Into the Jungle

Into the Jungle

We left city life in Kampala yesterday and made our way seven hours north to Gulu, which is near South Sudan and DR Congo. This was the first time since our arrival in Uganda we felt like we were deep into Africa. The drive to Gulu was wonderfully beautiful and physically punishing. But oh, what we saw along the way! Here is where we saw our first Black Mamba. We’ve learned that if you’re in Africa and you see a snake, it’s deadly. When we saw it, I commented to the guard about it and he yelled Kill it! He ran and got a rock and came to do the job, missing. The small Mamba slithered into the grass to safety. I nearly stepped on it to kill it but was later glad I wasn’t that foolish. Then came the baboons and monkeys.There is something deeply spiritual about looking into the eyes of a wild animal. There is a majesty or perhaps even reverence to see wild nature eye-to-eye. You can never experience that in a zoo or on the screen. The baboons were near the road as we crossed the Nile. Many mothers carried their babies clinging to their under-belly. The monkeys were very cool as well. We finally arrived in Gulu at about 8 PM. We were exhausted from the rough road (think of Hole in the Rock Road in Southern Utah) and long hours. We have a small house in a gated complex where six young Elders share two additional houses. This house is very small and lacks many of the conveniences of our place in Kampala, but we have no...
The Cure

The Cure

Back home in the U.S. and in many other places, there is a pandemic of hedonistic self-absorption. We get so wrapped up in our stuff, our properties, and our social status that it becomes easy to forget to count our blessings. Well, here’s the cure: Being here in Uganda, we see whole families staying (few actually own any property) in a mud hut with a grass roof that measures no more than 10′ x 10′. They have no source of water other than by bucket from an unclean stream which the children are required to retrieve twice daily. They sleep on a dirt floor on shabby mats amid lice and fleas and Jiggers. They have one change of clothes and many have no shoes. Some old men in the villages have never owned a pair. Their gnarly bare feet resemble tree roots. They eat one meal of beans and posho (corn mush) a day, if they are lucky. Generally speaking they are at least 30% underweight. Their bones stick out and their muscles are tawny and strong. They toil in the sun grubbing trenches or sweeping the dirt streets with brush brooms for a few schillings a day. And yet these are among the happiest people we have ever met. Why? Because they have the gift of life and no one in their family died today. The blessings that flow to us in America are completely inconceivable to these beautiful Ugandans. But in so many ways they are better off than we are. They haven’t got the means to slather on another layer of luxury that dulls a thankful heart. Their gratitude for...
Silent Sermon

Silent Sermon

Last summer I learned that an interview can last 90 days. It taught me the most powerful lesson of my life. Today I heard the best sermon never spoken. I’m amazed at how the Spirit can teach us if we are ready to hear with our heart. Here’s how today’s sermon was not preached: RaNae and I dearly love President and Sister Chatfield. They put in crazy hours traveling, teaching, counseling and serving. They are truly remarkable people. It is not humanly possible to do all that they do every day. For example, they returned from a week-long multi-country trip today at 3:00 AM, took a few hours rest, and were here at the office before 9. So, we decided to get them some lunch. When we walked in the door with the food, President was in a day-long meeting with his Assistants planning transfers, and Sister Chatfield was meeting with a secretary about the mission history. So we left the sacks on his desk and went back to work. That is when the sermon didn’t begin. I was doing busy work, feeling a little frustrated that we couldn’t get the President and his wife to take time for a much needed break. They just had to be exhausted and we wanted to treat them. Here are President’s words that he did not speak: Elder Taylor, I appreciate this very much. Thank you. But I can’t stop working right now. So I’ll take this food, divide it with my Assistants, and keep on working. I can rest later. We’ll be okay. After these thoughts came, I could see the Savior dividing the loaves and fishes...
Dive-Dive-Dive!

Dive-Dive-Dive!

Several have asked what it’s like being a senior couple serving in Africa. This is our attempt to explain. Living at home in Utah is much like sitting comfortably on the deck of a boat at sunset on the ocean. It is beautiful and serene. It has its adventurous elements, but is secure. You think you have a pretty good perception of reality. But you can’t know what you don’t see. So you don scuba gear, sit on the side railing, hold your mask in place and tumble backwards off the boat into the MTC (not empty sea). You are 100% committed. Instantly, your whole world changes. You have entered a different dimension. Once you push away from the surface and descend towards the reef below, you begin to see things that you could only imagine before – along with many, many things you would never expect. The pressure of the water against your skin, your controlled rhythmic breathing, the aquatic life, the vegetation, the coral, and all things oceanic makes this truly unique to anything you have ever done before. And your attempts to write home about this fail because those on the surface can’t understand the life of those beneath. There comes a point on your mission that you find yourself suspended in the abyss amid the sea life and you realize you are experiencing an eye-popping stupefying adventure that can never be duplicated nor adequately described. You are completely vulnerable to the sea, yet you feel safe and confident. And you wouldn’t trade this for anything back home. Thanks to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and your experiences...