One of our most spiritual experiences so far on our mission was being able to attend the creation of new branch of the church in Mwanza, Tanzania. These pictures do not even come close to capturing what moved us the most. The building that was selected to use as their meeting place was especially nice. All of the things that are necessary to have a functioning branch arrived on time despite having been detained at customs at the border between Kenya and Tanzania for several days. All of this is evidence that the prayers of these faithful people were not going to be denied! What really moved us was each of the stories of the faithful saints that lead up to this day. There were families who had waited for this day for as many as 18 years! The man that was called as the Branch President of this new branch was typical of these stories. President Nyambita was baptized in the UK and after being in the church for about three years he moved to Tanzania and married his wife Sylvia. They have a daughter and four sons. Although he had the Priesthood and had been to the temple while in England, he was not able to baptize his wife and children because there was no organized branch of the church within hundreds of kilometers of Mwanza. He lived the gospel and taught it to his family. They regularly read the scriptures together and held study groups on Sundays with neighbors and friends. They had petitioned the church on more than one occasion but there were not enough people to warrant it. At least two other member families moved to Mwanza and for some time were not aware of each other. When the found each other they started meeting together and again petitioned the Church. There is so much more to these stories that I will not include here. However, let it be said that the hand of Heavenly Father is evident in all of these stories.
But to be in His presence alone was a spiritual experience.
This is the building they are renting until the day that they are able to build one of their own.
Two weeks prior to the creation of the branch these two incredible young missionaries were sent to Mwanza to open a new proselyting area, and to prepare the people for baptism. They also were invaluable in helping with the logistics of getting ready for this day. Here they are helping unload and prepare the chairs and other furniture that arrived only one day before they were needed. Their names are Elder Jimu and Elder Lipengah
These two little guys stayed beside me all afternoon taking the plastic off of the chairs. The smallest of the two is named Jesse so I bonded with him quickly. Their father is one of the other baptized members who has been one of the stalwart few that is responsible for this day.
The official language of Tanzania is Kiswahili so all of the proceedings had to be translated. Here is the beginning of the meeting with President Burgener a counselor to Mission President Broadbent conducting the business of the meeting. The soon to be President Nyambita is the man doing the translation. Forty two people attended this historic meeting.
Immediately after the branch was organized the first order of business was to baptize 11 people. President Nyambita's family was appropriately the first to be baptized. They are on the back row. The Missionary companionship of Elder Jimu and Lipengah are on the far right of this picture. The man next to them is the Brother Mwabaleke who was able to baptize his children (he is Jesse's father).We will always cherish having witnessed and participated in the events of this historic day.