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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