Monday, July 28, 2014

Hardships. "They'll put hair on your chest."

By the way. Just a bit of information I learned this week. So they have these things called hardship missions. Which are missions that are very stressful and have a lot of hardships. In those missions, senior couples only serve for 18 months, and mission presidents serve for 2 years. There are only 2 hardship missions in the world. DRC Lumumbashi, and yep, our mission! Well, the DRC Kinshasa mission. I don't know if it carried over when it split. But now you know that I was called to one of the 2 hardship missions in the world. And guess what, sometimes, there are actually a lot of hardships. But hardships are a good thing. They put hair on your chest, as Elder Brockbank would say haha. 

Back left to right: Elder Brockbank, Elder Niyonkuru, Elder Wright, Me, Elder Beutler, Elder Simmons, Elder Ntambwe, Elder Nzema, Elder Leavitt. Front: Elder Dimond, Sister Dimond, Sister Monga, Elder Tucker, President Monga.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Be Diligent, Bring others unto Christ

It’s really awesome to hear about Kenai! I definitely miss doing
things like that. Everyone here likes to hear stories about that
though. We are really blessed to have the opportunity to live in
Alaska. All the missionaries and senior couples have all said that
they want to come visit Alaska haha.
 I’m really proud of Conner and Aubrey. They have awesome testimonies. That will help them so much
throughout the rest of their lives. I’m glad you had the opportunity
to read that talk. I also was studying that talk this week. It is
incredible. It gives perspective for everything that we do. The
Atonement is central and everything else that we do is just an
appendage to that. I especially liked the last section. Missionary
work is not easy because Salvation is not a cheap experience. We can’t
say that we are followers of Christ if we don’t take up our cross and
walk at least a couple steps in his shoes. The Atonement wasn’t easy,
so why should our salvation be easy? It is hard to keep up with our
responsabilities and share the gospel and do everything that we are
commanded to do. But by doing these things we are becoming true
followers of Christ.
 I would like to share something that
I have found really interesting on my mission. In Africa, we have a
lot of baptisms. But it isn’t because every person we meet wants to be
baptized. I have learned that the percentage of people that we contact
and baptize is actually pretty similar to those of the United States.
That means that it’s not just cause we’re in Africa that we are
getting a lot of baptisms. But the difference between here and home is
that the people here are so willing to invite others to come to church
and meet the missionaries. Almost every baptism that I’ve had has been
from referrals. All of that to say, just because you are in America
doesn’t mean that you can’t have baptisms. There are still many
people that are searching for the truth. They are your friends. But
they don’t know where to find it.
 When we first got to this zone, there were a couple little obedience problems.
This city that used to be like a gold mine had fell in a rut. We
talked about it and made the resolution to be more obedient. This last
week we had incredible numbers as a zone and so many progressing
investigators. Between our 5 companionships, we had about 60
investigators at church! We went from 9 lessons in one week to 20. We
have found so many awesome people that were prepared by the Lord. So
remember to stay diligent in all that you do. Sometimes it’s hard.
Sometimes you say I can’t walk up one more hill or knock on one more
door. But if you do, you receive so many blessings.
Anyway, this week has been an incredible week. On Monday we went to
our branch president’s house and he also showed us a couple inactive
families. So we ended up having 3 lessons on a Pday! That was really
cool. Throughout the week we had a lot of help from members that were
showing us to where investigators live and to their friends that want
to meet us. We have been working a lot with the Obame Family. Yes, it
is pronounced Obama. So now I can say that I met the Obamas in Africa
Another funny story: So we were walking in the sector one day when we
received a text. It said something about if God shuts a door quit
banging on it and move on. It was a name that was registered in the
phone. It sounded really harsh like they were telling us to not come
back. But we didn’t know who it was. So what did we do? That night we
called and set an appointment for the next day! The other missionaries
just laughed at us. But we met with her and she is awesome and came to
church, and it turns out she is the branch president’s goddaughter! So
that was really cool.
Friday we got to meet our new mission president President Monga. He is
so cool. It will be really fun to work with him. However he can only
come every other transfer. Which means I will probably only see him 5
more times unless I go to Brazzaville haha. But they called Elder
Dimond, the senior couple elder, to be the first counselor in the
mission presidency. So now we won’t have to worry so much about the
problem of having our mission president so far away. Anyway, we had an
awesome zone conference. It was kind of weird for us to be conducting
the conference. It was really cool though. We set a lot of goals and
learned a lot. The Mongas are really fun too. They are really happy
people and I’m really excited to work with them.
So anyway this whole week was a really good week. We ended up with 8
investigators at church! And we were fed twice this week. African food
is really good. But it’s scary sometimes because they put weird things
in sometimes. For example, we had one meal that was really good, but
they cook it with pig skin. Luckily this was higher quality skin and
not the really hard thick hairy stuff hahaha. Anyway, I’ve really been
enjoying it. We had plantain foufou one time. That was really good
too. I’m loving it here in Yaounde. The people are so nice. It’s the
perfect temperature too. It isn’t even rainy either. The hills are a
little tiring, but that’s ok. I’m going to try to send some pictures
later, but next week I’ll have some more pictures of Yaounde. I mostly
just have pictures from goodbyes in Congo. But it is beautiful here. I
would suggest you look up pictures of the city. There are beautiful
HUGE buildings! It almost doesn’t feel like Africa sometimes. They
even have paved roads!

Monday, July 14, 2014

White Washed in Yaounde

So it's official! I'm in Yaoundé Cameroon. I am co-zone leader with Elder Brockbank. It's been a crazy week! We are whitewashing our sector, and the missionaries before us never wrote in the area book and didn't really have any investigators. So needless to say we have been doing a LOT of contacting. This week we spent hours doing door to door contacting. We only take numbers if it's legitimately a potential investigator but we managed to take 28 numbers! We only had 9 lessons. So it was a little rough this week. We did a lot of walking. And it just so happens that Yaounde has a TON of hills. And they are steep. So I will probably start losing a little bit of the weight that I've put on haha. But needless to say this week has been an incredible learning experience for me. Missionaries in our mission are kind of afraid to do contacting because it is hard work and we already have a lot of people to teach. This week I learned a lot about that. And we have seen a lot of miracles. Neither of us have ever even been in this city but we are already starting to figure out our sector. But we don't have the luxury of having addresses. It has been a really incredible experience. Exhausting, but incredible. If all of our appointments that we have planned for this next week go through we will have 21! And today we are going to FHE with the branch president, President Zang. So he is going to coordinate the efforts with the branch to help us out. The branch here is incredible. It works like a branch should. They really understand how this stuff works. I'm really excited to work here.

So I didn't send an email on monday because I was in an airplane going to Douala and taking a bus to Yaounde. So I didn't get a chance to write home. I sent one on Saturday, but apparently it didn't send. But because we got here on monday we had a whole week of being lost before we could coordinate effectively with the branch. But I think now things are going to work a lot better. 
The temperature here is really nice. It's cold season. It is really nice here. There are a lot of nice buildings here and nice stores. Including an American store, which apparently is supposed to have contact solution. So I'm going to check that out and see if I can get some. That would make things a lot easier. The apartment is really nice too. But it is on the third floor. So we walk up and down hills and stairs everyday haha. But it's all good. It will get me back into shape. 
Funny story by the way. You were talking about the chocolate game and that reminded me of something Elder Ralison told me. In Madagascar they play the same game! I was amazed! It was so funny! But they will use anything, even things like brownies and stuff haha. 
Well I'm really glad that everyone hasn't forgotten about me haha. It feels like I have been here for so long! 
Sorry I forgot my camera this week, but next week I will send pictures. I got a lot of goodbye pictures in Pointe Noire with recent converts and investigators. Unfortunately, because I left on Monday, I didn't really get to say goodbye to as many people as I would have liked to. 
Yeah the 4th of July was really fun. They were real hotdogs. It was 2 dollars for a package of 10. You'd be surprised the kinds of things you can find here. 
So this last week we had a lot of really cool experiences. We met a lot of incredible people, and we really saw the hand of the Lord in everything we were doing. 
This Friday President Monga is coming to do a zone conference. That will be really cool to meet him. We've already talked to him on the phone a couple times, but it'll be fun to meet him in person. We went to send in our numbers for the zone yesterday but because it's a new mission we didn't have the AP's number. So we had to call President and ask him haha. But this next week should be a really good week. There are a lot new missionaries here. The city needs a little bit of a kickstart. The missionaries kinda fell into a rut the last couple transfers but now we are going to dig it back out and bring it up to it's potential. It'll be a really good experience.
As far as things I need. I wouldn't mind if when you sent packages you slipped in some real deodorant or a white shirt or something like that. The deodorant here doesn't work very well. And my shirts are starting to get a little colorful haha. Other than that I think I'm ok. 
Anyway, this has been a crazy week! Sounds like things are staying nice and busy for you guys too. I'm glad to hear that everything is going good though. Have a great week!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Going to Yaounde!

So... I know this is a little abnormal, but we received information that everyone that is going to Cameroon this transfer is leaving Monday morning. So, that means I will be leaving Monday morning.. haha So we probably won't get a chance to write home on Monday because we will be traveling. So it's officially official. I am going to Yaounde, Cameroon. I will be serving as a zone leader working with Elder Brockbank. We will be whitewashing. Which means that we are both new to the sector. So we'll see how that goes haha. It should be a good experience though. It will be fun to see Elder Brockbank again. Luckily I knew in advance that I was leaving so I was able to say goodbye to just about everyone. And we are going to attend a marriage this afternoon, so I'll get to take pictures with everyone before I leave. I am sad to leave Pointe Noire. I am leaving my sector in very good condition. There are 11 people that are scheduled to be baptized next month. I just hope that the elders that were serving in my next sector kept a good area book haha. 
To say goodbye and celebrate a little bit we all celebrated the 4th of July at our apartment yesterday night. That was really fun. We had hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, and apple pie. So it was nice and American. It was lots of fun. It will be hard to say goodbye to everyone. Especially because I know almost no one in Cameroon. But it will be nice to have an English speaking companion for the first time in 4 1/2 months! haha And Elder Brockbank and I know each other really well already. But to make everything even better. This week they are also getting a new senior couple. So we are going to have 2 zone leaders and a senior couple (who usually lead things like that) that have no idea where anything is haha. But it will be a good experience. This last transfer we accomplished a lot of really good things. Elder Ralison is going to email to let me know when our investigators get baptized so that we can add them to the list. By the way, my next sector is called Ekounou C. It will be a little different than what I'm used to because they have a district there already! That will be really cool. Anyway, I don't have a lot of time to write today... So have a great week!
Apple Pie

Elder Gardner and Elder VanAusdal cooking for 4th of July

Home made hot dog buns! Impressive Elder VanAusdal!

Elder Garland cooking hamburgers. Elder VanAusdal making the caramel sauce for his apple pie.

Time to Eat!