Friday, 25 November 2016

A Cold Night Close to the End

It's crazy how fast time goes. I felt like this transfer just started. Guess not :P
One thing I've noticed recently in Praia is the temperature change. It's not one of those changes where it's like 'wow, the temperature changed', because in Cape Verde, the weather is pretty well 100% the same 100% of the time. Over the past couple weeks, I've noticed I've had to pull out my handy 'sweat sock' (the sock used to wipe off the sweat...) less and less, until this week, I don't think I used it once! It's really strange and actually really nice. We've had a couple cloudy days, which is really rare. It even rained overnight this week! It was a nice pleasant surprise. Funny how I'm commenting on this now, I feel like the temperature for ME is gunna take a significant dip here in a little bit...
WELL, this week we didn't have any sick days, which is always A plus plus plus (this dang keyboard seems to be devoid of plus signs :P), and it also meant we got a lot of really good work done. We've got a really good pool of investigators right now, which is also a desirable aspect in an area. Keeps me busy and happy :)
The Great Gathering!  (look for Sean's big smile just above the president's head...)
This week ROCKED because we had a Zone Conference, almost Mission Conference, with Elder Kearon of the Seventy. It was cool cuz we had 4 of the mission's 6 zones come in for it, with missionaries from 4 different islands making it in. Sister Mathews said at the beginning she thought it was the biggest gathering of missionaries they've ever had since they've been here. It was pretty powerful to belt out the mission hymn of Called to Serve with 70 plus (dang keyboard) missionaries. Elder Kearon is a pretty powerful man. He used incredible British words, like 'brilliant', told someone to 'mash the switch' when he wanted the lights off, and many others. I wish I wrote a list of his words. He didn't have one set thing we wanted to teach, and we must've had 4 hours just sitting listening to him. There were so many times he would stop talking, and it would be quiet, and you could almost tangibly feel the Spirit in the room as he tried to follow what it was trying to say to him. One thing he taught that I loved, he said, 'we all worry too much. It doesn't please Heavenly Father when we're so worried. Just don't worry, and work hard!' Really cool guy. It felt like we had a spiritual banquet just listening to him. Powerful guy.
This week we also had Odair's baptism. He's such a funny and happy kid, and was pretty well stoked all week. We had talked with his cousin, Rosivelt to baptize him, but snce the baptism this week was moved from 4pm to 2pm on Saturday, Rosivelt didn't make it on time, so I got to baptize him last minute. It was cool :) We even got him to prepare a short testimony to share after his baptism, and this time, I got to bug him about going to the front to bear his testimony. Kid's gunna be a future missionary, I love him to death.

Danir as well is doing really well. We've noticed that, recently, our lessons with him have taken on the role of being a little less about addressing his specific concerns, and more in just encouraging him and following up with him, he's progressing now really well. Last week when we visited him, he was happy and confident, and didn't have one specific concern or problem he brought up. Really cool to see someone follow such simple steps and find the promised blessings :) 

At church on Sunday, we had the miracle of having 5 investigators at church again. It was the first Sunday in a long time where we didn't go out before church to walk around and pass investigators to get them to go, pretty well all of them are friends or family of recent converts, and they pulled through. Between the team of Obona and Jay, they brought all 5, 2 being Obona's sisters Joviana and Carlita, and 1 being Beti, who is Jay's sister. She's looking really good for baptism this week, we hope she will be baptized. Updates to follow in next week's letter :)
Today we found a restaurant where I got a tuna steak cooked on a hot rock. I didn't think this country got that fancy. 
Fine dining...Cape Verde style


Elder Massey

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Small Bump

Been another really solid week for us, Heavenly Father definitely threw some miracles out there for us cuz he's a mega bro.
Our week started out great. We went from emailing to teach, and like I mentioned last week, our go to is always Danir on Monday nights. Well, not only had he kept the commitments we gave him, but he was excited to tell us about it. He had started praying to ask for little things, as well as searching for that answer from God. He started studying based on some of his bigger doubts, and told us, that for the first time, it felt like he was studying because he wanted to, not because someone was making him. He had this glow about him, that when we taught, we could see he was accepting it as best he could. He just seemed really happy! It's amazing to see how simple a change in action can change a person's countenance. 
Another continuing miracle from this week was Odair, who's a MEGA boss. I feel that every time we teach him, I'm either teaching my little brother Simon, or my dad as a 12 year old investigator. He's just happy all the time, gets everything, and is stoked about church. We got to meet his dad this week, who also loves the missionaries, having been taught by Sisters in the past. We took the baptismal form for him to fill out, and he just took it, signed it, and smiled. Really good guy. At church on Sunday, Odair was sitting a few rows behind us, and any time I would look behind to see if any other investigators had showed up, he would look at me, and do the same thing Simon would do to me back home to get me to go up to the front and bear my testimony. Made me laugh :) Odair's gunna get baptized this week, we're STOKED.
One setback from this week was a small bump that appear in our plans: a literal small bump. Elder Bowman discovered some strange bumps on his thighs this week, so we got permission to go to the doctor from Sister Mathews. The nice Spanish doctor informed Elder Bowman that they were the result of probably bug bites that just got irritated, and got big, but that we had to take 3 days off of working so they could get better :P we weren't very happy about that. Friday we were detained in the walled prison that is our house with not a whole lot to do. Thankfully we were able to get partial work done on both Saturday and Sunday, and Heavenly Father helped us out a bunch in terms of our investigators. 
The past couple Sundays, we've struggled to get investigators to come to church, but this week, we got 5 to come, which was awesome. We got Obona involved, and he brought 3 people with him, our progressing investigator Beti, who we hope to baptize by the end of the month, as well as his sister Joviana and niece Carlita. We had a few members ask about them :P Heavenly Father also blessed us by helping us get Tommy to come to church with us, who hasn't come in a few months. He's been awesome this week in his reading and keeping his commitments to find an answer.
One thing I've been think a lot about this week is about trusting in the Lord and his promises. It's so cool to see that, when an investigator actually does what we invite them to do, they find the answer they're promised. For us as missionaries, we have to do a lot to trust that he'll fulfill them too. Sometimes it's easy to think the invites we give them or promises we give come from us, but it's such an incredible thing to know that it doesn't, that it comes from the Lord. Just something I felt from this week :)
Love y'all!
Elder Massey

Some people never really grow's a minion celebration!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Fix You

P Day fun!
It's been a crazy busy week, just one of those weeks where we cracked down and worked HARD. It was really good. One theme I noticed from this week was the struggles and successes our investigators are having with finding their answers to whether or not the Book of Mormon is true. Figured I'd talk a little bit about that today :)
Every Monday night, one appointment we've made pretty steady is an inactive member named Danir, who is the son of our branch's Relief Society President. He's someone I've been working with quite a bit since I've got here, and is honestly really interesting. He struggles with a lot of disbelief and not being able to believe due to the way he thinks things rationally. We taught him last Monday about prayer, and how prayer is a two way conversation. He had expressed to us in the past that, when he prays, he prays to thank for things, but not to ask, because he doesn't believe that God can communicate to us. We had a really good conversation with him, and his mom, Hirondina, contributed really well too, and we focused on that necessity of asking things of God. We taught that if he never tried, he'd never know, so we invited him to make asking blessings from God become a focus for him. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but something struck him, and he remained pretty quiet during the lesson, which is unlike him. At the end of the lesson, he agreed to close with prayer, and included asking things of God as part of his prayer. It was really really cool. We'll see tonight how he's doing.
Another really cool experience this week was with Tommy, who we've still been teaching, just a little more sparsely. He's kinda dropped off a little bit, hasn't been reading, hasn't been coming to church, etc. These past few weeks as we've taught him, he's expressed frustration at why he can't get the answer that he wants, whether the church is true or not. He's very humble in the fact that he will recognize when he's at fault, and was willing to admit that he knew he wasn't doing his part. On Saturday night, we had a really powerful lesson with him, where he really opened up on his desire to know which church is true, since his grandmother caused for him to doubt a lot of things in a conversation they had. Tommy isn't the type of person who talks and talks, but he went off for quite a bit about it. He told us that now, he is ready to really put himself to the test and read daily, and also come to church to know if what we are teaching is true. It was cool to see him come to that conclusion based on what we had taught him so many times.
One miracle coming out of our area right now is a kid named Odair, who we started teaching this past week. A few weeks back, a member brought his 13 year old cousin, Odair, to church, and brought him again last Sunday. We weren't super thrilled about the idea of teaching a 13 year old on his own, but we figured, 'why not?', so we got to sit down with him this week, together with the member who brought him, Rosivelt, and realized he's got to be among the coolest of 13 year old kids out there. I'm pretty sure he was more attentive than I would've been if missionaries were teaching me! He kept eye contact the whole lesson, answered questions really well, and showed a solid desire. When we came back to teach him on Saturday night, we helped him identify his answer about the Book of Mormon, and he accepted to be baptized this month :) our member went and talked to Odair's dad to make sure it's all good too, and that's another thing we're gunna be doing tonight :P funny how Heavenly Father prepares the people he does :)
Elder Bowman and I have been having a ton of fun together. We worked super hard this week, and had tons of fun with it. We had Stake Conference this weekend, and it was super rewarding for me, I felt the Spirit super strong, and got to sit with Obona, who's a total mega boss, as well as see people from all over the place. I started to understand why moms love talking to a million people after church, it's cuz it's SO MUCH FUN! hahaha.
It's been a fun one. Time is ticking so fast.
Love y'all!
Elder Massey

Saturday, 5 November 2016

All My Friends

You know, you'd think after 15 transfers, it would get normal to see people go home, but it's still dang weird.
This week I said goodbye to 3 of my best mission friends, Elder Arteaga, Sister Rasmussen, and Elder Veitch, who I've all known for quiiiiite a while. Maybe that's why it was so weird. Maybe it was weird because the next time somebody leaves this country for North America, it's gunna be me on that plane... heh. WHY DOES TIME MOVE SO FAST???
Elder Veitch
Elder Arteaga

It's official, Elder Bowman and I will be together for my last transfer, and I'm STOKED. We've got 6 weeks to crush it in Terra Branca, and crush it we will!
We've got a lot happening that we're stoked about. We've had a few miracles this week.
Among our investigators right now, the one who's moving the most is Jay's sister, Beti. She's been reading in the Book of Mormon, is stoked every time we teach her, the only problem is she hadn't come to church yet. This week, on a division, Elder Bowman went and taught her, and got her all set up to go on Sunday, her only problem is her year old son, Kayque (that's an Indian name, we were told), is a restless one :P she agreed to go, and on Sunday morning, Obona, dressed up in a white shirt, told us she was getting ready to head to church with him, so we passed by other people, but by the time we got to church, only Obona and Jay came. At first, we were bummed about it, but later that day, when we went to visit her, she told us, 'I had him ALL dressed up, ready to go, so I took a shower, and when I was done, he was sleeping' :P #thestruggle. We're gunna get her for sure next week.
Another miracle was the progress we made with Neto, who has gone a full week without being drunk! WOO! While he's had a glass of wine, or a beer here and there, we have yet to find him drunk, he's making major progress. He's been reading in the Book of Mormon and recognizes the Spirit when he reads, and how it invites him to do what is right. It's awesome. He still hasn't come to church, buuuut we're gunna change that.
We had a really cool experience this week too. One morning, we were out working, and had already taught a lesson, and it was getting close to the time we usually take lunch, so we had the decision to make, where we either kill time, or knock some doors. Deciding to be valiant, we thought of some doors we could knock, and on our way to some houses I had thought of, a guy stopped us in the road and was like, 'hey! Why don't you guys come by my house like you said?'. I don't remember having seen this guy ever, so I told him, 'uhhh, I don't think you talked to us...' but he proceeded to name when and where we had talked to him, soo, we asked him if we could just go over to his house then and there. We followed him home, went in, met his wife, and proceeded to teach the two of them. They were formerly practicing members of a church, but became disillusioned because of certain teachings, and have been practicing at home, just waiting for God to show them what to do. I thought that was pretty darn cool :P pretty easy to testify in situations like that. It was awesome, definitely a golden family. Elder Bowman and I are stoked to go back and teach them this week. The Lord put us right where we needed to be when he needed it.
Well, the countdown is on. Time is running fast, but that's okay. Still got lots of work to do :)
Love y'all!
Elder Massey
"Yup...that should be enough for supper..."

Beautiful African smile!

Monday, 24 October 2016

White Blank Page

Well, 15th transfer has come and gone! We finished it with a bang.
One of the first things we did this week was get together with Jay, who hadn't come to church the past Sunday, even though his baptism was marked for the following Saturday. When we sat down with him, he told us he was super excited for his baptism. We retaught him Dia do Senhor,( English = Sabbath Day) and told him soccer definitely can't take precedence over church. We cleared that up with him, and deemed him ready for Saturday. We got him interviewed, set up with an interview, and got Obona to baptize him. We had gone over with Obona how to baptize, and he took it really seriously. He spent a whole night reading over and over the baptismal prayer, and when we showed up to pick him and Jay up to go, he called me into his house and was like, 'I just wanna make sure I've got this right!', and proceeded to recite the prayer. It was so awesome. The baptism was awesome, fewer things are more rewarding than watching someone make a covenant with the Lord, but even more so when the person doing the baptizing has also made incredible changes that you've helped with. Jay got up after, and bore a powerful testimony, saying 'I know that this church is the only true church on the Earth'. I loved it :) I've gotten to see a couple white blank pages over these past few weeks, and it's been so amazing. 

This week we kept working with one of our newer investigators, Neto. We'd had a couple pretty powerful lessons with him, so naturally it was heartbreaking this week when we came across him really drunk, two days in a row this week. Each time he saw us, you could see the pain he felt, because he knew he could do better. He told Elder Bowman and I to not waste our time with him, he was pretty down. We told him we weren't gunna give up on him, and when we came back the next day, we found him early (so he couldn't get drunk) and had another really solid lesson with him (well, sorta, but I'll explain that in a sec), and since that day, everyone we come across has told us they're impressed with Neto. We haven't been able to run into him again, but he seems like he's coming around.
That day as actually funny, because I was on a division with our zone leader, Elder Bisk, who I more or less view as my child, seeing as how I trained the same time he came in. We woke up and he wasn't feeling so hot, but he got it under control enough that we could go out and teach. We taught Neto, but every time I passed the lesson over for him to teach, he would say like 2 things, and give it back, noticeably in pain. We got out of that lesson pretty quick, and booked it to another Elder's house for him to lay down for a sec. It became likely my least productive division on my mission, as I sat in my air conditioned house while Elder Bisk recuperated on the bed. It was still fun though :)
One funny part this week was yesterday, both Elder Bowman and I made kids cry by mistake. First off, we taught a lady, who had twin 6 month old babies, who cried the entire lesson, and usually when that happens, the mom understandably checks out, but she kept with it. I felt for her :P it was a lot of crying. Elder Bowman does this thing though, where when he shakes a little kid's hand, he squeezes it, so later in the day, a little kid answered the door, and when Elder Bowman shook his hand, he gave it juuuuust a little too much of a second squeeze, and the little guy started to cry. His mom promptly told him to calm down, and that 'tio' (they like to call us 'uncle' here) was just playing around. Then later, we were visiting with Zezinho, and his adorable kid, Gabi, was pulling on my tie, and jumping all over me, and at one point, climbed up the back of my chair. I bumped him with my back, and he fell and started to cry. That was when I realized we were bad people :P hahahah.
Love y'all!
Elder Massey

Lest you think that is is couscous....a Cape Verdean favourite!

Friday, 21 October 2016

Favourite Color

Last week's baptism with Zezinho

'So tell me what's, tell me what's your favourite colour'

'Tell me how, tell me how's your younger brother'

It's been a rad week with Elder Bowman, my new comp. I think for the first time on my mission, I have a companion who equals me in how goofy I am. He might honestly be even goofier... It's great. In one of the first houses we got too, we sat down with one of our investigators, and in complete seriousness, he looked at them and said, 'I have a question for you. Do you like English potatoes, or sweet potatoes better?' and they started laughing. It was classic, it's his go to question :P I love it. He's also a big fan of 'would you rather' questions, which I enjoy. It's been a good week :) 
you know you're meant to be together when you have the same shoes....
We've had an extra roommate with us this week, Elder Toledo has been kicking it with us. He's sorta outta commission on the working sense right now, his energy is like almost zero. We've been giving him a place to stay while the doctors figure out what's up with him, and it's been fun. We only thought he was gunna be in Praia a few days, but a few days has turned into a few more than we thought... but it's fun :) we've been getting lots of car rides out of it. 

As for the work in our area, we've seen some ups and downs for sure. Our progressing investigator, Jay, was progressing really well. He continues to give us complete updates in perfect Creole on every chapter he reads in the Book of Mormon, it's super cool. He was progressing so well, we even moved his baptismal date to this Saturday, the 22nd. On Saturday, he was all set to show up at church, but then on Sunday... nuthin'. We went and visited him and asked him what happened, and he informed us he had a soccer game that morning and couldn't go. We had to explain to him that church always needed to come first. I think it'll be good for him, because it'll be a trial for his faith. We're gunna help him focus on following what the Spirit told him in his reading, so that he can figure out what he needs to do. We'll see if he gets baptized this week. 

We've been having fun with a new family we've started working with, I think I talked about them last week, Dina, an inactive member, with her four sons, who aren't baptized. We taught them this week, once with one of the counselors in the Stake Presidency, and it went really well. All her kids got super pumped, and I think it helped Dina a bunch. When we came back to visit them though, none of her sons had read, including herself, except for Lucas, who's 9 years old. All of them were like, 'no, none of us read' and Lucas piped up, 'hey! I read! I prayed too! I just didn't feel anything'. I thought it was really cool, so we focused in on how God had to be able to trust them with an answer, and to do that, they had to want to read. I'm stoked about them. 

One last miracle from the week is an investigator we found, but hadn't really considered because of his drinking habits. Obona helped us find two brothers a couple weeks back, Koda, and Neto. While we haven't found Koda in a while, we found Neto one day, while he was sober. We figured we'd teach him, and we focused on the power of prayer. Elder Toledo and Elder Bowman absolutely crushed it in that lesson, and he was feeling the Spirit really good. When we came back a couple days later, the first thing he said was, ' I haven't drunk for 2 days because I knew I needed to do what you guys told me' and he showed us what he learned and underlined in the Book of Mormon. It's amazing what the Spirit can do. In a further follow up visit, Obona sat with us to help him out, it was powerful. I'm pumped about him too. 

Speaking of Obona, we saw him on TV today, hitting a drum, while we were in a waiting room. It was cool :) 


Elder Massey

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Getting Better

Been one of those weeks where we've had pretty well zero time to rest. It's been crazy, but also really good.
The number one highlight of the week was Zezinho's baptism. The baptism itself was sorta strange, the person presiding started it right at 4pm, even though like half the people being baptized hadn't gotten there yet, or weren't ready. Basically once Zezinho showed up at 4:15, we threw him in a jumpsuit, got the pic, and got him baptized. It was awesome though :) he got his mom to bring his son with her, so after he was out and changed, he was sitting on the front row of the chapel with his two year old son, Gaby, in his lap. Zezinho went up and bore his testimony and it was sweet. Dude's a boss.
Another highlight from this week, we've continued to progress with our investigator, Jay. In one of our visits this week, we followed up with his reading, and he explained the 3rd and 4th chapters of 1st Nephi in complete detail in Creole, it was great. Afterwards, we asked him if he found his answer, to which he said, 'yeah, actually. After I read and prayed today, I felt something really different, just like this peace', to which we asked him, 'do you believe that's the Holy Ghost?', and he responded saying 'yes'. It was a really cool experience. He showed up again at church on Sunday, and even if I thought gospel principles was a bit of a snoozer, he absolutely loved it! Gunna go teach him pretty quick after this email.
One thing the mission is focusing on right now is finding families, and this week, Obona helped us find a really cool new one. We found this inactive member, named Dina, who hasn't gone to church in a whiiiiiile. Turns out her 4 sons, aged 15, 13, 9, and 3, aren't baptized nor have a grounding in the church. After teaching her, on Saturday Elder Ronces and I went back to teach her with her sons, at which they explained to us that they had lost the keys to her house, and were really stressed about it, cuz if they didn't find them, they'd have to spend a lot of money, which she doesn't really have to spare. We taught about prayer and faith, and had a kneeling prayer in the end asking the Lord to help them find a solution. Yesterday when we went by to visit, they had already found their keys. We're excited to go back and teach them :)
We also had interviews this week, it was AWESOME. President Mathews is an awesome person, I loved my interview with him.

The week sorta ended off weird, we got a text from President Mathews during church asking us to call him after we got home, and when we called him, he explained that Elder Ronces was getting transferred to Mindelo, and that I would be receiving a new companion, Elder Bowman, who was serving in Mindelo. I'm supposed to be getting him tonight. I'm stoked to tear it up with him.
Elder Massey