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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Week 28—11/25/2013 — T3

“Church yesterday was great. There were 165 people there! … But the amazing thing was that a large portion of those present were investigators”

Hey Everyone!!

I really enjoyed your letters this week. They were a little longer, but I liked it. Jacob thanks for telling me all about your week. I'm glad you're having fun with your friends at school every day. It is funny how you get into little arguments and get mad at your friends sometimes, but you go back to being friends almost immediately after-that is awesome.  That's pretty cool that you got to do the pinewood derby, I remember doing that. I liked those pictures. Your car looks really cool!

This past week we have been working really hard at finding new investigators. Last week we basically dropped all of our existing investigators and have started over on the area. We had a lot of people who had been investigators for a long time, and still have not made progress towards marriage and baptism. We never want to stop visiting investigators, but it is necessary to do when they are not progressing. They want us to continue to visit them and be their friends, but we are looking for new families who are prepared to accept the restored gospel and do everything necessary to be baptized. We have already found a couple families who have potential, but we are still in the early stages of teaching them, so we can't tell yet. But we would like to have a family baptism in this area before the end of the year. I know it is possible with the guidance of the Spirit. Elder Bender and I have been getting along great! I really enjoy having him as my companion. He's a super funny guy! I feel like we balance each other out pretty good.

Living in the house with all the elders isn't too bad like I might have made it sound in my last letter. I've already gotten used to it. Each of the companionships has its own schedule of when we go out, study, eat, etc. So we're not always heading out of the house at the same time, but sometimes we do. We usually go to church at the same time though.

Church yesterday was really good. There were 165 people there! The branch here is pretty strong. It has a lot of members. But the amazing thing was that a large portion of those present were investigators. There are actually a lot of members that are inactive or less active. It would be nice for the branch to work harder to bring these people back through home teaching and other visits. But I think I'll be here for a little while, I'll have opportunities to work with the branch a lot in the time I will be here.

It's funny you mention the elections here. We actually did stay home that day. President had all the missionaries in the mission stay in house that day to avoid any trouble due to these elections**. But staying home was not so bad, it was pretty nice. I read a lot and just relaxed. We have a little electric keyboard, so I practiced piano too. I choose the hymns every Sunday and play them in sacrament meeting. I'm glad I didn't have to stop playing piano when I left Quelimane.

There is a senior couple, the Hobsons, who attend church in T3 and make visits to our house sometimes. I mentioned to them about me trying to get a cello to see If I can play for Christmas, they said they'll look for any place that might have one.

I think this Thursday (Thanksgiving) will be a normal day for us. We're planning on having a nice meal on Sunday to break the fast, and the Hobsons will be coming over to our house to eat.  So there won’t be a traditional Thanksgiving Day for us, it will probably be pretty a regular day.

Christmas will be different. President always has a Christmas party at his house for all the missionaries in the Maputo area, so that will be fun. Christmas is only one month away! In one month, I'll get to talk to you guys through Skype! I'm sure you guys are excited for it, I know I am. I'm also excited to get your package. I'm sure it will get here without any problems. The majority of packages sent to missionaries here arrive without any problem.

I hope you guys have a great Thanksgiving! I'm glad you're spending it with family instead of just the 3 of you. I really hope you guys stay healthy this winter. I remember last winter all you guys got sick –that was no fun at all. I'm always trying to stay healthy. I haven't gotten sick at all so far, I feel very blessed.
I look forward to reading your letters again next week! I love you guys so much!

Elder Rebollo

** News reports talk about civil unrest and some level of violence in some parts of the country on this day of municipal elections between supporters of the contending political parties and police.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Adjusting to a new area, etc

Week 27 - 11/18/13

“I’ve already hit my 6 month mark on the mission this past week--Not much time left, only 18 months to go- Time has seriously flown by”

Thanks for your letters everyone! This week has gone by SUPER fast. I know I say that a lot, but this week really has gone by fast. I'm already in week 3 of this transfer, I feel like I was still in Quelimane just a few days ago. 
Things in T3 are going alright, but it's getting really hot here! It's getting colder over there, but here it's just heating up. I think most days are in the upper 30's (Celsius, so that's like in the 90's F) and it's humid! But I'm making sure to drink water, don't worry. And it's nice that we have AC in our house to come back to after walking around all day; although this week the power went out in our house for more than 24 hours. That night was pretty hot. But everything's good.

As far as the work goes, everything's fine. We don't have too many progressing investigators, so we really need to work hard at contacting and teaching new families. It's a little harder here, it seems like people don't have time during the week a lot, and lessons fall through a lot. But we're not getting discouraged by it.

It still is a little weird being around so many other missionaries.  I like it, but it's only annoying during lunch, because there's not too much room in the kitchen, and I have to wait longer for showers haha. We mostly make meals individually, but many times my comp and I have made lunch together. No mom, we don't have bikes or a car here, like Quelimane, unfortunately. But it's not that bad. We only use the chapas on P days to go do internet and shopping, and during the week if we're going to a part of our area that's too far to make it there in time walking. It costs 7mt for places close and 10mt for further places. They're more expensive than the bike taxis. And they can get super crowded. I don't know if you've seen pictures of them on google, but they really pack the people in there. You could be sitting in the chapa and it stops to pick up more people and you'd think that there's not enough room for more people, but they fit them in anyway -haha.
I don't really know how to describe my area. I've already been in Mozambique long enough; the only thing I can say is that it looks 'normal' haha. The difference here is that there are no mud huts, as I would occasionally see in Quelimane. All the houses are made of concrete or bricks. Only the main road is paved, all the others are dirt.
I don't think I mentioned this in my email last week, but I'm playing the piano here in this branch too! I got here and they said that no one plays piano during sacrament meeting, so I started playing. I didn't think I would continue playing piano after I left Quelimane, but I'm glad I am. I will probably start teaching it like I was doing over there too.

Wow, it is thanksgiving next week!  I can't believe we're already in the second half of November. I've already hit my 6 month mark on the mission--Not much time left, only 18 months to go. Time has seriously flown by. I hope it has for you too.  I will try to see if I can somehow arrange for me to get a cello somewhere in this city, and see if I can play some Christmas music.  I'll mention it to Mission President this week.
Anyway, I think that's about it for this week. I hope you guys have a good week, stay warm! I will try hard to stay cool -haha.
Have a good week! Love you all!!!!
Elder Rebollo

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I'm now in T3 (An area near Maputo

Week 26—11/11/2013  T3 (A suburb between Matola and Maputo)
“I was surprised to find out of my transfer out of Quelimane and was a little sad to say goodbye, to all the members, investigators, and Elder Heaton. I have a lot of good memories there. I hope to return someday”
Hello again family!!!
I was so happy to read your email letters this week. I thought you guys might be anxious to hear back from me, considering I'm in a new area now. This past week has been a little crazy with the transfer and all, but it was a really good week.
Elders Rebollo and Heaton

I was surprised to find out of my transfer out of Quelimane and was a little sad to say goodbye, to all the members, investigators, and Elder Heaton. I have a lot of good memories there. I hope to return some day. I found out on Monday morning and left early Tuesday afternoon, so I didn't have time to see all the people I wanted to before I left or take all the pictures I wanted, but here l have a few for you guys.  

Saying good bye to Joaquina and daughters, unfortunately her husband Gomes and older kids were out
There was a family night that same Monday night, so it was nice to see a lot of the branch members there and a couple investigators and say good bye to them. 

Here I am saying good bye to Walter and his family

Then on Tuesday I packed up my stuff in the morning, went to Walter and Darmin's house to have lunch. They made rice and beans and crab for me, it was really good. Then we went to the airport and I got to say hi to the elder coming in my place before I got on the plane.

Elder Bender, my new companion, met me at the airport and a member gave us a ride to the house in T3. The house here is really nice! I'd say it's definitely one of the nicest houses on the mission; I will be sending pics next week for sure. T3 is like a suburb between the city of Matola and Maputo. Maputo and Matola are like one big city pretty much. Things here are definitely a lot busier than in Quelimane, there are tons of cars, chapas, and people. (“Chapas” are mini vans that go all over the city, it’s basically the mass transit system here) The next day on Wednesday we went shopping for groceries, after all the elders in our district had arrived.
There are 6 elders living together in this house and all of us are our own district. The other four are Elders Allen, Ndala (from Angola), Barroso (from Brazil), and Herd. Everyone seems like a cool bunch. My companion has just about 3 months more on the mission than I do, and he started out in Quelimane too with Elder Seoane. So we've had fun talking about all the people in Quelimane and how things are going there. We get along super well. He likes to have fun with the work and likes to joke around, so we've been having a pretty good time so far.
He has been here in T3 since July, so he knows the area really well. I'm excited for this week I can hardly wait to start working. This area we work in is really big and has a lot of people, but we need more progressing investigators than we have now, so we'll get to work on that right away.
The church meetings are not held in a church-built chapel, it's a building that the church is renting out, but it's pretty big. There are individual classrooms for primary, relief society, elders’ quorum, young men’s, and young women’s, and the sacrament meeting room is really big too. There were about 100 people that came to church. I would have thought it would be higher, though. President Kretly came to visit the branch yesterday and gave a talk. He told the branch how they have to help re activate the inactive members and help the missionaries more in finding and teaching investigators. I can see that a lot of the things we did in Quelimane might help here, so I'm excited to start working with the branch here like we did there.

I'm glad you sent my package out. I do hope that it will get to me in time for Christmas. I can't really think of anything else that I would want at this time. Don't forget to send me a small calendar, like I mentioned in my email last week.
The weather here was hot for a few days but the past couple days has been cooler and cloudy, which is nice.
It's nice that President sent you guys that email- I definitely feel safe here, and feel that President and Sister Kretly really care for our safety. I already have that biosense lotion, President gave us a bottle when he visited Quelimane. You can send some hand sanitizer, if you want though. I haven't had any health problems, except weight loss, but it hasn't been unhealthy (By the way, I lost 20lbs so far) I have been really blessed; I can honestly say I've not been sick once so far on the mission, not even a little bit, besides being tired sometimes, but that literally happens to everyone. I'll make sure to be keeping myself as healthy as I can.
I hope you guys are making it through the weeks alright and not getting too tired. I'm glad you're doing well too, Jacob! Not too long until Christmas break already!

This P-day has been pretty awesome. We went to the Matola chapel and played basketball and soccer with a bunch of other elders and some sisters. It was nice to meet and talk with a lot of them. It's weird to be around so many missionaries after 4 months of being far away with only one other missionary. Then we came here to do internet. We do internet in Magoanine, which is another area near Maputo. After this we will go do shopping, and then get on a chapa to get back to T3. The grocery store here is like ones in the US, there is so much selection, and it was kind of overwhelming when we went there on Wednesday haha. But overall it hasn't been too hard adjusting to the new environment, I like it a lot. I'm super excited to have a normal week and get to work.
I love you all so much. Thank you for your letters again and for all your thoughts and prayers for me. Always know that I'm safe and happy and having a great time here. I wish I had time to write more, but I kind of had a long wait here for the computer, and we have to go shopping for the week soon. We are getting our house sprayed with permethrin today so we have to go shopping and drop the food off at home and get out of the house before they start. (We have a senior couple, the Hobsons that are based in the T3 branch. Elder Hobson is the one coming over to spray our house.)
Anyway, have a happy week everyone, until next week!!

Elder Rebollo

Monday, November 4, 2013

Leaving Quelimane and transfering to the Matola/Maputo area

Week 25-- November 3 2013

Hello again, familia!!

Wow, thanks for those pictures!! I'm glad you guys had a good week and a good Halloween. Jacob, your costume was way cool! You are going to be eating candy all month! haha, since I'm not there, there's no one to steal your candy when you're not around!

Mom, I'm glad you had fun with Jacob on Halloween. I like your costume. Dad, you will have to remember to find a good costume next year haha. You should have taken Hunter out in his Yoda costume haha. I hope he is doing well too. It's nice that the weather was nice to go out. Elder Heaton and I were both surprised to open our emails and see pictures of our parents together. Ha ha. I'm glad you were able to meet them.
About the package you will be sending, If you still have time to put other things in there, I do have a request. I would like a calendar for 2014, a small calendars though, one that I can keep on my desk. It can be church themed, like pictures of Jesus or temples or something like that.

Last week I didn't mention the bike robbery thing because I had to re type my email. After I sent it I realized I didn't mention it. But it didn't mess up our day like the last robbery; it was just annoying, especially since we just got the bikes and moved to a new safer house. We left the bikes outside chained together, but behind the church, within the walls. We thought since there is a guard it wouldn't be a problem. But the thieves came in by climbing over the wall in the back. The guard was in the front of the house, and probably sleeping. They also stole a couple lights on the outside of the house. But the house itself, the inside is still super secure. I don't feel unsafe or paranoid. This week we did use the car for the most part, until Friday.

Earlier in the week, some elders in Beira called us and asked us if we could get a birth certificate for them. It was for an investigator of theirs that is getting married. In order to get married you need a few documents, including a birth certificate, which you can only get in the place you were registered. This investigator of theirs was registered in Nicoadala, 30km outside of Quelimane. We decided that since we had the car we would go there to get the document. Walter went with us, since he knows the area better. On the way there we got stopped by transit police. They looked at our documents, which all checked out, except one. They said Elder Heaton's driver's license, which is his Utah one, isn't valid, and he needs to get a Mozambique one. The weird thing is that in Maputo, where other missionaries drive, they use their American driver’s licenses and it's no problem, it's valid. Not here, apparently. The cop let us continue on, but gave us a fine of 3,000MT ($100).  President advised us not to use the car anymore. The reason for that is that we will no longer be able to make the trip to Marromeu. The reason for us receiving the car in the first place was for us to go to Marromeu once a month. Now that we will not be going, there is no reason for using the car, not to mention the fact that Elder Heaton doesn't have a valid license in this region. The reason that we cannot make the trip is because of conflict in the central part of the country between the government forces and the opposition party.
So since Friday, we are without a car as well, which means we are back to one mode of transport: foot. It's funny how within one week we went from having 3 ways of getting around, to one.  Oh well, it was nice while we had it.

It has been super-hot here this week! Three days this week, the temp was over 40C (105F)!! The heat here is also humid. I am so thankful that we have air conditioners in our house. Don't worry; I've been drinking plenty of water.

The wedding and baptism didn't happen on Saturday as planned. It had to be moved to this coming Saturday. There were a couple things that they wanted to buy for the wedding, and there were a couple other random reasons as well. But it will still happen. The sad thing is that I will not be there. This morning I found out that I will be transferred.

I will be getting on a plane to Maputo tomorrow and will go to my new area, T-3. It is a city in the Maputo/Matola area; it is like a suburb of Maputo. My new companion will be Elder Bender, from Las Vegas, NV.  He has been on the mission only 3 months longer than me, and started out in Quelimane as well. I'm excited to get there and start working in my new area.

It will be sad though to say goodbye to Quelimane. I've been here for 4 months, and have met so many wonderful people! Today and tomorrow before I leave, I will try to take pictures with the members and investigators. Elder Heaton will be staying here and getting a new comp. he has been a very good companion and trainer and was great working with him for a while here in this city.  I will ask him to sends me pictures of the wedding and baptism. Even though I won't be there, it was really great to play a role in their conversion. There are other couples here that aren't married yet that I hope to hear about their marriages in the coming months. I really learned a lot in my time here.  Quelimane is not an easy place for missionary work; it's a really big area for only two elders. But there is a way to make it work here, and the members and everyone here make it easier.
I hope the members in T-3 are as awesome as the ones here. I will always have a special connection with Quelimane, it being my first area on the mission. I hope to come back here one day and see how the branch has grown. 
Sunday was a pretty good day; it was fast and testimony meeting. I took the opportunity to bear a small testimony. I told them how a year ago it was when I read the Book of Mormon for the first time cover to cover and how I know with certainty that the book is true, that this church is true, that Jesus Christ is my savior, and how following him is the only way to have happiness in our lives and with families. I mentioned how you guys are converts and how grateful I am for missionary work and the chance I have to share the gospel. I am so grateful that I grew up with the light of the gospel in our home. I hope and pray always that you guys will be blessed and have the spirit at home.

I have a suggestion for you all (my family, my friends and everyone who read these pages): Read the Book of Mormon as a family every day. You should pick a time at night, before bed to read a few verses, and then do your nightly prayer as a family.
I also encourage you, to read it individually too. Take this Book to work, read a few verses when you have a moment with nothing to do. These are things we suggest for our investigators so that they develop a habit of reading the Book of Mormon. We always promise blessings if they do so. And I promise you, that you will receive many blessings if you will read from the Book of Mormon every day. It will help you at work, at school; in every aspect of your lives you will be able to feel the spirit of the Lord more fully.

I always knew the church was true, but it was not until I read the book and prayed to know if it was true that I received a testimony of my own, where I can say without a doubt that this is the true church and true gospel of Jesus Christ. 

I love all of you so, so much! Thank you for your words of encouragement and advice. 

Have a great week, everyone, until next Monday!

Elder Rebollo

Friday, November 1, 2013

Week 24-- 10/28/2013

Dear family,

This week was good. We got all the documents together for marriage for Marcelino and Aida, and they will be getting married and baptized this coming Saturday! Aida's 11-year old cousin will be getting baptized the same day too. It's nice after a few months without a baptism; another family will be getting baptized.
The members of the branch always get excited when another wedding comes up. The Relief society is helping a lot; they are collecting donations from the members to pay for the wedding cake and drinks. During the week in addition to our normal work, we will be making sure everything is set up right for the wedding and baptism.
Other couples are doing well too, but they don't have firm dates for marriage and baptism yet, although we hope they can do so in the month of November. I'm excited to send you pictures of the wedding/baptism next Monday!
Also, next Monday is transfers. I will find out if I will be staying in Quelimane for the next 6 weeks, or if I will be moved somewhere else. I've been here since the 1st of July. I really like serving here in Quelimane.
Church yesterday went well; we had most of our investigators show up.  It is a great feeling when we see them come to church.  This week we will do all we can to find new families with potential so we can baptize them before the end of the year? Sometimes it is hard to do so because many lessons we set up with new people end up falling through either because they forget or we can't reach them to remind them because their phones are turned off or something. It's kind of annoying, but we'll keep working at it.

Anyway, I hope you guys have an awesome week! You know I love you all, as always! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers all the time for me. I look forward to your letters next week!

Until then, with love 
Elder Rebollo

PS: sorry if this letter is a little shorter than normal. I had typed up another, longer one, but it didn't get saved for some reason (usually it saves automatically as I'm writing) so when I closed the window for a few minutes, I came back and saw that my email hadn't been saved, and I didn't have time to rewrite everything over again.