Monday, 25 April 2016

I'm Shakin'

Recently, Praia has gone from like, normal temperature, to constant hot. Kinda like Jack White, Praia's 'got me sweatin' ', and like more than normal too. I've never enjoyed having a cold shower more in my life, and I've begun taking them every night when we get home cuz it's just so dang hot. It's a really nice feeling when you walk out of a lesson, and the wind blows, and your neck gets all cold because of the sweat lining it. It's a good image for y'all, I'm sure :)

This week rocked. Like, it was awesome. I think the main contributing factor to it was that there was very little office work to do, which meant we had very few days typing away and finishing up jobs we wanted done. We made a goal in our weekly planning to 'drop everything and leave' at 4pm so we could go teach, and it worked! Because of that, we had more proselyting time in a week than we've ever had, and with that, found so many small miracles that the Lord had in store for us. It was awesome. 

A couple weeks back in our weekly planning, we decided to stop writing down names of people we knew just weren't progressing, but were people we could get an easy lesson out of. My theory with that was, for all the time we spent in those houses teaching, we were losing time out on the street finding other people who are willing and able to progress! At first, it wasn't easy, the last two weeks brought some of our tougher work days, but this week saw a lot of those decisions pan out. Out of all the new investigators we found in the past two weeks, this week helped us identify those who are progressing, which meant we were able to mark a lot more baptismal dates with these investigators. Among our new dates marked, we have three new people I'm really excited about: 

Nelito: he's a guy we'd found a little while back, but have only really gotten around to teaching recently. He has a really thick Catholic background, so a lot of simple things like prayer and scripture study (by our terms at least) are rather foreign to him. We had an awesome lesson with him on Tuesday with our ward's Elders Quorum President, João Andrade, and it went really well. João was able to help him clear up some of his doubts he had, and has since been reading in the Book of Mormon and continually asking God about it. It's boss. He called us early Sunday morning to say he was gunna meet us at church. but cancelled last minute. He's really interested in our message though, and even gave us time this week to teach him before a driving course he's taking, and showed up late cuz he wanted to talk. 

Belarmino: we've been teaching him for a while, but we knew he was pretty serious with his girlfriend and didn't really know all the details. He's already come to church a few times, and has gotten a lot out of it every time. We'd invited him to baptism in the past, before he ever came to church, and declined it due to concerns about being prepared and wanting time first. This week we had an awesome lesson with him about baptism, and invited him again, which he accepted, but started to get sorta skeptical when we were giving him an actual date. It became an awesome opportunity for both Elder Penner and I to bear our testimonies with him on how we knew he could be ready, and the impact baptism has had in our lives. The Spirit was 110% there. After hearing our testimonies and talking it out a bit, he accepted for a tentative date of the 21st of May. He's a boss.

Zefa: a new investigator we found a week or so back, who we actually contacted cuz her 5 year old son started contacting us :P funny how that works, eh? She's been open since we've started teaching her, and on our second visit, we found out she hadn't asked God to know if the Book of Mormon and our message was true, so we really focused on that, and when we came back yesterday, she was super excited to tell us what happened. She told us after she asked, she felt really calm, and stopped thinking so many negative thoughts. She said that she's been able to actually get sleep in her own house for the first time in what seems like forever, and felt that it was God telling her that he loved her. When we asked her what she thought all this meant, she told us, ' I think it means God wants me to follow this path, no, wait, I know he does. I know that he sent you guys to me'. It was an honestly amazing experience. We then got to testify to her and tell her we knew that God had sent us to her, and the Spirit was super strong. We're gunna work with her to be baptized on the 21st of May as well. She's been a straight up miracle from the Lord so far. 

To cap off all the success we had this week, Elder Penner and I finally met the goal we had set together to teach 20 lessons in a week. We'd come so close a few times, but this week we did it :) with that being said, we're pretty sure this week is gunna be crazy. We gotta start with transfer stuff all over again, and that's sure to take up our work load a ton. It's been good though :) this has been one of the funnest weeks I've had in a long time :) 
A visit to the Stake President's house
These little kids call the elders "uncles"!  How cute!

I figure my email's made it pretty long by now, so I guess I'll wrap 'er up. I guess you could say I'm shakin' to get back out there this week. 

Love y'all!! 
Elder Massey

P Day smiles!

District hike

At the top!  Looks windy!!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

It's About Time

It's been another one of those weeks. It's been a lot better than last, but it's been a grind. This week brought a mid-transfer transfer, due to a lot of Cape Verdean visa-waiters, who had previously been serving here, getting visas to leave for Brazil. As people started coming in, it became our responsibility to cover just about ALL of the transfers. It made for a fun few days :) apologies in advance for a slight rant email about all the running around we did :P

Up to his neck in work.....
One thing this week taught us was how to be efficient with the time we have. We might not get all the time in the world to teach every day. One day, we had to run to the airport at 6pm so we could book an emergency flight for a visa renewal for an elder, another day we had to meet up with a mini coming in from in-land to get them on a boat, and other days we had to make up to 5 trips to the airport! With all that thrown in our way, Elder Penner and I had to sorta do our missionary work on the run.  
Enough selfies already....time to get to work!!
One day, we wanted to get a lesson in before a trip to the airport, we had to park the mission Hiace on the street and rip to an investigator's house to teach, and then rip back out. It would've been pretty easy to make excuses, but we worked hard to make sure we got our teaching time in.

Friday was a good running around day for us. It involved a 5:30am wake-up, and making two different trips to the airport to get missionaries there for early morning flights, and then having to round up another 6 missionaries and get them off to the Brazilian embassy, all by 8am. By the time we got through THAT, there was another missionary waiting for us at the airport. By the time 9am rolled around, it felt like it was well into the afternoon, but we hadn't even been able to study yet! It was a definite struggle. By the time we got out of the office to work at 5pm or so, our minds felt like mush. We caught ourselves just walking with no direction, stopping, and saying to each other, 'wait, where are we going again?'
Maybe we were looking for something to eat.....
. That sorta thing happens on far more regular of a basis than I care to admit :P By the time we got home that night, we fell asleep pretty darn fast. 
The drive to the airport
As I sorta talked about this week, we are really focusing on getting people to progress in our area, and we're trying to cut out all unnecessary or 'fluff' lessons. Though we might not have taught a ton this week, every single lesson we taught mattered to the person we taught. I love being able to say that, cuz I don't know how many weeks on my mission that that has been a reality. I'm really starting to feel like, even though not all of our investigators are the most golden people of all time, we are helping each of them in some way to know the Savior a little bit better. Be that in teaching someone the message of the restoration, telling them we can't come by any more if they won't make the commitment to come to church, or help them through the loss of a loved one, day by day I'm gaining a stronger testimony of how we are called as the Lord's servants to stand in his place.

A couple funny things from this past week: there's a drunk in our area, who we find ALL over the place, who has enough of a knowledge of the Book of Mormon, that he knows the names of the Nephites, Lamanites, Amulekites, and so on. He might even make up a few of those names when he starts rattling them off for us. Anyways, yesterday, we were walking around, and found him on the side of the road. Our usual go-to is just wave and keep on walking, but he came up to us and was like, 'elders! Come into my house, teach me!', to which Elder Penner responded, 'man, but you're drunk!'. Being very persistent, he kept telling us, 'just 5 minutes' (a tactic I've used quite frequently), to which I shrugged my shoulders and told him we could hang out with him for 5 minutes in his house. after a couple minutes of him showing us every book he had in his house, we were able to say, 'okay, it's been 5 minutes, gotta go!' and he let us go in peace :) rather fun actually.

 We taught a lesson yesterday to a less active guy, Toni, who told us he can't come to church cuz he doesn't feel good showing up to church in street clothes. We thought he looked rather good in what he had, and Elder Penner told him that his best was good enough for the Lord, and we taught him a lesson on faith and how it's about our personal relationship with God, not about anyone else's, and then at the end asked him if he would come to church, to which he just repeated his same argument. We were both like, 'did you not learn ANYTHING??'

 It was all good though :) 

Looking forward to another week, one without all the running around! 

Love y'all! 
Elder Massey
Glad to see they have time to clean!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Why Do I Keep Counting?

Thankfully, this week was a LOT more chill than last week's. Doesn't mean we worked any less hard, just got a solid amount more rest, which is very important :)

This week we had interviews with President, which was rad because it was basically like hanging out with Sister Mathews while waiting nervously for your turn of judgement. In reality though, all went really well. I talked to President a bit about how I can make sure these next 6 months of my mission can be some of my best, and he talked about making sure I'm always progressing and not stopping. We also talked about making sure that our area is doing the exact same thing, meaning that we aren't just teaching lessons to teach them, but that they are going towards a person's progression. The highlight of the interview though was when President told me that he and Sister Mathews are gunna take us out for lunch one of these days. I'm stoked for that :) 

After our interviews though, Elder Penner and I had some time to think about the work we're doing in our area, and have decided to begin a sort of re-haul of our investigator pool. Rather than teaching lessons just to count them, we want to make sure we're focusing on finding those people who are ready and willing to progress, and if they aren't, then to push them a little further back in line, and focus on other people. As a result, by the end of the week, we had fewer lessons in total than any other week which we'd had together, but at the same time, we didn't feel like that was a problem, because the lessons that we taught, were lessons that really mattered. It was boss. 

 We had a couple cool experiences this week. One of them was with a newer investigator we have, named Patrick. I don't remember if I've talked about him or not, but he's the buddy of one of our less active members, and he's super stoked about the gospel. We had started teaching him a few weeks back, but couldn't find him again after a few visits, mostly due in part to the fact we didn't know where his house was :P we ran into him again this week, and came back to teach him the next day, and when we started teaching, we mentioned something about baptism in our lesson, and he was like, 'hey, you guys said I'm getting baptized on the 16th, right?' (which we had marked him for), and he proceeded to tell us how he'd begun to read a bit in the Book of Mormon, and recounted for us a bit about the Joseph Smith story from what he read, and a bit of what he read in 1 Nephi. We remarked him for the 30th of this month, conditional of course on him coming to church, and are going back tonight to teach him again. Sometimes I think Heavenly Father puts people in our path that we had taught but forgot about, just to sorta say, 'don't forget about this guy, you need to help him'. Patrick seems like one of those kinda guys. 

Another cool lesson from this week is a sorta similar thing, we taught a new investigator named Manu, who we had contacted in the past, but never found him again. On Saturday, we got to teach him finally, and he was super receptive to our lesson. It totally clicked for him, the whole idea that he could read in the Book of Mormon. He's only available to talk on weekends, but he took our number and was like, 'any day this week that I'm free, I'll call you guys!'. The real highlight though was on Sunday, when we were sitting and restructuring our battle plan for who to teach, when he saw us from his mom's store, and shouted, 'hey Elders!' and gave a juice for free. I was like 'we're not gunna buy today, sorry' and he was like 'no worries, I got you guys'. It's good to have people in high places. 

The dumb questions we get from other missionaries are getting fewer, but they still come in. It's always nice when you have an elder tell you that you did not, in fact, refund him for the last time he bought gas for his stove, when we can look at bank transactions and tell him that, as a matter of fact, it did, but he still won't believe you. Sometimes little rants are needed, like that one :) 

Love y'all! 
Elder Massey

Monday, 4 April 2016

Hannah Hunt

This week's been crazy. I feel like Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend summed up how I feel when he sang, 'our days were long, our nights no longer; count the seconds, watching hours'. It seemed to us that everything going on was flying past faster than we could handle, and we had a few days where we were pretty darn stressed. There were more than a few times where the 6:30am alarm hurt because of how tired we were. However, this week also stood to me as a testimony that Heavenly Father actually does really understand us and our individual circumstances.

The beginning of the week had us exhausted and stressed out. Tuesday was easily the biggest struggle, since we were up from 5:00am and didn't get back home til 11:15pm (we were allowed though, it's okay :P). Between running zone leaders around, going to the airport, buying boat tickets, doling out waiting elders to other areas for the day, we were on a constant run. We pretty well fell into our beds that night, and Elder Penner and I both felt that it had been one of the longest days on our missions. I won't use this as an opportunity to complain, but I will say, it really makes a secretary's job easier when missionaries comply to the plans they are given; when they don't comply, it's only us that can solve it, and that leaves for a rather stressed out Elder Massey :P 

By the time Wednesday rolled around, we had a total of about 4 hours working in our area the whole week, so when Thursday came around, we made a firm resolve to get OUT of the office by 5pm, seeing as how we didn't have anything else that would keep us inside. As we were getting caught up with work, we decided to call one of our investigators, Marlene, the mom of one of our members and who can only talk on Thursdays. Right as we went to call, her son called us, and said, 'hey, Elders, my mom said you guys are gunna have to come right now, or it won't work for today, she's gotta leave at 6'. While we both had stuff to do, Elder Penner and I ditched what we had so we could go out and teach. We saw just how much the Lord blessed us, when we got there, for being willing to leave. The missionaries have been teaching Marlene for a while, and has rejected many baptismal dates, despite going to church nearly every week, and having a son as a member for more than 5 years. We had given her a challenge to give us the day on which she would be baptized, giving her dates in May to select from. Walking in, I had thought she would just give us the most far ahead date possible, but when we asked her, she nodded and said she had thought about it, and gave us the date of May 7th as her baptismal date. I was shocked and knew in that moment Heavenly Father was helping us out so much there, because he had given her that date to set as a goal.

Later than night, as we went out to teach, we managed to teach another 4 lessons, for 5 in total, between the hours of 5pm and 9pm. We've never been able to teach more than 3 in that time period, so the Lord was most definitely with us. It's kinda like Ezra says later on in the chorus, 'though we live on the US dollar, you and me, we got our own sense of time'. Heavenly Father gets how busy we are, but he gave us the time that we needed this week to be the missionaries he called us to be, and it was so cool for me to see that. It doesn't matter really about how much time we get, but what we can do with what we got. Heavenly Father's got his own sense of time, and he's basically a boss.
As for the rest of the week, it pretty well was dedicated all to General Conference, which wasn't a problem for me. We were able to watch all 5 sessions, and while I usually like to put on the English subtitles to watch cuz the translation is so  hard to understand, this time I had to stick with just Portuguese for 4 of them, cuz I guess the members weren't very happy when I put on the subtitles for the Saturday afternoon (well, night for us :P) session. I also learned that D. Todd Christofferson dictates his own translation for conference sessions. While we were listening to his talk, I was sitting there thinking, 'man, this sounds a heck a lot like my boy D. Todd'. Turns out it was. 
(Editor's note:  Sean had the opportunity to meet Elder Christofferson personally one summer a few years ago.  It was a memorable and cherished experience to be able to pass him the sacrament as a young deacon.  He's held a special place in his heart ever since)
We had 5 different investigators come which was sweet, one of them being a guy we're working super hard with named Belarmino. He's a super nice guy and loves coming to church. I would have to say the highlight at conference was when President Uchtdorf fired shots at all young single adult men when he said, 'even if there were a perfect girl out there, why do you think she would go for you?'. The stake center burst out laughing pretty good at that one. 
It's been a long one, but a good one. I'm tired. 

Love y'all! 
Elder Massey

I asked last week if he could send a few pictures from the mission office so we could see where all the magic happens....this is what he sent. Enjoy!

 (a few parents might recognize the picture on the back wall from the first pictures they received from their missionaries after arriving in Cape Verde!)