Then the clearest picture with the most giraffes I could get while in the bus. I guess play some I Spy.

And finally, My Swahili nametag! You only get these if you serve in Tanzania- I came in under the radar and got them ordered when I was in Nairobi for interviews- the week before I was transferred to Kenya. I thought the order might have been cancelled but when I saw them with my mail this week- I was pretty excited.
Elder Eveson

Til next week-
Elder Eveson

Bonding with dinner before feasting on it with my Zone

First Kenyan to baptize a Kenyan, and happens to be the same guy 
that helped me out at the airport a few weeks earlier.  
Love the Small World experiences.

View of Giraffes from the Bus . . . . Play I Spy!
Sunset I enjoyed while walking home

Yesssss!  My Swahili Nametag.  You only get one of these if you are 
serving in Tanzania.  Thankfully my order was not cancelled 
after my transfer.  Pretty cool.

Editor's note:  I asked Brandon where he lives, he said he is in Kyambeke, Kenya.  When I googled it, the only landmark that showed up was "Church of Jesus Christ of LDS".  I mentioned it to him and he replied, "Well, yeah. It's the only thing here."  Thought you'd like to see some maps.  First one is close up aerial of Kyambeke.  The other shows relation to Machakos (where they go for food each month -- 4 hour bus ride each way) and Nairobi (7 hours each way by bus).

LDS Church and area where Brandon lives: Kyambeke

Distance relationship from Kyambeke to Machakos and Nairobi