Monday, March 31, 2014


Hey everybody!
So I don't know what happened with the last week's email... It was a really long detailed one too. Well that really bites. I thought I found it and sent it again, but I realized that that wasn't it...
Anyway, these last couple weeks have been really good. Things are going really well. We had a baptism on Saturday! It was a really awesome experience.
Last week we had an awesome week too. President Cook came on the Saturday night and we all went to a wedding at the church. It was a really cool thing. Marriages are hard to come by here. But it was really fun too. The missionaries were charged with the responsability to bring the food out. You should see the presents they give here! We also had one investigator named David that came to the wedding. He grew up in France and is a really awesome investigator. It was his first ever wedding that he has attended! He also said that he was really touched seeing all the missionaries together. He said he saw something that really makes him want to be a missionary! We're only a couple weeks apart in age and he's very exposed to western culture, so it's really fun working with him. Then this week we saw him again and he said that since the wedding he's felt different. We asked why. He said "I don't know, but it's like that feeling you get when you decide you need to do something." Then he started talking about serving a mission. It is so cool! He's going to serve a mission one day. He's getting baptized the 26th. So I hope I'm still here for that.
Then the Sunday after, we talked to president. He had a lot of interviews to do at church, so we only got a couple minutes than really short interviews with him. It was really good to see them though. They are really sad to see the mission split because that means they're going to lose all their American elders. But as far as the split goes, no one knows anything. Not even who the next president is going to be. But there is only 50ish missions on this side of the mission, so we are probably going to get a bunch of new missionaries, and a lot of new areas will be opened up. I'm excited.
This week went by really fast. Things are going well with my companion. He is used to doing things the way they do in Kinshasa, so there are some discrepancies, but we are making a lot of progress. We have met a lot of new investigators this last little while. Just this last week, we found 5 new investigators.
Saturday was the day of the baptism. Of course, it was pouring rain all day, which means no one goes anywhere. But it still happened. His name is Loubaki. He's an awesome guy. We met him when we were waiting to meet up with other elders to do splits the next day. They were stuck in traffic and really late. But that meant that we were there when Loubaki happened to walk by. He saw us and is learning English so he thought it would be a good opportunity to speak English. We at first didn't take him too seriously cause sometimes people just talk to us to learn English and don't care about the Gospel. But he called us 3 times over the next 3 days. So we decided to see him. He turned out to be awesome! He asked me to baptize him. It was a really cool experience. It was the first baptism I've done that took 2 tries, but it was still really cool. As he was walking out of the water he said "thank you Jesus." The next day at church he was confirmed. We got to participate in the confirmation. As Slasvie, the member confirming him, said "receive the Holy Ghost" I felt a tingle all through my body and out through my hands. It was like I could feel the Spirit going into him. It was a really cool experience. I'm so excited to see him a member of the church.
A list of my recent converts:

We also had a cool experience where we were going to have a second lesson with an investigator, but we accidentally went into the parcel next door. But it turned out the guy was really interested and wants us to come back! We have a lot of really cool stories. It is such an awesome opportunity to work in such an amazing sector. There is 2 1/2 weeks left of this transfer. So I'll find out in 2 weeks if I get to stay. There are 4 new elders coming to our mission, and apparently 1 is supposed to come to our zone. So anything could happen. It is possible that my companion could get sent back to Kinshasa because the African elders usually just come to fill in a spot when we don't have enough Americans. But we'll see. Heck, I might even train! haha That would be interesting.... I finally feel comfortable enough with my french though that should the occasion arise, I would be ok. Anyway, sounds like you guys are having fun. Congratulations to Conner! That is so awesome! Have a great week!

Love, Elder VanAusdal

Monday, March 24, 2014

"Oh...By the way."

Hey as far as the plaques go. I would prefer that it be the Republic
of Congo, Brazzaville mission. Mostly because that is what it will be
most of my mission, and we couldn't go to Kinshasa anyways. This has
already basically been a separate mission anyway haha. As far as a
scripture goes.. I wish I had more time, cause I didn't bring my
scriptures or study journal... But I found a good one. Doctrine and
Covenants 42:6 "And ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit,
preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as
with the sound of a trump, declaring my word like unto angels of God."
That's a pretty cool one.
That's an awesome story by the way that you shared about repentance.
I've really seen the effects of repentance in the lives of the people
I'm teaching. It's important to remember that even the greatest
prophets have had to repent. Alma, Paul, and Peter are just some
examples of that. Many people teach the 5 steps of repentance as
1)Recognize the sin 2)feel guilt 3)Repair the situation 4)Apologize to
the person you offended 5)Reconcile with your Heavenly Father and
never do it again. However many people forget the 6th step, which I
believe is one of the hardest. You must forgive yourself. In Doctrine
and Covenants we read that if we repent, God will remember our sins no
more. We have to recognize that, and when we do, we must forgive
ourselves and use it as a source of strength and growth. A lot of
people ask why God allows suffering in the world. I explain it like
this. Adam and Eve had no suffering, but they also had no joy. Pretend
you have a bucket of water that represents happiness. Then you have a
little plot of land that represents your life, where you're going to
store all your happiness. So you dump all your happiness onto your
life. But what is going to happen? It's going to dissipate, go
everywhere, and then you'll have no happiness. But, if you dig a
little hole of suffering, when you dump your happiness onto your life,
now the hole of suffering is filled with happiness.
Just thought I'd share that :)

By the way, I read this article that I thought I should share with
you. It's called "Inviting Success" its on page 24 of the March 2014
Ensign. It was really good. I liked it a lot.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My Socks Have Holes!

Hey everybody!
Sounds like this has been a pretty eventful week! It was for us too!
That's cool that Hunter's going to Colombia! It probably sounds scary, but the church really takes care of its missionaries. Isn't the church really developed in Colombia? They have a temple don't they? Well, let him know that washing clothes by hand and no hot water and that kind of stuff isn't as bad as you'd think. The church always puts you in the best, safest locations possible. And if it's not safe, they won't send you there. Yes I have some stories that I'll have to save til I get home to tell. haha We see some pretty crazy things. But we are well taken care of, and we are never in danger.
Our mission is splitting! As of July 1 we will be the Republic of Congo, Brazzaville mission! We are losing more than half of our missionaries. There are 150 missionaries in Kinshasa alone. There are
26 missionaries in the areas we can go, and another 20ish in Brazzaville. That means there will be a lot of new missionaries coming in! Which also means I'll probably get a shot at training a couple times haha. We're all really excited. They haven't announced our new mission president yet, but we'll see! Maybe this means I'll even be able to be AP one day! haha Yes my scripture case has been working very well. I'm pretty sure my temple pants are still ok. I have gained a little bit of weight, but I've kind of leveled off. So that's good. The only thing that hasn't been working well is my socks. Almost all of my socks have holes in the toes now... So if you wanted to send me a couple pairs, that would be awesome! haha I'm keeping an eye out for souvenirs. I'm thinking about stopping by the art marché today and asking them to make a nativity for me. If I'm lucky I can even get it in ebony.
The rain hasn't been so bad this week. There is only about a month left of rainy season. I'm excited. Hopefully I'll still be here for that! This last week has been really hot. And we walked a lot. We had a lot of appointments fall through this week. Things have been going really well with my new companion. It's really been helping my French.
I've learned a lot. We've had a couple instances where they do things differently in Kinshasa and didn't want to do it the way we do it. But we're compromising and working really well. It's basically like he's from a different mission because President Cook really cracks down on those elders in Kinshasa because they have a lot more problems over there. He pretty much just tells us to do whatever we think we need to do. So there are a lot of differences. But we are managing. We've been telling lots of stories lately. He has a girlfriend waiting for him that he's been dating for 7 years! He says that in Burundi people don't really have access to computers very much, so he never gets to write home. I guess he has gotten a few letters from his girlfriend, but the only communication he has had with his family is when he called his mom for Christmas. Anyways, I have learned that I really don't have anything to complain about.
As far as the rest of the week goes, it wasn't super eventful. We just did a lot of walking. We did get to go to a wedding at the church on Saturday! That was really cool. There was a ton of people, and everyone was dressed better than for church! And there's another one this Saturday! It's gonna be fun. They give all kinds of gifts and have tons of food and everything.
The Wedding
courtesy Sister Bailey :)

Anyway, it's been a really good week. Today we are going to go to the market to find a jersey for Elder Ndayizeye. They can't receive money for home, so I'm going to buy him one. It's going to be fun! He's been having an adventure experiencing American things. He tried ice cream for the first time this week! He loved it, but he said if he ate that every day he would get very fat. haha We have been having an awesome time together. Hope you guys have a great week!

Love, Elder VanAusdal
Elder Hatch, Elder Ndaiyedze, Elder Van Ausdal, Elder Rakotonindriana
courtesy Sister Bailey :)
Haircuts after basketball for P-Day

Monday, March 10, 2014

March 10, 2014 When It Rains It Pours

Hey everybody!
This has been a crazy week! So I guess I'll just start from the beginning. 
Monday after we got letters and did all our shopping and stuff, our whole zone went to a beach with a bunch of shipwrecks. It was really cool. 
Tuesday Elder Baker was trying to say good bye to people. We had a really good day. Even though it was really hot and a lot of people weren't available.
Then Wednesday is where the fun begins. So we had a zone conference Wednesday morning, so we left the apartment at 8:00 to go to the Bailey's apartment. It had rained all night and flash floods were all over the city. There were two spots where a river had formed and was going across the road. It was almost 2 feet deep! Needless to say traffic was really bad and we didn't get to the Bailey's until 9:30. The Baileys had been up since 1:00 am because their parcel had filled up with water because their road had turned into a river! The water came just up to the bottom of their doors, but luckily it didn't flood their house. It did flood their truck though. The inside had a whole bunch of water in it. Funny story though. In the water in their parcel there was a 6 inch centipede. The Bailey's in their best french told the guardian that there was a "little snake" in the water. He immediately ran into the shed, grabbed a machete and sneaked up on the centipede with a terrified look on his face. Then with all his might he killed the centipede! haha He was completely terrified of it! Anyway, so we had our zone meeting, the Baileys fed us taco salads, and then we had a farewell testimony meeting because Elder Lundberg and Elder Morin were going home. It was an awesome experience. We all shared our testimonies and talked about mission experiences. The Spirit was really strong. Then we said our goodbyes. That's also when I said goodbye to Elder Baker because he was going to spend the night at the Baileys' because he had to leave really early in the morning. So me and Elder Hatch were companions for a day haha. We did our best to navigate the water logged roads and still had a couple appointments that day.
Then Thursday we met up at the Baileys' at 11:00 to pick up our new companions from the airport.
So here's the scoop. My companion is named Elder Ndayizeye. He is 25. He was baptized 3 years ago. He speaks almost NO English! He is among the second group of missionaries to come from Burundi! He's a really awesome guy. And amazingly enough we can communicate! We even managed to do weekly planning and everything without any problems! I realized that when I am forced to speak French without help, I can actually get by pretty well. It seems like instantly I can understand everything anyone says, and I can express everything that I need to say. It has been a really cool experience so far. Elder Hatch's new companion is Elder Rakotonindriana. Yep. Long. But it's said more like Rakutuninji. haha Don't ask where the other letters went. He is from Madagascar. Which means he is Maligash. He speaks English very well. He has also been exposed to Western culture a lot more. For example, the adjustment to food has been much easier for him, and he loves cookies! haha My companion is still adjusting but he seems to be liking it so far. Elder Rako is really cool too. He even understands our jokes! The missionaries have these gangster jokes. One example: what did the gangster say when he saw 2 missionaries knocking on doors? Dis-tracting! haha. We have been having a really awesome time. Elder Ndayizeye is a little quiet. Unless we're in lessons, then he could talk the entire lesson without taking a break haha. But he's really cool. We joke by telling him that by the time he leaves he is going to love American food. Tonight I'm going to make corn chowder with bread bowls and cinnamon rolls. That'll convert him! haha. The first night we had biscuits and gravy and Elder Rako said "I can tell we will be seeing something every night." haha. It's been really cool. It takes a little adjusting. As you can imagine, it's basically pairing two missionaries from a different culture, different language, different diet, different teaching style, and practically a different mission. So we adapting, but it's going really well.
On Friday we had a bunch of lessons. Everyone was really sad that Elder Baker left. Not very many people got to say goodbye because he only had Tuesday to say goodbye to people. So that was a little rough, but they all said that it's ok because at least I'm still here.  Isabelle Louzolo told her daughters Pendore and Bartou that they need to hurry and get baptized cause they want me to baptize them so they have to be baptized before I leave! haha. We'll see how that goes. We've got 7 more baptisms planned between the 29th and the 5th of April. Lots of cool things happening!
Saturday we had some more lessons. There wasn't a baptism this weekend, so that was kinda weird... But we made the most of that time. Surprise gave us a bunch of avocados again! Yes his name is Surprise. His oldest brother is Welcome. Then Donna (meaning given). Then Surprise! haha Africans have the funniest names... Anyway, then we went to the church for English class, but it was raining so no one came. 
Sunday was an awesome day at church. It rained again so attendance was kinda low, but we still had 9 investigators at church! Two weeks ago we had 20... But 9 is still good. Funny story. So it was our new companions' first day at church, and Elder Ndayizeye forgot his badge! haha So everyone thought he was just a member! He said that the only other time he has forgotten it was at a zone conference with President Cook! He told him that that would be the last time. Then he forgot again, so he was really embarassed haha. But we still had a good day. 
Today we went and played basketball. Elder Ndayizeye has never played it before, so he was nervous to try, but we got him to play and he's doing pretty good! Elder Rako though. He said he had played a little bit. Then he totally was destroying everyone on the court! 
Anyway, it has been an awesome week. Lots of new things! Lots of cool things! Sounds like you guys had a good week too. I'm glad you're studying the scriptures. It's true that if you make it a habit, it gets to the point where it's no longer a chore but an opportunity. Since I began my mission I have read the Book of Mormon, the New Testament, and now I'm working on reading Doctrine and Covenants. I'm already through Section 77. I'm also almost half way through Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage. That is an incredible book. It is the best thing short of canonized scripture. I have learned so much from these studies. I also keep a list of cool scriptures that I liked. I have like 20 pages front and back filled with references! haha It's really cool though. It's an awesome experience. That is really interesting about the women petitioning. They obviously didn't listen to the talk by Carol S. Stevens at conference. And they either haven't been to the temple, or didn't understand it. Because if they did, they wouldn't be petitioning. That's just ridiculous. Anyway, I encourage you to keep doing scripture study. It really is awesome. There are always cool things to learn. Have a great week!
Elder VanAusdal

Monday, March 3, 2014

March 3, 2014 6 Months and Transfers

Elder VanAusdal in his new soccer jersey holding his transfer letter
photo courtesy of Sis. Bailey, mission mom.
Hey everybody!
Big news! So we got transfer letters today... Elder Baker is being
transferred to Douala. My new companion is Elder Ndayizeye.... Don't
ask me how to say that... haha Elder Garland who was also in our
district was transferred over to the other district here. Elder
Hatch's new companion is from Madagascar. So there will be two African
elders in our apartment this transfer... That will be interesting. But
I'm sure it will be a good experience. I am also no longer a junior
companion! It doesn't really mean anything, but it's cool! haha. I
don't know anything about this new elder except that he's African, so
we'll see what happens. Transfers will happen this Thursday. So, I'll
let you know how everything goes next week!
To answer your questions: the hot is getting more bearable, but I'm
definitely not used to it. I'm doing fine with money. Last week I
Last district hug

bought a pair of African masks at a art market for 14 dollars! That
was really cool. Then I bought something even more African. A soccer
jersey! haha Everyone in Africa has a soccer jersey, so I figured I'd
get one too!

So this week went by really fast. We met a lot of really cool people
and got some new investigators. We had an appointment fall through so
we ended up sitting down with some guys on the side of the road. They
ended up talking for 20 minutes about why they hate Jehovah's
Witnesses so much haha. So he was very glad that we weren't haha. Then
on Wednesday, we had another lesson with Jos. It's really interesting
working with him. He's managed to overcome all his problems with the
word of wisdom! Now we just need to help him come to church... We also
had a lesson with someone named Habib. He is from this church called
the Faith of Baha'i. It's really interesting. They have a lot of the
same principles of our church but they have their own holy book. They
even build temples all over the world! Kinda crazy!
Then Thursday, Elder Garland worked with me. It rained. All day. There
was so much water everywhere! We were soaked through. A lot of the
roads were completely impassable because there was so much water on
the ground. It was made better because everyone assumed that because
it was raining we wouldn't come. So we spent the first couple hours
walking all over Ngoyo. But we finally had a lesson with Bienvenu. We
had an entire lesson while helping him peel the skin off of leaves
that he was going to use to make dinner. That was pretty cool. Then we
had an awesome lesson with David, who is part of the Coelho family we
met. He is so smart. I've never taught so much deep doctrine to an
investigator before! But we had an awesome lesson, and he loved it.
Then Friday was interesting. We started with a lesson with Surprise.
Then we had a lesson with a sister of a member, named Nana. She was
totally uninterested and said that she didn't even want to know if the
Book of Mormon was true! haha Then we decided to try contacting a
really nice house. The lady wouldn't even accept a brochure! I've
never had a brochure rejected before!
Anyway, all in all this was a pretty good week. Lots of cool things
happened. We'll have an interesting week ahead of us, and a really
interesting transfer ahead of us. But it's all part of the experience.
Thanks for the pictures! Have a great week!
Love, Elder VanAusdal