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