Monday, 16 November 2015

God Put a Smile Upon Your Face

As Chris Martin once sang, 'God give me style, and give me grace, God put a smile upon my face'.

I'm pretty sure he's given me style, and I get his grace every day cuz I'm pretty darn imperfect, but this week, he really managed to put a smile on my face, and the face of a lot of others. 

This week seemed to fly by, and we're not too sure why; maybe it's because Elder Mason was sick one day and we had to stay in, maybe it was because we were working all over the place, or maybe it's cuz we just got way too much work TO do. I don't really know why, but it sure flew. 

This week brought about a lot of small successes for us. Just about every day that we worked this week, the Lord managed to give us a really good days, which is kinda rare. In all honesty, not a whole lot of specific, wonderful things happened this week, but just a lot of small tender mercies along the way that made this week overall a pretty darn happy one. Hence why 'God put a smile upon (my) face' hahaha  

Something that I've come to notice in working with less active members more and more is a general feeling of happiness in our smaller area of Lapinha. Something we've been doing has been teaching less active people with their respective quorum leaders, like young women with the young women's leader, young men with the young men's leader, etc. , and it's caused for everyone just to be happier! Like, that sounds so hippy-dippy / happiness-all-around and crap, but it really is! If I could count the number of times we had members we taught stop us on the street in the following days just trying to chat and talk with us, it would be a lot of time counting! We even had one time this week, where we taught this one sister who I had no clue was a member (apparently she shows up every Sunday but I could not remember her for the life of me) and teaching her caused her to bring with her 'quinhada' to church with her, basically like her sister-in-law, who isn't a member. It was boss. 

I guess the best part of the week was the end of the week, both Saturday and Sunday combined. I had decided to fast personally, just for something to happen in our area, because I've been pulled down so many times by not having investigators show up to church, or not feeling like I've done enough, etc. , but this week at church, we had the most amount of people we've had there since I've come to Cova Figueira, with a decent amount of less active people coming to church. Walking to church, we ran into one family from our lower zone, Maria de Cruz, walking together as a family to church, for the third week in a row, when in the past, their attendance was spotty at best. I watched in Elders Quorum as we had an investigator there even before we showed up, and another less active member who hasn't come to church in gosh-knows-how-long come in and sit down, and then have a bunch of members welcome him right in. I kept saying to Elder Mason, 'everyone is just so HAPPY today and church!! How did this happen???'. In Sunday school class, I'm pretty sure there were 5 vacant chairs TOPS in the room of 30+ people. It was a straight up miracle.

I guess a small lesson I learned this week was finding success in my complete service to the Lord. Something that's always bothered me on the mission is not having baptisms all the time, or having investigators at church, but this week, as we watch as one of our strong investigators fail to show up to church yet again, instead of being frustrated and disappointed, I felt the Lord tell me that I really had done my absolute best. There's a really good phrase the old mission president here said, in that 'no number impresses the Lord', and as much as I would've liked to had a baptism this coming week, even though it won't happen, I know that the Lord truly is happy with me, and with the work I put in. Just another reason why I've got a smile on my face :) 

As for a funny story this week, we went to teach this girl who's mom is of another faith, and so we decided to teach this girl in the members house right next to hers. When we got there, this girl was sitting with a bunch of members, with a guitar, trying to figure out how to play this one REALLY good Cape Verdean song (that I will likely play for all back home), but none of them knew how to really play guitar, so Elder Mason and I came in, and we were sitting on this bed with 2 other members, and I had figured out the literal 2 chord progression for this song, and while I was playing it and they sang, the corner of the bed my comp and I were sitting on gave out and we fell :P it was really really funny!! Everyone was like freaking out and stuff, but there were no injuries sustained. 
Eating "American" breakfast to celebrate the last week of this transfer!
Elder Massey and one of his favorite kids!
Anyways, this has been another week in the life of Elder Massey! Love y'all! 
ya boi
Elder Massey
Local wildlife....not just Halloween decorations!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Joy Ride

Kinda felt like Brandon Flowers was singing the soundtrack to this week's rip. In all honesty, this week WAS a strange week, but the blessings from this week were a sure heck ton. It was a pretty darn good week.

One of the main reasons this week was so strange was due to the fact that Elder Mason and I had legitimately one day of regular work in our area. However, we managed to hit ALL of our goals we set (more or less), and saw many benefits from our labors this week. 
Chowing down with Elder Mason
 The roller coaster started last Monday night, when the Zone Leaders told me they'd be coming over the next day to go on a division with Elder Mason and I, both in our own area. This proved kinda stressful at first, cuz we had planned out ONE solid day for ONE dupla of elders, but had not planned out exactly how we would have TWO days for TWO duplas, so the next morning took a significant amount of praying and thought to make sure we could figure out a way for two duplas to work in our area. In the end, when they came, Elder Mason and Elder F. Santos, from Portugal, went with the scheduled plan for the day, and I took Elder Rodrigues, from Praia, around our area in Lapinha in Cova, and even though we had scheduled NOTHING with anyone, we ended up teaching 8 lessons that day alone, which was a new record for me in a day. It was a lot of fun, cuz Elder Rodrigues was being pretty pushy with people to get lessons, like, 'come on, lets just talk, 5 minutes, that's all, 5 minutes' and they'd all be like, 'man, I don't got time, I gotta take a bath' and I'd come in and play good cop, and be all like, 'Aww man, I getcha man, no worries, sounds like you had a rough day' and chat them up and bit and then be like, 'hey man, we know you've got time for a couple prayers and a short message, can we go sit in your house for just a sec?' and they'd usually give in. It was a bunch of time. Rodrigues and I made a good team! 

The next day, I had to do some baptismal interviews for the other Elders in our district, so right after the Zone Leaders left Wednesday morning, we met up with the other elders, and I went out with Elder Silva, from Portugal; he's a greenie too. SO, that meant Elder Mason and I had two consecutive days not working with each other. It was weird :P While I was up in their area, I convinced one of their recent converts to make a cover for my Portuguese Bible, and I must say, it's pretty incredible and lame at the same time :P I love it, but I'm sure if y'all saw it, you'd just be like 'really?'. The mission makes you appreciate the little things! 

Thursday brought Zone Meeting for us, which was fun. The Zone Leaders had asked me the day before if I could play another hymn on the harmonica for the zone, so I prepped a mash up of Praise to the Man with We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet, and since I didn't have a whole lot of time to prep, i t was VERY not perfect, but to make matters worse, as I was playing it, I looked out and saw Elder McMullin making faces at me, and it made me mess up :P I think it still went well for the most part though :)
Zone Meeting
The end of the week was where things started to smooth out. We went out to Tinteira on Friday and had an investigator there tell us he knew that what we taught was true, which was incredible to hear, and we also had a bunch of less active people there promise us they would come to church on Sunday. Sure enough, as Sunday rolled around, we had 6 people from Tinteira show up, having walked an hour in the heat to come, which was not only incredible, but they apologized to us for not bringing more! They told us next week they're going to bring even more to church. I think that was just about the best part of this week, seeing those people walk to come to church for the first time in MONTHS for many of them, and it caused for our ward to have the highest frequency it's had since I came to this area. It was so awesome :) 

One funny thing from the week I guess, on Saturday we were with a member, who told me that I had to give a 20 minute talk in church the next day, and thought that I knew about it. To my surprise, no one had gotten the message through to me, and so Sunday morning, I had to prep a 20 minute talk about missionary work, but to my luck, as the time passed in Sacrament Meeting, I only had to give 10 minutes of it :P the final speaker didn't end up having any time like at all :P Cape Verdeans don't like to go over the hour on Sacrament Meeting, so....

It's been a pretty rad week. Hoping for it to be even more rad this week!! 
Love y'all!!

Elder Massey

Sunday, 8 November 2015

For Those Below

As I mentioned in my last letter, this past interview with President Mathews, he more or less, 'called (us) to be a rock for those below' as Marcus Mumford and Winston Marshall would say, as they harmonize together in an oh-so-beautiful way that I miss so badly.
I really miss real music hahaha.
This week became a new focus for us in not only teaching less active members of the church, but in actually finding them out. In doing so, a lot of this week became a bit of an awkward goose chase in taking the names we were given, and putting a name to that face, and then further apologizing for not a) knowing their name before hand and b) not knowing they were a member of the church. It was kinda crazy, cuz in our first night of work with this new focus, we were able to get from a member a list of 22 people she knew living within a 5 minute distance of each other who were less active or inactive members of the church. Our area has such a high population of less actives it's crazy. Every week, we have about 60-70 people at church in our ward, but I'm pretty sure if we had every single less active member and their family come, we would have a frequency of 120-150 people; it's pretty incredible.
With a bit of history on Cova Figueira, there are likely 50 cities in Cape Verde that have a higher population, but have not accepted the church as well as they have here. Starting in about 1998 or so, people started to make the trek every week to go to church in Sao Filipe, about an hour away, so that they could have the restored gospel. Because of such a small population, just about everyone here is related in some way, so as one family would embrace the gospel, their brother would embrace it, or their cousin, or mom, or aunt, until this point in time, when some parts of our area are like legit 80% or 90% members, but a large amount are inactive, for a various amount of reasons, as I'm sure some of you can imagine. Now, it's our job to come in, and lift up 'those below', or those who have fallen along the way. Woo-hoo for us I guess?
It's been quite fun this week as we've searched out all those people, and just about our most frequently asked question we ask people is, 'hey, were you baptized in our church?', to which the surprising answer is often like yes about 50% of the time! Some days this week, we just went out and contacted the houses members have directed us to, and that's been the full extent of our work; there are SO many houses that we have to contact doing so :P One of our favorite things to do is to show up at houses, and help people de-shell their recently grown beans, and use it as an opportunity to talk to those people. One day this week, I'm positive 3 hours of our day was spent just shelling beans and talking/teaching people; needless to say, Elder Mason and I have gotten pretty good at shelling beans. We're almost on Cape Verdean level hahaha.
One of the things I love about teaching these less active people is everyone of them has a testimony of the gospel; just about every one has their own conversion story they're willing to tell us. We get to see these people smile as they tell us how they felt at church, or how much they love reading in the Book of Mormon, or how they came to know Joseph Smith was a prophet. Our job is we get to help people recognize these things, and realize what they really mean to them, so they can act on them. It's so much fun to see the smiles given when these people talk about the impact of the Restored Gospel in their own lives, and every time it strengthens my own testimony of the gospel.
With that said, none of the work we've done has been easy. For Sunday afternoon, we had marked with 15 different investigators or less actives to pass by, and each and every single one of them fell through. Some days are real good, and some days you just have no clue what the heck is going on, but no matter what, it's all worth it.
I can't believe it's already November!
Elder Massey