Wow! March is halfway gone already. Where does the time go?
We have been spending all our Saturdays with the Zone Leaders in Liwonde (2 hr. drive). We go together to teach the Gomani family and they are doing well. Then we split up and teach others the after- baptism lessons.
This past Saturday was kind of hard because we found out that Maria has been lying to us and that she has a 2 yr. old daughter. All along we have been led to believe that the child belonged to her sister, Christina. Maria wants to go on a mission so badly and she knew that she couldn't go if she had a child. When we got there Maria was at the hospital with her little girl so we were able to talk to Petros, her father and bluntly as him who is the child's mother. He was startled and didn't want to tell us but with a bit of pressure did. He was really upset though and wanted to know if the Church would make an exception since it was Maria's dream to serve a mission. We had to explain that there are strict rules about such things. They say she was raped, but that is not the information that we were given and don't think she was.
We then came across Maria on the road when she was walking home with the child. We stopped and talked with her. We told her we knew that the child was her's. She started to deny it but......what could she say. She wanted to know who had told us. I told her that she would not be able to serve a mission but that she could do plenty of missionary work while at home. She burst into tears (which they don't do often here). I tried to console her but she was pretty upset. She, too, wanted us to make an exception for her, but we told her it wasn't our decision. It comes right from the First Presidency and that there are reasons for these rules. I told her she needs to take care of her child but she said that Christina could do that. It was really hard BUT we wish that they had been honest about it in the first place. Honesty is a big problem here a lot of times.
We also had to talk to a member who wants to be ordained to be an Elder but we found out he has a drinking problem. We also talked with him and he completely denies it. Hopefully he is being honest and if not, maybe talking to him will help him to do the right thing.
We have another fellow out there who wants me to help him get his mission papers ready to send in and found out that he is married with a couple of children. We still have to talk to him and let him know that he won't be able to go. (We found out last night that Bro. Chisambo, the Group leader, talked to him and that he is perfectly willing to be at home and help the church grow where he stays. He is a good guy and is an asset to the Church there -- he needs to just get his life in order and continue doing what he's doing. It just has made us realize that we need to be so careful. If we had known the truth we would not have encouraged these people. We emphasized to our Group Leader that he needs to tell us these things as he is the one living there and knows what is going on. It can be hard for him as he can get caught in the middle and have members upset. There is so much jealousy here. We have to teach always how the Church is run the Lord's way. It isn't the rich and famous that hold the high callings. We have run into that more than once.
We were planning to moving Elders out of a flat and into a new one we have found. Today, however, we decided to keep the one they are in, even if it is old and needs some repairs (which the owner has agreed to do now) and we will still have some painting done in it. The new one had some things in the lease that we weren't comfortable with and today we found out from the foreman that they plan to hit up the tenants and have them pay to build a toilet for the guards. When ask about that the agent for the place just said that the foreman had no right to tell us that. We have waited for this place for quite a while and just decided it isn't worth the hassles that we have gone through. So everyone is staying put where they are. That saves us some work.
The missionaries all put in some money for food and we have been making supper for them on Tuesday nights before their DDM (District Development Meeting). We are doing it at our home now and it makes it nicer and it helps us to get to know them better and have a better feeling about any problems etc. I have Christopher Sitolo (a returned missionary) help me and he does the clean-up/dishes afterwards and I pay him a little for that. He likes to cook and likes to learn how to do some new things. I am also attempting to teach him piano lessons. I am not the best teacher, I don't think, but we will see how it goes. Even if he can learn some basic theory (value of notes, etc.) it will help him. He has a good singing voice and I wish he could take voice lessons. It would make a world of difference for him but there is no one here to teach that.
The rains seem to be getting less frequent. The crops in some areas are very poor and people are going to suffer. There are people who are going to bed hungry.
Diesel was a bit better in January and February. We heard that the gov't traded some tobbacco for diesel. However, it is a problem again. We do have some jerry cans full but have used a few of them recently. We had a source where we could fill up jerry cans but were just informed that due to the scarcity of the product they will no longer be doing that. Luckily we found some diesel a couple of days ago and both trucks are full. Seems like things are going to get worse, if that is possible. It isn't just diesel it is also petrol. The queues at the fuel stations have been very long the past couple of weeks.
We have someone who will stay in our house until we get home. That is a relief as we didn't want to leave it empty. It was an answer to prayer for us and for the couple who will stay there.
Love to all, The Bullocks