Friday, July 24, 2015

July 20, 2015

I’ve been thinking about what a few people had said to me from before - way back when, before I even knew what Mozambique was about. Before my departure I received a variety of counsel, encouragement, and even discouragement for what I had set out to do. I was commended for blind bravery (backhanded compliment, I see you) and I had someone even tell me “Have fun being a con-man for two years.” Ouch.
I didn’t know what being a missionary would be like. Honestly, I didn’t know much of what I’d really do. I didn’t understand what the day to day schedule would entail. I did not anticipate the trials that I have so far faced and still have no grasp on what I’ve yet to confront. (They always tend to surprise me)

But above all I did not begin to imagine the sense of fulfillment and reward that would come from being a part of the Lord’s cause. At the end of the day, despite the tribulations that have abased me to what feels like the dirt, I am grateful.

I am grateful and I have peace in spite of circumstances. There is a joy and a light that stems from living the gospel, and I don’t think it can replicated in any other way or form. It comes from Truth, this light. It comes from knowing what we know and changing for the best because of it.

Since being out here something absolutely beautiful has happened to me. I’m positive! I’m happy!  I have hope! I’m eating .05 dirt bread (no joke that is really the price) and I’m just beaming despite it all. Why? Because at the end of it all, the reason we share the gospel as missionaries is to help other people become happy. Not a fallible world-faring happy, but a God-given comfort and joy that can only come from Him. It is the result of following the laws and ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We could expound on doctrine for hours and hours- but the result of following the doctrine will be an accomplishment of God’s divine design.

24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
 25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
And one may wonder reading all this – how does he know? How can he possibly claim all of that? My answer is that I didn’t before, but now I do – and my counsel for you is the same as the Savior's:

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. John 7:17
Come and see for yourself.
I’ve seen miracles, small and great (if you can quantify miracles). I’ve met extraordinary people. I’ve talked with THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of people since leaving America, and the ones that accept the message experience that “mighty change of heart” spoken of in the scriptures. They become fulfilled. I know they do because every single one of them have testified about it. Their countenance changes as mine has.
Some people are under the assumption that I’m here to baptize the world (to add another notch to the church’s tally, if you will). That is not my purpose. That is not why I am staying (literally) a world away from my loved ones.  My purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. I do this so that they may have the joy that God intended them to have.
But anyway, an update on who and what:
-       Still chilling in Tete
-       I cross a massive bridge left from Portugal everyday to get to my area. It towers over the Zambezi river. It’s about a 10 minute walk to cross if I’m keeping a good pace, though I tend to slow down once I hit it. The bridge has proffered some of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen so far in Africa (or America for that matter)
-       Elder Mataveis is my companion. He is a native lil guy. I’m getting a lot better at Portuguese. As it turns out, if you don’t have the option to speak/fall-back on English your ability in the mission language will improve.
-       We’ve started an activity in church on Saturday nights to get members to know each other better. It’s called night of integration. It usually goes like this: a hymn, a prayer, a spiritual thought, and a game or joke to get everyone to come out of their shell, then closing hymn and prayer. It’s been a riot so far. Here’s why: the caliber of games in Africa involve sitting in a circle and having someone say “1 lemon,” (the next person then goes) “2 lemons,” (and the following person saying) “3 lemons”  until someone miscounts or doesn’t say lemon right. Yes, this is actually a game. The highest number we’ve ever gotten to was 33 lemons. Anyway, we’ve been blowing minds by introducing American games to the people of Tete. Have you seen a 50 year old woman almost cry from laughter from playing Simon Says? I have.
-       That’s about all time allots for if I still want to write my mah. And I do. So yeah, the mission is sweet guys. It’s rough and all, soul crushing at times, but entirely worth it. I am decided that it was the right thing to do – even if I didn’t completely understand why at first. I am so glad I am where I am now.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


I had the fortune of meeting Elder Ellis of the 70 yesterday at Zone Conference (hence why I'm writing you now on Tuesday), It was a powerful meeting. He spoke on having the Spirit present during lessons; how to acquire it, how to recognize it, and how to use it. Stuff like that. I've got pages of notes. One interesting thing he said is that while taking notes at meetings, divide your paper  into 2/3r'ds with a column on the right side. On the left side is where your regular notes would go, but on the right is where revelation will be written. All those thoughts that you didn't anticipate thinking that can be solutions to all the problems you're currently facing. The Spirit speaks to us at times unexpectedly and in ways we don't fully grasp sometimes. Just all those thoughts or impressions in the revelation column might culminate into an answer for you.

Revelation is what our religion is based off of. I wish more people realized that. People ask us sometimes, "What makes your church different?" Sometimes it's a trap (wooe to the misunderstandings of the BoM) and sometimes it's genuine curiosity. Either way, I gotta answer with truth. I say something almost every time about Modern Revelation. God has not stopped talking to His children. It isn't a static relationship we have with Heavenly Father, it is constant and evolving. We can learn that for ourselves. How cool is that? How cool is it that instead of debating about theology and tradition and wild misinterpretations of scripture, we can just say, "Let's ask God." I'm consistently reminded that God's got my back, and His knowledge and foresight far exceed any one else I can ask on the planet. I love how my mission has shown me that God is Father.

Last night affirmed once again we are on the Lord's errand. I had one of the most spiritual experiences on my mission. It was absolutely electrifying. Outward manifestations of the Spirit were matched with how intimate all of our innards were being touched. Goosebumps took the place of where my arm hair normally resides, and my heart felt a million miles away,. It was so powerful, Bert. And so true. And it had nothing to do with the FHE I had intended to do when we walked into that hut. The Spirit is awesome like that. Revelation is awesome like that. I know that family felt what were saying. After closing our "spiritual thought" I looked at Elder Bender and said "Precisamos sair agora." (We need to leave now) So we closed with a prayer and let that piercing, still small voice do what it does best.

 I know I felt it. I know they did as well. So we'll see how that goes. It's up to them to follow up on their answer from God.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

T'was the Email Before Christmas... Also, Steven.

Before I say anything I got to say the mailing system in Africa has thoroughly confused me. And before I comment any further on the atrocity of the said system I have to publicly acknowledge and ask forgiveness to the lovely Granny K.
Grandma, I love you. Thank you so much for taking the time to hand-write a letter to me just about every week. This Zone Conference I received some letters from all the way back in May. I commend you for your consistency and adore you for how much time you spend taking care of those you care about (myself included!). Along with the packages I received from Mindy and Kent and Debbie (and a GIANT thanks to the both of you as well!), you made this kid's Christmas Conference. I truly appreciate it.
And now that outpouring of love has made me not want to lament about the mail. Sooo let's continue.

Back to Swaziland:

I'd like to separate this email from others to talk about something special that happened to me this past week. I did not anticipate what occurred to have ever have been an experienced event in my lifetime, but lo-and-behold, I've experienced it.
And I am so grateful.
This week, I met Steven.

I'll be completely honest- I don't know how to articulate our encounter and I don't know how to do this man justice, so I'll just write what I wrote the day after meeting him.
"Before Galland received his new companion, we had one final lesson together.
I finally met the fabled Steven.

All the hype was obliterated by the reality he was. My mind feels like it has expanded ten-fold. The man is pure intelligence. He has read all of the world's greatest works (they were just lying about all over his house, along with various editions of encyclopedia britannica) and he has been able to distinguish a difference between books and scripture. It is not in authorship alone that differentiates the secular and divine word, it is inspiration. Scripture is God speaking through his servants in the written form. You cannot feign scripture, it is confirmed through the Holy Spirit. On top of all this, he's concluded that scripture truly is Truth; the principles contained within are eternal and for our correction. They are a way for God to teach His Children, and they are for our betterment. Scripture is answer to life's problems.
He's practically memorized the Bible in all his years. His method of reading is astounding. What he does is he takes 30 minutes per page and completely dissects what is written. He is a virtuoso of sorts in his understanding of what he reads and sears it into his brain. It is far past just reading what is on the page; it is complete comprehension. I've never met anyone who knows the Bible more than him.
And even though God has gifted him with one of the greatest brains in this generation, he is one of the most humble men on the planet. He attributes all he is and all he has to this Father in Heaven. He wants so badly to do His will. He follows and understands what he knows to be God's word.
This middle-aged man lives with his Alzheimers stricken mother in a house not unlike any other around it. I know that God led Galland to find Steven and introduce the Restored Gospel of Jesus Chirst to him. Now, Galland met Steven around a month ago, and has not been around to teach him much of anything other than explaining the Restoration through Joseph Smith and what the Book of Mormon is. Slightly socially stilted, my meeting with Steven warmed my heart and affirmed my testimony in the Book of Mormon and in the Church of Jesus Christ.
I'll give you all rough quotes of some of the things Steven commented on with our hour together:
" Frankly, they don't know what they're talking about. They interpret the scripture out of context and infuse it with a meaning unintended. It makes one doubt if they've ever even read the entirety of the book, and if they have, if they understood it." (while fervently apologizing for having to speak his mind on why there are so many Churches and why he doesn't attend a particular denomination.)
"Science is mad intelligence but scripture is Gospel Revelation." (on why he has chosen to rely on the Word of God rather than the wisdom of the world)
"Scripture gives solutions. It isn't just a good read, it is a call to action"
And then, finally, when referring to what he feels and has discovered about the Book of Mormon:
"No man could've written this Book. If anyone is against it, they've allowed an outside influence or opinion to form their understanding. Or they just haven't read it. I've found it is scripture."
In all his brilliance and in all his humility, when Steven spoke these words the Holy Ghost entered the room. I felt God's Spirit confirm something I've come to learn so intimately through the mission.

I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know what people say about it, and I know what people think about it - but I also know how God feels about it, because He told me. I know this church is true. I know the Book of Mormon with Holy Bible, together, contain the fullness of the Gospel.
Find out for yourself. Don't take your neighbor's word for it - or even mine! Read it, Ponder it, and ask *God* if it's true. He doesn't lie.  He's your Father, He loves you, and He wants you to be happy.
Come see for yourselves.
I love you all, I love Swaziland, and I love this Church and what has happened to me since truly joining it.
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

12.8.14 Update

Swaziland is a gift from God. This small monarchy-guided (There is an actual king here) land is the most gorgeous of any place my eyes have ever had the privilege of encountering. The mountainous regions in combination with the African foliage destroy any notion of what I thought beauty was. Everyday I find myself pausing in awe and taking in the vistas God grants me.

My companions are the best, man. The absolute best. I think it's a culmination of speaking in my native tongue (kind of... this is going to sound ridiculous ((because it is)) but no one can understand me unless I use a shoddy Irish accent. I'm not playing with you. The Californian accent is a little too quick, I suppose. It's all the emphasis on the vowels and rolling the tongue with some of the words that helps. It's also highly entertaining for my companions.) and just being brothers in the most bonafide sense. Due to issues not of their own making, my comfort level as a missionary and human being never quite met the a satisfactory level with my companions until I hit Swaziland. I love this country. I love these people I am serving and these people I'm serving with.

Elder Banovich [The O.C. - Original Companion] (prepare for your mind to be blown) went to Viewmont. Apparently I graduated with him. He looked so familiar the instant I met him but neither of us could place it until hours after when he mentioned where he lived. Crazy, crazy stuff. He is the biggest sweetheart in the world. He's also the biggest goon in the world. It's still a holy time with him, but the humor is congruent to who we are. He kills it in the clicking language and is definitely the most knowledgeable to cultural differences and need-to-know information. 
Elder Galland is the addition to our trio. There is no complaint on my end here - Galland was the first District Leader I had in Mozambique and now he is my District Leader (and companion) in Swazi. I was so stoked to hear I'd be living with him again and now I'm serving with him! The love this bear has in his heart for everyone is love in the truest sense of the word. He's the man. He just gets it done, whatever is being asked of us. I've also never met anyone who can tell a more engaging story. It's an art I'm sure anyone he knows him would say he perfected it. 

In the weeks we've been working together I've had some of the most powerful spiritual experiences yet on my mission. The very things we study about in the scriptures have been happening. It's real. It is all real. Do people know that? I want to testify that I know this is the work of the Lord. I know He is with us and I am so grateful to be a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful to wear my Savior's name everyday on my chest and in my heart. It is the best decision I have ever made. There is no comparable feeling to the goodness that is out here.
And this sentiment isn't exclusive to just my writings and your readings - It's attainable. It doesn't just have to be something everyone reads about every so often when they decide to look at some LDS kid's blog in Africa. The secret is choosing. The secret is acting. If you want to know if these things are, do what Heavenly Father asks you do to do. DO. Get on your knees, Pray. Ask Him what He would have for you. Read His word, and follow it. He promises blessings if you follow his commandments, and God cannot lie. My invitation from over here on the other side of the world is to join me in this happiness. Join with me in this joy.
Act, friends. Act. Do. Find out for yourselves.
Start here:
Elder Mortimer

Monday, November 24, 2014

Swaziland - 11/24/14

These are my best friends from Mozambique, Beira (goto):

We have Vincente (Minito) and Chupa (Esperanca) posing the good poses up top. They are my family. I was teaching Vincente how to read. The name Chupa translates to Suck - but I love her. I visited them just about every other day to sit with them and everyday to make sure they were okay. 

The stud on bottom is a monster of a member. His name is Gombe, but we called him Nelson. He understood how to teach better at 16 years old than I did at 6 months as a missionary. He basically taught me how to teach and he was a real bro about it. He always wanted to walk with us and he helped me understand so much about the culture. He also watched Teen Titans in Portuguese so that was cool.  

Missions are awesome, man.  


My main form of expressing sentiments with Chupa was holding her hands and singing "Sou Filho de Deus" [I Am a Child of God] with her to our appointments.

Bert. I love Swaziland. I love it so much. I finally got a bro for a companion. He has a personality. I'm with my first District leader again (Elder Brayden Galland, look him up he's loaded) who is awesome! I get to speak English (sometimes) and I still speak Portuguese with all the Mozambican immigrants. I'm really happy. I feel very close to the Spirit because I can finally express all those feelings inside and it's made me very aware of how grateful I am for the Restored Gospel. I love loving.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Big News - Transferred

Well folks, big news..

Elder Mortimer has been transferred to Swaziland!


Apparently he's the youngest Mozambique missionary to be transferred there.

He's feeling a bit trippy, he said, so prayers for peace would be great.

English is their second language, so he'll be speaking a ton of English again.

There aren't too many missionaries in Swaziland.. last I read, around fourteen, so this is very exciting news!

He didn't have too much time as he was leaving that night, so he wanted to have time to say goodbye to everyone.

I guess we have to change the title of this blog now!

Monday, November 10, 2014


Note from Bret: I haven't been able to catch him since August (besides an email from right before my wedding, which I'd prefer to keep between us because - yeah. It's special.), so I'm sorry for not posting anything - but I haven't had anything TO post. Luckily this week, I caught him. I'll piece together a few of our emails, but he didn't send out a blurb or blog post he wanted me to post. Sami was able to catch him in a past week, and will be adding her emails soon.


"When I have dreams I'm usually back at home until I realize I haven't completed my mission and I do all in my power to get back to Mozambique and it's always really awkward leaving you guys again."

"FAZ MAGIA (MAKE MAGIC) [FA - shhh    MA - GEE - AH ]

I don't know why but everyone thinks missionaries are wizards so they always ask us to do magic. 

I'm feeling I'm getting out of this area in a week but it may be for the best. I'm having a good time but they gotta bring someone else in here to do the work differently 'cause I've just about found all I can in the manner that we do. I'm gonna miss these guys, man. 

I read about everyone else's missions (outside of mozambique) and I cannot believe whats going on. Everyone's got temples and cars and ipads and bikes and jetpacks, with zero tracting in America and I'm literally walking in poop and getting blazed by the african sun and shouting in huts hoping people will let me inside. It's an adventure for sure but boy I get real fatigued sometimes. I wouldn't have any other mission in the world though. I haven't known a better gratification work/reward wise."
And that's pretty much it for now. He hasn't received any packages, but says he gets them when he goes to the mission home (which is where they're sent), and he's only there every twelve weeks or so. I told him to update me on that.
Pray for Elder Mortimer!
Thanks everyone!