Sep 22, 2014

09-22-14 Ferious has a Beard!

Ferious has a beard! Since when? That should’ve been big news in one of your emails. haha. You all look super good and happy. I'm pumped to go out with you guys and do stuff like that. The photos from Mnt Rushmore look super sick as well. National geographic photographer is always an option Robert.
I’m equally pumped to speak French with Maya on Christmas, which will be our last skype session of my mission (in case you happened to be counting).
It was a full week of sun. The dry season is starting which means no rain ever, except for the massive storms at night. Even right now, it’s blazing hot out there. But it's Africa, what’s you going to do? Surprisingly I didn’t see any sunglass salesmen this whole week. Like seriously, the one week I need some and they aren’t selling.
So West and I are getting pretty tan out here. We also redid that service project again. Every other Saturday we have to scrub the church driveway. It felt like honestly working at a car wash. Just hanging out with the coolest missionaries ever, and splashing around water. Not too bad of a service project.
Honestly, I don’t think I have too many stories this week. We had to play spy on Saturday which was pretty cool. An ami called us and said to come teach her at her shop in the middle of Marche central. Marche central is basically like that corner star mall. But filled with hundreds of tiny shops. Not including the maze inside the building that literally has a hundred more shops. The only description we got from her was "my shop is by the moto-men and the people who sell tapioca". What!? After searching for 20 minutes, we actually found her. We felt super awesome and it turned out that she is a super awesome ami!
Other than that it was just a normal week of work. We have been trying to revamp our teaching pool, since it's full of not very serious people. I think out of our 40 amis, maybe 9 are progressing. So it's time to restart and reteach a bunch of people - but hey, that's the work! Sorry the email is a bit short, I had to wait like an hour until I got on a computer, so time is a bit against us.
Thanks for the email update, I’m glad you all didn’t die in a car wreck, as I was beginning to suspect. haha. I love you guys a bunch! You're awesome, all of you. Have another fantastic week.

I snuck up on an ami without him knowing and look what I found him doing! Studying the book of mormon! So sick, that brings a smile to any missionary's face!

Selfie!  Julius with thumbs up.

Julius on Right - Elder West on Left.
Just another day teaching in Afirca.

Nice View while waiting to teach and Ami.  

09-15-14 Slap Face

Another hard working week down, in fact that makes 16 month’s worth of work as of today! But in those 16 months there have been plenty of laughs and fun moments. The week started off with a sickness for Elder West. I have now been pushed to wonder, why are my companions always the sick ones? Ahh, probably just Ebola, he’ll be okay……
Just kidding, Cameroon has closed all its borders, we are safe. The whole ebola thing is just a running joke for us missionaries out here. Well, Elder West was a trooper and worked anyway with a bad headache, so in reality we started off the week correctly. Nothing too special about the lessons, but I did notice a change in our recent convert, Emerique. Before his baptism, he challenged everything we presented. “This is the only true church”, he got upset. “Thomas S Monson is the prophet we follow”, doesn’t like that. Etc, etc.  But since he has been baptized he has become much more accepting and even testifies of these things. I don’t know if he was just playing devil’s advocate to test us; but I honestly think taking that leap of faith to be baptized changed his testimony. I think after his baptism the Holy Ghost really solidified his beliefs because he trusted in his impressions. Ever since then, our rendezvous are uplifting and spiritual every time. It’s pretty neat to get to see that change in someone. Just a perk of being a missionary.
The rest of the week was filled with bouffing quesadillas, teaching, joking, bouffing more food. On Saturday we taught a less active family. As usual we were inspired to do so. This time it was my companion that received inspiration. Elder West wanted to see them, when I really saw no reason to go out and visit them. The family lives out in “village”, a good 30 minute taxi ride, past the airport. Well, eventually I consented and fixed a rendezvous with them. 5pm, we head out there and then listen for 2 hours!  2 hours, just another perk of being a missionary. haha! Complaining about how evil the branch president is. You know there is a problem when the first question the member asks you is, “Does the church change?” Basically, the 2 hours was filled talking about a lot of little errors and faults with the branch president, who is a newlywed 25 year old I might add. In the end there was little we could do, but they committed to come to church. The inspiration from West was in the fact true. That morning the good Sister had told her children that the next day they would go back to church one last time. She told us how she hadn’t washed the white shirts (church clothes) for weeks, and thought about just getting rid of them. But that morning she felt motivated to wash all the clothes. Not 30 minutes after gathering the white shirts, we called her!
I learned a few things from that lesson. One, a lesson I’ve learned multiple times, the spirit inspires us to help others. Two, I will never be offended at church. Three, if I am ever a church leader, I will try to be personable with everyone in the ward. Happily, that family was at church Sunday.
This week gave birth to a new game. Called, “Slap-face”. Here’s how it works, anyone that wants to join is free to participate. But after jumping in there is no jumping out. For the missionaries that are playing, you lightly tap or “slap” them on their cheek. Now it’s not hard enough to hurt or leave a mark, just a friendly tap. At this point the missionary will chase you down if he wants revenge. And then begins the hand to hand combat. haha. For a solid 5 minutes you will wrestle, run, hide from, and combat each other until enough revenge is dealt out from both sides. The fights started out kinda childish but have now become full on advanced CQC! Some of the highlights are when Elder Bacera got me in a lock and scored like 20 hits in a row. Or my aerial attack, when I jumped off my bunk-bed at night, landed next to Bacera and scored a hit; quickly scurrying back up to bed before he got me. Or my epic fail of lying under West’s bed for 10 minutes, trying to get a hit, only to be discovered before I got the chance to strike. It sounds like, a childish game, and in reality it probably is – but hey, it gets some good laughs between us. I think my journal entries this week where interrupted like 3 times from this game! Well, for now it entertains us and keeps us smiling. : )
I’m as happy as a clam with this district, my companion, and the work! I haven’t heard anything from you guys in two weeks, so I hope all is okay and life has been treating you well. I heard from Nanie that Ferious might get a job advancement! Sick Bro. Let me know about any other news from home. Also, I’m going to email dad and wish him happy birthday, but if he doesn’t get it, let him know I love him and wish him a happy birthday in my stead.

 Julius is on the right in both these pics.
Hard to tell since West is a mini me of Julius.

09-08-14 I’m an Elderly Elder

I got an email from y'all, but all it said was "test".  Idk, maybe that's code for something, or some sort of inside joke I forgot about. haha. Well this email will be shorter than last weeks, mainly because I had to wait 1 hour to get on a computer, cuz the cyber cafĂ© is packed. But it was still a packed week!
As I told you we were preparing to meet with Elder Hamilton, of the seventy, so we needed to do some preparation. Tuesday, we cleaned the church. Only the missionaries came to the activity. Basically in front and behind the church there are concrete areas that have probably never been cleaned since dinosaurs walked the earth! Literally, a thick layer of a weird combination of moss, mold, and mud! So we scrubbed and scrubbed and rinsed and scrubbed. All of us were surprised to see gray concrete after, we never knew the ground was black because of dirt.
Well after we met with Elder Hamilton. He demanded a musical number, so with only one rehearsal the night before we pumped out an acapella hymn. And that one rehearsal was in two separate districts, so the first time we all sang together was in front of the authority. His comment after was, "I know you're not professional singers" haha. Well it was fun and we had some good laughs. Elder Hamilton did some good training and helped us learn how to teach. Basically, we learned that there are no excuses for amis to not come to church or read. If it means walking 2 hours to church, they need to do it, or reading after a tiring day, they need to do it! I definitely like this approach of thinking in the church.
We also had a baptism for Jean-Marie. He has known about the church for a few months. Basically, a long time ago he bought a book made by the church called, "Search to obtain my word", some priesthood manual from the 80's. He got it from some vendor on the side of the road, that's not too uncommon. Converts have bought Book of Mormons, or Liahonas, or FHE manuals in markets before. Well, he bought one of these books and later bumped into Elder Coleman, the senior couple, and was introduced to the church. He instantly jumped on board, and even though he thinks the church should do more humanitarian work here, he loves the church. So two weeks into the transfer and we have two very strong converts now! Also the baptism took place in 2 feet of water because the pump wasn’t working in the font, easily the most difficult baptism I've ever seen performed. Having this baptism reminded me a lot of all the converts I've taught during my mission and I realized I've spent some time out here! I guess the statistics say I’m pretty experienced, but it still doesn’t feel like it.
Not much else going on in our life out here. Hope all is going well in school and work! I love you guys.
I forgot to mention, it was pouring rain while we were scrubbing. Literally after 5 seconds on the street we were drenched! But hey it helped with the clean up and kept us cool! There's a cool Africa shot in the mix and our latest baptism photo, chalking up the total to 30 baptisms for me. Dang it's hard work out here. haha.

09-25-14 More Photos

Monday we went to a restaurant called McBurger. Literally a copy of McDonalds, I mean not even slightly hidden. Golden arches forming an M and the burger is called the BigMac! Surprisingly not bad. Yup, can’t hide a good burger from 5 American teenage boys. haha.

Baptism photo and a Fun note: the tie I’m wearing is one I received from sister Alexander as a 15 year old. Scored it off home teaching! So lesson here is to go do your home teaching, you'll get blessings!