May 5, 2014

05-05-14 Lesson Learned


This week Kampoy and I have been working hard. We got up at 6:30 every day and studied and did everything as stated in the handbooks. Some results but overall just another week. There was one super cool spiritual experience I wanted to share.

So when Kampoy first came to work with me, I had the thought - "You need to go see Daniel". Daniel is an English speaker who is an awesome member. The missionaries love him and he is completely dedicated to the gospel. I rationalized and pushed the thought away. I thought "Daniel is an awesome member who doesn’t need our teachings. And plus Kampoy can meet him at church. I’m sure I don’t need to go see him." And it was left at that, Kampoy and I worked last transfer without seeing him.

Now fast-forward to present day. Kampoy was praying at dinner on Thursday and the thought entered again into my head, "You ignored the prompting to go see Daniel 6 weeks ago. You need to go see him tomorrow!" It was such a strong impression and with it came the realization that I hadn’t seen Daniel at church for a month! The next day I penciled him in for 3pm. In the sector that day (Friday) Kampoy asked "Why are we going all the way out there today, we have no one to see out there?" I explained the prompting and he agreed to go. When the time came we left for Daniel's. Walking the road to his house I was anxious to arrive and see Daniel - I wanted to know why I had such an impression the night before. When we got to Daniel's house, a picture of him was set up outside the gate. (in Africa that means someone died). We entered the house and found his family, but not Daniel. He had passed away 2 am that very morning! We spoke with the family and informed the Branch president. I walked away very regretful that I hadn’t listened to the prompting the first time.

I don’t think I have ever had a prompting so clear and precise as that one. Not even when I prayed to know which college to attend or if I should serve a mission - that prompting was so clear and strong! If another prompting like that ever comes again I don’t want to wait to act. This week that is the only big story I have to tell. But I'll add my testimony that God hears and answers prayers. And that he speaks to us today through the spirit. I encourage you guys to act on promptings you get.

The story however doesn’t end there. Sunday half the branch went to Daniels house where we sang songs and gave a spiritual thought. It was fantastic to see the members actually participate. Because Daniel spoke English, the Anglophones in the branch stood up and bore testimony that Daniel is alright. One member stood and boldly said, "Daniel had all the ordinances necessary to be saved - for the members of this church, the loss of Daniel is not really a loss at all. We know he is alright!"

Next Sunday I should be skyping with you guys, which I am pumped about! So prepare some awesome questions and stuff : ) I love you guys! Have a rockin' week - I will actually talk to you soon!!

04-28-14 What the Chinoise? Part 2

Thank you for the email this week. I absolutely love hearing about all the adventures going on at home. Hand-guns, 5k runs, and plays may not seem like a lot but they are incredible stories for me : ) So thanks, I love y'all and miss you.

This week was kinda short because we had conference that took up Saturday and Sunday. It was awesome, even though I had to play technician by setting up projectors and laptops and trouble shoot broken DVDs. All that problem solving was actually super exciting for some reason. But conference was really good. The music was awesome – it’s so funny because Africans love singing, so whenever the tabernacle choir sang members and Kampoy would quietly hum or sing along, even if the choir was singing a different arrangement. The best talk was Bishop Stevens (presiding bishop) about our 4 minutes of performance on the earth. I love conference!

Working out in the sector was hot this week! The days are filled with sunshine which is turning me very tan. I was changing out of some old garments when Elder Kampoy said "Elder Johnson! You are two colors!!" haha Pretty bad farmers tan I guess : )

Now onto the big story of the week and explaining of the title. So after a day of work we had 2 hours left before the end and nothing to do. Also me and kampoy have a goal to teach white people! So we decided to do some door knocking in the rich neighborhood behind our house. To explain these neighborhoods, all the houses have massive metal gates and guards who stand outside (also massive dogs inside, as we learned haha). Missionaries have told me that these houses never accept brochures because the guards just don’t let you past, and the guards themselves never can progress in learning about the gospel because they are so busy with work. Anyway, Kampoy and I walked down one road, and true, no one on the streets. We looped back having done nothing. As we were about the leave the neighborhood, I had the thought, "this is ridiculous, we are too scared to even ring a door bell!" So last house on the street, I rang the doorbell - no answer. But hey, not too hard! I exclaimed to Kampoy, "I want to go back, walk the same loop but knock every door!" Turning around we did just that. If guards came to us, we simply said, "We are missionaries sharing our message, can we talk with whomever lives here?" and nearly every house agreed, or at least accepted brochures. Contacting is pointless - FALSE!  Near the end we came across a crazy Chinese looking house. I knocked and then a Chinese man named "Lu Xi" answered. He had a thick French accent and had met with missionaries in Paris. What?! We left a brochure and took his number. That is the big success of that contacting. We also stumbled across the house of someone working for the American Embassy. I laughed when I saw the same uniforms that stopped me a few weeks earlier haha. And my luck with the embassy is still rotten. After explaining who we are the guard took our passports copies them and returned and said, the man is not interested. Stupidly I asked "who is it that lives here?". I got a fast reply, "You don’t need to know that" and a slammed gate! lol Such a good contacting experience.

But wait! There's more! A few days later we received a phone call, the unknown number said, "I'm not a Christian, but I read your plan of salvation brochure and I am interested, can you come to my house? I live next to the Japanese Embassy."...THE CHINESE HOUSE!!  We dropped everything and headed to the house. We then met, Yin, a Chinese man who has no knowledge of Christianity but wants to know what we believe. That was the most nerve racking lesson every, because I knew that if we failed we would not be invited back, everything had to be perfect. And although I said some things that I thought would get us thrown out, he accepted a return appointment and agreed to start praying this week!!! I can’t explain how little he knows about Christianity. Stuff that even Pagan Americans know, he does not. We read a bible verse (after explaining what the bible is) and he read the word "angel", to which he asked "What’s an angel?". The good thing about that is we can fill his head with true doctrine. I love Yin! I can’t wait to see how he progresses.

Also this week I tallied up all the lessons I have ever given in one year, and I would say I'm a veteran- 799 lessons as of today! Kinda bummed that I fell short of the 800 mark but I'll get it tomorrow. Not too shabby, I'd say. As I've been busy meditating a lot about my mission, I learned this week, that I love the sense of purpose a mission gives you. I honestly had a hard time trying to think of other eternally productive things I'll do after my mission. I learned that I honestly do not want to go home. I love the badge and the work. Teaching is such a passion of mine. But maybe I'm just struggling with feelings of inadequacy and fear.

Kampoy is taking control of our schedule this week to try and push us harder (we had a heart to heart last night and we agree that we will work harder if he is playing leader). So maybe after being forced to work super hard this week things will change - I'll keep you updated!

Thanks for the love and prayers. I miss you guys bunches and hope this week goes well with school and work and play. Go be awesome and have a rockin' time!

04-21-14 Guess Plans Don’t Always Work Out

Sad news - the baptism did not happen this week. We talked with Regine and Beldin Tuesday and it turns out that their dad in reality said no. He would like for them to wait for their mother to return to Cameroon - but currently she is doing something out in Thailand, so baptism probably won’t be happening anytime soon. But hey, it was still a good week!

In thinking about this week, I can’t remember that much that was monumental. Kampoy and I are teaching and finding to our best efforts. Some investigators have returned Book of Mormons and pamphlets (which is a first), others express a desire to have priesthood power without becoming members, just some interesting situations.

Jean Victor is an awesome investigator, he has been coming to church and meeting with us for 3 weeks and he has embraced the gospel! This week we had a lesson with his whole family, which is the first lesson I've ever given to an entire family. Normally, only a few are interested at a time - or the fathers tell us that they want to scope the church out before their family. But anyway, back to the story, first we took a taxi to the edge of the city. We decided that we wanted to show the restoration video because it would keep everyone interested. As we prepared the dvd player we learned that Jean Victor's dvd player only read the music and image from the dvd, not the commentary. So kampoy and I got creative, we narrated the video ourselves. Kinda rough, but the coolest part was citing the first vision with the video and music behind us. We would cite the vision while the Mormon tabernacle choir was singing on the cd - it might not sound too cool but the spirit was super strong and it was the coolest rendition of the first vision I've ever given.

As it is the Easter season, Africa blew up in celebration (mostly just flashy hypocrisy). But some lady out of Yaounde claimed that JESUS CHRIST came to her home and was waiting for everyone to come and visit him!!  Apparently that was legit enough for the general population, because within hours thousands of people were going to the house. New channels arrived to film and report on the situation. Since Thursday, we have not had a day pass without being asked if it's true. So in case you are wondering, Jesus decided to return to the earth, and his entry was in a shake in a town unknown to the world.  Lol  Along with this Easter tale, our branch president forgot it was Easter so the talks were not “Eastery” in nature, actually one was on Joseph Smith.

But I had a thought on Sunday, I was sitting in church and I thought, "Today is special because we get to remember the atonement of Christ. Wait! We do  remember his atonement every week anyway with the sacrament, right? So why would this Sunday need to be any more special than the other Sundays? Hey! Easter isn’t really an extra special occasion to remind ourselves of Jesus because we are already remind ourselves of Christ every week!"  I’m glad I belong to the real church of Christ! : )

Next week we will be listening to General Conference!  I guess conference weekend is a week late for us here, but I’m sure it'll be awesome.

The news from home sounds awesome. I am so proud of Kaleb and Maya for working so hard this school year - way to be! Sorry y'all were sick; here people get sick but it's always chalked up to be malaria (even when it’s just a headache haha). In fact, I had a cold as well this last week. Finally got rid of it Saturday, so I'm back to tip top shape. Speaking of sicknesses…. reminds me that a recent convert died here due to an infection.  She was a 30 year old sister who had just finished after baptism lessons with us and had been called as an instructor in the relief society. Sad, but also happy because she was so faithful for her whole life :)

I think that was all the news I had for this week. Thank you for the continued encouragement and chastisement (I guess it’s my turn the be the one receiving the counsel in the family haha but I truly appreciate it!) I especially liked the Lorax quotes!

04-14-14 What A Week!

To start the week, Africa has been getting pounded with rain and insane lightning storms. That’s provided some nice cool weather that is rare. In fact some nights I slept in jeans and a sweater to keep warm. So true, you can be cold in Africa.

Running through the week, Elder Kampoy will be staying another transfer with me in the same place. Which both of us are okay with! This week he has continued to teach me Swahili and he also taught me how to make fufu. Basically flour and water….in reality not basically….that’s all it is. But it comes out in solid balls that are used as a filler food. I will have to make it at home sometime – it’s actually not that bad.

Saturday was a very good day, surprisingly. Our activity was awfully planned Saturday morning. Kampoy and I were pretty worried and frustrated. To add to the stress, our Ward Mission Leader told us before our baptism that the branch president had expressed zero confidence in us, and actually was ragging on us in their branch council!  The whole day we were seriously on edge - to make things worse other branches put on activities that took the youth's attendance. So scared because a lack of an activity and lack of potential attendance, we went into it shooting from the hip.

Now the good part of the story! We had planned to do a Q and A for investigators as well as play kickball. Activity started at 5pm with 20 investigators. Kampoy and I decided to do a Q and A for members. An opportunity to ask any question on any subject to missionaries. Things started slow, but after 10 minutes questions were posed and we spent a bunch of time talking about revelation. Perfect because we have been having problems with members understanding "receiving" revelation for the branch president and others. The activity became a perfect opportunity to correct and clarify everyone. (strangely, those that came are those that have caused problems) In the end, 30 people attended and we had gained massive respect from leaders. I don’t think for one minute that what happened was merely coincidental! The day after, we were invited to give talks in sacrament for a later date and the presidency talked high of us in church meetings!

That same day we had a baptism for Daniel and Desmond. Concerning them, I'll tell you how they found the church. Daniel had been talking with his dad one day. After a few hours he asked his dad, "I need a bible, can you find me a bible?". Daniel's father simply disregarded the request. The next day, missionaries gave Daniel's father a brochure. The dad, mockingly, gave the brochure to Daniel and said, "You want a bible? Start here, with this!" Daniel loved the brochure and immediately called us. As he says, missionaries were there at his house (Hunt and I) 20 minutes later : )  Daniel was prepared and accepted and changed immediately. He later brought Desmond, his cousin, saying, "You are always dragging me to church, this time I’ taking you.  "Two months later these two are baptized. How awesome!

Also, it’s apparently Easter this week. I know that because I have been seeing some celebrations around the place. Example - Sunday was Palm Sunday. The day Jesus rode into Jerusalem and everyone threw down palm leaves. Sunday morning every African had a palm leave and had a parade through a part of the city (running right in front of our church ironically). To give you some more description, in the taxi on the way to church we got stuck in traffic. Literally the whole road was flooded with people. Thousands upon thousands. People who forgot to bring leaves bought them from vendors on the side of the road - reminded me of the merchants selling in the temple in Jesus' time. It was interesting to see this tradition in their culture.

In other news! Regine and Beldin got permission to be baptized!!! This week again we will have a baptism. I was so happy when they came up to me after sacrament and told me the news Such a full week of work!. After this week, we gained the respect of leaders, added to the church amazing members, and made plans for another baptism!

Today, I forgot, we haven’t had water for a week. So today, we took 3, 200 Liter trash cans to the church and filled them up. The district president (stake president) brought a truck to help us transport them - awesome! One problem...we live on the third floor of an apartment building - merde! We unloaded the cans outside and then it was up to us to move these cans into the apartment. Pause….1 liter of water is 2.2 pounds. Each can weighed nearly 400 pounds! Not to add we had played football and Frisbee this morning. Now again, for the happy part. Kampoy and I got one up to the apartment only to return and find the guards helping bring another up the stairs.

It was honestly surprising to see that. I expected people to gather and laugh, I mean there was already a group doing that very thing just like when we pushed the whell barrow. Not to mention since I am white, I usually get the racist treatment. My heart was softened today by these guards. Sadly, I later went outside to mop the stairs that we had dirtied with spilling water, only to get a snide comment. Some guy walked by and said "hey boss, I’m looking for work maybe I can come work for you over there hahaha". Overall, like I said, I appreciate the service from those guards.

That was my week entirely, I think. We learned our new mission president will be an African from Lumubashi, DRC. Sadly, President Cook will no longer be coming to Yaounde, so I won’t get to talk to him - I guess it'll have to be over email. I’m feeling fine. Happy as ever.

I love you all and hope this week goes well - finish school strong!