Hmmmm. Where to start?? Well, this week was good. I don't think its possible to have a bad week on a mission because there is too much to love no matter how hard it is. I will admit that this week I got pretty down. Things have gotten pretty hard for us and I just can't figure out what to do. I'm the oldest on the mission, and now I just feel like I've tried everything and it was hard to admit that I just didn't know what to do. But then I had a really cool experience. So, Elder Cook from the 1st quorum of the 70 came to Swaziland this weekend and President Kretly wasn't able to come and see him. So I got to help him get to his place that he would be staying at, help him know where the chapels are and show him around a bit. And then we weren't planning on having any meetings with him but then on Saturday, he said, ya know what, why don't you elders come to my meeting with the YSA tomorrow. So we got to attend his fireside with the YSA and it was incredible. He and his wife answered questions, told stories, and gave advice. And so so so many of my prayers were answered during that time. Afterward, I got a little bit of time to talk with him personally and ask him some really personal questions. And, all I can say is he truly is an inspired man and he was an answer to my prayers. One thing I talked to him about was how I've felt like I've kinda failed here in Swaziland. How I haven't done what I was asked to do. And he asked me a few questions and then said, "Elder, you weren't called to do all those things you think you were. You were called to serve God with all your heart, might, mind, and strength. And I can tell you that God is happy and pleased and that you are one of his most valiant warriors. I felt the spirit when I met you and I know you have done your job." It was kinda a... surreal moment. Not to toot my own horn... but to just feel the love of God. For the first time in a while, I just felt completely happy. He taught me so much during the weekend. And one of the big things he taught me was faith. All through out the whole fireside he talked a lot about just having more faith. And he said, "have more faith elder. But don't worry, I'm still working on it too." Then as he and his wife left, he gave me a hug and said he wished he could come to my homecoming haha. But truly he was a blessing to me. And so I've thought a lot about faith lately... Another thing that he talked about was Elder Perry. He said that at about 3:00 am he was called to be informed that Elder Perry had passed away and then went on to just tell a bit about Elder Perry. He said that at conference he was completely healthy but then about a week after conference, they found a quick growing cancer on his neck and within weeks it took his life. But he said, even on his last days of life, he insisted that he be wheeled into his office to do his work because he was still alive and needed to endure to the end. It was just crazy to know how dedicated those men truly are to the work of the Lord. He said Elder Packer is the same exact way. Anyways, General Authorities are awesome. That is one reason I am going to miss being a missionary is just getting to be in contact with these men of God so dedicated to his work and see them so often. But I love you all and hope that you have a great week! Last full week of work here we go!
So, our week was an interesting one! Things got a little changed up! So, yes the plan was that I was going to get another companion and train him right? Well then I got a text from President the day before he came and he said, wait, i've changed my mind, call the elders in Mbabane and tell them that he is going to be with them. I can tell you that I was more than a little relieved to know I wasn't going to train again. Don't get me wrong, training is fun, but can be a little stressful. So we were going to just stay the same. Then I got another text from president later that night that said, elder, i'm thinking about some changes, let me pray about them and then we'll talk more tomorrow... so we waited. then about lunch time on tuesday he called us with the news. With the way some of the companionships were in the mission, he made some changes so that no one would have to walk in a trio. Therefore, Elder Willian was transferred to Beira on wednesday, the new elder went to Mbabane, and my new companion for the last 3 weeks is Elder Macanige from Beira! I finally get to serve with a mozambican! He was also Elder Galland's last companion haha. He has been on the mission for about 6 months and has been learning english and is doing really well. He is extremely funny and its been so nice to have a piece of mozambique with me again. He has been kinda thrown around to every branch in Swaziland so far but he's really positive and has a great attitude. One thing that I love about the mozambicans is their happy attitude and humility. He is no exception. His story is one that comes from a humble and tough beginning to where he came out to make it on his own. He is 23 years old and he is truly awesome. So, our week got a little bit changed up with that. You know, our branch has been struggling a bit in quite a few areas, and so its been nice to have him here because his branch was one of the worst in the mission, and now it went from what it was, to now two wards with a sacrament meeting attendance of around 200 people in both wards (all of this happened in the time that I have been here in Mozambique.) So its been nice to have him with his ideas and testimony of the power that the members really do have in the missionary work. So one of our ideas that we've had comes from a talk by Russell M. Ballard. Its titled "Be Anxiously Engaged." We want to create a new feeling of Christlike love and service throughout the whole branch and in ourselves. So in this talk, he gives a challenge, or a simple practice that he promises can change us. He says,"That simple practice is: In your morning prayer eachnew day, ask Heavenly Father to guide you to recognizean opportunity to serve one of His precious children.Then go throughout the day with your heart full of faithand love, looking for someone to help. Stay focused,just like the honeybees focus on the flowers from whichto gather nectar and pollen. If you do this, your spiritualsensitivities will be enlarged and you will discoveropportunities to serve that you never before realized were posible." So, we've decided to go around and visit all the members and challenge them to do this same thing as we ourselves are also doing it. Our hope and prayer, is that as we do this, we will create a habit of always doing good and the Holy Ghost will guide us to people who will in turn be open to hear the gospel. I'm excited to see what new opportunities open up to us as we do this! In the talk he also compares doing these small acts of kindness and service as the honey bees contributing their small bit of honey. How it may not seem like much but as he says, "Great things are brought about and burdens are lightened through the efforts of many hands “anxiously engaged in a good cause.” And its true. We can do great things if all of us will work together and be anxiously engaged in a good cause. Something else that I read this week that really applied was a talk by Thomas S. Monson. We've been facing a lot of struggles lately. And at times it can be very easy to focus and what we don't have. How many investigators we don't have. How many lessons we aren't teaching. How many contacts we aren't getting. And so this talk was very timely for me. He says, "In the book of Matthew in the Bible, we have anotheraccount of gratitude, this time as an expression fromthe Savior. As He traveled in the wilderness for threedays, more than 4,000 people followed and traveledwith Him. He took compassion on them, for they maynot have eaten during the entire three days. Hisdisciples, however, questioned, “Whence should wehave so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so greata multitude?” Like many of us, the disciples saw onlywhat was lacking.
“And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye?And [the disciples] said, Seven, and a few little fishes.
“And [Jesus] commanded the multitude to sit down onthe ground.
“And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gavethanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, andthe disciples to the multitude.”
Notice that the Savior gave thanks for what they had—and a miracle followed: “And they did all eat, and werefilled: and they took up of the broken meat that was leftseven baskets full.” Too often we are like the disciples who saw only what was lacking. But thankfully we have the Savior who always provides us with the perfect example showing us that when we look at what we do have and give thanks, the miracles will follow. He says also, "Regardless of our circumstances, each of us has much for which to be grateful if we will but pause and contemplate our blessings." And so that is my new task for myself. To really look at and give thanks for what I have, not what I do not have. Maybe nothing drastic will change, but there is one thing that will change for sure, and that is that I will no longer have anything to be sad for because I will constantly recognizing everything that I have been given. We have so much to be thankful for and yet so little time to give thanks that we don't have time to complain about what we don't have. I know that as we try to become more like our Savior in at least these two simple ways, by rendering much service and giving thanks for all that we have, that our lives truly will be filled with a new light. The work of the Lord continues on... it truly does. It will never stop. I love it! Missionary work is the best kind of work. I'm going to cherish these last days that I do have, to say that I am an ordained missionary of Jesus Christ! I love you all and hope you have a great week!
I sent a lot of pictures and hopefully over the course of the email I will explain them all! So like you already knew, we went on a safari with president kretly last week. It was so so fun. We got so insanely close to all the animals. They had zebras, gazelle, warthogs, wildebeest, crocodiles, and a few other animals that I don't know the name of. We drove through, taking pictures, stopping and getting out... Sister Kretly was super funny. She loved how close we could get to the zebras and at one point she was like, Paulo, get out of the car right now and take a picture of me with this zebra! she wanted a picture so bad haha. Then, we got to a rest area and had a big BBQ. While president barbequed, we threw a baseball and a football around. It felt so good to throw a baseball again. And then we all ate and had a really good time. The only thing was, the warthogs aren't afraid of people. In fact they can be kinda vicious. And they kept charging us and scaring us while we were trying to eat haha. After the big barbeque with delicious steaks, we got back in and drove back. Then we just had a normal week, but we were extremely extremely blessed. I'll come back to all that happened. But we had a leadership meeting on Thursday, and President was still here, so he had us come to his house for the meeting, just Elder Hunsaker, Dustin, Kitchen, and me. We went over, had the meeting via skype with the rest of the mission like normal and then when it was all over, he was like so what do you guys think? Should we have another BBQ?? Turns out he bought another mountain of steak and food so we got to hang out with president for a couple more hours and have another BBQ! Let me tell you, president knows how to cook a steak. We left there FULL. Then, Saturday, we helped out a member family with their garden. The wife is pregnant and so she can't do it on her own. So we went over and weeded her garden for her and then tilled up the ground a bit. That is us with her daughter. Her daughter loves us haha. Whenever we come over, she turns into a crazy little girl and just runs around everywhere. So, anyways, back to the work. We were extremely blessed to finally find some new families and also see the area continue to progress. It wasn't after a lot of weeks of sacrifice and prayer though that it did happen. It was a lot of tough weeks to finally have one good week. But I was reminded of a scripture that perfectly describes exactly how I felt after this week. It comes from Alma chapter 36 20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.
Clearly, I wasn't feeling pain so exquisite and bitter. But, I can testify that the more we suffer and sacrifice, the greater our joy can be. If we want to experience the joy that can take us up on the mountains, at some point we also have to feel the sadness that takes us down into the valleys. There was an interesting quote that I read this week. It's by Paul V. Johnson and he says, "We must be careful that we don’t resent the very things that help us put on the divine nature." In other words, we shouldn't hate the trials, because its exactly those times that will help us to become more like our Heavenly Father. But that was our week. I really have gained such a great love for the words of our living prophet and other leaders of the church. I have so many quotes that truly can inspire us to be better people. So just a few quotes from my studies this week for you-
D. Todd Christofferson-
In all of this, God’s purpose is that we, His children, may be able to experience ultimate joy, to be with Him eternally, and to become even as He is. Some years ago Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained: “The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.”1
Often, the answer to our prayer does not come while we’re on our knees but while we’re on our feet serving the Lord and serving those around us. Selfless acts of service and consecration refine our spirits, remove the scales from our spiritual eyes, and open the windows of heaven. By becoming the answer to someone’s prayer, we often find the answer to our own. -Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Those who understand the eternal blessings which come from the temple know that no sacrifice is too great, no price too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessings. There are never too many miles to travel, too many obstacles to overcome, or too much discomfort to endure. They understand that the saving ordinances received in the temple that permit us to someday return to our Heavenly Father in an eternal family relationship and to be endowed with blessings and power from on high are worth every sacrifice and every effort. - Thomas S. Monson
These are just a few of the quotes from my studies this week. I love you all and hope you have a great week!!
P.S. One other thing, so we were informed this week that the new mission president has been reassigned to a new mission due to health problems, so our new new mission president will be President Joni Koch. But because of the late notice, his VISA is still being processed and so president Kretly has asked that we all pray and ask our families to pray that his visa comes through on time.
The story behind the "behind" of the gazelle haha. So we're driving and president was like,
do you see how his butt has an "M" on it? and we were like ya we can see. and he was
like, well that stands for McDonalds. Its McDonalds for lions! hahaha.
Well, the big news is..... A lot of things changed in the mission... in fact every single house in the mission had changes. EXCEPT, our house. We all stayed the same. I will be finishing off my mission here in Ezulwini with Elder Willian and Elder Hunsaker and Elder Van Leuven in the house. It's pretty weird, the feeling knowing that I am going into my last transfer. It, doesn't really seem real. Umm zone conference was great though.. We had a long long day. We woke up at 2:30 am on tuesday morning, had some slight complications, but we arrived in mozambique relatively on time, and then had an awesome awesome zone conference. Probably the best one that I had ever been to on my mission. It was mainly focused completely on the atonement of Jesus Christ. The main theme was "An extraordinary missionary is motivated by a knowledge of the atonement of Jesus Christ and as a result he..." and then there were many different things that an extraordinary missionary should do as a result. It was absolutely incredible. I loved it so much. It was good to be back in mozambique. I felt like I was going home. I loved seeing everything again. It was nice to see the other missionaries again and what not. And it was strange because a lot were going home. So this transfer the mission lost 15 missionaries and next transfer when I go home, we are losing 16 more. Around 1/3 of our mission. And all of us were the leaders. Its scary, but also a time for the young missionaries to step up and take responsibility which is good. Anyways, we left zone conference and didn't end up getting home until around 11:15 pm and then we had to shower and get into bed so president told us to sleep in at least two hours to get some needed rest. Do you know how weird it was to sleep in past 6:30 am. That was the first time in almost 2 years! And it was awesome and much needed. We all drug for the rest of the week anyways, it was pretty hard on us but it was worth it because zone conference was amazing. We will be having one last one, the first or second week of June as ours and Presidents last zone conference. The rest of the week... well it was trying. We made a big push to really apply all the things that we learned, and we feel like we got even more opposition. But we are really trying to just stay positive and do everything according to the will of the Lord. Something I realized last night is even when we have righteous desires, it may come down to the fact that its not in the right timetable of the Lord and so we just have to wait patiently. So that's what we are doing. Working hard and waiting patiently. I hope that all is going well for everyone else. I love you all and oh ya, I will be doing SKYPE on sunday at around 5:00 pm here. So if I am correct, the time difference is 8 hours right now and so that would make it 9:00 amthere. I hope that works out... I'm pretty sure you guys have 11:00 church so I'm hoping that all works out! I love you all!
Well we are back to emailing on monday again! Hopefully we won't have any more holidays that keep us from emailing on monday. I don't like doing p day on tuesdays haha. So the plan for zone conference is that today at around 5:00 pm we're all gonna go to the Manzini Elder's apartment and we're all sleeping there tonightbecause then tomorrow we are leaving at 4:30 am. We have to go over the border and sometimes they complicate stuff and its about a 3 or so hour ride and we need to be there by 8:00 am. Then we will have the conference and then whenever its over, probably around 4:00 or 5:00 pm then we will come straight back to swaziland! It will be a long day for sure! Then, Wednesday, it is back to normal.
I'm proud to know that I have such a strong little niece. She has been an inspiration to me. I pray for her daily.
My thoughts for today... There are many. But I guess the best way to focus them would be to start out with my time here in Swaziland. My time here has truly been a blessing. As I look back and think about all the miracles that were and are happening in Mozambique, I also realize that as missionaries we had started to get almost, complacent. Maybe that's not the best word, but what I'm trying to say is that, the miracles were happening so often, that I think we started to forget who was really running the show. It wasn't because of our efforts that made those miracles happen, but its the Lord that was doing it. And coming to Swaziland has helped me see that. Sometimes, we need a minute to sit back and see the whole picture. I'm grateful to my Heavenly Father for giving me this chance to see the whole thing and realize that it was His hand, not mine that made these miracles happen. Along with my time here in Swaziland being a humbling period, I have had a lot of time to really get back to the basics. Really think about what is most important. And something that David A. Bednar said in his talk on saturday was that "The things that matter most, last in time AND eternity." I have been thinking about that a lot recently. And then on Sunday, as we finished conference, I had a really spiritual experience. When President Monson was announcing those temples, I felt something... It was weird. A good weird. I felt somewhat emotional thinking of the blessings that those wonderful people will receive. I could feel the spirit testifying that those places were inspired by God and that those people would be eternally blessed by the temples. Obvious right? But for some reason it hit me really strong. I can't seem to convey what I really felt at that moment, but it was something special. Temple work will continue on for time and eternity. I could feel the spirit really helping me know of the importance of temples. I have felt a true longing to go to the temple recently. I feel as though my spirit is wanting to go there so badly! I anticipate the day that I can enter into the House of the Lord to do His holy work once again. Another Gospel principle that has been on my mind a lot recently is families. Clearly, the family and the temple go hand in hand. There are so many things I didn't realize before the mission that I have come to see so plainly and clearly now. One of those things is the centrality of the family to the plan of salvation. We can do so many things alone... but when it comes to entering the highest degree of glory in the celestial kingdom, that can't be done alone. Its no wonder that Satan is making a concentrated attack on the family... Anyway, I don't really know what I'm writing now. I'm kinda just rambling, but what I am really trying to say is that I'm so grateful for the plain and simple truths of the gospel. The foundation of our lives.
In terms of our work.... The family that we are really working with looks like they are finally making some progress once again. They have been pretty stalled because of the wife's work and it has been a little bit of a stumbling block. But the Lord is removing the barriers and making the ways possible. I don't know if I will see the family baptized, I hope and pray that I will, but everything will happen in the Lord's time.
Ok, one more random thought that has come into my mind right now. And that is the gift of repentance and the Lord's patience with us. I have thought a lot about how when I come home, how are people going to look at me. I honestly pray that anyone who i might have offended before can forgive me. I hope that those who I have done wrong to or have spoken mean to can realize that I am no different than them. Its funny how if we really look at things, we are all kinda like Dieter F. Uchtdorf once said, awkward toddlers stumbling through life, trying to become better. Is it not incredible, absolutely incredible that the Lord allows us this period of life to repent. He never gives up on us. He looks on with patient loving care, waiting for us to realize that all along, He knew better. He doesn't say, "I told you so!" when we fall. He simply rejoices in the fact that we are progressing and learning. I don't understand it. It doesn't make sense. Yet, the Lord loves us, imperfections and all. The gospel is good. No, the gospel is great :) I think I could continue to write about everything I learned at General conference, or some of the millions of crazy thoughts I have, but I know that you are all probably tired of reading this email already. So I will end it with this. The gospel is true. Miracles are happening every day wherever we are. I love you all! I hope you have a wonderful week and that each of us can see the miracles and the hand of the Lord in our lives!
Once again, our Pday was on tuesday. Wanna know why? Well as you may know Swaziland is ruled by a King. I won't get much in to what I think of him. But anyways, it was his birthday on sunday and so it was a national holiday that they celebrated on monday. And you have to get a special permit from him to be able to open your business on his birthday so, we moved p day to Tuesday due to this. Anywaysss.... It appears as though life is busy as ever back at home! I'm glad to hear you are all keeping busy. My prayers certainly go out to Grandpa and to Cailee. I hope all is well and I'm glad that Darcee will be able to go over and help out. What a blessing! Everyone is just growing right up! Birthdays are all over the place. Happy birthday to Hailey! Life certainly is not stopping for anything! We are down to the last 2 weeks of this transfer and this week will be a busy week. Tomorrow (wednesday) i will be doing a division with Elder Ebmeyer who works in Manzini. Then Friday I will be doing a division with Elder Hunsaker who works here in Ezulwini. Then sunday we will watch general conference again and then next tuesday we will be heading to mozambique for zone conference! The week after that will be the start of my last transfer! I hope all goes well with the Visa stuff! So speaking of General Conference, we watched the saturday sessions at church on Sunday and they were really really wonderful. I loved the talk by David A Bednar on how the Lord can hush our fears. I really loved that one. And I liked the talk on the dance steps of the gospel. I thought it was a very good description and I liked how it was easy to apply to our lives. I'm excited to watch the sunday sessions next week! The finances are coming along fine. I have to finish up the month end report so that I can send it in by Friday. I will try to pay some last minute bills maybe tomorrow and then I plan on trying to finish the report on thursday hopefully. I also have to help Nathi try and get his report made out so he can send his in. We have a couple families that we are teaching. Last week was a pretty tough week in finding new families though. We are working really hard and seeing a lot of rejection, but I think that if you don't go through something like this at some point in your mission, you didn't serve a real mission ;) I think we marked about 35 lessons over the course of last week, and all but about 10 of them fell through. They will give us their number, invite us over, and then when we call to have them come meet us to show us where their house is, they just turn their phones off. So its been an interesting battle. I have really enjoyed reading in Alma to see how he dealt with rejection. I am taking a lot of advice from the missionaries in the scriptures to see how they did things. I love Ammon and how he served the people. So yesterday we went out for about and hour and just picked up trash, a simple way that we could try and serve the people. I'm trying my best to be who the Lord wants me to be. I loved the talk on not focusing on titles but just serving out of the good of our hearts. I hope that I can become better at that over these next 8 weeks. I pray that I can learn all that the Lord wants me to before I come home and that these wonderful moments can help me in all phases of my life. I love you all so much! I hope you have a wonderful week!
We had a really good and extremely fast week. I can't believe how fast the time is going now!! Last week, I was able to download conference onto my memory card and so during the week, as I was getting ready in the morning and as I was writing in my journal at night, I was able to listen to all of conference and it was wonderful. I am excited to be able to watch it at church again to be able to focus even more and really be able to take notes. But I loved all the talks. I loved the talk by President Packer and the way he talks about his loving wife. It was a wonderful example of true and eternal love. We have been facing some new challenges that I haven't had on my mission yet, but they have all truly strengthened my testimony! One thing that happened was the following- So a few weeks ago, we taught a South African man named Reverend Louis. He was more interested in just knowing about our church. So we explained and we left him happy to know that we are Christians and he appreciated our message. Well, we ran into him again last week. But this time, he wasn't so happy to see us. He came up to us and expressed his concern for our souls because he had done some research into our church and clearly came across some unfavorable material that demeaned the prophet Joseph Smith. He went on to tell us how he has scientific proof that Joseph Smith was a false prophet and that we are on a path that won't lead to a good place. He continued on to say that he will pray that our eyes will be opened to see the truth and many other things about the Book of Mormon and what not. At the end, I simply looked at him in the eyes and said, "Reverend Louis, you are a very smart man. You know a lot of things about the Bible. But no proof, no document can ever make me lose my testimony of this truth. No scientific proof can tell me that Joseph Smith was a false prophet because no scientific proof told me that he was. I know he was a prophet of God because I prayed and I know of the truthfulness through the Holy Ghost. You can show me whatever you want, but it can't shake my testimony of what I know is true." As I said that, I felt a burning in my chest that I had never experienced before, confirming that the things I said were true. It was a true manifestation of the Spirit, helping me, a inexperienced 20 year old boy, stand up for the truth against a studied scholar in the Bible. We had many other challenges during the week also. The houses here are many times fenced in and one person owns the whole thing and then the others just rent out the houses. And we were kicked out of two of these places where we were teaching families. We were saddened by this, because we aren't entirely sure how we will continue to help these families now, but it was a testimony to me that we are doing the right thing. The truth always faces opposition. But just to kinda continue on with the theme of Joseph Smith, he has been on my mind a lot lately. And our Elders Quorum lesson was on him and I had even been reading in D&C about the letter that John Taylor wrote about his death. I was deeply touched by his testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. I have truly gained a testimony of him and his role that he has played in my life. While we obviously don't worship him, we can revere his name as one of the great ones that has ever walked this earth. He truly brought about a marvelous work and a wonder that has changed my life and each one of yours. Because of what happened in 1820, our family will be together forever and because of what happened in 1820, we can one day live with our loving Heavenly Father again. How grateful I am for that wonderful man, who had the courage to stand up for what he knew was true, so that we could have these wonderful blessings today.
Unfortunately, it looks like the baptism wont happen on the 25th anymore.. Its going to be pushed back a little bit into May it appears. Umm, monkeys aren't as common over here in our new apartment. Every once and a while we see them running on the streets though. And some of the families that we teach do have kids. We are kinda in the phase of finding some new families so we don't have a lot of solid families yet though. And Easter... oh how they celebrate Easter here.
They have a lot of very African churches here... like traditional. And the people love them. LOVE them. They all dress up in crazy clothes and walk around with sticks and then they go to church on Friday and don't go home until Monday. They just sing and dance and then the King here gives some speeches at the national stadium... The people get what the people want. Its hard sometimes to see something so sacred as Easter getting treated as a chance to just kinda dance and party. But, as the world drifts farther and farther from the truth, we must stand firmer and firmer in our faith.
I don't know exactly why I was sent to Swaziland, but I can say that in these last 9 weeks, I have grown and stretched and my testimony has become even more solid than before. The Lord works in mysterious ways. Sometimes he does things to us that we can't understand until its over. I feel like I'm starting to see a little bit, of why he sent me here. I hope you all had a great Easter and that April is going well for you. Its going by quickly. My time is running out. But I still have 9 weeks to serve with all my heart, might, mind and strength. I know that the Lord has a plan for all of us, including the wonderful people of Swaziland. In his time he will bring about his great designs, and how wonderful it is that he lets us be a part of it :) I love you all and hope you have a great week!!
PS we woke up early and went hiking on the mountain and made it to the top where we were able to take some really cool pictures of everything, including the valley down below where we live!
Our week went really well. On Tuesday, we didn't work at all. We spent the whole day moving. Wednesday, we did some more moving but we tried to work about half of the day. Thursday, about the same thing. So we had Friday, saturday, and sunday to really work. Saturday was a really good day for us and we found lots of new good families! we were really happy about that. The only bad part about this week was that when we were moving, i wore shorts and short socks. Well the place where we were at had lots of animals and bugs, and well I ended up getting bitten, over thirty times by some bug. I think it was fleas from the dogs at the old place. So I had some long itchy nights... Luckily its all better now. Now the flu has passed, the itching is gone, and I think I am healthy again :) Just a little tired haha. So i bought a white board and put it on our fridge and then now we write the "quote of the day"every day. Just funny things that are said during the days. So I will send the quotes of the days with stories for this email! To be continued....
One day, Elder Van Leuven made a giant pot of noodles and then had them all on his plate. And when he sat down to eat them, i just looked at him like really? and he just looks at me and says with a serious face "I can eat all these noodles" so i told him if he did, i would give him 10 rand. Needless to say, I never lost my 10 rand :) hahahaha
So at church on sunday, we are all together and President Masego, the Branch president is teaching about reverence and he wanted to talk about music and so he says, "What is the name of the church's choir again? Mormon helping hands?" hahahaha. I looked over at another member and he was just busting up laughing so at that point I couldn't hold it in any longer and I died laughing also.
Nathi is the guy that works with me a lot, and he was helping us move. So we are all trying to work hard, meanwhile he is just on his phone and he just says, Elder come on let's just go already! I'm tired. hahahahaha. Classic Nathi.
I forgot to take a picture of the other quotes but one of them was, "No man, we gotta convince President to get power curtains. These? These are not power."That would be another Nathi quote. For some reason he loves saying that things are power... it doesn't really make sense but we all say it. And the curtains in our house are about 2 feet to short, so when he walked in he just started laughing and then told us we need to convince president that we need new curtains because we are living in a power house and so we need power curtains. This morning he also walked into our house and we asked him how church was for him and he just laughs and says, "Elders, it was power. I was in Mbabane...that's power" haha.
Another quote was from a lady yesterday... So she was quite drunk and kinda harrassing us and then she starts yelling at us saying things like...What you can't talk to me cause i"m drunk and i"m a sinner??? and so i said no, we can't talk to you because you won't remember the conversation tomorrow... and then she stops, stares at me and says, "tell me one word. any word and i will remember it tomorrow. In fact, I'LL TAKE IT TO MY GRAVE!!!" hmmmmm ok, "Rock,"I said. her-"Rock? what is the meaning?" so i bent down picked one up and then she looks at me and says, '" OHHHHH you are talking about the big ones now..." me-ummm sure....? and then her boyfriend came over, apologized and took her away.... hahahahaha. that was a funny quote of the day.
SO that was our week in quotes! I hope you enjoyed! I love you all and I'll see you next week!
Well, what a week we had here. So last monday, after email, we went to a cultural show for swaziland. It reminds me a lot of the Polynesian Culture Center on a small scale. And it was really really awesome. They all dressed up in the traditional Swazi clothes and then did some different dances. Their dances are very centered on kicking. They kick their legs extremely high so I tried to get a couple of pictures of them kicking. Then they took us on a little tour of a classic swazi home and talked a little bit more about the culture. There is a mountain near the place that is called Execution Mountain because they used to throw people off it when they did something wrong. We were thinking that that had to have been a long time ago right? Nope, they just discontinued the practice in 1978! haha! Super crazy. But it was good to go there. Swazis love that they are swazis and they love their culture so it was good for us to see and appreciate the culture to help us understand and be able to serve the people better!
Tuesday, the McEwens left :( We were very sad. But President and Sister Kretly were here to take them to the airport so we also invited them over for dinner and we made them pizza on Tuesday night and then we had a little 20-30 minute talk and President taught us on the finer points of life ;) haha. It was really nice though.
Wednesday, President called me and had me come over to the senior couples house, and now since they are gone, I get to do what they were doing before. So there is a member here that kinda works with me, but I am in charge of all the financial stuff for Swaziland now so I will pay the bills and do the monthly financial reports for Swaziland. I also have to take care of the senior couple house and make sure that it stays in good order and a few other new responsibilities. So, more work but it will all be good. I have had to learn quickly how to take care of the financial stuff. I still don't know everything though so hopefully tomorrow or sometime this week, I will be receiving a training from the financial secretaries on what I need to be doing exactly.
Umm Friday, I went to Mbabane to do a division with Elder Oryang and discuss everything we want to do this transfer. So I had a really good time. He is good missionary and I am excited to be working with him! The only thing that is bad about Mbabane are the mountains. Here in Ezulwini we have the mountains too but we only have to go up them maybe once a day. But there, we are up and down them all day and it gets a little bit tiring.
Then after that I caught a little flu and wasn't feeling too great so I ended up staying home. I went to church but I didn't work after that. I am still not feeling great but I think it is passing now. Being sick on the mission is no fun for sure! So that was our week!!
Hopefully we will be moving to our new house tomorrow... but some stuff still needs to be worked out so we aren't exactly sure what will happen yet! But I hope you all have a great week!! I love you and miss you all!
Well I wanna thank everyone for all the birthday wishes. I didn't do too much for my birthday. Really the only thing that I did was we had the senior couple, the McEwens over for lunch because they are leaving tomorrow and we wanted to thank them for everything they have done for us. They really are some of the most Christlike people I have ever met. So we invited them over for our traditional sunday pizza and made them pizza and salad and then elder van leuven made me brownies for my birthday. It was quite the feast!! We made 6 pizzas! Maybe a little bit too much haha. The miracle of yesterday though was that we had 3 full families at church. That is a huge improvement considering we started from almost nothing at the beginning of the transfer! Our first sunday we only had 1 investigator at church. We had 8 people yesterday! That is nothing less than a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord.
A funny story that happened this week. Well honestly we had a pretty rough week... We got rejected a lot and Satan's biggest lie that he is telling people is that all churches are the same. We all praise the same God and its just a matter of preference where you want to go. Ugh... Super frustrating. Well in a lesson when we were teaching a new family, they had already heard a bit about our church and the husband asked if Joseph Smith was the same guy that wrote the Book of Mormon and so we explained that he didn't write it but that he translated it from a language of old to english so that we could enjoy its teachings today and to show that he was a true prophet of God. And the wife answers "Oh i get it, Mormon is an old american language..."hahahahaha. Not quite. So we had to explain again that mormon isn't a language and that he was just one of the prophets hahaha. So amidst all the frustration of trying to help people see that churches aren't the same, there was that one funny experience haha. But really, we got told this week that our church and their church is exactly the same. Not one thing is different. The only difference is that we are from different religions.... and the person was serious!!! I couldn't quite wrap my mind around that one.
But our week was good. This week we have plans for some new finding activities! We are excited and we hope that it works out well! I attached pictures of our lunch with the McEwens.
I actually sang another duet yesterday at church. We sang, "this is my father's world". lets just say i hadn't been so nervous in such a long time. but it went really well. Today, we are going to go to a cultural show! So that should be fun! I am really excited! Ok two things really quickly.
I started a new Book of Mormon challenge to finish the B.O.M. before I come home... well i started it like 3 weeks ago. But in it, I highlight in different colors 1. every reference to christs name in any form 2.his words 3. his attributes and 4. the doctrines and principles taught by the Book of Mormon. I am just getting to the middle of 2 nephi and I have never learned so much!! Its incredible what you can learn by studying a little bit harder!!! I have learned so many new things in this that i never knew before!!! Its been awesome!
Also, we have a family that started the marriage process yesterday so their date is set for april 25th!!! we are excited! I love you all and hope you have a great week!!!
Well I'm sorry about the lack of email and information lately. I've been finishing up the college stuff but it should almost all be done now. I am trying my hardest to come up with some good stuff to write to you. I feel like I am writing the same thing to you guys every week. So I will try think of some good stories...
Well story #1. I was on a division with elder abel this week and we ran into a semi investigator and he had told me about how he is super smart and had his own business in south africa but then got chased out so he started all over here and was doing well and all this. Well we ran into us and said that he is getting chased again and someone ransacked his house and told him to get out and so we asked him, "well what are you going to do?" and he responds by saying, ï'm gonna stay"... "well what if they come after you??" and he responds "I'm gonna show them who's boss!! That's how i do it!!!"and then gives us a high 5 and walks away hahahaha. we just sat there laughing.
Story#2. So I was on another division with Elder Van Leuven and we saw this big house we wanted to contact but we couldn't get the doorbell to work and the wall was too big so we just left a restoration pamphlet on the gate thinking well they will surely see it at some point. Well later that night we were walking around and we were about to go home and what do we see? Some random little girl walking around with a restoration pamphlet.. wonder where she got that hahahaha.
Story #3. Last night we went to contact a man and he looked like a normal Swazi but he speaks incredible english and sounds like a cowboy... so we asked him where is from and he said from here. well it turns out he was raised here in swaziland by some guys from texas hahaha so what does he have? a texas accent! Got to love it.
Well those are just some of the funny stories from the week. My favorite thing during the day is the funny stories so I will start to make notes of them and bring them next monday. I love you all and hope you have a great week!!!
Pic of Peter and Phindile (pen-dee-lay) at Family home evening last week
Well good morning family :) This week was a much better week. We were able to get a lot of work done this week! We met some really nice new families. We are really excited about the progress that they are making. It is hard to believe how fast everything is going. I am the oldest one in my house...in terms of time on the mission. I am actually the youngest person in age but I have the most time on the mission which is crazy. The mission is going by really fast. I got accepted into college and things are going well! Elder Abel lives in a town called Mbabane. Its like 30 minutes away. Piano lessons went really well on saturday!! It was really fun. I just used my limited knowledge to help on the parts that my comp didn't know in english haha. Also, the branch members think I have a really good singing voice so somehow I got roped into doing a duet at our branch conference next week.... interesting haha.
I still haven't decided on which college I am going to go to yet though... I got accepted to both so before I make a decision I'm going to take it to some serious prayer and studying... speaking of which, i need to take some time today to read up on both colleges so my letter will be short today. I love you all though and hope you have a great week!!
Pics of the house! its so nice, but expensive and so we will be moving on april 1st
So... Swaziland. Where to begin?? This week was a challenging week. It's funny, everything that I was tired of in Mozambique, I now miss. I miss the loud music playing everywhere, I miss the drunk people bothering us, I miss the fact that everyone there knows us and so every person is shouting our name all day long. I can say that I was very Mozambique sick (instead of homesick) this week. It was tough for sure. I miss speaking Portuguese. Ok, that's enough of my whining. Needless to say I surely do miss Mozambique. But with all that said, I was called to serve a mission wherever the Lord sent me and right now He has called me to Swaziland. So let me give you a little run down on Swaziland. Swaziland is a very beautiful mountainous country. The things here are very very nice. Everything costs much less and so we eat very well here haha. Our house is wonderful. The temperature is awesome! Much much cooler. The streets are clean, the people are nice. I'm in the mountains again, oh how I missed the mountains. Oh, and we might have wild monkeys that play all over our house. One morning I woke up to a lot of noise on our roof and I couldn't figure out what was going on, so I went outside and there were monkeys that were jumping from the trees onto our roof, running across our roof and then jumping off the other side onto the other trees hahaha. So I took some pictures of them to send. That is a definite plus, we get to be with monkeys every day! Swaziland is a very quiet country. Not much music playing, the people are much more reserved, and so in some ways that is proving difficult for doing contacts. The english here.... well lets just say that I understood better in Mozambique and the people understood me better there. I am getting better at understanding them and speaking so that they can understand me. One big difficulty is that many don't speak english though. Many only speak the dialect which is called Saswati (sp?). It is a dialect with clicks... its pretty interesting. So anyways, at the beginning of last week, we spent trying to figure out where our areas were at. We were all new in our branch so no one knew where anything was at. And then we had a meeting with President Kretly on the new vision that he has for Swaziland and so we are slowly starting to implement it. Its not easy. I have never prayed so much on my mission as I have this past week. I have never had to be so patient as I have had to be this last week. But I know that things will get better. There is a quote by Jeffrey R. Holland and he says that some blessings come now, some come later, and some don't come in this life but for those who live the Gospel of Jesus Christ the blessings come... That is what is keeping me going. I don't have to have any blessings right now. I know that the blessings will come in the Lord's time. And how can I be sad living in a beautiful country. There is so much potential here. Church went well, we have a small branch. I just went from the biggest branch on the mission to one of the smallest. We had 70 people at sacrament meeting yesterday. The chapel is nice though. My companion plays the piano incredibly. He plays the hymns but makes them all his own versions as he plays and they are different every time. He is really incredible. So on Saturdays we will be teaching piano lessons as a service project so we are excited about that. He also speaks english perfectly. Possibly better than me. No problems with that. In my house we are 4 people. Me and my comp, and Elder Van Leuven, and Elder Hunsaker. Its an awesome house. Speaking of the creation of the stake, Elder Ellis was the presiding authority so I had already met him before. But I found out that Tualufo, the mission secretary was called as the first bishop in mozambique over the Magoanine branch... I was so happy to hear that! I was sad not to be there but it was awesome to hear. And well, that's life here in Swaziland in a nutshell. It's different. Life just changed a whole lot. And so we are doing our best to adjust to everything. We have all been going through missing mozambique but we are all finding happiness in the call of the Lord. It is His work so who are we to deny the calling. I am happy :) that much i can say. Life is different now, but I am happy. I'm slowly gaining a greater and broader vision for the work of the Lord. I am gaining greater patience. Maybe I will never see Swaziland as we want, I don't have much time, but I will do all I can to lay the foundation for a great work to be done here. Maybe I won't be the one to reap what I sow. But in the end, the Lord is the true gardener and He will reap all the works. Whether it be by me or another missionary, it doesn't matter. I love you all and hope you are having a great time. I miss you and pray for you!
Well well well... where do I start? Well I stayed in Magoanine all week long because president got the whole mission together and we all were in Maputo for the creation of the stake! So that was super super incredible. And then right after the conference, i got my new companion, he is from Brazil. His name is Elder Willian Dos Santos. I am training him. But the big news, I am not in Mozambique anymore! I am in Swaziland!!!!!!!!! How nuts is that. We got here last night. Ya... its insane. Its a lot cooler here.. what a blessing. I am in the mountains! I feel like I am just living up at the cabin right now. Its so insane. I can't believe all the changes. Its just a beautiful country. I sent you some pics of our yard, our porch. Our house is so so so nice. We have a beautiful view of swaziland. We have quite the task in front of us though. President moved everything. We are all new here to our branch so no one knows everything. So we have to try and figure things out on our own... Ya its crazy! I don't have much to say today cause I haven't done much yet... but I will have lots next week! For now I will just send pics!!! I love you all so so much!!!
PS. my new Zone Leader who works with me is Elder Abel
I got these pictures a bit out of order. This is Swaziland - Justin's new home!
So this last week was good. It was a hard to accept that he was going home, both for him and for me haha. Unfortunately I wasn't able to see Elder Galland and say good bye, he went early this morning to pick up his family from the airport. We last week went bowling and had a little party at the mission office for the missionaries who were going home and then we had a fairly normal week just visiting people and then saying goodbye to everyone. And then Sunday after church he left for the city and so i stayed with Elder Coelho and Elder Uache. Umm and then once again they have had some transfer mixups. It looks like we will only find out about transfers on Wednesday so until now I am just without a companion. Right now I just kinda go where one of the other companionships go. But tomorrow I will probably and try and get a melchezidic priesthood holder to come walk with me for a least a little bit so I can go to my area. But we'll see i'll have to make some calls today. So funny thing about that song (In Our Lovely Deseret), is yes they have it in portuguese and not only that but mozambicans love it and sing it ALL the time. They have a few hymns that they love and so we sing the same things every single week and this is one of those songs haha. So i know it very well in portuguese. Its been pretty dang hot here... but here in about a month or two it should start to cool down a bit. I can't believe that I have been in Magoanine for over 8 months now... how did that time pass by so dang fast??? 8 months! Its truly truly crazy how that happened. So looking at the plans, i'm totally fine with doing that first option and doing two days in Kruger. that is good with me. And there really isn't anything else I wanna do! I was wondering how you plan on doing transportation and that kinda stuff? But other than that I'm good with everything! Ya I don't have much to say today, not quite sure what will happen yet with transfers, if I still or will I go... its all a big surprise! But I should know shortly! I love you and hope you have a great week!!!
Wow that is all lots of great news! I'm so sorry but because its elder stubbs last p day we are trying to get a lot of stuff done and we only have like no time today. we are running all over the place. we had a really great week and i will send lots of pics and have lots of news next week. the big news i want to share before i go though is this..... february 15th guess what is happening??? The first stake in mozabique will be created.. the maputo, mozambique stake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ok next week i promise lots but we're trying to get the most out of his last pday! LOVE YOU ALL!!
Well our normal internet place that we go to doesn't have internet today so we are at this other place that doesn't have AC or anything and today is hot! It is already 94 degrees and its only 10:50 am... So I am pouring sweat right now. But things are going well here. So we have like 5 really good families that we are teaching right now. Our family that is closest to baptism is Izidio and Inocencia. They were a family that had been taught in the past but never quite progressed all the way, so we passed by, set up a lesson and sat down with them and they accepted everything this time. They marked the 21st of February as their date and then did almost all their documents last week! So they are super solid. Izidio is a really awesome guy with a ton of potential to be a leader in the church one day! We also have Cisco and Celia. We had Family home evening at their house last week so I sent the picture of us at their house. They also are working to try and get married and baptized on the 21st. After we have Nordino and Isabel, same story. We have Alexandre and Chinha, they are still undecided. Better, he is undecided. If it were only her decision, they would already be doing the documents, but he is still undecided. And then our newest family, Costa and Lili. We haven't taught them the Law of Chastity yet! So ya things are going well here in our area! The families in Inhamizua are doing well but I think its more a matter of spiritual preparation. They aren't quite ready yet. But that's OK because we will still be able to visit them when we go up there. Speaking of which, did you guys get that stuff figured out with coming here and what not? Mutual is coming along well. We are trying to just improve the program more or less. We have the district president scheduled to speak and it should be a very special fireside!! Oh my goodness... I remember when I first got here, all the missionaries said wow you sweat a lot, but by the end of your mission your body will adjust... hahahahah ya right. I still pour sweat 24/7. And yesterday at church we had over 200 people jammed into a tiny chapel and we had no energy. So yesterday was the most reverent sacrament meeting ever! But it might have to do with the fact that everyone was sleeping haha. Ya I still talk to Marshall and Bowen every week. It sounds like they are doing well. I also just realized that Tchae only has about 3 and a half months left! Not much at all. Also, the other picture is of the pet turtle that is at the mission office. We took some pictures with him when we were there on Wednesday. He just hid himself haha. But it was a successful week. Elder Stubbs only has two weeks left so we will have to make it a good last two weeks! I love you all and hope you have a great week!