Monday, August 29, 2011


Whose been working out!
We were checking out a possible couple's house in Lilongwe and there were a bunch of guys doing some brickwork etc.   This particular guy had some major muscles and they all laughed and thought it was great when I took this picture.  

Our weekend

Sister Bullock with Maria after her baptism
Baptism in Liwonde
Elder Bullock with Bob Kwale
Elder Bullock with the Namabande family
Hi again,

We took President and Sister Padovich to Lilongwe this past weekend and stopped in Liwonde  for the baptisms of some wonderful people.  They were baptized in the swimming pool at the Hippo Lodge and it was a nice private spot to do it.  They were so excited to finally get baptized and it was a great morning.   I will attach some pictures.   Bob Kwale was baptized first, because he wanted to be, and deserved to be, the first baptism in the new Liwonde Group.    Maria Namabande introduced her parents, Petros and Maria to the gospel and they were thrilled to join the church.  Maria, the mom, has stomach cancer and was so worried about getting baptized before she dies.  She is in a lot of pain a good share of the time.  They are wonderful!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday, August 21st

Yesterday was "Helping Hands" day for Africa.  Each area chooses a project.  In Blantyre they went to a Boy's Reform Centre and they cleaned, painted, weeded, swept, slashed grass, and did a general clean-up.  There were about a hundred members who worked for about 3 hours and they got a lot done.  The Centre really appreciated the work.  Public Affairs for the church invited the media and there were 2 from a local TV station and 6 or 7 journalists.    It resulted in our two Zone leaders (missionaries) and the counsellors in the District Presidency being invited to do a live radio broadcast this evening for an hour.   I think they wanted Elder Bullock too but we were in Liwonde and had or phone shut off for a while so we didn't hear about it until it was about to happen.  It went very well and was very positive for the church.  The Elders did an excellent job, as well as the others.
The Liwonde group had some paint donated and they went and painted the classrooms at a school in Stima Village.  Lilongwe Branches did some painting and also some cleaning at a market area.  It was all very appreciated and helps give the church some really good exposure. 
We went to Liwonde today and took Elder Packer with us so he could interview our 4 baptismal candidates and they all passed with flying colors.  They are so excited and eager for their baptisms on Saturday.   President & Sister Padovich will be in town on Wednesday for Zone conference and other things.  They will go with us to the baptism on Saturday and then we will continue on to Lilongwe for Sunday meetings and some trainings.  We will also do some more work on the quarters we are working on up there for a missionary flat.  We will return Tuesday to Blantyre and they will go back to Lusaka on Wednesday.  We look forward to their visit.
We phoned our landlady/owner of the house we live in and told her we need to move due to safety issued (thieves breaking in).  We have a lease for another year still and were not sure if we can break it or not.  The day after our phone call her agent paid us a visit and informed us that we had to give 3 months notice and in Malawi a tenant is suppose to paint the premise from top to bottom when you leave.  We explained that the paint here is in excellent condition and he agreed.  We need to negotiate with them about the security system that we put in.  We were really happy to learn that a 3 month notice is sufficient.  The agent did say that the landlady was willing to pay for a 3rd night guard for us if we would stay but we told him that we needed to move.  We really need to get out of this BIG house we are in and cut down on some expenses here. 
We have found another place that is much more practical and smaller and very secure.  It is being built and will be ready for Nov. 1st.  The location is great -- not far from Immigration, where we seem to make regular visits.  :)   The place is going to be really nice and is very well built considering Africa standards.  It has two bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, living area and an office.  (Here we have 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms - way too much for the two of us).
Speaking of Immigration -- we got 5 TEP's this week BUT not the ones we have been anxiously waiting for.  The Immigration officer is being really good to us though and rather than mailing the TEP's he let us come in and get them.  We take them upstairs at Immigration and pay for them (30,000 Kwacha ea. =  $200 US dollars).  He told us to bring in the passports and he would stamp them.  I said that I thought we had to wait for the certificates to come before we could get them stamped and he smiled and said he would do it for us now.  That is really great as the certificates have been taking a few weeks to arrive.  Then he told us to come back in the afternoon for some letters and we didn't know what he was talking about.  We hoped it was the other TEP's but it wasn't -- it was the certificates.  I guess he did them up for us quick.   They also had a new notice up about people not being able to enter the country until their TEP is granted and I ask about that and he just smiled and said, 'that doesn't apply to you'.   So.....  they really are helpful but we as a church want to make sure we are doing things legal and correct so no missionaries will ever be in a bad situation in a foreign country.   It is really good that we have such a good relationship with Immigration.
We heard that in Namibia they are not letting missionaries in right now because they want the church to use local people.  Hmmmm.... not sure how that would work unless they can baptize and teach them quick.  :)  The church Immigration people at the area office are working on it.
Davie, our gardener, was summoned to his wife's village by the Village Chief to discuss the marriage break-up and the fact that she and her family want half of his property.  It was suppose to be settled today but because Davie's advocate (relative) couldn't go they wouldn't settle anything.  He told them his decision about not wanting her back.  He has to go back next week again.  His property consists of 2 plastic chairs, broken dvd player, a few dishes and pots and pans and I suppose a bed.  I'm not sure what they really hope to get.  Because he has a job they think he is rich even though he makes the equivalent of $60 US dollars a month.   It will be nice when this is settled.
I just realized it is getting late and have rambled on long enough.  I will try and send some pictures tomorrow.  I am on the wrong computer to download them.   We have a busy week planned.  Lots to do.  Tomorrow we need to go buy 2 suits for 2 missionaries who are leaving from here to serve.  They have been working and managed to buy shirts, pants, ties, shoes etc. but not suits so the mission will make sure they have that.  They really have done quite well to get as much as they did.   One will serve in Zimbabwe and the other was called to our mission and will usually serve in areas other than his hometown (Blantyre). 
I know there was more I was going to write but can't remember what.  So - till next time.  The Bullocks

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Our guard, Kondwani, hiding his half-done haircut
Gabriel, Davie, night guard, & Elder Bullock finishing installing the spotlights
Gabriel, Elder Bullock and Davie, our gardener

Wed. Aug 17th

We started out this morning by having all missionaries stay in their flat due to possible demonstrations again, however, they did not happen BUT a date has been set to have them on Sept. 17th.   By noon we let all missionaries out to do their work as everything seemed normal.  Nice!!   We are glad it didn't happen again.
We now have 2 floodlights installed that shine down into our back yard so that should help the guards keep better watch for thieves.  The misson President has suggested we should look for a different safer place to live BUT we read the lease today and we may be tied to this place for 2 years (Oct. 2012) unless there is some way out of the lease.   We did drive by a possible new place a couple of days ago and went back today to check it out.  There are 6 side-by-side homes being built in a complex surrounded by high walls that will have electric wires around the tops and will come with security guards.  It seems like it would be VERY safe compared to where we are now AND it would be quite a bit cheaper AND it is nice AND not as big as this one.   He said they should be all finished in about 6 weeks but this being Africa I would give them an additional month or so.     Now - how to get out of this lease??!!
Yesterday when we came home our guard had on a funny looking hat and we commented on it.  He told us that he had gone for a haircut but the electricity had gone off part way through so he needed a hat.  I ask if i could see his hair and he showed us -- it was about 1/3 shaved.  We all laughed (him too).  Last night he got the rest of the job done!   :)   
Love,  Elder/Sister Bullock 

Monday, August 15, 2011


The hole in our wall that the thieves made


We had a little excitement about 1 a.m.    I woke up because Elder Bullock's phone was getting a text message - and another one - and another one.   I found the phone and it was an automatic message from our security company that a guard had pressed the panic button (silent alarm) a few times.  I woke up Jim and we looked out our bedroom window and I saw 4 guys.  Jim saw one with a crowbar and he immediately hit the panic button that we have beside our bed and it set off the siren on top of our house.  The thieves immediately ran away.  Thank goodness for our alarm system.  

We then waited for the security company to show up and didn't see them.  They were here fairly quickly though but did a check around the outside wall first and found a hole through the brick wall that the thieves had made.  The alarm company answers an alarm with 6 or 8 very well trained security men.  The thieves also had cut the razor wire that is along the top of the wall and had likely done that to climb over and work on making the hole from both sides.   They did steal 1 jerry can of diesel and one empty can and also 3 lawn chairs.  That is really all there was outside to steal.  We are grateful for the alarm system or they would most likely have broken into the house as well.  We also called the police and two of them came.

The night guard saw them and pressed his silent alarm that he wears around his neck.  They saw him and he ran out the gate to try and get some help from a guard up the street.  A thief with a gun then stayed at the gate and our guard waited for the security to warn them that he was there.  The company really didn't need warning though as they are trained to deal with whatever they come across.   

We are just fine.  We just didn't sleep much after all that.  We went with our guard to make a report at the police station this morning.  They wanted to come and see the crime scene but had no transport and wanted to know if we could give them a ride here and back.  Elder Bullock ask if they were going to pay for the diesel and they thought that was pretty funny!!   They were CID officers (criminal investigation dept). 

The head guy for our security co. came this morning also to check things out and got a report.  He suggests putting 3 floodlights in to light up the BIG dark yard that we have here.  We just met with the landlady and she will pay for that so we will have it done tomorrow.  Her man will repair the hole in the wall today and next week they will plaster (stucco) the bricks and that supposedly makes it a little harder to break through.  She is really good about wanting to help us.  She doesn't want us to leave here but we may have to if it happens again.

Apparently crime is up here and we heard that it is also worse in Harare, Zimbabwe now too.  We will also have a second security guard here during the night time.  With these measures things should be okay.   The problem with this place is that it is a single house on a big plot and no one has built on the plots on either side of us yet and at the bottom of the plot is a pathway along a stream.   We are rather vulnerable.

We are just so grateful for the security system that has saved us.  Things could have been much worse if they had gotten into the house.   No one was hurt.

The place that we came across in Lilongwe that we want to rent for a couple will be much better than this one as far as security goes.  It is in a compound with 4 units so they won't be isolated by themselves.  We don't want to scare anyone from coming to serve here in Malawi.  The church also does all it can to keep we missionaries safe.  We couldn't look inside the flat because someone rented all 4 of them until January but we left our name and will try and get one then.  They are new flats and look like a really good possibility.

We are totally fine.  The Lord continues to watch over us, thanks to the prayers of our family and frineds.     Love,  Sister Bullock

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday at Liwonde

Liwonde Group of members
Bob Kwale - Liwonde
We took Pres. Matale, from the district Presidency, with us to Liwonde today.  They were so happy to have visitors again.  We were there last week with the Branch President.  We had a good day with them.  They had 47 in attendance - it is down a bit due to school vacation.   Our investigators were there and afterwards we taught them the last lesson and went over the baptismal interview questions and answered any questions.  They are all doing really well and are excited to get baptized.  All four will be baptized on the 27th. 

Pres. Matale had a good visit with Raymond Chisambo, our group leader there when he was in Liwonde a few days ago.  He gave him some ideas about how to start a small business selling rice, as his wife is doing that.  He also talked to them about their situation - they are the ones who didn't even have a tsp. of salt when we were there on Wednesday and we bought them a few things.  Pres. Matale felt like the church should help them out so yesterday we went out with Christopher Sitolo (because he can get better prices than us since he is black) to the markets and bought some basic foods - maize, dry beans, rice, salt, sugar, oil, a bit of hand soap and a big bundle of charcoal (that is what they cook with here).   We took it to them after meetings today and both Bro.  & Sister Chisambo broke down in tears and were sooooo grateful. 

As we arrived back to Blantyre we saw a fuel station pumping and they had diesel.  We were able to fill up our truck (we were down to 1/4 tank).  We only had to wait behind two vehicles.  We continue to see that the Lord blesses us with the fuel we need to do His work.  We know it is Sunday and we wouldn't usually buy on Sundays but under the circumstances we have been told to buy fuel regardless if we find it.  We had to use one of our jerry cans of diesel to get to Liwonde and back.

On Wednesday when we were driving back from Liwonde/Lilongwe we saw a 'dust-devil' blowing and it blew the grass roof right off one hut - not all in one piece but lots of grass flying in the air (like a mini tornado).  Because of their beliefs here in witchcraft etc. etc. we were told that the owners will think that someone was angry with them and caused that to happen, especially since theirs was the only house effected. 

Our gardener Davie went with 4 of his relatives to go visit his 'wife' and her relatives at their village today.  They wanted a meeting.  Davie and his relatives were going to tell them that he does not want her to come back and that the marriage is over.  His relatives are very angry about what she was doing to him.  He said that after that is done she will come and collect her things.  We suggested that we could give him some boxes and that he should box up her things and give them to her at the gate rather than let her back into the house.  He is afraid she will try and take his things too.   We told him to let us know when she is coming and we will be sure to be home.    We haven't seen him since we got home so  I'm sure we will hear about it all tomorrow.    This is a second marriage/relationship for her and according to Davie some women do this to try and take the man for all they can get.  They make a business of doing this and he seems to think that is what she is doing.  They have been together about 1 1/2 yrs and have no children - just her little girl, Hannah, from the first man. 

That's our excitement for the day!!  Tomorrow we will take the Sisters to the grocery store and the Elders will go together and buy food for the next week or two.  They are to get some extra staple items just in case the demonstrations planned for Wednesday last longer than expected.  Apparently the Malawi President is saying he want to talk and try and reason but.....    The army is also demonstrating against him that day too so who knows what will happen.  We hear different stories so we will just all stay in at least for Wednesday until we know what is happening.

We had a good day today and love the people we are serving.  The gospel is true and we are happy to be here doing our part.

Love,  The Bullocks

Friday, August 12, 2011


Road home from Lilogwe
Always people walking


Sawing boards from the log
They draw the lines and then cut awfully straight boards
They work so hard!!! 


Elders Dickson & Owens with family being taught in Liwonde
The mom is Maria.  She has cancer and just wants to be baptized before she dies.  Wonderful, sweet lady.   The daughter is also named Maria and she wants to get baptized so she can get ready to go on a mission and she will be a great missionary.  She is reading the Book of Mormon for the 2nd time and she is the one who introduced the rest of the family to the church.  They know a lot as they are always reading and studying. 


Moms and kids from nearby village coming for clean water
Carrying water home
Kids coming to Kauma Church Bldg. for water
Apparently there are municipal water taps in their nearby village but they don't work so they walk to the church to fill up their containers. 


Boy's Quarters we are cleaning up for the missionary flat
Have to go outside to get to bathroom, kitchen, etc.

This will be quite nice when we are done cleaning and painting and get it furnished.  Kitchen is very small but will work.

Friday August 12th

I was just looking at the list that these emails go to but we hardly hear from very many of you.  Just want to make sure that you still want to be included in our emails -- if you don't just let us know and we can take you off.  We do have our blog that all the letters/pictures go to.
Today Jim is off getting two of the vehicles registered and insured as that comes due at the end of the month.  A member went with him that knows where to go and how to go about it so I stayed home and did up the financial records and sent them in to the area office.  The money balanced so that is always a good thing.  :)
Our gardener, Davie is still having marriage problems.  As we were leaving on Sunday to go to Liwonde for church he was upset and wanted to talk but we didn't have much time.  He had locked his wife (traditional marriage) out of their house because he said she was trying to collect his urine so that she could do magic on him.   The gate guard was there and we ask him to tell the wife that absolutely no magic is allowed here.  She seemed to get the point (she doesn't speak English).  With that said, Davie and his wife headed off towards the house and we had to leave.   When we got back we ask him how things were and he said that he had ask her to bring her relatives so that they could discuss things but they wouldn't come.  He has sent the wife back to the village and told them that when they are ready to discuss then she can come back.  So far she hasn't returned.   He says she doesn't like him and is trying to kill him with magic.    We rather hope that she doesn't come back.   She was  married before and has a child that is not Davie's.   She has brothers and sisters and a mother back in the village and none of them have work so because she is married to someone who does have a job they all think that Davie should give them things and money.  He only makes the equivalent of $60 a month as our gardener which is enough for his little family to eat etc. (only because he grows a good garden).  Her family make a lot of demands on her  but she won't stand up to them.    Magic and witchcraft are very real to these people and it frightens them.
We stopped at Liwonde on our way back to Blantyre and the Zone leaders taught a discussion and we taught another.  After that we went to the Hippo Lodge and arranged with them to use their swimming pool for baptisms on the 27th.   While there we ordered a sandwich and some chips (fries) to take away with us.  There was no salt on the chips so when we stopped back at the group leaders home to report -- I ask if we could borrow their salt shaker for a minute and take it out to the truck and sprinkle a little.   Bro. Chisambo got the salt shaker but there was hardly any in it and said that was all they had.  I said I didn't want to take the last of it (barely 1/2 teaspoon) but he insisted and dumped it into my palm.   I pointed to a very small bag on their shelf and ask if that was salt but he said,  no, it is sugar. (maybe 1/2 cup worth).   I knew that they were struggling but didn't realize how bad it is.     When I went back to the truck I gave the Elders 1000 kwacha (about $6.50) and ask them to go across to the market and buy the family some salt, sugar, oil and whatever else they could buy for that amount.  They came back with all that plus a couple of other things -- in small amounts, of course.   Elder Bullock was done by the time they came back and the Elders just slipped the bag of groceries into their house and we left.     They do have some garden produce and maize.
We were talking to a counsellor in the District Presidency yesterday and he was going to Liwonde today to take them some things for the "Helping Hands" day next week.  He will ask them how they are doing financially etc. and see if there is something that needs to be done.    He was telling us that his wife buys a big bag of rice, divides it up into small bags, and sells it on the street by their house.  He says everyone has to eat and so she manages to do okay.  He smiled and said, "when my business doesn't do well I know that we will at least have food because of my wife's little business".   That might be a good idea for Bro. Chisambo's wife.      We did tell them at the Hippo Hotel that we knew someone who speaks good English and he needs a job.  They said to have him come over with his CV (resume) so we will hope something will come of that.     Life is hard here and we often wonder how people even manage to eat, let alone pay any kind of a bill.   
Gotta get back to work.  Just thought I would write about that as it has been on my mind.  By the way, -- this family pays their meager  tithes and fast offering and work hard keeping the group together out there.  They are good, good people.     It just makes us so much more aware of the money we spend and how we spend it.   We could give up one restuarant meal and it would give them enough to eat for a couple of weeks or more.    Sorry -- I don't mean to put everyone on a guilt trip.    We see this all the time here and usually take it in stride but there are some days when we feel it more than others - especially when it is people that we have learned to love and wish we could make life easier for them. 
Love,  Mom/Nancy/Sister Bullock

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday, August 8th

We are in Lilongwe.  The Zone leaders rode up with us as they needed to come as well and we came together to conserve fuel.  We left Blantyre yesterday (Sunday) morning and stopped in Liwonde for church with the group there.   We also took the Branch President from the Blantyre 1st branch with us as this group falls under that branch and he had not been there before.  He needed to interview some children for baptism but when all was said and done, 4 of the children were not 8 years old but 11 years old so they will need to be taught the discussions before they can be baptized.  We hope they can understand English and be taught.  :)    While he was interviewing the Zone leaders reviewed the Plan of Salvation discussion with a family we have been teaching.  They knew all the right anwers and are a great family.   We understand that the mom has cancer in her stomach and is having a lot of pain but can't afford the medication.  When we go back on Wednesday we will see what we can do for her.  She also had fallen and sprained her ankle but she walked to church anyway -- We gave her a ride home.    The daughter, Maria, is a wonderful young girl (21 yrs. old).  She is the one who heard of the church first and has shared with her family.  Their baptism date has been set for August 27th and it will be a wonderful day.  They all just glow!  They all bore their testimonies in Sac. meeting.   Bob Kwali will be baptized that day too and hopefully his wife if we can get her taught by then.  She is the one who is deaf and so teaching her is a slow process but apparently she has been doing a lot of reading and her husband has been helping teach her.
We went to the Elder's flat this morning and gave them their alottments so they could buy groceries etc.  Their flat wasn't as clean as we like but it was better than last week.  We have promised a pizza if the flats are REALLY clean.  One flat of 4 Elders in Blantyre kept asking when we were coming to check their flat so we went there on Saturday BUT......  it was quite good but they had missed a few things.  Maybe next time!  We checked all flats on Saturday and no one gets a pizza yet and definitely not the Lilongwe Elders.  
Most of today we spent at the Kauma Church Building cleaning the quarters in the back which we are preparing so that 2 missionaries can live there.  I cleaned the small shower room that someone has been using.  It took quite a bit of scrubbing (elbow grease, as my parents called it), but it looks good now.  We couldn't lock it up because the lock is broken so we have bought a new one and will put it on tomorrow.   
There were quite a few ladies and young girls who came into the church yard with their containers to fill up with clean water and carry it home on their heads.  It always amazes me how much weight they can carry and how smoothly they walk and don't spill.   They seemed surprised to see me scrubbing and one girl ask if we needed a cleaning person to come.  Sometimes I think that they don't expect that white people do that kind of work.  I thought after that maybe I should have hired a couple of them to do the cleaning because I worked up a pretty good sweat and they would have done it pretty cheap.  They live in the area behind the church and are pretty poor.  We didn't realize that we were supplying water for them but....... maybe it is the least we can do to help them.  In Zimbabwe they allowed people to get clean water at the church boreholes.  Here it is not a borehole though - it is City water that we are paying for.  If it is okay with the mission president we will attach a hose to a nozzle near the gate and let them get it there because when we finish this place for the Elders they will not be able to get to the water. 
 We also met with a plumber who had some quotes for us and will get another quote tomorrow to put in a gieser (not water tank) etc. etc.  He brought someone else by who will give a quote of putting in some security bars and security gates.    We didn't feel like we got as much done as we had hoped today but..... that is kind of the way it goes here in Africa on most days!!
I had to smile because this is the same place we were at last Monday and I had gotten after the gardener about making things look better.  He obviously hadn't accomplished a lot in a week but while we were there today he was making an effort to be busy and things are 'slowly' looking a little better. 
Jim spent quite a bit of time with the Branch President again going over some things.  The Elder's quorum president who we were thinking might need to be released is looking like he might be making an effort.  The Elders had been to his home and visited with the family and they have been to church the past 2 weeks and he seems to be doing much better.   
We left there and went to the store and bought a couple of gallons of paint and a few other things and hope to get the rooms painted tomorrow and a couple of repairs done.   We will lock it up and next time we come up we can hopefully get a fridge/stove, etc. etc. etc. in so missionaries can move in soon.
This morning we talked to the manager of the petrol station by the hotel and exchanged phone numbers.  We called and he said that diesel was coming soon so we came and got in the queue.  The diesel truck came and Jim walked up and talked to the manager and he told us to drive up to the pumps AND he had blocked one pump off and had us back right in beside the pump (1st in line)!!  Now that is service!!!  AND....he filled up 3 jerry cans for us so now all seven of our jerry cans are full.  The Lord is looking after us!!   We gave the guy a 'tip' and maybe he will help us next time as well.    We also found out that the Elders in Blantyre were able to fill their truck too and the Elders here got a tankful yesterday.  Good News!!!!!!  It brings tears to my eyes.  We are so grateful!
It is beginning to look like there will be another demonstration in the country on August 17th, unless the President does something to appease the people.  He doesn't seem to want to.  We have asked the missionaries to all make up a menu plan for 2 weeks and if necessary we will give some extra alottment so they can stock up a bit on food.  We are afraid that it will be worse and perhaps longer this time and want to be sure we are all prepared.  We are all safe as long as we stay inside and away from the market areas.
Today at this hotel where we are staying they were busy preparing lunch for 500 people.  There is some important meetings taking place here and the President of Malawi was to be in attendance today.  We didn't stick around.   There were a lot of police and security people around this morning and some important looking people gathering.    I think there are meetings all week but just today with the President.  
We need to go find something to eat for supper.  There is a buffet downstairs or we can walk across the street and have some pizza or chicken.   Right now the power is off here at the hotel and they are running their huge generators.  It does limit the use of some things like the air contitioner and TV.
All is well and the work continues to move forward.
Love,  Elder & Sister Bullock

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Article in the September Liahona

Christopher Sitolo wrote this article and I did kind of fix it up a bit and add the pictures (see the name by the pictures :) ).  (Click on images to make them bigger.)



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Reeve A.Nield <>
Date: Sat, Jul 23, 2011 at 6:28 AM
To: "Reeve A.Nield" <>




This is an excerpt from A Place of Knowing by Emma Lou Thayne (Emma Lou also wrote Hymn # 129, Where Can I Turn for Peace ...)

Many years into my adulthood, when asked by a Jewish poet friend why I stay in my Mormonism, I explained it with a story, the details recounted by my mother. It is my mother's story transposed into an allegory about my believing.

 When I was a little girl, my father took me to hear Helen Keller in the Tabernacle. I must have been about eight or nine and I'd read about Helen Keller in school, and my mother had told me her story.

I remember sitting in the balcony at the back of that huge domed building that was supposed to have the best acoustics in the world. Helen—everybody called her that—walked in from behind a curtain under the choir seats with her teacher, Annie Sullivan. Helen spoke at the pulpit—without a microphone—but we could hear perfectly, her guttural, slow, heavily pronounced speech. She spoke about her life and her beliefs. Her eyes were closed and when it came time for questions from the audience, she put her fingers on her teacher's lips and then repeated for us what the question had been. She answered questions about being deaf and blind and learning to read and to type and, of course, to talk. Hearing that voice making words was like hearing words for the first time, as if language had only come into being—into my being at least—that moment.

Someone asked her, "Do you feel colors?" I'll never forget her answer, the exact sound of it—"Sometimes. .. . I feel . . . blue." Her voice went up slightly at the end, which meant she was smiling. The audience didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

After quite a lot of questions, she said, "I would . . .. like to ask. . . a favor of you." Of course, the audience was all alert. "Is your Mormon prophet here?" she asked. There was a flurry of getting up from the front row, and President Grant walked up the stairs to the stand. She reached out her hand and he took it. All I could think was, "Oh, I wish I were taking pictures of that." "I . . . would like . . . ," she said, "to hear your organ . . . play . . . your famous song—about your pioneers. I . . . would like . . . to remember hearing it here." All the time she was speaking she was holding his hand he had given her to shake. I liked them together, very much.

I remember thinking, "I am only a little girl (probably others know) but how in the world will she hear the organ?" But she turned toward President Grant and he motioned to Alexander Schreiner, the Tabernacle organist who was sitting near the loft. At the same time, President Grant led her up a few steps to the back of the enormous organ—with its five manuals and eight thousand pipes. We were all spellbound. He placed her hand on the grained oak of the console, and she stood all alone facing us in her long, black velvet dress with her right arm extended, leaning slightly forward and touching the organ, with her head bowed.

Brother Schreiner played "Come, Come, Ye Saints," each verse a different arrangement, the organ pealing and throbbing—the bass pedals like foghorns—as only he could make happen. Helen Keller stood there—hearing through her hand and sobbing.

Probably a lot more than just me—probably lots of us in the audience were mouthing the words to ourselves—"Gird up your loins; fresh courage take. / Our God will never us forsake; / And soon we'll have this tale to tell— / All is well! / All is well!" I could see my great-grandparents, converts from England, Wales, France, and Denmark, in that circle of their covered wagons, singing over their fires in the cold nights crossing the plains. Three of them had babies die; my great-grandmother was buried in Wyoming. "And should we die before our journey's through, / Happy day! / All is well! / We then are free from toil and sorrow, too; / With the just we shall dwell! / But if our lives are spared again / To see the Saints their rest obtain, / Oh, how we'll make this chorus swell— / All is well! / All is well!"

So then—that tabernacle, that singing, my ancestors welling in me, my father beside me, that magnificent woman, all combined with the organ and the man who played it and the man who had led her to it—whatever passed between the organ and her passed on to me.

I believed. I believed it all—the seeing without seeing, the hearing without hearing, the going by feel toward something holy, something that could make her cry, something that could move me, alter me, something as unexplainable as a vision or a mystic connection, something entering the pulse of a little girl, something that no matter what would never go away. What it had to do with Joseph Smith or his vision or his gospel I never would really understand—all I know to this day is that I believe.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Phone call

Hi Mom, 

I guess we should give up on trying to call -- I could hear your voice good but you can't hear me. 

We are glad to be back home from Zambia -- even if it did take us forever and numerous flight delays.  The Airlines here aren't very efficient and seem to be getting worse and worse.  When the plane finally came in to Lilongwe last night the people aboard were not happy.  They were hours late on their flight too.  They were suppose to fly from Jo'berg to Blantyre -- but instead went to Harare, Lilongwe and then Blantyre.    They had to all get off at Lilongwe and check their luggage through customs and then go back through the scans and back on the plane.  While we waiting for several hours both nights the airport was cold and we weren't dressed for cold.   It is good that we did wait it out last night and get home finally because today all flights are cancelled for a few days due to some pilot strike or something - not exactly sure exactly what. 

When we spent the night in Lilongwe and our flight was delayed the second day it did give us a chance to visit one of the Br. Presidents and Jim talked to him a long time (the one who had been accused of witchcraft etc., which he NEVER did).  There will have to be some changes made in the branch but he will remain the president.    Jim was made a counselor in the mission presidency so he can deal with such things better now.   
While Jim was talking to him I was talking to the gardener who is doing 'nothing' and the yard does not look nice at all.  I told him (with an interpreter) what we expect it to look like.  He wanted fertilizer for the grass but I said when the rest of it gets cleaned up we will consider getting fertilizer.  For fertilizer they use dirt and spread it lightly on the grass and it really does make things green up.  Others also use tobacco stems but apparently that stinks.    I said if he got it looking good we would buy some flowers for the yard and that seemed to make him perk up.   If it wasn't far away I would have our gardener here go spend a couple of days with him and show him how to make things look good.
We did arrive at the church at a good time because there was a plumber there who had been cleaning out the sewer line from the toilet in the 'boy's quarters' (domestic help quarters).  The guards and the gardener use that toilet and since they have no toilet paper they use plastic bags or whatever and that plugs up the system.  (We have seen this before at another place).  We had the plumber explain to them that they cannot do that and must use toilet tissue.  We aren't sure who should supply the tissue because if we do they will likely just take it home and we don't have an endless supply BUT if we don't then they use other things.  Hmmmm...
We are going to paint and clean and furnish the boy's quarters so that we can have a set of missionaries live there.  It is pretty new but needs some sprucing up.  There is no hot water tank (geiser) there and no hot water taps in the kitchen of bathroom sink/shower so we ask the plumber to give us a price on installing those things.   If we put Elders in there then the guards, etc. cannot use the toilet etc. and we do have to provide that for them.
There is a shed (under the water tank) and we ask the plumber to price putting a toilet in there for the 'help'.  It should work well as the water is right there and he can dig a trench and attach to the sewer line.  
When we arrived there were also 3 or 4 young men (19 - 21) doing their laundry in the cement laundry basin.  I think they had also had a shower and quickly got dressed when we arrived.  They won't be able to get in to do that when the Elders move in as we will lock everything up.  

We hope to go back up in the next week or two and spend 2 or 3 or 4 days.  We also need to look at another flat that we could possibly rent for a 'couple' that we want to put in Lilongwe -- NOT that a couple have been called yet but we are hoping!!!!    If it is an okay place and we rent it for Sept. when it is available we could set it up and we could use it when we go to Lilongwe instead of staying in an expensive hotel.  We would feel better about staying up there a bit longer to get things done.  We will see what the President says but suspect he will agree with us.

A funny thing I meant to write last week and don't think I did.  Gabriel was here one day and Jim walked by with a broom to sweep up something and Gabriel gave a surprised look.  Then later Jim started folding up baptism clothes and towels that I had washed.  Gabriel just stared with the funniest look on his face and said, "Wow!!!"   He was surprised to see a man doing such things.  We talked about it and he told us that the men and women here just 'inherit' the things that are expected from each sex.  He did say that the church has women thinking that their husbands should help more and respect them more and he is ok with that.  He is just recently married.  He says he can't do too much, especially in public or others will think that there is 'petticoat gov't." at his house.  :)   He is really a cute guy!

I better get this sent before we lose power.  It is Monday night and we could lose it at any time.

Write to us!!!!!!!

Love,  mom/dad, Elder & Sister Bullock, Nancy/Jim

Monday, August 1, 2011

I attached the letter I started last night on 'word'.   We are still in Lilongwe and finally gave up and had the zone leaders pick us up at the airport and we stayed at the hotel here.  We just called about our flight that is suppose to leave today at 5:15 p.m. and it has been delayed until 8:30 tonight and she said she hopes it goes then.  :(   Crazy!!!   Maybe we will have to drive home with the missionaries when they go to zone conference on Wednesday morning.   We just have to laugh or we would get very stressed.

We are meeting with the two Branch Presidents while we are here today.  The Elders will drop us off so we can meet with one that needs some instruction and the other Br. Pres. is quite sick apparently so we will go check on him and see what we can do.  We do have some things we need to do here but we didn't plan to do it now and aren't really prepared.  We need to get a flat prepared for another set of missionaries that will be assigned to the area in Sept.  We have to clean it and buy appliances and beds, desks/chairs and table etc.  and get it set up.    We also have to look for a new flat to rent for another set of missionaries -- if the Elders have enough fuel we could drive around and look a bit this afternoon.  We want to make use of the time we have here, even though it was unexpected.  :)

Hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the summer. 

Love,  The Bullocks