I’m doing great, but don’t have enough time to write…. I hope to write next week, before I leave. I’ll be arriving at Richmond International Airport on Tuesday, September 11 at 4:00pm EST.
Elder A. Spencer Leake
I’m doing great, but don’t have enough time to write…. I hope to write next week, before I leave. I’ll be arriving at Richmond International Airport on Tuesday, September 11 at 4:00pm EST.
Elder A. Spencer Leake
One of the coolest things that happened this week was a division I did with Elder Cyrier. Also, the branch had a nice activity for the couples that went really well. But anyway, on to the meat! Tuesday, After we got home from internet, we had lunch and quickly tried to head out to a highly tiring area (because of all the sand we have to walk through) and meet with an investigator, Armenio. He wasn’t home. Again. So, we ended up doing some contacts and going to the house of Tomas, a new investigator that we found last week (or the week before, I don’t remember). He was in his house, and we talked to him about the Restoration. It was a really good lesson and Tomas made a lot of good comments. I was actually really surprised, because he already has a lot of correct ideas and he knows a lot about the Bible. It was a really nice lesson and I felt that he opened up to us a lot. We had a lot more contacts that we did that day (not that really opened up or went anywhere, but it was a good day) and then our last lesson with Tomas, who’s not new 😛 His family is all members and we’re working on his “officialization” of his “union”. Heh. Traditions. They can’t get married, because that would involve a huge party they’d have to invite everyone to and pay a ridiculous amount of money to have. But a civil union, no problem. Nice. We talked a bit about the process of registering their marriage and talked with their oldest girl, Delfina, about a mission (which she wants to serve) and gave her the papers and explained a bit about how to fill them out.
Wednesday, the zone leaders showed up early to do our division. Ugh, I don’t like chapas. It was a long ride back to Matola, where they work. I worked with one of the zone leaders, Elder Cyrier, while the other, Elder Naumann (in my group) stayed in our area for the day to walk with my companion. While in the chapa on the way to Matola, we heard one of Michael Buble’s songs: Home. It was a challenge. Elder Cyrier wasn’t much help keeping under control. He kept saying “This must be such a trunky song!” and such. Sigh. Oh well! We reached the Matola house and started studying. We got everything in, but I realized that I had taken the keys to the T3 house with me! Luckily, there was another set of keys, but it almost ended in disaster… Well. We went to go visit a recent convert named Xavier. It was a good lesson. Eventually (I don’t remember a lot of this day) we got to the house of Arlet and Vitor. Arlet was near to leaving, but we got to sit with Vitor, the first time Elder Cyrier had the opportunity to sit down with him. He is a pretty inactive member and has a problem with commandments the elders are trying to help him with. As we first started to talk to him, he was pretty closed. But as we talked (yay!) he opened up! It was a very spiritual moment in which he asked for our help in overcoming these substances that are so addicting. That night, we went to Alberto’s house. It took forever. Yikes! We walked for about an hour and a half until we got there, and then we were able to have the baptismal interview with him. I slept at their house (After eating KFC!!! Woah, I was super weirded out. It didn’t feel like Africa :P) and my companion came back with Elder Naumann Thursday morning. We went back to our area, took pictures of the chapel for President Kretly, and then had a couple of good lessons with some of our investigators.
Friday we found a member whose uncle lives in the states! He showed me a picture of his uncle’s mission (I’ll attach it, see if you can guess where he served :P). Saturday, we had a great day planned, but most of it fell through, and we ended up just helping with the activity that the couples had at the church. The activity went over super well, and it really helped to strengthen what little bit of a base the church has got here.
Yesterday was tough. We are having some problems with our house and the person responsible decided to do the work while we were at church. So we were super stressed trying to get that going and church running and and and and and. I can’t remember everything (which is probably a good thing), but it was tough. And they did a terrible job in the house. It looks like we’re going to have to look for a new house here soon… We had district meeting. which went super well, and then went to bed. Today, we went bowling!!! Again, it didn’t feel like Africa 😛
Well, I love you all!
Elder A. Spencer Leake
This week was awesome! Things are a lot slower here than they were in Nampula, and at first, it was pretty hard for me (as you’ll see a bit in my letter today), but Elder Andrade and I are getting to work now and things are going a lot better.
Monday night, we went and had a lesson with Tomas and his family. He is the only one who is not a member (the others are all active). We didn’t really talk about much. I was super out of it (a little depressed because of some of the things I have seen happening here in the branch) and didn’t talk at all. Elder Andrade (as he told me later that night) was having a hard time directing the lesson without my help. He’s ony been in the country for a little while, and he didn’t get much of a chance to lead the lessons or to learn how to teach with his last companion. We talked about it a bit and planned for the next day. I made a few resolutions to myself because I saw a rift growing between me and E. Andrade that I didn’t want. I said I was no longer going to speak in English and that I was going to find a way to associate with Elder Bonds less (the only other American in the house (from VA! Needless to say, we have a lot to talk about, if we so choose)). I didn’t do very well with these.
Tuesday, we (I) had district leader’s council at 9h at the Matola 2 house. We, never having gone there, decided we needed to leave at about 8h30 to get there on time. We didn’t get there until about 10h… It took us FOREVER to get a chapa (a 11-13 passenger van that is overloaded with about 19-23 people) and then it took about 45 minutes to get to their house from ours. So, if we had been able to leave at the right time, it would have been about right. But we didn’t, so it wasn’t 😛 It was a super good council. We talked about a lot of things that will help the Zone and our branches specifically, and a few things that President Kretly is going to start implementing here on the mission. We left at about 12h to go home (we had a lesson marked at that time), but it took us another 2h30 to get there! We ended up having to go into the city of Maputo and then getting another chapa back out to T3… We ate lunch and then went out a little late to go get some work done. Everything we had planned fell through and we weren’t able to make any contacts… Tough day. We spent the last bit of the night cleaning because the Halls, a couple working in the office here, were coming by to do an inspection of the house.
Wednesday started out pretty well. The Halls came by early in the morning to do the inspection (which we passed, and got candy for passing :P) and we got a call from the zone leaders telling us that the assistants wanted us to go do a survey for the church, which meant we needed to go to the internet cafe nearby. Well, long story short, Elder Andrade and I got into an argument about a few things right before we left, including some things about the cleaning we did that morning. I (being a little self-righteous) kept trying to talk with Elder Andrade about it, and he kept telling me to let it alone for a bit. Eventually, we were… not too happy and decided to relax, away from each other for a bit, and come back and talk about it after a while. The other elders left and went to go do the survey, which took them two hours! By the time they got back, we still hadn’t talked… I was super mad, but I started recognizing the majority of the problem was my fault. So, I spent the next two hours studying to see what I could do to have the courage to do the right thing. In this case, the right thing was to recognize my fault (even though it wasn’t. This was by far the hardest thing I was having to do. I knew it wasn’t my fault, but I didn’t make it better either. But I also knew that if I didn’t make amends, the last few weeks of my mission would be horrible and I would hate myself…). I prayed a lot. I read a lot of scriptures, including Preach My Gospel. It took me hours (five to be exact) before I had the faith and courage sufficient to go and talk to my companion. In hindsight, one of the biggest reasons I had a problem was the fact that he is quite a bit older than me – 26. I am a lot older on the mission than he is (he’s in his 3rd transfer) but he has more experience in the area and in life and so I was a bit intimidated and let him do what he wanted. Most of what I studied was how to have the strength to stand up for what is right. We were doing things that I knew we could do a lot better or more efficiently, but I didn’t say anything… I think I might have just wanted to not hurt his feelings or something. I’m not sure. But in the end, I didn’t do what I knew was right and I, and he, were suffering because of it. So I studied that a lot and went to go talk to him. I told him I was sorry and that I accepted blame for the problem and that I really wanted to help him in any way I could. He really touched me with what he replied. “Elder Leake, this is my fault. I really don’t want the last few weeks of our mission to be frustrating, and I don’t want my mission to be frustrating either. We are here to work and to help others to come unto Christ. We can’t be wasting our time, and that is exactly what we were doing today with this argument. Elder Leake, I don’t know a lot about how to teach or how to lead. I know that the Gospel is true and I know what these people need to know to be converted. I don’t know the lessons or how to teach them. Can you help me?” I, being the emotional wreck that I am :P, cried a bunch and we worked really hard to get things back into order. We talked alot about how we were going to do better and then we planned for the rest of our day. We went and took the survey (it only took about 45 minutes, tops… I don’t know what the other elders were doing :P) and then went to go teach the Manoca family (Tomas). We talked to them about The Family: A Proclamation to the World and what it meant and it’s importance to us. We didn’t have a great lesson, but we felt the Spirit, and Elder Andrade and I walked out of the lesson laughing and joking and friends. I am so grateful for the Lord’s help that I received that day. I could not have done that alone, and I know He worked on both of us to soften our hearts so that we can get the work He has for us done. I am so grateful for the time I have to be on my mission. I know that this Church is the only true church on the earth and that it is guided by Christ Himself. I am so grateful for all of the support all of you give to me (yes you, who is reading this :P) I thank you for your prayers and for all that you all do. I couldn’t do this without you.
Thursday went great. With Elder Andrade and I working together again (or maybe at all… hehe), the day just went awesome. Granted, almost everything we had planned fell through, but we didn’t care because we could feel the Spirit guiding us and helping us in our work. We started out with our studies, including a great comp study which helped us to prepare for our investigators we were going to visit that day. Somewhere during all of those, I got a phone call from Elder Bigelow, who called to ask for a few things I had in my planner from last transfer, and to give me some great news. Helder, one of the investigators that he and I found (who I thought was the son of Ana Cristina, who actually turns out to be her husband….) told them that before he met us, he was super into drugs and alcohol, but that since he met us (five weeks ago!) he hasn’t even touched them. He was saying that he has a super strong testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel because he had wanted to stop for the longest time, but was never able to. Without us even saying anything to him, he had stopped :). I was super happy to hear that. Still am, actually :P. Anyway, the rest of the day went great, like I said. We first went to go visit Arménio, an investigator whose son is a member. He was asleep, and didn’t want to come out to talk with us, unfortunately… I was a bit sad because of that, but we just went to the next house we were going to visit. We went to go talk to Maria, a recent convert who has been sick a lot recently, whose grandchildren (ages 11 and 12) have been coming to church a lot and expressed interest in getting baptised. WE talked to her about the importance of her being the support system for them, seeing that their parents aren’t around to do it, and that she has to be a good example and teach them the things that they should do to be saints. We talked about the importance of reading, praying and going to church and how, if she expects them to do all these things, she has to start trying to do them with her grandchildren. She accepted the invitation, and we marked another day to go back to teach all of them together. After her, we went to go and try to visit Vitória, a more or less recent convert. She wasn’t there, but her father, Fernando, was. We have tried to talk to him in the past, but never with much success. He is very… hard headed is the only way I can describe it. It’s not that he doesn’t want to listen, he does, but he really, really, really likes to talk. So, whenever we talk about something, he usually goes off on a tangent about his church or his beliefs. We basically got nothing more out than “we believe that you can know the truth of all these things by asking God in prayer to know.” It took us two hours… 😛 It was a great lesson, although it was long and tough. He got the gist of it. Next time we see him, we’ll see if he actually did anything with it. If not, I don’t know how efficient it is for us to talk to him right now. We have a lot of more important things we can be doing. But I like him a lot and would love to see him and his daughter doing well in the church. Hehe. He taught us what the church should do and how it should work and what a member should do 😛 I was laughing because he was right in everything he said, and we talk to our members about that stuff, but a good majority of them simply don’t do it. 😛 We went and did contacts for a few hours after that, finding a few good people, with whom we should be able sit this week. We had a couple of other lessons that were planned, but they fell through.
Friday, we had our studies and planned for the week. We had a lesson at 15h marked, but she called at 14h to tell us she was in the city and wouldn’t be able to make it. So, we went and did a bunch of contacts. I laughed a lot because my companion got confused on one of the contacts and wrote his name as “Andradrade.” hehehehe. We also made a contact with a man that lives near our last two appointments. Our “contact” turned into a 45 minute lesson on the Restoration that we had in front of his house. It was pretty super cool. He didn’t come to church, but we’re going to go back this week to see what we can do. We had a lesson with Jorge and Arlinda, a young couple with whom we are sitting and teaching at 19h. We, as a companionship, had talked about how important it was for them to know that they have to get married so that they can get ready for for their baptism here in a month or so. We talked to them about the Law of Chastity and how important it is for a family and for them, specifically. They accepted the invite to begin the preparation to get married. We had our last lesson with another young couple, Helder and Inês, but they weren’t there and we left for home. On our way back, we were stopped by a few drunk young men who wanted to be happy. We talked about what they need to do to be happy, the first thing being to stop drinking. We gave them a bunch of spiritual reasons, which they ignored, so we gave them some physical reasons, which they didn’t believe. They left, and went back to smoking and drinking. I was a bit sad for them.
Saturday morning, we woke up and quickly got ready to go to the church so we could go to the service project the District was putting on (Helping hands). We went down to a beach by Costa do Sol (The Sun coast) and cleaned up a beach. At first, before we even got there, I was thinking it would be super easy and that it was a terrible project (I know, I’m a bit judgy :P) But when we got there, I was really glad we decided to do that. It is a huge hangout for people who party, and there are a lot of broken beer bottles and trash all over the place. By a lot, I mean that I spent 2 hours in an area about 10 feet by 10 feet and wasn’t able to clean it all up. Most people were going around picking up all of the bigger things making it look better. For some reason, I felt better and more productive sitting in one spot making the area where I was perfect. I felt the Spirit a lot while I was there and really felt good about the whole thing. I’m sure it was super frustrating to see so much trash, but I just focused on what I had and did my best. I actually learned a lot, especially spiritually, about my work and my part in life. After we got back, we had our lesson with Maria and her grandchildren in which we talked about a few things, including baptism and it’s importance in their lives. Our last lesson for the day was with Tomas (the Manoca family). We had left with them the invite to think about and prepare a date to get married so that they could get baptised. When we showed up, they still hadn’t done it and were doubting whether or not they would be able to do it soon. We talked about the Lord’s promises that He has given us when we do what He asks. We talked about goals and why they are so important. And we talked about why we need to sacrifice in our lives. In the end, Tomas still had a question, and I was super depressed. It seemed like everything we had prepared and everything we were doing was for nothing. As I listened, though, I payed attention to the Spirit. I realized he actually didn’t have a problem with what we were asking him, but with something linked with the culture here. After an hour and a half (and a few weeks of talking) we found out that, to him, there is a difference between the phrases “get married” and “legally register your civil union with the government”. The second, which is what the Church requires, is very easy. The first is a big party that most people can’t afford. So, we asked him, “Are you willing to register your union with the government?” (Notice the obvious lack of the word “marriage”) and he smiled and said, “of course!” We laughed a bit about that one 😛
Sunday went well. We had church, which didn’t go so well, and President Krety came to watch with us. It was interesting, but for sure a bit hectic. I was very frustrated, but prayed a bunch to try to get back in the right mindset. By the end of the day, I was doing good. At the end of the day, we had our district meeting. I talked about Hope. Really, that is the biggest thing that I can see that these elders need. They have no hope that things will get better and therefore, they aren’t. We talked a it about that and we also talked about the new things that President Kretly wants us to do. It went well.
Yesterday, we didn’t have energy [read: electricity], so no internet,
Ok well, I’m way over my time and the other elders are getting ready to leave 😛 I love you all!!!
Elder A. Spencer Leake
I’d like to share something with you that I studied this week. All of the scriptures I cite are available on lds.org, for free. All in this specific study are from the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. These two books, that show to us the unchanging nature of God and how much He loves us to give us more and modern revelation to help clarify things are aren’t so clear in the Bible. But anyway, this is what I studied (Oh, when I study, I generally write as if I was explaining it to someone, so I’m just copying it from my journal):
According to 2 Nephi 2:23, we can have no joy if we do not know misery, or suffering. This was, in essence, the reason why Adam and Eve chose to disobey God’s commandment and leave the Garden of Eden, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). So, in our lives, we are to seek joy. In Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21, the Lord explains to us that blessings, the principle way we receive joy from our Heavenly Father, are predicated on our obedience to the laws of Heaven. It also states, by counter-logic, that we do not receive these blessings if we do not obey the law. Disobedience to the laws of Heaven, or, as it is called in the scriptures, iniquity, brings a curse upon all those who do it (1 Nephi 17:35;2 Nephi 1:7;5:21-24;Alma 45:16;Ether 14:1;Moses 5:25). As we can see, we are happy as we do what is right,and we are cursed (or unhappy, separated from the presence of God) as we disobey God. The question now is do we need to suffer this curse to know what is joy? Lehi, when talking to his children in 2 Nephi, said that Adam needs to know misery to know joy. However, he never stipulated that he needed to pass through it himself. Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, tells us that true wisdom comes not from the world nor from the princes thereof, but from God, who teaches things that “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man” (1 Corinthians 2, emphasis on verses 6-11). The Spirit of God, then, is the teacher who allows us to learn the things of God. With the Spirit, we can learn these things that we need to be able to have the joy that God so desperately wants that we have. The Lord Himself tells us that He suffered all things, that we may not have to. In Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord says, “For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-17). The Lord has suffered for us, so that we do not have to. True wisdom is coming unto Him and allowing Him to teach us so that we do not have to learn how to be happy by first passing through pain.
End Study 😛
Honestly, that was the big highlight of my week. Elder Andrade and I have some things to work out. We get along great, but we have differing ideas of how to best help the people we are teaching. So, we are trying to figure out how to work better together and how to help the people best.
Elder A. Spencer Leake
It’s not malaria and I’m not in Nampula 😛
We’ll start with Monday to show what happened 🙂
So after Internet and buying everything we needed for the week, I was exhausted and a bit nauseated. We had two lessons marked that day, one with Pedro and Atija and one with Joseph, but we cancelled them both because I was feeling so bad. I ended up sleeping for a few hours while the others cleaned the house a bit. I never did find out about transfers that day… I was a bit worried, because I knew I was going to be leaving, but I had no idea when or to where… That Sunday we had received news that we were to receive transfers on Wednesday. woohoo, excitement galore. It’s interesting that this is the most… notable thing… that happens in a missionary’s life. Pretty much everything else is more important, but transfers always mark a way-point. Anyway.
Tuesday, we went to Dionisios and planned with him for a bit to go to our only lesson, that with Ana Cristina and Helder. We had a great lesson with them on the end section of the Plan of Salvation and a wonderful time with Dionisio. We went home again, early, and I slept a bunch 😛
Wednesday, we went to go visit a bunch of people, but only taught one lesson, to Felizardo. It was a good day, but in the long run, not a good idea. The elders woke me up that night to let me know I was being transferred to T3, in Maputo. I had no other info than that.
Thursday, I stayed at home all day. I was exhausted. I started packing, knowing I was leaving, and tried doing other stuff, but I was too tired.
Friday, after our District meeting, I called Sister Kretly, because I was still sick…. I went to the hospital and found out it’s some kind of infection… So, I’m on the right meds now, and starting to feel better for real this time, but I’m still super tired and sore. Ah, Africa. Also, I got a call at 19h telling me I should be on the plane to Maputo that left at 20h. Erm. That didn’t happen… but I did get it rescheduled, free of charge 🙂
Saturday, we had baptisms (that were supposed to happen last week). Felizardo got baptized! I left Nampula at 13h30 and got to Maputo 15h30.
Yesterday was church, which went well. I am the new district leader here and I can see some things I really want to work on. The elders are a bit depressed and very negative because of the seemingly low numbers and activity in the church here. I want to help to see if I can get the overall morale to raise, specifically that of hope. Without hope, there is no charity. Without charity, there is no faith. Without faith, nothing that can happen will happen. So, we’re going to turn that around 🙂
Anyway, running out of time here, love you all!
Elder A. Spencer Leake
Well, to start out, I’ve almost made it… Six weeks until I go home, and I have malaria… great…
It’s not too bad, but I’m super tired. I’ll explain some more in a bit.
Ok, so Monday! After we finished up with our P-day stuff, we went to meet with Dionisio, a branch missionary, who was going to go with us to visit Ana Cristina, a new investigator, and her family. Dionisio lives really close, so it worked out well to go with him. We went and had a great lesson with them (Ana Cristina and her kids) about the Book of Mormon and its importance. Dionisio bore an awesome testimony on the truthfulness of the Book. It was a good and very spiritual lesson. I’m quite impressed with the progress Ana Cristina is making. She’s a very smart person and really wants to know the truthfulness of our message. After our lesson with them, we marked with Dionisio to walk with us on Tuesday and then we went home to pick up the other elders and go to visit Sister Mila. We had dinner with her (for Elder Nascimento’s farewell) and taught a short lesson. We talked about the same scripture I shared with Leandro. It went well and I hope to see her make some more progress in the coming weeks and months.
Tuesday was an interesting day for sure. the first person we visited was Felizardo. He had his baptismal date scheduled for this last Saturday, but due to unforeseen problems, he wasn’t able to… oh well, next week! (More on that when I get to Saturday :P) We were a little late showing up to his house and so our lesson didn’t turn out the way we had expected it. We went over some of the questions he had about his reading and the baptismal interview. He’s ready, but he was making a bigger deal out of the interview than need to be. We talked about everything and left him with some research to do in the scripture guide on tithing, fasting and sacrifice. After Felizardo we had scheduled to meet with Adelino at a Catholic church that we both knew so that we could get to know where his house was. The last time we tried to meet with him, it didn’t work out, and we were waiting there for about an hour before we decided to leave. This time, we only waited a few minutes before he showed up. The four of us (Dionisio, Adelino, Elder Bigelow and I) walked to Adelino’s house. I talked with Adelino and Elder Bigelow talked with Dionisio. I heard them every now and then, but I was super impressed with Elder Bigelow’s Portuguese! He speaks better than he thinks and doesn’t have the confidence he should, but when he does speak, he does really well. I got to know Adelino a bit while we walked and then when we got to his house. He is currently studying at the Universidade Pedagogica, near his house. I talked about me wanting to be an engineer and he told me that he had wanted to, but if he went that route, the only job he would get is teaching a drawing and design class in high school. So, he’s studying maths. I also found out that he has been sick for a long time and has been trying to get rid of it. When we got to his house, we met his mom and then went and sat down to have a lesson. It was… interesting… to say the least. It started out very very weird. He started out telling us about his sickness. He’s had it since October of last year. He then went off into a long story involving evil spirits, superstitious fertility rites and an invisible snake (which is wrapped around his neck, choking him when he tries to eat). Other than this, though, he seemed super normal and he even had a lot of really good questions about how to find the right church. He was really concerned about the priesthood and how he could know who has it. We went into the whole restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but started at the Plan of Salvation and showing how there’s only two choices we have in life, Christ or Satan. We tried to help him realize the importance of a Restoration and how he can know and what it can do in his life (specifically we talked about this superstition without killing it. It’s a false tradition, but we’ve got to see what he’s willing to do before we give up). Interesting, to say the least. But, like I said, he was super interested and had some really really good questions. Anyway, after him we went to go visit Maria. Awkward. She’s a relatively new mother (her baby is a few months, tops) and to keep it quiet, like all the rest of the Mozambiquans do, she just fed it every time it started to cry. So, Elder Bigelow and I are doing everything we can to not look at her. Dionisio isn’t even fazed, and he led the lesson. I’ve been here for a long time, but that’s still super weird… We talked about the restoration with her but she was really unresponsive. It was hard to get very far with her in terms of teaching because she wouldn’t participate… It was tough, to say the least. But, once again, Dionisio was a champion and kept it going. Maria has a husband who’s only home on the weekends, so we marked to try to come back later to talk to the both of them. He’s Muslim and wants her and the baby to be. Our intention was to talk with him and see what we could do (if he was adamant, we couldn’t do anything…). so we marked for Saturday. After her (we’re already a little late at this point) we talked to Dionisio about going home because it looked like it might rain soon and he had a long walk. He decided to go home, and we went to our last lesson, with Anapaula and Pascoal. Pascoal wasn’t there, because of work, so we told them we would call them later to set up a time to visit. We went walking around for a little bit longer, doing contacts, and then went home and went to bed…
Wednesday! We had said we wanted to weekly plan, but it didn’t work out and so we moved it to Friday. We got a lot done, but we didn’t plan enough time to do everything we needed to… so we had three lessons planned on Wednesday and English class. First, we went to go see Pedro and Atija. we planned a lesson with them about faith and the Holy Ghost and how to recognize him. We used a lot of scriptures and a few quotes from preach my Gospel. we did all this with the purpose of trying to get them to read and to pray (Atija already has, but Pedro is having some problems). I think it helped, but we’ll see how it goes in the future. After them, we booked it over to the church to teach Ingles class. We marked with Joseph to meet us right after English class at the church to talk with him. Wow, we had a really nice lesson with him. We talked about and read with him Alma 42. As he read some of the passages, he wept. He was truly sorry for some of the things that he has done in his past and really wanted to know what he needs to do to be forgiven. He thought that his sins wouldn’t be (or couldn’t be) forgiven him. We shared some scriptures with him on the miracle of the atonement and the wonderful feeling that we can get when we truly repent. Joseph is a stud. He’s doing super well. After him, we booked it to William and Prisca’s house. We had a great lesson with them on obedience and prayer and the blessings that come from them. We left them a talk by D. Todd Christofferson, entitled “Recognizing God’s Hand in Our Daily Blessings.” It is a super good talk that focuses on paying attention to the daily things that we receive and that we need. As we ask for the things we need today, we will be able to support our afflictions easier.
Thursday. We had a few lessons fall through at the beginning of the day, so we spent two and a half hours just contacting. We found a few people that might be interested, but no bites so far. Afterwards, we went to go visit Leandro and Angela, but when we showed up, Agostinho and Teodosio, two of the branch missionaries were already there! So, we decided to wait a few minutes and go to visit Felizardo, who lives close by. When we got there, Dionisio and Egidio were already teaching him! I was a bit surprised, but very happy to see our investigators being visited by the branch missionaries. We went back to Leandro and Angela’s and we saw them talking to the branch missionaries still. So, we sat down and waited for a few minutes for them to leave. The few minutes turned into 40 minutes and it wasn’t until Angela came over to tell us that they had already left that we realized what happened. We showed up the first time and told them we’d be back in ten minutes. They left, and we came back. Because there was a wall where the missionaries were sitting, I thought that they were still there and didn’t even go look. Silly me We shared a few scriptures with them about King Lamoni’s father and how he was willing to give up everything for the gospel, but the most important thing was his sins. After them, we went to go visit Ana Cristina again. When we showed up, her son, Helder, was there. (His name is said just like “elder”) We started talking about the Plan of Salvation with them and at first, Helder was a bit apprehensive and a little hostile. But as we talked and shared with them, I could see him softening and even starting to smile. It was a good lesson. We used 2 Nefi 2 to talk about all of the plan of salvation up to our life on earth. We left them Alma 42 to read while we were gone and when we go back we’ll talk to them about it. After them, we went and had a quick lesson with Dioniso about preach my gospel and how important it is and what he can be doing to study it better.
Friday! We had two lessons, one with Adelino and one with Felizardo. we asked Adelino if he had prayed about our message to know if it was true and he said yes. He then recounted to us a dream about two angels which was basically the first vision. I’d like to believe him, but I don’t really know. We talked about the importance of the holy ghost and how he testifies of the truth of all things and how he is a much more powerful witness of these things than a vision. (I got an inspiration from sacrament meeting yesterday to talk about the story of Corihor with him.) We gave him a book of Mormon and talked about it and left. It was a weird lesson. After him, we talked with Felizardo about tithing and fasting and sacrifice and the principles thereof. He is one of the first people I have met who truly understands that Tithing is not about money but about faith and sacrifice. It was a super cool lesson. We asked him about how he was feeling to be baptized the next day and he said, “My heart is boiling!” We laughed a bit and then focused on how that good, warm feeling comes from the Holy Ghost. We then went home and had a ridiculous (awesome) weekly planning for three hours.
Saturday, I woke up feeling a little weird, but we went to the chapel to help with the cleaning at 6 am. By the time we got there, I was feeling pretty bad, so I sat down and tried not to sick everywhere. On the way to the church, I had a interesting experience with the spirit. I was remembering an inspirational quote from a movie I had seen a while ago when I felt the feeling I normally associate with the spirit. I thought for a second and realized it couldn’t have been, because the quote, while inspirational, was quite inappropriate. I thought some more and came to the conclusion that they are similar feelings, but not the same. As I decided this, I felt the spirit, which was the same feeling, but a little bit more. It’s very hard to describe, but it was a confirmation on top of the inspiration that I felt. It was a cool realization for me. After the cleaning, we went to the pool where we normally do the baptisms to watch the baptism of Felizardo and Benidio. We got there and found out there was a conference for Frelimo, the governing party of Mozambique right now. They were taking up the pools, so it was a no go on the baptisms. Felizardo just laughed and shrugged it off, telling us “I guess God wanted it to be on the 4th of August!” which was his original date we had chosen for him, but felt we needed to move. After the botched baptism, we went home to get things ready for Elder Nascimento to leave. We went to the airport at about noon to drop him off and to pick up Elder Paxman’s new companion, Elder de Oliveira. (He’s from Brasil). We eventually got home, and I started to feel a little worse. I had a headache and some body pains. So, I took some medicine and we went out. We talked to Anapaula and Pascoal about changing their baptism date (it was supposed to be this week) because she’s about to give birth and they still aren’t married. We talked about goals they can work towards to get married. After them, we had our meeting with Maria and her husband, but he wasn’t home, so we told her wed come back alter. Rofl. Misspelling, but it’s funny. We want them to get married and I accidentally wrote wed and alter 😛 We also went to go visit William and Prisca. They weren’t there. I was feeling pretty bad at this point, so we decided to go eat dinner and call it an early night.
Sunday I woke up feeling pretty bad. Achy body, headache and I thought a fever, but when I took my temperature, it showed 96.8. So I was a bit weirded out by that. I decided to go to church. It went great and I learned lots. I’ve started taking notes on all of the talks and I have noticed a lot of spiritual promptings that have started coming to me because of this (including the one to teach Adelino). We went home, ate and got ready, then headed back to the church for correlation. By the time we left I was feeling pretty bad, so I decided it had to be malaria and not just my allergies, like I thought. I took some coartem (the anti malarial) and then went to sleep. It’s definitely malaria. I’m doing better now, but my body still swings from hot to cold every few hours(I’m cold right now) and it’s not getting worse. I’m super tired, so I don’t know how much this email is going to make sense. I’m pretty sure it’s gotten worse the more I’ve typed 😛 but I’m doing well and getting better. It’s just going to take a few days for me to gain my strength back. Ooh! Fun fact: malaria attacks your red blood cells and kills them, so after the initial wave, your urine turns brown, filled with dead blood cells. That was a bit of a shocker this morning 🙂 We had 11 investigators come to church this week! We’re working our brains out and I’m having a great time. This week will be interesting with the malaria. Well, love yous all!!
Elder A. Spencer Leake
This has been a pretty crazy week. So, Elders Bigelow and Nascimento got back from Luaha Tuesday night. We had a lot of stuff planned to get done as soon as Elder Bigelow got back, but some things didn’t work out. But Wednesday we got working!
Wednesday we started out teaching Joseph, the man we are teaching from the Congo. (I believe he’s from Kinshasa, but I can’t remember perfectly). We had a great lesson with him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the importance of following it our whole lives. It was a great lesson, like always, but I wish could could sit with him some more… We’re trying to get him ready for baptism, but he only has had time to sit once a week… Meh. We’ll keep trying to do our best.
After him, we went to visit with Pedro and Atija. Well, it was a good lesson, but they had some problems from our last lesson. Last time, we had talked about the Word of Wisdom. It was a great lesson, and they seemed to agree with it completely, but when we showed up on Wednesday, Pedro had some trouble with the black tea part. They have no problem with anything else, but with this, Pedro was asking if the rule could be changed for Mozambique because it is such a cultural thing to drink tea here (there are lots of huge tea farms in Mozambique). We recognized that his problem isn’t really with the Word of Wisdom but that he still doesn’t know if the Book of Mormon is true. So, we talked a bunch about that with them. Interestingly enough, he came to church this week, even though Atija was sick (It’s usually Atija who comes without him 🙂 ). We followed up on the Law of Chastity with them, which ended up being a really really good thing. Pedro was under the impression that Baptism came first, then marriage. We talked and explained how the Law of Chastity is a commandment and that right now they are breaking it and to be baptized, you have to repent. I think they understood it. Most importantly, Pedro refused to have a huge party! Most people here don’t get married because the party is a ‘requisite’ and it usually costs a lot more than they have. But Pedro said, “Whose day is it, my family’s or mine?” Good point, Pedro.
We also had lessons with Leandro and Felizardo. With Leandro, we shared a scripture that I found that morning in my personal study. I was reading in Mosiah chapter 8, and I read in verse 3 that Ammon “rehearsed unto them the last words which king Benjamin had taught them, and explained them to the people of king Limhi, so that they might understand all the words which he spake.” When I read it, the fact that Ammon had to explain the words after telling them to the people stood out to me. I though about why Ammon needed to explain King Benjamin’s sermon seeing that, to me, it seems pretty clear at face value. I thought about it a bunch, and I found a scripture in Alma that helped explain it for me. Alma 12:10-11 says, “And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.” So, the people of Limhi, the descendants of those who rebelled and followed Zeniff, slowly stopped doing what they knew was right (reading scriptures, praying, going to church, etc.) and slowly lost their “light and knowledge” until they knew nothing of the Gospel as they should have. So we talked with Leandro about how important it is for him to keep reading the scriptures and praying and doing all that simple stuff every day, so that he can keep himself prepared for baptism. He’s a great guy (they’re a great couple – his wife, Angela is in the middle of the jungle right now, visiting her family) but they are having problems getting married. He works a lot and is going to school, so the only free time he has is spent at church on Sundays. So, we pass by every now and then to keep him doing what’s right…
After him, we went to go visit Felizardo. He’s a champion 😛 We talked about baptism and confirmation and prepared to get him ready for his baptism on the 4th of August. We got his information for his baptismal ficha, and left. We were also supposed to go visit Ana Paula and Pascoal, but Pascoal wasn’t home. We told them we’d call them to set up another time, but I forgot 😦 They (and us) were sad we didn’t get to sit with them last week. When Elder Bigelow and I got home, the Assistants to the President showed up. President Kretly showed up Wednesday afternoon and had a training with the branch leadership that night.
Thursday! Thursday was our training with President Kretly. To make a long story short, I’m on team Kretly. He’s super awesome and a really good motivational speaker. We had our training from 9 to a little after noon. President Kretly and his wife brought their son, Danilo, who is a recently returned missionary from Japan (about a year ago now). He bore his testimony and told us a bunch of cool stories from his mission. We also had the opportunity to bear our testimonies and to listen to everyone else’s. The Spirit was very strong. Probably the biggest thing that I remember from President Kretly’s training was the emphasis he put on finding good people – making ‘qualified contacts.’ Basically, he gave us a very rough sketch of a good contact – four questions to find out exactly how interested in our message the person is. We generally have the opposite problem (at least from what I’ve heard 😛 I don’t know) that others have on their missions. Just about everyone is willing to talk to us, but we are trying to find and help families be more converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So, with our four questions, we can narrow down the people we talk with to those we are really looking for. Just to prove it was exactly what we needed to do, the Lord gave Elder Bigelow and I ridiculous success that afternoon as we proselyted. But more on that in a sec. We ate lunch and had interviews with President and a group interview with Sister. My interview with President was super awesome. He’s so much different from President Spendlove, but I can feel the same love and general care for my well being and for those that we teach. We talked about a lot of things, but the biggest thing that sticks out in my mind was the strong desire I had during and afterwards to work harder. We talked about not putting barriers in front of people (especially investigators) and making sure we aren’t being more exigent than the Lord (which is exactly what we were doing).
After our interviews, Elder Bigelow and I thought and talked about that and prayerfully decided to move Felizardo’s Baptismal date up a week. So that’s this Saturday now 😛 When we left the house, we had two things we wanted to do: talk with Felizardo and have our lesson with William and Prisca. We had some free time, so we decided to work on cleaning out our GPS and do some contacting. So here’s where the Lord showed us His hand. We started going around, just talking to everyone we thought looked like they might have a family. In an hour and a half of contacting (which was a little distracted because we were trying to find the GPS locations) with the new ‘system’ of qualified contacts, we found 8 good people who had families to go teach and got their contact information to try and visit them later. That’s a lot more than I have gotten in any one day in my mission, let alone in an hour and a half! It was a good day 😛 After that, we went to go speak with Felizardo quickly, to let him know about his new baptismal date. (Talk about inspiration to get his info early! It usually takes a while to get all of the info because family lives far away and they don’t know the info of their parents. We got it all though!) We talked to him for a minute about the new date and at the end, I asked, “How are you feeling about the new date?” He paused for a second. Cracking a huge grin, he said, “Very happy!” I was super happy, too. We then went to go and talk with William and Prisca. They have been progressing really really well, so we decided to talk to them about the Law of Chastity. We focused it more on the importance of families and how they help us to learn and to grow and then went into the specifics of keeping the Law of Chastity and the fact that they need to separate or get married, and seeing that they are so happy together, separation isn’t a real option. They agreed to get married, and we worked on their testimony a bit. We’re trying to get them to read as a family. Poucos aos poucos.
(Oh also, President Kretly, a native Brasilian, commented on my ‘excellent’ and ‘perfect’ Portuguese. 😀 I’m a bit proud of that)
So Friday! We got our studying done and had district meeting. We went to the church (we had English class at 3) to wait for Egidio, with whom we had marked to have a lesson before class started. He never showed up, but Elder Bigelow and I got a good bit of language study done while we waited for him. In English, we talked about prayer vocab in English and then played trashball. hehe Fun. After English class, we went to go visit Dionisio, one of the branch missionaries. We reviewed with him the Gospel and it’s importance in our lives. It was cool to talk with him about faith, repentance and the whole shebang and to see how much of it he really comprehends. He is doing really well and is visiting a lot of people throughout the week. It’s super cool to see him progress.
After Dionisio, we went to go visit Ana Cristina, who we contacted a couple of weeks ago. She has a large family. Well, that’s an interesting way to put it. She has a couple of children, the youngest of which is 15. But she is keeping two of her grandchildren and two other kids whose parents can’t (or in the case of one of them, won’t) raise them. There are five kids in total. Three girls, two boys. One of the boys is her grandson and the other’s mother works for Ana Cristina as a type of maid. One of the girls is her daughter who looks just like her! The others are her granddaughter and a deaf/mute girl whose parents are nowhere to be found. Ana Cristina has a huge heart, to be sure. We visited and sat with all of them, including the mother of the one boy, and talked about the restoration. It was super cool to have the kids there and reverent and active in the lesson. I used (and created) a few examples to help the kids understand which were awesome and helped Ana Cristina understand, too. The Spirit was very strong and I know they felt it.
After their house, we went to go get some dinner and Frango King (Chicken King), the only fast food place in Nampula. By fast, I mean 15 minutes instead of 45. It was pretty good. We then headed off to visit Chimite and Claudia. Claudia was feeling terrible, and there was another member there (He’s from Beira, but I forgot his name already…) so our lesson turned out to be a little different than I expected. We just talked with Chimite and the other member about their conversion stories and their missions. It was super cool to be able to help them remember of some of their experiences and to feel the Spirit uplifting all of us. At the end of the lesson, we gave Claudia a blessing. We left their house at about 9PM. we had to be at our house at 9:30. It usually takes about 45 minutes by foot. There’s no one to give us a ride. So, we booked it, speed walking as much as we could. We got to the Catholic cathedral (about a 15 minute walk) and we had 8 minutes left. So, we started to run. We ended up making into the house at 9:29:57. We were absolutely exhausted, but super happy 🙂
Saturday was a day of disappointments. Literally, we had a lot of appointments that fell through. We planned the day out perfectly. We were going to be super tired, but we were going to get so much work done. Chapel cleaning, President Casaco’s land needed some work, and lessons from 2 PM to 7 PM. We got to the church at the announced time to clean (8AM). No one was there. We waited for a bit, but no one showed up, so we left and headed home (the second service activity was based on the first. we didn’t know how to get there and so we needed to go with everyone else). When we got home, the other elders were there and told us the cleaning got moved up to 7 AM without telling us… Blegh. So we studied and got ready for the day. At about 11 AM we got a call from Soale, who was supposed to meet with us at 19 (pronounced dez-ee-no-vee in Portuguese) and he called to ask why we hadn’t showed up at 10 (pronounced dez), like we said… So he heard wrong and we remarked for 1 PM, which meant we had to leave right away to get there to go see him. We met with him and went to go sit with him, and as we sat down, I saw a Qur’an on a chair that he picked up as he took a bunch of stuff inside. I didn’t think too much of it, but as we got to know him and to talk a bit about our message, the Restoration, he stopped us and ran inside. He grabbed three Qur’ans and gave one to each of us and started Qur’an bashing. I was a bit sad, because I’d love to hear his thoughts and ideas, but every time we tried to talk to him and let him know why we were there and what our purpose was, he just cut us off. I would have liked to have had a nice conversation with him about his religion and ours, but he wouldn’t let us. Elder Bigelow and I kept quiet and eventually left. I was so sad to see him that way. When we contacted him the other day, he was such a super nice person and interested in what we had to say. I really wanted to help him, but he wouldn’t even let us speak…
We then went to go and try to visit with Adelino, another contact from the other day. We waited at the spot we planned to meet at, but he never showed up. So eventually, we made our way over to Felizardo’s. We had a great lesson with him about Tithing and fasting and a quick review of the baptismal interview questions to help prepare him for his baptism. We then walked with him to the church, where we had an integration night to try and help all the new converts and investigators make friends. Agostinho and Alberto planned some super cool activities using the Book of Mormon. It was pretty cool. Afterwards, we found out that our last lesson, with William and Prisca, had been cancelled, and so we needed something to do. It was already late, so we headed home to go make a few calls. We ended up deciding to go talk with Carla and her mother, Alzira. We called and scheduled, and then planned for a minute to go teach them. I felt the Spirit so strongly when we planned and I knew what we were going to teach, the Plan of Salvation, was exactly what Alzira needed. I was so happy to get to go talk with her and Elder Bigelow and I sang hymns the whole way over there. When we showed up, they hadn’t gotten back yet, so we took some pictures of the kids that were there while we waited on the porch. When they showed up, only a few minutes later, we went in to go have our lesson. I don’t know exactly what happened, but we sat down with Carla and her mother and brother, both non members, and then a bunch of teenagers came in the room and sat down with us. I don’t really know what happened, but neither Elder Bigelow nor I could find the words we needed that night. We couldn’t get the Spirit to be with us, no matter how hard we tried. I was crying on the inside, because I hadn’t felt so helpless in a while. We couldn’t do anything right. It was really hard. To top it all off, Alzira’s patients (she’s a door-to-door nurse) kept showing up for medicine and stuff, so there were a lot of interruptions. We got a ride home, and Elder Bigelow sat on our front porch for a few minutes, talking about what happened. He was on the verge of tears, and I felt terrible. But I knew that I had had more experience with this type of thing, so I had to be a good example and lift him and help him as best I could. We talked about what happened and why. As we talked, the Spirit came and we felt him very strongly. I’m not entirely sure why, but for whatever reason, the Lord wanted us to feel helpless, to not have the Spirit fully while we were in that lesson. It still boggles me to think about that experience, but we both felt the Spirit confirm our thoughts. For whatever reason, we, and they, needed that to go as poorly as it did. For sure, in the last few days, I have felt a lot more humble and searched for the help of the Lord more often. I have also, as a result, seen an increase in the Spirit and of miracles in my life. I know the Lord loves me and I know that whatever happens is the greatest good for the greatest number of people. I just hope that one day I’ll be able to understand what that purpose is more fully.
Yesterday was a good day. Pretty normal, but good. We went to church and Elder Paxman and I interviewed the baptismal candidates for this next week. Pascoal was sick, so after church, Elder Bigelow and I went to go visit him and to mark for the next week. Ana Cristina showed up to church with her whole family! It was very cool to see her and to try and help her. After church, we went home, ate, and went back to the church for correlation. Elder Bigelow had marked with one of our contacts to meet us at the church after correlation, so we waited for him and did some language study. He never showed, unfortunately, so we went home to get all of our studies done.
We woke up this morning and played basketball, Elder Nascimento’s last P-day in Mozambique! Wow, time sure flies.
Well, love you all and hope you are all having an awesome week!
I know I spouted a bit, but I really enjoyed my rant today 😛
Blegh. I tried to send pics, but internet is too slow today. Oh well, next week!
Elder A. Spencer Leake