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Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 72-- Zone Conference in Matola Oct. 2014


Dear family!

 

Thanks for your letter this week. My week went by pretty fast. Monday was a good, relaxing P-day and it was a nice lead up to Tuesday, which was the zone conference. It was a very good conference and we all learned a lot from President Kretly. There were a lot of missionaries there. In addition to the missionaries from Matola and Maputo zones, the missionaries from Swaziland came up again. It's only a 3 hour drive I guess, so they came up and left on the same day. I helped translate again this time as well. The lunch they provided was really good; there was a lot of food!
 
The training that President Kretly gave was about how we can use my time more effectively. There are a lot of things that being a missionary demands, but we have to focus first on the most important things, which for me is fulfilling my purpose as a missionary: 
Convidar as pessoas a achegarem-se a Cristo, ajudando-as a receber o evangelho restaurado, por meio da fé em Jesus Cristo e em sua Expiação, do arrependimento, do batismo, de se receber o dom do Espirito Santo, e de perseverar ate o fim. 
I took some good notes so I don't forget the things I learned.  

Mom, I like the quote you shared about agency and obedience. Obedience is the most basic and important law the Lord has given us. As a missionary, obedience is the key to receiving blessings for ourselves and for the areas in which we serve. So, I try every day to be more obedient. I know that in this way the Lord will continue to protect me and I will be able to have His spirit to guide me in all things. I believe that the best missionary is an obedient missionary and one who has faith in the Lord.  I know the Lord will bless me to find those who are eager to hear the gospel; we work every day and pray that today is the day we find them.

Everything here is going great and I'm staying healthy. My companion and I are working hard and we're getting along super well. 
I enjoyed our church meetings yesterday. There were good talks in sacrament meeting and there was a pretty good attendance, despite the weather, which was cold. Also, everything in the district here is going well. All the companionships are working hard and seeing progress.

Next Monday is transfers again, if you can believe it.  Who knows what will happen. I can see myself staying just as easily as leaving. I hope I stay though. There are still challenges that we are facing in this area and I would like to stay a little longer to resolve them, our goal is to find a few more families who will start to progress and be baptized in the coming weeks.  

I have not received the packages yet. I was hoping they would be here in time for the zone conference. If I stay down here next transfer, I will probably get them some time next month. If I get transferred up north, I might not get it until Christmas. But don't worry, I'll get them eventually. 
Finally, I'm enjoying the time I have on the mission, in my area. Thanks for your prayers and I wish you another happy week and I can't wait to hear from you again next week!! 

Have a great week!
Love,

Josh

 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 71 -- Working in my old area of T3 for a day was great!



Hi guys!

I really enjoyed your letters this week. Thanks for including part of that talk about conversion, it was really good. I think what every missionary wants is for the people he teaches to actually be converted to the gospel. The only way that is possible is working through the Spirit. Thanks for your testimony as well, when you guys share your testimony with me, it strengthens mine. I'm glad you guys had a good week, it sounds like it was a pretty eventful week.

I know it must have pained you to have to tell me the sad news that our dog Hunter had to be put down.  Just a month ago he was his normal self.  It will be strange to come home and not see him. I agree with you that it was better this way than to see him suffer.  As you remember, I was 10 when we got this baby beagle. It was one of the best Christmas gifts I ever received because I had wanted a beagle for so long. We had a lot of fun and lots of crazy moments with him that's for sure! haha. I will miss my dog Hunter.

It's nice you guys were able to attend the broadcast of the Ogden Temple dedication. Thank you for sharing with me the messages you heard in that meeting. I’m sure it was a great service.  I can't wait for the dedication of the new Provo City Temple; it should be completed by the time I get back next year. I'm glad you were able to enjoy many spiritual events and experiences last week.

I saw the pics you uploaded, you guys look great. That's cool the new bishop came to meet you guys, I'm sure you guys must have told him all about me.  Hey I saw my cello in one of the pictures; I got so excited to see it!

This week flew by and it ended up being a pretty good week. We found a good number of new investigators again this week. We are getting good contacts every day and we sat with new investigators almost every day, so the work here is progressing. We hope that at least two or more of those families will actually accept the Gospel.   So, the more people we talk to during the week, the more opportunity we have to find a family that will be receptive to our message.  But in general, things are going pretty well over here in my area.
Tuesday was a nice day. I did a division with, Elder Thurston. He was my district leader back when I was in T3, and he is still serving there, but as a zone leader now. So I actually went to T3 for a day, back to my old area! It was great to be back. In the morning we left from Matola and got in a chapa to T3 then me and Elder Thurston stayed there while his companion and Elder Caetano returned to Matola to work in my area. It was a very good day, I saw a lot of members from T3 and they were surprised and happy to see me. I saw Anita (Antonio and Anita) and she was super happy to see me. She showed me photos of their wedding and baptism. I am so happy to see that they ere happy and are staying strong in the church. I didn't get to see Antonio though, he was at work. We also happened to run into one of the young men I baptized, Naftal. He is doing super well and is dead set on leaving for his mission next year! I was so happy to hear that. During the day I saw a ton of other members that I used to visit, I had a lot of luck that they all were home when we passed by.

We also taught a couple lessons to Elder Thurston's investigators. It was a very good division and a rare opportunity to return to my old area. Wednesday and Thursday we had a lot of lessons and contacts also. Friday I did a division with Elder Palu. We worked in my area. We taught a couple new families, I feel very good about them and I think they will progress. There was a devotional Saturday evening in Maputo for members and missionaries with Elder Khumbulani, an area seventy from South African. It was a very good devotional; his message was for the members. He talked about strengthening family relationships and other important things related to the families.
The lessons in church were great, they talked about temple marriage and it was very well taught by our branch president.

Tomorrow we have zone conference, I always enjoy President Kretly’s teachings, he is great at motivating people and inspiring us to do our work.  I'll tell you all about that next week. 
Thank you for your words of encouragement.  Enjoy your week!!

Love

Josh



Monday, September 15, 2014

Week 70— Another good week in Matola


Olá família!  It's nice to write to you once again, I'm glad to hear all is well back home, as always.

We will be having a zone conference here a week from tomorrow. It should be good, an area seventy from South Africa is coming to speak to us. 
The work here continues to move forward, and while the progress has been slow, we still see progress in the work that we do. I'm happy with the direction in which the area here is going with new investigators and references, and I hope and pray it continues that way. I appreciate your daily prayers for me and my companion and the people we teach. The time is going by so fast. As you mentioned, today is the 15th. I've completed 16 months on the mission. 
I continue to pray for you all back home that you stay healthy and always have the Spirit at home. Mom mentioned you guys go to the temple regularly, that's good. Continue to make that a priority. I know I will make temple worship a priority in my life when I return and I never want to treat temple worship as a casual thing, it's a very special place and sacred opportunity for us and everyone to be able to attend.
Thanks Mom for continuing your 'quote of the week'. Each one I'm writing down in my planner, which i then transfer to a sticky note that I post on the wall in front of my study desk. It's nice to have some motivational quotes from the prophets in front of me. You seem to always know what to say and share with me that I need every week.-Thank you. 

I continue to play the piano here in sacrament meeting every week. I'm still not very good at it, but I know I'm serving the branch this way. One of the counselors in the branch presidency came up to me after sacrament meeting yesterday to thank me for playing the piano and making the effort, even though piano isn't my strong point--Music is an excellent way to serve others.

From what you tell me,  you guys had a good and exciting stake conference with all the announcements and changes. Keep me posted on the stuff that goes on in our new ward.
I miss the relaxing Sunday ritual back home spending time with the family, reading, taking a nap, having a nice dinner, etc. Sundays here are pretty busy work days, because many people are home we work just as much as any other day, even a little more. So it is a big day for us here. 
This week was pretty good. We worked a lot and had more success this week. We have been continuing to do contacts and making appointments  with many people. As always, lessons fell, but many of them didn't. We found a few new families this week that have shown a desire to listen and learn about the Gospel. 
Monday was a normal work day, since it wasn't a p day. That day we walked a lot and got a few lessons, but not many people were on the road. On Wednesday we had a training at the mission office for new missionaries and trainers. It was the same training that I already had before, but it was good, it's good to have a reminder about the importance of being a good trainer and inspiring good habits.
This week went by super fast, partly because P day was on a Tuesday. On Friday I went on a division with Elder Reinstein, an elder in my district from Arizona with about 7 months on the mission. At this time we don't have a family that is very close to baptism, but we're working on it. We're just working to build up our teaching pool and have strong investigators. I'm enjoying Matola a lot. It's a challenging area, but it's being a good experience.  Elder Caetano is doing well, he is a great companion.
Well, I hope you have a good week and hope you and dad enjoy going to the temple this week!  

I love you sooo much!!

Josh


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Week 69-- Walter and Pres. Mabunda my dear friends from Quelimane visiting Matola


My dear family

This week was good but it had its difficulties too. On Tuesday I did a division with one of the new elders from Beira, Elder Paulino. It was a very good day; we were able to get a good number of lessons and got some good contacts.
On Wednesday we had to go to the city (downtown Maputo) for Elder Caetano to take care of some documents for his visa to Brazil. And this won't be the last time while we serve together. As you remember, we had to go through the same with Elder Alfredo.  So, that day we only got 3 hours to work in our area. The next day it was the same all over again, going to Maputo for the same reason, but thankfully we got back in time to have the whole afternoon and evening to work.
We have been working pretty hard to find new investigator families, doing contacts on the road and house to house. It's hard to find people and make appointments that will stick, though. Most of the time when we mark a lesson with new investigators it ends up falling through for one reason or another. That kind of stuff has been happening a little more than usual. 
Half of the people we try to contact on the road will reject us in some way or another. They might tell us they have no time to talk to us, tell us they are never home and don't have time to sit with us, or will give us a false number. This is unfortunate, they don’t realize that they are rejecting a message that can bring joy and happiness to their lives; 
a message that can literally change and better their lives.  But like you said, this work requires diligence, patience and perseverance and that is something I'm learning a lot about these days. The other elders in the district are doing well and are working hard. They too go through similar difficulties. We had a good district meeting on Friday and we talked about how miracles will continue to happen if we are diligent and obedient and by trying even harder the Lord's will lead us those whose hearts are ready for Gospel. I'm confident the Lord will bless us for our efforts.


Sunday was a very good for me. There were two visitors at church that I was very surprised to see. Here is what happened:  During the first hour of church I was sitting in the class and a man came up to me and asked me to scoot over a little so he could sit on that row of chairs. I looked up, and saw it was President Mabunda, of the Quelimane branch! He had come down to Maputo to visit family and came to church here in Matola. Then right before the second hour we were standing in front of the church looking to see if investigators would show up when I saw another familiar face walking up. It was Walter, another member from Quelimane. He was down here for work and decided to come to church in Matola. He had no idea I was serving here, or that President Mabunda was also visiting. It was like a Quelimane branch reunion!

 If you remember,  when I was in Quelimane, we used to visit Walter and his family on Pdays and we played board games, with them, etc. I remember how he used to help us, guiding us to places, going with us to visit other members and investigators when I was new in this country.  He was pretty excited when he saw me. It was nice to talk with both of them and find out how things are going up there in Quelimane since I left last year; and with my former companion being up there right now, I feel pretty connected to my old area. I think it would be so cool if I could get to go up there again, maybe finish out my mission there. It's unlikely, but it's fun to dream about it haha. 

Anyway, I hope you have a good week at work and I hope you stay healthy, I love all of you soooo much and thank you for all the support you give me in your letters and your prayers for me!

Love,

Josh

Monday, September 1, 2014

Week 68- Training another brand new missionary



Dear family,

That's crazy that there will be a lot of changes in our stake. My area will be going through the same thing in November. We will have a district conference here in November and some branches might be split.

As I told you last week, transfers were on Monday (8/25), that day we went to bed very late, we stayed up waiting for my companion Elder Caetano; he and another Mozambican missionary arrived at our house at 1:00 am on Tuesday morning directly from Beira. The next day we were so tired, but we still went to work as any normal day. We went out in the morning to walk in the area and talked to people. In the afternoon we got a call from the APs asking us to be at the mission office to meet with President Kretly.

When Elder Caetano and the other missionary, Elder Paulino arrived, they still hadn't been set apart, so we had to make the long trip to the office so they could get set apart (Going to the office is always difficult and time consuming, not because of the distance, but because of the difficulty in transportation--the chapas are not the best transportation system). Other four missionaries were also there to start their missions. Afterwards they received their name tags. It was a cool experience. Elder Caetano and an old companion, Elder Conde, are from the same branch in Beira. Back at home, it was Elder Conde that first invited Elder Caetano to come to church and sit with the missionaries and Elder Conde ended up baptizing him. He was baptized in 2012. Elder Caetano just turned 20 years old a month ago. He is very excited to be on a mission. He speaks mostly Portuguese, but I'm helping him to learn English. I'm glad I have the opportunity to work with him.

This week we worked a lot and walked a lot too! We did a lot of contacting and found some good people that are interested in our message. The difficulty that we found was in actually getting to teach them. A lot of lessons fell this week. We had fewer lessons than usual because of it. But I think we'll be able to sit with more of these people this week. The more people we find the better chance we'll have at sitting with at least a few of them. We have good investigator families, but we need to focus on finding more new families who are ready and willing to accept the gospel and change their lives, These are the elect people and they are hard to find, but that's what we've been called to do. Church yesterday was good, we had a few investigators at church, but a lot of others weren’t' able to make it. All these little difficulties are just part of the work though, and there is no use in getting frustrated.

Anyway, so on Monday when I heard that Elder Keck, (my previous companion) would be going to Quelimane I decided to write a letter to bring with him up there. I wrote the letter to the family of C****o and M****a, remember them? They were the first family that I baptized here in Mozambique. In the past couple weeks I had been talking with the elders up in Quelimane, who said they had become a little inactive. Apparently they have been having some problems with their testimonies and have not come to church in the past few months. It made me feel sad hearing that they have been struggling in their faith. So I wrote to them bearing my testimony about the covenant of baptism and the importance of the family, I mentioned how grateful I am to know that our family, is sealed in the temple and how they should desire and work towards going to the temple to be sealed. I really love them and have a special place for them in my heart and hope they stay strong and stay close to the Lord and his church. Elder Keck called me later in the week saying that he visited with C*****o and M****a and gave them the letter, which they read immediately.  He said that they really enjoyed it and M****a cried when she read it. He said that they will continue to work with them, but it looks like they are working to get back on the path to being active again and working on regaining their testimonies. It was a special opportunity to be able to send them my love and share my testimony with them. It was also a reminder to me that I can never forget about the families that I teach and baptize here.

Learning to love the people I teach, bringing them into the Gospel has created a bond that will last for a very long time, as the Lord says in D&C 18:15.

Mom, Dad and Jacob, I hope you all have a great week; You're always in my prayers,

I love you

Josh