Aug 26, 2014

08/26/14 PICS for August

The Old Douala Airport 
 
 West and I - Selfies!

 A girl cat whose name is Kevin



 Construction

 Watch Where You Walk - Don't Drink the Gutter Water

 An adorable dog named Zapata
 
 Phone Home ET
 

Walking Home in the Rain

08-25-14 One week, Two week, Fun week, Boring week



Some weeks on a mission are exciting. Some are long and tiring. Some go fast. And some are extremely boring! This week was possibly one of the most boring weeks of the mission. Nothing wrong with that, it’s all part of the work but just nothing of note to report on. We were all thrown off with the crazy Monday schedule maybe. We still had a lot of work to do and had some good teaching appointments.

We have a baptism coming up this week. His name is Emerique and he has been studying with the missionaries for about 8 months. It’s always exciting to baptize people that have been stuck in an “ami” stage for a long time. Teaching him is interesting, obviously I’m a bold teacher (like telling people to their faces that this is the only true church) and Emerique has a lot of questions and doubts. So usually he doesn’t like things I say at first, but he always goes and prays and studies it out, and later all is well. But despite all that, we are still really good friends. That’s one of the funniest parts of teaching – becoming friends with people who actually care about the message. Then it just becomes fun to visit them. Well, if all goes well we will have a baptism Saturday. Also it’ll be Elder West’s first baptism in the field, so also extra special for him.

So this week it seems like home life was more exciting for y’all. I was really surprised to hear about Kaleb’s choice to graduate early. That’s awesome, and that sounds like it’ll be good for you. Make sure to talk to the counselors to get it all finalized. It’s crazy but if you’re graduating early that means you only have 4 more months of high school!  In mission time, that’s super fast. Well, best of luck this year Kaleb!

Seminary sounds like it’ll be a blast for Maya. Docterine and Covenants is a fun year. I definitely wish I could remember all the church history we talked about. That knowledge is always really good to have on hand. Like Elder Walker said in conference, if everyone knew the history of the church and the story of the pioneers, members would be extra strong in the Gospel. As for the French class, I’m so pumped to talk to you in French! I’ve joked with the other missionaries that you’re going to be my French buddy when I get home. haha. Fun fact about French is that we steal a lot of English words from it. So if you’re like missionaries, your mind will be blown when you make those connections. Study hard this year, its super fun being able to speak another language.

A general authority (a seventy) is coming to visit us in two weeks, Elder Hamilton. So that’ll be exciting to meet him.

08-11-14 My Last Week As a Teenager



Thanks for all the birthday wishes! It was nice to read something from each of you. But this Friday, if I’m not mistaken, there is another Birthday. GABBIE’S! Happy 16th birthday! Not to scare you but now you can go on dates (and drive but that’s a lesser thing. haha). Have an awesome party and a rockin' day, love ya!

For the last week of being a teenager, I actually worked really hard. Tuesday Elder West and I just killed it in the sector. 7 lessons our first day. To explain, 7 is basically maxing out the schedule, so that was pretty exhausting. If I remember well, I belly flopped onto a mattress in the living room when we got home.

Wednesday, I gave myself a hair-cut. And it’s official, I’m basically a professional! And honestly the rest of the week was just working as normal. Bouffing chocolate pancakes, making endless Alfredo noodles, and being young men around the apartment.

Later on in the week Elder West got sick with a flu bug. So we stayed home and got him feeling better – I’m sure Pizza Friday helped cure him. haha. And speaking of sicknesses – Ebola. So right after I went home Monday we got a call from the senior couple and they warned us about it. Secretly, us missionaries have been hoping we get shipped out and go to South Africa or France. JK, but we are told to not touch animals or infected people, also not to eat bat, monkey, or pork. I think we’re good though. No need to worry.

For French study, I created a new game. It’s team poem writing. Basically each missionary adds 1 line to a group poem and you see where it goes. So far we have 2. “mon ami, ma sami” and “laissez mes legos”.  So the goofiness of the apartment continues.

Also this week I had another sad missionary story. An investigator - Amos, was taken to the hospital after having been found unconscious in is room. Apparently he had hyper-tension, which may have caused problems. But Saturday we get a call from a member letting us know about his state and wondering if we could come visit him. So we did, and after wondering around the hospital complex for 20 minutes, we stumbled across his room. I think both West and I were freaked out. He was hooked up to breathing tubes and was shaking a lot. So we gave him a blessing and left.  Sadly, on Sunday the member came up to us in church and said Amos died. I didn’t really know him that well, but the saddest part is we dropped him 2 weeks ago because he refused to keep commandments. Literally so close to baptism, and had he kept the commandments for even 2 months things could have been so different for him. I guess it put a very tangible feeling to Alma’s words, “for this life is a time for men to prepare to meet God.”

As of this weekend as well, our water is out! Apparently the pump that gets water to the apartments burned itself out. So this morning we did all our cleaning and showing with buckets. We had to go to the ground level and fill them up. (We live on the 3rd floor of an apartment building). Just more fun African adventures!

In honesty, my last week as a teenager wasn’t that crazy as maybe I expected but, I learned a lot. Time is going by super quick as well!  I remember 1 year ago being at church confirming my first convert!  Well next year who knows what I’ll be doing.  

PS – The word “bouffing” comes from a French verb which basically means to eat like crazy.

08-04-14 "Well I Don’t Swim Man!" - Ming, The District 2



To start I’ll answer your questions.  As for the Ebola breakout, I’ve heard nothing. In Cameroon the only big news are the terrorist’s attacks in Nigeria –Boko Haram. But I’ll keep my eye out; I mean I’d like to be coming home in 9 months as opposed to dying out here.  As for the sacrament bread situation, it’s not that big of a deal, some missionaries said they ate it in their wards back home, but it’s still wrong. After the bread has been blessed it’s become something sacred or sanctified, and it serves a purpose to purify spiritually.  To eat the bread, after it’s been blessed, as a snack, destroys the significance of a sacrament.  Kinda like how we don’t talk about temple ordinances outside the temple – it’s sacred and needs to be treated as such.

As for home life, I’m sure girl’s camp will be a blast for the girls. I’m bummed I’m going to miss the week long after camp, of singing of girl camp songs around the house.  Senior year for Kaleb! Best year of school ever. Dude that means you have to apply for college this winter. Where and what are you thinking about studying? We could always hit up BYU together!

My birthday is in 7 days!  Kinda freaky, I’ll no longer be a teenager!  Well I’ll let you know how I celebrate. Gabbie’s is on the 15th as well, everyone is getting old haha.

This week in the mission field. West and I just kicked butt. I think both of us were kind of down on how hard of a week we had, so we decided to change that. I instituted what I call “sit-down lessons”, which means doing an on the spot lesson if people have time. Basically instead of giving out brochures we get into the houses and teach. At first West didn’t like this method – made him feel like a Temoins (Jehovah witnesses). But it worked so well!  20 lessons and 14 new investigators!  This week we want to break 20, and week after we’ll try and break personal records - 30 lessons.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

During our sit-downs we found 2 sweet families. One turned out to not be too interested, as we learned yesterday. But the other is awesome too. The craziest part is that their daughter is visiting from London with her children and they already know the church. They visited the temple over there and have read The Book of Mormon. They will be coming to church this week and who knows from there!

This week, we also ushered for a fancy conference the church put on. The church apparently wants local leaders to find humanitarian work in their own countries and unite with the leaders to fix the problem. So the Cameroonian Public Affairs Representative decided to join the cause of eliminating plastic waste in Cameroon. Saturday the church held a conference with some local leaders and explained the problem. It was fun to usher and just hang around with other missionaries– now don’t get your imagination going too much!  It’s not like the president of Cameroon was there or military generals. Just upper middle class people. The actual presentation was kind of a snooze fest.

In all honesty that’s all we did this week worth noting. The work is going well, just always teaching which is fun and makes the time go faster. Ohh also, our water heater broke so West and I lost a day of teaching because we had to stay home and get it fixed.

PS.  The title of the email is a super funny quote from the missionary training videos. Me and Bacera have been quoting them all week.

07-28-14 Apartment Parkour



This week went by so fast!  Can’t believe it’s already Monday again. In honesty, the work so far is going slow. 11 lessons this week and 3 people at church. It seems like we may have a 7 weeks of drought before a 7 weeks of plenty. But we are keeping a positive attitude through it all – which makes it easy. This week started off with some shopping in the march├ęs, which is my favorite thing as you may remember. It was fun going with the two youngest missionaries (West and Bacera). After that activity the fun started for the week.

Tuesday West and I got home and set up all our mattresses into thick landing pads in the living room. This is a good time to stop and explain that all of us sleep in the living rooms on foam mattresses. The living room is the only air conditioned room in the apartment – so 6 mattresses are just always on hand out there. Our Tuesday night fun started with hand stands and flips but then transformed into parkour! We set up a chair and practiced hurling ourselves over the thing. haha. In fact we got so good we could do a running flip over the chair/couch with no hands! Super fun night!

This week we had a big open house which was decent, probably the best way to describe it. There were about 50 people there and among them was a pastor of another church. He really wasn’t open to anything we were saying or showing. All was well until the Q and A session. Then we just lost control of this pastor. All the missionaries just left the room and left it to the leaders. Obviously, even with this failure of an activity, it’s still the Lords church, so it’s not like a critical blow to the branch. Maybe that’s something I learned this week – don’t criticize the church! (or its activities) Sure things go wrong or not up to par but that doesn’t mean the church is a false. The church is run by just a bunch of normal people doing their best, so chill out if something isn’t perfect –that’s something we try and teach members in the branches here.

Something that should be perfect in the church though are the ordinances (baptism, confirmation, sacrament).  And this Sunday, West and I had to correct some false practices. It’s not abnormal to have primary children eat the sacrament bread after church – but I finally had enough and put an end to it. After church I guarded the left-over bread from little kids.  Then we explained the proper way to the leaders and priests.  So things should change!  I realized that the church here is like the church in 1830s.  It’s totally new and things still need to be standardized (like this example). The church members aren’t evil apostates – just new converts. Literally almost everyone is a convert. I think I’ve met 1 second generation young woman. 1!  In church the members often say things like “when the missionaries taught you, they said…”. Never realized it but in America we don’t really say that, it’s more like “in primary…”. So the work continues and we are doing are best!

07-21-14 Never Thought I’d be an Immigrant



This week felt so long and the work is kind of slow. It's just a new sector and we’re trying to find quality Amis (People in French). So that takes some digging - but we've got 3 or 4 serious amis we’re working with. District Leader duties are keeping us busy as well.

 

This week, to celebrate my 14th month mark I spent the morning in the immigration office!  My 6 month Cameroon visa expires today so I needed to get a "Carte de ces Jours", (Cameroon’s version of a green card). It was raining super hard and the court yard of the office was flooded. More problematic was that the office we needed wasn’t by the entrance. So Elder West and I went "tomb-raider" "uncharted" status and climbed on the ledge of a building and advanced towards the office. At one point we jumped from ledge to ledge and made it into the office without getting wet!  Did I mention the whole Cameroonian police department was watching us?  Surely they were intimidated. haha.  Then began the fun when I had to figure out the whole immigration system of Cameroon. Some sassy police officer was giving me trouble - so I did what I've learned to do best - fight sass with sass!  Three hours later I had my green card. At one point the police officer gave what I think was a compliment, "This American speaks French really well, but he keeps bugging me.". So now I’m legal until 2025.

 

Also you know how in every city I've critically wounded myself (flashback: congo - parking sign, Youande - sewer ditch) well I got close again. I hulk stomped a wooden board covering a sewer ditch. No injury though!  Just really funny and embarrassing. Also I broke up a girl fight, they were only 7 but if we do a standard conversion that's like a 14 year old American. haha :)

 

Met our new mission president! He's nice but obviously scared to work with us Americans. Also crazy thing he told us - we can watch Disney movies in French on Mondays!!! Straight from his mouth - no joke. So yeah, nice guy.

 

On Wednesday I bought a ream of white paper. So I’m currently making a risk board for us to play, but more importantly, we started a paper airplane contests! We live on the third floor of the building facing the street. So every night we build our planes and launch them across the street. Our goal is the roof of the adjacent building. haha. Elder Bacera has gotten the furthest thus far. Funniest thing ever - and if any fall in our buildings barriers we pick them up. Responsible and fun!

 

That's all the news and stories from the week. Not much is changing and we’re trying to kick start the sector. West and I are having a blast. Ohh. I started family history. Idk about America but in Africa they created a small booklet called "My Family". It’s basically a pedigree chart but put into a new interesting form. So I started it and have been filling it in. In fact I’m going onto myfamilysearch.org after to get some info. So please, if you have info about the family, feel free to send it to me :) But I can now definitely testify about family history work with you guys. It’s so exciting and increases your love for your family! Keep up the work on that home front and see if you can get some of those booklets from the missionaries.

 

PS – I’m turning 20 next month!