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

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