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Monday, April 20, 2015

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


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


Dear family!


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

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

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

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

Love


Josh

Message to my family from Zalala Beach!!!


Monday, April 13, 2015

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


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

Hi family!!

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

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

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

Until next Monday!

Love, 


Josh


Monday, April 6, 2015

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


Querida família!!

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

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



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

Until next week

Josh  







Monday, March 30, 2015

Week 98- A Few Baptisms And a Wedding


3/30/15

Hi family!

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

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

Josh 









Monday, March 23, 2015

Week 97 - Six more weeks in Quelimane!



Hey family!

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

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

I love you

Josh






Monday, March 16, 2015

Week 96- Another week in Quelimane



Hi Family

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

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

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

Love
Josh



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Week 95- Good Bye Elder Motombo, Welcome Elder Souza

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

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

Josh





Monday, March 2, 2015

Week 94 - Feb 28 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELDER REBOLLO!!


They had a surprise for me. Near the end of the night, right before they finished up their activity some of them called me over to sit down in the middle of the room, then they all walked in with a cake singing happy birthday. It was really nice

Dear Family!!

Thanks for your emails. I know you must have missed me a little more this week since it was my birthday, but at least this was the last birthday that I will have to be away from home. My birthday here wasn't as good as at home, but it was still good.

This week was really good. Our investigators are still progressing well.  The one family/couple that we have been working with have finished all their marriage documents and we opened their marriage process at the civil register on Friday! They will be getting married and baptized on the 14th of this month! If everything goes as planned, It would be the first baptism in Quelimane this year and the first baptism of a family in quite a long time. So we are very, very grateful for this. This family was actually found a long time ago, by Elder Heaton just a little after I had left Quelimane the first time.  Elder Khumalo and I started to visit them again and they told us how much they wanted to get baptized before but they had to do all the marriage stuff first and were not able to for several reasons.  Over the past couple weeks we've been helping them with their documents and stuff and now they are 2 weeks away from getting baptized, it is a miracle! Aside from them, we have another family that hopefully can still be baptized this month.  On the 14th we will also baptize a few other people.

Church yesterday went really well. The attendance was up, it was almost 70, and we had 12 investigators there. I taught the lesson in the first hour for the priesthood group. It was about duties of the priesthood and how we should fulfill our responsibilities-It was a good lesson.
This week our branch had an audit. A brother from Beira came up to perform the audit. It was on Friday. I spent a lot of time this week helping Cornelio, the financial secretary organize all the tithing information from the past 6 months, before the audit. It went pretty well, the brother doing the audit told us our branch is doing a good job in taking care of the church's finances.

On Saturday there was a youth activity here at the church and an an institute class as well. At the activity they were planning to do a big thing and make a bunch of food, but because it was the last Saturday coming into the first Sunday, fast Sunday, they moved the activity to Sunday evening after church.
So, yesterday at about 3pm a bunch of the youth showed up for the activity. They played some games, conversed, and made a lot of food. They used our kitchen, but they cleaned up well afterwards-thankfully. It was fun to hang out with all of them.
They had a surprise for me. Near the end of the night, right before they finished up their activity some of them called me over to sit down in the middle of the room, by myself, then they all walked in with a cake singing happy birthday. It was really nice. I totally didn't expect this and really took me by surprise. The cake was made by one of the young women. It was a pretty good cake. I love this branch of Quelimane. It was nice to have these young men and women express their love or appreciation for me in this way. So I'm glad to say that I had a good birthday here.



To answer you questions, Mom. Yes, I’ll probably continue to keep my hair short when I get back. Have I fallen? Not by slipping on ice (like at the U-  Remember?)No, not really. I've had a couple incidents, but nothing too serious, for the most part.  I'll tell you more about all that when I get home haha.

I'm jealous of you guys always going to good new restaurants there. The restaurants here aren't bad, but they all have the same stuff.  There are no special restaurants for Chinese, or Italian, or Mexican, or pizza. All the restaurants have the same food (chicken, rice, beans, fries, hamburgers, etc.) You'll introduce me to some of those new good restaurants when I get home.

Anyway, I hope you have a good week at home and work.
I love you sooo much and hope this week goes by quickly and happily.

Love
Josh 




Monday, February 23, 2015

Week 93- Back in Quelimane After 1st Stake Conference in Maputo


2/23/15

Dear Family

Thanks for your letter. I'm glad to see that the week was good. Haha that's funny that you couldn't do laundry for a week just because the dryer didn't work. I have completely forgotten that dryers even exist. No one that I know has a dryer here; I've never seen a dryer in anyone's home.
About internet, I also forgot that at home the internet can be slow sometimes too. I guess I just assumed that in America everything works perfectly well and quickly all the time. I've been away for too long ha-ha.

This past week went pretty well. On Monday we returned from Maputo, as you know. On Tuesday we had a mini P-day. We just did internet, the rest of the day was normal. On Tuesday we also walked with Rafael, one of the young men who are preparing to go on a mission. I really enjoy working with him; he's smart and has a really good understanding of the gospel. On Wednesday we had some lessons, but a lot of time got taken up by our branch presidency meeting. It was a good meeting, though. It's nice that President Mabunda is back. It makes things easier for us to focus on missionary work. 

We got to visit a nice family I baptized here in Mozambique. They are inactive right now, due to a number of factors. They are always really busy with work so it is hard to sit with them often. But we had a good visit. Hopefully in the coming weeks they will start to come to church again. We'll keep working with them. Friday was a good day; the work went pretty well that day too. Saturday and Sunday were good, but we didn't have much time at all to go out and work. On Saturday there were the usual activities: English class, institute, and the youth mutual activity. On Sunday church was good, but the attendance was low. There's still a lot of work to do to help get that up. The meetings were good, though.

After church, Abrao and Cornelio hung around to take care of some branch things. They also made lunch for us, it was nice. Then in the evening there was another little youth activity. They made cake. I mean to say, they burned cake haha. They left some behind for us, though. It was pretty good, the parts that weren't burnt.
At night we visited President and Sister Mabunda at their home and had a little dinner with them. They are a really nice couple, I enjoy conversations with them. We talked about ideas and things to put into action to help the branch grow.

Our investigator family that is progressing the most at this time is coming to church every week. We're working with them to get them baptized this transfer. Elder Mutombo, my new companion likes Quelimane a lot so far. We're working well together.
That’s all for now, enjoy your week! I love you

Josh



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Week 92-- Maputo Stake organized on February 15 and Beira Stake was approved for March 22, 2015!


 2/17/15 Tuesday


Hey Family!

On Friday (2/13) we were told to get on a plane and go to Maputo to attend the historical first stake conference in Maputo.  So on Saturday night (2/14) we flew down to Maputo and stayed in the apartment of the Lopes' a senior missionary couple from Brazil. The conference on Sunday was like a dream come true! President had every missionary in the mission gathered in one spot for the first time ever. It was really a one in a life time event, it was so cool to see everyone there.


All the missionaries of the Mozambique Maputo Mission with visiting Church leaders at the conclusion of the first stake conference in Mozambique in the newly organized Maputo Stake. Feb 15, 2015


 I saw a lot of the members and people that I had baptized while I was in T3, and Matola, many of them were at the conference.  
Two years ago we would only talk about this day, in that it was a goal for all of us missionaries. We were promised that if we were obedient and did our work as the Lord commanded this day would come when we would be witnessing the first stake in Mozambique being established here in Mozambique. And now here was the fruit of all the hard work and dedication that every missionary past and present had to do to make this a reality.  The work is not done yet, it has only begun for us and for the future missionaries to keep the momentum going.  Here is part of the message from our mission President regarding this great blessing:

“Dear Missionaries,
Last week, we all experienced unforgettable moments in our lives. The first stake in Mozambique was organized. It was a memorable meeting where we had the presence of Elder Stanley Ellis and his wife. We also had the presence of Elder Mdletshe. It was exciting when all heard the presiding authority read the letter from the First Presidency approving the organization of the Maputo Mozambique Stake, the Spirit was very strong.
What a wonderful blessing it was to see all the congregation; the meeting was attended by more than 1050 people, all enjoying the sweet Spirit of that meeting. What seemed like a dream two and a half years ago became a reality. We felt the spirit of thanksgiving and joy to the Eternal God that we have a stake in Maputo! In addition, for the first time the entire mission was gathered together, all the missionaries were invited to this sacred event. It was a spiritual feast.
But the Miracles continue! Last Thursday, I received a call from the Area Presidency (Elder Ellis), announcing that the First Presidency of the Church approved the second Stake in Mozambique, the Beira Mozambique Stake. The new Beira Mozambique Manga District was also approved. So in a period of only one month two Stakes will be organized and one new District in the country. More miracles!
We can never deny the hand of God in this sacred work, the Lord has guided us since the first day we arrived in these blessed lands. I remember that upon arriving here, I thought about doing and carrying out a lot, but these thoughts simply vanished from my mind. The Lord was guiding us quickly in a few days giving Revelation, giving us the vision and thereby He made us see clearly what His will was. Our vision is: "To establish the Church in Mozambique and Swaziland, through Real growth, becoming extraordinary missionaries", our goal is: "To establish the first Stakes of Zion" our purpose is in Preach My Gospel on page one, and it's wonderful. So with this vision, Purpose and Goal, we walked in a direction that few believed in at the beginning, it was to find, teach, baptize, confirm and help complete FAMILIES to find eternal happiness. We speak of qualified contacts, how to become an effective missionary and work in all the phases, 100% obedient, then 100% PMG, do not do stupid things, focus on families that are progressing, the "snowball", helping youth to serve a full-time mission, help the leadership to mature through training and monitoring.
As missionaries, all of you, those who have passed here and also the current ones, to previous Mission Presidents, to the wonderful local leaders, to all, my sincere thanks for all the work done, and especially to God who made it all possible . These are the first results: Two stakes formed, a district, more than ten new units, 95 local full-time missionaries called, over 500 new holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood, 525 complete families baptized and more.
I believe that today, I, Sister Kretly, you and all the missionaries who have gone through this mission feel as Ammon and his brethren felt and related in Alma 26:31, 35-37

Family and friends, I’m happy to serve our Lord Jesus Christ here in Mozambique at this very special time, when we are experiencing the Lord's blessings towards his children here in this beautiful land. 

Elder Joshua Rebollo




Monday, February 9, 2015

Week 91 – Back in Quelimane after Zone Conference in Beira



Dear family,

This past week went pretty well, nothing too crazy happened, but it was a good week. On Tuesday we had a meeting in the morning with Elder Tad Callister, the Sunday School general president, and Elder Larry Gibson, 1st counselor in the Young Men's general presidency. It was an amazing meeting! Elder Gibson talked about helping the young men preparing to serve missions here in Mozambique and talked about our priesthood duty to share the gospel with others.
Elder Callister spoke about the Atonement and repentance. I was amazed at his knowledge of the scriptures, he really knows them inside and out. The way he explains things is so clear and thorough. I've never had an explanation of the atonement like the one he gave. It made me realize that there is so much about the Atonement and about Jesus Christ that I have not yet learned or that I don't yet understand. We had a chance to shake their hands and talk to them a little afterwards, but I didn't get any pictures with them, sorry. 

A few hours after that meeting we made our way to the Beira airport to go back to Quelimane. The plane ride was nice, smooth and no delays. We found everything back at the house just as we had left it. On the Sunday we were gone we had Abrao, our branch mission leader, conduct sacrament meeting, and he said everything went well and many of our investigators showed up. The rest of the week went well. We visited all our investigators and worked to find new ones. 

What we really did well this week was visiting the members who we felt would benefit from our visit. Many of these are members who I visited regularly the first time I was here, when they were newly baptized converts. And now some of them, not all, are not as active and participating as they could be. We visited a family that used to live pretty close to the church the first time I was here. Now they live really far. But they have a car, so this week they took us to their house and we had a nice lesson with them. We also visited another family, who've been members more than 2 years. We also continue to visit Walter and Darmin. We are working with these families because they have been members for well over a year and have not yet made preparations to go to the temple. We also visit many of the youth in the branch; they amazing! I really love them all.

On Friday it was the opening day of Carnaval here in Quelimane. Some cities in Mozambique put on a carnival festival, like the tradition in Brazil. In Mozambique, the Quelimane carnaval is the biggest one. The opening day had a big parade in the streets. We weren't expecting it, and it made it a little hard to get to some of our lessons. It was cool to see the huge crowds though. People dress up, paint their faces, wear crazy clothes, and dance a lot. Carnaval here will continue through this week and end this coming Sunday. The bad thing is that in this festival there are a lot of people drinking, women with revealing clothing, and a lot of other temptations, that we encouraged the members specially the youth to not attend this festival. Instead, we organized some activities at the church this weekend for them to come and be together so they didn't stay at home and get bored and go to that festival.

On Saturday I taught the English class and afterwards there was institute /seminary- a member teaches these classes. On Sunday afternoon there was another youth get-together, with food this time. Since the chapel is our house, we have to stay there with them while they have their activities. It's fun to be with them and converse and have fun with them. The Sunday meetings went well.
President Mabunda has still not returned, so I led Sacrament meeting once again. He'll be back before this coming Sunday, though. 

A few more missionaries went home today, including my former companion Elder Bender. It's really weird that he is going home today. I was companions with him over a year ago in T3, back then he still had a long time left, as did I. But now that he's gone, I realize that my time is quickly coming as well. 
I'm so grateful that I'm here in Quelimane at this time. I can't think of a better place in the mission to be.

I love you sooo much. Have a great week!!


Josh