Tuesday, 29 December 2015
Our week started out with a division with the Zone Leaders, I had the opportunity to go out with Elder Willes, in which our primary purpose was to do a baptismal interview for our investigator, Mariozinho, who we had marked for baptism on the 26th. Elder Mason and I had struggled to find him in the days past, and as such, I was kinda panicking to see if we could find him or not. I was absolutely STOKED when, after teaching a lesson, Elder Willes and I ran into him, and we were like, 'HEY, your baptism is this week, you gotta do an interview, letsssss'a'goooo ' but in traditional form, Mariozinho had something else he had to do at that moment, but we marked to find him at 6pm, right before our Ward's Christmas Party at 7. By the time 6pm came around, he was nowhere to be found, and while we waited and waited, he never came, so we hoped to see him at the Christmas party, and though we waited and waited, he never showed. We concluded that, if he didn't show up, it likely meant that he wasn't ready for his baptism at this point in time, so we kinda put him off for now.
As for our Christmas Party, I'd have to say it was probably my favorite part of the week. It was kind of funny, because, in classic Cape Verdean fashion, it didn't start til WAY later, and by the time we had showed up, Elder Mason and Elder Rodrigues, who were on a division, had been singing hymns with those who showed up on time for like at least an hour.
By the time we got it started, not everything went as was planned, but it was nice. There were some videos showed, some testimonies given, and some more hymns sung, but the real highlight came after the spiritual part. Our ward had organized what they called a 'troca de prenda', or gift exchange, in which members of the Elders Quorum had to get presents for a specific person in the Relief Society, and vice versa. I got the name of a member in our ward who I think is like over 70, she's super old, and suuuuper sweet, like she always shakes our hands for at least 20 seconds every time we see her. We didn't really have a whole lot to give, so I gave her this dollar store item I had gotten in a package of a pink bunny with a battery powered fan on its head. Merry Christmas for her I guess :) hahaha. The fun part about it though, was they did it like a chain, where one member would get up, and describe who they had, and the congregation had to guess who it was, and man, it was hilarious. Some of the descriptions they used were classic. I especially loved it when they described the person as white, and the person would get up to get it, and they were distinctively not white :P or when a member would get their spouse, and would describe the person as 'the girl I love the most in the whole world' or cute stuff like that. It was hilarious. I got a present from our Relief Society President, Samila, who is one of my favorite members here, and she described me as having 'fine hair and being really good at Creole' and everyone guessed that it was me. It was a pretty great present too, being the only Christmas present I got before Christmas; I can now say I get to join the illustrious club of those who say they only got socks for Christmas, because that's what I got :)
Our other highlight from the week was Christmas Eve, as that's the real celebration that they had here in Cova Figueira. One of their traditions is they always hold a 'ceia', or like big supper, but the only problem is, is that their tradition is that they always have their ceias at like midnight. We had been going around asking members what they had planned for Christmas, and ALL of them went off about their ceias and all the food they would have, and I think every one of them invited us to come. It was much to our dismay, when they answered to us that it would be happening at midnight :P thankfully though, because our members love us, we had a couple of families that were very kind to accommodate to us, and they had their ceias a little bit earlier, so that we could get home when we needed too. Some of the food we ate included bacalhau, a Portuguese dish that lots of Portuguese people eat, or so I'm told. We also got lobster, and maybe a little bit of good pork too (shhhhh). It was such a good dinner, and while it wasn't a whole lot like the regular Christmas Eve's I'm used to, it was a really good one :)
On Christmas, to be honest, not a whole lot happened. We were going around expecting to find families together and celebrating and having fun, but instead, everyone was just doing their usual stuff. We did get to eat a reaaaaaaally good Christmas lunch at our other family's house, where we got to eat more bacalhau, but this time it had black olives with it. I like black olives a lot. We did get to go around a bit and wish people merry Christmas, but a large part of our day went towards figuring out problems with Skype, and getting to Skype our families, which was the best Christmas present of all!!! It was definitely the bomb.
With moving forward now, we're really stoked to be having the baptism of our investigators Kahtia and Fabio this week. We had the Primary Presentation in our ward yesterday, and Fabio got up to give a talk, but when he was stumbling on what to say, a couple of kids started to giggle at him, and he had a momentous struggle which resulted in him crying and sitting down next to our bishop. Poor kid didn't sing the rest of the presentation, but it was kinda cute how he just had a little breakdown. He got over it pretty darn quick too, which was good.
So, it's been a good week for us, and I hope all y'all out there had an incredible Christmas. My only major sadness from this week I guess was the fact I got a major Star Wars spoiler fed to me by my dad, but even though it's caused for such trauma on my life, somehow I'm working on forgiving him.
Monday, 21 December 2015
Isn't it convenient that the Black Keys happen to have the most fitting title for a year-mark letter?
Making it one solid year on the mission caused for some definite reflection this past week, about the lessons I've learned, sometimes about lessons I've taught, experiences that I wouldn't trade the world for, and some of the absolute hardest days of my life as well. I've been extremely blessed to meet some incredible people, from the MTC all the way to the Fogo Zone I'm in today, and had better comps than I could've ever asked for. All in all, I honestly have to say that this past year has easily been the most incredible year of my life, and I have been so blessed by the Lord to have had such an incredible first year of my mission.
To celebrate hitting a year, I was lucky enough to be able to participate in the 'Year Mark Challenge', in which I got to sit down and eat a Snickers bar, a full Dan Cake, and drink a full Pear Compal. To explain a little, A Dan Cake is quite possibly the grossest, most processed cake-type thing here in Cape Verde. It's basically a very large twinkie, about 20-30cms long. I hate them. A Pear Compal is about a litre of straight pear juice, and while wonderful, is a heck of a lot of juice :P Anyways, as is tradition, I embarked on the journey, but failed to finish it. About 70% of the way through the Dan Cake I realized I really hate Dan Cakes, and I just decided to down the juice and call it quits. I laid on my bed all night in pain, it sucked :P I'm never buying a Dan Cake again.
This week was actually a really good week for us in general, like every day just seemed to go by really well, though we did work our butts off. We had a lot of success in finding both investigators and less actives to teach. We've been continually prepping up for Christmas, and it's been a lot of fun to do so. We've found a few Christmas messages we like to teach to our less actives, and at the end of some of the lessons, I'll play a Christmas song on the harmonica for these families, and the smiles we get make me SO happy :) something I'm learning about a Cape Verdean Christmas is that they really don't have much, and unlike at home, nobody really is expecting anything. They're just happy to pass time with family and friends, have fun together, maybe have some good food too. We've been asking people in our lessons what they're excited for for Christmas, and almost always, they say it's because of their families, and because of Christ, and I love it SO much.
Also this week, we worked more and more with our miracle investigator, Mariozinho, who we're planning to have the baptism of this week. We were able to have an awesome lesson with him this week, in which we taught the Word of Wisdom to him, and had a member sit in with us, who has been recently struggling with the Word of Wisdom, and when our member, Kenny, gave his testimony on the Word of Wisdom in the lesson, the power of his testimony was so strong, just because we could really feel he KNEW that it's a commandment of God that will bless us, and I know Mariozinho felt the Spirit really strongly about it too. We're looking forward this week to having a big baptism with the other Elders with something like 7 people getting baptized, so prayers will be necessary for us to have a White Christmas here in Cape Verde.
As for other weekly highlights, our other investigator working toward baptism, Kahtia, shut down her 'man' again, and it was another one of those moments in which I wanted to shout because it was just so like YES. We were teaching her, and her man Patrick happened to be in town for the day, and so I asked him, 'sooooo, are you sticking here for Christmas, or you gunna be back home, orrrrrrr..' and he responded with, 'well, maybe here, or maybe we might all do Christmas out there...' suggesting that Kahtia and her kids would go with him, to which Kahtia just looked at me and said, 'no, we'll be here for Christmas, because the ward Christmas party is on Tuesday'. I was like HECK YEAH! and I'm pretty sure Patrick didn't say a thing the rest of the lesson :P hahahaha. It was the boss.
Hoping ALL y'all out there have an interstellargatorskinboots Christmas, wherever this finds you!
Wednesday, 16 December 2015
We've been feeling the winter winds here even more and more this week, it's not nearly as cold as it is back home, but it is sorta nice to feel like an actual chilly breeze. It's been good :)
THIS WEEK, we had our Zone Christmas party, which was actually really, really good. The highlight of it was definitely the training Sister Mathews gave for us. For lunch, there were these sugar cookies on the table in the shape of hands, and she told us that it would become important later on in the day, so when her training came around, she explained it. We had the opportunity to listen to President Uchtdorf's talk from 2010 when he spoke of the statue of Christ in World War II that was subject to bomb damage, and had the hands blown off. After a certain amount of time, the decision was made to leave the statue, and to place a sign reading 'you are his hands'. As such, Sister Mathews based her training off of that. She talked a lot about the physical qualities Christ displayed in his life, and especially how he touched those he came across, both spiritually and physically. Unfortunately, we live in a world without his physical hands among us, and for us, especially as missionaries, we are called to be his hands in a world where he's 'losing touch' (see what I did there?). One of the things I really liked too about her training was the example she used of Christ in the first mention of him using his hands in the Bible, in Matthew 8, as he touches a leper. We all know that a leper is NOT a person you wanna touch, but Christ did so because he didn't see the person on the outside, but the Child of God on the inside. Something that we were challenged to do by President and Sister Mathews is to be his hands this Christmas, and to serve someone in some special way. I hope that all of you can find some way to do that this year too :)
The BUMMER about the whole Christmas party thing was that Sister Mathews showed up Elder Mason and I HARD. Each district was asked to make a dessert prior to bring, so Elder Mason wanted to make sugar cookies. We started making them, and we had great ideas of making Christmas trees and stars and snowmen, but once we got to the cutting process, we realized that it's not very easy to cut out upwards of 40 stars or trees or snowmen by hand; it's pretty dang hard to cut out ONE by hand!! We ended up using a plastic cup as our cutter to make 40+ circle sugar cookies (I know, don't judge) and we thought we could make it up by making colored icing. The icing, upon first glace, appeared to be going well, but what was green the night before turned to a very sketchy Shrek-esque, two-toned, very gross green, which President made a comment of audible questioning over. It only made things worse when we all received, as a present, a hand-shaped cookie cutter, the key element we were missing in our baking, and to add insult to injury, a sugar cookie mix in the package I received. Guess it all turned out pretty ironically.
Another thing with the Christmas party, was each district was also asked to come up with an 'activity' to do. Our zone has 5 different districts, and ours is one of the smaller ones, and we were at a loss of things to do. I had asked if I could play my harmonica but I was told I wasn't allowed to (which made me a little sad) so instead, we brainstormed up a simple idea. I really couldn't think of much else to do, other than our own little Nativity scene putting the other dupla of elders in our district, Elder Cosmo and G. Silva, as Joseph and Mary, respectively. At first, I thought the idea would be a bit sketchy, but as I got the approval from the ZLs telling me not to cross dress them, we went ahead with it, and used a bobra, basically a Cape Verdean zucchini, as the Baby Jesus (I may have nicknamed it the 'Bobra Jesus'). I was a tiiiiiiny bit afraid people wouldn't like it, but it turned out really, really well, and it was a lot of fun. Elder Mason and I read passages from Luke and Matthew while we called up Elders to be shepherds, wise men, and angels, and we all sang 'Away in a Manger' to finish 'er off. I'm rather proud of what we pulled off :)
As for actual work this week, it was a bit of a tougher one. We seemed to be constantly fighting to get lessons, but at the same time, there were a lot of little tender mercies along the way. My favorite part of the week was when we went to teach one of our favorite investigators, Kahtia, and we were going to follow up with her about baptism, since she was kinda stalled for a bit cuz of living with a man and such. We'd invited her to think about the date of the 26th to be baptized, and when we came back a few days later, we could hardly sit down before she was excitedly telling us she did NOT want to be baptized on the 26th, because she wanted to wait a week and be baptized with her son, Fabio, who turns 8 on the 29th of this month. I was SO dang excited when I heard that, because it was EXACTLY what we were going to suggest to her, but she beat us to it. She's already come to church like probably MORE than 10 times, and we don't even have to help her get to church, she just comes, and is usually here before we are. I'm so dang excited for her.
All in all, it's been a good week for us :) I'm happy, and it's Christmas! What more could we ask for?
Thursday, 10 December 2015
(Sorry no new pictures this week... hopefully next week!)
Cova Figueira happens to be one of the FEW areas in Cape Verde where we actually get to feel cold every once and a while. Though the seasons don't really change here all that much, we still get to feel just the slightest chill come night time, which is rather nice :) the 'winter winds' are also bringing about some changes in our area which are pretty dang cool :)
Cova Figueira happens to be one of the FEW areas in Cape Verde where we actually get to feel cold every once and a while. Though the seasons don't really change here all that much, we still get to feel just the slightest chill come night time, which is rather nice :) the 'winter winds' are also bringing about some changes in our area which are pretty dang cool :)
This week has been a pretty solid one for us, and we saw a lot of blessings from the Lord come in our work here in Cova Figueira. In all honesty, this week saw just good, solid, hard work more than anything. We had some AWESOME stuff happen though.
Last week, we had the Lord work some wonders for us, and put into our work a new investigator, named Mariozinho. I may have mentioned him last week in that we had a random guy show up at church for the first time, and this week we had the opportunity of teaching him a few times. He's the cousin of our one member, Dani, who goes out and walks with us all the time, and so Dani has been really helping him out. Mariozinho was recently in what I think was rehab for the past 10 months, and on coming out of being in there, he knows that the best life for him is to follow Jesus Christ. It's actually really cool to see, because I can see in him that he KNOWS that he can't keep with the life that he had before he went to prison, and that following the path we teach him about is the right one. Another thing I love about him is that he really recognizes the Spirit, in that whenever we teach him, he's always telling us about how 'sabi' he feels when he's at church, which is Creole for just overall goodness. 'Sabi' can be used to describe anything from good tasting food, to a nice breeze, to the Spirit at church. I love Creole so much :) we have Mariozinho marked to be baptized here in two weeks, which will take a lot of prayers, but I really think it's going to happen.
We also had to put a lot of work in this week to our one area, Tinteira, because the stake here in Fogo has decided to pay for a car to take people to church on Sundays for this month alone, in the hopes of putting a group out there in the new year, and so our task this week was to get people hyped for the car. Normally, we make two trips out there a week, during weekdays because there's a bus that drops high school kids off at night, and we use it to get back to Cova Figueira when it returns. We went out there on Tuesday and had more or less success, but on Friday, we had Zone Meeting in Sao Filipe, and weren't able to get out in time, which meant we would have to make the trek on Saturday, but without a car. So, after we had opened our fast on Saturday at lunch, we walked ALL the way out to Tinteira, which is more or less about 5kms, and we freaking WORKED to make sure we could get around to every member we could so they knew there was a car going the next day. We were basically running all over the place so we could get to everyone before it got too late. While we were running around, we were going to teach one of these less active members, and Dani, who was out with us, walked up and just started talking to a guy right outside this less actives' house, and by the time we got there, this guy was like, 'hey Elders, I don't have a lot of time, but I do have 10 minutes for palavra de Deus, let's do it' and so without even having to argue with the guy to sit with us, we jsut sat there on the roadside and taught him. It's cool how the Lord guides us to people without us even realizing it. That day ran rather long, as we had to walk all the way back in the dark, another 5km, and teach another lesson in Cova Figueira just to hit our daily goals. We wiped OUT that night.
The next day was really dang cool too, and it seems to me every time we are fasting on Sunday, the Lord pulls some cool stuff on us. It seemed to me that just everyone was coming to church, and while it wasn't the most we've had there, we managed to have 4 investigators there, 1 being Mariozinho, and also having a bunch of less actives show up, including 3 brothers, who brought Ricardo, our investigator with them.
Something I'm starting to learn is that, even if we feel like we're giving it our absolute ALL and nothing is coming from it, the Lord finds ways to show us the fruits of our labors, even if it is very occasionally in some places.
We're getting stoked about Christmas here, and I hope all you back home are enjoying the snow I don't have. I really miss it like a lot. Hoping all is well where ever this finds you!
Tuesday, 1 December 2015
(So I just realized that last week's letter never got posted...better late than never! Sorry - no pictures)
23 November 2015
Well, coming to the end of this week, I guess I can stand with Ezra Koenig and say that I wasn't exactly right on what I thought would happen.
23 November 2015
Well, coming to the end of this week, I guess I can stand with Ezra Koenig and say that I wasn't exactly right on what I thought would happen.
So, a large part of this week we spent working towards setting up the area for Elder Mason to take over with a new companion, as this past week was the 6th week of the transfer. Also, being the last week of Elder Mason's training, he got the opportunity to step up and lead out on lessons and teaching and such, which meant a little less stress for me :P hahaha. It also meant that going to certain areas would've been the last time for me going there, so I was saying partial good-byes and taking pictures throughout the week with people I wanna remember and such, however, I found out that it really wasn't necessary to do so.
We did have some cool parts to this week. We found out that our further out area we work in, Tinteira, is getting a car paid by the stake to bring people on Sundays for the coming month, which was no more than a small miracle. We also found some people in Tinteira that are pretty dang cool. One such was a younger woman named Livia, who's house was one I had never knocked on, and I decided that we should give it a go, since we had a little bit of time to kill. We knocked on the door, and they answered and basically ushered us in, which was cool. We had briefly explained our message and what not, and asked for a few minutes to talk, and this girl, Livia, was like, 'well, I am REALLY busy, but I can make 10 minutes for God' and I was like YESSSSS. It turned out she had never spoken to the Elders before (a rare feat for Fogo), and doesn't have a specific religion, because there are so many around that say they are true, but she has no clue which one is, and believe they all more or less profess one thing, and act another way. I love it when people ask questions like that, cuz the First Lesson really answers all those questions so well. She was super willing to do our invites, and was open to us coming back. She started to laugh a lot at the end cuz I kept asking her questions and it was kinda awkward cuz we still had a few things I felt we needed to ask, but they all just loaded off at once :P I had to be like 'okay, I KNOW I ask a LOT of questions, but I just have ONE more, I swear' and she'd start laughing. It was funny.
We've been finding that in our working towards helping less active people come back to church that they really are warming up to us, instead of being a bit cold or harsh as they were a few weeks back. We've started by doing Family Home Evening's with quite a few of them, which is something the mission wants us to be doing. It was really fun this week actually, we went to do a family night, and I suggested we started out with a hymn, and the less active mom was like, 'lets sing Mais Perto Quero Estar! I love that one!' I guess it goes to show that the fire of the gospel is in everyone, we just gotta help them find it!
So, come Sunday, like I had mentioned, I had been almost expecting a transfer call to go somewhere else, and so at church I said good bye to a few people and took pictures with a few and such, and we had even planned to each lunch at a member's house so that we could let them know what was happening when we got the call from President. Well, Sunday consisted of waiting, and waiting, and waiting even MORE, until 8:40 came around, and I called the Zone Leaders out of confusion, to which they told us only 3 people in our zone had gotten called by President saying they were leaving, and I wasn't one of them. Soooo, out of all the good byes I gave, I guess I stand corrected in my likely premature preparations to leave, and will be staying another transfer in Cova Figueira. By the time this transfer finishes, I'll have done a full 6 months here. I'll also be staying with Elder Mason for a third transfer, making him my longest served with companion. However, this next transfer looks to bring a year mark hit, Christmas, and New Years, so it should be fun.
Sorry for the lame update for the week, hopefully this next one is a bit more happening! Love y'all!
Kinda like Bono, I guess I've 'climbed the highest mountains' and 'scaled these city walls' having been in Cova Figueira for so long, but as my mission president suggested to me in a letter today, I'm still here because 'I still haven't found what I'm looking for', and for that reason, I get to stay here to figure out exactly what it is the Lord would teach me here.
With that said, this week has been doing exactly as such, trying to find out exactly why the Lord has kept me here in Cova Figueira just a bit longer. One of the first things that brought me to was a gospel study on repentance, mostly for the purpose of sharing with our less active members, and it brought me again to one of my favorite scriptures, in Alma 36, verses 17 through to 20, which talk about the complete joy and love that Alma felt, as he truly turned himself to the Lord, and how doing so caused him to forget the bitterness of his pain. In a small way, this taught me that the Lord really does have great joy stored up for me, I just need to turn to him to let it him give it to me. In doing so, I thought about the statement, 'whether you can or you can't, you're right'. I guess this week was important for me, cuz it's helped me gain the attitude I need to keep in staying in this area a bit longer.
We were able to see a few small miracles in our area this week. We have one less active woman, named Eduarda, who all the members had told us to pass by and talk to a few weeks back, having just gone recently inactive. In the first visit we made to her house, she was more or less apprehensive, told us she didn't have time, etc. , yet we still taught her; that was a few weeks ago. Over time, she's slowly been warming up to us, until this week, when, on Friday or Saturday night, accepted the invitation to come to church again. We passed her on Sunday morning before we went, and she told us she wasn't going to come because she 'didn't have shoes to wear to church', but we talked her through it, and told her she was coming to church. It was so awesome to see when I sat down at the piano in Sacrament Meeting and looked at the congregation, and saw her sitting with her kids. It was freaking boss.
This week, I also had the opportunity to go on a division with Elder Cosmo to his area in Estancia Roque so we could do a couple baptismal interviews, which was fun. I love going back to Estancia Roque every once and a while, and it's always so much fun because everybody there just gives the elders food, like all over the place. I think I had 5 different cobs of corn in two different houses, as well as some cookies cooked in egg (kinda weird) and some fresh goat cheese (also weird), as well as some little treats and dinner too. I never leave there hungry :P Elder Cosmo is also a lot of fun to hang out with, he's from Brazil and is a bit more reserved, but when we've had as long as we've had in the same district together, we get along pretty well. It's fun cuz I always get a little test on my Portuguese when I go out with him, since he speaks like no English, and he happens to have a beautiful Brazilian accent as well.
This week also brought Zone Conference for us, which was good. We had the opportunity to hear from the Assistants, and President and Sister Mathews. Sister Mathews just rocks it every single dang time she gets up, like her trainings are so good. She gave a training on Chapter 4 of Preach my Gospel, and I thought I knew what it was all about, but she proved me wrong cuz she pretty well expounded straight doctrine to us. It was good. We also learned how to make like missionary shirts out of paper to give to people for like commitments and such. The last thing I thought I would be doing on my mission would have been making cute little paper shirts, but the mission really does change ya I guess.
|Rding in the Hiace - Elder Cosmo sleeping in the back seat!|
|Rock throwing never grows old!|
Love y'all! Have a good week!
The Lone Elder Massey
Monday, 16 November 2015
As Chris Martin once sang, 'God give me style, and give me grace, God put a smile upon my face'.
I'm pretty sure he's given me style, and I get his grace every day cuz I'm pretty darn imperfect, but this week, he really managed to put a smile on my face, and the face of a lot of others.
This week seemed to fly by, and we're not too sure why; maybe it's because Elder Mason was sick one day and we had to stay in, maybe it was because we were working all over the place, or maybe it's cuz we just got way too much work TO do. I don't really know why, but it sure flew.
This week brought about a lot of small successes for us. Just about every day that we worked this week, the Lord managed to give us a really good days, which is kinda rare. In all honesty, not a whole lot of specific, wonderful things happened this week, but just a lot of small tender mercies along the way that made this week overall a pretty darn happy one. Hence why 'God put a smile upon (my) face' hahaha
Something that I've come to notice in working with less active members more and more is a general feeling of happiness in our smaller area of Lapinha. Something we've been doing has been teaching less active people with their respective quorum leaders, like young women with the young women's leader, young men with the young men's leader, etc. , and it's caused for everyone just to be happier! Like, that sounds so hippy-dippy / happiness-all-around and crap, but it really is! If I could count the number of times we had members we taught stop us on the street in the following days just trying to chat and talk with us, it would be a lot of time counting! We even had one time this week, where we taught this one sister who I had no clue was a member (apparently she shows up every Sunday but I could not remember her for the life of me) and teaching her caused her to bring with her 'quinhada' to church with her, basically like her sister-in-law, who isn't a member. It was boss.
I guess the best part of the week was the end of the week, both Saturday and Sunday combined. I had decided to fast personally, just for something to happen in our area, because I've been pulled down so many times by not having investigators show up to church, or not feeling like I've done enough, etc. , but this week at church, we had the most amount of people we've had there since I've come to Cova Figueira, with a decent amount of less active people coming to church. Walking to church, we ran into one family from our lower zone, Maria de Cruz, walking together as a family to church, for the third week in a row, when in the past, their attendance was spotty at best. I watched in Elders Quorum as we had an investigator there even before we showed up, and another less active member who hasn't come to church in gosh-knows-how-long come in and sit down, and then have a bunch of members welcome him right in. I kept saying to Elder Mason, 'everyone is just so HAPPY today and church!! How did this happen???'. In Sunday school class, I'm pretty sure there were 5 vacant chairs TOPS in the room of 30+ people. It was a straight up miracle.
I guess a small lesson I learned this week was finding success in my complete service to the Lord. Something that's always bothered me on the mission is not having baptisms all the time, or having investigators at church, but this week, as we watch as one of our strong investigators fail to show up to church yet again, instead of being frustrated and disappointed, I felt the Lord tell me that I really had done my absolute best. There's a really good phrase the old mission president here said, in that 'no number impresses the Lord', and as much as I would've liked to had a baptism this coming week, even though it won't happen, I know that the Lord truly is happy with me, and with the work I put in. Just another reason why I've got a smile on my face :)
As for a funny story this week, we went to teach this girl who's mom is of another faith, and so we decided to teach this girl in the members house right next to hers. When we got there, this girl was sitting with a bunch of members, with a guitar, trying to figure out how to play this one REALLY good Cape Verdean song (that I will likely play for all back home), but none of them knew how to really play guitar, so Elder Mason and I came in, and we were sitting on this bed with 2 other members, and I had figured out the literal 2 chord progression for this song, and while I was playing it and they sang, the corner of the bed my comp and I were sitting on gave out and we fell :P it was really really funny!! Everyone was like freaking out and stuff, but there were no injuries sustained.
|Eating "American" breakfast to celebrate the last week of this transfer!|
|Elder Massey and one of his favorite kids!|
Anyways, this has been another week in the life of Elder Massey! Love y'all!
|Local wildlife....not just Halloween decorations!|
Monday, 9 November 2015
Kinda felt like Brandon Flowers was singing the soundtrack to this week's rip. In all honesty, this week WAS a strange week, but the blessings from this week were a sure heck ton. It was a pretty darn good week.
One of the main reasons this week was so strange was due to the fact that Elder Mason and I had legitimately one day of regular work in our area. However, we managed to hit ALL of our goals we set (more or less), and saw many benefits from our labors this week.
|Chowing down with Elder Mason|
The roller coaster started last Monday night, when the Zone Leaders told me they'd be coming over the next day to go on a division with Elder Mason and I, both in our own area. This proved kinda stressful at first, cuz we had planned out ONE solid day for ONE dupla of elders, but had not planned out exactly how we would have TWO days for TWO duplas, so the next morning took a significant amount of praying and thought to make sure we could figure out a way for two duplas to work in our area. In the end, when they came, Elder Mason and Elder F. Santos, from Portugal, went with the scheduled plan for the day, and I took Elder Rodrigues, from Praia, around our area in Lapinha in Cova, and even though we had scheduled NOTHING with anyone, we ended up teaching 8 lessons that day alone, which was a new record for me in a day. It was a lot of fun, cuz Elder Rodrigues was being pretty pushy with people to get lessons, like, 'come on, lets just talk, 5 minutes, that's all, 5 minutes' and they'd all be like, 'man, I don't got time, I gotta take a bath' and I'd come in and play good cop, and be all like, 'Aww man, I getcha man, no worries, sounds like you had a rough day' and chat them up and bit and then be like, 'hey man, we know you've got time for a couple prayers and a short message, can we go sit in your house for just a sec?' and they'd usually give in. It was a bunch of time. Rodrigues and I made a good team!
The next day, I had to do some baptismal interviews for the other Elders in our district, so right after the Zone Leaders left Wednesday morning, we met up with the other elders, and I went out with Elder Silva, from Portugal; he's a greenie too. SO, that meant Elder Mason and I had two consecutive days not working with each other. It was weird :P While I was up in their area, I convinced one of their recent converts to make a cover for my Portuguese Bible, and I must say, it's pretty incredible and lame at the same time :P I love it, but I'm sure if y'all saw it, you'd just be like 'really?'. The mission makes you appreciate the little things!
Thursday brought Zone Meeting for us, which was fun. The Zone Leaders had asked me the day before if I could play another hymn on the harmonica for the zone, so I prepped a mash up of Praise to the Man with We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet, and since I didn't have a whole lot of time to prep, i t was VERY not perfect, but to make matters worse, as I was playing it, I looked out and saw Elder McMullin making faces at me, and it made me mess up :P I think it still went well for the most part though :)
The end of the week was where things started to smooth out. We went out to Tinteira on Friday and had an investigator there tell us he knew that what we taught was true, which was incredible to hear, and we also had a bunch of less active people there promise us they would come to church on Sunday. Sure enough, as Sunday rolled around, we had 6 people from Tinteira show up, having walked an hour in the heat to come, which was not only incredible, but they apologized to us for not bringing more! They told us next week they're going to bring even more to church. I think that was just about the best part of this week, seeing those people walk to come to church for the first time in MONTHS for many of them, and it caused for our ward to have the highest frequency it's had since I came to this area. It was so awesome :)
One funny thing from the week I guess, on Saturday we were with a member, who told me that I had to give a 20 minute talk in church the next day, and thought that I knew about it. To my surprise, no one had gotten the message through to me, and so Sunday morning, I had to prep a 20 minute talk about missionary work, but to my luck, as the time passed in Sacrament Meeting, I only had to give 10 minutes of it :P the final speaker didn't end up having any time like at all :P Cape Verdeans don't like to go over the hour on Sacrament Meeting, so....
It's been a pretty rad week. Hoping for it to be even more rad this week!!
Sunday, 8 November 2015
As I mentioned in my last letter, this past interview with President Mathews, he more or less, 'called (us) to be a rock for those below' as Marcus Mumford and Winston Marshall would say, as they harmonize together in an oh-so-beautiful way that I miss so badly.I really miss real music hahaha.
Tuesday, 27 October 2015
This week's title is a little less philosophical and a little more literal.
Just about half of our week resulted in us ending up pretty wet, since Cova Figueira was blessed with abundant rain. We had a pretty good streak from Wednesday to Friday of just being in a state of wetness. It wasn't all that fun :P
On Thursday, we had left our house at about 1, to go out and walk to Tinteira, while it was raining slightly; it really didn't appear to be all that bad, since it was the eauivalent of a windy drizzle. However, it became pretty apparent that, as we walked, those little raindrops resulted in feeling like going through a waterfall; by the time we hit Tinteira, about 45 minutes later, we were thoroughly soaked. Elder Mason took a video on his camera of pouring water out of his shoe. It meant that everything from our shirts, ties, pants, shoes, planners, scriptures, and even pamphlets were just totally wet. Needless to say, as much fun as it is to walk 45 minutes in the rain, it was pretty miserable.
|Singing in the Rain with Elder Mason|
(He shared that as they were getting soaked they started to sing "Called to Serve" in Portuguese and it helped to cheer them up....)
However, as I walked, I sorta realized to myself that, I wouldn't do this for just no reason; I would never actively CHOOSE to walk that much and be that soaked, but I did so because I knew it was what the Lord wanted. In putting our faith in him, the Lord was willing to bless us with the success we needed that day; we taught a lesson in literally every house we stopped at in Tinteira that day, meaning a solid 5 in just Tinteira alone. It was a super cool blessing.
It wasn't too nice, though, when a lady, who graciously let us into her house, told us that, 'as nice as it was that we walked, it really wasn't necessary to make such a sacrifice, since Jesus already died for our sins' (you can be THAT felt good to hear, eh?) I responded in a sorta of manner of, 'well, if he died for all our sins, then it's all the more important we walk hear so you can know how to be saved from them!'. Basically, I think she was just upset that we walked so far to teach in a town dominated by her church :P it was a FUN lesson to teach. She kept trying to throw down and argue with us, but we gave her nothing. It's in lessons where people try to go against you that you really realize how true the gospel we live is; you just get this overwhelming feeling of certainty that this IS the way that God determined for us. I love it.
Just about our coolest moment from the week was teaching our investigators Edmir and Carlos, who are High School teachers. We've been teaching them for a while, and had the opportunity this week to teach them the 3rd lesson, or the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As we taught, it became clear how prepared they are to receive the gospel at this point in time, Just about every question we asked them, they answered it with Preach My Gospel-esque accuracy. When we got to baptism, I explained it, and Carlos was like, 'yeah, I just got one question, when is it that I know I'm ready to be baptized?'. It was such a beautiful question that I was so taken aback and had no clue how to answer it :P hahaha! After explaining to them how simple it really is to know, they resulted that, while they want to follow the true church, they need a certain amount of time to know for sure. They promised a visit to our church this coming Sunday, and agreed to be baptized when they know that it is true. They've come quite the long way, from almost being contentious with us, to being like best friends with us. They are SO cool.
We had interviews with President Mathews today, which was super good; he mentioned that he enjoys reading my blog here and there, and even gave me a suggestion for some themed-content. (He really looks out for me hahaha). He mentioned to us that, in our area, he almost changed our focus from working with investigators to working with inactive members exclusively, but decided not to; however, our focus WILL be changing, just in our area, to working more so with inactive people, since our area has a TON, and a little less with investigators.
Should be fun :)
Monday, 19 October 2015
Okay, so I'm going to be pretty liberal with my interpretation of the song today, and am by no way suggesting any wickedness or anything of such sort. Por favor tenha pacienca comigo :)
As Matt Shultz once sang, " there ain't no rest for the wicked, money don't grow on trees; I got bills to pay, I got mouths to feed, ain't nothin' in this world's for free! "
I kinda felt that way this week juuuuust a bit (minus the wicked part) in that I kinda realized nothing in our area is going to come to us for free. As I mentioned last week, the mission changed our daily focus from 10 contacts and 3 lessons to 15 contacts and 5 lessons every day, which I knew would NOT be easy, especially in our area. Kinda like Cage the Elephant tries to tell us, I knew nothing would be coming to us for free, SO, this week we cracked DOWN and got to work.
Since our area consists of 3 main zones, Lapinha (like half of Cova Figueira), Maria de Cruz / Domingo Lobo, and Tinteira, what we've begun doing, in order to find 5 lessons every day, is work in at least 2 of those 3 zones every single day, and to be able to contact 15 people every day, is talking to literally everyone. It's actually been quite fun :)
One suggestion our Zone Leaders had for us was to use these 15 contacts as an opportunity to find 2 or 3 of our 5 lessons every day, so with that, we've taught a lot of lessons in a lot of strange places this week :) to name a few off... we taught one sitting on rocks underneath a tree, taught one on the side of the main road in Tinteira, various doorsteps, while people cut up raw pork meat, in a house where a dog wanted to kill us, on the side of the road to an Adventist who wanted to fight about why we don't use Saturday, in a house where everyone was asleep cuz they were sick except for the mom who got up to talk to us, to some girls doing homework off the side of the road, baaasically anyone sitting down in a public place this week in our area has been taught by the Elders. In working on our contacting, something I've got Elder Mason doing is asking just about anybody if they're willing to sit with us for 5 or 10 minutes, and just about every time he does the contact and asks, I feel sorta hesitant about it, but 9 times out of 10, they're willing to accept and listen to us. It's actually pretty darn fun, and becomes almost like a game most days.
In teaching so many spontaneous lessons, we were able to find a TON of new investigators this week, just left, right, and centre, of people who were like, ' yeah, come back any time Elders! ', and were even able to commit a few to baptismal dates. We've started to work with two different couples, one in Lapinha and one in Tinteira, who seem to be really cool. The couple in Lapinha has come to church both this week and last week, which has been straight up sent from Heaven. Patrik, the guy, showed up to church in a button up shirt and stingy, stylish suit, and sunglasses, and rolled in all like
' look at how cool I look ' but very quickly realized that our church isn't so much of a fashion parade here :) hahaha. It was boss!
Unfortunately, some people still are a bit hesitant about the 'dressing up for church' thing, since we had a LOT of less active young men tell us they couldn't come to church because they ' don't have shoes ' or because they 'have to wash clothes '. We tried telling them that they don't need to worry about the shoes they wear, cuz I'm like 97% sure the Savior didn't show up to church in Eccos, buuuuut people here are a little more hesitant to believe that. We even had an investigator tell us he would not come to church because the iron in his house was locked up and couldn't iron his clothes. The fact whether he was baptized on the 31st of this month depended on whether or not he came to church today, and while he's totally down to get baptized on the 31st, he can't now because he was too stubborn to show up in regular clothes. Expect an update next week on how I wear my sandals to church this week to show it really doesn't matter :P hahaha.
As for the reference to the 'wicked' in my title, unfortunately there are a few that don't rest. We came into our house Saturday night to find someone had cut open the netting on our window, and had entered, but we couldn't find ANYTHING missing, only stuff moved around and such. However, upon closer inspection on Sunday, I found that I am no longer in possession of my wallet :/ fortunately, my wallet had nothing of any real value, other than cards, drivers license, etc. , buuut it's just a hassle. But, life is as such when there ain't no rest for the wicked. Just meant we got to ride in the back of a police car here while they drove us up to our house to check it out. Tried making a joke to the cops about how funny it was that Elders were in the back of their car, but they either didn't hear me, or didn't think it funny. I thought it was funny though :) haha
Anyways, as such, I've been without rest this week. It would be fair to say this has been one of the hardest working weeks on my mission, aaaaaaand I gotta do it all over again now. Looking forward to continuing no rest :)
Love y'all!Elder Massey
|Catch up Elder Mason! You can do it!|
|Sunday dinner? or proof that they are eating more than rice and beans....|
|Keeping fit...Cape Verde style!|
Monday, 12 October 2015
While we might not have been quite like John Lennon when he sang that he'd "been workin' like a dog", this week has been a good one in the sense that it was easily our hardest working week of the past transfer, which was good. This week was especially good in that we decided to stop playing our bad luck as a just circumstance, and made sure that this week we got our work DONE!At the beginning of this week, we looked ahead and knew it was going to be a tougher one to actually hit our goals, because we knew that Thursday, Friday, AND Saturday were all going to be gong shows, due to various events happening, as well as Sunday being transfer Sunday, so at the start of the week, we set out to make sure that, despite all these things going on, we would do everything in our power to do get that which we wanted done.
Wednesday, 7 October 2015
|Hiking to the top of the volcano last P day|
If there's one strange thing I've learned on my mission, it's that I rather like Bruno Mars. Here, there is very limited amounts of English music, and Bruno Mars happens to be one of the few artists they really like here, so, while I would rarely choose to listen to him back home, a certain appreciation for him as happened in my life since hitting Cape Verde. Funny how that works, hey?
As Bruno Mars once sang, he told us that 'today I don't feel like doing anything, I just want to lay in my bed'. Maybe there's a reason why they like him so much here, because it seemed that, this weekend, as we went about to invite people to come to conference, they were busy singing the same song, not vocally, but in action :P hahaha. We gave a pretty good effort, going out and passing multiple houses before each session of conference, including taking a detour to one of our lower zones, Maria de Cruz and Domingo Lobo, just to get people to show up at church. I thought going into this past week that, having church 5 different times, would make it SUPER easy to get investigators to come, but no matter how any people we passed, or how many houses we went to, everybody was either 'too tired' or had a 'sore body' or didn't want to lie and tell us they would come and then not show up, so would just outright say no.
|We succeed when we invite!|
It was a pretty interesting experience as we walked all the way to the bottom of our area and back up to the top, pouring sweat, to show up in the church without any investigators to an already started Sunday Morning Session. It made me sad cuz being in the church was something that made me feel so happy, yet there were so many outside of those walls that weren't able to feel that same happiness, just because they would rather lay on the ground of their concrete house. I guess it made me realize that, part of my job is to help these people feel that love and that happiness when we're there, so that they can make that decision to no feel like not 'doing anything' or to 'lay in (their) bed'.
We were very lucky to have had a pretty blessed week this week, outside of the struggles we faced with General Conference. We were pretty darn lucky to be able to watch all the sessions live for the most part. Because of a bunch of stuff going on this week, with Conference, a Special training from President, and the three different zones we have, it was tougher to work at the rate or the amount that we wanted to, but it ended up being pretty good :)
|Doing laundry the hard way!|
Monday, 28 September 2015
I choose such a title for this week because of our greatest lack from this past week...WATER
The best part of this week though was easily Sunday, in that we had 3 investigators come to church, which is a Cova record for me. One of them was a guy I taught way back, but was never able to find again, but was invited by a member this past week to come and join us at church. it was freakin' sweet. The best part though was standing in the halls of the church in between classes and seeing our investigator, Ricardo, standing in the church. It was so awesome, because we had no clue he was coming, and didn't expect him to show up, due to work in the fields. It was just AWESOME to see him there. Sunday was the freakin' boss.
Sorry for a rather scattered letter today, it's been a busy one, and I gotta run pretty quick. I'm so sunburned right now, we went up to the volcano here today. Pictures to follow next week.
Love y'all!Elder Massey
Wednesday, 23 September 2015
|Never discount a missionary opportunity.....|
As Matt Shultz sings on the opening track of Cage the Elephant's debut album, 'it goes in one ear, and right out the other'.In our missionary work, we are constantly bringing forward the message Heavenly Father has given us to bring, and when we give it to our investigators, it becomes their job to decide whether or not to let that message go 'in one ear, and right out the other', or to let it stay, and dwell in them. As missionaries, we just gotta do our very best to make sure that message gets to as many ears as we can! Whether our investigators choose to listen to that guide of the Spirit or not, is ultimately their choice. I felt like that's been a bit of a theme this past week in our work.
|Elder Massey and his "son" Elder Mason from California|
|Honoring the start of hockey season.....|
Tuesday, 15 September 2015
Chris Martin once sang, 'Is there someone there to reach me, or someone there to find me?'Sometimes we feel like we're calling out, looking for something to help us, and it feels like nothing is coming. However, we can ALL find what we're looking for in Another's Arms... and that person happens to Jesus Christ :)
Monday, 7 September 2015
Throwing this title back to the days when I was born on the mission, and my dad, Elder Stone, used the same title to describe my birth. As a newly proud father, figured I would do the same!This week was a bit of a whirlwind, as a whole lot of random stuff went on. It all started off with my mini going home on Monday, meaning I had to stay with the other Elders in Cova Figueira, and find a member to go out with me during the day to teach, cuz I didn't wanna leave my area all on it's own for the better part of the week. That meant that even HARDER work was needed, cuz it was just legit ME walking around with a name tag on, and Dani with me, preaching the good word. In getting a greenie, that meant I would get to go to Praia to pick him up, which I was SUPER stoked about, so on Thursday, me and Elder Bullock went on a divison in his area, as he was without a companion as well, which happened to work perfectly. We had a member in his area tell us that we should serve together, because 'everybody would love us'. I guess it's just evident how incredibly loveable us Canadians are...
Only other news from this week was getting to go on a divison with my MTC comp, Elder Maake, while we were in Praia. They wanted us to be working duirng the day, after the fun was done, so I got to go out with him and his companion, Elder Lunt, for a bit. Needless to say, it was interesting. I had a blast, and freakin' Elder Maake speaks the language waaaaaaaay better than I can now, a big difference from the MTC. Not everything changed since the MTC though :) It was awesome and hilarious to see him again, aaaaaand I got to see what it's like to work in Praia. Waaaaay different than what I'm used to!
Anyways, that's about all I've got for this week, sorry it wasn't overly spiritual, but this week has been a lot of fun for me. I think in showing a missionary how to work, has really taught me exactly how much I'VE learned these past 8 (almost 9) months. The mission is incredible.
Love y'all!!Elder Massey, the Dad