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Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 76- We had a great week here, the work with our families was very productive and we all had great teachings from Church Leaders.

“Elder Ellis told the congregation that the Lord blesses not only us and our families but our entire community and nation when we pay tithing”

This was a pretty good week. As I told before, there was a special meeting for members and investigators last Monday with two members of the quorum of the Seventy visiting our region. Elder and Sister Ellis both speak Portuguese, they lived in Brazil in the past, so they were able to speak to the people in their native tongue. Elder and Sister Clayton speak Spanish but not Portuguese, so they needed a translator. All the messages were focused on how to create a strong marriage and about the blessings of paying tithing, two things that will help the members a lot. There are many that don't pay tithing here, and as long as they don't the church won't progress as fast as it could. Elder Ellis told the people that the Lord blesses not only us and our families but our entire community and nation when we pay tithing. So even though conditions here in Mozambique are third-world, if members are faithful in keeping the commandments, the Lord will bless this land and things will improve here as the years go on. I took a lot of notes on the things that they said, especially in their meeting with us missionaries. It was a pretty special experience to have them here.
Because of the meetings last Monday, the only p-day thing we were able to do that day was internet. So we had our official Pday the next day on Tuesday, we got together with the other missionaries to play soccer, did shopping, and relaxed a little. I think having P-day on Tuesday made the week go by really fast.  This week we saw progress with our investigators. Pereira and Sara are really close on their marriage documents; hopefully we can finish everything up this week. We are planning right now on them getting married on November 14 and getting baptized on the 15th. We'll see how those plans work out. We also have another nice family, Girao and Angela. They have been investigators for a while, and are progressing well. The situation with their documents for marriage is a little difficult, but not impossible. It'll just take a while for them to get everything together. But we're confident they'll get married and baptized this year, maybe by the end of November or beginning of December. They are a good family and are progressing really well. There are a couple other families that we're teaching that are newer: Carlos/Hortencia, and Rudy/Edna and they are progressing well and came to church yesterday. This week we'll be teaching them the importance of being married. That is always the "make it or break it" lesson for many families. If couples are willing to get married quickly and not worry about having a big party or fulfilling their native traditions-which usually keep them from marrying-, then they usually agree to getting baptized. We have been going to places where we have not been before so are getting to know our area more and more every day and we are also getting familiar with the members that live in our area. We visited some of them this week. We visited one member, named Ana. She lives with her husband, who is not a member. They have a pretty big piece of land and have a lot of animals; one of those beasts is Joao (John), a HUGE pig. Oh man I've never seen such a BIG pig like that before! I forgot to take my camera, but next time I will so I can take pictures to show you. It was pretty funny though, they call his name and he comes over, as if he was a dog or some other house pet, haha.  I couldn't believe it.  
Anyway, church yesterday went well, we had over 100 people there again, which is normal. The branch is still meeting in our house on Sundays, but we expect that in two weeks we will have a new place for our branch to meet on Sundays and for other regular church activities. Things will be better when we have a dedicated structure for the branch to meet in, because our house can barely handle it; if we want our branch to keep growing, we need more space.
Anyway, that's all for now

I hope you have a great week

Love you!!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 75- Elder Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy and Others Visiting Beira

Thanks for your emails this week. I'm glad that you and mom took Jacob for a short trip down to Bryce for his first time. I remember our trip to Bryce Canyon very clearly…to start, we got a speeding ticket, our car got stuck in the sticky mud, we had to get a tow truck to get the car out, what else… oh yes, we went horseback riding but it started to snow and we were not prepared for winter weather. Dad went through some trouble during that trip, but he always made me feel that we were having fun and so we had fun. It doesn't feel like it was so long ago, but it was 10 years ago, crazy huh?  It was so much fun; I’ll never forget the first time I went to Bryce Canyon with dad.  
So I'm guessing the weather has been nice over there. It’s been heating up over here. We're getting into the hot season, where December and January are the hottest months. A couple days this week it was super hot.  But it also rained pretty hard one day this week and we got pretty soaked, but it felt good. The nice thing is that in our area the roads don’t get as muddy and the roads are still good to walk on, they don't turn into rivers like they did in T3 when it rained a lot, so it's not too bad. 

This week was pretty successful.  We found ten new families this week and taught a few lessons; we also found several good contacts, hopefully many of them will be prepared to hear and accept the Gospel in their lives at this time
Since we are opening up our area, we are getting to know it better each day. There are a lot of people and houses in our area and a lot of potential to find new families to teach. We are also getting to know the members in our branch that live in our area. All of them are very nice too, this branch has good members. The branch is small, but it has members that are strong in the faith. We will encourage them to help us find new people to teach as well as invite them to come with us when we teach new people so they can get to know our investigators.  As I mentioned before, since our area used to be part of a larger area until it was divided right before I got here,  some portions of our new area used to be worked by other missionaries,  there were a few existing investigator families and we're helping them prepare their documents for marriage. Pereira and Sara are very close on finalizing their documents to get married on the 15th. The other family is Tomas and Ana. They had been investigators in the past, but their progress stopped during the last 3 months because Tomas left town for work. He is a commercial fisherman and went out on a boat for 3 months off the northern coast of the country. But now he's back and won't go fishing again until next year. So we're working with them, and they wil start coming to church again and continue reading the Book of Mormon and working on their marriage documents. Both he and his wife are super nice people. Everyone here is so nice.  It seems that many people here are very receptive to our message, and that is very encouraging and very exciting. 
I get along very well with my companion Elder Mendes, he is a very good missionary; we share our experiences and we both contribute to our success, so we've been working together pretty well.  It's been interesting to hear him talk about his country and how things are in Cabo Verde; he says it is very nice place.
Anyway, something exciting is happening today.  We (All the missionaries in Beira area) had a special meeting with Elder Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Ellis of the Seventy and a member of the presidency of the Africa southeast area. It was a two hour meeting where they and their wives spoke to us, along with President and Sister Kretly. They taught a lot of great things. The messages were very inspiring, I felt the Spirit of God very strongly during that meeting.
In about 2 hours they will have a devotional for all the members and investigators. And we're going to be there too, so after I'm done doing internet here, we'll be heading back to the Beira chapel to attend that devotional. I'll tell you more about it next week. It's been a cool day so far though. 

I'm doing well and I’m enjoying the work here. I hope you all have a great week.
I love you!!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 74- My First Week in Beira

“It's a miracle that this is happening in his family; all because of the sacrifice (he) made to serve the Lord. It's amazing how the Lord blesses the families of missionaries who are faithfully serving”

Hey family!!

I'm happy that everyone back home is doing fine. My week went well and went by super-fast too! After doing internet last Monday I went home to start packing my stuff. It didn't take too long, the rest of the time I just relaxed at home. I left from the Matola house at about 6 pm by taxi to go to the airport. I got there pretty early, so I just sat around for a while waiting to board plane. It was a very short fight, it left Maputo at 9 pm and  arrived in Beira at 10 pm, I got my bag, then the missionary couple here, the Snelsons, picked me up to take me to my house, which is only a 10 minute drive from the airport. As soon as I got there I unpacked some of my things, and went to bed. I didn't sleep in the next day, but I didn't need to anyway.
There will be six elders here in the house, but right now there are five.  One of the elders, Elder Wood, won’t have his companion here for the next two weeks. So in the meantime, he is working with me and my companion, Elder Mendes. The other elders in the house are Elder Richardson and Elder Woolley. The interesting thing right now though is that our house is currently doubling as the chapel for our branch, the Mascarenha Branch. The branch is new; it was created a couple months ago and doesn't have very many members for now, so our house, while not very big, has sufficient space for the branch to have its meetings. One of the rooms is being used as the branch president's office. The living room is the relief society room. And the front of the house has the sacrament meeting it's not really a room, it's just the front yard of the house, but it has a covering so it's not a problem if it rains lightly. Yesterday church went well; there were about 90 people there. The members that I've met are nice, and so are all the other people I've met here so far. People seem different here than in Maputo and Matola, They seem more approachable, which is nice. But I still miss my old area a lot. Part of me still wishes I was there, but I know as I continue to work here and get to know the area, I will get used to it. Elder Mendes is from Cabo Verde, and has about 3 months left until he goes home. He's a good missionary and it's been nice working with him this first week. Our area is new. It is part of an old area that was split up, but it's still really big. And it hasn't been worked much by missionaries, so it's a cool opportunity to work in practically a newly opened area. There are a few investigators in it already that the other missionaries had been teaching. They are good families and hopefully they can be baptized in the next few weeks.  Our house is good; it's smaller, so it's good there aren’t more missionaries living in it.
I really like Manga, it's pretty jungly and it's very beautiful. I'll have to send you pics next week. Anyway, I had a cool experience this week.  Before being transfer here this week, Elder Mendes had been working in another area in Manga, where he taught one family who was getting married and baptized this past Saturday (10/11). So he wanted to go to the wedding and to attend their baptism. It happened at the Manga chapel, a church-built chapel, very nice, like the one in Matola. Anyway on the announcements board of that chapel they have the pictures of their missionaries who are serving missions and  here is where I got a very unexpected surprise! one the pictures on the board was of  my previous companion Elder Caetano and I!  That's when I remembered that he had mentioned that he is from Manga- this is his home ward or branch!  Elder Caetano's mother and younger brother, were at the baptism. It was so cool to meet them. I was able to tell his mom how much I enjoyed working with her son, and what a good missionary he is. I told her much he would expressed his love for his family. His parents and siblings are non members, but as soon as Elder Caetano left for his mission, his family agreed to have the missionaries teach them the lessons, and started going to church. His parents are currently working on getting their documents and other things ready so they can get married and be baptized; and his younger brother wants to serve a mission just like his older brother is doing now. It's certainly a miracle that all this is happening in his family, because of the sacrifice Elder Caetano made to go on a mission to serve the Lord. It's amazing how the Lord blesses the families of missionaries who are faithfully serving Him. I'm seeing those blessings with you guys as well, and I am very grateful for that. Anyway, it was a really good week and I'm excited to continue working and trying to get to know this new area and finding new families to teach and invite them to come to Christ.

Like I mentioned, this area where I work sort of reminds me of Quelimane my first area, it is mostly rural, not as developed as the areas in Maputo and Matola;  I don't see many cars, or big houses.  However, I still think this is a very beautiful place, and the people I have met are very nice, very friendly, they don't seem to be in a hurry as in my previous areas, so that is a nice change.
In a couple weeks two members of the quorum of the seventy will be here to visit the area, so that's exciting. All  of us (missionaries) up here, have to sing a musical number for the meeting they'll be having. We had one rehearsal this week and will have one more in a couple days. I'm having a lot of fun here, and each day brings new experiences. I'm writing in my journal every day so I don't end up forgetting things.

Thank you for your words of encouragement and  for those quotes from Joseph Fielding Smith. I enjoyed reading about his missionary experience. I know the work I'm doing here is very important and as long as I work my hardest, the fruits of my labors will show, whether it happens now while I'm here, or some time later.
By the way, those numbers you shared with me about the growth of the church in El Salvador are amazing! I didn't realize there were so many stakes and wards there, and approximately 1.2 % of the population is LDS; that's pretty impressive! It will be cool to see how the church will grows here in the near and distant future. One day, a temple will be dedicated here, and that that will be an awesome day for the saints here!
I hope we are able to go visit El Salvador when I get back, it would be so nice to visit the temple there and family who you and I have never met.

Anyway, I know you're starting to get trunky, I guess its ok, but don't shorten the time I have left, I'll have 6 1/2 months left on Wednesday, not 6! Haha!. I can't believe how the time flies. But I'm having a great time here and even though I miss you a lot, I know you guys are doing well and are being blessed by the Lord just as I am.
I hope you have another good week. I'm glad Jacob is doing great and that he is always a fun and happy boy- I miss him!.  Oh, and about you guys being new to the ward- if it is of any consolation, I'm going through the same thing here right now, we are all working on getting used to a new ward and new faces, haha.

I love you so much and pray the Lord bless you always!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 73- Leaving Matola after almost a year. Hello Beira!!

…these past two months were two of my most challenging; I had to learn much more patience and perseverance and maintain a good attitude. I have learned to rely more on our Heavenly Father for guidance and inspiration, I always knew that obedience is the Key to success. I'm grateful that the Lord sent me to this place to live and serve the people here, I have no words to describe the lessons I have learned while serving in this area; this is truly the work of the Lord and we are in his service.”
Dear family
I’m always very excited to read your emails. Mondays seem to come so fast every week. I was thinking a lot about general conference the past couple days, thanks for your notes and quotes you shared. That's pretty cool that some speakers were able to give talks in their native languages. I think it's an excellent idea and a good change too, being that most members of the church live  outside the United States anyway. Today I'm being transferred out of Matola 1!! I have been transferred up north to Beira and will serve in the Mascarenha Branch in the Manga zone. I will be flying up to Beira tonight. My flight leaves at 9pm.
I was very surprised by this transfer. I was hoping to stay here in Matola and felt like I would.   When transfers come, some are happy and others not as much because they become very strongly attached to the place and the people they serve. It really doesn't make sense to not be happy over transfers, because it's the will of the Lord. I know that President Kretly was called by the prophet of God to direct the work here and now I'm going up to Beira to help build the Lord’s kingdom there.
I've learned so many things the past 11 months working in the Matola zone and the last 3 months working in this area as a district leader and trainer. I’m excited to tell you guys all about my first week in my new area. I've never been to Beira, It's one of the main centers of the missionary force in the mission here. The fact that I've been in Matola for as long as I have and it's just now that I'm going to serve there was a little unexpected, that’s because most missionaries get to serve in Beira at least once in their mission here. I think I was the only one who had been on the mission the longest without serving in Beira, but now I get to go. I’m also happy to say I'm leaving Matola on a high note. We had a really great week and found many new investigators. I'm certain that this area will have family baptisms in the coming weeks and months. I won't lie, this area in Matola was my hardest area and these past two months were two of my most challenging;  I had to learn much more patience and perseverance and maintain a good attitude. I have learned to rely more on our Heavenly Father for guidance and inspiration, I learned that obedience is the Key to success. I'm grateful that the Lord sent me to this place to live and serve the people here, I have no words to describe the lessons I have learned while serving in this area; this is truly the work of the Lord and we are in his service.
This past week was pretty good though. I did two divisions this week with members of my district. On Tuesday I walked with Elder Jemuce, a Mozambican missionary serving here waiting to go to Angola. We worked in his area. It was a pretty nice day. On Friday I worked in my area with Elder Roberts, from Arizona. We had a lot of lessons fall through that day, but we got a lot of nice contacts. The other days we had a lot of success in finding and teaching new families. This week we picked up 12 new investigators! Some of these new investigators have more potential to progress than others, but it's always good when we can find a good group like that. It's necessary to find and teach as many people as possible so we can find the ones that are prepared. In the process we find a lot that aren’t' prepared. But that just brings us closer to finding the ones that are.  Me and Elder Caetano got along super well; he is a really good missionary and will do well in working with his new companion and showing him the area.
Yesterday's church meetings were very good. Since we don't watch conference live, it was a normal testimony meeting. We had a good number of new investigators show up, so it was very encouraging.

After church all the missionaries in my district got together for dinner, to break the fast. We made ribs and mashed potatoes and chicken and salad and cake. It was so good! One of the elders had a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's that his parents sent him, so those ribs were almost as good as the ones back home. It was the first time the Mozambicans missionaries in our house had BBQ ribs and mashed potatoes, needless to say they liked them a lot too haha. This was kind of a farewell dinner for those of us leaving the area. I am so grateful to have been able to serve with all the elders in my district. It’s been an honor serving with all of these guys.  

Anyway, I miss you guys so much. Fall is one of my favorite times of year, I wish I could be there to see the leaves changing colors and go to the Halloween stores. But next year, I'm there. Thanks for praying for me and thinking of me every day. I'm really happy to be here and am enjoying every day, the good and the bad. Stay healthy and active like you're doing. I love you!!!

Have a great week!!