Monday, May 26, 2014

"They are orange shorts and they are incredible!"

Hey everybody!
Sounds like everything is staying nice and busy over there. But that's a good thing. Things have been busy here too! We have so many people to see and not enough time to see everyone! My new companion Elder Ralison was laughing because we went a whole week without going to the same place. haha
Anyway, this last week was an awesome week. Monday after we received transfer letters we all had a ge ttogether at our apartment and made pizza. It was really fun. At the end we asked Elder Ndayizeye to bear his testimony. It was really cool. He said he learned a lot here about working hard and he's going to go back to Kinshasa and whip the other missionaries into shape haha. It was a really cool experience. He cried at the end, which I had never seen him do before. It was really sad to see him go, but he's going to do a lot of good over there, especially as a trainer. 
Elder VanAusdal and Elder Ndayizeye. The Flash surprised Elder N.

On Tuesday I worked with Elder Hatch because I didn't have a companion... The split monster came. We walked SO MUCH! For some reason, whenever you do splits, it's really hard to have appointments fall through. But we still managed to get 4 lessons in. It was still a really good day. Then in the afternoon we went to the Baileys' to go pick up my new companion. His flight was a little late, but that's pretty typical haha. You wouldn't believe some of the things people take as carryons. Yes, even a satellite dish... Anyway, then we could see my companion from far away 1 because he is a missionary, 2 because he is very light colored. He's from Madagascar where people can be white or black. He's in the middle. It's funny because when people see us they yell "Mundele chinois!" or "Mundele Heehah!" which basically means white man and chinese man! haha Sometimes it's cute and funny, when they are kids. When they are 30 year old drunk men... Not so cute haha. 
Wednesday was my first day working with Elder Ralison. He's really cool. Like my last companion, he only speaks French. At this rate, my French is going to be really good at the end of my mission haha. I am the only one that has had a French speaking companion since I've been in this zone haha. But it has helped me a lot. We had a great first day together. Our teaching really meshed right from the beginning. That was really nice. We have similar ideas about how to teach. That will make this transfer a lot easier. We also had district meeting on Wednesday. Our district is a little complicated because we have Elder Ralison that doesn't speak English, and we have Elder Tweneboah that doesn't speak French yet haha. So we kinda mix things around haha. Luckily I understand both :)
Throughout the entire week I noticed that all of our lessons were going really well. The Spirit has been really strong because we are united in our teaching. It's funny because even though he is from Madagascar and doesn't speak English, we are a lot alike. He's really fun, and he's an awesome companion. We also were able to get a lot of lessons in this week. We ended up with 21. That's not bad for a week of transfers!
On Thursday night, Elder Wright and Elder Etherington moved in. We added a companionship to our apartment. So it's a little more crowded and more mouths to feed, but it's been fun. I realized that before they came, I had gone from being in my first district of all Americans, to this district where I was the only American! haha Funny how things change!
We had a great day of church on Sunday too. Great turnout! We got 14 investigators at church! And it would have been more but we had at least 2 investigators that were legitimately sick... It was a really cool day. We also had a first contact with a new family. I love teaching families. Even if usually the parents aren't married so they can't get baptized, if their kids are baptized and they all come to church, I know that some day they will have the chance to get married and be baptized too. 
So all in all this has been a great week. By the way, I don't know if you have had the chance to transfer more money from my bank account? I took the rest out last week. I'm not desperate yet, but if I get transferred next transfer I'm going to want to buy another suitcase. 

And by the way, they are orange shorts. Not jeans haha. But they are pretty incredible.
I bought them in the market at Fond Tie-Tie. I got them for 10 dollars. If you'd have told me a year ago that I would be excited about a pair of shorts like that, I wouldn't have believed you haha. How do you like my Muslim garb? haha That was pretty awesome too haha. As far as the bread recipe,  I actually found a new one. I found a homemade hamburger bun recipe and found out that it makes reeeeeally soft good bread. So I quadrupled it and made a ton of it! I really like to make bread bowls with it and make some beef stew with it. Very good :) Most things here I have to modify a little bit. 1 because of some different seasonings, 2 because they only have highly concentrated tomato paste, and 3 because we are penny pinchers haha. We have to buy bone in chicken. Boneless is upwards of 10 dollars a pound!
Anyway, everything is going good here. Have a great week!
Love, Elder VanAusdal

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Spirit Guides

I was going to go to the Baileys' today for a haircut and send pictures but that ended up not working out, so I'll have to do that next week. President is coming on Friday for a zone conference, so maybe I'll get to send them then. 
This week has been a really good week. We accomplished a lot of things. 
Wednesday we had a really cool experience. We went to have the second visit with an investigator named Chris. We were close to his house but we couldn't remember which house was his. So we were walking and found two girls. We asked them if they knew where he lived and it turns out one of them was his sister. So they showed us where he lives. Then he comes out and said that he's been sick with malaria for the last two weeks. So he asked if we could give him a blessing. It was the first time I've sealed the anointing in French! It was a really cool experience. I honestly don't even remember what he said, but it was entirely by the spirit. Afterwards I could tell that he was really sick because when I took my hands off of his head, my hands were really hot. But afterwards he was really happy and energized. Then he said that we should go talk to the two girls and have a lesson with them. We told him he could stay home if he wanted to but he said that he already felt a ton better! It was a really cool experience.
Thursday was a really good day too. We talked to David's mom Nadege. She wants to get baptized but she isn't married yet. They are well off so they could afford it, but her boyfriend didn't want to commit yet because his job contract hadn't been signed yet so he wasn't stable. It has been two years and his contract hadn't been signed yet! But she prayed a lot and Tuesday they signed his contract! So that means that they can get married! I'm really excited for that. 
Saturday we started the day off with lessons with Surprise and Lous André. They both live in the same neighborhood. Surprise is so funny. He likes to speak English. And he found an American dollar on the ground so he was so excited to show me. Afterwards, we went with the two of them and took a taxi to the church to go to the baptismal service. They were both really excited. Neither of them come from wealthy families and taxis are a little more expensive so they would usually walk. I told Surprise he could come with us and he hadn't even eaten yet, but he said he didn't want to miss an opportunity to take a taxi! So he said he'd just buy some bread for 20 cents by the church and that would be ok haha. Then after the baptism Elder Hatch and Elder Rakotonindriana went witht the Baileys to the airport to pick up their new companion Elder Tweneboah! He's from Ghana. He's working with them until transfers next week. It was really cool to talk to him about the MTC and Ghana. I can't believe it's been 7 months since I was there!
Sunday we had a great day at church. We had 12 investigators at church! One of which was a son of a member family that hasn't been to church in years! He is really cool and is progressing very well. Then after church we saw a couple less active families. We had incredible lessons with them. One family in particular, Armel and Ella, really have the desire to come back to church. So I think they're going to finally make that step. Then we came home 5 minutes before it started dumping rain outside. Unfortunately, the other elders got home 5 minutes after. So they were soaked. Great way to start off your first day in the sector! haha 
So all in all this has been a very good week. I can't believe how fast the transfer has gone by. And I can't believe the division of the mission is so soon! Lots of things are going to change, so we'll see what happens! Anyway, I hope you guys have a great week!
Love, Elder VanAusdal

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day!

Hey everybody!
That was really cool getting to talk to everybody! It seems like just last week that I called for Christmas! I can't believe how fast time goes by.

 It really is a great experience. There are a lot of challenges, it's hard work, exhausting, and stressful, but through the experience you learn how to handle it all. Now I can go through all of it without any worries. There is a section in "How to adjust to Missionary Life" that talks about the fact that some things are out of your control. You have to realize that. Do the best you can, but after that, sometimes you just have to let things happen. That is one of the greatest things I've learned on my mission. I would recommend you all, especially Braden, to read that book. I think it's available online. It is meant for missionaries but it can apply to everybody. I have learned a lot of things on my mission. It is like the fast track to preparing yourself for the rest of your life. If you'd have told me a year ago when I got my call that I would be here, serving with an African companion, and enjoying everything here, I probably wouldn't have believed you. 
My companion was able to call his family on the phone. He wasn't able to get ahold of his mom, but the rest of his family he got to talk to. He was bummed cause he was hoping to call his girlfriend but he didn't get to hahha. But it was a good experience for all of us. 
I can't believe Elder Nelson is finishing his mission! He was only at 6 months when he came to our ward! I'm already at 8! That's crazy. Time really flies when you're on your mission.
This week was a really good week. I'll give you all the highlights.
Tuesday we stopped by Yvon's house. He was an inactive member that we met a couple months ago. Since we met him, he's been to church on time every week. He's been looking for a job for several months. He is really smart and is very well qualified. Everyone he went to school with already has a job, and he was above them. Then a couple weeks ago he was called to serve in the family history center. He told us that he had felt like he needed to take care of his spiritual needs before he could take care of his physical needs. He had this feeling that he needed a calling first, then he could find a job. So guess what. A couple weeks after he applied for a job, and he was hired! It was so cool! He has an incredible testimony. 
Wednesday we had zone meeting. That went well. 
Thursday we had a lesson with a son of a family that are members. It was the second visit. We got there to teach the first lesson. But he had already read all the brochures we gave him and had been reading in the Book of Mormon. So he just told us everything he learned and it was done! It is so cool to see investigators that are self motivated like him. 
Friday was a weird day. We worked with a member named Slasvie. Almost every time we got to someone's house, we had to wait like 20 minutes for them to get there. So we did a lot of sitting. But we had a lot of good lessons. Including one lesson with Guy and his little sister Darcia. She is only 10 but she reads everything we gave Guy before his baptism. She has even already memorized the first 3 articles of faith! Unfortunately, her mom wants her to wait until she is older to make the decision to join the church. So we're going to push Guy to try and invite his mom to come to church so that they can be baptized as a family. 
Saturday they had a city-wide meeting about how the different churches take care of the youth. So they had the leaders from all the different churches come, and the minister of youth came and they had an expert from France talk about how to take care of the youth. It was pretty cool, but kinda weird too. I've never clapped in the Sacrament room before... haha They had all kinds of cameras and journalists too. So maybe I'll be on Congo TV! haha Anyway, then we had a baptismal service and English class. So we were at the church all day! It was kind of weird. We didn't have a single lesson. But we still had a good day. Especially because Elder and Sister Bybee came up for the meeting! It was so cool to see them. Just like old times. Unfortunately, Elder Garland, Elder Hatch, and I are the only ones in the city that knew them! Everything has changed so much! 
Anyway, Sunday it rained, so attendance was down. We went from 12 last week to 5... But that's ok. We also found out that David who was just baptized a week ago is going to some boarding school for a month to prepare for the Bac, so hopefully I don't get transferred or I'll never see him again... Anyway, then we went to the Baileys'. They made us chicken noodle soup and brownies and ice cream. Then after we all called home we went back to the apartment. My companion is still pretty sick, but the Baileys' gave me some Zicam which is supposed to help stop the cold before it gets too bad. Just one convenience of having a Pharmacist as a senior missionary haha. 
Anyway, we had a great week. My fifth transfer is already half way over! Transfer letters are in 2 weeks! Time goes by fast. Anyway, have a great week!
Love, Elder VanAusdal

Monday, May 5, 2014

Only Women buy Flour

Elder Ndayiezye and Elder VanAusdal with David who was baptized May 3rd. Happy to be serving the Lord.

So this last week was a really good week. It went by so fast! I can't believe tomorrow makes 8 months!
So Monday we did all our shopping then went home. We left again to go to a boutique across the street to buy flour. We walk in and I asked the guy to get me 5 kg of flour. There was this crazy lady in there too that started laughing her head off because I was buying flour and only women buy flour. Then she kept babbling and laughing and touching me, and leaning on me and it was kinda weird. The cashier kept asking her to stop but she was obviously crazy. Then it got to the point where she slapped me! And just kept laughing! It was so weird! Then we started going back home then we looked back and she was following us! So we tried to lose her and then we got into our parcel and locked the door. A few minutes later we heard her trying to open the door! But then she left and haven't seen her since! So... That was a funny experience. 
Tuesday we had  a really good day. We got to work with John. He's my recent convert that was called as a branch missionary! So that was a really cool experience. 
Wednesday we had a day of a lot of walking. We're in a weird stage where a lot of appointments fall through because a lot of our investigators are new and don't have fixed schedules. But we're making do. 
Thursday we started the day off with a lesson with Papy! He's the recent convert that in his picture we're all holding him and he's laying down. He was baptized in another sector but lives in our sector now. He's such a funny guy. 
Friday we started the day off with David because he was getting baptized on Saturday. We had an awesome lesson with him and talked about what it means to be baptized. If anyone was ever ready for baptism it was him. Then we saw Juldas and his brothers. They are all under 12 years old and live with members but aren't baptized. So we are teaching them. We had a hilarious lesson with them. We asked him if he ever hit his friend Galvie. He said it's not ok to hit unless it is for education. Then little 8 year old Galvie said "That's not education!" hahaha. Then we asked Juldas if he ever dreamed about killing someone. Then he said "Yeah, I had a sword and I cut his head off and stabbed him!" as he was acting it out. So much fun!
Then Saturday was the baptism. David is officially a member of the church! It was such a cool experience. He was really excited. All of the missionaries love him and were happy to see him be baptized. Then after the baptism everyone disappeared to go teach lessons so my companion and I were left to teach English class. But he doesn't speak English... So I got to teach it by myself haha. We talked about days and months and stuff. It was really fun. You have to be careful though. Cause most people learn the English they know from 50 cent and Lil Wayne... So they'll ask you what something means and you have to tell them never to say that again hahah. 
Sunday was a good day. We had 12 investigators at church! It was fast sunday too. Delauney, one of our investigators bore his testimony! Then David bore his testimony! It was really cool to see the people you work with show that much faith. Then afterward, we had branch counsel. We made a lot of progress, and I think the branch's efforts are finally going to start working together. After that, we went and had a lesson with the Moukala family. The mom was baptized 11 years ago. The rest of her family followed. But they've been inactive for a really long time. It's really difficult to see families like that. I think we're making progress though.
Anyway, we had a great week. We got a lot of things done. Hope you guys have a great week!
Love, Elder VanAusdal