Monday, September 22, 2014

Many Baptisms

Hey everybody!
Sounds like things are staying nice and busy back home. But that is a good thing. One thing I've learned on my mission is I hate just sitting around and doing nothing. So even though it's hard to be busy all the time, it truly is a blessing to be busy. The majority of people here don't have jobs. There are literally people that just sit around all day because they have nothing to do. So even in the busy parts of life, we can find blessings. That story reminds me of something I heard somewhere. Think of who is telling this story. "I left Jerusalem with my father, and left all of my possessions so that we could go into the wilderness. After travelling for a few days, I came back to get the brass plates. We were chased away and lost all of our possessions, but eventually we got the plates. I traveled 8 years in the wilderness. My wife had children in the desert and we had many difficulties. I built a boat and crossed the ocean." Most people would say Nephi. But we forget that the whole family went. Even Laman and Lemuel did all of those things. There is a difference between obedience and willful obedience. We can be obedient and still not learn or receive blessings if we don't do it with the right intentions.

So today Elder Brockbank and I went to the market to buy vegetables and stuff. We ended up with two giant marché bags like the ones in the picture I sent awhile ago full of tomatoes, peppers. onions, potatoes, bananas, beans, plantains, carrots, and herbs all for the equivalent of 18 dollars For 1 dollar we can buy 5 bundles of bananas. I'm going to miss that when I get home haha. We also bought for 5 dollars a 6 pack of 1-liter apple flavored sodas which are incredible. Does that even exist back home? Or pomegranate flavored soda? Or pineapple? There are lots of good flavors here haha. Anyway, when we got home, everyone else had already left to cyber and we forgot keys, so we had to leave everything outside the door and come here. I also wasn't able to get my planner, so I might forget some of the things that happened this week. But we got a ride here from one of the branch presidents who happens to be a taxi driver.
Anyway, this week was an incredible week. The whole week was basically preparations, lessons, and interviews to prepare for the bapism service on Saturday! We had an incredible service. All three branches in our building had baptisms, and we had over 100 people attend the service! We had 5 convert baptisms plus 2 8 year olds from our branch. We baptized Gladys, Mike, Justine, Cassia, and William. Our branch was so excited Our branch hasn't had baptisms for 4 or 5 months. So they were really happy to see baptims. And there are more to come! One of our investigators needs a special case interview, so she has to wait another month for an interview with our mission president. It was really sad to tell her. She started learning 3 years ago but moved to the village. She has read the entire Book of Mormon and every Liahona that has come out since then. She lost her husband in December. Her 2 children were taken by her in-laws. And all she wanted was to be baptized. We called everyone we could, including our mission president. We wanted to try and do it by Skype, but they didn't get a response from the area authorities. So we finally had to tell her on Friday that she couldn't be baptized. Her mom, who is already a member, said that she cried all night and was really sad. It was probably the hardest thing I've had to do on my mission. But I know that she will get baptized on the 18th of October. 
William and Cassia were batized. Parents were baptized in Japan.

Gladys, Loveline, Elder Brockbank, and Me

Elder Brockbank, Huguette, Justine, Pre. Zang, and Me


We also have a bunch of new investigators that are progressing really well. Including 2 families! And we just received another BIG family that came to church and is related to members. So we have a lot of work to do. 
On Sunday we had a miracle. We baptized 5 investigators so we thought our investigators at church number would go down. But somehow we had 17 investigators come to church! At least 8 of them were there for the first time! Our members are a lot more willing to give us referrals now because they have seen baptisms. The blessings are being poured upon us. I hope that I will still be here when that happens. Transfer letters are next week!
So to answer your questions, things in Africa are going really well. The weather is nice. It's not too hot. We have 6 elders in our apartment. We get along really well. The only difficulties we have sometimes are cultural barriers. But other than that we get along really well. We are all really good friends. It's funny what a mission does. You meet and become friends with people you never would have met before. To give some context, Elder Brockbank is a hard-core wrestler and football player who looks really scary if you don't know him because he looks like he could kill you but is actually really nice, Elder Leavitt who is a homeschooled Canadian that is really quirky but has a filthy rich dad who is a doctor for celebrities and grew up on a little island, and Elder Simmons who is the kind of person who seems like he could never leave high school. So we have the whole spectrum. And we are all best friends. Funny how that works.

They stopped reporting on Ebola because people were freaking out about it. Everyone thinks that Africa is one place. It is very big. Ebola is not everywhere. We are perfectly fine for the moment. The church is watching very closely. Cameroon has taken many measures to prevent it from entering. Travel is restricted, and they have basically barred off the Northern part of the country because of ebola and a tribal dispute that is going on in the extreme north. But we are totally fine here. I guess someone wrote to President Monga because they were afraid their son was going to die. Don't do that. We aren't going to die haha. We aren't aloud to eat any food in the sector. We are suffering to stay safe. So stop worrying hahaha
We have a washer. But every once in a while we wash by hand to whiten our shirts up. They get pretty gross. We found if you soak it in bleach water over night and then soak it in this stuff called blue-ing that gives it that bluish tint that new shirts have, after having washed it by hand, that gets them pretty white. But it is a process haha.

Anyway, all in all, everything is going good here. Have a great week!

Love, Elder VanAusdal

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