A number of people have asked me to share the diary from my eleven week stay in East Africa with the Saints in a similar manner as Brother Randy Vick has done. I've agreed to do so with the understanding that Randy and I are two very different people and the purpose of my trip was very different than the ones that Randy has written about. It should also be kept in mind that this was my diary and is not intended to even use complete sentences at times. At times, brevity was very important.
We have both had some wonderful experiences with the people of Africa, but my diary may be a bit more hum drum than his because my task was to focus mostly on just one thing—the preparation of the Swahili text of the Book of Mormon for publication. As you will discover while reading about my stay in Kenya and in Tanzania, it was not as simple as we had first thought.
While in East Africa, I was privileged to share in teaching and preaching ministry on many occasions and had many wonderful experiences with both members of the Church and those who came seeking more truth. I hope that you are edified from what has been written. It certainly was a valuable and memorable experience for me and I made many new friends among the Saints there, as well as others outside of the fellowship of the Church. I found the Saints there to be just as dedicated to the "cause of Zion" (the Church), the Lord and the spreading of the Gospel as the best of the Saints in America. They share a vibrant faith in the Lord and the Restored Gospel. Their enthusiasm to build up the Church in all the world is strong. Many of them practice family worship in their homes daily.
I pray that the sacrifices that were made to cover the cost of this trip as well as the sacrifices and efforts that were made by the Saints in Africa will be rewarded by a rich harvest of souls who will have opportunity to read the Book of Mormon and the other materials referred to in their own tongue when this project reaches its completion.
Frank Evan Frye
Sun Jun 6
Our daughter Sariah and my wife Patti took me to the airport in Kansas City where I arrived in plenty of time. We were delayed in our departure, but I had sufficient layover time in Detroit that there was no problem. The flight to Detroit lasted only a couple of hours. Actually we were delayed in our departure from Detroit because they couldn't get one of the doors to close and had to replace it. Better to do that on the ground than have it fall off in the air. We left Detroit and flew for seven hours to Amsterdam. It was night during most of the flight, but I couldn't see anything anyway because my seat was in the middle row of four seats. There were three seats on the outside rows. Probably because of the recent volcanic eruption, we flew south quite a bit on this trip and could not see Greenland which is covered with ice and is a break from staring at the empty ocean. By the time we came to the British Isles it was getting light. We were arriving earlier than Missouri time because we were flying toward the sun and gaining hours. I did get a glimpse of Ireland and England as we flew over them by getting out of my seat and looking out of the windows in other parts of the airplane. We were free to walk around much of the time. They were very green contrasted with what we would see later flying over the great Sahara Desert.
We arrived a little late in Amsterdam because of our delay, but I still had about three hours for a layover. We had gained six hours during the flight. I had no money except US Dollars, so I was at the mercy of the shop keepers in the airport. I was very thirsty by that time and looked for water. A small bottle of water was €1.55 (Euros). One shop keeper, not wanting Dollars, tried to charge me $5.00 USD for 8 ounces of water. I guess that's not highway robbery, but it was airport robbery. Finally I found another shop that sold me a small water for $3.00 USD. I savored it carefully. The plane for Nairobi was a couple of hours late in boarding us. KLM seats are very narrow, so the next seven and one half hours were quite uncomfortable. Sleep was almost out of the question. We flew south, south east over Europe. We flew over French air space and then over part of Italy and near the western coast of Greece. Then over the Mediterranean Sea. After that, we flew over the sands of the Sahara Desert. It was still light enough during the first part of the flight to see the yellowish brown sand dunes 39,000 feet below. We flew through the night gaining more hours as we went eastward and arrived in Nairobi early in the morning.
Mon Jun 7
De-boarding the plane, waiting in line to get a visa at the airport and going through customs took about an hour and a half. I did not know that we had to pay $25.00 USD in cash for the visa. Fortunately I still had a little cash out and could pay it. As I went through the gate leaving customs, the first person that I recognized was Randy Vick and Eric was at his side. Randy saw me and yelled to get my attention, but he was not hard to identify because he was rather tall and was standing in a crowd of Africans. They took me outside to a car where they placed my luggage. Then we went back inside where we waited several hours more for the men coming from Liberia who were flying in that morning. When they finally arrived, they did not have the money to pay for their visas and were detained in some office. They were able to call Eric on his cell phone. Eric was on his way to the airport when he stopped to put diesel in his car, but they put gasoline in it by mistake. When he realized what had happened, they had to drain the tank which took quite some time. Because of that, he was about an hour and a half late getting to the airport. As a result of that, we missed the bus ride that we had planned to go to Kisumu. However, Raymond James from Cameroon had been able to obtain a visa to Kenya at the last minute and flew in later that morning. We had already given up on his obtaining a visa and were planning on going to the retreat without him as we had not heard otherwise from him. He called Eric when he arrived at the airport while Eric was still trying to get the gasoline out of his car. Eric later realized that if he had not had the unfortunate accident with the diesel, we would have gone off and left Raymond stranded at the airport in Nairobi. We all realized that God had intervened by allowing the accident at the service station so that Raymond could travel with us and not miss any of the conference. When Eric finally arrived at the airport, he had to jump through a bunch of diplomatic hoops just to get the men from Liberia out of their detention at the airport. It was late in the day when we finally got to the home where Randy and I were going to stay with Brother Auggrey Anditi and his good wife Sylvia. Randy hooked up his computer and called home using his Skype account. Then he let me make a phone call home. David answered. I just told him that all was well and that I had arrived in Kenya. Our host family fed us supper after which we visited for a while and finally Randy and I went to bed. We shared a double bed with a mosquito net over it. Neither of us slept well, but it was much better than the airplane seat.
On the last leg of the trip into Nairobi, there were about six seats in the middle of the plane and the usual two or three on each side. I had been awarded one of the middle seats in the center seats. A very large Kenyan lady was seated to my right. After we took off, she went to sleep and spilled over into about 1/3 of my seat. That gave me the dubious privilege of sitting at about 20 degrees to my left for most of the trip. As we were arriving I tried to speak with her, but she did not understand much English. I gave her a tract and smiled and said that it was about Jesus. She smiled back. As we deplaned, she had to wait for a wheel chair because of problems with her legs.
Tue Jun 8
In the morning our host family served us breakfast and later Eric arrived and took us to his home where I saw his wife Pamela and some others who were to travel with us that day. We waited for several hours while Eric was calling around to find a van that would take us to Kisumu for a reasonable price. We finally left and wound our way through the streets of Nairobi to get out of town. During the five hour trip I took out my iPod and the headphones and passed them around sharing recordings that I had made of different testimonies over the years and that I've used on our tours in Mexico. I was able to share five testimonies with four different men during the trip. We drove down into the great rift valley as we drove across Kenya toward Lake Victoria. Then we drove up the other side of the rift valley. I'm guessing that it is about a thousand feet deep and maybe twenty to thirty miles wide. A couple of the men saw a zebra during the drive, but all that I saw were a few antelope at a great distance. They said that the zebra was right next to the road. By this time it had been three days since I'd had a good night's sleep, so my attention may have drifted.
During the last half of the trip to Kisumu, we drove through vast plantations of tea plants that were trimmed like the bushes in an English park. They went on for miles and miles. The plants were trimmed about two to three feet tall and as flat and perfect as a putting green. There were walk ways every so often where the workers could get around to harvest and care for the plants. In several places we saw huge housing compounds where I presume the workers lived, and also large buildings where the harvested leaves were either stored or processed. By that time in the afternoon, it was almost too dark to get any photos of the area, but I managed to get a couple. Hope to get some photos on another trip on that road. The area where the tea was growing was at a high elevation, probably between 6000 and 8000 feet, because it was quite chilly through that area.
Wed Jun 9
Pan African Elders Conference began.
Randy Vick's report gives the details of these days. Brother Eric Odida asked me to teach classes on nearly each day and on some days more than one. There were men who attended from Kenya, Nigeria, Liberia, Tanzania, the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. We stayed at a camp ground to the east of Kisumu. The accommodations were very adequate for the needs of the conference. Brother Randy taught the men a class on stewardship that had been approved by the Seventy and the Bishopric. That same class was taught several other times during the time that I was there on this trip and copies of it were left with the men in Africa for them to use in the future. I gave each of the men at the Conference about a dozen new tracts that I had written while in Mexico and several DVDs about the Book of Mormon. These had been prepared for this purpose by Brother Harry Williams and were donated by MMSG (Mexican Ministries Support Group).
Thu-Sat Jun 10-12
Pan African Elders Conference
Sun Jun 13
After the Conference ended, Brother Tom Okeyo took me to the village of Lisana where Eric Odida's grandmother lives. There I preached for their Branch in the open air under a tree, and later blessed a baby boy (Emanuel). I was impressed that a number of the people had handwritten copies of hymns in small notebooks from which they sang. They were our Latter Day Saints hymns. Paul Makawiti (from Tanzania) accompanied us. He will be helping with Swahili project. Ate lunch in the home of Joshua Okaylu (teacher). He has seven sons and seven daughters. Met Michael Onyiego (priest). Gave out several tracts about the testimony of the light that came down from heaven in 1875 during a baptismal service at night where J.J. Cornish was performing the baptism in Canada. I had mentioned that in my sermon. Paul asked me to speak with a friend of his by phone and I promised to send her some written materials about the Restoration (Restoration in Prophecy & History) Two adult men were invited by Tom and I gave them some reading materials. Gave out two tracts about the "Wines of the Bible" there also.
Then Tom brought me to the home of Brother Austin and Jane Odicoh where I was to spend the night. I'm afraid that I was a rather bad guest at that point, because I was so totally exhausted that I just kind of passed out on their couch for several hours in spite of the fact that several guests came to greet me. Austin's wife, Jane is a wonderful hostess and has taken very good care of me. She is a very well educated person and has studied and taught a great deal of important information about nutrition in her area of Kenya. Jane and Austin were not members of the Restoration when they were married. Jane was a member of different church than Austin's when they were married and eventually joined his church. When he found the Restoration, she was reluctant to make another change, but after much prayer and study, she joined with her husband in the greater light. Both she and her husband have won my respect as dedicated and faithful members of the Lord's Church. Brother Austin will be helping with the translation of the Book of Mormon into Swahili.
Mon Jun 14
Finally, got some rest last night. Used some Melatonin drops that I had purchased for the trip and they helped me fall asleep promptly and I slept for ten hours and awoke very refreshed. They had a basin of hot water for me in the bathing room where I bathed "jicarazo" style. A jícaro [hee-kah-row] is the Spanish name for a gourd that can be used to either carry water in or if cut in half, as a kind of a natural cup with which to bathe or drink. Then we had breakfast and soon Tom Okeyo arrived to take me to the Kisumu guest house where they keep visitors. We went back to the village of Lisana and picked up Paul Makawiti and then traveled around the south side of Lake Victoria to the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) institute, which had contracted to translate the Book of Mormon into Swahili many years ago, in hopes that we would be able to obtain the first half of the book in digital form.
Just prior to coming to Africa I was given a CD that only had the last half of the BoM on it, but not the first half. No one seemed to be able to locate those documents in electronic form. The SDA director was not there and the only person we could talk to, was new and knew nothing about the project. We finally convinced the new man to look for the files on the computer because the director was out of town and would not be returning until next Monday. After a lot of searching, he found copies of the missing files and I was able to install them on my laptop—thank goodness! The new person began to ask us questions about the Book of Mormon and we had a good discussion with him, so I left him with several tracts to read.
We drove from the SDA institute back around Lake Victoria and to Kisumu where Tom stopped to purchase a couple of items and then we looked for a place to eat. It was already too late to exchange any money as the exchange houses all close at 4:30 p.m. sharp. We had missed lunch because of the trip to the SDA institute, so supper was welcome. From there we went to the guest house arriving after dark.
My room is comfortable with a double bed and a mosquito net over it. The bathroom consists of three parts: an entry (dressing) room that has a small sink, a "water closet" (for the toilet) and a shower room. The shower room has a cement floor and two faucets—one each for cold and hot water. If you want hot water, you must switch on the water heater about an hour before you want to bathe. It works quite efficiently—if you remember to turn on the water heater in time.
Tue Jun 15
I began explaining the translation process to Tom and Paul after breakfast. It is a rather complicated sounding method at first, but we began to learn how to work together and to see what our strengths and weaknesses were. Both Tom and Paul know Swahili fairly well. Tom is from Kenya and Paul is from Tanzania. Paul has done more studying on this manuscript than Tom, but Tom knows English better and can type. Paul's English is limited to some extent and he can only hunt and peck on the keyboard. Both have a fairly decent understanding of the Book of Mormon, but neither understood the importance of preserving the language of scripture.
One of the fundamental problems is that the people who hired the SDA to do the translation work on the Book of Mormon did not understand the need to use some basic protocols on vocabulary, names of people and places. The man who the SDA had hired for the translation work was given information many years ago about how it was to be done, but after working on the project for a while, he disappeared with the money and left the SDA institute holding the bag. They knew nothing of Hebraisms and did not have a good method of translating (in English and Swahili in parallel columns verse by verse). As a result, they couldn't even keep their own work in order.
The SDA institute is apparently not a real translation production outfit and just did what they thought might work, and since no one was here to monitor what was going on, a lot of time and effort has gone into a manuscript that may have very little use for our publication purposes. We will however, be able to use it to show that we paid to have a completely different translation made in case the LDS church or anyone else challenges us for the work that we have done for a new translation.
We worked until about 11:00 p.m. with a short break before lunch and another one before supper (something that they call "tea").
Wed Jun 16
Today while we were working on the translation, Tom blurted out "Now I see! I don't know how the Seventh Day Adventists were able to keep track of anything that they did! Without the method we're using [multiple columns], they got all kinds of things mixed up! No wonder their work was so shoddy!" He realized what had happened and began to understand the process and saw the importance of doing the work in a more orderly fashion than what the SDA institute had done.
A good part of the time during these first couple of days was spent in adjusting the English text into parallel columns with the Swahili text from the SDA institute (which was poorly put together) and in many places there were no verse numbers as well as gaps of text from one or two verses missing to a number of pages missing! These guys did a very unprofessional job, and it is just now becoming apparent. There is however a legal contract for the job, and it may still provide us with some leverage.
To simplify the process and for security purposes, each book of the Book of Mormon is being placed in its own separate document. That way there is less chance of losing any significant portion of the book if any document is either lost or a computer crashes. All documents are to be backed up each day also on some memory sticks which will be provided for that purpose.
Thu Jun 17
Worked from about 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. with the customary lunch and supper breaks. The learning curve has been high for the two men, but we are beginning to work faster.
Sandra Osiro, a business partner of Tom's came to visit in the evening and Tom asked me to teach her a short class. I had never done this before, but I started with her for some reason on a class about "The Inquisition" which is one of my very graphic classes about the Apostasy. She was very attentive, and after the class was over, she told me that she had been a Catholic since infancy. When I heard that, I felt that I had possibly made a mistake because that class is very strong evidence of the historical problems with the Roman Catholic church. But she seemed to be very interested. We'll have to wait to see what happened with her after she has time to digest the class.
Each time that I turn on the laptop here at the guest house, or even wake it up from its sleeping mode, it checks for an Internet connection. There are several in the neighborhood, but I've not been able to connect with any of them. This time one connected and I could at least check my Email account. I'm afraid to turn it off now because I may lose the connection. (The connection only lasted several days. When it was lost, I was never able to reconnect again. After that, we had to go to an Internet cafe some place down town to check for Email.)
Fri Jun 18
Three days ago we saw a large rat run into the house from the patio, so the day before yesterday we went down town and bought two rat traps for him. I placed them out with bait, but in the morning the bait was gone—no rat. We reset them with different bait with the same results the next morning. Last night I did not sleep well because I was awakened by a tiny mouse twice in the night. It was nibbling on some plastic bags that I left on the headboard of the bed. I turned on my small flashlight and finally saw the little critter. Of course it was outside of my mosquito netting, so I had to get out of that in order to rearrange things. That interrupted my sleep and I did not feel as good today as yesterday. Today I figured out that these tiny mice can eat the bait from the large rat traps without setting the things off. So it looks like I'll have to buy some poison for them because the critter I saw was too small even for a mouse trap. I don't want them gnawing into my suitcases. I have always kept them zipped up at night and nearly all other times. I only open them when I need to get something out.
Tom finally obtained the printed manuscript of the first 400 pages of the Swahili Book of Mormon that was done by the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) institute and brought it to us around noon. Somehow rain water had leaked in around it and the bottom cardboard cover and about an inch of the pages were damp and severely mildewed. Paul Makawiti has reviewed much of the manuscript and has made some corrections on it between the lines in pencil. The manuscript is about five inches thick and is very fragile. [We finally got it dried out and it is in much better shape now.]
Today we passed the 100th verse of the first chapter of First Nephi.