Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Sprawl II ( Mountains Beyond Mountains)

Apologies this is a day late, the power went out on us as we were using internet yesterday, which dashed all hopes of writing. 

I'm finding a certain amount of irony in the song titles I've used as of late. It's been rather easy to come up with, so that's been very nice. 

WELL, it turns out that I'm starting to feel the downsides of starting off in likely the two FLATTEST areas in the mission. I could tell as my plane flew over to Fogo that I would be seeing QUITE the change from what I'm used to. 

The area that I'm serving in Fogo is called Cova Figueira, and happens to be the same area that two of my previous companions have already served in. However, this area, rather than just consisting of a main town or city, has other sub-zones as well that we get to work in. One of these zones is called Estancia Roque, and it just HAPPENS to be 5km UP the mountain, from the main village. I'd had Elder Crooks tell me quite a decent amount about the area before, and it happens to be the one part of our area that has anything really going on. When I arrived here, my new companion, Elder Gunther, told me that we end up working there just about every single day of the week, which would be pretty normal, except for the fact that we don't have a reliable means of getting up there consistently. 

The first day I got here, we started to venture up the road, in hopes of finding a car, or more specifically, a Hiace (basically the main form of Cape Verdean transportation), but unfortuneately, the only Hiaces that head up that way, had already left. We started to walk up, but thankfully, turned back after realizing EVERYBODY from up there was coming down to Cova Fig. to watch the soccer games that go on here. The soccer games here are like the ONLY thing that go on, which means EVERYONE goes. That day was very difficult to find ANYTHING. 

Second day, we were very lucky to find a Hiace to get us up there, which was wooooonderful, and once we were up there, it was great. They've recently started a group up there (that's one level below a branch), and we're working with a decent amount of people up there to progress to baptism. We're able to get really really good reception up there. The people are super nice, and really easy to get along with; the only strange thing, is that EVERYONE up there is always dressed in long pants, sweaters, hoodies, shirts on their heads, you name it! They are pretty well covered head-to-toe, despite the fact it's blaaaazing hot up there. I thought that was pretty darn funny. The sun is so intense,  that they cover their skin from it (for reasons I know not why...). 

On Saturday, however, we were unlucky in finding a Hiace, which meant the undeniable fact, that it would be a walking day. It certainly didn't help that that day I had a headache AND felt lightheaded, but I certainly felt like Regine Chassange of Arcade Fire in that the road kept winding with 'mountains beyond mountains' with 'no end in sight'. It's pretty fair to say I agreed with her when she sings, 'I need the darkness, someone please cut the lights'. When we findally got up there, I wanted nothing more than to sleep! Hahaha!

Despite it's many difficulties, I'm starting to like the area, I'm sure that I will learn to love it. In the town here, there is really only one store where they sell stuff, and it doesn't have a whole lot, so it was a HECK of a surprise when I walked in there one night and a guy said to us, in English, 'hey, you guys like Dr. Pepper?'. Using my interstellar negotiating skills, good looks and incredible charm, I was able to get the can from the guy for FREE, after he asked 100 escudos for it (like a dollar). It was truly an incredible tender mercy.  

Well, it's certainly been a week of changes, but it's been fun too. Love y'all!
Elder Massey

                                     I want to go to church here!  Look at the view!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

I See Fire!

Well, not too sure where to start at with this week, but here goes.

This week was week 2 in Santa Maria, and Elder Crooks and I began to see the fruits of our labors coming forth. We'd been working hard to get our 10 contacts a day in hopes to find new people, and while we didn't see a lot of success from it the first week, this past week brought a lot of good work for us. You coooould say that our area was on fire.

We were extremely lucky to find this one couple (who actually had contacted us) named Adriano and Darliza, they were just about the coolest find we had. When we first sat down with them, it was only with Darliza, who told us how she'd gone to the church in the other main city on Sal, Espargos, back when she was 10 or 12 or so, and was already pretty familiar with what we believe in, and when we had the opportunity to talk with them together, Adriano expressed to us how he'd been searching to find a church, having not had a religion for something like 13 years. They were SUPER receptive to everything we said, answered all our questions with super good answers, and told US that they would be coming to church on Sunday. True to their word, they were waiting for us by 9:40 Sunday morning, so we could walk with them to church which starts a 10. It was so sick to see, especially having not seen enthusiasm like that for a while. I'm pumped about it. 

We also taught this super rad Brazilian guy (don't ask me to try and spell his name, I do not know how) who's been working here as a tour guide for diving at one of the hotels. In teaching him, I'm pretty sure my Portuguese went down the drain because of how nervous I was to be speaking to a REAL native speaker. With Cape Verdeans, it's a bit different because they've had to learn Portuguese just like us, while this guy spoke with an INCREDIBLE Brazilian accent, but he too was super receptive to everything, and even accepted a baptismal date off our first visit with him. 

We ran into the strange Elohim-guy again on the street yesterday (he's NUTS) and he waas trying to stop us to talk to him to 'tell him the word of God', but Elder Crooks knew the guy was out of his mind, so we kept trying to walk, but he grabbed our arms and told us to stop. I was like, 'man, what the heck are we supposed to do?' and Elder Crooks looks at me and (in perfect form) says, 'Break the wrist, walk away, break the wrist, walk away' (a Napolean Dynamite quote) which just about killed me and made me start laughing. The guy sat down and told us, 'Jesus wants you to talk to me', so we left him with a Restoration pamphlet, and kept on going. It was SUPER strange, and also really funny. 

Elder Crooks and I found a lot of good things going on for us, we felt that our area was doing super well, and we've been PUMPED to see what it's all gunna bring for us. 

Until we got a phone call Sunday night from President Mathews. 

Turns out, since the mission is losing something like 30 missionaries in the next 5 or so months and only gaining 10, that some areas need to be closed down. Since Santa Maria isn't that big of a city, and not a ton of baptisms are happening, one companionship is getting taken out. Unfortunately for us, we happen to be those two Elders getting moved. 

SO, after spending two short, wonderful, and super fun weeks in Sal, I'm going to Fogo, while Elder Crooks is going to Praia. In all honesty, I'm pretty bummed, because I've been having SUCH a great time here, like this area is SO awesome, but, sometimes I guess stuff doesn't go the way we always want it to. So, on my fourth transfer, I'll be heading to my fourth area, Cova Figueira, to serve with my fourth companion, Elder Gunther, who goes home at the end of this transfer. Both Elder Crooks and I were shocked, and also decently upset, but, really, we can't do anything about it. It's a new opportunity for the both of us, even if our time together was too short. 

I guess it's safe to say I'll be seeing Fire (aka, Fogo) pretty soon here. I'm heading out at 1:45 this afternoon. As for now, I'm saying so-long to Sal, having spent not nearly a long enough time. I'm gunna be missing the shwarma here something mighty. 

That's all for this week folks, updates on my third island will follow next week! Love ya! 

Elder Massey

Is that a missionary handshake?  haha   Wondering if this counts as a contact....

Farewell to Santa Maria

He sees fire because he makes fire....not sure what the significance of a tie burning is but here's what it looks like!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Sprawl I (Flatland)

Elder Crooks and Elder Massey

 Upon arriving in Sal, I felt very much like Win Butler, when he sings about taking 'a drive through the sprawl', one because the city of Santa Maria happens to be quite more developed than what I've been used to so far, and also because of how flat it is here, as the song's subtitle references. In my last area, Elder Martinez told me to not worry about how much weight I gained in Maio, because I would definitely lose it in my next area, but when I found out my newest area happens to be likely the flattest area in the mission, I very quickly realized that the weight gain will likely continue.
 (Ever considered adjusting your eating habits???)
Santa Maria, Sal - clearly a little more modern than Maio!

I'll update y'all if any more pants find a way to rip. 
(He requested that I send some new larger pants...hope he can last a few more weeks until they arrive!)

In the Arcade Fire song, Win Butler sings about how, in driving through the city, he sees that the town is 'built to change', and, as such, we're here as missionaries to change the people of Santa Maria! A lot of the work that we've been doing this past week has been in finding new people to teach, as we already have some solid investigators, but not necessarily a lot, and in our goal to be teaching 3 lessons a day, we need to find more people to teach! A lot of how we spent our week revolved around contacting people, which was actually very enjoyable; it's been about the first time on my mission so far that I've actually ENJOYED talking to people randomly on the street! Maybe that's because the people here speak more Portuguese than Creole and I can actually understand them, but either way, it's becoming something Elder Crooks and I have had a lot of fun doing. We've actually had more than a fair share of people call us over and ask us to come over and talk to them, which was super legit. The only problem has been actually coming into contact with these people again... 

For this week, not a whole lot of incredible significance happened, but lots of little funny things did happen. In our contacts, we've had a few classic ones. One day, we were sitting on the side walk, and this guy came over and sat in front of us, and pulled out this like air filter box or SOMETHING, I have no clue what it was, BUT he proceeded to tell us that it was top secret, in dead seriousness with a smile on his face, and that he's a spy. Kinda weird that his name was something like Elohim... uhhhhhh

Another classic one was this guy we met inside a place where we get shwarma.  Before I continue, I want to mention, that the shwarma we get is just about the closest thing existing to fast food here and it's wonderful. It's hamburger, with french fries, tomatoes, onions, ketchup, AND mayo, ALL inside a tortilla. If that doesn't sound like heaven to you, then I feel very sorry for you (unless you happen to be vegetarian, then I apologize). 
(Here's an idea:  Cut back on the shwarma and maybe you won't be busting out of your pants!...)
ANYWAYS, we were waiting for our shwarma, and this guy came up to us, who had had MORE than his fair share of drinks, and he was speaking English to us, and going all weepy on us and stuff, so we gave him a pamphlet with our number on it, and to call us when he wants to talk and such, after which he graciously said a tearful thank you, and resumed dancing to the relentless funaná for a few minutes, before coming back, and telling Elder Arteaga the whole story he gave us all over again, getting even more weepy. It was pretty classic watching him go from dancing like crazy to crying to dancing to crying again. We ran into him again the next day and marked with him to talk, but we never had luck finding him again. It was a funny experience for all of us. 
(The little guy in front's name is Messias but goes by Messi - which in Portuguese sounds just like Massey so they have developed a strong bond!  He and his brother are "robbing" the missionaries or as they say in Portuguese "cash or body".  Let's hope this never really happens....)
One other classic story from this week was how I resumed my duties as Branch Pianist, even though I'm on a different island. Apparently nobody here knows how to play, so I got to step up and play for our slightly larger crowd of almost 60 members. Since it was not known before hand the limits of my playing abilities, I was told to play the already chosen hymns, which, for the most part, went perfectly fine, until I hit the last hymn, 'Jesus, Minha Luz', or, 'The Lord is My Light'. That one did NOT go well at ALL for me, I caused  so many flubs that the British couple who were seated right in front of me (on their honeymoon) were practically killing themselves laughing. All in all, it was an enjoyable AND embarrassing (perhaps humbling...) experience. Thinking I'll be asking our Branch President to pick hymns out of the simplified book from now on ... 
(Apparently it wasn't completely awful as he has been asked if he can teach some members there how to play....might be looking to Mama for a little help with that job!)

 Anyways, that's just about all I got for this week, hoping all is well wherever this finds you!

Elder Massey, the ever-so-slightly-heavier 
(He now weighs more than his dad....)

Thursday, 11 June 2015

I Should Live in Salt

 (No pictures this week as Elder Massey 2.0 got transferred to a new island!  He is now serving in the city of Santa Maria on the island of Sal.  His companion is Elder Crooks from Texas.  He was excited to have a short reunion with an MTC buddy -  Elder McMullin -  before he left for Fogo. So grateful for the time he spent on Maio with Elder Stone and Elder Martinez.  They were both excellent companions who taught him so much)

I don't know if this weeks email will be grand or super inspiration or well detailed, so I apologize in advance.

In remorse, Matt Berninger of the National sings of expectations that he can't fill, and how he resorts to almost frustration or anger when others don't understand his state, saying, 'you should have know me better than that'. Sometimes, it's super super easy to get down on ourselves when we aren't able to achieve what we truly want, but it's when we're down on ourselves that we've gotta stand up and fight the hardest! Like I've said many times in my emails, in our work, there's always a certain amount of pressure to get done what the Zone Leaders have set for us, and when we can't achieve it, sometimes, I just wanna turn my shoulder and be like, 'You know we can't do that! That's WAY too hard for us to do! This is Maio, not Praia, we can't get those same numbers!', and some days, it gets in your head and gets you down because you simply can't achieve those kinds of things, but that doesn't mean it should make us feel estranged, or frustrated or some word that's big and descriptive like that. This week, I really learned what it is to psuh forward and just give it, even when you've got nothing left, because somedays in Maio, it felt like that. 

Elder Martinez and I were super blessed this week to find success in ways we never thought it would, but it wasn't without our work. One day, everything seemed to be going right, we were teaching all over the place, talking to people, and were just constantly busy, and then the next two days, found absolutely NOTHING to work with. There were two days where we had 1 lesson combined between those two, which is really tough, when the standard or goal is to get 3 every single day. It was really tough in there for a bit. 

However, we didn't do all of our work for nothing, because on Sunday, we got one of the best blessings we could receive to finish off the last day of the transfer: we got one of our investigators to church, the first time it happened ALL transfer! When we passed by our investigator, Kennedy, 10 minutes before church and he was getting ready to go, we were so pumped, it was SO awesome. He came with us to ALL 3 hours of church, the members acceptted him in, sat with him, talked with him, asked him questions, and became friends with him. It had such an impact on Kennedy, that he even bore his testimony during testimony meeting! There was such a happy feeling at church on Sunday, that all the struggle we went through the days before was all worth it. IT was freaking darn awesome!

Even though Maio was tough, Elder Martinez was a super good example to me. One night while we talked on the roof, he told me, 'y'know, sometimes I feel bad because I feel like I haven't made a dent in Maio, but then I realize, it's Maio that's made the dent in me', and having had served there for the past 4 months, I am so grateful for the opportunities it's given me to learn in grow in SO many ways. 

So, you're probably thinking, 'what? you're not on Maio anymore?' and whether or not you're thinking that, the answer to that question is 'NO! I am no longer on Maio!' I have been transfered to the island of Sal, which literally means 'salt' in Portuguese, due to the high amounts of salt in the islands interior.

However, therein lies the true reason I picked this song title for today; you could say that President thought I should go to Sal, so now, I live in Sal(t). HAH!

Okay, that's about all I've got for this week, I'll get back next week with updates on Sal and the city of Santa Maria, which I'm currently working in, with my new companion, Elder Crooks. 

Love you all back home!
Elder Massey

Tuesday, 2 June 2015


Big news this week...Elder Massey's birthday!  Here he is showing off some of the contents of his package...He was super excited for his Johnny Gaudreau t-shirt and a beloved bottle of Frank's Red Hot Sauce!  "I could hear the heavens open and the angels sing when I found that bottle!" (direct quote)  He was also grateful for a new pair of pants to help replace the 2 torn pairs.  I think we can safely say that his "Birthday Wants List" has changed significantly since going to Africa!

So, after overthinking my song title for this week for WAY too long, I realized the perfect one to go for this week and what I wanna go for. Again, I ask for patience to be with me as I ramble.

This weeks title, brought to you by the incredible MGMT, is used to primarily symbolize the fact that today, June 1st, is 'Dia dos Crianças', or 'Kids Day', here in Cabo Verde, meaning that I share my birthday with the one holiday that celebrates children. I've been called an 'eternal child' because of sharing my birthday with the holiday.

With that aside, I thought a little bit about what it would be like to be an 'eternal child', and what exactly that would mean. In Mosiah 3:19, it talks a little bit about how we need to become as a little child, and to be 'willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.' If this is the case, I wanna be an 'eterno criança', I think that would be pretty darn cool! I'm pretty sure every week I say 'something I'm working on learning is...', and maybe I say that to sound pretentious or smart or silly or whatever, I really don't know, but I'll say it again this week, in that I've really been trying to learn what this kind of humility really means for me. I read an article in the Ensign this week that talked about what the difference between a sin and a weakness is in our lives, in that a sin is when we willing choose to go against that which God tells us to do, and a weakness happens to be when we fall short of reaching that goal. It's never our fault when we have weaknesses, because like it says in Ether chapter 12:27, we're given our weakness to help us grow and get better. Like, we are having a great time on Maio, but sometimes, it gets pretty tough, and it's easy to get down on ourselves for not feeling like we're succeeding, in a lot of ways. Something that's really helping me out is knowing that I'm just working through my weaknesses; that scripture is one I've got sitting next to my bed to always remind me just that! Everyone in their own lives will ALWAYS have their own shortcomings, but that doesn't ever mean they are flaws; each of us is given something we need to work through, and if we recognize it and use it to grow, then we're taking that weakness and saying to it, 'hey, I don't like you the way you are right now, so lets make you into something better! Let's freaking go!'. To quote Forrest Gump, ' that's about all I have to say about that'

This week, we had Zone Conference, which meant we got a couple days off the island of Maio, and went to Praia for a day or two. Since there are literally like two different ways to get on/off the island, we had to take the boat Wednesday afternoon, and the plane back Friday morning, and let me tell ya, the boat is DEFINITELY an experience. From Maio to Praia, it takes about 3 hours to make the full trip, and for Elder Martinez and I, we were feeling sea sick by the first hour!
Thinking Elder Martinez is wishing this was over already...
 So many people are prone to feeling it, so what they do to deal with it is sleep; so, from where we were riding, on the top floor, at one point, everyone around us had fallen asleep, from the ladies who BROUGHT blankets to lay down on the floor and fall asleep, to the lady next to us who decided she didn't have enough room on the bench, and laid down on the floor, to the couple who fell asleep in the corner of the bench, and even Elder Martinez, who laid down for a bit do try and feel better. It was pretty darn funny, all of it together, and definitely an experience I'm glad I haad, and would not choose to have again :) 

Zone Conference in Praia was pretty darn boss; we recieved some awesome guidance from the ZLs, APs, Sister Mathews (who gave an INCREDIBLE training), and President Mathews as well. In one such piece of advice, we were told not to throw up deuces in pictures anymore (my bad) AND found out that the outreaches of my blog extend to President and Sister Mathews' home in Praia, so if you happen to be reading this, President, seja bem-vindo! Hahaha.

While in Praia, we had the opportunity to go out with the Zone Leaders that night, I went on a divsion with Elder Biddulph, and HOLY COW was it so nice to talk to people in Praia! Just like, regular people on the street, like you wouldn't think it would be that different, but WOW. I don't know what it is, but the people in Praia just seem to be with it a bit more, like they just seem to GET it; I don't know how to explain it any better than that. Like, there were cars all over the place, and paved roads, and shops all over the place, and it just felt like real civilization again! It was the bigesst culture shock I've felt since getting here! 

One other short little funny story from this week, this past Tuesday was Louisa's birthday, so to celebrate for her, we made her a cake, and dropped it off at her house at, like, 3  in the afternoon, and she was all like 'hey, you should come to my party tonight!', which we really did NOT want to go to, so we told her, 'weeeeell, we're really busy, but we'll try!'. Later, we were meeting with our Branch Mission Leader, Joao, jsut about our investigators and stuff, and Louisa calls us up and asks, 'sooo, where are you guys?' and I gave her the 'well, we're in a meeting right now, we're really really busy', and I thought we were all good, but NOPE. After meeting with Joao, he WENT BY Louisa's party, got her, and brought her to the church, where we were, and Louisa gives us the 'why aren't you coming to my party?' business, so we were basically FORECED into going, all because Joao betrayed us to the enemy! At her party, we were so esteemed that I got the first piece of cake. We did NOT want to be there! hahaha

Anyways, that's been my week! Tis has been my FIRST post as a 19 year old, soooo that's a pretty big deal, I'd say. Truly a momentous occasion. 
Have a great week all! 
Elder Massey