Monday, April 28, 2014

Time is Flying

This last week went by really fast. Time
nowadays just flies right by. We are already a week into my fifth
transfer! And the new missionaries are coming to the mission on May
14th. But they don't have Congo visas yet so they might get here a
couple days later, but that's in two weeks! That'll be fun to have
newbies in the apartment. Especially cause they are staying in our
apartment so we'll get to work with them!
So this week we did splits twice! So it was pretty crazy. But it was fun too.
Tuesday I worked with Elder Rakotonindriana in their sector. That was
a really cool experience. He's a really funny guy. We had a really
good day too. We talked with a Pedro and a Carlos! You'd think I was
in Lauren's mission... haha The other two people were named Back (yes,
Back) and Hélinga. We had some really cool lessons and the spirit was
really strong.
Wednesday I was back in my sector. We started out with a first contact
with Chris. He is really cool. I can already tell that he will be
baptized one day. He has a really strong testimony. Then we went to
our next appointment but she wasn't available, so we decided to do
contacting. But when we do contacting, it's not just any contacting,
it's called "rich people hunting." Because we want to find people that
have the means to come to church. So we started and right away we saw
a house with an airconditioner. So we knocked on the door. We met
someone named Chris. He let us in and we had a quick 15 minute lesson
with him! First house! I am so lucky to be in this mission haha. I
couldn't knock on hundreds of doors like that. Anyway later that day
we met with Padma and Princia. We had a good lesson about the
Sacramenent, then she sent us home with apples! Then we went to Fond
Tie-Tie to meet up with the other elders for splits. We got there a
little late and they weren't there yet. So I called them and they said
"Yeah! We're on our way!" Turns out they had forgotten, so he didn't
bring anything with him as far as a toothbrush or anything haha. But
it worked out.
The next day I worked with Elder Garland in my sector. That was fun.
It's been awhile since we've been together. The last transfer he was
transferred to the other apartment. So it was good to catch up with
him. We had a lot of really cool lessons. We had a lesson with David
to talk about the Sacrament to see if he could have better church
attendance and make a sacrifice to wake up earlier so he could get to
church. That Sunday he was on time! He's getting baptized this
Friday we had a rough day. Lots of appointments fell through. We
started with Surprise. He's an awesome recent convert. He's going to
make a good missionary in a couple years. The next three hours were
full of walking.... Then we finally had a lesson with Guy, another
recent convert. He is being a missionary in inviting his family to
hear the lessons and come to church. He is so awesome. He is very
poor, but he paid so that all four of his siblings could come to
church with him on Sunday! It was so cool! They have two 11 year olds,
a 9 year old, and a 5 year old. It was adorable! Guy was really happy
too. It was a really awesome experience. After that lesson, he went to
show us where his friend lived that we met a couple days earlier. We
got there and the mom said he wasn't there and started yelling and
screaming in Kicongo. Luckily Sherton our branch mission leader was
with us and informed us that she had forbidden her son to go to our
church because of an accident that happened during the construction of
the church. So... We'll see what happens. Guy talked to her again
later, and he said the situation is a little better...
Saturday was a very successful day. We started off with a less active
member. Then we were walking to our next appointment, and someone
stopped us on the side of the road. She wanted to know more so she was
going to show us her house. She said she didn't live very far away. 30
minutes later we got there... But we had a really good lesson with
her. Then later we had a lesson with Lous Andre. He is a really cool
guy. We set a baptismal date with him. Then we went to attend the
baptism at the church. Everything went well. Then we taught English
Sunday we had a great day at church. We had 11 investigators at
church! We also had the seminary/institute director at our Sacrament
meeting so we got to listen to him talk. He said that they announced
that every recent convert between 14 and 30 years old should attend.
So afterwards all our recent converts wanted to go to institute! It
was really cool.
Then later we got in a bus to see a less active family. We got out of
the bus and were almost there when I realized that my badge fell off
in the bus... Dang. Luckily I have a magnet one still, but I'm going
to order another one..
Anyway, we had a very good week. Lots of good things happening here.
Have a great week!
Elder VanAusdal

Monday, April 21, 2014

What? No Letter?

So I guess I don't get a letter this week huh? 
He really did get a letter from us. We wrote later than usual and he went to the cafe to email earlier than usual due to the P-Day basketball games cancelled from rain. 
haha Anyway, this has been a good week.
Monday we went out to eat burgers as a zone because Elder Gelinas was going to go to Gabon soon. That was really fun. He had been waiting for his visa for3 weeks but he finally got to go this week. He had about a 12 hour notice before he left. 
Tuesday our morning was a little rough because most of our appointments fell through. Then I had a feeling that we should go see a member that had been inactive but we found him and had been coming to church for several months now. So we went and saw him. Turns out it was very inspired! He had all these questions and we found out that he had never actually received the Melchisedek Priesthood. As it turns out, we knew President Cook would be in town this weekend, so we were able to coordinate an interview for him. We also went and saw a less active family later in the day. They haven't been to church in 9 months because they don't like the branch presidents. It's really sad. But their two children were really sick, so they asked us to come give them a blessing. We got there and asked if the dad wanted to give the blessing. The mom responded that he had been neglecting his duties as a Priesthood holder so they no longer had confidence in him. And he said that he didn't feel worthy or ready to do it. It was really sad. So. Moral of the story: don't go inactive. It has destroyed their family. Remember that the church is perfect, but sometimes the people in the church aren't perfect. Make sure you go to church for yourself, and not for everyone else.
Wednesday we had district meeting. We're in the process of preparing our apartment to hold another set of missionaries. We also found out that there are going to be THREE brand spanking new missionaries coming to our zone. That means that 4 of the 5  companionships will be training. And this coming transfer is the transfer that will decide who stays in what mission, so my companion will more than likely be going back to Kinshasa. So we'll see what happens! Then we saw a member named Raphael. He's an awesome old guy that loves the missionaries. Every sunday he comes to church and says "Good Sunday good Sunday!" We all love him. And he has an awesome Lorenzo Snow style beard! Anyway, he said the prayer at church a couple weeks ago and someone afterward said that if he were the branch president he wouldn't have let him say the prayer because of his beard... He said that it was a mark of unworthiness... So a couple members were hounding on him about his beard and hurt his feelings so he stopped coming to church... So we decided to go see him. He is a very poor man that already has almost nothing. So to him his beard means a lot. So we talked to him and hopefully he'll start coming back to church... 
Thursday we started with an inactive member that was baptized in France more than 20 years ago! He moved to Congo before the church was even here! But we got him to come to church! Later that day, we had a lesson with an investigator named Furlie. She moved last week so we had to find her new house. We got there and asked who she was living with(africans move a lot to live with different family members). And she responded that she is living with her fiancé who is a member of the church....  He is the one that introduced her to us and wants her to get baptized... But he shot himself in the foot cause now she can't get baptized... Anyway, we'll see how that turns out haha. 
Friday we had an awesome day. We walked a lot, but we saw a lot of people too. We saw my recent convert Guy. Lately we've been talking to him and his 10 year old sister who isn't a member. We asked if she wanted to come to church. So this Sunday Guy came with his sister Darcia to church! It was so adorable! Guy is 20ish but looks like he's 15 and he's very poor. But we saw him in a shirt and tie and his little sister in a pink dress. It made my day haha.
Saturday we started the day out with a couple lessons, then we went to attend the baptism. President Cook also came that day. So this is the news. They announced our new mission president! But guess what! He's Congolese! And he also told us that they will more than likely start sending Americans to Brazzaville soon! So he asked us if we could handle living without water from time to time and washing our clothes by hand... haha I guess we'll see. But that means that it'll be possible to be AP one day! haha Mostly because soon all of the older missionaries will be home and me and 2 Malagash elders will be the oldest in the mission! So it'll be interesting to see how the 2nd half of my mission will go.
Sunday we had a great day at church. We had 12 investigators at church which was really cool. Then after church we went to the Baileys' for dinner and interviews with President Cook. That was really cool. During my interview he said that he liked my work ethic and would make a note for the new mission president that I will be a leader... So we'll find out what that means. He also told me that the things that my companion learns here (i.e. work ethic, teaching styles etc.) would spread to the elders in Kinshasa. Which tells me that he's probably going to Kinshasa next transfer. But we'll see. 
Anyway, we had a great week this week. We ended up having 7 lessons with recent converts/less-active members. Which is more than usual but was really cool. We also had 11 lessons with investigators. I thought it would be interesting to share our numbers for this transfer. .We had 3 baptisms, 63 lessons with investigators, we received 34 referrals, 15 new investigators, and 19 after baptism lessons. Crazy! We're in the process of rebuilding our teaching pool because they're all getting baptized! We're planning for another baptism this Saturday with David! So lots of cool things are happening here!
Anyway, I hope everything is going good there. Have a great week!
Love, Elder VanAusdal

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Good Week!

Big news! Today is transfer letter day. We haven't heard anything... The Bailey's emailed and asked what was going on, and they got  an email saying "plans have changed." That's it. So we have no idea what is going on. About the nativity, I forgot to tell you, but I bought an awesome nativity a couple weeks ago! It has a stable and everything and it's completely dismountable. I ended up getting it for 40 dollars. He was asking 70, but I talked him down. I could have got it for 30 but I mostly just wanted to make sure I got it. They had a whole bunch of nativities around, so I didn't even have to order one. It is made out of iron wood. I took a pic so I'll try to send that home. By the way, my camera is officially up and running! I just need to buy a case. 

So this week was a good one. On monday we went to the beach! That was really fun. We played volleyball and had lots of fun.

 Then we did spring cleaning. We deep cleaned the apartment and now it looks really good. Hopefully I get to stay for another transfer. In my letter from President Cook he informed me of some things that are coming up in Pointe Noire. In a month 4 new missionaries are coming to our mission and 2 will be in Pointe Noire. He is also adding another companionship to our apartment in Mpaka.  It was kind of weird though because I was the only one that he told about that... So I don't know what that means.

 HEY! We just got information about transfers. Nothing in Pointe Noire is changing. I'm here for another transfer! Anyway, so maybe I'll get to stay here for the division of the sectors and branches and get to train! That would be awesome.
Anyway, Tuesday Elder Ndayizeye was sick, so we stayed home all day. We also got the hardware installed so we can hang curtains. That will be exciting haha. We have a lot of work to do in our apartment to prepare it for a new set of elders. That means a bunch of repairs and adding a new bunk bed and all kinds of fun stuff. Anyway, all day that day I was reading in Jesus the Christ and got a lot of reading done. It worked out just right that I read about everything from the last supper to the crucifixion. It was a really cool experience. Then I also profited from that time to make bread bowls and beef stew. It was really good. I had strips of beef and this recipe called for cooking it in water with bouillon cubes for an hour then adding vegetables and cooking for an hour. It was REALLY good. 
Wednesday we had another really good day. Our first appointment fell through so we ended up talking to someone on the road for a couple minutes when Guy, my recent convert walked by. We had been having a hard time fixing a rendez-vous with him. So we got to talk to him. He's really cool. He is 20ish. He doesn't know for sure... But he has a strong testimony and understands a lot about the gospel. Even though he can't read! The branch president set it up so every saturday someone can come to the church and help him learn to read so he can go on a mission! Then we also had a lesson with Padma. She made us a really good fruit medley with all kinds of different fruits. 
Thursday was a good day. Full of lessons. Nothing too exciting. 
Friday we had a lesson with someone named Juldas. He is a 14 year old that lives with one of the counselors in the branch presidency. We taught him with my 11 year old convert Dacise and another 8 year old that lives there. It was such a fun lesson. We would show a picture of the angel moroni and we asked who it was, and the 8 year old named Galvie got really excited and yelled "That's Captain Moroni!" It was really fun to see that. 
Saturday was another interesting day. We ended up walking a lot. We had an awesome first contact with someone named Lous Andre. He was a coordonne from another sector. That was really cool. Then we talked to Surprise about the Priesthood. It was really cool. His mom made us peanut butter and gave us fufu powder. They are so nice. 
Sunday was an awesome day. All 13 of my recent converts were at church! Talk about real growth :) That makes you even more happy than having investigators at church. But, another incredible thing happened. The Louzolo family has a son named Africa. He's kind of a recluse and doesn't like to talk to other people. He never wanted to talk to the missionaries because of that. But he always reads the Bible and prays a lot. The parents have been helping him to learn the Gospel. And guess who came to church yesterday! It was so awesome! I was really excited. I also got to see 3 recent converts: Loubaki, Bienvenu, and Surprise receive the Priesthood! So as you can tell we had a really good day at church.
Anyway, this was a really good week. 
I wish I would have brought my clarinet. I miss it a lot. But we did get a grant from the Hartmond foundation to get synthesizers for Pointe Noire! So all the apartments got a keyboard and they have 12 others to use to teach people how to play piano! It's really fun. I've been learning to play a lot of different hymns. 
Anyway, sounds like you guys have been having fun. It's been going good here too. Have a great week!
Elder VanAusdal

If you know Tyler at all you know he loves to cook. Now that his camera is up and running again I am sure we will see lots more of these. 
Home made Pizza!! 

Monday, April 7, 2014

A New Elder in the Zone

Hey everybody!
So we got a new elder in our zone this week! His name is Elder Etherington. He is going to be trained by Elder Garland. Guess what that means! I got a package! It's the one that was sent Mar 5. It has mike n ikes, gummy angry birds, sd card and highlighters. Did you already send the one with contact solution and the music sd card? I thought that was the one that I would be getting, but this one is really cool too! By the way, I had chocolate flavored honey for breakfast haha. So anyway, this week has been  a really good week.
Monday after we got all our Pday stuff taken care of, Papy (a recent convert) invited all of the missionaries in Pointe Noire (8) to come over to his "castle" to eat dinner. His "castle" is a one room apartment with a mattress on the floor and a couple chairs. But he is really awesome. He made incredible food. Chicken with some sort of sauce, rice, and fried sweet potatoes (I thinks that's what we would call them?). It was really fun. He is the one that when he got baptized he laid down and we all picked him up for the picture. Total ham.
Tuesday turned out to be an interesting day. Some of our original appointments fell through. So we ended up fixing a rendez-vous with someone named Sammy in the middle of the day. We taught him, his sister, and a friend from school. Turns out his sister is an 18 year old "prophetess." She said that she heals people by the laying on of hands and receives revelations. But she said it's forbidden to lay hands on the head, only the shoulders. haha. Anyway, it was an interesting encounter, but we'll see how that turns out. We also had an appointment with Bienvenu. We pushed his baptismal date back a week cause he missed church and hadn't been diligent about his reading. We hoped that would help him to realize the importance of those things. It did! He came to church last sunday, read the Book of Mormon every day (even studied the institute manual because he's been going to institute) and his whole demeanor had changed. He seemed so much happier. So we baptized him! 
Wednesday we started off the day with a zone meeting. It was really cool. The spirit was really strong. We didn't get back home til about 2. So we only had time for a couple appointments cause we had to see Surprise that day and he lives 45 minutes away. But it turned out to be a really cool day. 
Thursday was another weird day. We had weekly planning in the morning instead of Friday cause we were going to do splits on Friday. That kept us busy til about noon. Then we went to Ngoyo for the rest of the day. We had a lesson with Rilah. He's really solid. But.... He is moving out of our sector. So we don't get to teach him any more. But that's ok. Then we had a lesson with Pendore and Barthou. They have been having a hard time making the commitment to be baptized. So we decided instead of trying to push them to baptism, we would just come and teach a lesson and let them come to the decision themselves. The rest of their family already got baptized, so it's just a matter of time. We ended up talking about the Plan of Salvation and it was one of the best lessons we had with them. 
Friday we did splits. I worked with Elder Hatch again so he could do some baptismal interviews for us. The two people that had interviews live far away, so we did a lot of walking and took a lot of buses... But it was a good day. Since the interviews each took 1 1/2 hours, I got an extra 3 hours of study in! haha We also got to teach one other quick lesson with David. He is a really cool guy. He told us a story about how he almost died earlier in the week while he was swimming at the beach. He has  a really strong testimony and I'm really excited for his baptism. Hopefully I'll still be here!
Saturday we started off the day with a couple lessons. One of which was with someone named Furlie. She's a friend of a member. She already reads the Book of Mormon and goes to Institute! She will definitely be baptized some day. It was really cool to talk with her. Then we had the baptism! Bienvenu and Surprise both got baptized. It was such a cool experience. They were both really excited. After Surprise was baptized, as he was leaving the water, he said "I'm free!" He's a really funny guy. I'm glad to see the two of them in the church. 
Then Sunday was fast sunday. We don't get to watch conference yet. We have to wait for them to send discs to us so we can watch it at church. So probably another month or so. But we did get to go to the Baileys' to watch the Priesthood session. That was such a cool session. There were so many great things. I really liked Elder Oak's talk. That's crazy that there is such a big to do about all of that. People like that obviously missed a step. I've noticed that a lot of people that are raised in the church, especially if they don't serve missions, miss that step. The step of gaining a personal testimony. It's incredible how much my mission has helped me to do that. I was talking to Elder Hatch about that yesterday. Sometimes I envy people like Elder Garland that made the personal decision to join the church. We talked about how even though sometimes we're born into the church and we don't have to go through the missionaries to get baptized, we all have to go through that conversion. We can't just passively wait for it to happen. We have to actively study and seek to obtain that testimony. I've really learned to appreciate that. Even during our zone meeting we talked about how we can't teach past our own conversion. We can't ask our investigators to do things that we don't do. 
Anyway, we were also finally invited to branch council on Sunday. That was a cool experience. Except for the first 45 minutes where they were talking about a member that hasn't been to church in a couple weeks because someone was upset that he was allowed to say a prayer in Sacrament meeting with a big beard. It's really sad. Especially because us missionaries really like this particular member. He is one of the nicest guys I've ever met. Anyway, then we got to talk about involving the branch in our efforts because here the missionary work and the branch are like 2 separate entities. And after they are baptized and we start to see them less, sometimes it's difficult because they don't have many friends. But we're making progress.
Anyway, this week was an awesome week. A lot of cool things happened. We receive transfer letters one week from today. I would say that there is maybe a 20 percent chance of me staying... But I really want to stay. I'm afraid that if I do get transferred I'll leave Pointe Noire... We'll see though. 

Anyway, have a great week!

Love, Elder VanAusdal