Monday, February 24, 2014

Feb 24, 2014 Letters to Conner and Aubrey

These letters are the second letters they have received from Tyler and came at the perfect time. We printed them and left them on the table so they would see them as soon as they woke up. It made their day.

Hey Conner!
How's it going? I sent mom some pictures so you could see some of the
people that I baptized. In that picture, we baptized all 5 of them!
Did mom show you the pictures of us at the beach? It's pretty cool!
How's school? Everything going good? Do you tell all your friends
about your brother in Africa? I miss you! Talk to you next week!
Love, Elder VanAusdal
Ponton Beach Feb 17, 2014

Bottom: Elder VanAusdal, Elder Baker, Elder Wright, Elder Lundberg
Middle: Elder Morin, Elder Gelinas, Elder Garland
Top: Elder Hatch
photos courtesy of Sis. Bailey, Mission Mom

Hey Aubrey!
How are you? Are you doing good? How's school going? Everything is
going good here. It's really hot though! And we walk a lot! But we
have fun and we see a lot of cool things. Make sure you remember to
read scriptures and pray every day! Have a great week!
Love, Elder VanAusdal

Feb 24, 2014 Trials

Hey everybody!
So... I almost finished the email then it disappeared... so sorry if this one isn't as good.... So yes I'm done training. I finished last transfer. We get transfer letters in a week! I can't believe that I've been here for 3 transfers already! It's been awesome.
So this week we had a lot of awesome things happen. Even though we did a TON of walking. And it was REALLY hot... But we met a lot of really cool investigators. We had an awesome lesson with Guy, one of my recent converts. We started the after lessons and decided to try having him teach us lesson 1. It has  been probably 3 months since we taught that lesson and he taught it to us perfectly! And he can't even read! It was so cool. So we told him that he should learn how to read and get a passport so he can serve a mission. Now he's really excited about being a missionary! haha. And the Coelho family that we met a week ago are progressing really well. The son David is already through reading King Benjamin's speech! We also had a really awesome lesson with an investigator named Jos. He has been struggling for awhile. He hasn't been coming to church and it's been hard to get a hold of him.
But in the lesson we found out that he has been unemployed for a while now. He can't afford to pay for his kids to go to school. And he's gone all day everyday trying to get a little bit of money so he can eat that day. And sometimes he just didn't eat. He said that the reason he hasn't been coming to church is because even if he's available, he doesn't have the 30 cents it takes to take a bus to the church. I felt really bad for him, but we talked about trials and how by following the commandments of God we will be blessed. He has already made a ton of progress. He had a lot of problems with the word of wisdom. But he is over those things. It's really amazing to watch.
Anyway, there were a lot of really cool things that happened this week. I typed some of them out earlier, but the 20 minutes of typing I did just disappeared... So I just decided to share the coolest ones.
The work is going forward. We have so many people to teach we hardly have time to see them all! It's incredible being here. Next week we get transfer letters! And everyone is pretty confident that Elder Baker is leaving this transfer. So I'll have to tell you next week who my next companion is! haha. If he does leave he will leave on my six month mark. Pretty crazy. We're going to make a pizza for him before he leaves haha.
Anyway, have a great week!
Love, Elder VanAusdal

Monday, February 17, 2014

Feb 17,2014-Zone Conference

Hey everybody!
This week was an incredible week! We had interviews with President Cook on Tuesday and zone conference on Wednesday, but we still got 7 new investigators this week! We had 20 investigators at church! We met THREE new families! And we're going to have a first contact with two more families this week! It was incredible! Anyway, I'll break it down a little....
Tuesday we had interviews with President Cook. We came early and the Baileys fed us breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and hashbrowns. It was really good. Then we talked to Sister Cook while we waited for interviews. Sister Cook is full of awesome stories. She is just like Grandma Ringger haha. The story I told you about was in Benghi? I don't know how to spell it, but it's something like that. To add to that story, the church was able to send a whole bunch of supplies there shortly after! So they're being taken care of. Oh yeah! Funny story. On our way to the Baileys' we were stuck in traffic and then we saw this naked man walking down the road. He was completely naked, had a healed over gash that probably an inch deep and over a foot long, and completely crazy! Then he walked over to our taxi and starting speaking gibberish to us about how this isn't France haha. After he left everyone just starting laughing haha.
Wednesday we had an awesome zone conference. It was President Cook's birthday so I brought cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting. You should have seen everyone's faces when they saw them! Sister Cook said I should consider a career in the food industry haha. They were really good though and everyone loved them. We had an awesome lesson about inspired questions and our area book too. Learned lots of cool things. 
Thursday seems like a dream. We went out to Ngoyo which is really far away but apparently is the gold mine of investigators. Ngoyo is where the Louzolo's live. We had an awesome first contact with a guy whose dad works for an oil company so he is really rich. He had a lot of questions about armageddon and stuff like that haha. Then we met another incredible family! We got to their house and we were blown away. The mom's name is Nadege. She was invited to go to a different church by her friend, but she didn't know where it was. So she took a taxi and the taxi dropped her off at our church! She attended all 3 hours and loved it and invited us over! So we went there and they have a beautiful house! Real couches, a massive flat screen TV, REAL dvds, and an XBOX 360! Turns out they met and lived in France for 13 years! They speak beautiful French, and he works for an oil company, so he's stinkin rich! It felt like we were teaching a normal westernized family! We were a little nervous during the lesson cause we've never met a family like that before! It was so cool! And they are progressing too! It was really cool. 
Then Friday we walked, and walked, and walked, and walked. For hours. We were trying to make some first contacts, but a lot of appointments fell through. We did have a second lesson with a guy named Surprise who lives really far away. But we got there and his 2 brothers and mom were there to listen too! It was really cool. Then at the end, Surprise climbed up in his avocado tree with a 20 ft long pole and knocked 9 avocados down for us! It was so cool! Then we used the avocados to make guacomole with the MASSIVE chimichangas that I made. They were so big I couldn't fry them... But they were at least double the size of the one's we usually make haha. 
Then Saturday we had a lesson with an investigator that has been on the verge of baptism since before I got here. He was struggling and needs a special case interview. But he said that he wants to rekindle the fire and start preparing himself for baptism. It was really cool. Then we had a first contact with another family! This is the brother of Padma and his family.  They were really awesome. Then we went to the church for the baptism of the guardian at the church named Poppy. He's the weirdest, funniest guy I have ever met. But he has progressed a lot and all of us were so excited to see him get baptized. Then I got to give the restoration talk too. That went pretty well. 
Then Sunday we had 20 investigators at church! And the other elders in our branch had 8 so we had almost 30 investigators in our branch! That is so cool! Pointe Noire is incredible. Church was really awesome. And so full! 
Anyway, I'll try to answer some of your questions. Yes we think the water is back because the reservoir is full and we didn't fill it up... haha It wasn't too rainy this last week, but it has been ridiculously hot... 1900 baptisms is a lot, but totally doable. That boils down to 3 baptisms per companionship each transfer. And most of our baptisms come from Kinshasa. A couple weeks ago there were 127 baptisms in one week! Our mission is incredible, and the church is growing really fast. 
So it sounds like you guys had a great week. It's good to hear everything is going well. Have a great week!
Elder VanAusdal

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Feb 10, 2014

Hey everybody!
So this week went by really fast! So on Monday after we finished with all our P day stuff, I made rolls and cinnamon rolls. I did a half batch but accidentally forgot to cut the oil in half... but it still turned out really good! And we also found cream cheese! This week President Cook is doing a zone conference for us on his birthday, so I'm going to make cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting! It's going to be awesome! Anyway, then I made dinner. As soon as I finished cooking, we ran out of water. So as it turns out, they are doing work in the neighborhood replacing all the water pipes. So no one has had water for like 3 weeks. We have a cistern that can hold us for like a week, but that ran out. So now we have to pay 80 dollars a week to fill our cistern with water... Hopefully it doesn't last too long. But I did get to take some more bucket showers... haha. 
Tuesday we had an awesome day of talking to everyone that got baptized Saturday about the Priesthood, so they could receive it on Sunday. It was really cool. It has been really hot the last few days though. We walk out of the apartment and can hardly even open our eyes it's so bright! By the time we get home, our shirts feel like they just came out of the washer cause they're covered in sweat!
Then wednesday we had a zone training meeting with our zone leaders. Major changes! So we completely revamped our schedules. President expressed that he wants us to get at least 8 hours of proselyting in. So in order to do that, we are now waking up at 6:00 and we do studies, eat lunch, and leave the apartment at 10:30. Then we work all day and come home at 6:30 before it gets dark. We also changed our weekly planning from Sunday after church to Friday mornings. So we are picking up the pace a little, cause President Cook gave us a goal to baptize enough people to create a new stake. That means 1900+ baptisms this year! That means each companionship needs 3 baptisms a transfer. I think we can do it! Anyway, after the zone teaching, we went and saw a less active part member family We're going to work on getting her husband to come to church. That should be fun! 
Then Thursday is our Ngoyo day. We take a bus through the quartier way back on the other side of the city to an area where we teach a bunch of people. We met a new investigator named Loubaki. He's 21 and speaks English really well. He talked about his desires to follow Christ, so naturally I invited him to get baptized. He said "Yes, I think that would be good. Will that be this Saturday?" hahaha We set him for March 29 though haha. We still have to teach him first... He's awesome though. We also met with Pandor and Bartou. They are the daughters of the Louzolo family that just got baptized. But they are afraid to get baptized. They both said that they want to get baptized but they don't think they're ready. So we inconspicuously asked them the baptism interview questions, and they would have passed! They decided that they would pray and ask what day they should get baptized cause they didn't want us to set the date haha. So hopefully that happens. 
Then Friday, we met another new investigator named Habib. He works in a little cyber cafe. He asked a lot of questions that reminded me about the Joseph Smith story. He is really awesome. We haven't extended the baptismal date, but it will come soon. 
Then Saturday it was ridiculously hot. I definitely got a little red. But we attended a baptism at the church then had English class so we had a little time out of the sun. 
On Sunday, it rained for about in hour right before church, so attendance dropped... We actually got to sit in the chapel this time! It was really cool though. We got 3 recent converts ordained into the Aaronic Priesthood! It was really awesome. And as I was just writing that sentence, two of them just walked into the cyber cafe! haha What a coincidence! IIt was Jean and John Louzolo haha. They are such an awesome family.
Anyway, things are going awesome here. I am getting very tan, . 
Anyway, things are going great here. We're in kind of a weird stage where all of our investigators are baptized, so we're continuing to work with them, and looking for new investigators at the same time. It is so awesome here. We're focusing our efforts on families. There is nothing more awesome than teaching a family.
Anyway, I know things are going pretty rough over there. But I have a good scripture for you guys. Read Doctrine and Covenants 121. It was revelation given to Joseph Smith while he was in Liberty Jail. It's a really good chapter that we share with people that are going through trials. Hopefully that helps. 
Well, I hope you have a great week! 

Love, Elder VanAusdal

Monday, February 3, 2014

Feb 3, 2014 The Letter

Hey everybody!
Wow, that sounds like a crazy week... I can't even imagine what that
must be like... It's a good thing that we have the gospel to know that
it will all work out. That is something we deal with a lot here in
Africa. There is a lot of death. Many of our lessons are about the
plan of salvation and how even though we miss the person that is gone,
this life is just a small portion of our existence. And there are much
greater things to come.
I'm glad you guys got to read Moroni 7 this week. It is an awesome
chapter. Probably one of the best chapters in the entire book. If you
look in my scriptures, there are more highlighted verses in that
chapter than not haha. It's awesome.

Anyway, this was a pretty awesome week here. On Tuesday I went on
splits with Elder Gelinas to do the last 3 baptism interviews we
needed to do. He is awesome. He's from Quebec! So his native language
is French but he speaks English too. It's awesome to talk to someone
that comes from a similar environment and climate! haha Anyway, they
all went really well.
Wednesday President Cook came to do special case interviews. So we
went first thing in the morning to the church to meet our
investigators there. While they were doing their interviews we talked
with Sister Cook and the Bailey's. Sister Cook told us an awesome
story! A couple weeks ago, the branch president from the branch in the
Central African Republic emailed President Cook on a Tuesday. There
are civil wars going on there with a lot of Muslim vs Christian stuff
going on. The branch president said that they can't get food or water
and their people are dieing. They don't know what to do and they need
help. That really touched President Cook's heart, so he forwarded the
email to the 70 that is over our area. That really touched his heart,
so he forwarded it to Elder Bednar. It really touched his heart too,
so he printed it out and gave it to President Monson! It got to him by
Wednesday! So when they had their meeting in the temple on Thursday,
they prayed for them. The NEXT day, the president that was causing the
problems FLED the country! And the branch president emailed President
Cook again and said that things were going much better! Is that
awesome or what?? Anyway, the interviews went well. Then we went home
to do our studies. Then we got a call saying that President Cook 
Louzolo family on baptism day

wanted to go teaching with us. So we met up with him and we drove to
see the Louzolo family. We had an awesome lesson about the temple.
President Cook said that Papa Louzolo is going to be a very important
and influential man in the church. Then, it was getting kind of late,
so we didn't really have time for our last appointment, so we decided
we'd just swing by and say hi to Padma so she could meet the
president. She's is basically a member, but can't get baptized because
she's in a complicated polygamist relationship. She is trying to find
out how she can get herself to a point where she can get baptized. So
we got there, and President Cook asked her if she had ever had a
blessing before. And she said no, but she would never say no to a
blessing haha. So President Cook gave her an incredible blessing
saying that she was worthy to be baptized, and by studying the
scriptures and praying, she would find a way to be baptized. It was
incredible. She was in tears afterwards. And President Cook said that
was why he came to Pointe Noire when he did. It was a very weird thing
for him to come, and he didn't know why he was coming, but he did and
look what happened! So we talked to Padma again on Friday and she said
she prayed, then opened a random scripture and it said that "Your
prayer has been heard, and the Lord has not forgotten you!" It was
such an awesome experience. Then Thursday we made a trip out to Ngoyo,
met an awesome new investigator named Loubaki, and had an awesome
lesson with the Louzolo's daughters. They are 17 and 20. They know the
church is true, but they're afraid of baptism. So they wouldn't commit
to a date we set. So we committed them to pray and ask what day they
should be baptized. Hopefully that all works out.
Then Friday was so awesome! We got to attend the marriage of the
Louzolo parents! They had been culturally married, but you have to be
civilly married to be baptized. So we all went to the town hall Friday
morning to see them get married! They had a ring ceremony and
everything! The kiss was a little awkward, but they are over 60 years
old now... haha It was so awesome to see them get married. The whole
branch was excited because no one ever gets married!
Then Saturday was the big day! The official count is 5 baptisms! It
was so cool! Their names are: Jean, Isabelle, and Christ Louzolo in
the Louzolo family. Plus Prudence and Guy. Isabelle asked me to
baptize her. It was a really awesome experience. But while the baptism
was going on, someone stole 27,000 FCFA from Jean's pocket. So
President Deckous told us a story where the same thing happened at his
baptism! But he lost 150,000! haha But he invited all of us in his
office and we ate bread and drank orange soda haha. It was really fun.
And an awesome experience.
Sunday was awesome too. We met a guy from the Netherlands! I got to
translate for him during Sunday School. That was a cool experience
being able to do that. He looked at my name and said that could
probably be German or Swedish or something. Then I said that it came
from Van Artsdalen. He got really excited and said "That's my
country!" haha That was pretty cool. Then we got to confirm all 5
people on Sunday! He was impressed that we had 5 baptisms haha.
Anyway, all in all it was an awesome week. We also started to play a
game called Go. Have you ever heard of it? It's pretty intense haha.
Anyway, it was an awesome week. The work here is awesome. Have a great week!
Elder VanAusdal