How beautiful are the waters of Muhazi Lake!

How beautiful are the waters of Muhazi Lake! May 30, 2024


Africa in colors!
A more or less current public domain political map of the continent of Africa from Wikimedia Commons
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After having had to juggle many schedule changes, we ended up with a day chock full of detective work with pioneer member Joshua Opar looking for the location of historic sites in stunning settings—and then seeing his school and interviewing him and his wife before our airport run for the flight to Nairobi. Our first destination was Muhazi Lake, a wide spot in a river where the first baptisms took place—about 2 hours from Kigali. We saw many men pushing bikes carrying full milk pails like these.

First of all, I share with you some images (and their captions) that have been sent to me by Jeff Bradshaw (under the fitting title of “Detective Work at Historic Sites”) from Rwanda, where he and others are gathering additional material for the Interpreter Foundation’s Not by Bread Alone film project (on which, see here or here).  It is really important to preserve these stories before memories and locations are completely lost.

This avocado tree was full of ripe fruit
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Joshua had not been back here for about a decade, since the branch stopped doing baptisms here and sunk a storage tank in a Church building for a font. The Romanikas (spelling?), Church members and owners of the Okapi Hotel, arranged for the Church to use the little pier, the changing rooms, and a covered area for the baptisms.
After checking various candidate locations, Joshua concluded that this was the spot—though with different owners.
JMB photo from Rwanda
Joshua confirmed physical details such as the changing rooms at left and the little dock at right, next to the place where people went into the water.
B'rer Omar and baptizands
Here, the first baptisms in Rwanda took place in about 2008, with Brother Opar baptizing his daughter Mercy. A second person, named Damazcene, was also baptized that day.
He remembered. moemomo
The young man at left, who worked at the site, confirmed his memory of the Church doing the baptisms here when he was 8-10 years old.
Elevated shack
I liked this lookout spot with the rickety staircase where you had a beautiful view of the river/lake.
A green African river valley
A view of the river

I couldn’t help being reminded of Mosiah 18, and particularly of Mosiah 18:30;

And now it came to pass that all this was done in Mormon, yea, by the waters of Mormon, in the forest that was near the waters of Mormon; yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever.

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A pose with another University of Utah “alumnus.”

Over at the Peterson Obsession Board, one of the many accusations that are routinely launched at me is that the Interpreter Foundation seems to exist in order to fly me around the world and to provide me with good meals and an opulent, Epicurean lifestyle in exotic locales.  My current presence in Europe is seen as an illustrative case in point.

Of course, the Interpreter Foundation isn’t paying for this trip to Europe.  Not so much as a dime.  Just as it didn’t pay for our cruise around New Zealand a while back.  Just as it didn’t pay for the tour that we led in Egypt earlier this year.  Just as it didn’t pay for the tours that we led to Turkey and Egypt late last year.  Just as it has never paid for any of our trips anywhere.

The reason that we’re here in Europe right now is because I’m going to be lecturing in Rome, Salzburg, and Göteborg.  Yes, it’s true that somebody has generously picked up the tab for me to come over for these lectures, but it wasn’t the Interpreter Foundation that did so (and it wasn’t the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)  It was a person (or persons) who wanted these lectures to happen.  I was invited to give these lectures.  To the extent that my wife and I are here to vacation, we’re paying for that out of our own pockets, and my wife paid her own airfare.  We came over early, for example, to spend some time in Ravenna — because we wanted to see Ravenna again and because we wanted to be done with jet lag before the lectures begin.  Our Ravenna stay was on our own nickel.  And we spent a few days in Virginia prior to coming to Italy.  That was on our own nickel, as well.  (Even at the cost of irritating a few folks on the Obsession Board, we’re going to continue to visit our family.)

Recently, though, it has been disapprovingly pointed out by my ever-inventive Malevolent Stalker that, while I’m willing to travel in Europe, I’m evidently unwilling to visit Africa.  (Strictly speaking, of course, I visit Africa every time I lead a tour to Egypt.  But the folks at the Obsession Board presumably have sub-Saharan Africa in mind.)  Why, they demand to know, am I not traveling in the Congo and Benin and Rwanda?  Why am I not there with Jeff Bradshaw and our Interpreter Foundation filmmakers?

I’m not quite sure what the insinuation here is intended to be.  Perhaps that I’m racist.  Perhaps that the food and accommodations in, say, the DR Congo wouldn’t meet my sybaritic standards.  Probably a bit of both.

In any case, the simple answer to the question of why I’m not in sub-Saharan Africa with the Interpreter team is that I wasn’t invited.  And why was I not invited?  Because I’m not needed.  I’m neither a cinematographer nor a sound specialist, and I have no expertise regarding the Church in sub-Saharan Africa.  It’s true that I’ve sometimes been invited along to prior Interpreter Foundation film sets, but not very commonly and usually only locally, and always at my own expense.

Please recall the damning accusation that the Interpreter Foundation exists, at least in part, in order to fly me to exotic locales around the world.  But now it turns out that, in fact, the Interpreter Foundation doesn’t exist and never has existed — not at all — to fly me to exotic locations around the world.  Well, shazaam!  Do you think that the character assassination will stop?  Or, at least, that it might pause?  That the slanderers might hesitate for a second or two?  Are you kidding?

Of course, you may be asking yourself this very good question:  Why does Dan Peterson bother responding to such malicious tomfoolery?  It’s certainly not because I entertain any expectation that the Obsession Board will ever improve.  But I do take seriously any insinuation that I’m profiting from apologetics and/or misusing donations to Interpreter.  I’m not – my wife and I are, ourselves, both donors to and volunteers for the Foundation — and I think that such accusations must be forthrightly, decisively, and directly contradicted.

Posted from Rome, Italy


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