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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