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.