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Monday, April 20, 2015

Week 101. My Last Week Here!! The First Mission call In Quelimane!


Abrao read his mission call. "He was called to the best mission in the world, the Mozambique Maputo Mission! He will report to the Brazil MTC on May 27. He was so happy when he read it and all the members present clapped afterwards and congratulated him. It was a historic moment for Quelimane, the first mission call and the first missionary called from Quelimane.”


Dear family!


I love you so much! Thank you for your letter this week. I realize I'm sending letters pretty later than usual. That's because we went to the beach today! It's called Zalala Beach and it's 30 km outside of the city, it was really cool. The beach is sooo beatiful. I took a lot of pictures. I can't wait to be able to show you ALL of the photos I took during my mission. I was only able to download a portion of them during my mission.
On the way to Zalala Beach near Quelimane

Monday-Friday were good days, they went pretty normally with lessons and contacts and such. We've been working a lot to find new investigators through references from members and investigators and Its working really well. This week we received 14 referrals! We were able to find a new family through these references and a couple young men who are really interested in learning about the gospel. We also found a new family that were investigators in Beira then moved up here to Quelimane. They are really nice as well. The people that will be baptized on Saturday, Estevao, Tina, and Manuel, are all doing well and progressing. If nothing changes, they will be the last people that I baptize here in Quelimane, and on the mission. Saturday and Sunday we watched General Conference. It went really well. I loved the conference this year and I can't wait to watch and review it again when i get home.
Another very special thing happened this week. On Saturday, we received an envelope from Maputo, which came from Salt Lake. It was Abrao's mission call! We set up a nice surprise for Abrao. On Sunday after the conference ended I got up to make the announcement for the branch, as would usually happen during a sacrament meeting. Then I called Abrao to come up to the front, along with President Mabunda (we hadn't told him beforehand either). Then Elder Souza pulled out the envelope, which President Mabunda opened then he gave it to Abrao. Then Abrao read the call letter. He was called to the best mission in the world, the Mozambique Maputo Mission! He will report to the Brazil MTC on May 27. He was so happy when he read it and all the members present clapped afterwards and congratulated him. 
Abrao in the center,  holding his mission call

It was a historic moment for Quelimane, the first mission call letter to arrive. I felt a very special spirit in that moment. I remembered vividly the moment when I opened my call letter. I knew when I read the words "Mozambique Maputo Mission" that this was the place the Lord wanted me to serve. And I know that Abrao felt that same thing as he read his letter. I was so grateful to be able to share that moment with everyone here. Now I'm entering into my last week in Quelimane. I plan on making it a week full of hard work, as usual. Of course I will spend time visiting people for the last time and taking pictures. But I want to make it as normal of a week as possible. My companion, Elder Souza, is very very good at helping me stay focus. We get along super well and he's helped me sooo much during this transfer. He will take over as 2nd counselor in the branch when I leave, and he will do an awesome job! I will miss everyone here, of course. I know I'll return again someday to visit these amazing people. 
It's cool you've been able to see so many returned missionaries speak during these past few months. I'm a little nervous for my talk already. It will be weird to give a full length talk in English again. But I'll try my best. But first I need to prepare a talk for this coming Sunday, my "farewell" talk to Quelimane. 

I'm glad you had good experiences this week with the family. I hope you have another great week. I love you sooo much and can't wait to write to you again next Monday! 

Love


Josh

Message to my family from Zalala Beach!!!


Monday, April 13, 2015

Week 100!! Pretty Exciting Week, A Lot Happened. Zone Conference in Maputo in Two Weeks.


“I can feel excitement growing in the branch because of the increased attendance and recent baptisms. This is helping the members be more active in inviting others to come to church and reaching out to friends and neighbors and the less active. I rejoice in Christ when I say that I'm super pleased with how things are going here in Quelimane. The Lord is blessing the people in this part of the world. I will be sad to leave here, for the second time.”

Hi family!!

Thank you for your letter this week. Everything here is going really well. We had a really good week here and it went by crazy fast. I think I've mentioned many times when weeks went by fast, but this one was something else. I literally feel like I was sitting here writing to you all yesterday. I thought my last month would drag on, but it hasn't at all. 
As I said, we had a good week. Tuesday was a holiday here, Dia da Mulher Mocambicana. It's a pretty big holiday; there was a parade in the city and everything. When I say parade, I mean just a march of people. There are no floats or balloons or anything haha. We bought a box of chocolates and gave one to every woman we taught.
Wednesday was a pretty normal day for the most part. Then something happened that at first seemed pretty funny but after considering the situation, we were fortunate! It was night and we were heading to our last lesson, but then it started raining a lot. So we stopped on a street corner for a minute to find cover. We leaned our bikes against the side walk and stood near a store. We decided to call to the guy we were on our way to visit to confirm that he was home (you have no idea how many times lessons fall because people aren't home, even though they previously said they would be home on the agreed hour). So the guy confirmed he was home. It was then that we got another witness that the Lord is watching over us, keeping us safe, A big truck came around the corner to turn. The driver misjudged and turned too tightly and went right up on to the sidewalk and over our bikes. Nothing happened to us, and my bike somehow was fine, but Elder Souza's bike was pretty damaged. So long story short we didn't make it to our lesson that night. The guy that ran over the bike paid to get it fixed. Although it made most of the next day on Thursday a little difficult with only one bike we thank the Lord that we were fine.
We had some good lessons on Friday. We walked with Santo, a recent convert. Saturday there were the normal activities at the chapel, but we got to teach a few lessons still and taught a new investigator.
Yesterday was really good. The attendance at church was 80 again, and some new investigators showed up too. We had a branch council meeting after sacrament service. All the organizations are doing better and fulfilling their responsibilities. 
In the afternoon we did a division. Elder Souza went with Abrao and I went with Omargi so we were able to do a lot of visits. The recent converts from the past couple weeks are doing good, they're all staying active and a couple have already received the priesthood and a calling.

We're planning our next baptism on the 25th. We're looking to have 4 people baptized that day: Tina, her son Manuel and a nephew who lives with them. Also we're planning on baptizing Estevao, a man who started investigating the church in Tete, but then moved here to Quelimane. if everything goes as planned, these will be my last baptisms on the mission. We were able to sit with a good number of new investigators, thanks to the members who give us references. I can feel excitement growing in the branch because of the increased attendance and recent baptisms. This is helping the members be more active in inviting others to come to church and reaching out to friends and neighbors and the less actives. I rejoice in Christ (Alma 26:36-37) when I say that I'm super pleased with how things are going here in Quelimane. The Lord is blessing the people in this part of the world. I will be sad to leave here, for the second time.
I have two more weeks here in Quelimane. In two weeks, we'll be flying down to Maputo for zone conference. After that I will just stay down in Maputo for the rest of that week until the day I go home. I am taking advantage of every moment I still have here. I will try to take a lot more photos as well; I want to remember every single person here and everything about this area. 

Anyway, I love you sooo much and hope you have a good week. I'm excited for these next 3 weeks. I hope to see many more miracles still while I'm here. 

Until next Monday!

Love, 


Josh


Monday, April 6, 2015

Week 99 – Happy to Say That One More Family Joined the Church Saturday


Querida família!!

I'm glad to hear that everyone back home is doing well.
I'm glad you had a good conference weekend and Easter Sunday. We're planning on watching conference here in Quelimane in 2 weeks. I read some of the highlights on LDS.org.  I'm excited to have the chance to watch and read and study all the talks more thoroughly when I get home. I'm excited to see all the extended family as well. It seems like you guys get together a lot, that's good. There's nothing better than spending time together with family.
My companion is doing a good job, he's helping me to stay focused and not think too much on things at home. It's difficult, but I'm glad that I still have the next 4 weeks to work and fulfill my purpose of inviting others to come unto Christ.
This past week was really good and we were really blessed. One of the hardest things about the work is finding new investigators, especially here in Quelimane. Doing contacts in the road doesn't work as well here as it does in the other areas I've served in. We have been really blessed though and have been receiving referrals from the members and other investigators. Through a referral from Marta, the Relief society president, we met a really, really nice new family. They live right behind the church! We had a really nice lesson on the Restoration with them and I can tell they really have a desire to know if the church is true. I'm excited to see how their progression will be in the coming weeks. We had the baptism of another family this past Saturday! They were both baptized along with two of their children. 

The baptismal service was really good, the Spirit of God was present and the family was really happy.



Church yesterday was really good. Since there was no conference, it was a normal fast and testimony meeting. Paulo and Maculada's family was confirmed and a couple of our recent converts received the Aaronic priesthood and a calling. The attendance was 81! There's definitely been growth since I've got here; it's really nice to see more and more of our brothers and sister come to worship every Sunday. We've been focusing a lot on helping the elders’ quorum organize the home teaching program and the Relief Society organize the visiting teachers. We were able to get all the companionships and families organized and the members were excited to receive their assignment and start working on doing their visits.
I taught a class yesterday for all the priesthood holders explaining how they can be good home teacher and fulfill their priesthood responsibility. It went well. We've been working a lot with the members and I can see things are starting to get going. In this transfer we've had 9 baptisms so far and hopefully we can have more before I leave. That was some of the highlights of the week.
I am writing in my journal every day so I can remember everything that happens. What I wrote isn't everything that happened. There are so many other little funny stories and crazy things that happen that I don't have time to write about, but you'll hear all about them starting next month!
I will continue to take pictures these few more weeks. I also walked around the city and I looked for things to buy to bring home. 
I wish you all a great week. Stay healthy and safe. I love you soooo much!!

Until next week

Josh  







Monday, March 30, 2015

Week 98- A Few Baptisms And a Wedding


3/30/15

Hi family!

Thanks for your letter. I'm glad things back home are going well. That's funny you said you had a long week, the week here was kind of long as well, that's just because it was a crazy, and difficult, but really good week. I'll tell you about it in a minute. I'm happy to hear your talks went well. Congratulations!  I was thinking about you guys yesterday since it was Sunday and I knew you would be speaking
I can't believe next week is general conference again, for you guys at least. For members here, the conference will probably get here 2-3 weeks after. It's going to be Easter too! I saw the new video that the church released, "Because He Lives". I liked it a lot. We'll download it in Portuguese and show it to the members here. That's crazy that you had not much of a winter there. Here I thought it was supposed to start cooling down a bit, or at least not be as hot as it was in December and January, but it continues super-hot. And I imagine we'll have a pretty hot summer in Utah in just a couple months as well. It'll be a while before I get to experience cold weather again haha.
Now about our week...We had delayed the wedding and baptism of the couple that had been working for weeks to get ready, as you know, so it was marked for this Saturday. We spent most of the week focusing on them and on the other 5 people to be baptized this week. It was all going pretty normally until Tuesday. That night we found out that one of them, who had previously had problems with drinking, had fallen into temptation and got drunk that night. There were other details about what happened, but I don't think it's necessary to share here. We were shocked, to say the least. So close to the baptism too, we were caught off guard. The next day a member couple who are close friends, went to visit them and talk about what happened and how they could help. Later that afternoon we went over there to talk to them. The man said he felt bad about what had happened and wanted to repent and be forgiven by the Lord, and by his wife. We were worried that given the circumstances they wouldn't be in a good situation to get married and be baptized. After much prayer with them and for them and feeling inspired, we decided that he wouldn't be able to be baptized on Saturday, but if they wanted they could still get married. This was on Wednesday and it wasn't looking like things would work out for the wedding, so we called the members to tell them the wedding would be postponed. Then the next day on Thursday we visited again and talked some more and they understood that they couldn't get baptized on Saturday but they still wanted to go through with the wedding. So we had to call up all the members again and talk with the ones that were helping to organize it and tell them the wedding was back on. So we spent a lot of the day on Friday helping the members organize the wedding and baptism and little party that would happen afterwards.
We also had to visit the ones that would be getting baptized and have them interviewed and approved. It was a crazy day. Saturday we spent the whole day at the church. The wedding was at 15:00 and the baptism at 16h, the festinha (little party) was right after.
A bunch of members came over to help clean up the chapel and decorate it for the wedding. A bunch of women came over to start cooking the food.
At the same time we had to fill up the baptismal font, but there was no water coming out of the faucets. It's something that happens a lot, but it happened at the worst possible time. So we gathered together a few members to help us and we filled up the font with buckets of water from a well next door. It took a while.
The wedding went really well. There were probably about 50-60 people there and the baptism afterwards was really good as well. We baptized a total of five people. The next day I did the confirmations of two of them, Luisa and Venepa. The party afterwards was good. There was a ton of food and a big mess left behind afterwards. It all ended at 20:00 (8pm) and the next hour was spent cleaning up. Others came over early the next morning before church to finish cleaning the kitchen and sacrament meeting room.
Church was good, the attendance was over 70 and we had 12 investigators come. We received a lot of referrals this week from some people who were invited to the wedding and baptism. As far as the month of April is concerned, we're hoping to marry and baptize 1 or 2 more families. Considering the setbacks and challenges that we experienced, everything turned out really well this week.  We were super tired on Saturday night and all day yesterday.
Baptizing families is not easy. But I'm enjoying the work. I feel tired as I go to bed and get up every single day, but considering this will be for 5 more weeks it should not be a problem.
Things in the branch are going well too. We've been working a lot with the home teaching program. This program has not been working here, but now all the companionships are organized and we're hoping that the branch can have their visits done during April. I keep learning a lot every week about the organization of the church and the importance of all the church programs. These are things I took for granted before the mission. In Utah, there aren't many problems getting all the organizations positions filled and for the most part, everything runs smoothly the way it should. Here it's not like that at all. The branch is still relatively new (since 2011) still small but growing and everyone is learning how things need to be organized and run. It's a great learning opportunity.

I'm glad you're all well and things are going well. I hope it continues that way during this next week. I wish you have a good Easter!
I love you!!

Josh 









Monday, March 23, 2015

Week 97 - Six more weeks in Quelimane!



Hey family!

Thanks for your letter this week. I'm glad to hear that everything is well back home. Today was transfers! I found out today that I will be spending the next 6 weeks in... Quelimane!! this will be my last area, continuing as 2nd counselor in the branch. I was so relieved to find out that I didn't get moved. Elder Souza will continue as my companion.
This past week went pretty well, but not exactly as expected. We found out early in the week that President Mabunda had to make a trip down to Maputo for work, and wouldn't be here for the wedding on Saturday. And unfortunately he as branch president is the only one in the branch who has authority to perform a marriage. So we had no other choice but to delay the wedding and baptism another week. So this coming Saturday (3/28) we will attempt to have these baptisms again also for this reason I'm glad I wasn't transferred out. It has happened several  times that after working for weeks and weeks to get some families prepared for baptism, I’ve gotten transferred out the same week of their baptism- that won’t happen this time.  All the investigators about to be baptized are doing really well and all were at church yesterday. Attendance to church still up but it can always improve, that’s for sure. A good thing that happened is that the most of the people showed up on time to meetings; it was a very nice improvement. We have been working on helping the members understand the importance of arriving on time, especially the leaders and teachers.  But this week was a lot better; all the teachers were present for the classes to start right at 9am. Since President Mabunda wasn't here, I presided and conducted our sacrament meeting. I've gotten used to it already, but it's still a little weird. It will be weird and a very nice change to go back to a big ward and just be a regular member.
Sunday afternoon we did a division with two local elders preparing for a mission. Elder Souza walked with Abrao, and I walked with Omargi. We were able to teach twice as many lessons. The other days of the week were good. We've been focusing a lot on finding new families to teach. We did a ton of contacts and marked first visits with many families. We will continue to work hard on this and we have faith that we're going to find families that are prepared to be baptized. We are also going to focus a ton this new transfer on working with the members and helping the home teaching and visiting teaching programs to work better.  Me and Elder Souza are getting along great. He is from Brazil, and we share stories of how things are in our countries; he is a great missionary. 
I feel like we're going to accomplish a lot of great things with the Lord's help in these next 6 weeks.

Aside from the work, the weather has been normal just really hot and not much rain these days; thankfully no problems with the water or electricity. It's nice working with bicycles, but annoying too sometimes. On Saturday night my back tire blew out so on Sunday I didn't have a bike to work with, but I went and got the tire changed this morning. Things for bikes are really cheap here. It costs 200 meticais to buy a new tire and have it installed (like 6 dollars). But after all, Quelimane is the 'bicycle city' of Mozambique, so it makes sense that things for bikes are cheap.
Thanks for all your help and support for me always and particularly these past few weeks with school and other stuff.  

I love you

Josh






Monday, March 16, 2015

Week 96- Another week in Quelimane



Hi Family

I'm always happy to read your letters every week.
Last week there was a power outage in the whole city, it went on for several days. We had to go to an internet café on Tuesday when we learned that the power was restored to that part or the city, that is how I was able to send you my emails on Tuesday (3/10).
On Wednesday we invited Rafael (A local branch missionary that is preparing to go on his mission this year) to work with us, and since we use bicycles here, one of us let the third person ride on the back or rear carrier (where a passenger seat can be installed) even though our bikes are not equipped with a rear seat. And as we go on the streets from place to place people think its funny to see the Mormon missionaries giving someone a ride on a bicycle, as if we were bike taxis, the popular way of transportation here. Some people make fun and yell out 'taxi!' as we pass by haha. (Here is a pic from the web)

Taxis in Quelimane  
On Wednesday the city continued with power outages. It wasn't until Thursday night that we actually had power back on, and since then it hasn't gone out again. So that was a relief to a very annoying lack of power most of the week, but the rest of it was really good.

We did a lot of contacting and found a few more people interested in hearing our message. This coming Saturday is the target date for the baptism and wedding of Paulo and Maculada, 3 others will be baptized as well, they are Luisa, Vidalina, and Venepa. We had a very successful week in teaching lessons; we were able to get a lot done. Things in the branch are going well and yesterday church attendance was close to 80 people! And we had 12 non-members visiting who are currently taking the missionary lessons.
So yesterday I hit my 22nd month on the mission! My companion, Elder Souza likes Quelimane a lot. He's a really nice guy and is helping me with things in the branch. He started his mission a year ago. I believe that he could take my place as the 2nd counselor here when I leave, so even though transfers are next Monday and anything could happen, I'm almost certain to stay here for the last 6 weeks of my mission. I couldn't think of a better place to be and to finish out my mission. And with the way the work went this week, things are looking up. It seems that the hard work is paying off, with a higher attendance at church and the baptisms coming up. I’m very optimistic that the church here will stay strong.
I know there are many missionaries that return home and find the transition kind of awkward. I don't think It'll be too bad for me, but I'm sure there will be some reverse culture shock. I mean, I've been living in África for 2 years! haha. But I'm glad to know that you guys will be there to assist me. I'm sure it will be funny for you all to see me adjust to life in América again haha.  Mom, you can't be trunky yet, you have to wait until next month haha.
Anyway, I hope you have a good week. I'm excited to hear from you again next Monday!

Love
Josh



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Week 95- Good Bye Elder Motombo, Welcome Elder Souza

3/10/15
Hey Mom!!
Thanks for writing me this week! I was frustrated about the power outage yesterday; I wasn't able to write to you all. As I told Jacob, the power returned to most of the city last night, but our house still doesn't have power. So we are doing internet at some place here in the city. Unfortunately I won't be able to send photos today. I sent some last week though, you saw them right? I put them in the bucket, but I didn't mention it in my letter last week.
This week was good, and there was a big surprise at the end of it. So the work went pretty well this week. It rained a lot though. It's rained every day since Monday last week. It doesn't rain constantly, but it goes on and off. It gets really hot and sunny then clouds pass by and it gets windy and rainy and dark, then 10 minutes later the sun comes out again.  Our lessons this week were good. Our investigators are doing well and we are planning on some of them getting baptized on the 23rd.  so we hope all goes as planned. 

We have been having trouble finding new investigators. We tried changing up our methods of contacting. We started knocking doors this week. I did that a lot the first time I served here with Elder Seoane and Elder Heaton, but when I got here the second time I found that the missionaries had moved away from that and were only doing contacts on the road. We still do that as well, but we've started knocking doors again too. It's been good so far. Knocking doors is a very different experience and there is definitely a lot of rejection, but we've found some nice people that we plan to visit this week.
On Friday we got a big surprise. We were on our way to a lesson in the evening and we got a call from the assistants to the president, telling us that Elder Mutombo's visa to Angola had arrived and that he would be leaving on Monday. So only a short 3 weeks after he arrived here in Quelimane, Elder Mutombo left yesterday morning for Maputo, and will shortly be in Angola. Abrao stayed with me in the house yesterday after he left, so I wouldn't be alone while I waited for my new companion to arrive. He arrived yesterday afternoon. His name is Elder Souza. He is from Fortaleza, Brazil and was serving in Maputo. He has 9 months on the mission. We picked him up at the airport and went home using a chopela. Since we didn't have power, we just went out to buy food for the week and returned back to home. It wasn't a very fun P-day at all to be honest. But it's alright; there will be more P-days, 7 of them, to be exact. haha.
The branch here is doing well. We had a branch council meeting yesterday.  We talked about the some of the challenges in the branch and things we're going to do to get through those. It's nice being in a branch presidency. It's hard, but I'm learning a lot of new things. 
I'm glad things are going well with everyone back home. I hope you have a good rest of the week. I love you sooo much!! Until next week!

Josh