Friday, 29 July 2016
"They say you can see your future, inside a glass of water...
Will I see heaven in mine?"
This week the Lord worked miracles in our area and put a glass of water in Baka's hand. HE GOT BAPTIZED WOOO.
We had his baptismal interview on Tuesday, which he almost didn't go to :P we showed up and were like, "okay Baka, let's go!" and he told us, "I haven't eaten all day, I'm gunna wait for this food over here to be ready. We'll do the interview another day", but we told him that the ZLs were waiting for him to do the interview, and he just kinda shrugged and said, "eh, one hour of hunger hasn't ever killed anyone", so we walked with him. We couldn't smell any alcohol on him and felt really good about it, and thankfully, he passed his interview! Saturday came for his baptism, and he seemed pretty stoked for it. We got him a baptismal suit and gave it for him to change into, and he just about starting changing into it right in the middle of the hallway. We suggested it might be best if he went and changed in a bathroom :P hahaha. Another thing that made it even more classic was when our bishop showed up to direct the baptism, and he told us the member who was supposed to baptize him wasn't going to make it, and suggested that one of us do it. I didn't have any of the stuff I needed to baptize him, but I got in a baptismal suit too and was able to baptize him. It was really cool :) it was also funny because when I changed back into my pants there was a distinctive wet line showing through them. I thought that was funny. Baka then got up and bore a fireball testimony, he was more or less shouting in Creole at the front which was classic, he focused a lot on how he knew Christ as his Savior and that was what was important to him, and then pulled as much a mic drop as one can do at a church pulpit by just sorta shouting 'AMEN' and walked off. It was a moment I'll remember forever, it was classic. Heavenly Father has brought about an immense change in that man's life over the last two or so months.
This week has had me thinking a lot about how the gospel does truly bless us and give us happiness in our lives. It's something I've seen in people as I've taught them and seen their willingness to act and change. In a mega contrast to the changes we saw in Baka's life, we also had the opportunity last night to visit with my recent convert from Maio, Luisa, who has fallen back into old habits from her past. In talking to her and catching up, I asked her, "Luisa, are you happy right now?" and she responded, "no, I'm not". It was really sad to hear. To me it just put such a stark contrast before me in what following the commandments and the gospel brings to our lives.
This week also brought a lot of stress in organizing transfers. I sorta mentioned last week how tons of flights are booked up for the next 3 weeks, making it impossible to get spots on flights for transfers. We also had another fiasco in that a boat ticket for President on the weekend was bought for the same date a month prior, and so we had to go about fixing the mistake. Since there's like legit one boat company, you basically just have to deal with what you get. They told us on Wednesday they would make the change and everything would be fine, but on Friday when we went to confirm, they still hadn't done ANYTHING, so our guy was like, "uhh, yeah, I'll shoot off an email to another guy, there" and that was it. We called on Saturday when the Zone Leaders in Fogo told us his ticket still wasn't there, and we called our guy to try and fix it, who again promised to get it done, but after they closed at noon on Saturday, we heard nothing from the guy. We spent an entire weekend stressing because President needed a ticket early Monday morning to return, and we had no way of going about getting him a ticket. Some divine intervention allowed him to buy a boat ticket this morning before he got on, basically showing that we got no solution from the boat company STILL #stresslife
Elder Neville and I are having a lot of fun, we're getting along really well. Right now we're sorta in the middle of an overhaul of our investigators in our area, lots aren't progressing, so some change is necessary. Sometimes it sucks, because people you grow to love just don't move no matter how hard you try or love them. They can be the nicest, coolest person in the world, but if they aren't willing, there really is nothing you can do for them. It's sad, but it's really teaching me the importance of accountability and following through.
Once small miracle from the past week, we went to visit a couple we've been working with forever, Mundinho and Nixi. They've been coming to church pretty well ever since I've been in this area, but haven't been baptized due to the fact they aren't married. Since Elder Neville and I have been together, we've been focusing a lot on other people, and they've just sorta fallen through the cracks a bit. We went to visit them this week, and they expressed to us how they missed us and didn't understand why we weren't visiting as much as in the past. We explained to them the details, about how we're here to help people, but that we can only do so much. In talking to them about how they can have the blessings of an eternal family, we invited them to think about marriage in September, so that they can be baptized. For the first time pretty well ever, they actually considered our invite for marriage, and told us they would pray about it. It was a small way in which the Lord touched their hearts, and hopefully they will use that to keep them moving.
It's been a long week, but a good one :)
Love y'all :)
Monday, 18 July 2016
We had a slammin' week. For the second week in a row, we crushed it to hit 20 lessons in our area, when we only ever get 4 to 5 hours a day to work tops. It wasn't easy, but we did it :)
One thing we did really good at this week, was making sure we got out of the office. Sometimes we have days where we'll be working on one thing or another, and we just want so badly to get it done, or we're so focused, that we would only get out to work at 5pm or 6pm, which doesn't really work to get 20 lessons in a week. What we did different, is we just chopped everything off once we hit 3:45pm or so, just so we could go and teach, and it was AWESOME. It's amazing how freeing it is to get out and just grind, and how relaxing that is. It just means at the end of the day, your body is tired from walking around, teaching and talking to people, instead of having a tired head, from dealing with so much going on in the office. It was good :)
We've been really working with Baka this week. We're still trying to visit with him at least once a day to see how he's holding up. Some days, he's doing really well, and it's clear there's no alcohol in him. Others, it'll be just one or two drinks he's had, whether he admits it or not, that we can smell on him. It's tough, because he won't be open with us about it, despite the fact we can smell it, and sometimes pretty thick too. That being said, he has changed incredibly since we started teaching him. This week, we told him how important it was that he showed up to church on time for the sacrament, so when Sunday came around, we got to church, and found him sitting there. When we got to talk to him, he told us that he showed up at church at 6:30am, and was the first person there. He even said, "you can go ask the guy who drives the scooter!" who happens to be our bishop. The signs of repentance are there, and he's come a very long way. We're really praying he'll be ready for baptism this week.
Interviews with President Mathews came around this week, and I was determined to not receive any grief from him on the state of cleanliness in my house. By the time Friday rolled around, our house was pretty well clean, and I have my comp to thank for a lot of that :P hahaha. When President and Sister Mathews showed up, Sister Mathews commented, "you know President, this house looks really good, you've gotta stop teasing Elder Massey about his houses, they're good!". Sister Mathews can be such a bro. My interview with President went really well, I feel that each one just gets better and better. He really helped me with focusing myself on what's important in the work, and not putting limits on what I or the Lord can do. I think it was the boost I needed to pick me up right then. Every 3 months when interviews come around, my testimony just gets stronger and stronger of how inspired they are and how I need them as my mission presidents. They're so boss. It was also extra sweet when we each got a little package of Skittles at the end. Skittles aren't very easy to find here, so it's one of those tender mercies you gotta take with ya.
We had a classic lesson yesterday. We have one investigator, Iza, who we teach with her 'man' Zito, and we've been teaching them for a while. We love teaching them, and especially her, because she's a riot every time we go by. She talks to us in pure Creole, constantly makes jokes at us, and takes few people seriously. She's hilarious. It was our surprise yesterday when, we went to teach her, and she threw us into a room, where she had her 3 sisters over visiting. The incredible thing was, 2 of those 3 sisters were almost IDENTICAL to her in every way! The banter in that lesson was incredible, and poor Zito in the other room just had his head in his hands almost the entire time. After the lesson, Iza was very excited to give us some cachupa, so we happily accepted, at which point one of Iza's sisters, took to admiring Elder Neville's family pictures, making comments like, "you're like an actor", "you two are so beautiful" and such. I was dying laughing. However, I guess they were the ones who got the last laugh, since that cachupa sincerely destroyed both the stomachs of Elder Neville and I. This morning was not a pleasant wake up :P hahaha
Today we got to go on a district activity to Cidade Velha, which is the original capital city of Cape Verde. We got to visit the 'castle' (which wasn't much of a castle) and hit the beach, though not in the way we would've liked to :P hahaha. They have a street there called Banana Street, at which I was confused upon not seeing any bananas, but upon asking, found out it was because the houses on it were covered with banana leaves. I was then more confused when I proceeded to look to the roofs, only to see no houses covered in banana leaves. Guess it's just another mystery I'll never solve.
Tuesday, 12 July 2016
This week rocked. Though it didn't start out that way.
On Tuesday, mission leadership council was going on, which meant we had to pull our usual 'we don't exist' routine, and shut ourselves up inside our office and crush away at work. Afterwards, we had planned with our investigator, Baka, to meet up at his house and walk to one of the chapels together for his baptismal interview. Since Baka has a biiiiit of an unadmitted drinking problem, we wanted to use the baptismal interview as an opportunity to learn and understand what it really is to prepare for baptism. Since we had started teaching him, he has changed incredibly, and has stopped drinking almost entirely (as far as we can tell), as the only evidence we have is we can smell alcohol on his breath here and there. On the way to his interview, we could smell it pretty strongly, but he didn't seem to be impeded by it. After his interview, our zone leader, Elder Leyton, told us that, because of the alcohol he could smell, he didn't pass the interview, and we'd have to work with him a little more. Since then, we've been able to help Baka out a lot in putting things into perspective. I think he understands now exactly WHY he's supposed to stop drinking completely. The other day, he opened up to us and said, "you know, this is the third time you've moved my date ahead. I just want to get baptized now." and we could tell he was bummed, but Adiley, who was with us, told him, "man, if I were you, I'd see it as a privilege to get more time to prepare! It just means that when you make a covenant with God, it'll be even more special!", and at the end of the lesson, Baka thanked Adiley for what he said. It was so boss. We're working with him for the 23rd now, and it's looking really good. Things are really starting to fall into place with him.
During the week, work was a bit tough for us, because for some reason, it seemed like we had no time at all. We would get out into our area, teach one or two lessons, and walk home without much else happening. It was kinda frustrating, because even our contacting was suffering, like we were hardly talking to anyone on the street because we were constantly in a rush to get places. When Thursday came around, we had Zone Meeting, and the zone leaders told us how we need to do our best just to be outside of our house and to have our 'line in the water' as best we could. Elder Neville and I knew we had to do some adjusting to the goal they set, but we knew we could do better as well. As the weekend came, we did just that.
Over the course of Saturday and Sunday, we did everything we could to be out and working, and doing so blessed us a ton. On Saturday, we crushed it by teaching 7 lessons, 5 with investigators, which is something I haven't done in this area for a very long time, if at all! We were super blessed to find some boss new investigators, one was even a 17 year old kid, named Doriva, who stopped us on the street and asked us where church was at, because his friend invited him and he wanted to go. When we sat and talked with him, he told us, "hey, I wanna hear about Joseph Smith!" and we were basically like, "well kid, today's your lucky day" hahaha. He was boss. We just saw the Lord's hand in our work as we went out and did everything we could to talk to people and teach. It was fun :)
On Sunday, church rocked because our frequency jumped like 20 people, we went from 68 to 89 in a week! It's amazing how much more fun and happy sacrament meeting feels when you've got tons of people there with you :) we also got Baka and Belarmino to stay all 3 hours, something that normally doesn't happen, and it made a BIG difference too. Last night we went and taught Belarmino, and asked him how he was feeling about his baptismal date for the 30th. For the first time ever, he was like, "yeah, I'm feeling good about it", and I was kinda taken aback. I was like, "wait, so you mean you feel like you'll be prepared?" and he responded, "yeah, I do." It was so hard for me to keep calm because I wanted to scream! It was nothing short of a miracle.
As we worked on Sunday, we saw tons of other blessings too. Yesterday was the final of the EuroCup for soccer, and in the final was France vs. Portugal, and being as Cape Verde has a lot of ties to Portugal, everyone was VERY excited. We had members and investigators tell us that, Sunday after 6pm, it was gunna get tough to find or teach people, but we had no problem at all. We ended up teaching another 6 lessons, totaling 11 investigator lessons on the weekend. It was hilarious because while we were teaching a lesson, I could hear lots of people outside shouting here and there, and I wanted to know what was going on in the game, so when we got out, we planned a route that would take us by one of the millions of bars in our area, so we could get a peak at the score, and on our way up to one, the whole city erupted into shouting and screaming, and drunks started piling out of bars, jumping around, slamming and kicking doors, general euphoria and such. Turns out Portugal had scored in extra time. It was equally rewarding when, outside another investigator's house, we heard the city erupt a second time, confirming a Portugal win. It was entertaining for me, because it reminded me of home with pretty well every Team Canada game :)
One other highlight from the week, Elder Neville found a scorpion while we were out walking at night. It was super random, and once he found it, everyone around us converged on it. A couple of tipsy-er guys came over and corralled it, and picked it up, trying to put it into a bottle. It was really funny, I sorta regret not holding it by the stinger too! How cool of a picture would that be? I honestly didn't believe that scorpions existed here, so that was a first for me :)
That's been my week :) It's been a blast.
Much like the intro to the song by the Rural Alberta Advantage, the weekend here in Praia was pretty simple and quiet, in large part to a music festival going on at the beach (again), called 'Badja ku Sol', meaning, more or less, dance with the sun, in Creole. I think over Saturday and Sunday together, we taught a combined 3 lessons with investigators. But, I guess that's what you get in the summertime here :P
We've had a really good, hardworking week in our area, which has been fun, though it didn't come without it's hiccups, as evidenced in our weekend where the only dancing done was the shuffle of our feet through the dirt trying to find people at home.
One cool thing from this week was our progress we had with our investigator, Baka. On Tuesday, we went to teach him, and we talked to him about the importance of keeping commandments, and the blessings that come with them. We taught about a few commandments in specific, and at the end, as a final note, we talked with him about his baptismal date. Since he hadn't come to church the week before, we didn't feel that he would be ready for his July 2nd baptismal date, so we told him we felt it would be best if we moved it forward to July 9th, so he would have more time to prepare, and we could cover the remaining material to make sure he was all ready to go. He told us, "Elders, I don't want to get baptized on the 9th, that's too far away for me. I'm committed to being baptized on the 2nd". Not surprisingly, we were kinda taken aback by that, and used it as an opportunity to explain to him the level of preparedness necessary for him to make a covenant like baptism with God, to which he accepted a date for the 9th. However, for us, he suddenly gained potential we had never seen in him before, with an actual desire to be baptized. It was really cool. Throughout the week, as we focused on him, we saw his willingness to leave past sins behind (while still working on a few), and his knowledge in the gospel increase. While we aren't 100% positive he'll be ready for this week, we feel that he has a lot of potential and the possibility of his baptism is likely. We've just gotta get him to show up for a baptismal interview :P hahaha.
About halfway through the week we got hit with unexpected craziness. One morning while in the shower, Elder Neville told me he'd just talked on the phone with the Assistants, and that we had to get a ticket home for a missionary waiting for his visa serving in Praia. Not only did that throw our entire morning outta place, when we went to go pick up the missionary, no replacement in the form of a mini missionary had come yet, meaning his companion, Elder McMullin, would have to stay with us while a new companion for him was sorted out. What we thought would take a couple of hours to sort out ended up taking more than 2 days, meaning Elder McMullin got to hang out with us for that time. It was a lot of fun for me, mostly because Elder McMullin and I are bros, but also because we arranged for us to go on a division in his area, Bela Vista, where I served for a transfer, while Elder Neville worked with Kenny in our area. It was fun for me to get to walk around and see the changes that have happened in 6 months there, one of which is a burger and shwarma place right by the Bela Vista Elders' house. Of course, that isn't a luxury I could've had while I was there, they just had to wait to put it in after I left. However, after a few plans fell through, Elder McMullin ended up getting a mini missionary to serve with him, and he got back to focusing on his area. He told us while he was with us, "I feel like a kid when your dad takes you to work in the office, and you just sit there and do nothing while your dad works away". It was good fun :)
One final highlight from the week was church on Sunday, when we had 3 new investigators come to church for the first time. Last week, I talked about how we started to teach a woman named Dilma, and while we taught her this week, she expressed to us that, with her current work schedule, it would be difficult for her to come to church with us at 8:30am on Sundays. However, her (sorta) niece, expressed real interest in coming, and after we knocked on their door at 8am and woke them up, Dilma's niece, Telma, showed up at church with her cousins, Dilma's daughters, all on their own! They came and sat down on the bench behind me at church, and our 2nd counselor in the bishopric, Nunu, who was sitting up front, leaned to the side and gave me a sorta funny smile. It was boss, because after sacrament meeting, we got our two Young Women's leaders involved, and they whisked them off to Young Women's with them. It was a boss tender mercy for sure.
It seems to me that Praia is getting hotter every day. We have two fans running almost every night, with a window open, and we're still sweating. Some houses are worse to teach in than others, because some, you sit down, and realize that for the next 20-45 minutes, you're gunna be strugglin'. Not that the temperature here is really all that hotter than home, it's just so constant and thick. Summertime has got us sweatin'.
One last highlight: for Canada Day on Friday, Sister Mathews made banana bread for our monthly housing and finance meeting. Not your most exciting way to celebrate Canada Day, but I'll take free banana bread any day. I also wore my Maple Leaf socks to the meeting, which everybody but President were fans of. I just think President was jealous because of how cool Canada is, and my socks :)
"Nobody knows what the future holds; and it's bad enough just getting old" once sang Ezra Koenig
This week was fu because we had quite the contrast in views of missionary-life, based on different missionaries we had with us over the course of the week.
Being as this past week was the first of the transfer, it meant two things: there were missionaries going home, and others coming in, and they needed places to stay. At the beginning of the week, we got to house Elder Pauli and Elder Cruz for a couple days til they went home on Wednesday night. It was fun to talk to them a bit, about experiences they'd had, things they'd learned (or taught) companions, they showed us stuff they were both leaving behind and taking home, along with other things. It sorta put into perspective for me just how short missionary life really is; for so long, you go through so many different experiences and learn so much, and then one day, it's just over. So many of those little things don't matter any more, and become left behind, sorta like the joggers I inherited from Elder Cruz :) this week helped me realize how much I need to live mission life up with the time that I have, and not let one day go by without learning something or gaining something. One day, it's gunna be over, and in a flash.
On the other side of things, we also had the opportunity to house an incoming missionary, Elder Gomes, who went off to serve with Elder Bullock in Mindelo. We got to go out and work with him for two different days, Saturday and Sunday, and it was so funny to me some of the questions he asked or things he wanted to know. Makes me remember back when I came in, and wanted to know everything. Blows my mind now to think about how long ago that really was. Nothing in the mission is learned in one second or another, but over time it just grows and grows, until you reach a point where you can't remember what life was like without this knowledge or these experiences. It was also fun to hear the excitement Elder Gomes had to be a missionary; he always included in his prayers his thankfulness to Heavenly Father for being able to serve the Cape Verdean people, and for the incredible work we get to do. Sometimes, being in the same routine every day, I feel like I kinda lose sight of that importance, or just take it for granted. I loved having Elder Gomes give me a little more thankfulness for my opportunity to serve. IT was also funny to me, as we went out to teach, he would ask, "so, what are we going to teach today?" with a smile on his face, and Elder Neville and I would kinda chuckle, and just respond, "well, we're gunna teach the gospel!". I thought it was kinda funny :) It's been really cool for me to see such a drastic comparison this past week.
As for the actual work in our area, we had a really successful week! I think one of our main highlights was a new family we found this week, which came from a reference we got from the sisters. We met up with the woman whose number we received, Dilma, and when we got to her house, met her cousin, and her 'niece' (technically her cousin's daughter, but like, I think that's a niece, right?), and the cool part about the lessons was, when we walked in, everybody in the room was down to listen, the TV was turned off, and we got to teach all of them. We had just come from a lesson where the guy we taught understood little to none of our Portuguese, since he only spoke Creole, so it was a huge blessing to teach a lesson where not only everyone wanted to listen, but actually understood what we taught! By the end of the lesson, all three of them agreed to read and pray, and they asked for more Book of Mormons for their house, so they could each read their own. We're going back tonight to teach them again. They're so cool.
Another highlight that came from this week was working with Adiley. Since he received the Aaronic Priesthood the week prior, he became an eligible member to teach with us! We marked with him to come out and teach with us during the week, and then again on Sunday. Since Sunday came and we had Elder Gomes with us as well, it was sorta weird when we started to teach, cuz we were 4 guys in white shirts and ties walking around, so we decided to do a division and get more stuff done. I got to walk with Adiley for a bit, while Elder Neville went off with Elder Gomes. It was fun cuz I got to talk with Adiley a little bit not in just a missionary-to-investigator sorta way, or missionary-to-recent-convert, but just as his friend. He had questions about how he could serve a mission, what kinda stuff he should study, it was really fun :) we went and taught a couple lessons, he took me to his cousins house who we taught, as well as a short lesson with an older investigator, Nelito, where Adiley asked a question that really helped the lesson progress. It was so cool for me to watch him testify and teach what few things he knows, with his whole heart. The kid's a boss, I love him to death.
I guess now, looking ahead, I just gotta "go to the 18th hole", like Ezra says. Can't get too trunky yet!