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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Week 54-- Swaziland is now part of our mission

The First Presidency of the Church has announced that our Mission has been realigned...the beautiful country of SWAZILAND was added in our mission…”

Hi Guys!

I always look forward to reading your letters. That's nice you got a break for Memorial Day, I always get surprised when I hear about holidays back home, I always think "already?" haha, my concept of time has changed on the mission.

Our mission President sent this message to you and to all the mission which in part says: 
The First Presidency of the Church has announced that our Mission has been realigned.
Starting effective today, besides the Country of Mozambique, the beautiful country of SWAZILAND was added to our mission; (Swaziland) is located to the south border of Mozambique, and about 1:40 min. by car from Maputo (130km).
This country has 1.2 million people, it's is a Monarchy and a very safe and stable place. We have there one District with 4 branches and one group- About 1350 members, two beautiful chapels, 14 wonderful  missionaries and one incredible Senior Couple Missionaries …”

So, I just barely learned about this today, it was a big surprise to all the missionaries. I think that's really cool and it will be interesting to see how the mission adjusts to include another country again (Angola used to be part of this mission until last year’s realignment). I am very excited about this news.

We had a really good week. We found a lot of new investigator families and saw progress with our existing  group of investigators. This week will be the last one of the transfer, and we won't be having any more baptisms to end it off, but the way things are going, there will be at least a couple family who may join the church next month. Antonio and Anita are really close to finishing up their documents. Sergio and Cecilia this week accepted to get married and be baptized; they will likely be baptized during the next few weeks also. We are also teaching Tina, (she is the girlfriend of Manuel, one of the members) They want to get married and he would like her to be baptized the same day as the wedding. 
We visited another couple this week as well. They had been having a problem because her family didn't want her to get married at this time, and to wait until the end of the year or even next year.  We suggested for them to do their documents to legalize their marriage, and then later they can have a celebration with the family when they can organized a big family celebration, instead of waiting for so long. They seem to be willing to do this--We understand that her family won't approve of this plan but she wants to go ahead and get married and join the Church--we'll see how that goes.  This is how the traditions of the world are different than the ways of the Lord, He wants everyone of us to come unto him and keep his commandments now instead of later, those who obey the Lord will enjoy his blessing now instead of later.

On Sunday Sister Hobson came to church carrying a blue bag. Yep, it was the stuff that you left with the Heatons to bring me. The Hobson’s said that the Heaton’s wanted to come to the church in T3 to give me the stuff in person so they could meet me. but in the end they could not make it here- Please tell them thank you for me and that I really appreciate them and for bringing those things.  
After they handed me the package, it was a little hard to go through 3 hours of church without opening it, but I managed to wait until I got home haha. I love everything you guys sent me with the Heaton’s! Those socks are super nice. I'm wearing a pair of them right now, they are sooo soft, it's like I'm walking on air haha! I'm super excited to read conference talks as part of my personal studies during this week. And that inflatable lantern thing is really cool; I’ve never seen anything like that before. I already used the little flashlight. That night we had a family night at the house of a member and the power went out for a few minutes, but that flashlight illuminated the place really well. 

Anyway, on next Monday, I will find out if I get to stay here another 6 weeks or not. I'm at the end of my 5th transfer here. I'm been here almost 7 months, longer than any other elder in my district; it's a long time for an missionary to stay in an area. So maybe I'll end up getting transferred next week. I know it's probably time for me to go to a different area, but I really would like to stay to hopefully see these families join the church and enjoy Heavenly Fathers blessings. Either way, I’m happy with how the work is going here.  I'm excited to continue working hard next transfer, whether it is here or somewhere else.

Well, I hope you have a good week and have fun with the family as always. Tell Grandma thank you for thinking of me, and please tell her I love her too!

Until next Monday,

Love, Josh

Monday, May 19, 2014

Week 53--This week, we had some baptisms

Week 53-- 5/19/2014--T3

In the experience I've had here, many investigators tell us they've received answers about the Church or about the Book of Mormon, a lot of times they tell us they received it through a dream.

I'm glad everyone is well back home. That's nice you had a good party for Jacob and his friends. That's funny about dad getting stuck in the foam pit hahaha. I will go see the pictures on the Photobucket after I'm done writing to you guys. I wish it was easy to send things home from here, or else I would have sent a present to Jacob. But I'll bring a gift for him for his next birthday.   
Mom, I'm glad you like your calling. But that's cool how you were able to give that lesson, about patriarchal blessing, even though it's something you didn't have much personal experience with. I still read mine once a week. I remember when I got it, I was 16. It was almost 4 years ago, that's weird. I know that now my blessing means something different than it did when I first got it. And 5 and 10 years from now it will probably have a different meaning for me. 

Anyway, this week was great! We had baptisms!! On Tuesday we went to some pretty distant places in our area and visited some converts that have been members of the church for a while, so it was nice to sit with them and get to know them better. One of them has a girlfriend who he wants to marry, and we've started teaching her so they can get married and she can be baptized too.

The weather here it's been nice, we're getting into "winter", which means the high temperatures are in the 70's, and it's not humid.  Thursday was my one year mark. It was a pretty normal day. I had looked forward to this day for so long, then it came and went. It was a good day though. Another elder in our house, Elder Thurston, also completed one year. We were at the MTC at the same time, but in different districts. Elder Alfredo made a cake as a way to celebrate the occasion, it was pretty good. He likes making cakes--he makes at least two a week haha.
Anyway that day we visited Alfredo and Laura, remember them? They got married and baptized almost three months ago. They're doing well. They are pretty busy during the week so we don't get to visit them often, but it's nice when we do.

On Friday, I went on a division with Elder Thurston, the district leader, so he did the baptismal interviews for Marta, David, and Carmelia. Marta is the oldest daughter of Jose (a member) and David is his nephew who lives with them. Carmelia is 11 years old and the daughter of a long time member family, but for some reason she was never baptized after she turned 8 years old. The baptism on Saturday went well.  Marta and David asked e to baptize them and Carmelia was baptized by her older brother. It was actually the first time I've baptized anyone since my first transfer. The next day we had the confirmations in sacrament meeting--I did the confirmation for David.
It was a great opportunity to have been able to teach them and lead them to baptism. Our other investigators are doing well. We probably won't have any more baptisms during this month, but we should definitely be having more next month, I just hope I get to be here for them. Transfers are in two weeks from today. I'm excited for this week. We have a lot of work cut out for us; it should be a good week.

Dad, thank you for telling me your experience about receiving an answer about the Book of Mormon when you were investigating the church at age 14. That was really special . In the experience I've had here, many investigators tell us they've received answers about the Church or about the Book of Mormon, a lot of times they tell us they received it through a dream. I personally don't remember receiving an answer to a prayer through a dream, but I know that many do and it is a way that God answers prayers.

Thank you for your words of encouragement for me, as always. It helps a lot. I'm really enjoying the work, but your right, there are things that can be discouraging, but I'm not discouraged--I'm just ready to keep working :)

I hope you have a great week. I love you!!


Monday, May 12, 2014

Week 52- This week marks a year since I left home to server my mission here in Africa

May 12, 2014  T3

“I'm thoroughly convinced that the only way for a family to have true happiness and unity, regardless of their circumstances, is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life with our families” 
Dear family,
Happy Birthday this week to the three of you Mom, Dad and Jacob.  This week on the 15th, is also my one year anniversary in my mission, its seems more like six months rather than a year, the time has gone super fast. That's nice that you were able to record our Skype conversation, I guess you'll be watching that for the next 7 months until Christmas haha. I was really happy to see that you are all doing well and are healthy and the house looks great too! And Hunter still is the same old fat dog. It was nice to have that family prayer. I wanted to have you say it, being the head of the family and also not having heard you guys pray in over a year. In addition to that, I probably wouldn't have been able to pray in English very well without going into Portuguese haha.
Thank you for your comments, I really appreciate them. I know that while I'm out here I'm not only representing Christ, I'm representing you, my family.
Mom, the cold shower thing doesn't really bother me anymore. But you never really get used to that moment when the cold water hits your skin in the morning. Its a good way to wake up, though.-. I'm glad also you were able to meet Elder Alfredo. He enjoyed meeting you guys too.
Anyway, my week was good. As always, it flew by super-fast. I'm halfway through this transfer (and mission), only three weeks left until the next one.

Calling home on Mother's day

The tie I'm wearing was made by one of our members

After I hung up with you guys, it was already almost 9pm. The office elders took us to the central part of the city for us to get a chapa to T3. But by that time, the chapas had pretty much stopped running. So we found a taxi to get us home. There were four of us: me, Elder Alfredo, Elder Dustin, and Elder Thurston. The last two elders I mentioned wanted to stop at KFC on the way back so the taxi stopped and waited while they went in to get food. They got food for all of us, even for the taxi driver haha. So it was 10 at night at this point, and we were eating KFC in a taxi on the way home. It was nice. We ended up going to bed at 11 that night.
The next day at church, President Kretly visited the branch and gave the lesson in the Sunday school hour for all the members and investigators. He talked to them about the importance of family history and temple work. Everyone enjoyed it. President Kretly is a great teacher and he's pretty funny too, he likes to joke around with all the members. He's a fantastic mission president, just what Mozambique needs right now. The afternoon after church was good too, we passed by the houses of some members and investigators. They are all doing well, for the most part. 
Elder Alfredo, my companion meets my family through skype

I'm super grateful for the chance we had to talk on Saturday. I liked it a lot better than at Christmas, it felt more private and relaxed this time. I think it's because it was just the three of you this time and here, there weren’t any missionaries in the room while I was talking with you guys. We ended up talking for a little over an hour, but it felt shorter than that. Just so you know, I wasn't the only missionary to get emotional that night. I saw a few other elders come out of the room with red, teary eyes--haha. I think that was the first time I've got that emotional since a year ago, the day I left for the MTC. I don't like when I get choked up because I feel like I'm not able to express myself the way I want to. I don't even remember what I was saying to you guys at the end, or if it even made sense. But I just wanted to express to you guys my immense gratitude for having a family as special as you guys.
During the past week we learned that one investigator family is having some relationship problems, to the point where the husband was abusing his wife. It's pretty sad how these things happen, not only here, but all over the world. I'm thoroughly convinced that the only way for a family to have true happiness and unity, regardless of their circumstances, is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life with our families. In the celestial kingdom, there will be no disappointment, contention, no misunderstandings, just happiness. All we need to do is get through those things during this life. I don't have a greater knowledge than the knowledge I have of this gospel.
I hope you have a good week and stay happy and healthy!
I love you,



Monday, May 5, 2014

Week 51-- 5/5/14 T3

My week was good. We had success teaching our investigators and helping them progress. We are continuing to teach Marta and David, family members of Jose (member). They are progressing super well. David is 17 years old. When we first started teaching him he was really timid and not too excited. He doesn't know how to read really well, so he was sure that he wouldn’t be able to read the book of Mormon. But we've been helping him little by little and now he's able to read the book with help and understand it well. He's also opened up a lot more with us and in general seems happier. Marta is in her 20's and is a single mother with two children. She has a lot of faith and desire to follow Jesus Christ. When we started teaching her, she told us how she always dreamt of opening her own hair salon. Last week she was able to open a small salon beside her father's store. She's also enjoying the book of Mormon and has been reading a lot. It's amazing to see the things the gospel can do in the lives of people. We have two couples who are preparing for marriage on the 31st of this month. It's not going to be easy with all the documents necessary, but we're praying they'll be able to make it for that day.
This coming week we'll be working a lot harder to teach new investigator families. It's difficult sometimes when you mark a lesson with someone and then it ends up falling through. It happens all the time. But difficulties are just part of the work; they will pass as we keep working hard and being dedicated.
I hope you have a great week and work and at church and at home. I can't wait to talk to you all on Saturday!-Until then
I love  you,