Monday, October 31, 2011

It is HOT here!

October is the hottest month and yes, it is hot and humid.  We are okay if can sit in front of a fan.  Our new place will have a couple of air conditioners so we are looking forward to that in a couple more weeks.  Until then we will do the best we can.  We sleep with no covers on at all.  It is hotter here than Zimbabwe. 
We have a missionary from Zimbabwe, whose father was in a car accident a couple of weeks ago.  He was improving but is now having some complications and our missionary is wanting to go home.  We are trying to keep him here as we know that is what his dad and mother would want.  We knew this young man when we were in Zimbabwe (Masvingo) and we know his parents.  They are really good people.  His dad was the Branch President for 15 years.  We are praying that he will get well and that the missionary will be strong enough to stay on his mission.  He has been allowed to call and will call his mother again tonight. 
Diesel continues to be a very big issue and difficult to get.  We are very low right now and have told the Elders in Lilongwe to park their truck and take transport and walk.  The Elders here are about to do the same.  We gave them 1 jerry can full and said that they don't get anymore until our supplies are replentished.   The guy who is building the flats here where we will move to -- told us today that he brings it is from Mozambique and if we want he can get us some and it is clean.   It will cost more but we need to go to Lilongwe this week and cannot with the amount of fuel we presently have.  Pres. Padovich said to go ahead and get some from him.    We continue to watch for diesel to come in but the queues are so long it is just ridiculous and often a station will only get about 4000 litres.   We do have our contacts that have said they will call as soon as they know they are getting some here but they never know until the day.  We told them we would come and park early and sit all day if we need to.  Wish us luck!
We are getting two new Sister missionaries in a couple of days.  We wonder if one is from Raymond -- she is coming to the mission this week.  Our Sisters are excited to get the new girls to train.   We have found a new flat (house) for the Sister missionaries but cannot have it until January 1st.  It will work out really well for them -- two bathrooms :). 
The new couple's flat in Lilongwe is ready and we need to go up and sign the contract and give them some money.  We also need to get it set up and furnished.  We have some things for it but still lots to do.    We will go do that and then come back here and get ourselves moved into our new place.  Good thing we have lots of able bodied missionaries to help us.
Our time with Elder Russell M. Nelson was great.   Nice to be around an apostle and hear what he has to say.  It was a quick trip and the missionaries were disappointed that they didn't get a group photo with him but ....         You can see the write up that is on -- click on that link and it will send you to the article.
We have 3 rentals from a man named Mr. Aboobaker.  He has lived here forever but the family orginally comes from India.  He ask if they could bring us supper tonight.  Should be good, I'm sure.  They are very nice people.  We enjoy dealing with the Indian people here.  He says there about 2000 of them now but that there used to be 20,000 but a lot were told to leave so that Malawians could run the businesses and that hasn't worked out well.  Most of the Indians have ties to Great Britain and that is where they went and do well there.   They own a lot of the shops and businesses here.   
Our security has been fine here since we added the dog and dog handler, however, it seems that some of the neighbors are now getting the thieves at their places.  Our guards told us that a house two down had thieves again and that they beat up the guard and he was still crying when the police got there.  Our dog handler saw the thieves go over their wall and he called the police.    We were also told that the thieves were calling to our dog handler the other night asking, 'Why don't you ever sleep?'  'You are always walking around."    They are obviously constantly watching and we are grateful for a good guard.  We have two others besides him at night and they seem to stay pretty alert.   It is costing the church a lot of money each month to keep us safe but we appreciate it.  The new place will be better -- we will still have our monitored alarm sysem though and the compound will provide 2 days guards and 3 night guards.   The location is better there and has a higher wall with razor wire and electric wire around the top. 
We had a call from one of the renters from the new Lilongwe flat and they were meeting about security but we didn't get enough notice to go up.  It sounds like there are a couple of high profile people that will also be renting there so they will want good security.  In that compound the renters have to get together and decide on and share the cost of the security.  If necessary we will also put in a secuirty system but we may not need to.
We have a meeting on Wednesday with the Chief Immigration Officer.  We want to make sure he understands what our missionaries do here and get his cooperation.  We have 5 applications for TEPs that have not been approved and we need to have them.  We heard the the applications are on his desk because he is wondering about what they do.   We have had TEPs approved since then so not sure why he is holding on to those.  We hope the meeting goes well.  We will take him a packet with information about the Church.  They gave those to gov't officials that came to a luncheon with Elder Nelson.  Two from Immigration were invited to the luncheon but they never came.  
We are still struggling with issues at one of our Lilongwe Branches and continue to get phone calls and pleas for help.  We will go up and try to make them feel loved.   The problems just seem to grow and grow.   The mission Presidency is figuring out solutions to the problems but it isn't easy.  There are some plans in the works.  Even the Area Presidency is aware and will send some help if necessary.  We want to save the Branch and get everything running smoothly again.  It is a young Branch where most members have not been in the Church for very long.  Constant leadership is needed -- so with the new couple coming (The Prete's) there will be someone right there all the time to give them some guidance and support.   Hopefully unity in the Branch can happen again soon.    When we go up later this week and take possession of the new flat we will stay for a few days.  We can't go though until our new Sister missionaries arrive, we meet with Immigration, and we get some diesel --- so maybe Thursday or Friday.
I haven't written for a while and was thinking I had a lot to say but now my mind is drawing a blank.  Will add more later if something comes to mind. 
We should be getting a new grandson very soon and will be anxious to hear that all is well!!   That will be #18.
Love to all,  Elder/Sister Bullock,  aka Jim and Nancy or mom and dad   :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Elephants in my yard this morning...

Here's some good pictures that I thought you might enjoy of Africa from our friend Cornelia that lives in Botswana!!  Sister Bullock


Elder Bullock walking with Elder Nelson to the vehicle to return to the airport.

Malawi dedication

Here is a picture of Elder Russell M. Nelson and invited guests for the dedication of Malawi.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday, October 16th

Hi family and friends,

I haven't been writing as much lately but will try and do better.  We still have a few busy weeks ahead of us but we are excited that our prayers have been answered and we are getting a couple that will arrive here Dec. 4th.  They will be helping us in Malawi (Lilongwe).  They are David and Debbie Prete from Cardston.  They are excited to come and we are emailing back and forth with them.

We came to Lilongwe yesterday even though it wasn't in our plans to be back here so soon.  On our way up we picked up 3 hitch hikers.  They are with the Peace Corps and are in Malawi for 2 years (6 months to go).  They were from Pennsylvania, Connetticut, and Georgia. Two guys and a girl.  We had a nice conversation with them and heard about their projects here BUT they are all anxious to go home.  They live right in the Villages with the people - each one alone in their separate Villages.  They rough it with no power or water.  The girl said she has learned to carry the water on her head etc.  It was interesting.  They get paid $4.00 a day and that is all they live on.

We came to Lilongwe because we got word that 4 members & wives were having a special meeting.  These are the same ones who were involved a while back in accusing the Branch president of doing witchcraft and it was unfounded.  They don't like the Br. President and want him released and it seems that they are even doing things to try and set him up to look like he has taken money and that he is doing things he shouldn't be doing.  We heard that these people were having a meeting to form their own branch of the church ...  Hmmmm.... Things just can't work that way!!

Anyway -- we met with the Elders about 6:15 p.m. and they took us to the home where the meeting was suppose to be underway.  We parked the truck and walked in the dark for 3 or 4 minutes.  There is no power in the village.  I was a little nervous but the Elders thought I should be there as the Sisters might be there.   We arrived but only 3 wives were there - no men.  We ask about the husband of the house and she said he was at another house.  We debated what to do and as we were leaving one of the men showed up at pathway.  Jim talked to him and ask him to phone the other men and tell them that we were there and would like to meet with them.  It was only a couple of minutes and they all arrived and we went back into the house with them and sat down.  As we were going to the house the missionary wanted to know if they could leave but I said, No.  He knows the language and the people and we might need a witness or two as we didn't know what to expect.  He was rather nervous I think.  There was a candle on the centre coffee table for light.    Jim told them we had come to hear their concerns and discuss.  They told us and Jim talked to them about how grievances should be handled in the church and that having secret meetings to discuss the Br. President was not the way to go about it.  He read a few scriptures on how we need to sustain and support our leaders even though they may make mistakes now and then.    They did have a letter all prepared that was addressed to President Padovich and President Bullock and it lists their concerns. 

Jim told them that we heard they wanted to start their own branch and they denied that.  They said they did not want to do that and 3 of them bore their testimonies that they believe the church is true and they want the Branch to succeed.   What they don't seem to understand (and we didn't talk about it) is that even if the present Branch President was released - none of them would be called to be in the new Presidency after the things they are doing.  They think they could run things better but it won't happen any time soon.  Our meeting with them lasted about 1 1/2 hrs. and it did end on a good note.  At some point the sisters joined us and I did talk to them about how we want to help make the Relief Society run better and that we do care about them etc. etc.    I spoke and then one of the men interpreted for the women.  He turned to me and ask - did I say that right, Sister Bullock.  I laughed and said that I didn't know because he was speaking to them in Chichawa.  It was rather funny. 

Today when we arrived at their meetings (Gen. Conference DVDs this weekend) Jim talked to the Br. President about a couple of the allegations.  He showed that he had not done what they accussed him of.  But even before that he walked in and gave Elder Bullock a letter saying that he wanted to resign because this was just too hard.  He was told that he can't just resign and to just hang in there because we have a couple coming that will be able to give him support and training and help.   Jim also talked to three of the men and showed them a couple of things that proved the President had not done what they said and told them that he needs their support or the Branch is going to fall apart soon.  There are a lot of ill feelings and we don't know if they can work through this or not.    There is a lot of jealousy in this country and in the church, not just with the men but also with the women.   We hope things will be okay --- until the next phone call, anyway.   We aren't sure if the 4 men are happy with everything BUT we were pleased that they all came and listened to both conference sessions today. 

We were glad we came and both parties seemed glad to be able to talk to us.  We told them we would sort things out but that it wouldn't happen overnight and that we want to see this Branch be united and successful.  This just shows again how much we need a couple to constantly be on top of things here.  

We have been VERY safe at the hotel here.  There was a COMESA conference with dignitaries from 8 countries and there was security, police and body guards everywhere.  It ended last night so by tonight it seems they have all left the hotel.  There were two guards posted in the hallway one door down from us.   The bad thing was that last night when we got back here after the meeting at the Village we were starving and the dining room was being used for the dignitaries for supper and presentations so of course, we weren't allowed in there.  They were feeding the few regular people in the coffee shop lounge.  We ordered and waited 1 1/2 hrs. for our food to come so it was a late night.  There was no place else to go eat by then and we wished we had just eaten a couple of bananas we had in the truck and gone to bed. 

Our dog and handler seem to be keeping the thieves away from our house.  A house back behind had a break-in or attempted break-in a few nights ago.  Our guards said they saw them run through the lot next door and up over the hill.  Davie seemed to think that one of the thieves had been shot but who knows --- he doesn't always get his information right.

Regarding Davie ---  he got his verdict from the Court this past Monday when we were in Lilongwe.  He called because they said he had to pay 25000 Kwacha (about $170) - gave him 6 months to pay it-- and that he has to build the x-wife a house at her Village.  He needed to pay 5000 MK right then or they would put him in prison.  We made a phone call and got someone to take him the money.  He said they also wanted to know about his possessions because she should get half.  He told them that we owned the fridge, table and chairs etc., which were bought for the cottage by the Stevens.  He also told them that we were not at home and so they were getting prepared to go to the house and check as they didn't believe him.  I suggested he put them on the phone and I talked to someone from the Court.  I assured him that we were in Lilongwe and that the items did indeed belong to us and he was just allowed to live there and use them while he gardened for us.  The guy was satisfied with my answers.   I then ask why they would charge him 25000 MK and how did they ever expect that he could pay that much money on his small salary of about 8000 MK (approx. $55) a month.  The guy just laughed at me and said 'You can pay it for him' and wouldn't listen when I said that we could not do that. 
Anyway -- we talked about it and later told Davie that we would pay it for him but that he would then owe us for the next year.  We pay him 2000 MK a month to wash our truck each morning and he also sweeps and mops the outside patios.  So he is all paid up.  He was thrilled and then told us that Saturday and Sunday he had been fasting and praying because he didn't know what he was going to do and that God has answered his prayers.  We feel good about doing that for him.  He is always there when we need any help.   He will be going to our new place with us when we move because we talked to the owners and they will hire him as the gardener at the complex.  We are glad because when we are out of town or away he will be there to take care of DHL packages etc. and keep an eye on our place. 

Tomorrow on our way home we will stop at  Liwonde and see Maria.  The mom is still hanging in there and just had another 'drip of blood'.  We will go visit her.  We will also drop off the conference DVDs and they will watch them this next weekend.  We will check on Sis. Chisambo and our rice business.  It sounds like it is going well and she wants to pay us back some of the money that we used to buy rice to start the business for her.  She is so thrilled with herself and has some regular customers and even a hotel that buys from her.  I'm glad we were able to help and that it is being a success.

I better quit for the night.  Love to all,  Jim and Nancy/mom and dad