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