Nov 19, 2014

11/17/14 I’m on a Boat

Although I started on the Mission on the 15th of May, I’ll actually be ending on the 28th of April. It's just the way transfers will work out - either go home a bit early or stay for an extra 5 weeks. So the church opted for the first!  But hey, no complaints. 

But for the time being, I’m still out here and here is what we did this week. 

Monday started off with an amazing FHE chez-les Mbengés (with the mbenge family). This is an amazing family! The two parents are just incredibly Christ like people. Their story is that they found the gospel through missionaries a long time ago. They were a brand new couple and they were extremely poor. To give you some idea Brother Mbenge said, there were times that they went two weeks without eating. Well they embraced the gospel and it took it's affect. They starting growing their family and now have a son and two daughters - the son is on a mission and the daughters are at home, Falon and Pauola. Just the sweetest girls on the planet! 

But their family didn’t stop there. Throughout their life they've interacted with nephews and cousins and sometimes even neighbors, who have felt the spirit in the Mbenge home. One of these former neighbors, a young boy named Junior, told us on Monday that he felt so positive about life when he was with this family that when the moved away, Junior begged his father to let him go live with the Mbenges! The father allowed him and since then Junior has become an "adopted" son. 

Another niece now lives with them for schooling and has joined the church. The way the parents interact with these kids is so compassionate that it's almost impossible to know beforehand that they aren’t one biological family. Just incredible! 

We enjoyed spending time with them and had some good laughs that night. We, the missionaries, also made a great discovery. A snack called - BreakJoys! It's a caramel flavored soy milk drink that comes in a little packet. They cost 50 cents and are incredible! Instantly addicted. In fact we had a chocolate bread and breakjoy for breakfast this morning. I don’t know if we have something like that in America, so I’m going to bouff (eat) a lot of them before April. 

On Tuesday we had a neat experience that I probably won’t have again. I was with Elder Hatch and Colindres because my companion had left and I was waiting for my new one to arrive that night. So I just tagged along with the others. Now there is a recent convert from Ghana that they baptized and he is a boat captain. So he lives on this boat for the time being cuz rather than sitting at home he can get paid if he is on board every day. Well, we went to go teach him on his boat!  Totally allowed, so we headed down to the docks. I was imagining like a massive cargo ship but he actually work on a private security vessel. Basically these military looking yachts! What they do is they take contracts to protect other vessels, like oil tankers, and then bring along soldiers who provide the weapons. 

We literally climbed aboard and got to take a tour of the boat. (when I say literally, it's like literally, we climbed up a ladder)  IT WAS SO SICK! We sat down in the mess hall and taught the ENTIRE crew - all 15 people. Later all of us agreed that we felt like we were on an episode of Deadliest Catch haha. While aboard we also met a member from Nigeria. Who would've thought - members are everywhere...and so are the missionaries. 

Well that same night my new companion came. Elder Mwehu! But he came really late. We were waiting up for them to arrive, but we fell asleep. So at 1 am, I wake up and see Elder Coleman (senior couple) and some Africans entering the living room where we all sleep. I sprang out of bed as fast as possible - feeling kinda bad that I fell asleep - and greeted them. Half asleep this is all I told them. "Bonjour, il y a trois lit...uhhh, oui." (good morning, there are three beds...uh, yeah) And then promptly retook my spot in bed. I was tired but with that warm welcome my new companionship started! 

I'll close the email by telling you about a sweet finding experience I had. To set the stage Elder Mwehu and I had a round of contacting and had been pretty successful. We got some numbers and found a few interested people. After giving out the last brochure we had we decided it was time to head home. We start looking for a route that can lead us back towards the house. Just thinking about heading home we took the first route we found. 100 yards later I saw a young girl cutting wood and something told me to help her. (that something was the Holy Spirit, as I later learned) I decided to offer to help. After a minute of insisting to help, she finally handed over the saw and let me have a go! I'll have to admit, my first attempt was embarrassing. We all got a good laugh, the missionaries, the girl, and the crowd that had now gathered to watch the white man cut wood. The girl gave me a demonstration of how it's done and then I took my 2nd chance. 

Jokingly, I felt like the reputation of America was resting on my shoulders - I had to show the crowd that us Americans work! So I did my best to cut the wood and what do you know - I did it! In fact so well that I became like a chain saw. I went through ten to fifteen pieces of wood during the service. And I would've done more but that was all she needed for the moment. 

Well here's the spiritual part of it all. As I’m cutting, I get talking to this young girl and turns out she has a name - Emily. Not only does she have a name but she already knows our church. Emily's older sister use to take the lessons with the missionaries but sadly Emily never had a chance to sit down with the elders. But she wanted to and was more than willing to have us come back later. Sweet! That had to be the spirit leading us that day. No way would we just happen to be at the right place at the right time to help a young girl cut wood, who also happens to be a girl that knows the church and wants to speak with us. No way that is just chance! The lesson is the spirit will guide you as you serve others. And of course, I felt so good after giving service.

Have a great week at school and at work. Look for some chances to serve others and I promise you'll feel happy as you do it! I love all you guys.

11/10/14 The Crazy Things we Hear

I’m glad you all got a kick out of that story!  On transfers, we got changed around again. So Elder Okon is leaving me to go to Brazzaville. And I’m receiving ANOTHER African companion. What!? This will be my fourth African companion. Literally 4 of 8 companions have been African. That is almost unheard of out here. To give you some idea, there are usually 2 Africans in an "American" city at a time. Figuring that there are 25 Americans on this side of the mission and maybe 6 Africans. Everyone usually works with an African once in a while, but back to back to back - never. I’m obviously surprised, but regardless I’m going to just work so hard these last 6 months. So hopefully my companions can keep up. 

This week there was nothing too special. So sorry to not give another gut busting story. Maybe that's how the mission works - one exciting week for a boring week? BUT Elder Okon has kept track of some of the funniest stuff people tell us. 

So I present you the "List of ridiculous things that missionaries hear in Africa!": 

·       "They are missionaries, that's their problem! Sharing the word of God." - Augustine (Augustine is an Anglophone. this shows generally how English is spoken here. and yes the Gospel is our problem haha.)
·       "God is a humble God." - said in sunday school

·       Someone was giving a contribution in Elder's quorum, when another member tries jumping in. The member already talking says, "Ferme!" or close your mouth! (I think elder's quorum is the biggest place of arguments ever - like in the history of the church)

·       "If 4 people found the book of Mormon in the ground the world would accept it, but they don’t like the idea of an angel bringing it." - Elder Coleman

·       "I read a lot, to the extent that I can’t even explain it to you. But if you like, you can tell me more." -Emmanuel (okay, what does that even mean!)

·       "The bible says that alcohol gives us courage and food gives us strength." - Daniel (I’m sorry, I think my bible is missing that verse. can you show me where?)

·       During our missionary training last week, "There are people looking for the truth and they can’t find it. That's why they build churches and that's why they can go to the mosques and make noise." - President Monga

·       Watching these TV prophets perform miracles and discussing it with an Ami, "Their prayers are really effective. They pray and people vomit." - Idrich (why does that make their prayers effective? haha)

·       In speaking with Daniel about the word of wisdom, he started giving us terrible reasons why he needed to drink. Here was the best, "In engineering school they taught us that we are special people. That if our calves start itching then we can drink some beer and it'll start to rain. And that rain helps others. So we need to drink beer." (I’m sorry did I just forget all my French - because if I heard you right, you think that drinking beer when you have an itch causes it to rain?) 

Those are just some of the many things we hear all day - and I love it!  It makes the work so fun and interesting. This world has some characters to offer and I think we might just run into the best of them! Like I've said before, I love my job! Well the work continues this week and I'll let you know how it goes. But for now have another great week in school and work. I love all you guys!  Don’t worry, I’m safe out here - even when jumping on bandits!  

Keep working hard - je vous aime, vous tous! 

Don’t think I forgot about your birthday this week - cuz I didn’t! Happy 23rd Birthday! Thanks for being a great brother and an even better friend. I love you and can’t wait to hang out with you again after the mission. Start setting aside the best anime series that we can watch together. And prepare yourself for some serious airsoft as well. For the time being have a happy birthday! I love you bunches. 

ps - start prepping your questions for the skype session! :) 


11-03-14 Cops and Robbers

What a week! This is going down in the record book as one of the most exciting weeks I’ve had on my mission so far. And from the email it sounds like everything is going well “chez-nous” as the French would say. That’s sad that no trick-or-treaters came to the door. I was reminded on Halloween that I’m pumped to have a family in the future cuz it gives me an excuse to go do things like trick-or-treating, as well as dress up in a costume. But even in Africa I found a way to celebrate –but I’ll get to that in the email.
To answer your questions. I think I was honestly sent to Africa to learn how to simply relax and go through life without complicating things. Now hear me out on this one. On a mission there are a bunch of formalities, and procedures, and politically correct things to say, and “wrong” ways to teach. And if you’re not careful you’ll start to worry about following the procedures so much that you don’t focus on the people. For example, you’ll go into a lesson worrying more about perfectly presenting a scripture than helping answer someone’s question.
Another way to explain it is kinda like those kid pageant shows they put on tv. Do you guys remember those? How the moms are perfectionists and go crazy psycho! And if the little kid makes a mistake the moms get furious. And for us watching it’s like: “wooo woman, calm down it’s a little 5 year old girl that simply tripped –I mean you put her in like 10 inch heels – what are you expecting?” So you see, sometimes in life we go psycho when things just don’t work out (like those kid pageants). Maybe when a date isn’t as romantic as we expected, or we fail a test, or we don’t get a promotion at work, etc etc etc. The list is endless. And I don’t think that that is how God wants us to view life. In the perfectionist view – if it isn’t perfect, it’s a failure. I think being out here gave me a MASSIVE reality check.
In this mission, I like to think that we simply work. That’s the general attitude of the Americans here – we are here to work and that’s that, let’s not complicate it. We go out in the morning and do our best, then come home, share fun stories and laugh at the failures we had. Obviously we don’t want to sit in imperfection – but all of us get that we are imperfect for the time being. So you see, out here in Africa it is like the “front lines of the church” and because it’s such we aren’t worried about “political correctness” and perfect formality – we’re just looking to baptize and help others with the gospel.
Maybe that explains why I think I’m out here in Africa and not anywhere else. As well, I’m still so excited that I got to go to Africa and here is why:
So Monday of last week, the Yemin family invited us over to eat dinner with them. And this is a pretty well off family. So we go over there and have just an amazing meal with the family. Fish and Pork and Ndolé and manioc! The family has 6 kids, and 3 of the daughters formed a dance group –and they are actually pretty good. They dance at festivals to sponsor new products and such. While, we ate the dad showed us some of their videos. They’re a fun little family.
On Tuesday and Wednesday we had a bunch of meetings with the Mission President. We received two new Elders which meant a lot of meetings on training and welcoming. I think on Wednesday (there first day here) I heard “Welcome, we are excited to have you in the mission.” Almost 100 times. It’s like, ok guys, I think they feel welcomed enough!  Well they seemed a little shocked and overwhelmed, but it’ll be fun to get to know them in the coming months. President Monga had 3 big announcements he brought with him. One, Brazzaville (the Captial of Congo) is opening up to white people this next transfer which is in one week!  So Monday, I’ll let you know who the lucky Americans are. Two, by the end of the year we will receive 10 new missionaries! Three, if members don’t pick up the participation in missionary work – the missionaries will be removed from Douala (my current city)! Okay – confirmation – our mission president is crazy haha. But it’s exciting to see that he is putting some fire under the members to get them moving. Well after our minds blew up with all those announcements the week continued.
I heard another witch story that I thought I’d share with you. We crossed paths with a woman from California – well she is from Cameroon but lives in America currently. She told us that she had a friend here, and the friend never use to eat at people’s houses.  Every day she would go to restaurants and eat there. Until one day a friend of this friend convinced her to come over for soup. The young friend sat down and was really hesitant to take the soup. Finally after a bunch of persuasion the friend drank the soup and immediately felt sick. She cried, “What did you put in the soup?” The host replied, “babalou!” Which is a poison that comes from roots of a plant found in Nigeria! (Okay, pause, what?! A woman poisoned her friend. Why?) The host continued, “The poison will only kill a witch. I give it to every guest in my house, to keep myself safe.” Now, I don’t really believe African folk-lore, but I can buy this one, especially for Africa. Well the story continued and the girl friend was fine in the end – yeah!
As well, to go along with folk-lore, while in the marché some black magic went down. Some young lady wanted to get her hair braided and stuff. She asked for a very complicated hair style that was supposed to take hours. (some hair styles can literally take all day to finish) Well on this occasion the hair was styled in 30 minutes. The young girl exclaimed to the stylist, “How did you finish so fast? Did you just do a terrible job?” She picked up a mirror to look at it, and saw that the stylist had multiple arms!!! AHHH!!! No this isn’t a scene from “men in black”, just another crazy story. They make me laugh so much.
Now sometimes, these folk-lore make it into our lessons with Amis and then things go bizarre. I’ll have to tell you about another story next week.
Later on in the week. To celebrate Halloween, I had a brilliant idea. I wanted to carve an orange. It’s orange season here so you can buy a massive orange for 75 francs (less than 20 cents). So I bought the biggest orange I could find and went to work. My equipment consisted of a knife or two, and a spoon. And wouldn’t you know, it worked! So well in fact that Elder Hatch made one as well. We lite them up and in the dark, read a scary Edgar Alain Poe story that the senior couple printed off for us – “the tell tale heart”. I’ll send you a picture of the yellow-green-O-lanterns! (we call oranges, yellow-greens because they aren’t actually orange) I think I just created a new Halloween tradition for myself!
Now for the main story. This happened yesterday. Now the story will be in normal type and I will put my comments in parenthesis and italics. So I suggest you read the story first, skipping the comment, to understand well what happened. Then go back and read it with my comments. Alright here we go.
Sunday 2 November
It’s a normal fast Sunday as Elder Okon and I walk through marché central to arrive at our next teaching appointment.  Now Sundays in Africa are a little different than America. Everything is just void on the streets. The shops are closed and there isn’t that much traffic, or people for the matter. Today in the marché there are maybe 50 people spread out on the streets. On a normal day I make sure my camera is zipped inside my bag so it doesn’t get stolen while I walk through the marché. But today I rationalize; my camera is safe in the outer pocket of my bag. And as I can see there are no crowds of people. I can see everyone.
(Moments before entering the marche I had the idea that we should take a taxi, but rationalized again, that we didn’t have enough money)
Well, we keep trucking along and as we our leaving the marché territory I feel a slight bump on my side and a tug on my bag. Just ever so slight.
(At this moment I was literally thinking about wanting to take a picture of how empty the roads are to show you guys what it‘s like. That was obviously an inspired thought from God)
I quickly brush my hand over the pocket to check that the camera is there, and to my surprise it is not! In that very moment I turn around to see if it dropped and to my surprise even more, I see a 30 year old 6ft tall African man slipping it into his back pocket. He is 10 feet away from me and we are walking in opposite directions.
(now pause and consider the situation, my companion is walking in front and didn’t know what was going on, so he would be no help. As well this man is considerably bigger and older than me. He isn’t massive but he is definitely bigger and older. As well, I’m the foreigner in the situation. I think, in my head the following event was purely instinct. The reaction was literally instantaneous. When you read the story it might sound like two separate actions, but it was more like one fluid motion. In my head I had only one thought. If I lose that camera, I just lost a lot of memories !)
So there goes Elder Johnson. Full on sprint after the man, not knowing what he will do, only that he will get his camera back. Getting closer, the man is alerted to my pursuit and starts running as well. But, it’s too late – I’m in striking distance. Continuing the chase, I reach out and grab the collar of his jersey, determined that he isn’t leaving. I pull him back, as I continue my full on sprint forward, causing the jersey to rip, slighty.
(Again pause, I have a number of choices here. The best option is probably to just pull the camera from his pocket and let him be. That would be the most non-combative option and it wouldn’t make me look like a bad guy. But, what do I do? Probably the most aggressive option. Yeah Johnson, that sounds like a good option haha !)
I literally jump forward and instinctively wrap my left arm around his neck. The physics behind it all causes us to get some air time! Now on the sidewalk, I have this big black man in a head lock and I’m yelling, «Donne-moi l’appareil ! »
(Okay, well I’m committed now. I just started a fight with this man. Before he probably wouldn’t have harmed me, but now a little white boy is attacking him and he might think I’m trying to kill him! If that doesn’t give him a reason to punch me, I don’t know what would. So I decide, there is no going back now. If I let him go I might get hurt – so you just keep him there)
I keep holding him in this head lock as he squirms to get free, repeating the same demand. At this point he gets twisted around and grabs my shirt by the abs.
(Well I just lost that advantage on him. The first thought it this – he might have a knife and he is going to stab you any second. Get ready…set…okay, this is stupid! BUT MY CAMERA!)
(that night in telling the story to the other elders, we joking said « god was watching that fight and thought, ohh well I guess I better make the knife in this guys pocket disappear so Elder Johnson doesn’t die » haha.)
Afraid of being stabbed, I push him off me and demand the camera! In the chaos of it all he had thrown it on the ground behind me. « C’est la » is his response.
(Telling Elder Okon about it later, he told me that the man most likely threw it on the ground to make me look like a fool. You know, a young kid drops his camera and over-reacts by jumping on a random black man and choking him.)
I quickly took my camera and walked off, making sure to keep looking at him as I go.
(Now, I may or may not have done the « come at me bro » gesture in walking past him haha !!)
Unnoticed before by me, all 50 people in the marché are now looking at me. Cheering and congratulating me haha! The old mamas are saying “c’est ca mon fils!” (that’s how you do it, my son) and the punk moto-taxi drivers cheering and giving me thumbs up! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel like a total boss. That night I prayed and said, “God thanks for keeping us safe, even when we do really stupid stuff”. Well I got my camera back, and earned some major street cred.
(So it looked like those CQC (close Quarter Combat) practices paid off. SO SICK! While walking away, this was my thought – maybe law enforcement could be my career path – that was kinda fun! Haha)
I don’t know if I’ll ever have a story more intense than that! Hopefully that doesn’t scare you too much. Just know that I’m safe out here and I’m extremely happy. I doubt God would let anything happen to me. I love all you guys and can’t wait to share all those memories I saved!  Keep safe, especially when jumping on big people’s back haha. I love you guys, once more and wish you the best for the second term of school!
Ps – maybe God sent me to Africa to learn how to become a good story teller?
And we came across a bunch of tires burning in a cemetery. Kinda strange.

A highway we walk on sometimes.

Our yellow-green-O-lanterns. Mine is on the left.

A cow in a dumpster. Cow! Whatcha be doing?

10-27-14 Hot Porn ??

So that whole getting people to do their home-teaching initiative isn’t working. Out of the three rendezvous set this week none of them worked. Either the visitor wasn’t there or the family canceled on us. Well we'll keep trying to help the branch but maybe we'll need to find a new way. 

I can’t really remember any spectacular stories from this week, so I’m just going to bombard you with a bunch of random things that happened to us. We came home one night and the other elders had a massive rolled up poster that they were cutting up. They told me it was a pornography poster they confiscated from a member and they planned to burn it. (Hence the title of the email, get it - it's a pun) We put all the pieces in a pan and drenched it with petrol. Placed it out on our patio and then tried for 5 minutes to lite the stupid thing with terrible cheap matches. I’m proud to say I struck the match that finally ignited it! Might not sound like anything too fun, but we all got a good kick out of it and it helped a member live the commandments. So, win win. 

A lot of our Amis just aren’t coming to church, which is really sad. We are currently teaching about 30 people and 5 come to church. And they aren’t even regular! Well it was the same this weekend during general conference. Let me just start by saying, Conference is so cool, and it's becoming even better every time I watch it! 

Saturday was just filled with really awesome talks. Such good counsel. I think I liked Elder Christofferson's talk the best from Saturday. He talked about being accountable for our choices and being in charge of ourselves. I remember him saying, God will never force you to do something. It was fun being in a foreign branch for conference because you can see when the members get excited and which speakers they like. During priesthood session everyone was pretty excited and awake. 

President Uchtdorf's talk got a lot of head nods and "yes, exactly" shouts from the crowd. As well all the men loved President Monson's talk about the Bismark and how we can avoid enemies that would stop our progress. I talked with one member about it after and he said, "Monson spoke like a general - you could just feel it. He spoke with authority!" It was good to see all the members get excited to hear the prophet. 

Another crazy thing I noticed. Sunday morning, 3 talks back to back about following the prophet! 3! Then in the afternoon, Elder Ballard mentioned it again! 4 talks telling us to do what the prophet says. I think there is a message they're trying to give us. I remember when I was in middle school all the talks were about pornography and sexual sins. We (the missionaries) noticed that there was no pornography talks this time around. None, not even from the sisters that spoke! That's obviously a good thing - it means we have fixed that problem, but it looks like the new problem is following the prophets. Elder Hatch jokingly predicted that when President Monson dies, there is going to be a sect that splits from the church and follows a new self-proclaimed prophet! We'll whatever the case I'll be in the church for the 17th prophet. 

We'll instead of just continuing to type out random stuff that doesn’t make a lot of sense I’m just going to wish you all a great week! Man, fall break already. Enjoy yourself and be safe. Hey, I got your post card. Thanks for the notes Maya, Mom, and Gabbie. I loved the picture. When all the members saw it they asked "is that you?" haha. Well I love you guys bunches! Keep working hard and enjoy Halloween. What are the costumes? I suggest Captain America!


10-20-14 Playing House Wife

Woah! What a week of news! Holy cow! First off, keep guiding Kaleb mom - and let him know that Julius thinks a car would be better than a girl. haha. Everyone grows up way too fast, who am I going to hang out with my first summer home if y'all are gone? Well at least I'll get to speak with Maya in French and go hard-core on call of duty with Ferious. :)  

I have to thank you a bunch mom and Robert for working to pay for the mission. I appreciate it a lot! I’m glad you are seeing the blessings come already. But you should know that I'll be paying you back for the money you spent. Yup! It's already decided; I’m working and paying back the money when I get back. I didn’t properly save for my mission before, so I can at least fix that mistake later. 

Life seems to be moving at an extremely fast pace for you over there. Can’t wait to jump back into family life. Make sure Nani and Opa know that I love them and wish them the best. 

This week was pretty slow but good. We started off by teaching good lessons and having a good time - until Elder Okon got sick. Why are my companions always the sick ones!!  So far I have been super healthy out here, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with my companions. So Okon got sick at the end of Tuesday and all of Wednesday.  Which means I got to play house wife. haha. I decided that if I couldn’t go out into the sector those days, I would at least make good use of my time at home. So I made "to do lists". Here are the things I did: 

Sweep the house
Do all my laundry
Read the Book of Mormon
Cook dinner
Clean the Kitchen
Organize our bookshelf (which is loaded with all the brochures and books we give out to people so it gets crazy disorganized)
Work out
Give myself a haircut 

Looks like a small list but that took all day believe it or not. I definitely gained appreciation for all the things our moms do for us when we’re at home. And I'll be super thankful to a wife that will do those things in the future. 

Well after the sick day we went back to work, and after being stuck in the house as a missionary that first day back is a glorious one. We taught some awesome Amis (investigators) and had more weird rendezvous. We spent two days back to back teaching in the Marche (shopping center). It's always crazy and never gets old. There are always those people who know you already and have been reading the brochures more or less and have questions. Then everyone who doesn’t know you but wants to know you, so you're just handing out brochures like crazy! 

Some of our investigators are kinda strange in all honesty. Maybe it's just like that everywhere but we get some odd balls. Like trying to contact an old grandma and then having her go nuts on us shouting that she is Jesus and we are Jesus and that God is man. Don’t worry, if you are confused by what I just wrote - so were we haha. Now I have a super funny story to tell you, but it'll have to be when I get home. Probably not a classy story to email home. Basically we tried teaching chastity to our Ami Daniel and it just went downhill and out into left field! So remind me when I get home about Daniel's story! 

This week we did that service again at church. Scrubbing the cement driveway. Usually while we do that we just talk about BYU and life on the other side. There was a nice baptism as well, a Ghanaian. Super nice guy! 

And after all that we ended with church on Sunday!  Fun news, we will be watching conference this weekend!  Woohooo!  Super pumped and the leaders of the branch tried getting everyone pumped as well. Apparently only 5 people came last time to conference: / Yeah remember all that progress I said the branch was making? Well, we upsetting. I started a new initiative called "getting-people-to-do-their-home-teaching-because-it-is-really-important". Or the gptdthtbiiri initiative! No just kidding I didn’t name it that haha. But we are working on that. Basically we picked two home teaching teams and helped them on Sunday meet and set up rendezvous with the families they need to teach. SO FRUSTRATING! I know it sounds simple but it wasn’t. One person ducked out of church right after the closing prayer even though I told him an hour before that we needed to talk. His companion was running away from me - so there goes Elder Johnson chasing Brother Olivia around the building!  And another had the guts to tell me he didn’t know who he had to teach while we stood 2 feet from the board with assignments pinned on it!  But by the end we got it figured out - success. 

Yesterday all that was so frustrating, but as I am writing it I can’t help but smile. I love my job! Often I have to remind myself that working on a mission just means doing your best. Obviously we push ourselves to be better and better, but we are never perfect. So we do all that we can and then keep moving. This week I’m pumped to go out and work hard (like all weeks). Being on a mission is definitely teaching me where I need to improve and it's been an incredible experience. Hold on, yeah - Kaleb forget about a girl or a car, go on a mission bro. It's the best thing ever! 

Well I love all you guys and wish you the best this week. Thanks for being such amazing family and working hard and being a good example for me. For the siblings - you all better be there when I get off that plane, cuz if not, my hugs for you are going to random strangers in the airport.  

ps - Maya, for the last 6 months of my mission (Starting in November) I’m going all French mode. So I'll stop speaking English with others. So you'll probably need to be my translator when I get back.  Also, I suggest swimming as a new sport for you, Gabbie. That doesn’t use the knee, right? Or weight lifting! 2020 Olympics here you come!
So this week there was a crazy migration of bats! Literally hundreds (possibly thousands) of bats! Every night at around sunset these insane flocks/herds/gaggles/gangs of bats are everywhere. The first night i was super confused at what they were, until we saw some low flying ones. I dont think i can do it justice in describing it! We sat and watched them for maybe 10 minutes and they still kept coming. In the pictures, if you see blurry black dots, its not cuz its a bad picture but rather bats! Also if you want to know what it sounds like, have someone quitely whistle in a high pitch next to you while you flip through the photos.
 That experience made me think about how much I love nature and how much i love animals! In my list of future careers is also something that deals with working with animals. Maybe a dolphin trainer?


10-13-14 Just another week -BUT that’s a week on a mission

What!!? Denzel was baptized? You have to tell him congratulations for me! Tell him to write me if you see him again, or send me his email. Also tell John thanks for being such a great missionary. I’ve heard about this Meet the Mormons movie. So sick! I hope it’s still in theaters when I get home. It’s so interesting seeing how the church functions across the world. While we’re still knocking doors and handing out brochures – over there they are using movies and social media. Insane! 

Well, while it’s getting cold over there it’s getting hot over here. Don’t know why because we are both on the northern hemisphere, seasons are weird here. Anyway, no one really celebrates Halloween like we do in America. In the Congo they have a “Party of the Dead” instead. It’s around the same time and members of the church always asked if it’s appropriate to participate. Basically they clean the tombs of family. They always are shocked when we explain that we dress up as monsters and ghosts and ask for candy!  Honestly, the biggest party here is New Years. Christmas and Easter and other things just don’t exist. I think we as missionaries will carve watermelons though. I’ll send you picks. 

With the whole Ebola thing, it’s kinda funny over here as well for us. Everyone teases us about how our country is infected and how it’ll destroy America.

Uhh…. yeah right. I’m sure it’ll spread but not as fast and uncontrollably as over here. It took Nigeria 4 months to contain it, so I’ll give America 2. No matter what it’ll go away and everything will be good. But to be safe don’t go around touching dead bodies you guys!  haha. That's the advice we get. 

Our week has been pretty normal in honesty. Okon and I are getting along and learning how to teach together in unity. It’s different with every companion so it takes some getting used to. The branch has been just sky-rocketing in awesomeness. We had a great activity about marriage the other day. A real fireside that was uplifting and enjoyable. As well we had the primary program Sunday. So cute!  And again, inspirational. Sacrament is reverent and during a baptism service this week, the spirit was super strong. Members are getting along and leaders are happy. Still things to improve on, but it’s all good. 

Nursery calling for you mom? Sounds like a blast. And maybe I’ll join Robert in the youth when I get back. We joke about how returned missionaries always get funneled into callings like that or ward missionary work. Whatever calling, I’m so excited to attend sacrament meeting as a family! 

I hope all is well for you at home. Tell Ferious to go to those YSA activities, and invite Drew as well! They’ll have a blast, I know it. Kaleb is almost done with school as well, if he graduates early. Hopefully Gabbie’s racing career is going fantastic as well. Give everyone my best wishes this week. I didn’t get to see the pictures you sent, but I’d definitely like to see Maya’s art. Keep working on your talents! I love all you guys so much! Keep being awesome!
So this week, I forgot to mention that, our sink exploded. Something similar happened back in Congo when I started. (Flashback: an entire tile wall fell down!) So that was the latest repair we had to do in the apartment.
 A silly picture with Elder Okon. Just waiting for an ami and wanted to snap a pic

And we cleaned the church, so I figured you'd want to see what our gospel prinicples class looks like. Basically all the other rooms look the same. Pretty simple, but different.

Now a mission helps you learn and love the gospel. But it also makes you the most patriotic person! Bacera, West and I bought these sick USA jerseys and just had to take a team picture. Maybe this picture conveys our pride for our country haha. AMERICA! If you can’t tell which stud I am...the one on the right.