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Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 85- Happy New Year!


Dear Family

I'm so glad I was able to talk to all of you last week. Being able to talk you, to see you, and looking around the house made me feel so close to home. It really doesn't feel like I've been gone all this time.  I will be ready to come home when I am released from this sacred calling, but I'm grateful for every moment I have left until that time. I think Christmas week was the hardest week to be away, but it went by really quickly. 

I'm glad to read about your Christmas party with the rest of the family. I'm sure when I get back I will enjoy those family reunions more because I will understand and speak Spanish a little more. I don't know if I told you before, but I have acquired a Preach my Gospel and Book of Mormon in Spanish. During language studies I like to read in Spanish and practice pronunciation. when I get back I will practice Spanish with guys because I want learn to speak it fluently; at the same time, I will look for any opportunities to continue to speak Portuguese. 

I’m also glad to read that it was snowing there the night before Christmas, and that Jacob was very excited to wake up to a white Christmas; Right now it's hard to imagine what snow feels like. Stuff like that makes me feel  that I have been gone for a long time.  Here, the heat continues to be super intense and very humid. Relief comes when we get home in the afternoon and at the end of the day and can turn on our air conditioner.

Transfers will be announced on Friday at zone conference. I hope to stay here, but only the Lord knows; I will be happy with whatever happens. I know that the Lord needed me in this area during these past 12 weeks, in order to find all these families that we are teaching now and prepare them for baptism.
Everything with the work is going great. This past few weeks went by super-fast and I think it is because we worked a ton and had a lot of successes.  Our goal is to find new people every day to teach and invite them to come unto Christ through baptism; I believe that the success we achieve every week is reflected in the amount of investigators that are showing up at church every Sunday. We had 20 of them at church this past Sunday, including 5 complete families. Almost every investigator that we have is progressing right now. We still have 3 families that are on track for baptism on January 17th. And two other families are showing a great desire to join the church and follow the commandments. Recently, we taught those two families about the importance of being married and they agreed and will start working on getting their documents for marriage, and if everything goes right, these two families can be baptized at the end of January. If I get to stay here after the transfers are announced, I am sure I will see several of these families be baptized in January.

Christmas day was a pretty normal day; we visited a couple members and a few investigators. All of them wanted to feed us. At night is when all the partying and fireworks started. Thankfully we were visiting our many investigator families and didn't have to wander around walking on the roads with no one to visit. I can't believe that it was my 2nd Christmas here in Mozambique.
On Christmas Eve after I got done talking to you, we got a ride home with the senior couple, Elder and Sister Castro Deus (they're from Brazil) and we got back at about 10 pm.

I'm keeping myself hydrated these days, always drinking water. This week we saw a lot of people sick with headaches and weakness because of the heat. People here need to drink more water! It hasn't rained for a few days so I'm sure it will rain a lot at some point. As of right now, we are still rat-free at home haha. We're fighting to keep it that way. Anyway, that was my week.

I hope you have a good New Year’s Eve celebration. I will be thinking of you as always.  Again, it was nice for me to see you and hear you this past week and to see that everyone is doing well. 
I love you, and hope you have a good week!!

Love,

Josh

Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 84-- Christmas Week!

Dear family!

This week we had a lot of rain! And it's so humid, I've never felt humidity like this before. The air is so thick and hot! But this is just normal for this time of year here, I heard that Beira is more humid than other places in the country and I really believe it. 
The rain was getting annoying this week, it rained yesterday during church, so a lot of people were missing because of it. But all things considered, we still had a good turnout; 20 visitors came to church,  including two new families that we started teaching this past week.

We taught a lot of people this week.  We tried hard to help one of the families get their documents to get married and baptized by Christmas, but the document situation is being super slow and complicated, so we had to move the date to the first week of January. We also have a couple other families that should be baptized in January as well. We are currently teaching 13 families and some single adults as well. We are being very blessed these days by meeting new families that want to know more about the church. We found two new families this week, they are neighbors. We contacted the husbands one day as they were sitting down, relaxing at work. The next day we went to their house and taught the two of them along with their wives. And they all came to church. On Thursday I had a division with one of the zone leaders, Elder Hillman.  We worked in my area. We asked one of the young men who is preparing for a mission, Joao, to walk with us. We taught a lot of lessons that day. 
We are teaching a family, where the man is a member, but her partner is not, they both have come to church for a while, she isn't baptized because they have not been able to get married. So we visited them last week and invited them to make everything in their power to get married as soon as possible. They were hesitant to accept, because of the African tradition here, which demands that a marriage be a big party, which is almost impossible for a lot of people here unless they have a lot of money so most couples just end up living together. But we told them they can just prepare their documents and legalize their relationship by getting married, and then in the future when they have enough money to throw a big wedding party- they could do that. But they weren't sure about it. So we told them to think about it and pray about it. A few days later, at church, we found out that they had invited the branch president, President Mounga, over to sit with them and explain more about this quick and simple marriage ceremony that the church normally does for couples who want follow Christ without having the big party.  
It appears that they have decided to get married as quickly as possible. They are now getting their documents, and they should be getting married in the next three weeks.  I know they Lord will work miracles in the lives of those who make the decision to follow Christ. 

It's been a very special Christmas time. A lot of good things have been happening.  Elder Christiansen and I get along and we work well together. We are always praying and strive to be obedient and work hard, and it's definitely paying off. The Lord lead us to those people willing to listen our message of Christ.

Anyway, I hope you have a good week!! 
Love

Josh.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 83- It was a successful week.

" I'm so grateful to be in this area. Being here reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures in D&C 4: 'For behold the field is white already to harvest…' This is definitely an area which has been prepared by the Lord for his children to receive the gospel."

Amada família!!
Thanks for your email this week. I wish I could experience the cold weather that you guys have over there; here, it's just hot and extremely humid with tons of rain. But  this is normal for this time of year here in Mozambique.

It was another great week . We continue to find a lot of very nice people willing to spend time with us listening to our message. We are currently teaching about 12 families, and they're all making progress towards having their own witness of the Gospel.  Things continue to go very well here. I'm so grateful to be in this area. Being in this area reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures, D&C 4: "...the field is white, already to harvest…" This is definitely an area which has been prepared by the Lord for his children to receive the gospel.



We went out to a farther part of our area this week, an area called Madjimane (not sure of the spelling). It's past the Beira airport. Anyway, we found two good new families out there. 
On Wednesday, I worked with one of the members of my district, Elder Woolley, from Bountiful. He came in to the mission the same time as Elder Christiansen. He's a really funny guy; I enjoyed working with him for the day. I love my district, there are six elders in total: me, Elder Christiansen, Elder Woolley, Elder Brown (Provo), Elder Badger (Missouri), and Elder Azevedo (Recife, Brazil). Thursday was a day filled with lessons and contacting.




The other day at home, we had a fight with a family of rats. We discovered rats living in our couch in our front room and inside the stove. There were 8 of them in total. We took out the couches from the house and now we're getting rid of them so we can buy new ones. It was a pretty exciting adventure actually. We barricaded ourselves in the kitchen so the rats couldn't escape to other parts of the house. Then we carefully removed the back panel of the stove, in there we found a whole family of rats living inside. Then we hit the oven with a broom to scare the rats out, one by one, until we got rid of them all!  So now our house if rat free! I think we had that problem because when the church was in our house things got super cluttered and it was hard to keep the house really clean. But now that the church moved to its new location, we are taking back our house. It looks really nice now, there is so much more space and no more uninvited guests, haha.

On Saturday night we went back out to Madjimane, to teach a lesson to one of the new families. While we were there, towards the end of the lesson, it started to get windy outside, and really humid. 
All of a sudden it started pouring. It was raining so hard, water was coming down so fast and with so much force that it seemed it was harder than when the water comes out of the shower in full force. We decided to leave the area and go out into the rain and try to get home as soon as possible. When we got out there on the street, it was flash flooding, the roads were like small rivers. We waded our way through it and made out to the main road, once on the main road, we were lucky enough to get a free ride from someone all the way back to our house- I thank the Lord for sending the person who provided us with transportation. But we got completely soaked. I'm sure you remember me telling stories like this at the beginning of this year when it rained a lot in T3. It was pretty much the same thing. And it'll be like this for the next 3 months or so. But it's fine, there is nothing anyone can do, it's a normal part of being a missionary in Mozambique. 

One of families, decided that they will wait for January to be married and baptized, they found that this month was a little too soon because their families wouldn't be able to attend. So they moved the date to January 17th.  Our other family continues to move closer to baptism as well. They are still on track to get baptized on the 25th. They have a lot of faith.  They don't have much as far a material stuff, but they have so much faith that they are willing to make sacrifices to be able to get married and be baptized as quickly as possible and follow Christ. They are a very inspiring family, it’s a blessing to know them.  Their 8 year old son will also be baptized with them, he is way cool, and very smart. We have many other families that we are teaching that I have faith that most of them will join the church within the next two months of so.

Yesterday's church was great. It was the first time at our new location. A few people got confused with the change and came to our house. The new place is on the main road of the airport and is very visible from the road. So hopefully that will attract more people to come in and visit us on Sundays. We had 24 of our investigators there! That's the highest number I've ever had on my mission. And in total we had 126 people at church, also a record for our branch! The growth here has been amazing and as long as we keep working hard, with God's help, our numbers will continue to increase every week.

That was cool reading about all those missionaries who have recently returned. So many are coming home these days, it's crazy, the big rush that headed out 2 years ago with the age change is now starting to come back. I can't believe some of my high school friends are now getting back this month, like Bruce and others. This also means that my time continues to get shorter and shorter. Today I have 19 months on the mission; I can’t believe I only have like 4 1/2 left!!

Thanks for everything you do for me. I hope you're having a good and relaxing Christmas without too much stress. 
I can't wait to write to you again next Monday, and then we will Skype on Christmas Eve! Remember to keep warm! I will try to stay cool and dry here as best as I can
I love you sooo much and hope you have a good week

Love
Josh



Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 82- One of the most successful weeks.



Dear family!!

Thanks you for your letters.   You always put great detail about what happens during the week, stuff like going about your day and your normal routine... going to exercise, a trip to grocery store, church activities, and stuff  you do at home like baking a cake, cleaning around, etc. Little things like that.  When I stop and think about it,  I miss the normal routine of life back home. I almost forgot how it feels. But, in some ways, I'm glad to be far away from the normal routine and culture of life in the US, it will make me appreciate the little things so much more when I return home. 

You guys must be excited just like me that we will be talking in just about 2 weeks! I still don't have the details of the call, but you will know as soon as I find out. 
I'm glad you finished putting up all the decorations and lights and now you can enjoy it for the next few weeks. The Christmas season goes by so fast. There is no Christmas here, like there is at home off course, but at least in the grocery store and a few other stores in the city there are some decorations. We haven't bought any decorations for the house. I don't think I really want them anyway. And here the time is going by extremely fast, it's unbelievable!

This week was amazing! It was probably one of the most successful weeks I've had on my mission. Everything went just right. when a  missionary is doing everything right  he would hope to have many lessons, many contacts, find many investigators, and  have many of them attend church; and to see solid progress in the Gospel in all of them. We had all of that this week.
Every day we worked super hard to find new investigators by contacting people on the road. And we were able to teach our lessons to many of them this week. We found a total of 15 new investigators just this week. We are currently teaching 12 families in our area. Our two families who are preparing for baptism on the 25th are doing really well. And both made progress with obtaining some of their documents to be able to get married. We hope to finish up all their docs and open their processes by this Friday. We are planning on having their marriages on the 24th. The other two missionaries in my district also expects to have 2 families married on that day. So we have the potential as a district to baptize 4 families on the 25th, which would really be amazing! And we're doing everything we can to make sure all will work out as planned.

This week we had 40 lessons in total, that’s huge! Usually I would expect to have that many lessons fall during the week, this has happened my whole mission. But this week we had none of our lesson appointments fall through. This area is being extremely blessed and I'm so grateful for the small miracles that I see happening here. We had 20 investigators at church and a total attendance of 115! It seems like many people's hearts in this area are being softened and seem more willing to hear our message.  It's amazing. And things just continue to get better. Last month we baptized a girl, Emilia; and on Saturday we baptized her brother.  He was super happy after he was baptized.
Also this week the branch held Sunday meetings at our house for the last time. The church now has rented a new meeting house for the branch! And it's a lot bigger and in a better location with better access. Now that all the things that are for the use of the branch were moved out of our house. Our house has a lot more space, we cleaned and organized our place and it is a lot more comfortable now.

As you can see, this was a fantastic week. I hope things continue to go this way going forward. But even when things don't go the way we like them, I'm still grateful. My whole mission has been a test of patience. I've been in so many areas and passed many transfers with little success, and baptisms have been few and far in between.  But right now is different. I've never been in a situation with such a potential for so many more baptisms in the coming weeks. I feel blessed as if the constant hard work and dedication is finally paying off  when I see the fruits of the work being done by seeing the happiness that the Gospel bring into people's lives. I know that many of the people that I have taught and decided not to join the church now, will some day come to Christ.

I'm glad that you guys are all healthy and happy and having a good December. Thank you for sharing your testimonies with me. I love you sooo much and hope you have a great week!!

Love,
Josh








Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 81- A "White Christmas"

Dec 1, 2014



Hello Family!

I was just thinking about how holidays here are  just like normal days, but then you think about what day it is I remember the past holidays at home. It feels very weird that this was my 2nd Thanksgiving away from home. And now it's already December again! I can't wait to talk to you guys in a few weeks. The weather is really heating up here. It hasn't rained in almost 2 weeks, so I won't be surprised if it rains a lot this week. It gets really, really hot and humid in the morning and afternoon, but the evening usually feels nice as the sun goes down. 

This past week was super good. We didn't have a wedding or baptism, so we had all the time to do regular work, teaching lessons and doing contacts. We kept ourselves really busy this week with a lot of lessons,  and we still had time to do a lot of contacting on the road.  All our investigators are doing well. Right now we are focusing on two families, trying to get them baptized on the 25th, that's right, Christmas day. There's an initiative in the mission right now to try to get a family baptized on Christmas day, to make it a "white"Christmas. It's a good idea because it keeps all of us focused on this goal and on our investigators rather than thinking about home, especially at this time of the year. So we are trying to baptize on the two families we have been teaching on that day.  Both are very solid families and I'm confident they will get baptized, whether everything works out to have it on the 25th or not, they will get baptized, I'm sure of it.
Family #1, only lacks a few documents to open their marriage process. They are always coming to church as well. I really, really love this family. They are a fun couple, and we enjoy just to sit down and chat with them. 
Family #2, are a family we met at the end of October. Their progress had been a little slow until a couple weeks ago, and then they started coming to church together regularly and reading the Book of Mormon every day. They are really smart; they understand the Book of Mormon remarkably well. This week we taught them about the Law of Chastity and they accepted to get married without objections. Now we just need to rush to help them get all their documents to be married this month. We found a couple new families this week they are both nice people, and one of them came to church yesterday. We had 15 of our investigators at church.

For now our branch still has not moved out of our house, but it should be moving to its new location either by this Sunday, or the next. Elder Christiansen is doing well. We are getting along well and working hard every day. I don't know what happened to the month of November, it feels like it just started a few days ago, and now it's already gone! This year is finishing up quickly. 

I'm glad that you're doing well at home and that you put up the Christmas lights. Is there snow on the ground? You need to send me a pic of the house with the lights when there's a lot of snow on the ground, like you did last year.
I love all you soooo much and I’m always happy to read your letters. As always, I thank you for your prayers for me and for our investigators. I see the Lord's hand in every aspect of the work. It's an amazing thing!  I hope you all have another good week.  Stay healthy and do fun Christmas things without me! haha.

Until next Monday,

Josh

Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 80 – It Was a Great Week - A Wedding and Baptisms


Dear family!

My week was super good and eventful! we spent time preparing for Pereira and Susan’s wedding and baptism scheduled for this Friday and Saturday, so we also helped the branch (which is also our house) get everything ready because  here is where the wedding will take place.
On Thursday we had a really good day teaching a lot of people. In the afternoon we helped our branch president, President Mounga, load up some chairs in a car and brought them from our house to Pereira's house, for their celebration after the wedding. 

Friday was the wedding day. That morning I had a meeting for district leaders at the Manga chapel. Then after getting back I held a meeting with the missionaries in my district. Right after the meeting we started setting up for the wedding which was going to be right here at our house- as I mentioned before our house is also our branch meeting house for now. There is a space in front where we have sacrament meetings on Sundays, that's where we had the wedding. So we set up a table and all the chairs and then waited for people to arrive. It was supposed to start at 14h, but didn't start until 15h. It was a super nice wedding. President Mounga performed the wedding. He always does a great job; he's really funny and had everyone laughing, especially at the part where the bride and groom kissed. The relief society sisters sang their traditional songs for weddings. It was nice.

After the wedding they went to a place in the city to take pictures, and we went with them. There was a small car carrying the couple and a couple other members, and we got a ride with them. There was another car, a big open-bed truck, carrying the other guests.  Afterwards, we all went to their house for them to cut the cake and for the presentation of gifts and the dinner. The food was really good, they served chicken, goat, rice and beans and other stuff. We ate well. This really was a big event for them and it was fun to be a part of it.


The next day, Saturday I performed the baptism for both of them in the Manga chapel; they were baptized along with other two other families that were baptized by other missionaries, so it was a nice baptismal service. After the baptism they took the opportunity to bear their testimonies. It was very special for me to hear their testimonies; they really have strong testimonies of the Gospel and of this church. They were both extremely happy, Susan, had a huge smile on her face through the whole thing. They are a really nice couple, they will be good members. Many in the branch helped with some of the details in the preparations for their wedding, it was a great way to show their love for them. This is how members can help new converts stay active and strong, knowing that they have good brothers and sisters that they can count on for support.

On Saturday and Sunday was the Beira district conference (equivalent of a stake conference) at the chapel in the city. We attended the general sessions of conference on Saturday night and Sunday morning. On Sunday there were over 1000 people there at the Beira chapel. It was so full! We (all the missionaries) had to sit out in the hall to make room for others. We were happy to see that a few of our investigators were in attendance. The rest of the week was great. Even with all the time spent helping Pereira and Sara, we still found 10 new investigators and were able to visit our other progressing investigators. We are hoping to baptize two more families before the end of December.
My new companion is Elder Christiansen from Spanish Fork. He graduated from high school this year in May and started his mission in July. He has 3 months in Mozambique. So he is still learning the language, but he's already speaking pretty well. We've been getting along well and have been working hard. 

I love you sooo much and thank you for your love and prayers for me.
I hope you have a good week!!!

Love,

Josh


Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 79- Transfers this Week. Staying in Mascarenha as District Leader




Hi everyone!

Thanks for your letter this week!! I'm glad to hear that everything there is going well. We had transfers today and I’m happy to know that I'm staying in Mascarenha for another 6 weeks! I'm getting a new companion, his name is Elder Christensen. He is a new missionary with about 4 months on the mission. I've also been called as district leader again. I'm excited for the opportunity of serving the people here and my fellow missionaries as well.
This past week was very productive; we taught a lot of people.  We also spent time focusing on helping Pereira and Sara with preparations for their marriage and baptism, which is this coming Friday and Saturday. Monday was a good P-day. We didn't play soccer that day, so we had more time to relax at home in the afternoon, so it was cool to take it easy. Tuesday was a good day; we opened the marriage process for Pereira and Sara! It all went well. We went with them to the civil register in Munhava and they submitted all their documents and set the date for the wedding, which is the 21st.

On Wednesday I worked a division with Elder Woolley, Elder Richardson's companion. Elder Woolley is a newer missionary too. We had a good day working in his area. On Thursday we went to the city to pick up another document for the wedding. But while I was there I found some really nice shoes to replace my Rockport, which after 18 months, are getting worn out. I would have told you so you could send me a new pair of shoes, but I know that it would have taken forever for them to get to me- I still have not gotten the packages that you sent me in back in June -most likely they got lost and won’t get them at all.  Anyway, these shoes that I bought off the street are really nice. They are Ecco brand, the same kind they sell at the missionary stores back home, they are really comfortable. So that was a nice find.
Last Saturday we taught a couple of lessons in the morning. And in the afternoon we went to the city again, this time with Sara, she needed help to go to the city where she had to buy some things for the wedding. Pereira couldn't get off work to go help her, so we offered to go and help. She had to buy a suit for Pereira to use at the wedding. So she bought some shoes and a suit off the street. Things off the street here are super cheap when compared to dollars and the prices of things back home. You can buy a decent suit and pants for 700MT ($20). Anyway, that was Saturday.
Sunday was probably the last day that church will have meetings in our house. Next Sunday is district conference, so everyone will be going to the big chapel in the city. And by the following Sunday our branch will meet in the new house.
Our other investigators are doing fine. Girao and Angela are still progressing very well. Hopefully they can get baptized during this transfer. We found another new family, Odete, and her children. She lost her husband last year and her neighbor is a member who invited them to church and they liked it a lot. They will probably be baptized in a few weeks. I'm excited for this week’s wedding and baptism!! There's still a lot to do to prepare, but I know everything will go well. 

Questions and Answers:
Q: How much to you pay to ride the chopela.
A: cost between 50 and 100MT, depending on where you go. From the grocery store in the city to our house it costs 150MT.
Q: when playing soccer, do you guys invite sister missionaries to play? 
A: No, because there are no sister missionaries in Beira, they're only assigned to the Maputo areas.
Q: have you had to give a talk in church recently, and do you play the piano?
A: No, I haven't given a talk in the branch here, nor do I play piano. That's because there is no piano in this branch for now, but when it moves to the new place there will be one, so I'll probably start playing, unless my companion is a better piano player than me. 

I love you and hope you have another good week!!!

Love

Josh

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 78- Another great week in Manga


Dear family,






I'm glad everything back home is going well. I was able to get a good computer today here in the internet cafe. This place where we do internet isn't very close. We live in Manga, while the internet place is in downtown Beira. It's about a 10-15 minute car ride. We usually don't take chapa, we get a boleia (free ride). Hitchhiking is really easy here and people will stop for us because we're missionaries. 
I've been writing to my friends from high school these days. They are finishing up their missions! Braden will be coming home this week! Hunter and Bruce will be coming home next month. From my group of friends who are serving missions I'll be the last one to come home. It will be interesting to continue to write to them as they get home and hear how they adjust back to normal life is. I can't imagine yet what it will be like. It does not feel like I have six months left, it feels more like I need to be here another year… the time has gone very fast!
Anyway, this week it was a little hotter here and it also rained a few times. It will be getting hotter and it will rain a lot more as we move into December and January, so It's weird to think about the cold temperatures and the snow back home when it's the middle of the summer down here. I hope my first winter back home next year will be a very snowy and very cold. I know Mom don't like it, but I miss winter with all the snow back home! We'll be talking face to face on Skype in about six weeks; you can take the computer outside and show me some of the snow haha!   



I had a pretty good week. Monday was a good P-day. We took a chopela, the common way of transportation here, 



We played soccer with other missionaries, we had a good time.  Afterwards, we went shopping,  and then we went home to relax the rest of the day and prepare for our appointments that evening.
This week we spent a lot of time helping our investigator families, we helped Pereira and Sara finish up their marriage documents and open the marriage process.
So, on Tuesday we traveled to the baixa (downtown Beira) to go take care of some papers for their wedding. Normally, with the right paperwork we don't need to bring our investigators to get some of the documents, that is good because it's easier for all of us; mostly because our investigators work during the day and can’t afford taking time off work. Well, that day on Tuesday we spent a lot of time there, we had to go to various government buildings and we ran into a few difficulties with some of the papers. We had to get one document notarized for Sara and she had to be present for that. So we got on a chapa and ran over to their house and found Sara there and we told her the problem. Thankfully she wasn't too busy at the time so she came with us and we went back to the city so she could get the document notarized. It took a couple hours but in the end we were finally able to take care of all that stuff. All we had left to do was to open the marriage process at the register.
We had the wedding scheduled for the 14th. So for that to work out we would have had to submit all the docs by Friday. But the groom called us on Friday morning and told us that having the marriage on the 14th wouldn't work out because some family members wouldn't have been able to attend. So we moved the wedding to the 21st. It was a little disappointing, but the good thing is that they're still getting married and baptized this month. It is their special day and its OK if they would like to wait a week.  I'm just glad we were able to help them with the documents this week, we worked a lot and put a great effort for that.


Baptism last week

The rest of the time this week went really well, we had a lot of lessons and our other investigators are doing really well. We had two of our families show up to church, and the total attendance to our Sunday services was 120 people,  This was the highest attendance yet since this branch was organized a couple months ago.
On Wednesday I went on a division with Elder Richardson. He was in the MTC with me and we'll be going home together as well. It was a good division.  Next Monday we will have transfers, I'm expecting to continue working here, at least I hope I get to stay here.We'll see what happens.

Im finally able to send you some pictures, I hope you like them. Anyway, that’s all for now, I pray that you all have a good week.
I love you soooo much, and thank you for your thoughts and prayers every day!!

Love,
Josh





Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 77 – This week we had an unexpected day off and some baptisms


“The work here is never easy- good thing I did not come here expecting it would be-  The Lord knew the challenges that I would face and that those challenges would work to strengthen me and make me a better servant and a better person. So I never get too stressed out over difficult things that happen, I just take things as they come and do my best.”

Dear family!

I'm glad to read all about your week and to know that everyone is doing fine

I had a good week. On P-day there was an activity for the Manga zone with all the missionaries, at Manga chapel (not our house). There was food and games, we played volleyball and other stuff it was fun.  Thursday morning we got a call from the zone leaders telling us that we all had to stay in for the day. All the missionaries in the mission did not leave their houses on that day. The reason for this decision was because on Thursday, the results of the presidential elections that happened a few weeks ago were to be announced, and there were rumors that there might be conflict between supporter of the contending parties, which could escalate.  So as a precaution we were told to stay in our houses. But in the end we did not hear of any trouble. So it was a rare day off for us. Since we could not go out and work we took advantage of the day by relaxing a little and hang out around the house, and because our house is also the chapel, we have a TV and a DVD player. So we decided to watch some church movies, we also had received the DVDs of General Conference, so we watched all the sessions in English. So in a way it was nice, I enjoyed all of the talks.
 On Friday, as you know, was Halloween in the States! But not here, for us it was just a normal day. But I really enjoyed your pictures in your customs, Dad and Jake look great, I also love that picture of Mom, with that mask and the U of U t-shirt that was funny. I’m glad the weather was good there for you that night.

Friday evening we prepared the baptismal font and cleaned the Manga chapel in preparation for the baptisms that we had on Saturday morning. So on Saturday morning three young women were baptized. Attendance was low, but it was still a very special service.  That day in the afternoon we put on general conference for anyone in the branch that could attend. Only five people five showed up, but we watched it anyway. We also watched conference the next day on Sunday, and 90 people showed up for that one, so it was a pretty good crowd. Everyone seems to have enjoyed General Conference. We only watched one session on each day, so we'll set aside another weekend to watch the remaining sessions. What a great blessing to have modern prophets that guide us in this latter days and what a blessing it is that even in these remote corner of the world you see them and hear their voices- even if its through DVDs.

To finish up our Saturday, that evening we went to a family night at the house of a member family, Wingue and Ines. one person shared a spiritual thought, and then we played some games and after that we ate. The food was super good, rice, beans and chicken- that is the food in every party but I love the food that our  wonderful members prepare for social and church activities.
Anyway, our investigators are doing well. Couple #1 is still on track to get baptized on the 15th, but everything will depend on the next couple days. We are anticipating that they will be able to get the documents that they need and then we'll open the marriage process by Friday (11/7) so they can get married on the 14th and baptized on the 15th. So we'll see how it goes.  Couple #2 is also doing great and continues to make progress. We're hoping they can get baptized at the beginning of December.

This transfer is flying by! The next transfers are in two weeks from today! I expect I'll stay in this area at least through the New Year, but you never know what the Lord has in store for us when it comes to transfers.  However, I’m enjoying my time here, and I love being in the Mascarenha branch. The work here is never easy- so it’s a good thing I did not come here expecting the work to be easy- The Lord knew the challenges that I would face and that those challenges would work to strengthen me and make me a better servant and a better person. So I never get too stressed out over difficult things that happen, I just take things as they come and do my best.

I appreciate how you guys are always thinking of me and praying for me every day and night. I pray that the Lord will continue to watch over me here and you at home. I thank the Lord every day for keeping me safe and healthy. 
I hope you have a great week.  I can't wait to hear from you again next week!!!

I love you sooooo much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Josh




Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 76- We had a great week here, the work with our families was very productive and we all had great teachings from Church Leaders.

“Elder Ellis told the congregation that the Lord blesses not only us and our families but our entire community and nation when we pay tithing”

This was a pretty good week. As I told before, there was a special meeting for members and investigators last Monday with two members of the quorum of the Seventy visiting our region. Elder and Sister Ellis both speak Portuguese, they lived in Brazil in the past, so they were able to speak to the people in their native tongue. Elder and Sister Clayton speak Spanish but not Portuguese, so they needed a translator. All the messages were focused on how to create a strong marriage and about the blessings of paying tithing, two things that will help the members a lot. There are many that don't pay tithing here, and as long as they don't the church won't progress as fast as it could. Elder Ellis told the people that the Lord blesses not only us and our families but our entire community and nation when we pay tithing. So even though conditions here in Mozambique are third-world, if members are faithful in keeping the commandments, the Lord will bless this land and things will improve here as the years go on. I took a lot of notes on the things that they said, especially in their meeting with us missionaries. It was a pretty special experience to have them here.
Because of the meetings last Monday, the only p-day thing we were able to do that day was internet. So we had our official Pday the next day on Tuesday, we got together with the other missionaries to play soccer, did shopping, and relaxed a little. I think having P-day on Tuesday made the week go by really fast.  This week we saw progress with our investigators. Pereira and Sara are really close on their marriage documents; hopefully we can finish everything up this week. We are planning right now on them getting married on November 14 and getting baptized on the 15th. We'll see how those plans work out. We also have another nice family, Girao and Angela. They have been investigators for a while, and are progressing well. The situation with their documents for marriage is a little difficult, but not impossible. It'll just take a while for them to get everything together. But we're confident they'll get married and baptized this year, maybe by the end of November or beginning of December. They are a good family and are progressing really well. There are a couple other families that we're teaching that are newer: Carlos/Hortencia, and Rudy/Edna and they are progressing well and came to church yesterday. This week we'll be teaching them the importance of being married. That is always the "make it or break it" lesson for many families. If couples are willing to get married quickly and not worry about having a big party or fulfilling their native traditions-which usually keep them from marrying-, then they usually agree to getting baptized. We have been going to places where we have not been before so are getting to know our area more and more every day and we are also getting familiar with the members that live in our area. We visited some of them this week. We visited one member, named Ana. She lives with her husband, who is not a member. They have a pretty big piece of land and have a lot of animals; one of those beasts is Joao (John), a HUGE pig. Oh man I've never seen such a BIG pig like that before! I forgot to take my camera, but next time I will so I can take pictures to show you. It was pretty funny though, they call his name and he comes over, as if he was a dog or some other house pet, haha.  I couldn't believe it.  
Anyway, church yesterday went well, we had over 100 people there again, which is normal. The branch is still meeting in our house on Sundays, but we expect that in two weeks we will have a new place for our branch to meet on Sundays and for other regular church activities. Things will be better when we have a dedicated structure for the branch to meet in, because our house can barely handle it; if we want our branch to keep growing, we need more space.
Anyway, that's all for now

I hope you have a great week

Love you!!

Josh






Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 75- Elder Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy and Others Visiting Beira



Thanks for your emails this week. I'm glad that you and mom took Jacob for a short trip down to Bryce for his first time. I remember our trip to Bryce Canyon very clearly…to start, we got a speeding ticket, our car got stuck in the sticky mud, we had to get a tow truck to get the car out, what else… oh yes, we went horseback riding but it started to snow and we were not prepared for winter weather. Dad went through some trouble during that trip, but he always made me feel that we were having fun and so we had fun. It doesn't feel like it was so long ago, but it was 10 years ago, crazy huh?  It was so much fun; I’ll never forget the first time I went to Bryce Canyon with dad.  
So I'm guessing the weather has been nice over there. It’s been heating up over here. We're getting into the hot season, where December and January are the hottest months. A couple days this week it was super hot.  But it also rained pretty hard one day this week and we got pretty soaked, but it felt good. The nice thing is that in our area the roads don’t get as muddy and the roads are still good to walk on, they don't turn into rivers like they did in T3 when it rained a lot, so it's not too bad. 

This week was pretty successful.  We found ten new families this week and taught a few lessons; we also found several good contacts, hopefully many of them will be prepared to hear and accept the Gospel in their lives at this time
Since we are opening up our area, we are getting to know it better each day. There are a lot of people and houses in our area and a lot of potential to find new families to teach. We are also getting to know the members in our branch that live in our area. All of them are very nice too, this branch has good members. The branch is small, but it has members that are strong in the faith. We will encourage them to help us find new people to teach as well as invite them to come with us when we teach new people so they can get to know our investigators.  As I mentioned before, since our area used to be part of a larger area until it was divided right before I got here,  some portions of our new area used to be worked by other missionaries,  there were a few existing investigator families and we're helping them prepare their documents for marriage. Pereira and Sara are very close on finalizing their documents to get married on the 15th. The other family is Tomas and Ana. They had been investigators in the past, but their progress stopped during the last 3 months because Tomas left town for work. He is a commercial fisherman and went out on a boat for 3 months off the northern coast of the country. But now he's back and won't go fishing again until next year. So we're working with them, and they wil start coming to church again and continue reading the Book of Mormon and working on their marriage documents. Both he and his wife are super nice people. Everyone here is so nice.  It seems that many people here are very receptive to our message, and that is very encouraging and very exciting. 
I get along very well with my companion Elder Mendes, he is a very good missionary; we share our experiences and we both contribute to our success, so we've been working together pretty well.  It's been interesting to hear him talk about his country and how things are in Cabo Verde; he says it is very nice place.
Anyway, something exciting is happening today.  We (All the missionaries in Beira area) had a special meeting with Elder Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Ellis of the Seventy and a member of the presidency of the Africa southeast area. It was a two hour meeting where they and their wives spoke to us, along with President and Sister Kretly. They taught a lot of great things. The messages were very inspiring, I felt the Spirit of God very strongly during that meeting.
In about 2 hours they will have a devotional for all the members and investigators. And we're going to be there too, so after I'm done doing internet here, we'll be heading back to the Beira chapel to attend that devotional. I'll tell you more about it next week. It's been a cool day so far though. 

I'm doing well and I’m enjoying the work here. I hope you all have a great week.
I love you!!


Josh




Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 74- My First Week in Beira


“It's a miracle that this is happening in his family; all because of the sacrifice (he) made to serve the Lord. It's amazing how the Lord blesses the families of missionaries who are faithfully serving”

Hey family!!

I'm happy that everyone back home is doing fine. My week went well and went by super-fast too! After doing internet last Monday I went home to start packing my stuff. It didn't take too long, the rest of the time I just relaxed at home. I left from the Matola house at about 6 pm by taxi to go to the airport. I got there pretty early, so I just sat around for a while waiting to board plane. It was a very short fight, it left Maputo at 9 pm and  arrived in Beira at 10 pm, I got my bag, then the missionary couple here, the Snelsons, picked me up to take me to my house, which is only a 10 minute drive from the airport. As soon as I got there I unpacked some of my things, and went to bed. I didn't sleep in the next day, but I didn't need to anyway.
There will be six elders here in the house, but right now there are five.  One of the elders, Elder Wood, won’t have his companion here for the next two weeks. So in the meantime, he is working with me and my companion, Elder Mendes. The other elders in the house are Elder Richardson and Elder Woolley. The interesting thing right now though is that our house is currently doubling as the chapel for our branch, the Mascarenha Branch. The branch is new; it was created a couple months ago and doesn't have very many members for now, so our house, while not very big, has sufficient space for the branch to have its meetings. One of the rooms is being used as the branch president's office. The living room is the relief society room. And the front of the house has the sacrament meeting it's not really a room, it's just the front yard of the house, but it has a covering so it's not a problem if it rains lightly. Yesterday church went well; there were about 90 people there. The members that I've met are nice, and so are all the other people I've met here so far. People seem different here than in Maputo and Matola, They seem more approachable, which is nice. But I still miss my old area a lot. Part of me still wishes I was there, but I know as I continue to work here and get to know the area, I will get used to it. Elder Mendes is from Cabo Verde, and has about 3 months left until he goes home. He's a good missionary and it's been nice working with him this first week. Our area is new. It is part of an old area that was split up, but it's still really big. And it hasn't been worked much by missionaries, so it's a cool opportunity to work in practically a newly opened area. There are a few investigators in it already that the other missionaries had been teaching. They are good families and hopefully they can be baptized in the next few weeks.  Our house is good; it's smaller, so it's good there aren’t more missionaries living in it.
I really like Manga, it's pretty jungly and it's very beautiful. I'll have to send you pics next week. Anyway, I had a cool experience this week.  Before being transfer here this week, Elder Mendes had been working in another area in Manga, where he taught one family who was getting married and baptized this past Saturday (10/11). So he wanted to go to the wedding and to attend their baptism. It happened at the Manga chapel, a church-built chapel, very nice, like the one in Matola. Anyway on the announcements board of that chapel they have the pictures of their missionaries who are serving missions and  here is where I got a very unexpected surprise! one the pictures on the board was of  my previous companion Elder Caetano and I!  That's when I remembered that he had mentioned that he is from Manga- this is his home ward or branch!  Elder Caetano's mother and younger brother, were at the baptism. It was so cool to meet them. I was able to tell his mom how much I enjoyed working with her son, and what a good missionary he is. I told her much he would expressed his love for his family. His parents and siblings are non members, but as soon as Elder Caetano left for his mission, his family agreed to have the missionaries teach them the lessons, and started going to church. His parents are currently working on getting their documents and other things ready so they can get married and be baptized; and his younger brother wants to serve a mission just like his older brother is doing now. It's certainly a miracle that all this is happening in his family, because of the sacrifice Elder Caetano made to go on a mission to serve the Lord. It's amazing how the Lord blesses the families of missionaries who are faithfully serving Him. I'm seeing those blessings with you guys as well, and I am very grateful for that. Anyway, it was a really good week and I'm excited to continue working and trying to get to know this new area and finding new families to teach and invite them to come to Christ.

Like I mentioned, this area where I work sort of reminds me of Quelimane my first area, it is mostly rural, not as developed as the areas in Maputo and Matola;  I don't see many cars, or big houses.  However, I still think this is a very beautiful place, and the people I have met are very nice, very friendly, they don't seem to be in a hurry as in my previous areas, so that is a nice change.
In a couple weeks two members of the quorum of the seventy will be here to visit the area, so that's exciting. All  of us (missionaries) up here, have to sing a musical number for the meeting they'll be having. We had one rehearsal this week and will have one more in a couple days. I'm having a lot of fun here, and each day brings new experiences. I'm writing in my journal every day so I don't end up forgetting things.

Thank you for your words of encouragement and  for those quotes from Joseph Fielding Smith. I enjoyed reading about his missionary experience. I know the work I'm doing here is very important and as long as I work my hardest, the fruits of my labors will show, whether it happens now while I'm here, or some time later.
By the way, those numbers you shared with me about the growth of the church in El Salvador are amazing! I didn't realize there were so many stakes and wards there, and approximately 1.2 % of the population is LDS; that's pretty impressive! It will be cool to see how the church will grows here in the near and distant future. One day, a temple will be dedicated here, and that that will be an awesome day for the saints here!
I hope we are able to go visit El Salvador when I get back, it would be so nice to visit the temple there and family who you and I have never met.

Anyway, I know you're starting to get trunky, I guess its ok, but don't shorten the time I have left, I'll have 6 1/2 months left on Wednesday, not 6! Haha!. I can't believe how the time flies. But I'm having a great time here and even though I miss you a lot, I know you guys are doing well and are being blessed by the Lord just as I am.
I hope you have another good week. I'm glad Jacob is doing great and that he is always a fun and happy boy- I miss him!.  Oh, and about you guys being new to the ward- if it is of any consolation, I'm going through the same thing here right now, we are all working on getting used to a new ward and new faces, haha.

I love you so much and pray the Lord bless you always!
Josh