Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Us Against the World

 *No new pictures this week....sorry!
In the 2011 Glastonbury headlining slot, Chris Martin introduced this song for the first time, describing it something along the lines of, 'Just imagine you're on a camping trip, and you're out there all alone, and it starts to rain, and there's nothing you can do about it, and you're miserable, and it's just like you're out there against the world'

Sometimes, in the missionary life, you're feeling pretty well like that. It seems like you've got a heck ton of stuff that needs to be fixed, or people that need to do something, but there really is nothing you can do. As an individual, your personal ability only extends so far to do the tasks that are set before you, and sometimes, you feel like it's really like it's you against the world. Here on Maio, over the 8 weeks I've been here, it's definitely seemed some days like it's us against the world, because the branch can be struggling, our investigators can fail to fulfill commitments, and sometimes, it can be straight up impossible to find people due to the fact that just about everyone in the town will all be at a given place when an event happens. This is where our own ability stops, and where we need to turn somewhere else. Our district leader, Elder Ernst, gave a training during our district meeting this week based on hope, and really what that can do for us in our lives, and for our work here in Maio. When it's just us against the world, we've gotta turn to our Heavenly Father and put our hope in him, and in turn, put our faith in him. This hope, first, is what gives our faith the power it needs to act. And what is it that this faith does for us? Well, according to Captain Moroni, in Alma chapter 44, we learn that 'God will support us, and keep, and preserve us, so long as we are faithful unto him, and unto faith... and never will the Lord suffer that we shall be destroyed'. So, maybe I just rant sometimes, and this makes no sense whatsoever, but I learned that, as we really have the hope that our Heavenly Father will help us, we won't be just 'us against the world', and that we will have the faith that will hold us up FOREVER.

With that being said, this week was jsut about one of our most successful weeks in terms of numbers here, being that we taught OVER 20 lessons, and had 2 investigators show up at church. One of these investigators, Louisa, happens to be one of the many blessings our Heavenly Father gave us as we've put our hope in him. A few weeks back, Elder Stone and I were taking one of our daily breaks at our local favorite (and by favorite I mean cheap) store, and we were drinking some pop, and this lady came up to us and asked us for like 100 escudoes (the local currency) or something, and we were like 'well, sorry, we don't have any money!', and she looked at us like we were stupid, and asked us what our names were, told us where she lived, and stumbled off. She was definitely drunk, and I just thought it was a funny experience. Well, this week, Elder Stone thought it a good idea to contact her at her house, so we went by, and surprisingly, she made a day with us to come by. We went back the next day and taught her, and let me tell ya, I don't think she spoke a word of Portuguese. She understands Portuguese perfectly, but speaks a VERY thick Creole, so I understood very close to nothing what she said. We taught a solid, simple lesson with her, and she said she would read the Book of Mormon with her kids, since she's forgotten to read. After that day, we were able to visit her two other times, taking her on a tour of our church one day, and on Sunday, she was just about the first person to show up, dressed in her Sunday-best, WITH all 3 of her kids (who are VERY well behaved, BONUS!). It was so darn cool to see, especially since we didn't go by her house prior to church that morning. She really liked church, and I think she really likes us. Finding her and teaching her was definitely a blessing from Heavenly Father.

As for Chano and Milcialita (that's actually how you spell her name, my bad for messing it up), this week was very up and down with them, but with them, we're just moving step by step. We were able to find time to visit with them just about every day, and they graciously fed us a variety of seafood on these various visits, and they've committed to living the Word of Wisdom, but we're still working with them on getting married to live the Law of Chastity. For them, it's just gunna be a thing we're going to have to take slow, every day. They truly are incredible people, and are so much fun to be around. They both firmly believe these things are true, and Milcialita LOVES reading the Book of Mormon. Right now, we've just gotta keep working on making these beliefs become actions. They weren't at church this past Sunday, which Elder Stone and I were bummed about, but we found out later that Milcialita gets killer migraines (just like I used to get), and had to go to the local hospital to get a shot to help with the pain, so, when someone is in a state like that, I'm not too miffed about them not making it to church. One night, after a visit with them that ran over what we wanted, we got out the door at like 9:28 and had to BOOK it home so that no harm would befall on us due to the fact of being out after 9:30. I found in that moment that my sprinting in missionary attire needs some work, and that my knees aren't in the shape they were last Spring during track season. 

So, with that, I guess we're just gunna keep looking forward. We freakin' WORKED this pst week, and it'll be a task to work what we did this week, but with Heavenly Father helpin' us out, it's never just us against the world, or in our case, the small population of Maio. 

I hope that you've all had rad weeks, thanks for ya love.
Love y'all, stay gucci chill and young money.

Elder Massey

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Roll Away Your Stone

                                                 Maio elders - hard at work!

                                                    Maio elders - exploring the island - at the top.....
                                                    ....and from the bottom!
                                                           Cape Verde - Land of Light
'Roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine... together we can see what we will find'

I've learned a little bit about taking steps with faith, both in the lives of our investigators, and in my own life. 

As for our investigators, at least our main ones, our focus was really on getting them to understand the importance of them taking steps with faith in their own lives, that our job as missionaries isn't to make them do things, but to help them gain a desire to do things for themselves. I guess, in this way, we're asking for our investigators to become vulnerable in their relationships with us and with God, and to make the next step in their lives. Specifically, this week, that meant getting our investigators to have a real desire to actually go to church. Earlier this week, we were teaching Chano and Milsielita, more or less on the importance of keeping commandments and what that meant in their lives, when I think this desire really hit Milsielita. She was just thinking and thinking, and as I was trying to figure out how to ask them the question I wanted to get out, she more or less answered me mid-sentence, saying she knew she needed to go to church that Sunday, and even made this weird pinky promise thing with Elder Stone, which he was rather hesitant to accept. I was a really cool and also funny experience, and sure enough, on Sunday, Milsielita arrived! She's been our first investigator to show up to church since I've gotten here, so that was an incredible feeling to have. Chano would have come too, but he had a friend break down on the side of the road that morning, and had to go help him. Thankfully, since Milsielita went to church and loved it so much, Chano is now definitely dedicated to coming this next Sunday, if only just to see me play the piano and Elder Stone lead the music. Because of the Spirit Milsielita felt at church, she's able to help Chano develop that same firm desire to come to church with us too. In 'rolling away our stone' and showing our Heavenly Father we're willing to work with him, he truly is able to work wonders. 
As for Nelson, this week, we had less of an opportunity to actually meet with him, as there was a LOT going on here in Vilha for whatever reason, and he was gone a lot. He was originally marked to be baptized on the 21st, last Saturday, but since he's yet to come to church, that wasn't a possibility. He truly does have a testimony that these things are true, but he's just gotta show Heavenly Father that he's willing to work for it. We kinda sat down with him just to see what's been holding him back from coming to church, and helped him understand what he really needs to do. He's such an incredibly humble guy, and it honestly is amazing to see how faithful he is, and how prepared by our Father in Heaven he has been. He's now just gotta make that next step, and roll away his stone to our Heavenly Father.

For me, I've been working more on really trusting in my Heavenly Father as I do his work. Sometimes, it's very easy to get into a more or less rut in things, to just do the work, to just contact people on the street for a number, etc., but I've been trying to work more with my Heavenly Father to use his help to find those who are ready to accept our message. One way Elder Stone and I have been doing this, is by thinking that every contact we make will be the next person baptized here in Maio. Sometimes, this can be tough, because you'll get the occasional Catholic who just shakes his head at ya, or someone who wants to talk in English and turns out to just be really confused, but our Heavenly Father does put people in our way. Some of the coolest people we've taught have been people who have contacted us, and not us contacting them. So, with that said, I'm gunna roll away my stone to my Heavenly Father even more. 

Some funny stuff did happen this week, a certain experience stands out among others. One day, we were out searching for a guy named Jo, saying it like jjj-o, kinda like a soft 'j', if ya get my feel. We went ALL over the place trying to find where he lived, asking people if they knew him, etc., and we eventually decided to go to Chano at work, because we knew he was buddies with the guy. Chano told us EXACTLY where to go, and as we got there, we asked at the door if 'jjjj-o' was there. The lady there told us jjj-o didn't live there, which made us really confused, so we asked 'well, does Joe live here?' to which she responded, 'oh, yeah, Joe's my brother, let me go check'. Elder Stone and I just about died laughing after. It's incredible how funny Cape Verdeans can be sometimes. 

Also, this week, I gave a few new things a try. One night at Chano and Milsielita's, we were forced to eat their food, which happened to be EEL, and let me tell ya, eel freakin' rocks. It is seriously so rad. At Nelson's, a few days later, he offered us some goat's milk from his family's goat (like every family here has animals that live somewhere on the island), and as I tried it, I can honestly say it was not as good an experience as the eel. The stuff was THICK and smelled rank, but didn't taste too bad. It still wasn't an overly pleasant testing, and Elder Stone and I graciously turned down seconds of it. 

Well, that's my week for ya guys, hope you all had a swell one!!
Love ya! 
Elder Massey 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The Hardest Button to Button

**No new pictures this week - internet troubles....hopefully next week we will get the pictures from the island tour!

Sometimes, agency can be one of the most frustrating things EVER.

Sitting in church yesterday, I found myself getting frustrated, becausefor the 6th week in a row, we didn't have any investigators at church, despite many saying they would come, including Nelson, one of our really strongly progressing investigators. As I was sitting there, I had the thought that, I can only choose things for myself, such as deciding to walk through the door to sit down in Sacrament Meeting, and that as I choose these things, I'm able to see the hand my Heavenly Father has in my life, but that I can't choose FOR my investigators to be there. For this reason, I've learned that, sometimes in our own lives, the toughest thing for usto do is ACTUALLY to do. 

With that said, this week was definitely a good week. With regards to our two main investigators, Chano and Milsielita, and Nelson, we continued to progress with them, but this didn't exist without having roadblocks along the way. With both of them, we taught them the Law of Chastity this week, or 'Lei de Castidade' (which is SUPER fun to say in Portuguese), and each of them had their own cool aspects to them. In our lesson with Nelson, as we taught him, he told us it would definitely be difficult, but 'not impossible', to quote him directly. His faith to follow our Heavenly Father is so incredible. At the end of our lesson with him, as we asked him whether he would live the Law of Chastity, he said 'I can't promise anything right now' and paused, and thought for about a solid 5 seconds, and then said 'y'know what, why not?' and commited to follow. It was honestly so cool. With the other two, however, it was a little more difficult. With the Law of Chastity, those people who are living together who aren't married need to BE married in order to be baptized, so, this became our focus for the lesson. As we continued to talk and talk with them about this, over 3 different visits, I noticed myself getting frustrated with them, and I just wanted them to 'button this button', to actually DO these things, but I soon realized, as I talked about at the beginning here, I can't do that for them. During our 3rd visit, we just kinda stopped and talked about whether or not they actually believed what we taught was true. At first, the answer we got was 'Honestly, I don't know', from Chano, and 'Well, I'm not positive', from Milsielita, and right there, we justturned the lesson totally around, and rather than us testifying to them, they basically began to testify to us! Milsielita told us how, as she would meet with missionaries from different religions, she would dread them coming over, even saying she would hide from them in her house, but with us, she can hardly wait for us to come over. Chano told us how, with all other religions,they come into their home, and they have this conviction that they have the truth, but TELL them that they are the true church, and TELL them to join, when with us, we have a conviction that we have the truth, but the first thing we do is INVITE THEM to find out if this is true. I thought these were both such incredible testimonies to what missionary work really is, and what we stand for. The Spirit testified so strongly and simply then that what we have is right, and as we walked out of there, they were left with a firm resolve to really search and find the truth for themselves, it was seriously so cool. They are incredible people. 

As for the rest of the week, it was definitely a good one. We had President and Sister Mathews come on Wednesday with the APs, and basically got a low-down on the Zone Conference we missed a few weeks back, it was boss. They took us out for lunch and I had like the best tuna I've ever had in my life. We had really good trainings from both President and Sister Mathews, President's being about goal setting and Sister Mathews' being both about the Plan of Salvation and how importnat revelation is for us every day. When they left, we were pretty pumped toget out and just WORK, and I guess that's exactly what we did! 

A cool story from this week, as we were passing by sorta where Nelson lives, and this lady kinda waved us over to come talked to her. She was just sitting down on the side of the road doing whatever (a lot of people do that here), and she grabbed the Book of Mormon out of Elder Stone's hands and was like 'What's this? Tell me what this is!'. It was sorta strange and random, but we gave her a very basic overview of what it was, and what we believe, and asked if we could come back and teach her, to which she responded that we could return the next day. She was super open to learning more, and even told us she would have more questions for us! We returned the next day, and she had a small piece of paper covered in questions, arranging from how many people we believed would be 'saved', if the virgin Mary stayed a virgin, what our church's name meant, and a variety of other things, which we all answered, save the virgin Mary one (that was so darn random). She really liked all of our answers, and we proceeded to teach her after answering all these things. As we left, we asked her something like, 'hey, why'd you whistle us down yesterday on the street?' to which she responded, 'well, I didn't have that book you guys have, and I want more knowledge'. HOW FREAKING COOL, hey?? I was so pumped leaving there. 

With our first transfer come and gone, Elder Stone and I got one more together here, and we're looking forward to keep up with our work. Maio is seriously a blast.
Hope y'all had a good week! I love ya!!
Elder Massey

Monday, 16 March 2015

Month of May

 ** It was a busy week last week and posting this letter on the blog just got away from me.  Hope you enjoy!
"Gunna make a record in the month of May..."
Well, it's been more than a literal month of May (because Maio means May in Portuguese, GET IT??), and this week has been a heck ton of fun.
Earlier this week, we had a visit from our Zone Leaders, justfor the day, since there are very limited ways to travel to and from Maio, and they extended us the goal of making 10 contacts every day, with teaching 3 lessons, and extending a baptismal invite every day. At first, we were preeeeetty resilient to this, becuase we're usually pretty lucky to teach two lessons a day, but we set this as our goal, and got down to work! With this as our goal, we taught more this week than any other in the transfer, getting 3 lessons just about every day.
We continue to work with the investigators I wrote about last week, Chano (found out it's not actually with a D, oooops...) and Milsielita, and Nelson, and we teach them just about every other day. After one lesson with Nelson this week, he made us eat this cake his mom made, which was decent enough, but we figured he made us eat it because he didn't want to eat it. He told us that his mom 'still has a LOT to learn' (direct quote) in her cooking, which made Elder Stone and I pretty grateful for our mother's home cooking.
In another lesson with Chano and Milsielita, we sang a hymn for them, according to their request from a previous vist, so we sang them 'Careco de Jesus', or 'I Need Thee Every Hour', as us English speakers know it by, and I guess they really liked it. For some reason, they both put their heads down like they were praying, and when we finished, put their heads up and smiled and applauded us. It was funny and sweet.
To cap off what is our last P-Day of the transfer, we went with our BOSS branch president, Ta, on a tour of the island, and had a lot of fun. We basically rented a truck for the day, and we ended up sitting in the bed of the truk like the whole way. It was a lot of fun, but at the same time, Maio doesn't actually have a whole lot going on. We went through every town on the island without using basically any gas. We scaled the tallest mountian here in about 30 minutes, it was pretty darn boss.
Anyways, I'll leave y'all with that for this week, thanks for all your emails and for being rad people!
Love y'all!
Elder Massey

Monday, 2 March 2015

You've Got a Friend in Me!

Okay okay, I know this is a bit of a cheesy song title this week, but just hear me out here

We've had a fun week this week, as we've had a lot of progression with a few of our really cool investigators. Like I wrote about last week, we've taught Chando and his wife, Milsielita, a few times again this week, as well as a guy named Nelson, who's a 20 year old kid, and we've met with him a few times as well. Elder Stone and I feel really good about these investigators, they're really fun people, and we get along with all of them so well. So, I just wanna write about our experiences with them this week! 
Chando and Milsielita: 
We've had 2 other lesson with these guys this week, and we've had cool experiences both times. Earlier in the week, we went to teach them, with the intent to talk about the second lesson in Preach my Gospel, but found that they hadn't kept their commitments by reading in the Book of Mormon, or prayed sincerely to know of the truth of these things. With this, we decided that it was more important to discuss the Book of Mormon with them, so we did that through actually reading the first chapter of first Nephi with them. This turned out to be the right decision, as this totally sparked a desire in them to read the Book of Mormon. By the time we had returned 3 days later, Milsielita had read up to 1 Nephi 8, and proceeded to give us like a full 5 minute summary of what she had read, AND what it meant to her. It was so cool! When she finished, I told her that I was pretty sure she''d memorized every word she'd read! I was with Elder Martinez for this lesson, as we had gone on divisions that day, and we taught them then about the Plan of Salvation, with the invitation to follow this plan through baptism. At first, they weren't sure as to if it was the right direction for them, as they had their questions, but we were able to answer these questions, and emphasize to them that they can know of a truth of these things for themselves. I took the opportunity to bear my testimony to them of these things, and just as I was about to close my testimony 'in the name of Jesus Christ..', Chando interrupted me and shouted something in Creole (I really don't understand about 80% of what these people say), which I guess he was saying he wanted to be strong in the Spirit like I was, and Milsielita was like sitting there hugging herself saying she felt all warm and happy. It was so freaking darn hecking cool, as I guess it was kinda the first time I've really seen the Holy Ghost work through me. They've excepted the invitation to be baptized, when they recieve an answer of the truthfulness of what we taught. The next night, we popped by just to invite them to church, and they invited us in, and we stayed and just chatted with them for like 40 minutes! We didn't teach anything, but they jsut wanted us to come in and hang out with them! It was seriously so much fun, even though I understood very little. Chando speaks a little English, so he was saying stuff to us and it was so darn funny. The only problem was, they made popcorn for us, and once it was made, Elder stone and I remembered we were fasting (OOPS), but they were incredibly nice about it. They said they're going to invited us over for cachupa sometime soon (ooooooooooh). 
Nelson is this kid we've been teaching like every other day, and he's seriosuly so cool. He's been reading in the Book of Mormon, he's been praying and writing down his feelings that he has, he's been living the Word of Wisdom to EXACTNESS, AND he read the entire Plan of Salvation pamphlet, and asked us questions about it all! The day we decided to talk about the Atonement, he started off our lesson by asking us what it was! It was like seriously so perfect. We've had a couple times this week where we've just popped by to see how he's doing, and we just chat with him for a bit. We even hung out with him while they were playing Recess, the old Disney show, in Portuguese. It was so funny. 
It's so cool to see the impact we have in people's lives, but also that, first and foremost, we are these people's friends, even their brothers, and to see the love they have for us is incredible. It is such an amazing thing, to see the love our Heavenly Father has for these people, because I know I feel it each and every time I meet with them.

Speaking of friends, Elder Stone and I have been getting along really well, we have a lot of fun basically every day. We find different ways to have fun each day; the best way this past week was through rap battles. On Sunday, we were really bored, so we decided to rap about random crap. We've come to be pretty boss rappers if I do say so myself... :) 

Also, this week, before the fast, we decided to eat like kings: we ate LOBSTER. This lobster, or 'lagosta' (how exotic), cost about $15 bucks a plate, which sounds like nothing, buuuut we usually spend about $2.50-4.00 when we eat lunches, so it was EXPENSIVE. Basically 6 lunches right there. Thank goodness we had the money, otherwise, we'd be eating a LOT of ramen this week...
Love you all, keep being rad people!
Elder Massey