Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Conky Tonkin'"

Heyo Mommio!
Man you sound like an apostle .... it's so awesome to see you growing and how great an example you are to me. This week I have been reading in Alma about chapter 45 to the end of it. and the wars are really sweet. of course (especially Teancum...he is my boy!), but i was really touched to read about the 2000 stripling warriors and their mothers. I hope you know that I feel the reason I'm able to be here on my mission is because of you and the principles and faith that you have shown me in your life. You're the best mom. Ok, so I think I'm going to send a memory card home today or tomorrow; but send it back as soon as you can so I can get some more pictures before Christmas. Who knows maybe it will get there before Thursday so you can take some pictures of the party for me...Haha Grandma and Grandpa are the best...I hope Grandpa is back to scaring the little kids in the ward haha...well actually he scares people of every age, not just kids. Crap mom....you ruined the game for me! I think....well at least it was a win from what I can read between the lines.
So lets see what has gone on this week...I don't remember too much. We are teaching this family, the Lepenec family: an older man of about 60, his wife, a Portuguese woman of about 40, and their daughter about 14. The mom and the daughter have come to church on and off for about 3 years and have just got reacquainted with the missionaries. The other day I was talking with the mom and she told me she wants to visit Utah sometime...I asked her when she would be doing that and she replied after her baptism (have I told this story before? oh well who cares haha)! Anyway, Elder Garotta and I have been teaching them every couple of days since then, but the dad has become a problem. Basically he thinks we are a church that just tries to take people's money with our tithing. We have explained how it works; how no one is paid in our church. We have tried to build his testimony of Joseph Smith so he can have a testimony of his commandments, and nothing is working. All he wants to do is argue. So Elder Garotta and I fasted with the family yesterday, and we have faith that that might at least soften his heart to allow their baptisms ( that's the problem, he won't let them be baptized). Elder Garotta and I have set a high goal for baptisms by the end of the month, and we are hoping to get a few this week and a lot next month (I'm really missing the snow and want some type of white Christmas).
Speaking of White Christmas, Elder Garotta has a sweet version of the White Christmas song.....who was it by again....oh ya, Michael Buble! So sweet! We have made a tradition of singing it in the back of peoples' cars when we are on our way back from appointments; they like hearing the English Christmas songs...maybe not the voice that accompanies it so much, but haha...
k well mom i love you and love the family

Answers to family questions.
Did your baptism go through? Oh, I didn't even tell about his baptism to mom...but Louisant's baptism was awesome! A member of the branch did it which is good, its so much better to build those deep spiritual bonds between members than missionaries. He came to church yesterday to be confirmed and he looked like a new man.. so up beat and just looking great.
Can we rip you some Christmas CDs? What can or can't you listen to (Christmas music)? Most Christmas music we can listen to... I think basically anything except songs with romantic lyrics (probably wouldn't be the best for me cuz I'm a lover), but some kids have some Michael Buble christmas....haha I'm not jealous at all..
How did your "P" night go? P night got pushed back to the 5th because of some conflicts, but it is shaping up to be good...we need to get our pirate costumes together...but yeah I think Elder Garotta and I are just going to use some of our Mission fund money for it...it shouldn't be too much, and the members have been really kind at feeding us lately, probably like twice a week.
How are your feet? My feet are great...and I'm not really taking care of them either... I think they were just trying to scare us with all those myths..but I'm watching them..actually this morning we played soccer at this sweet beach and every one's feet were torn up and bloody, it was fun though
Did you buy a machete? NO! man Preparation day goes by way too fast; we never have time to buy stuff! I'm workin on it though...I'm keeping my eyes out for a killer one though
How much longer does Elder Garotta have on his mission? He leaves in February. We just got transfer calls to serve in Moule another transfer so I'm stoked to be with him. I get to hone my culinary skills for another 6 weeks...and that doesn't even count french help!

So the game was good? Man I'm excited...poor Tuck didn't get to go...I'm sure you could have gotten so much more for those tickets! But, its alright...haha i wanna see Tucker's model football picture though...the ladies all over it?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


We received a letter, not an e-mail, from Andy yesterday. Here are some excerpts:

Cow fait? That's how's it going in french creole. Today has been awesome We just finished zone conference with Elder Vinas of the Seventy. He trained us for a day; it was unreal. Talk about someone just having a spiritual glow around him! He taught what we missionaries need to do to build the church here & build strong branches with strong members so that we can eventually get a stake here. Right now it will be a long process. There is not much priesthood strength and that is the foundation of the church. But, he planted such a vision of how the work needs to be done here.
We have been teaching these elderly couples who are Catholic and we taught them tonight and set a baptism date with them. For one of the couples it was their first lesson. I snuck in at the end of the lesson that I was excited they could be starting down the road of baptism (haha... I think it kind of took them off guard to mention that so quick in our teaching).
It's funny, Elder Garotta and I have been using my lack of french to an advantage. I'm the one who asks the hard questions or commitments or for a member to teach with us. If they say no I just say "I don't understand" what they are saying until they say "yes". They underestimate the sneakiness. We have some really good investigators right now who are on the right track. It's hard here in Guadeloupe to get investigators 'cuz there is a very, very small percentage of the people living the law of chastity. So, it will take some patience.
One brother, Mitchlot, is probably the nicest man I have ever met, but he is scared to death to get baptized and then mess up with the law of chastity after baptism. It's all comin' together though. It is awesome to see the hand of the Lord in His work.
The food is amazing. Although I have not tried tons of the creole, I have been pounding as much fruit as I can. I can't get enough. I don't know if you can get tubby off fruit, but I might find a way to do it. I talked Elder Garotta into buying tons of fruits and vegetables from now on. I don't know why vegetables, I really don't like 'em, but just to make you proud, mom). We bought apples, pineapples, kiwis, bananas, and bunch of yogurt for the mornings. We don't have money for much junk food which is good. Food is really expensive here. It's probably 50% higher prices, but it makes us good budgeters. But, by far the most important fruit here is coconut. One family gave me this coconut milk (warm) and I about threw up. Then my companion, seeing my attempt at pretending to like it, told the family I wanted more (he knows most missionaries can't stand it). But, I have to be honest, the coco here has been growing on me. We have this amazing coconut jam and ice cream right now. Okay, well that was a lot of writing about food.
Last week we did some service for a man in the ward who owns a bunch of cows and pigs. We got to help with them, but the best part is after we helped him in his yard with machetes! Yipee-kai-yay! It was so sweet! I am going to have to buy one this week, cuz I think the zone is going to a waterfall on Preparation Day... I don't know why I need a machete for that but trust me... it is necessary.
Everything is dandy here. I hope everything is well at home. How are ya Hill and Ash? I miss my sisters. Are you getting pumped for Christmas? I know I am. My companion just got a Christmas CD that had one Christmas song sung by my boy Michael Buble', "I'm Dreaming of A White Christmas". So that's sweet.
Tuck, how are the ladies? I suggest using the creek a little bit, we have one in our backyard... such a setup. I need some pictures of the family. Investigators love to see our families, too.
Love you all, Elder Andy Neff

Monday, November 17, 2008

"I Will Play for Gumbo"

Andy Hopes to Have a Baptism Saturday
Like His Friend Chas (same mission)

The brother and sister that we were teaching were always nice, but we had to drop them because they were not keeping their assignments. We invited and invited them to church and then even came to pick them up the day of church, and they were there but she said she had just woke up...thats how it is here. Alot are willing to listen and they are even interested, but the difference between those that are ready and those that are not is in the committments. M aybe someday though...man that seems so long ago to me!
This week a great week though! I dont know what it is but i have been really fired up lately...maybe its cuz the utes are doing so well.... MAKE SURE NO ONE TELLS ME THE OUTCOME OF THE GAME (the Elders get to watch video of the game as a zone)! I have been trying my hardest to contact everyone, and it has really helped the french and the work. Moule is doing good, the work is coming and we are seeing a lot of changes in the attitudes of the members and it feels like everything is coming together thanks to the Lord's hand.
We had a lesson with Louisante this week and we had a prayer on the run about what we should teach. We both had the same answer of faith unto action, and that action was baptism. It was the best. He almost commited to last saturday, but we felt he still needed to be taught more. So, it's this saturday. He is the most shy man I have ever met. In fact this morning we had an early lesson with him and he explained his concern of speaking in church and really doesnt want to. haha. We told him he wouldnt have to speak for his baptism. He is also scared because he can't read and is worried some callings in the branch might require it. So, his concerns are good ones and not anything to worry about... I'm stoked though!
The language is coming alright. I'm having trouble delevolping my vocabulary outside of church things, but this week i made a deal with Elder Garotta that if he speaks french all the time I'll do something for him...so that should help. The elders here are really lazy about french study, and so I need to try and not fall into their tradition. I was expecting to get here and never speak english, but we always do...so....ya, its coming though. I'm also learning a little creole...just phrases really. Everyone laughs when I speak it to them so its a good conversation starter...
Elder Garotta is getting better and better at keeping up with me (running). Today we got a good hour in right along the beach! Pinch me...but yeah he is doing good, and now he has even starting helping me with the diet...sometimes when we go to the other missionary apartments its ridiculous when you compare it to us. The other elders are all about the snacks...the cookies, pastries, fries, the soda, nutella. haha One of the elders even makes his own reeces peanut butter cup by putting one spoonful of peanut butter and nutella in his mouth at the same time haha...Actually its pretty dang good (I had to try it once).
Oh guess who sent me the letter of this week this week....Aunt Carol! haha It was awesome, had like 6 sports articles! Family is the best! MOM....haha ben is an animal give him a hello for me. I'm glad to hear Trent is finding some good work; I miss my boxy....I miss everyone actually.
This week you will appreciate that I had my first real creole meal...We got invited to our landlord's family party this week where they were celebrating their ancestors. We walk in and there are these piles of food set up against the fire place for apparently as sacrifices to their ancestors....after they took us outside and the entire family and us sat down on cinderblocks and they placed these huge banana leaves in front of each person. I had no idea what was going on...then they came around with these huge buckets of rice and just placed it on our leaves and then around again with chicken and sauce....everybody started eating with their hands, it was the messiest meal I've ever had, so good! Chicken Gulumbo. Ok love everyone but gotta go!

Monday, November 10, 2008

"Autour du Rocher"

Hey mother dear
Things went all right with Eva, we have seen her twice since then and both times she really was not doing very well/ Luckily there was a lot of family around for her. It didn't help that he (Adonai) was catholic before he died and was not baptized yet/ So it was a catholic funeral. I'm not going to lie; I was upset when Elder Garotta and I showed up and 20 people kept repeating the same prayer over and over again for an hour. They were all reading off some sheet of paper..how comforting is that to the Her? zilch! Elder Garotta and I sang a couple of cantiques(hymns) for her. and I hope it helped a little bit more I don't know, I shouldn't put down their church, but there just isn't much healing that goes on.
That's cool tuck used the story in sacrament meeting though! Sorry I don't write very well so he could quote me...I'm the worst writer. I don't have time to comment on most of what you write me, but its sounds like you are all doing great and I love hearing and seeing how much the family is growing spiritually.
Oh but i HAVE to make a comment about trav's and dianna's baby "hahahahaha" that is so sweet! I love the name and that he is a big boy! Such perfect for them! He is gonna be a monster football player.
Things are great here in Moule. I appreciate the prayers and I promise they do help the work so much! Especially when they are coming for the best family in the world...Last Tuesday I did splits with Elder Williams, the zone leader! He is so sweet! He is going to be playing for the Utes next year so he and I get along pretty well. I'm calling him right after this to talk about the TCU game (thanks dad you're the best). It's definitely a lot easier to understand conversations when with him; he speaks well but doesn't speak as fast as Elder Garotta. He had to take a breathalyser test that night for driving...he wasn't driving bad but they don't like Americans here.
The big news this week has been the election. It's ridiculous how many people ask us about that, and how amazed they are that we have a black president Everyone we talk to that's the first thing they ask is what we think about the election (they realize by my look and then by my french that I'm American). It's funny though, they do not care at all what he says just that he is black.
So mom will be proud of me, Saturday i made about 75 pancakes for a pancake party after church yesterday. Yup. lets just say I'm a pro pancake maker. haha. It was amazing to see how many people have no idea what a pancake is! They loved them...but we did it as a way to start building better relationships in the branch, as well as pump them up for a game night we are going to start every week, as a way to invite investigators to get to know everyone in the ward. The first game night is in two weeks and the theme is the letter P ( I stole the idea from Paul and Sarah Taylor for theme nights with letters). The missionaries are gonna make pizza; I'm going to be playing the piano; we are going to play spoons or another game cuz that doesn't work haha; and teach about the priesthood....sweet! If you have any ideas for other games for other nights let me know. I love you all and you are in my prayers. This week my scripture has been Alma 34...i love the scriptures....Remember that we must worship god in everything we do, in spirit and in truth, and while we do this we must always be thankful for the endless mercies and blessings we must receive from him... It is a blessing to rejoice in our God and when we have trials be grateful for them and remember verse 41 of Alma 34( I don't remember what that says but I wrote it in my journal) there is never a reason to fear as long as we are worthy for eternal life. The church is sweet! Love you guys and keep it real in Utah for me.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Mopping Up Moule

Things are just great in the Guadeloupe area. The work is really coming along....and although it sucks because I feel limited as far as the actual teaching goes (due to the language), I feel I'm contributing. We had the sweetest experience for zone conference with Elder Vinas of the Seventy this week. He really was blunt when training the missionaries about what we need to do and how it is to be done. My hand was sore after because of all the notes I took....it seemed like one really long sweet quote. He he did all in English too, which is not his native tongue. He is truly a man called of God and that receives revelation for this area. After zone conference he gave a talk for all the members on Guadeloupe and he left it open to questions. He was understanding the french half the time (and he doesn't speak it), but ya very cool. Things are still going good with Elder Garotta, we are still rocking a sweet diet of fruits, veggies, yogurt, and other awesome fruit. I have been introduced to some very different foods here including this fruit called "fruit of bread" or "fruit a pan". We have some that grow by our apartment. Its kind of like a huge potato. It's good for breakfast with eggs though. I'm loving cooking here, its so crazy seeing what stuff works with what. Who knew that you could make a killer pasta with tuna? So we had a baptism this week of a boy in the branch named William; Elder Garotta did it. It was an awesome experience, and we also set a baptismal date with a 64 year old man Adonai on Friday. He has been taught for a while and was a great ami (friend) of the church! He had read the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants, and had wanted to wait to get baptized with his wife, Eva , but she had been very stubborn about her baptism. After about a month of waiting for her, he set his date by himself. He had been coming to church and was even going to bare his testimony in church on Sunday. We got a call on Saturday morning, the day after we had taught him and set the date, that he had had a heart attack and passed away that morning while fishing.... I could not believe it. It still feels unreal to me...it got me thinking a whole lot just about how short life is and how we have to be living right at all times so when that day comes we are ready. I know he is being taught and administered to by missionaries in the spirit world We are going to visit Eva tonight. The work is awesome. I can't wait to get your letters, and sorry if my letters are lame. Tell the family hi and I love ya

More Q & A.

Do you live outside of Moule (is that why you have a long walk to the bus stop/church)? Yea, we kinda live on the outskirts of Moule. The plus is we get a pretty decent apartment because its cheaper, but I'd rather trade for a crappier one.

What is the geography of Moule like? Is it hilly? Flat? Moule is very flat, there are hills, but for the most part flat... The other side of the island where the volcano is is the more rocky part. Today for preparation day we went as a Zone to go to a waterfall! It was unreal how amazing it was! I'll be sending pics for sure. But Guadeloupe is beautiful everywhere! I thought I had some sweet pictures of sunsets and stuff, but I have been looking at some other Elders' pictures, and I don't have anything good in comparison!

Are you always near the ocean? Is the coast sandy or rocky? We are mostly by the ocean, but Moule is a big area...our area covers about 1/4 of Guadeloupe, so it does change. I have not even seen it all yet.

Do you have washer/dryer in your apartment? Yes, we have a washer and then we just hang stuff up...luckily I have not ruined any of my clothes yet.

Is your apartment clean? Do you see some weird bugs in it? You would be so proud of me....mom. Ours is the only apartment that is kept in any type of good condition (as far as I have seen). There is a bunch of stuff that's broken, but as far as cleanliness goes its good good

What do you do on P-Days? I have not done anything until today. The first 2 p-days we just read the BOM for a Guadeloupe-wide challenge.