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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