Thursday, 28 May 2015

Fake Plastic Trees

Something that we are all enticed by is the success that we can see, success that we can gain instantly. Sometimes, that's doing well on a test in school, getting a promotion at a job, or being able to buy something we really, really want. Thom Yorke, the lead singer of Radiohead, sings a little about that kind of success, but in a rather meloncholy way. He almost seems to describe it as being a sad thing to constantly depend on, always finding worldy success. This would lead to suggest that if we want to find happiness, or true succuess in life, we need to find it in places other than those things we can hold in our hands, whether they're fake or not.
Again, I ask for your patience, as it has been rather difficult to come up with a song title for this week, but I really hope this all makes sense.
Naturally, as a missionary, I want to find my success in the numbers I get; I wanna teach a heck ton of lessons, I wanna find new investigators all the time, I wanna have investigators at church, I wanna baptize the whole island of Maio, and use THAT to determine my success. In reality, though, that isn't going to happen ANY time soon, as much as I may want it and work for it. Something I'm working on learning is that isn't what success really is. In all honesty, this week wasn't one where we taught a whole lot; we didn't find a lot of new people, didn't really find much progression with our investigators, or have anyone at church, and the natural man wants to tell me that, because of that, I'm not a successful missionary. I learned a pretty cool lesson this week That I thought shows what we NEED to do to find that success, though.
In 3rd Nephi, in the Book of Mormon, there's a story where Jesus Christ appears to the Nephites, and he walks with them and teaches them and does a whole lot of awesome stuff, but it starts to get dark, and so Christ tells them, (paraphrasing) 'okay, I've gotta head up into heaven, but I'll come back tomorrow at this same place, I promise.' So, after he leaves, what do the Nephites do? Well, they go out, and 'did they send forth unto the people that there were many, yea, an exceedingly great number, did labor exceedingly all that night, that they might be on the morrow in the place where Jesus should show himself unto the multitude.' I really love how it talks about how they gave it their all to get their families, friends, and really anybody, to be at the place where they knew Jesus would be. I thought about how that applies to our work, because it never says exactly how many people they got, just how hard they worked. I figured, that if I had a book written about my mission, I'd want it to be written talking about how hard I worked, not how many people I found or baptized or taught or whatever. I don't want my book to talk about all the Fake Plastic Trees I worried about, but how much I served my Heavenly Father and His Cape Verdean children.
Speaking of Cape Verdeans, they're pretty darn funny sometimes, and even though it's funny, sometimes it's frustrating too. Our branch mission leader, Joao, continues to be a character. We had a Branch Council Meeting on Friday where we wanted to talk about how the branch can help our investigators, and he spent the whole time arguing and complaining about 'why we don't have activities like the Nazarene's do', even though he hardly ever shows up the activites we have anyways! Also, on Sunday, we asked him to pass by an investigator and invite him to church (because people are more readily gunna listen to someone like them rather than two white guys from across the ocean), and Joao shows up at the door of this guy and says, 'Hi, the missionaries sent me here to get you to come to church.' After explaining to Joao that he had a headache and a 'sore arm' (Cape Verde excuses for ya), our investigator did NOT end up coming to church.
As for investigators, I think we really only had one that we taught more than once this week, and it's this older guy named Ne, who pretty well stays at his house all the time, because he suffers from pains pretty well all over his body, and doesn't walk very well. He's told us he's been all over the world, including Canada and the States, all around South America, Europe, Russia, Japan, China, Australia (you name it, he's been there), and with him, he's very very willing to listen and try out what we invite him to do, which is very nice, because so many people just like to hear the 'good word of God'. In teaching him this week, we had a very cool moment where he told us about how he felt while reading the Book of Mormon, which had to be my favorite moment all week. It might not have been a whole lot, but it was just a little way we were able to see how the Holy Ghost can work inside of others when they let it in!
Sooooo basically that's been my week, it wasn't a crazy week or exciting week, but I definitely learned something this week. I love y'all, and hope that you all have an incredible week!
Goodnight, and Good Luck
Elder Massey

Workout - Maio style!

Elder Martinez buffing up in preparation for returning home....soon!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

My Body is a Cage

OKAY so I know I've used more Arcade Fire song titles than any other band, but maybe that's just because they've got the best song titles :)
M&M's  - Elders Massey and Martinez off sharing the "good word of God"

I find a lot of fun in pulling out gospel principles from some of my favorite songs, and I'm super excited about this one, so if I rant a little too much or sound super dorky, I ask for your pardon.
Win Butler, in introversion, sings a line quite profoundly true in how we work and in how we live as individuals. He laments:
 'My body is a cage that keeps me from dancing with the one I love, but my mind holds the key'.
What he's really saying to us here is that, we have the possiblity to obtain so much in our lives, but our greatest enemy or the thing that holds us back that most, is ourselves. Kinda ironic isn't it? We all want happiness, success, and so much more in life, but far too often, we struggle to find it because of our own obstinate nature (look at me, using big words!). This was something I found really highlighted in my week, in a LOT of ways.
I'll start with the example of a couple investigators we have. One is a younger guy named Keke, he's like 21-23, something like that, and he's a super nice guy, but also quite obnoxious. A few weeks back, we were teaching him and a few of his friends, and he kept hitting his one friend on the top of his head every time we'd ask questions. All I can say is, if I were the friend, I woulda whacked him pretty hard. With that aside, we were teaching him on Sunday afternoon, and asked him why we didn't see him at church, why he hasn't read in the Book of Mormon, etc., and really, his excuses were pretty lame for the most part. We started to go into teaching him the Word of Wisdom, but we got hung up with him about stuff in the Bible (like the word Sabbath translates to Saturday in Portuguese, so there's a HECK ton of people who get upset about that), and we just had to straight up tell him, 'y'know, Keke, we've given you the opportunity to find answers to aaaaaaaall these things, through the Book of Mormon, and you haven't read it. We've invited you to try out to see if these things are true, and you haven't. There really isn't a whole lot else we can do for you' which, is very sad to say, but also really is true. As missionaries, we don't have the ability to exercise his agency for him, and it's his job to use the key we've given him to unlock the door. In all our lives, we've been given the opportunity to act and to choose, and when we choose to not do something, it's really our own fault.
We met another guy, this week, whose name is Va, and he's a boss guy. He was someone the first elders who came to Maio a year back taught, and did super well with. He said that when he met them, he had a super bad drinking problem, but he doesn't drink anymore, and is cutting back on cigarettes as well. When we met him, he was like 'Elders! I've only smoked two cigarettes today!' and we were like 'uhhh, okay...' but then he told us the whole story and it all made sense. We were able to teach him once this week and also commit him to baptism. While the guy certainly isn't perfect, he's using those things in his life to cahnge the way he lives, so that he can find the happiness our Heavenly Father has promised him. Our next step, however, is gunna be to get him to come to church, because we didn't have any investigators come to church (AGAIN), which was certainly frustrating, but at the same time, we can't make people show up to church. Sorry, ranting. My bad.
The last example I had from this week that went super well with this song title (which was why I was so excited to use it) was with myself. There was one day this week where I really felt that I'd hit a wall in my progress indivdually as a missionary, and it annoyed the heck outta me. We taught this one guy named Kaka and Elder Martinez let me do a majority of the teaching, and when we walked out of the lesson, I hated how I had taught it. I don't mean to say that every time we talk to someone needs to be perfect, but I just hated how I felt like I'd stalled, and really, it wasn't anyone's fault but my own. I've gotten used to teaching things in an easy, non-special way, to the extent where I feel like I just hit play when I sit down for a lesson rather than actually talking with the person. So, with that in mind, I started to really work on what my next step needs to be, to get over being a robot missionary, and actaully being a Representative of Christ. I feel like 'my mind holds the key' to get to that next step, I've just gotta use it!
One other funny story from the past week, less about me mental cages and more about physical ones, as I've started to break through some cages that contain me every day, and by that, I mean my pants. Now, Maio is a realtively flat area, which means I have been gaining weight, even in Africa (I know, that's kinda sad). So, this week, we were walking around, and started to kick around this little soccer ball we found while by this little field. Elder Martinez and I were just kind juggling it back and forth when I kicked my leg a little too high in the air and felt a little more leway come from down under, which I soon came to find was a tear in my favorite pants. I thought it was pretty funny, but at the same time, I'm a little sad because they were my favorite pants.
Anyways, those are my (many) thoughts from the past week! Hope y'all have had a good one too!
Elder Massey

              Typical African woman carrying her load on her head....never ceases to amaze me!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

We're Going to be Friends

Just as Jack White sings about experiencing his first day of school and saying, 'We don't notice any time pass', when we have fun in the work, it works exactly the same! It is way more enjoyable to always make friends while we work, because if we do, then the work doesn't seem to be work!

With that, we have two real options in our missionary work: we can either work to get numbers, or we can go out to work with the love of our Savior. In going on a mission, they always tell you that you need to love the people, and before this week, I might not have really understood what that meant, but I think I'm starting to get it.
More than anything, this week we did a lot of just talking to people on the street, getting to know them, and just helping people understand that, while we're still missionaries, we too are just regular people, underneath our sometimes stiff white shirts and rather out-of-place dress. Something Elder Martinez has been helping me understand is that we don't need to just go up to them and abruptly tell them about religion, but how to get on a similar level to the people here, so that we can just better relate to them. One lesson this week, I just talked with one of our investigators, who happens to be 18 as well, about math and physics and just whatever, which was just kinda fun, and different than how I've been approaching the work prior to this, really.
                      The sign on the door reads "Strange People Prohibited from Entering...."

                                      Let's try that again....    Guess they are just too strange!!!!  

In getting to be friends with people, there's a LOT of room to have more fun with the people here. We've had a couple days where we spent time at Louisa's house, because we've been re-teaching her the 5 lessons that we go over with people, and Elder Martinez has gained a the nickname of 'Chinese' from her, since the people here aren't all that used to seeing Hispanic people, and even though he tried to deny it, she continues to call us 'Massey and Chinese'. 
 (likely the explanation as to why they weren't permitted entry in the photo above!!  haha)

In our continuing work with our Branch Mission Leader, Joao, we always seem to get classic moments with him. In walking around with him, we asked him about his plans to get married and such, as he is 33 and single, and he informed us that he wants us to help him in his search, and told us that there is an abundance of single LDS girls 'back in America' that are just waiting to find someone to marry, but they can't because there aren't enough LDS guys (not true), and so he wants us to tell girls back home about him, in hopes that he can find a wife of his own. We tried to explain to him that there aren't exactly girls back home just waiting around to marry a random Cape Verdean who doesn't speak all that much English, and who doesn't have a real career, but he told us that we're wrong and that there are many waiting. So, in a plea of help, if there are ANY within the sound of my voice (*cough* internet blog) that want to marry a 33 year old guy from Maio, let me know! Hahaha
Also, in our work with Chano and Milcialita, we've continued to make friends beyond the bounds of the human race, as we've come to make quite good friends with their pet goat, Steve, who, in his growth, produces a large amount of bodily fluids, and so, we've broadened our work with these two from gospel perspectives to helping them clean up from that which Steve leaves behind! I'm also starting to pick up a third language here, other than Portuguese and Creole, with that being goat-bleating. I hope to come home fluent!

       Looking tough with the baby bottle!  Goat feeding brings out that tough side in everyone!

So, that more or less describes our week; it's been a week of working hard and having a lot of fun along the way!
I love all y'all, and even though my Canadian accent may be diminishing (as according to my beloved family), I hope all is going well in your various parts of the world!
Elder Massey

Friday, 8 May 2015

Normal Person

  Scenes from Maio

Win Butler asks us the question, 'is anything as strange as a normal person?'
The world around is is FILLED to the brim with these normal people, people that want to follow what the world has, and what the world tells them to do. Now, you would think that maybe there's a chance that, being on an island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean would give you the chance of getting away from the world, but in reality, it's just about impossible to get away from. All we really have to ask ourselves is, 'if we're normal too', just as Win Butler asks.
And do we wanna be normal people? HECK no!
For some reason, Maio has turned into normal people CENTRAL this week! First of all, we knew that the 3rd of May party was coming up (that was the one where people were going around dancing in the streets at houses and asking for money and stuff), but we really weren't expecting for all that happened to happen.

For the early part of the week, it was all pretty normal business. Elder Martinez and I dropped Elder Stone off at the very small Maio airport on Tuesday, and after he left, we became the only two elders in the mission (or so we believe) to have an island all to ourselves.It's pretty darn cool when you think about it.
                                                      Saying Goodbye to Elder Stone

 We've continued to work with Louisa this week, keeping her on track, but she had a friend pass away, so it became hard to find her for a few days. We had her at church again yesterday though which was awesome! 

We've also been working with Chano and Milcialita, as always, and eating some dang good food there. One new development at there house is the appearance of a baby goat, named Steve, who was born something like a week or two ago, and they're housing him til he's strong enough or big enough or whatever.
 I thought it was so funny, I've never seen a goat as a house pet before! Missionary-wise, we're continuing to work with them to getting married, and one part of that was talking with them this week about our own families. Elder Martinez and I brought pictures of our families with us and talked about what they meant to us, the examples that our parents have been for us, and how they've helped us become the people we are today. There's been a noticeable difference with Chano and Milcialita these past few weeks as they've really been reading the scriptures and      growing closing together. Maybe Steve helped them too, who knows?
Towards the end of the week, the work started to wash out a bit. On Friday, May 1st was 'Worker's Day' here in Cape Verde, which meant NO ONE was at home, but they were all having picnics on beaches at various points on the island. The night before, however, was some kind of concert that happened to be held RIGHT outisde our house, which was VERY loud, and meant that we didn't fall asleep til about 12 or 1am. Let me tell ya, that 6:30am alarm sure came early...

Then, on Saturday, all those 'normal people' who happened to go partying were still a little stiff from the day before, including a few of our investigators. One night, we ran into one of our investigators, Iata, near the church, so we took him on a brief tour of our new chapel and such, but MAN, Iata was more drunk than I've just about seen anyone EVER. He walked into the church, saw a picture of Christ and his disciples, and got all quiet, did the whole Catholic-cross thingy, and bowed his head and started mumbling, and we told him, 'hey, man, you don't have to do that...' but he just did his thing, and when he was done having his moment, looked up and went, 'okay, I'm all good' and then we turned him around to keep going through the church, when he saw a picture of the Second Coming, and he threw his arms in the air, and went 'MY BROTHER', and proceeded to have another moment. He ALSO kissed another picture in the church. By the end of the tour, I felt straight up sick because of the alcohol on his breath, like holy it was bad. I had to put my Book of Mormon to my nose to cover from smelling it!
Sunday was more or less the same deal, with people partying all over different streets. We decided to pass by Nelson, who had told us earlier in the week he might me going to the army, so we decided to see if he'd gone or not, but when we showed up at his house, his mom sat us down, and told us he's gone straight up rogue. Like, earlier this week, the guy had to be just about the happiest guy on the island, like he was seriously glowing, but apparently the past couple days, he's been stealing phones, selling them, getting into drugs, hiding out in houses, like apparently the guy has cops after him because so many people have gone to the cops about stuff he's taken from them, and this has just been over 2 or 3 days! Elder Martinez and I were thoroughly shocked when we heard what was going on with him. I'll keep ya posted on developments as they follow.
So, moral of the story, is we don't want to be normal people. It's often been said about members of the church that we are a peculiar people, and honestly, I can't think of a more fitting title for how I feel sometimes in Maio. I wouldn't trade being a peculiar person for being a normal person ANY day!
It's amazing how incredible the work of the Lord can be!

Elder Massey