Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Swallowed in the Sea

 As Chris Martin sings in a dearly beloved Coldplay song, 'You cut me down to size, and opened up my eyes; made me realize what I could not see'. I guess if I've learned anything so far in my three months in Cape Verde, is that often times, things really don't ever go according to plan, no matter how hard we may try. With this, we really have two choices: we can either get frustrated about it, or, we can roll with the bumps in the road, trusting that our Heavenly Father has in store for us that which 'could not see'.

This week, this really was the story that went totally along with how things unfolded with our investigator Louisa, who had been progressing super well, but had her fair share of struggles. We were under the belief, at the beginning of the week, that she would be going to Praia for a few days, and likely wouldn't return for a week or so, which was gunna push us back a bit with her baptism, but on Monday night, she expressed to us that she would not go to Praia until she'd been baptized, and that she was ready to put aside everything so that she could be baptized. It was freaking COOL! So, as we worked with her to progress to baptism on the Saturday, we also talked with her daughters, who are 9 and 11, about being baptized with her. It was all going super super well, and Louisa was like rock solid in everything, including Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity, all that stuff, so we were like PUMPED for Saturday. I think it was the Thursday we went by her house to go over the baptismal interview questions with her and her daughters, and again it was going super well, like her daughters told us they believed Joseph Smith was a prophet, all this kinda stuff, and then we got to the last question, which was, 'will you follow and be baptized?', and Louisa, right off, said yes, but her daughters were like 'well, I've already been baptized. I was baptized in the Catholic church. How many times was Jesus baptized?', which were all answers that were fed to them by Louisa's ex-man, John, who doesn't want any of them to get baptized, so they declined being baptized, which kinda bummed us out, but it was all still good. Then, when we passed by her house before her baptism to pick her up, John called us up and started telling us all this crap and asking if we were the church of Satan, and fun stuff like that. We pretty quickly realized that this baptism day was not going to go smooth, like we had hoped for. We managed to get out of the house with Louisa, and got everything all sorted out before the service, at which point we thought, 'PHEW, we're all good now', but, being Cape Verde, it can never be as such. The service itself was just not well run, because our branch president is out of town for the weekend, and Elder Stone and I were just getting frustrated because of all the little things we saw going wrong. We got down to the beach after a short service in the chapel, and we were still feeling this same frustrations, but I guess the Lord decided to 'cut us down', because the second we walked into the water with her, all those feelings washed away.
 As we stood there and watched her become swallowed in the sea (man, my water puns are ON today), I just felt such a strong relief, it was awesome. It's suuuuuper easy to get caught up in soooo many little things, but when we kinda take that step back and let it all go, it's incredible to see how much our Heavenly Father does to take us where he knows we need to go. Louisa's been such an incredible blessing, and from the time we first met her as a drunk on the street to seeing her be baptized, the change in her was indescribable. It was freaking BOSS, and it's times like that where it's freaking AWESOME to be a missionary.
                                 What happens when young men are left without adult supervision...
                                     they come up with an idea to "eat" their departing district leader!

Other than our work with Louisa, this week has been an awful strange week. Elder Ernst, our District Leader, has died (as in, finished his mission) and left us on Friday, so for 3 full days of the week, we existed in a tri-panionship, which was a lot of fun. Before Elder Ernst left, he did a division with us, so I went and worked with Elder Martinez in his area, and stayed over at their house, while Elder Ernst worked with my comp, Elder Stone. When I was out with Elder Martinez, it was kinda cool to see how much I've learned since my last division with him, back about 9 or so weeks, and we just had a super fun time walking around with our branch mission leader, Joao, who is DEFINITELY slightly crazy.  
One other fun thing that happened this week was a night we had at Chano and Milcialita's, after Elder Ernst had left. We'd found this Creole guide, which had a TON of just totally random Creole words, such as a funny word to obsess over something, a word for being cross-eyed, to fail a grade in school, name ANYTHING and basically they have a weird word in Creole for it. What we did was read off the strangest ones we could find, and Chano or Milcialita would try and describe it for us, and MAN we were all laughing pretty darn good. Half the fun of being in Cape Verde is learning Creole, cuz it's seriously such a funny language.
So, with that, this week marked the END of me being a Greenie, and I have now reached status as a full-functioning, not-totally-incompetent, missionary. However, since the transfer ended, transfers came! For us, Elder Stone received his transfer to go to Tarrafal, on the island of Santiago, while Elder Martinez and I will be staying here, as the ONLY companionship on the island of Maio. We had figured as such would be happening, but it was a relief when we heard from President Mathews and had it confirmed.

                     Goodbye to Elder Stone!  A great trainer!  Wishing him all the best in Tarrafal!

Well, there's my week for ya! I hope my ramblings aren't tooooooo annoying!
Love y'all!
Elder Massey

Monday, 20 April 2015




Sometimes, we can feel like the soldier described by Win Butler in the Arcade Fire song, 'Intervention', who groans and says, ' we'll go at it alone', but when you're working on the Lord's side, you NEVER have to go at it alone.
With that said, this week had a direct theme of divine 'intervention' in our work (HAH, that was good, wasn't it?), and it was truly incredible to see.

In the most blatant miracle of the week, we were able to find a solution for our one investigator, Louisa, who was finding it difficult to find a way to completely live the Law of Chastity, as she has been living with a man (who she doesn't want to live with), and has a medical condition that doesn't allow her to work to provide for herself. However, this week, they were able to resolve and make a court date (yes, I was shocked too, I didn't think Maio had a court...) for a legal issue they'd previously had, in which they believe the result will be she will be allowed to keep the house to live with her kids, and that he will likely have to move out. When we heard this, Elder Stone and I basically had our jaws drop because of how incredible a solution it was, and how directly involved our Heavenly Father was in helping her out. On top of this, Louisa has been working to overcome a smoking problem, having already dropped drinking, and because of her faith, has been very successful in doing so. While she still isn't perfect, she has dropped the amount she has smoked significantly, and went three full days without smoking this week, which was amazing. We having been working with her to be baptized on the 25th of April, with her two daughters, but it's looking like she's going to Praia for a few days this week to sort out her medical clearance, and may not come back in time. However, this past week has shown incredible progress on her part, and we were directly able to see how Heavenly Father intervened in her life.
Another example of intervention this week was found in our investigator Nelson, who we had feared we may had lost after an issue arose the week past, but this week, it all turned around. We taught him twice this week, with our first lesson being a very 'do-or-die' situation, but because of his incredible faith, he's getting back in line. He found that his issues were sorting out, which he even told us was a blessing from Heavenly Father, and the week culminated in him showing up to church of his own accord, after trying to get him to come for the better part of these past 11 weeks here in Maio. When he walked through the door to church on Sunday, it was pretty easy to see how much of a straight up miracle it was for him to have come. While he was our only investigator to come to church this week, Elder Stone and I were OFF THE WALL to have him show up. It was pretty darn freakin' awesome.
In one more short example of intervention, we had  to re-visit the basics with Chano and Milcialita this week, which meant reading and praying every single day. We had a very direct lesson with them where we challenged them to do these simple things, and when we returned last night, we had decided to follow up with them about these commitments. The SECOND that I asked them how their commitments were going, they both SHOUTED that they had both read AND prayed every day, having gone from 1 Nephi 11 to chapter 18 in about 2 or 3 days, which is pretty darn awesome. They were ecstatic to tell us how much they'd loved it, and just that they'd actually done it. It was so so awesome, and we were all laughing pretty good because of the outburst they made.
Okay, now that I've bored you enough, here's just some funny happenings from this week:
This week marked the start of an annual Maio tradition, where a party is held on the 3rd of May, and to prepare for it, people (of any age) go around at night, EVERY night, playing drums, horns, and singing, in mobs, to houses to get money to pay for food and such at the party. Apparently it is a huge tradition here, and it was very very funny to watch. Basically, it's mobs going around, in the dark, being very very loud, and demanding money at doors. Cape Verdeans love to party, man!
In another funny moment, we were wandering around on Sunday, heading to a lesson, when one of our investigators stopped us in his car and told us that the other Elder's house, who he lives next to, was flooding water out onto the street from the second floor. We BOOKED it over there and went in to find like 2 inches of water EVERYWHERE in the house, with a tap spitting out water like crazy in the kitchen. After calling the other Elders over, we then made a tactical plan of attack, and spent the next 2 to 3 hours sweeping, mopping, and toweling up water on the floor, before having dried up the whole mess. Needless to say, we were left exhausted, and we had a fun slumber party at our housewith them after. Luckily, not much was damaged, and we all had good fun cleaning it up :)
 The "baptism" of the elders house!

Now, I wanted to save the funniest story for last. During a lesson with Louisa, her son, Fabricio, came in, and asked her mom for the equivalent of about 50 cents to go and buy cookies. She gave him the money, and was on his way, and we thought nothing of it. 15 minutes later, one of Louisa's daughters dragged him into the room with an empty pop bottle, and said something I didn't understand in Creole, but it became very apparent that Fabricio had not bought cookies, but bought GROG, which is essentially moonshine. So, a 5 year old kid went out, and for 50 cents, got SLAMMED, and MAN it was funny. It started out with him just standing and giggling, but very quickly he started to laugh more, and more, and more. It got to the point where he would sit on the bed with his mom, look at us, and just lay back and howl laughing. Then, he would get up, try to leave, and stumble and hit the floor. He tried again, and again to get up, but he keep stumbling over and hitting the floor. MAN it was funny!! I was dying laughing. It was so funny, I've decided to enclose a picture of us with our favorite drunk 5 year old, who is pictured sitting in between us.
So, this week has been quite the eventful week, but I wouldn't have had it any other way!
Love y'all!
Elder Massey

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

For Reasons Unknown

Man, sometimes it would be REALLY nice to have things always go according to plan, hey? This week, I really learned about what it is to trust in our Heavenly Father with ALL we got, even though we might not know the reasons WHY things are happening.

With that said, this week was definitely a tougher one. There wasn't straight up any one reason WHY things were so difficult, but having gone from teaching about 4 lessons a day to really working to find one definitely made it a struggle. We had two sorta big or difficult things happen to us this week, and man, if I hadn't have been with Elder Stone, it definitely woulda been tough to go through as well as we did. Earlier this week, in talking with Louisa, we taught her about the Law of Chastity, and what that would mean for her life, and as we closed the lesson, we asked her, 'So, with this in mind, what are you going to need to change?', to which she responded, 'Well, I need to split up with my man, and either he needs to leave, or I do'. Elder Stone and I were shocked at the direct faith she had to have an answer like that, because I'm pretty sure at that point, most people would say 'that's way too hard, I can't do that!', but she saw the one way that she really needs to go.
 However, this isn't exactly going to be easy for her. The next night, she showed up at the church telling us she needed our help, and after talking to her for a bit, we were able to help calm her down and give her the support she needs, and as she left, she went straight up to the guy she lives with, and made the decision to seperate from him. The only existing problem is, however, that she would now need to find a new place to live. At the current moment, she is still living in the same house as him, but trying to find some kind of way to get out. On our part, there really isn't anything WE can do, so our only response is to turn to our Heavenly Father with this. We've just gotta have this overwhelming trust to know that he's gunna find a way to sort this all out, so that she can be baptized on the 25th of April. Sometimes we don't know why we've gotta work through certain things, but in the end, it's all got a reason.
We also had an experience with our investigator, Nelson, this week, as well which contributed to this similar theme. We taught him a couple times this week and it was going super super well, but on Saturday night, we sorta fell into a problem with him. We were sitting in the church with him trying to help him with this problem he had arise all of a sudden, and it was one of the most tense moments I've been in so far, if not the most. It certainly was a moment where all of us were having our faith tried, and I really hope Nelson left with a new understanding of what faith really is, but it may have gone the absolute other way. Again, sometimes, these trails we face, we have no clue WHY we get them, but we've gotta trust our Father that this really is for our good and our benefit, and really, I know that it is.

So, let's not try and sounds depressing anymore, hey? Sorry if my rants sound like that, I really try not to. We found a lot of joy through these experiences. On Sunday, we had 3 investigators show up to church, Louisa being one, and we had Milcialita AND Chano show up, which was an incredible blessing. We sang 'Que Firme Alicerce' (How Firm a Foundation) for our closing hymn during sacrament meeting, and as I looked up from playing my dinky-little arrangement of it, Milcialita was absolutely beaming from where she was. That right there made all the little crappy things we went through not even matter, because heck, it was just so awesome.

Also, this week, we had President and Sister Mathews come by, which was pretty darn awesome. They came and sat in on our District Meeting, and then gave us trainings after, saying that, since we can't make it to Zone Meeting every month, they figured they could give us a little Zone Meeting just with them. After, they came by to inspect each of our houses, and let me tell ya, when you live without a mom, you forget very quickly what moms live like. As 18 and 20 year old kids, our level of cleanliness certainly wasn't the level of cleanliness held by Sister Mathews, even though we thought we'd worked our butts off to make the house all pretty and such. It sufficieth me to say that, we did not pass the inspection, though 'we did not fail', as Elder Stone says. We just stayed in that happy middle ground that exists with a thin film of dust on more surfaces than not :)
Anyways, these have been my insights from the past week, hope y'all enjoyed!
Love y'all, and GO FLAMES GO!!!
Elder Massey

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Oxford Comma

                                              View from the beach!
                                The hardships of missionary life.....lobster for dinner.... again!!!  haha
To paraphrase Vampire Weekend lead-singer Ezra Koenig,

'Who really cares about an oxford comma?'
Now, from my basic understanding of the term 'Oxford Comma', it is a type of comma used in a sentence where it really isn't a necessary punctuation in a given sentence, therefore, becomes something that shouldn't be something to worry about. I may be horribly wrong here, but again, I'm on an island in the Atlantic, I can't promise that I'm up to the times on everything.
My point being, many times, we worry too much about things that really don't matter in our lives, and sometimes, they bother us more than they should. My boy Ezra goes on to say, 'Why would you lie about something dumb like that?'  Thinking about this, a quote from General Conference this past week framed something on similar lines, saying 'sometimes, the stuff you can count, doesn't matter, but the stuff you can't count, really does' (again, paraphrasing, but bear with me) This week, we sorta felt screwed over by the whole world, and it started to get us frustrated. It seems that we know everyone in Maio, and that they're either all Catholic, Nazarene, or they just wanna hear the good word of God. Over the weekend, all the people here in Vila seemed to disappear and go inside, because of it being Easter Weekend, which happens to be a BIG deal here. Just little things seemed to be getting us frustrated: we were told Nelson went to Praia for the week, our investigator Leiza, who was supposed to be baptized this coming Saturday, may or may not have moved to Praia, all of our investigators had headaches because they were partying and couldn't come to General Conference, this list could go on and on! However, with this, sometimes we've just gotta remember the important things first, rather than putting little things like an 'oxford comma' in the way. Something Elder Stone and I talked about one night is that, as missionaries, we don't exist in a work of quotas; we aren't physically required to get a certain number f baptisms, or to get a certain amount of people to church, or whatever! We are truly in the work of our Heavenly Father, and with that, we are simply doing His work; we need not worry about the stuff that we think counts, but do that which He counts.
With that said, this week truly was an eventful one, and even though it was frustrating, it was pretty funny at times. All this really started on April Fools, as we thought it would be great to make our one day of pranking a good one. Despite our inner most desires, our goal to prank someone was ill-concieved, and was met as such: all our jokes fell flat. The one we really wanted to get was a prank on the lady who seels us our little 50 escudo drinks we get every day, as, on the 31st of March, we told her it would be my birthday the next day, and that we wanted free drinks. She said if we had a party and brought cake, she'd do it. We got SUPER excited at the thought of it, and we were sure we'd get her, so we made this cake mix we had sitting in the kitchen, and brought a piece to her the next day, but upon seeing it, she told us that it was a suitable birthday cake. Even though it wasn't my birthday, I was pretty chapped; I woulda been STOKED to have that cake for my birthday! Defeated, we left the store with our paid-for drinks, and sat down to take our break, as such is regularly scheduled.
Later that day, we went to pass by Nelson, who told us he would DEFINITELY be there, and as we passed by, found out from his mom that he'd left for Praia on the boat that day, and wouldn't be returning til that Saturday, just about 4 days later; MAN that made us mad. There brightest light on our April Fools was when we walked into our apartment to find the other two Elders, who no longer live with us, had tee-pee'd us. It definitely made our day.
More on the actual WORK side, this week, we were only able to teach one real lesson to Chano and Milcialtia, but man, it was a good one. We recognized that they have been a little slow to act on our commitments, so we decided to talk to them about the role of Christ in our lives, in hopes it would spark a desire in them; and MAN, did it ever. As we talked about the Savior, Milcialita ended up teaching basically all the points and thoughts we wanted to talk to them about. At one point, Milcialita brought up a specific story of Christ I wanted to talk about, and used it exactly as I had wanted to apply it, it was freaking COOL! This week, as we meet with them, we're really gunna push to have them focusing not only toward getting baptized, but getting them to live the Law of Chastity through getting married. We've got big hopes for them.
Also, we continued to progress with Louisa this week, who was our one investigator to show up to General Conference. She really struggles with a LOT of the Word of Wisdom, so we've been going by her house just about every day to see how she's doing with them, and at this point, she's just about straight up stopped drinking coffee, and she's getting better with drinking and smoking. She really is super cool, and we've invited her to be baptized on the 25th of April. fingers crossed that we can have her prepared by then!!
A funny story from this week, one day, after our District Meeting, Elder Stone and I returned to the house to get some money to pay for lunch, and as I was taking a pee break, I heard Elder Stone scream, and shout, 'THERE'S A BIRD IN THE HOUSE!', and, to our shock, we found a very little bird flying around in one of our back rooms. We have film footage of the whole incident which may or may not surface on the internet, but after about ten minutes of running around, screaming, and throwing balls, we managed to get the bird to fly out and continue its simple life as a bird. That definitely made for a good story as we met the other Elders for lunch...
Anyways, this has been our week here in Maio! Hope all is well at home, or abroad, on the land, or the sea!
Stay thirsty my friends!
Elder Massey