Monday, December 28, 2009

"Far Side of the World"

So I'm sending some photos of our activity this morning...it was sweet! First, Elder Copa and I woke up early to run on the beach which just killed me...I was beat after that. Then we headed to the Tahitians apartment (Elders Anihia and Taerea) to do a hike that is close to their apartment. On the hike we saw all sorts of animals. We captured a sloth! The Tahitians are crazy. They climbed up a skinny, skinny 30 foot tree, all barefoot, until the tree started bending to the ground and we were able to finally grab hold of the sloth.




The rest of our email appears to be a cut and paste from Andy's report to President Gamiette:

Name: Elder Neff Companion:Elder Copa

Area: Cayenne Zone: French South

1a. (0,0) Investigators Baptized & Confirmed

2a. (0,0) Investigators who will be baptized next week

2b. (2,0) Investigators with a baptism date

3a. (6,2) Investigators who attended Sac. Mtg (not contacts)

3b. (3,3) Less actives who attended Sac. Mtg

4. (9,8) Lessons taught with members

5. (8,5) New Investigators

6. (70,66) Getting your 10 Contacts (1 point per day if you
& companion contact 10 people and get their phone number or address)
(# of contacts,# of them called)

7. (3,2) Referrals received

8. (3,2) Referrals contacted

9. (4,5) Lessons to the less active

10. (7,7) Days studying the Book of Mormon

11. Total attendance at church: 48 or 65

My family is doing just great! It was a great blessing to be able to speak to them and see how they have been. It is comforting to have that support always there in emails, but even greater on the phone. I can't explain why, but talking to them definitely has motivated me to work harder.

Cayenne is doing great! We are seeing SO much success with the Colombians, Peruvians, and Venezuelans. They are so humble and most of them have met the church in their own countries. The members, especially the Spanish speakers are ready. They want to work, and they want to build Zion here. They go to church and are the most on the ball and the most reverent of all the members....doing that without really understanding whats being said. They have their own Sunday school class that is in Spanish...but I believe the sooner we establish a Spanish branch the better. There are some of the Colombians who have become little by little more and more discouraged whether it be their in ability to serve or to understand at church. But the area, Elder Copa and I feel, is ready to explode! We meet new investigators everyday who already know the church and want to learn more. We are trying to learn Spanish as soon as possible, and it is coming. I feel like I have just recommenced my mission haha.

My companion is sweet...great worker...and we work well together.

I realize how important the Book of Mormon is in this work...It is in reading this book with our Spanish-speaking investigators that we are able to teach...It is so much simpler when we say as little as possible and we let the scriptures teach!




Christmas morning in French Guiana



Andy with his buddy, Chas Barton, in Trinidad

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"No Plane on Sunday"

The great thing about being a man...it doesn't matter what we wear, and even less as a missionary....its all the same no matter what! Well it sounds like the Christmas season is on in full swing! This is truly the best time of year. This has easily been one of the weirdest weeks of my mission. Wednesday I headed to Trinidad and we had the sweetest zone leader council. President Gamiette had us up each morning doing a physical challenge before we started our spiritual training. The first day was a hike up the mountain carrying one of our fellow missionaries. That was tough, and then the next was a 5 o'clock run. President Gamiette is a machine. He killed everybody! The spirituality of the conference was bar none. I have never felt so uplifted and clear of mind as I did this week. We counseled in unity and really came together to catch the vision that President Gamiette has for the mission, his vision that is unified with that of the Area Presidency who had received it from the apostles and after the prophet. President Gamiette taught using the parable of the olive trees, and how at this time in the West Indies the church has heavy, heavy branches(many new converts) but not the roots(solid members) to withstand the weight. I believe there are 10000 members of record and 2500 at church each week...our mission goal for 2010 is to raise that to 5000 active members. There were many other goals set and other things learned. I feel as a boat with a great wind behind its sail....the only problem hindering me is getting to French Guiana. I have been in Trinidad since Wednesday. I was supposed to fly to Suriname last night and onto cayenne this morning, however, I guess I need a Suriname visa even to be in transit. So this morning we went to get me that. Oh and by the way this whole week I have been chilling with Chas (Barton)..who is President Gamiette's new assistant. IT HAS BEEN SWEET! Its pretty surreal...the weirdest part is that it is not weird...its just as if we are back at home. He is a great elder though...and my boy...I'll get you some pics next week of us two. SOOO well I guess the only success story I have for ya has to do with the two elders I worked with Saturday and Sunday. They are in one of the Trinidad zones and have not been doing so well. They have been getting discouraged and what not. I was assigned to work with them for Saturday and Sunday. They had no investigators and no one one to see. Before Saturday they had had 5 contacts. So Saturday morning we fixed a goal for 70 contacts in two days: 40 Saturday and 30 Sunday. We went out and got them...neither of the elders had ever had 70 contacts in a week. I saw their faith shoot through the roof. It was sweet. Their spirits have been boosted, Elder Park and Sookram both are excited to get 70 contacts this week. It's ridiculous how easy it was here in Trinidad...300% easier. Other than that I haven't been able to even talk to my comp...hopefully I'll fly out tomorrow...pray for me...I really wanna go get started down in French Guiana.

I'm glad to hear the jazz are back on form. They are the best. I wish everyone a jolly week, and reminder to kick butt! It's Christmastime! Invite someone to church, or over for Christmas!

Know that I love you all and miss you all especially at this awesome time of year!

Andy

ps I guess I wont be flying out until tomorrow night too and then I'll spend one night in Martinique then onto French Guiana. This is lame...but what can you do, hopefully I can make the best of it. I'm aching to see my comp and my area and just get to work. I feel so useless here. Right now I'm in the office.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"Off to See the Lizard"

Hey everyone ! What the Trent ! That is wild! I cant believe it. Only Trent would be able to be fine after being hit by a car.…he doesn’t feel pain. This week has been a busy week for us. Just wrapping up with some investigators. President Eclar challenged us to set some hard baptismal dates with Clifford and Losh before we left. We prayed and prayed and prayed some more that Losh would receive confirmation for the 15th of December and it never came. We always told him that he should feel fine saying no to our invitation to baptism, but when finally the holy ghost would invited him, he then would need to be baptized or the holy ghost would leave him. Well, Saturday night we were getting down to the wire, and with transfers we needed his date to be hard or else the holy spirit of his conversion might be lost. After our lesson Saturday night we prayed to Heavenly Father on our knees all together. All four of us (member)took a turn praying. The spirit was powerfully present as we each prayed for a confirming witness of the 15th. When Losh began to pray tears filled his eyes and he received his answer. Yesterday in sacrament meeting his baptism was announced and he bore his testimony. This guy is the best! He is going to be able to be a solid brother in the church. Heavenly Father is Great! Really all we have to do is ask and we receive. It is not complex…ask! believing that we will receive…and we do!

MAN! I loved the pictures! Lights On IS the best family party in the world...I'm jealous...

How George is doing? AH! GEORGE is my boy! He is now secretary of the Elders Quorum...I was able to bless the sacrement with him the other week. It's sad to leave him, but he is kicking butt. He is teaching with us and I'm sure will continue in teaching the gospel with the other missionaries.

* How is the David family? They are still coming to church and doing great. We ate bannana PESE with them the other night! Double deep fried bananas....haha talk about fat. My bum jiggled for a week...but the family is not progressing. The dad takes them to church and picks them up, but because they are not married they can not be baptized. THEY HAVE BEEN TOGETHER FOR 25 YEARS!!! But we still teach them occasionally.

* How is Kitty? She never really worked out...it's hard when you teach amazing people and you know they feel the spirit, but if they do nothing between your visits and they don't keep commitments, the spirit doesnt stay with them and they eventually lose interest

Did I not tell you last week? I'm being transfered to Cayenne, FRENCH GUYANA! THE JUNGLE! JEAH BOYEE!!! I'm going to be eating some snake and monkey!!! Hopefully, not catching any of the nasty diseases over there. I will still be zone leader but of the French South Zone with Elder Roberts who is in Martinique. Our zone is St. Martin, Martinique and French Guyana. Apparently we will be having zone leader council in Trinidad this weekend...MAN OUR MISSION IS EXPENSIVE! But that will be fun...the only news I'm waiting on is if I will have the car...I'm praying that I dont. WALKING!!!! yes

I got your christmas package, and I'll take that with me.

Christmas is going to be weird this year. My companion Elder Copa is not from the area...we are getting white washed...so not knowing the members, and no senior couple means an Elder only Christmas...it will be fun. There are two elders over there from TAHITI whom I know pretty well..they are sweet.

Well wish me luck in the new area!

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Changing Channels"

Andy is being transferred to French Guiana. Here is a little information about French Guiana compliments of Sister Robison:

Facts:

Population of about 222,000. As with Guyana and Suriname, the majority of the population lives along the coast.
French Guiana is a region owned by France and part of the European union (the largest member outside of Europe). Its currency is the euro. The official language is French
Fishing, mining and timber drive the economy.
French Guiana has a large Haitian population (French is also spoken on Haiti)
Church: There are just over 300 members and three branches of the LDS Church in French Guiana

Cayenne (Church-owned chapel)


Future Missionaries:






















Missionary Work:
As of June 2009 there were six elders serving in French Guiana. They travel all day by van, canoe and then taxi to join the Dutch speaking elders in Suriname for zone conferences.


History:
Charles Fortin, a native of French Guiana, was baptized in France and returned to his homeland in 1980. Rosiette Fauvette, also baptized in France, returned to French Guiana in July 1981. She attended Sunday meetings at Fortin’s home in Cayenne. Charles Fortin introduced the Church to many people before his death in April 1986. By then, several other members were attending services, including Gerald Charpentier, who later became president of the first branch (a small congregation). Meetings were then held in the home of the Masinski family until January 1987 when they were moved to Rosiette Fauvette’s home in Kourou. In August 1987, the Francois Pratique family moved from France to Cayenne and began attending meetings.

Elder Charles Didier of the Seventy (one of the governing bodies of the Church) visited in March 1988 and organized a group. In November 1988, Serge and Christie Bonnoit of France became the first converts in French Guiana. In May 1989, the Kourou Branch was formed and in August, the Cayenne Branch was created with Francois Pratique as president.
In July 1989, the first missionary couple Wilbur and Jacqueline Wortham arrived in the country. They were followed in November 1989 by A. Edward and Louise P. Schmidt. The newly organized branch in Cayenne had about 23 members. On February 27, 1990, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve (the second highest governing body of the Church) blessed the land and with Elder Charles Didier visited branch members in both Cayenne and Kourou.

The Church has grown slowly in French Guiana due to members immigrating to France. A chapel was constructed in Cayenne and was dedicated in March 1999 by West Indies Mission president Kenneth J. Mason.



Sea Turtle Laying Eggs



Sloth (it is the jungle after all)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"It's My Job"

Hey, I'm sorry this week there were a ton of things I had to do as zone leader...I hate this job...but sorry...didn't really have time. We had an incredible week of work though. The miracle always comes after the trial of our faith. This week we saw that! Tell everyone that I love them and I'm sorry I don't have much time to do anything. I want to write more letters, but there is just not time on p days. We will find out this week about transfers and where we will be. I want to stay in the same area, but I do not want to be zone leader anymore. I'll be glad to do it if President asks, but I just want to be able to go out and teach!!!! But, whatever the lord wants will be just great for me!

k love you all


HAPPY BIRTHDAY ASHLEY!!! I love you the most.

PS I got both packages this week; YOU ARE THE BEST!


Andy with Elder Cottam at November's Zone Conference

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"The Good Fight"

Well, this week has been an incredible humbling experience for me, and my zone. This whole week we had fixed a goal of having a bunch of people at church ...all the elders prayed fasted and worked together to reach this goal. We had countless zone prayers. We challenged every elder to call every old investigator, anyone that had ever come to church. We set such a great goal at church because next week is our goal to have 12 baptisms as a zone. So we needed this stepping stone of people at church to make the big leap ...and not only did we not reach it, but we were not even close. It seemed just about every investigator that told us they could come bailed at the last minute, It seemed every golden investigator was unreachable, had car troubles, injuries, fears, and everything Satan could do prevented people from coming. It seems as though a darkness of disappointment and discouragement has settled in on our zone, and all the elders. All of them are disappointed, and questioning what they we could have done different. However, we continue forward with charity and love, knowing that when the trial of your faith is at hand the adversary will do anything to turn you away from the success that is at hand. The are actually many possible baptismal dates we are looking at, and although many had not been able to come to church we look to the horizon. It's really hard for me to KNOW, without a doubt that goals are possible and then to be so short is hard...It is a testimony of 1 of 2 things....either we are doing things absolutely wrong, or that Satan is working hard. I feel the spirit still so I don't believe we are doing things wrong...I just feel that this humbling experience is forcing me and all the other elders to rely more on God through Prayer...it's forcing us to get on our knees. At the moment I honestly don't feel I have any idea how to do missionary work...all I know is that there are MANY who are prepared for Baptism...and the only way to bring them to the waters of baptism is by the Holy GHOST...without the spirit you will not teach! Never has that verse rang more true. Despite all this, I'm excited for the week to come...I believe success is close, and we have only need to endure and we will see it. We have a couple of sweet investigators, men even, who are close to baptism..all is well!

Elder Cottam is coming along with his french....a little...its still kind of frustrating but I respect the crap out of him for sticking with it...he doesn't complain and works hard, so what more can you ask for!

Man...I feel like my emails are crappy...nothing really that cool. Its just been busy.

Today is our Thanksgiving...we are doing it today so that it doesn't take time out of the week. We are all getting together at the Collings and are all cooking stuff....I made some pretty dope Peach pies...well they look sweet...we will see how they taste. We are going to be watching the Joseph Smith Movie, Prophet of the Restoration after so it should be a pretty sweet day. Sadly, there will be no turkey bowl...lame! But I guess you won't have one either. Next year, baby!

Hey so are y'all sending me some pictures with that Christmas package? I need some.

Haha I cant believe RSL won...each week I get sports articles from Aunt Carol and I'm always disappointed when more than half are about RSL...they seemed like they were pretty crappy!

So how are them Jazz doing? IS D Will tearing it up or what?

K well I love everyone...keep on keeping on!

Andy

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Trouble on the Horizon" (No President for Zone Conference)

SO the familamy…whats crackin?

Sorry for the tardiness…

Zone Conference
We had probably one of the weirdest zone conferences ever Monday and Tuesday. Sunday night Elder Cottum and I picked up all the elders from Martinique, St Martin, and also the assistants from Trinidad. Oh yeah I forgot to tell ya…my old companion Elder Wright is now assistant to President Gamiette. It was great to see him again. He is quite a stud. Well late Sunday night while we were together with the other zone leaders and the assistants we got a call that President's flight was cancelled and he wasn’t going to make it to conference. We did our best to make do… the assistants and us each taught a lesson with some "how to apply: activities. It was good but it just wasn’t the same with out President.

Gosier
This last week I was able to go on splits with one of the district leaders in my zone... right now there are two districts in Guadeloupe..the Basseterre and Grandterre Last week we went on splits with Basseterre and this week Grandterre. It was wild being back in my old area for the day. It felt like only a few days since I had been teaching there with Elder Snow. Well after making sure we had our contacts for the day and working with some of their investigators we felt impressed to see some of my old investigators that Elder Snow and I had taught before the strike. Because it was a little late we only had had time to see one. But it was worth it. Mr Albero was at his home, and was excited to see me(honestly, I was surprised he remembered me). I love seeing people I knew at the first of my mission, because now we can actually understand one another. Well, it turns our he has been reading quite often the Book of Mormon and is about half way done. He keeps it by his bed, and reads it when he needs a boost. We taught what it means for him and his family (a wife and two kids, who were not there) if the book was true. We read the last two paragraphs of the introduction. The spirit was strong. We asked him if he had ever had the opportunity to ask God if the book was true? He said that although he had prayed for God's help to understand the book almost every time he reads, he had yet to ask God if it was living scripture He remarked that he just assumed it was. With the spirit strong we invited him to prepare for baptism in 2 weeks and he agreed! What a testimony that God prepares his children! I remember that when Elder Snow and I had taught him he had been an alright investigator, but with the strike and his job he never had much time. We wrote in the area book but no elders had yet seen him. I'm grateful for that great experience!

Our Branch
President Eclar is pumped! The new motto for the branch is "Chak moun a moun” which is creole for every person should have a friend at church! The presidency of the branch is young and learning, but full of faith. They fixed a goal for 45 investigators or friends at church! Haha they are crazy! But anything is possible. This last week we had five people at church! But nothing a little kickin' butt can't fix!

THE UTES!!!!

Dang….whats up with that? IS TCU that good? Tuck says they are the best in the nation? True?

Also what is up with Dirk Natrensky? Is he getting trunky at all? HE IS HOME IN 4 months!Thanks for the pic of mom…I could use some more pics though…and also of you paps! There are never any of you!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Green Flash at Sunset"

Sunset on Guadeloupe

The WEEK

Well, this was quite a miraculous week again. Every companionship had over 70 contacts this week…which is pretty amazing when you know all last transfer that there were 2 times when one companionship had 70. Everybody is working hard. Contacting, I've found, is the tiring part of missionary work. You can have lessons every hour and feel like you had a great day, but the day is so much sweeter when you come home exhausted because you were running between rendez vous and talking with everyone along the way. The elders are great in this zone. And although baptisms are not up right now, they will be come…already there have been quite a few miracles. My companion who still can't speak a lick of French(but its coming along) was part of one this past week…we had just got done with a rendez vous that we had fixed with one of our previous contacts and she was alright. It was a good lesson and the spirit was present. I taught most of it, but right when we were about to leave Elder Cottam was prompted to ask if she knew anyone else that might be interested in our message. And as a matter of fact she did! Kitty, one of her friends is also in the middle of searching for God in her life. We called her and let her know we were the missionaries who had talked with her friend Franciane and we would like to meet with her to talk about God's restored church. She agreed; we brought a member with us and had one of the best lessons that I have ever been a part of. It turned out that Kitty had just barely lost her father last week and was going through a rough time. We told her that that God understood, that a plan he created long before she came to this earth would allow her to see her father again and that this plan was a plan of happiness. She couldn’t come to church this Sunday because of funeral services but next Sunday is for sure. I believe that Elder Cottam and I are gaining the Lord's trust at this time by working hard and diligently. It's taught me that the Lord's trust really isn’t won during times of need, but like Nephi when he was given the promise that all things would be done unto him, according to his word. (Helaman 8 or something) We still have a long way to go, but we are on the right track…seeing miracles, and loving this work.

David Family

The David family is doing great. We finally got the father to sit down with us and we taught a lesson on faith. He participated and it was great. He even took the family to church this Sunday and picked them up. Dimgee(the 8 year old) participated in the primary program….he recited the 8th article of faith…and then last night when we passed by to read with the family we asked him to say the prayer and the prayer consisted of "dear heavenly father, we believe that the Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly….’ Haha it was hilarious. But this week we are going to pass by the family with President Eclar and see if we can get the father to come to church…there is one problem with the family though…we found out that Brother and Sister David are not married…they have been together for 30 years! That was kind of a bummer but no big deal…the father just needs to feel the spirit and then feel the spirit during a lesson on eternal families.

Guadeloupe

Its been pouring cats and dogs…I have never seen so much rain…there have been two days where we have walked without the car this week and both days we got caught in the rain and had to go home to change…it was the best! I love the rain.
Elder Cottam and I hit up a waterfall last p day…the Haut de Lizard! It was sweet…right now we need to get prepared to do zone meeting this Tuesday and then we will have to teach during zone conference…so that will be….fun?

Haute de Lizard Waterfall

Oh and i just want to mention how much I love bread...french bread...I'm gonna be a baker when I get home 'ANDY THE BAKER'

Excersise

Yeah, it's frustrating but I'm getting up at 5:30 and getting exercise in….its not too bad. Elder Cottam doesn’t like getting up early so running is kind of hard haha. Elder Snow was good about that…he would just eat his cereal and watch me run haha. I miss that kid… Elder Cottam is cool and we get along, but we just aren’t all that much alike. HE HAS NEVER WATCHED AN ENTIRE SPORTING GAME!!! Haha he is an incredible missionary though….I'm trying to motivate him to learn French quicker so he can be even more kick butt

Monday, November 2, 2009

"Bring Back the Magic"


It was such a great feeling to come back to Lamentin and see some of the great sisters and brothers I had worked with just a month ago. I was so impressed by the changes that I have seen in the branch of Lamentin since I left 6 weeks ago. When I left, there was much disorder, and during the meetings on Sunday the spirit was prohibited. We didn’t start on time, and there were kids running around, but since President Eclar has been made present the house of the Lord has been put into order and there was a reverence and peace during the meeting that had not been present before. I mentioned the feelings I felt during a powerful testimony meeting. One of the sisters got up after me and explained that the changes that I saw were individuals becoming more converted. Our conversion is truly a lifetime process isn’t it? We had 2 investigators at church Madame David and her son, and there is no question that they both felt the spirit, and so they should be baptized pretty soon. They will be going to a family tonight with another family of the branch. This week was another miracle for me. By the time I arrived on Wednesday we had 0 contacts. And on top of that Elder Cottum and I had very little time for proselyting because of transfers, we had to close an apartment in Moule, and had to go to Basseterre to bring the elders some furniture for their apartment, and then car problems. In all we had 3 hours Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoon and night, and then Sunday after church. We prayed and strived to have 70 contacts still and got them done. We made a point of challenging all the companionships in the zone to have 70 contacts so we sure had better them, too. Already we are seeing God's blessings pour out. This morning, a girl who didn’t even give us her number or address called us asking questions about the brochure we gave her, and was really interested in getting a copy of the Book of Mormon. I know obedience is the key to missionary work, and 70 contacts is the first thing asked of us. I was convinced that this is a key to success after last week. Elder Nelson and I did all we could to have 70 contacts and we were blessed to have 5 incredible people at church (that's why last week was so great). I won't lie though....getting 70 contacts takes its toll. Today we were standing in need of 23 contacts. Normally, Sundays are the roughest too as no one is on the streets to contact. But it was a holiday...All Saints Day...so everyone was at the cemetery...haha we talked with everyone!!! probably 200 people, but we got them!!! It is definitely missionary work at a new level. But it is exhilarating to see us reach our goals! This week we will be able to settle down to the normal 10 contacts each day.

Our zone is solid!!! We are even younger than we were before...right now there are 2 elders older than me. Right now there are 8 companionships including the Collings. There are companionships in Gosier, Abymes, Point a Pitre, Capestterre, and 2 in Bassterre. I was sad to come back and have to close Moule, but President Gamiette is pushing to have a stake...and the smaller branches are joining the bigger ones.

Elder Cottom is doing great. He is a great elder, and works extremely hard. He is from Colorado...haha I think he will be a challenging companion. He just got over from the English side of the mission, and doesn't speak any french...I know president knew what he is doing though...but contacts are much harder because we can't split up and do them...I'm speaking french all the time with him though so hopefully that will pick up. Other than that he is an experienced and hard working companion. He is one that never played sports, never watched movies, as far as I've gathered he was on the computer his whole life before the mission.

George my latest baptism (in Guadeloupe) is awesome..I was so excited to see he has received the priesthood, passing the sacrament, and working with the missionaries. You talked about Ashley and Hillary they are still going to church with their mom, Patricia. The only bad news is that Rene has moved from Moule and is in St Martin, but Elder Snow was moved there and is tracking him down for me.

I did a deep study on the relation between faith and miracles. I read Mormon chapter 9 that shot my faith through the ceiling this week. I testify God will give us all that we demand of him, as long as we doubt not. Sometimes our faith is insufficient and we do doubt, but we can pray and fast that our faith will be sufficient!

Hey I wanted to thank Hilly for her postcard. I was so stoked to see Flaming Gorge... I can't believe she is now 15! Holy shmokes! Time is flying by.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"My Lovely Ladies"

Andy baptized the older girl in this video, Ashley, earlier this year in Lamentin. The other girl is her sister, Hillary. What are the odds that thousands of miles from home he finds another Ashley and Hillary? What darling girls they are!

It sounds to our untrained ears that they are speaking some French and some Creole.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Oysters and Pearls"

This last week was a spiritual high...I have loved so dearly focusing on the Christlike attribute of love and see how it makes flourish every other aspect of the work. The Solbiac family is still having difficulties...every time we went by last week we were not able to teach a lesson as there was problems. Sandra lost her father this last week that has been on life support for a few months. She is sad but she will be alright i think because they were not too close..but that is still hard. ALl her mom is talking about is of getting her inheritance. It makes me sick! The mom is so lost. She just worries about herself, and the kids are an afterthought. She lounges around all day doing nothing...and most of the time is half naked when we walk in the door. YUCK. We found out that the father of the 3 youngest kids is still living in the house. The mother and father are not together at all and from what we see they thoroughly dislike each other. The father is just as bad as the mom but in different ways. He expects the children to be perfect. He wants the house in order, and the children all quiet, no fighting....which is a good thing..but when it gets out of hand he hits them. This last Sunday when we passed by to pick up Sandra and Shanna for church. Sandra was in tears because her step father freaked out at her for not cleaning the bathroom. On a good note.. Shanna is still the sweetest little girl..she always gives us a little present every time we are there.

Well we spent two days in Guadeloupe this last week. We had interviews with president. And i felt really edified by president. He is such a great teacher of the gospel and makes it so interesting. Through the holy ghost he was able to instruct us all! It was great to be back in Guadeloupe, too. We did some work there, and it was refreshing to remember what a difference humility can make.

Oh yeah, I have some bad/good news...president shared with me where I'm going next transfer. I for sure will be going back to Guadeloupe, but the bad news is that I will be zone leader again...I don't know how I feel about that. I know there are plenty of great learning experiences that I will have but.....yeah.. I guess there is no reason not to be excited right?

Some random stories from this week....

I have started more determinedly to get back into shape and eating better.... And that's thanks to the birthday package I got from Clara...oh by the way I finally got your package you sent with that extremely ugly tie(more ugly than usual) thanks so much!

This was what he was eating in Guadeloupe. It's good to hear he's eating better.


This week I have started sleeping differently. Because we do not have the best beds here I'm trying to sleep Tahitian style. My buddy Elder Anahia inspired me. Every night he just sleeps on the tile with only a sheet under him. He said it was the best...the first three night were terrible but after that I have been sleeping so well!

So Tuck is getting his "papes" ready! I'm so excited for him. AH! The mission is the best experience that anyone could have in their life...it is the school of life!

K GO UTES LOVE EVERYONE...there will be a surprise next week!

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Something So Feminine about Wheat Bran (a Mandolin)"

Haha. I ain't cute, but I'm thinking the medicine is going to help...I did get it Friday even though I hate DHL....every time they talked to me they would try to speak in english when it was just gosh darn obvious that my french was better...it's just because I have the worst accent ever! haha...everyone tells me that...it's alright though, the members tell me I speak creole the best of all the missionaries...but still its the french that counts ...at least with the girls.

So this week was definitely one of the better ones. I was able to prayerfully apply some of the things that I learned from conference. I heard the family night was on President Uchtdorf's talk about love ...and that was one that really hit me. And now why...

As much as I have loved Martinique and the people and members are great...little by little I'm starting to see the real reason there are 6 branches in Guadeloupe and only 2 here...the island is smaller in Martinique, but the populations are the same. The people are just a lot more hardened and the usually open and friendly mentality of the West Indians is not there....the missionaries joke and say that Martinique is just more "french"(haha I have nightmares of serving in France, where no one receives the missionaries). So with our contacting and teaching overall...it's a lot easier to be discouraged. Sometimes we do contact someone a little half heartedly...maybe assuming they will just turn you down. I don't know when it was, but one day it just hit me that it was a lack of love...Christlike love. It is in 2 john 4 I think that speaks of how love makes us perfect. And that we love them because HE first loved us...I think I'm paraphrasing badly, but if I am I think its still true. I have a testimony that love can shoot us to greater heights. This last week I prayed a lot to have a greater love for the people we would meet throughout the day...and I found that instead of getting discouraged after getting turned down I was excited! Excited to go share the message of the restoration with someone else. Love is the sweetest...Elder Nelson and I had our best week together last week...we taught many lessons, met many new investigators and fixed two baptismal dates, one for an older man named Robert, and one for a member of a part family. Her name is Shanna Solbiac and she is 8. I'll tell you about her family. This family is poor...and because the mother is selfish and greedy, the children do not have much. Among 6 children there are 3 fathers.. There is Sandra who is in high school, and is the true mother of the home. She is the one that first met the missionaries a few years ago. There are 3 brothers between 6 and 12 who just fight and beat on each other...there are times during lessons when I have to put a death grip on two of them and Elder Nelson the other so we can teach without a fight breaking out. Then there are two little ones..and then there is Shanna. She is such a sweet heart...I dont remember if I have told you about her, but every time we go over to their house she makes some little present for us. One time she gave me a pencil, another time she made one of those chinese paper fortune tellers..she doesnt have much but she shares with us what she has. Because Sandra is the one that normally gets everyone ready for church, it is truly a task, and when Elder Nelson and I got here they had been struggling...as of the last couple of weeks we have been getting over there to help them get ready for church. So, depending on the sturdiness of the family in a few weeks Shanna will be baptized. Although lessons are hard over there, we continue to go because the family just struggles. We love them a bunch.

Well what else to say? The weather is still hot, hot, hot. I have a feeling I'm going to be freezing next year as I have not been cold for nearly one year now...wierd! I have been getting back into shape just doing pushups, sit ups, running every once in a while, and the regular missionary tracting. Being in a car really fattened me up. Elder nelson and I are normally eating cereal, crepes, or fruit in the morning...pasta or rice for lunch...and not too much after that...usually a floup. Actually, I dont know if I have told you about floups before...they are no doubt the best popsicles in the world. There is either the syrup flavors(mango, grape, pineapple, blue rasberry, etc) or the milk flavors( coco, chocolate, peanut butter, almond). The milk flavors are my favorites. My favorite is coconut. Elder Nelson loves the floups...there are some days when he will sometimes have 4.

Here's what floups look like:










Well, I was stoked to hear that Wes passed by the other day! I love that kid...even if he goes to BYU....he is a stud though. Tell him I say "hello" I sent him an email last week I think, but I wasn't sure if it was a good address.

Well, I want to tell everybody that I love them, and tell all the cousins, aunts, and uncles hello. Oh, and thank Grandpa Bob for his great letter haha..I laughed pretty hard. I love my grandparents..I'm pretty sure I have the best in the world.

Alors
a dotwa solé(see you later in creole), it means...see you another sunrise

PS Mom, I forgot something that reminded me of you. Normally, on this mission in the West Indies because of all the food..the biggest problem missionaries have is diarhea. Well this week, strangely enough, my biggest problem was not that...my problem was I could not poop...3 days I went without pooping...it sucked. Then Elder Nelson shared the secret of fiber with me...he said women eat it because they can not poop...so we bought some fiber bran and it up and did the trick. It reminded me of your old cereal that you would always buy when we were kids....IT ALL MAKES SENSE! Haha, you really learn so much on missions...women have trouble pooping?! Get outta town!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"Love and Luck"


It's hard to believe I have been out already for more than a year! It's nuts. The mission has really flown by. So far I have no regrets. For a while I felt a little guilty for some of the mistakes I'd made such as lessons that went wrong, investigators that I maybe could have prayed for more, etc. I guess not really mistakes, but ways in which I came up short. But, I'm reminded of a talk I heard in the MTC by Pres. Uchtdorf in which he said "every night you should report to the Lord what you did that day and plead with him to accept your work with all of its imperfections, and to help you do better the next day." I know I'll never be the best missionary, but we are not asked to be. The grace of God makes up for our shortcomings only after all we can do (2 Ne 25:23). But, it has definitely been a time in my life I'll never forget, especially this time I've had in Martinique.

I had always believed Martinique and Guadeloupe to be one and the same. But, not only are the islands and sights different, but the work as well. Martinique is much more industrialized with many larger buildings that are taken care of. There is also less jungle. Although Martinique is half the size of Guadeloupe, its population is the same. The church is quite a bit smaller, too. There are only two branches. One is in Trinite'. and it has about twenty active members. The other, in Forte de France, has roughly forty. It's actually quite a good size with quite a good priesthood (9). However, they are all young in the church.

Because Elder Nelson and I were "whitewashed" we have spent the first two weeks searching the area book for old investigators, finding members and setting a firm base of new investigators by means of contacting and finding. Already I've found that the people are much more in the world here and stuck in the traditions of their fathers. I guess "much more" is strong, but a little more than the Guadeloupians.
I'm grateful for the firm, strong soil in which the roots of my faith were planted in our home. I recognize a difference in missionaries that have a chance to come from a family such as mine, and the difference is great. I'm lucky!

Love,

Andy

Thursday, October 1, 2009

"Andy Don't Own A Car (No Wheels)"

What to say about Fort de France (Martinique)? These last two weeks we have been laying the foundation of sorts for the work we will do here. I feel now we know the area and we know well enough the members to start seeing some success. This week we actually had one of our investigators come to church for the first time! Her name is Sister Matthew...the worst part about her visit to church, was that we weren't there to greet her. Unfortunately I fell sick Saturday night with a fever and was not able to go to church. I felt horrible that we weren't able to be there..I'm such a wuss..and, it was only our second week here! I was really looking forward to seeing the rest of the members who are not in our area, but I'm grateful this weekend we will have some extra time with them thanks to conference. We had CEP with our branch president, and i hadn't known he was just barely called as branch president but he seems to be excited. He set the goal for 5 baptisms for the month of October, so with two companionships I'd say our goal will be to have 3 baptisms in October.

Elder Nelson is doing great. I love him a lot. He is so easy to get along with, and is a good calming influence on me...whenever I may get a little steamed about a rude comment, or cold contact he is able to say the right thing. Haha I wish I could be more Christlike like him, and not get upset...I'm working on it though. I feel he is progressing too as far as confidence. The other day I went to contact someone and what normally happens is he follows me and kinda sits back and listens...this time however, he walked right past me and this other man and contacted the next guy on the street. Oh and no, he was not here when I arrived, we got white washed in the area...which is pretty new for me. I had always been with someone that had known the area. But it has been so dang fun exploring Martinique, I'm not complaining. I swear every picture I take is like a postcard...mom is right...I'm so dang lucky to be here..the Lord has really helped us, too, in finding where to go.

You asked where Elder Nelson was before Martinique. He was actually in Lamentin with Elder Snow, me, and his companion, Elder Julian...and then we were transfered here together. He has been out almost 6 months in the field. We get around by walking everwhere...it's the best! I've missed walking so much! The car is so lame...but there is a bus we take sometimes when we go to Lamentin(its a different Lamenten than in Guadeloupe...obviously) The church is just in between Fort de France and Lamentin. Fort de France is big so we take the east side and another Equipe takes the the west side (Elder Anihia from Tahiti and Elder Butler from Australia...they are both studs) Elder Anihia has got me on a good work out plan every morning..I'm kissing the sorry fat butt Elder Neff goodbye...the car just really didn't suit me.

I also have been taking for granted the food we have been eating in the Caribbean. Yesterday while we were sick, a member was so kind to bring some food by for me and Elder Nelson...it was some chicken with this Tahitian fish salad...wholly smokes!!!

My testimony is continually being fed by this great work in which we are engaged...I wish I could take full advantage of these two years, and repay my Heavenly Father for all he has done for me. But as I continue to work and grow I realize that even these two years of "service" for Heavenly Father are nothing more than 2 years of being blessed in abundance. We can never, ever come close to repaying him....

Random stuff

That is sweet about Maclaine...Elder Anderson is so great.. he was so Christlike... it is really a small world. (Note: While Elder Anderson of the Caribbean area presidency was visiting Puerto Rico, he met Andy's cousin Maclaine. Noticing her missionary tag, he said that he was in the West Indies the previous week and had met an Elder Neff. "Are you related?", he asked her. The world is, indeed, small.)

I don't know if that is good what I heard about the Utes or not...but i cant believe BYU is ranked...that grinds my gears! Who do they think they are? They beat Oklahoma without their quarterback...

Trent is the luckiest man on earth (Kiln, birthplace of Brett Favre is in his area). I'm gonna tell him to sign my name (on the fan wall). THE MAN!!! By the way how is he doing for the Vikes? and the Pack? How goes them?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Cowboy in the Jungle"

Ashley and Hillary each received a letter from Andy this week. The letters contained some information that was new to us about his time on Guadeloupe, so we've included excerpts here.

Usually, Elder Snow and I don't have much time to do something fun on P-Day, but we try to every once in a while. The last P-Day we went out in the jungle with our machetes to hunt for animals. We came back with just a lot of mosquito bites, but we did find two coconuts to drink and eat! Coconuts are every where here, and they are the best.

The missionary work is going really well. Elder Snow and I should have two baptisms coming up for a man named George who is from Haiti (there are actually many people here who have immigrated from Haiti because it is too poor there... their kids eat what we would call "dirt cake"). Elder Snow and I have become quite the cake makers for our members. Its the way to win their hearts (hard work helps also!).

It's weird here in Guadeloupe. It is unheard of for someone under the age of 20 to have a job. I'm sure you heard about the strike a couple of months ago. Well, ever since that strike jobs have been scarce. It's a much different life here in the Carib than in the US. And Guadeloupe is a lot better off than other places. It's lucky we live in such a tropical place where they are able to grow enough food to feed themselves. They can grow anything here. The other day Elder Snow and I did some service for Papa Fred aka "Adam" who lives in his own Garden of Eden. We worked a couple of hours and saw trees of coconuts, bananas, star fruit, carumbul and plants of tomatoes, pumpkins, yams, potatoes, sugar can and more. It was so great when we walked away with a barrel of fruit that Papa Fred gave us. The best part is learning how to cook them all. With the coconuts we use our machetes to cut them open, although the first couple of times I tried it wasn't the best cut. In Guada they have thousands of different ways to eat bananas. I'm gonna cook you up something good when I get back. It's gonna be sweet!

Monday, September 21, 2009

"First Look"

So I didn't get moms email this week; I'm pretty sure she sent one, but it's not too big of deal.

Elder Nelson is my companion..he is SAWEET! only problem is he went to Granger High School... so obviously not that bright of guy... a great missionary with tons of love and talents. I swear if they do another sequel to Bill and Ted's he would be perfect. He was a musician before the mission haha...more of the Jimmy Hendrix type though...he had the nappiest dreads I have ever seen I think. He had a band and that was basically his life.. but he actually is a great piano player, too. He is an easy person to love. What I loved was that in a Guadeloupe as his zone leader I knew him and his companion Elder Julian rarely spoke french together, and at first I was worried he wouldn't be too excited about speaking it all the time. But since we have been together he has spoken only french, and he has not complained. He has a strong, powerful testimony of the gospel, and I wish I could open him up a little more. He is terribly shy to teach, to contact, or even to talk on the phone. I don't know how that works out with the whole rocker role before the mission but... I want him to be able to work more, to see at what length the Holy Ghost can really take him. I know with Elder Julian, they were not the most obedient, and a little lazy, so there are some problems with waking up on time for him, and energy in general. But, I feel things will be alright ... my only worry is being too hard on him...I don't want him to force him to open his mouth and to be excited about the work, I want him to want to...

Elder Nelson

The area in Fort de France is awesome! I am sure I'm the luckiest missionary in the world. As beautiful as Guadeloupe was...Martinique I believe takes the cake. The mountains and the tall,large buildings enhance all the already beautiful Caribbean. The best part is...no mosquitoes...YEAH! My companion, Elder Nelson, and I are in awe every day ..HOLY SCHMOKES! Slap me...the only worry I had coming into Martinique was that we had heard from all the missionaries that had been here before that the people were a lot colder, and a lot more difficult to talk to. BALONEY! The first day we had 7 phone numbers and found that they were just as approachable as the Guadeloupeans. The people are sweet!. The one problem Elder Nelson and I encountered for the first few days was not knowing our members. So, immediately we set to work on finding them. The second day we had 2 lessons with members and by Sunday we had visited and taught just about everyone in our area(as we are split into two areas for FDF, we didn't see all the members). But, how great it was Sunday when we saw the little chapel right about the cement factory full of Latter Day Saints. I had no idea that FDF (Fort de France) was such a big branch. There are plenty of priesthood holders too, well nine, but that ain't too shabby; So we are excited to get to work with the members and really change things around. I know that missionaries have had a problem of staying around members homes too long here, and I really want to change that. I believe if the members see missionaries saying "no" to dinners because we go to work, we will see the sense of urgency increase.

My testimony is growing stronger. I realized this week the importance of continually searching to strengthen our testimonies. Every day we challenge investigators to pray to know if certain gospel principals are true. Why? Because by the power of the Holy Ghost we can know the truth of all things. I realized while studying this week that in all things we study and learn of the gospel, we should follow that up with a prayer for that confirming answer that it is true, no matter what level we are at.

To answer your questions.. yeah the x ray is just for my titre... or visa. I'll have a rendezvous the next transfer to go pick it up... After I have that I'm legal for one year in any french area to go and leave when i want. Right now I have what is called a blue card..which is basically a temporary visa which allows me to leave and go, but its only for about 2 months.

Oh, I forgot to tell you about one of the members who is just incredible here. Her name is YVA...she is well-known among all the french members in the Caribbean because any member the passes through Martinique is taken into her hotel that she owns, and then she feeds them..SHE loves the missionaries...they are like her children, and, in fact. that's created some of the problems among the Tahitian missionaries in that they stay way too long at her house. The first Sunday we arrived she had the biggest meal prepared for us..there was home baked bread, meat, pasta, yams, baked bananas pese, salad, artichokes, ...haha I made the mistake of assuming that was the meal. NOPE that was the entré...I was dead...then came the rice, and lamb....and then 2 gallons of ice cream...MAMA! Holy schmokes. One of the Tahitians told us she will do that for the missionaries 2 or 3 times a week...of course we won't go that much, but I cant imagine what effort she goes through for all that haha...

So how much did the Utes drop in the rankings?

Happy birthday to Hillary!

Looking Back at Guadeloupe: Guadeloupe Sunset and Planning with Elder Snow


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Martinique

Information and photos are from Sister Diane Robison.

Facts:
Population of about 402,000
This island is owned by France and is part of the European Union. Its currency is the euro.
French is the official language but many of the inhabitants speak Martini can Creole.
Martinique has an active volcano—Mount Pelee that last erupted in 1901.
Enjoys a higher standard of living than most other Caribbean islands.
Is mentioned in the Beach Boys hit "Kokomo" with the line "To Martinique, that Montserrat mystique"

Church:

There are 2 congregations on Martinique and nearly 200 members. They are the Trinite (very small branch) and the Fort de France branch. Andy is serving in the Fort de France branch.

Missionary Work:

As of June 2009 there were four elders serving in Martinique. They fly to either St Lucia or Guadeloupe for zone conferences.

History:
Andre Condoris, a young man baptized in France while serving in the military, returned to his homeland in August 1980 and was the first known convert from the country. In July 1983, West Indies Mission President Kenneth Zabriskie visited Andre Condoris and Joell Joseph-Agathe, who had also been baptized in France. The two members welcomed missionaries Mark Richards, Stan Jones, and David Simons in May 1984, and held the first meeting on May 6. One month later Elder Ronald E. Poelman of the Seventy (one of the governing bodies of the Church) visited and a few months later Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone of the Seventy visited. The Martinique Branch (a small congregation) was organized in October 1985. The work has been slow in the country partly due to opportunities for members to immigrate to France.


Martinique is located south of Guadeloupe and Domenica and north of St. Lucia.


Mt Pelee in the distance, where two elders were found after being lost for three days and three night


Church in Fort de Franceis a rented building (upper floor). This may have changed recently.

"Volcano"

Standing Tall in Guadeloupe

I am so grateful for the last 4 transfers I have had to serve in Lamentin. These members are truly great examples that I believe will inspire me and motivate me for the rest of my life. It is such a blessing to meet Latter Day Saints like them. I pray that my testimony of Jesus Christ and my service in his name has helped each one of them in some way, even if only to strengthen their testimony. I'm sad because the last week in Lamentin was not the best. I could blame it on having to drive people everywhere during conference, but it is not true. We did not arrive at the success in contacting how I would like. But I have promised myself to do better. We have been working with members and trying to serve them in order to get referrals and although we have seen the members take a better liking to the missionaries thanks to this. Elder Snow and I see now that there needs to be more teaching involved to get referrals. There is one investigator who is feasting on the Book of Mormon! He feels an extreme need to repent. He has been to church the last two weeks and he was able to come to the fireside last Friday with President Anderson. We actually were able to have 5 potential priesthood holders there, a nice note of success before leaving.

Elder Snow is the best, I feel a little sad to be leaving him. He has taught me so much, but I know that we both have more to learn from other companions. He is a champ!

We had zone conference this week and I feel the reason it may have seemed I have been down on myself has cleared up. Last Zone conference President Gamiette bore testimony to the missionaries that ALL of our goals are possible through Heavenly Father's help. They Holy Ghost bore testimony to me that that was true... and you know there was just something missing all of this last transfer...we were having decent success, in fact more success than I had been having before in Lamentin. But, I was getting down on myself because Elder Snow and I were not reaching all of our goals...so what was the problem? Were we not working hard enough? Were we being disobedient? What was it? And now as I'm writing this email the Holy Ghost witnesses to me that true success and/or happiness comes when our goals and the Lord's are one. This work in Lamentin is not mine, or Elder Snow's, but it's the Lord's! Haha, how much more clear is Alma 37:37 now when it says to counsel the father in all our doings, and he we lead us to good(something like that. And that if we ask with faith it will be given to us? ...well with that said...I plan to take that idea, continue with hard work, but strive to be more united with the will of God in Martinique...I'm getting transferred...I'll be serving in Fort De France, in Martinique, which is not to far from Guadeloupe. I'm excited because I will not be zone leader! Haha, it was fun, and I'm grateful for the learning that was had, but this will be a nice break. I'll still be a district leader, but it's not as difficult as zone leader. Well. I gotta go right now, so thanks for listening today

Love y'all,

Elder NEff

PS Let everyone know that my address will stay the same...continue sending things to Guadeloupe(President has told me I'll be back in Guadeloupe next transfer due to legal issues. So, unless you want to send something to me with fast shipping it makes more sense just to keep the same address.



Transferring to Martinique reminds of the leaving St. Martin for Guadeloupe

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Cheeseburger in Paradise"



Celebrating Independence Day at McDonalds


Not celebrating a 37 Euro bill for four

Well Ka zot fé?

Creole plus deficil langue pou ecri...

Lamentin is starting to get back into the swing of things. We are seeing members who are more determined to give references and work with us. This last week we prayerfully focused on accomplishing our goal for contacts (ten numbers everyday). We saw great improvements in ourselves as we studied and role-played contacts. We focused on becoming more effective contacters. As a result we improved so much our contacts. We jumped from 25 last week to 45 this week...this week, there is no doubt a 70. We also have seen that as we have been contacting throughout the whole day and everyone we see we have qualified ourselves for more help during our lessons. The spirit has been so much stronger, and so the lessons so much more powerful. At the center of all our plans has been the Book of Mormon. There were two people who had come to church Sunday...one was one of these contacts. We have been "advertising" the general authority who is coming, so we are excited about that.

Elder Snow is a blessing in this work...this work would be so hard without a companion. The more I work with him the more I learn from and love him.

My testimony is strong. I have especially been thankful for all the occasions I now have to bear it. We are so lucky as missionaries of the Lord, and I pray that I can recognize more of the blessings I am sometimes too prideful to see. I regret the times when I sometimes don't feel like contacting, and I reflect on the selfishness and disrespect that shows to our Heavenly Father. This week has really taught me to not only have fear of no one, but cherish every encounter I have with one of my brother and sisters, who's Savior is mine also.

This week was fun. Thanks to our contacts our teaching pool has been quite full...there is still some room to grow...the hard thing with Guadeloupians is they hate commitments. And whenever they do give you a time to come back and teach, there are only a select few which will be sure there. So with all that it's impossible to set up member lessons when we aren't sure if our investigator will be there. Haha, that was one of the lessons I learned with Elder Heiner. We would set up member lessons as one of the lessons with our investigators. I would rather get kicked in the belly than have our members take time out of their day for a ratey vous(what we call a rendez-vous when our investigator doesn't show up).

This week should be sweet...It's zone conference and there is an authority general who is coming. Friday is going to be rough because Elder Snow and I will be commuting ten other missionaries who are coming in from neighboring islands. As for all the big news in Guyana, i feel terrible for President Gamiette, and all he is having to do. Please pray for him and his family. But all that will change in Guadeloupe is we will be getting 2 English elders for a transfer which should be fun for them.

So, I'm glad grandpa was able to go down the river...he best be ready to go down with all of us next year when we go to the cabin first week that I'm home. YEE HAW!!!

I got dad's Utah football articles the other week Elder Snow and I were so pumped to hear about our boy JJ...he is such a stud! And Utes won...Dope...the guadeloupians are gonna know for sure that I'm a Utah man, sir.

HAHA, tucker is a nerd, haha, but if he is getting into facebook I don't know...its good but its also lame at the same time.

Hey i wanted to ask how all the boys were doing...I haven't heard too much...but TOM, TRENT, PAT, GARR, and Dan? Wes should be gettin' home pretty soon too....How are my boys?

And of course TJ....whats the news?


K well I love you mom...tell Brother Robison and Sister Robison hi for me (we're going to hear Andy's former mission president and wife speak on Sunday) hahaha...wow I think I'm so funny. Love ya

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"Public Relations"


President Gamiette is one of the greatest men I have ever met...he doesn't tire and you see the standard in which he lives is different. Ever since President Gamiette has come things have been changing...not so much with rules or things such as that, but as far as focus. Normally, we as missionaries are challenged to contact 20 people a day(aside from tracting). We were doing that, and there was a time when our zone was doing that everyday(which is pretty good). President Gamiette challenged the mission now to not only contact but acquire over 10 phone numbers or addresses everyday(referrals). He isn't one to tell us to do something, or one to ask us to do something that he himself isn't right there doing with you. He motivates people by being around him. He went out with the assistants and got over 40 numbers in under 2 hours! We are seeing that this idea is going to flood our teaching pools, and, hopefully, the fonts a little later. We will be contacting over 160 people every day in Guadeloupe! This is crazy and unheard of! It's hard too, because in Gaudeloupe you can talk with just about anyone about religion(as everyone here are religious experts, or at least that's what they tell each other) for over 30 minutes without receiving a number. The point being that we are able to waste a lot of time if we are not smart or following the spirit. Already Elder Snow and I are seeing many weaknesses in our contacts and many ways to improve. It has been hard...this week we only had 27! We could make excuses, but it's what the Lord wants and so he will provide a way. I can't lie that I have not been stressed and a little down about not being to reach our goals lately, in baptisms, contacts, and in overall helping the members here. But I "hold tight" as they say in french or creole. I know that patience is the key.... its something I don't have much of and am forced to pray for everyday. I hope you will pray that i will have that.

Well, it sounds like everyone is doing well, other than TY boy. haha. Poor kid...you should send me a photo him. So, how is Tuck liking school? He is at SLCC right? I can not believe that. That kid is still the pip squeak to me...is he still working? Oh yeah where is Andy Naylor going? Its weird to hear about Sarah whipperman, and that she lives next door....although it seems like I was just home...so much has changed. It seems like a totally different place. Olympus beat Skyline! Tucker is nice! Miracles left and right....joke! Well, Guadeloupe is starting school this week, and we are excited about that as missionaries...it means people are a whole bunch more free. The weather is hot hot hot...the heat brings out acne a little bit...every once in a while someone asks me if I got bit by mosquitoes. But it really is not that bad!

Well, I'm grateful for you prayers for all the support and love,

LOVE YA

Andy

PS I got the package from Grandma. Thanks, it was the best!

Monday, August 24, 2009

"I Love the Now"

Elder Snow and I saw the blessings of the Lord with our member work this week. George, was baptized yesterday by President Constant(branch president). We have been working with our members a lot lately, just on teaching them how to teach the gospel. And I'm talking about all our members not just our branch missionaries. So we have even scheduled a few rendez vous with George where two members have taught him without us being there(once or twice when we have had too many other appointments). On one of these occasions, my favorite sister in the world, Soeur Eclar challenged him to be baptized(another testimony of the effectiveness of members). This was not a missionary baptism...it was a branch baptism. We have seen top many problems with that here, where missionaries do too much of the work and the investigators are left after baptism with no one. When we were explaining to George who could baptize him, the missionaries were not even made an option. We are seeing the work which we have put in over the weeks with the members pay off! Our members are learning better how to teach...and even though there are many who are still scared and not ready to take that leap into the cold waters of missionary work. There are some who are creeping to the waters edge and getting their toes wet, watching other members like Soeur Eclar dive right in, and are taking a little more confidence.

I never really realized the importance of father's blessings until the mission. Right now there are so many part-member families in the branch that the elders quorum is having a rough time getting together to make sure that every family with children will receive a blessing before the school year. We as kids are so lucky for the home that you and dad built for us. Every time I teach about scripture study or prayer I use the example of our family.

hahaha, Ashley is such a nerd....are all girls seriously like that? That's weird...I'm trying to learn to be a good companion so I can be a better husband...sometimes it's hard, and sometimes I need a whole lot more patience, but I'm thankful for the lessons it teaches me. I sent some photos with the email today from the baptism and also from my one year anniversary(you burn a shirt, but i also sent a package a few weeks ago and in it was a CD for the family with a bunch of photos and stuff.

Anyways Paix Dehours!

Elder Andy Neff

We had a few questions for Andy. Thankfully, he responded.

• What is going on with Judicael (haven't heard much about him lately)? He is coming to church and all the activities, but he does not yet have a contrite spirit or a broken heart. He is not reading the Book of Mormon much or keeping the commandments. He is not progressing....we are going to let him go for a little bit and check back in a while.
How many missionaries in the Lamentin branch? We are fluctuating with legality things and elders getting hurt. Elder Snow and I are hauling elders all over...we have had 6 to 2 missionaries in the last 3 weeks.
How is handling the manual transmission? I am not driving any more luckily haha...I actually had a little accident with a speed bump, and lost the privilege.... I don't want talk about it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Pacing the Cage"

Well, things are going.... Some of the older missionaries tell me that it's because it's the summer and vacation, and it was exactly the same last year, but I don't buy it. I'm disappointed in myself. There should be changes since last year. We should be having more and more at church, not the same. Our finding efforts were greatly hindered by Elder Miles this week(no fault to him) who has had terrible problems with his feet. We did splits with him and his companion, Elder Olsen, when he needed to go to the doctors, and because the doctor gave us the results that led to his transfer to Trinidad. I was with Elder Olsen for about two days, and Elder Snow couldn't do much with our investigators with Elder Miles who couldn't walk. So I have faith that contacting and finding will be the key this week, as we have had less time with that. Its frustrating with not having as much time to work...but it just means we have to work harder and smarter...THERE IS ALWAYS A WAY TO DO WHAT GOD ASKS OF US. That's why I love this gospel! 3 Nephi 3:7 is a verse that everyone knows, but we must live with that faith...that there is always hope, always a way to accomplish our righteous goals. We were extremely excited to get our Branch President back this week...as soon as we could we set some goals to activate some of our priesthood and he fixed a goal FOR THE BRANCH of 5 baptisms this month. We move forward with faith... I have faith in him and his priesthood keys that he holds. So the work goes forth, and we will work harder and smarter. I know that all this is giving me experience that I will need...we should treasure up our trials in our life...all our afflictions, because they are trials and afflictions in Christ.

I love Elder Snow, he is so cheerful, and uplifting. Like with all companions there are things that I would like that he would do different. He gets distracted easy, and sometimes looks too hard for the fun in things, but I sometimes feel I push him too hard, and I'm too critical. Of course, the first person I need to look to if there is a problem is myself. All in all we get along great, and I pray that I can love him even more....

I want to address what dad wrote about a little earlier in the week. He had read my patriarchal blessing this last week...about the gift of healing...as this summer has been a slower, and I have prayed and pondered ways to help the work...I have also sought counsell in my patriarchal blessing...and I read that..and I'm grateful for your advice dad. So let me recount an experience from this week from my journal(I have it with me)...

August 14, 2009
Me and Elder Olsen had a great day today. I'm grateful for the spirit that Elder Olsen carries with him, and I guess so it is with those that love the Lord like him. I was lucky enough to be on splits with him today. We were lucky enough to meet a great family today, Family Anitalo. They come from Haiti, and have two daughters of 8and 10 years. We had planned to find a family night before, and that had been in our prayers since planning and during our studies. We prayed for a family of four...when we knocked their door we didn't think the mother was much interested. But she invited us in letting us know we only had a few minutes, and honestly I just think she invited us in to be polite. We met the father who was busy watching the television...we noticed he had a wounded leg for some reason. He had bandages, and I think that he had been cut by a machete. We talked with them a little about what had happened. After a minute or two I asked him if he would like a blessing. He replied a little half-heartedly "yes", haha. I was not so sure at this point, questioning his faith. Elder Olsen had never given a blessing before so he rathered that I do it. Before I felt to ask if we could give them a quick lesson about the priesthood and the restored power of God on earth. I think that really boosted his faith. The blessing went well and I don't remember what I said. But I felt the family was really touched. After the blessing the father got up from the chair without saying anything and left the room. Before we knew it the mother asked if we could bless her daughter. Elder Olsen, by the comforting of the spirit, felt a little more comfortable giving a blessing, so he did it. Next, we hadn't seen the father and so we were getting ready to leave when the father, Mr. Anitalo, came in with just a towel on, having just got out of the shower, and he said with the biggest grin on his face...IT'S BETTER! His leg had been healed! I don't think fully, but tons better. He was walking a whole lot more confidently on his leg..hahaha before I really thought about it I blurted out the reply "Seriously?!". After registering what I said I felt terrible...what kind of faith is that? Seriously? As a servant and representative of Jesus, I must have a greater faith in his power... But now I know the healing power of the priesthood is real...both spiritual and temporal and in all things.

It was a spiritual experience...I'm sad I will not be able to teach the family...but I find that it is less than a coincidence dad decided to write me about that this week....

ON a funner note...it was the TOUR DE GUADELOUPE this week...hahaha boy was that fun...I don't get what is so fun about watching people ride bikes...its true they wear some sexy spandex...I love it...We saw people who wore their favorite riders uniform..like in football I wore my Brett Favre jersey to the Packers game..there are the fans that wear the spandex haha...ridiculous... k well love everyone

Monday, August 10, 2009

"My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink, But I Do Love Jesus"

I'm not going to lie. This was one of the worst weeks of my mission. Actually the last two weeks. Elder Snow and I were not able to get much done on Wednesday and Thursday because of transfers. This week we spent over 30 euros paying for parking at the airport.That was frustrating, but there were a bunch of elders flying in and going out of Guadeloupe. But, even aside for that the work was just HARD. We have received direction from our branch president to work with inactives and part-member families, and that has been slow. We have seen a few families, the family Bilba, Jason, and Demmin. All are part-member families. But, all have there individual problems. We had great lessons in fact with the family Bilba and Demmin about having family prayer and the unifying power that it has in homes. The family Bilba has been pretty good about it, and it has been a sweet sweet blessing to see the difference in her children. The family Demmin was not as diligent, but we have a family night with them tonight. President Gamiette tells us that if they don't come to church then bring the spirit of Zion to them to cultivate that desire. None of those families came to church this last week though, and we only had one investigator. In evaluating the week with numbers it was one of my worst ever on the mission. And to add to that, every week there seems to be fewer and fewer people at church. This last week there were 30! Man, it really hurt my soul to see that on Sunday. It has been a sad week, and I don't know what to do! I know that i can make a difference, but I don't know how. However....I KNOW the direction we have received is from God, and even if I do not see the big picture right now, the spirit tells me to continue in this way,in doing what our branch president wants, in knitting our hearts with that of the branch president's. In doing that we will have success. I love Jesus Christ! As my Redeemer and Savior, he comforts me. Every day that I draw closer to him and become more like him, I realize the weakness and nothingness of myself. I have spent a good amount of time praying about what needs to happen, what the Lord wants Elder Snow and I to do...I'm grateful for that sweet quote that dad sent from President Snow. I'm grateful for the scriptures for the comfort and wisdom that is in them. Thanks mom and dad for making me read them every morning...haha I can honestly say that in drowsing in and out of sleep every morning while reading I didn't learn much from the scriptures, but what you did teach me, and which is doubly important was the great importance to read them.

Monday, August 3, 2009

West Indies Sunsets

Kudos to Sister Robison and the Elders of the West Indies Mission for some fabulous sunset photos.

"Making Music for Money"

Well, this week I felt was a success. After being directed on how to work with our branch president, that's the first thing we did. We went to him and asked for his advice, letting him know that we will do all that his asks of us. I think that's important in showing him that we will do EVERYTHING that he asks...already the trust and unity between the branch and missionaries has increased. Our president left on vacation Thursday taking with him the questions about how many baptisms the Lord would want for Lamentin, and how many inactives he wanted to come to church. The one answer we had to know was with whom he wanted us to work. He commanded us to work with all the part-member and inactive families. We have started that and are excited to see the results of his priesthood power at work.

We have continued to work hard with the branch missionaries. We have been training them individually, creating lesson plans with them in a training process. They are learning and growing spiritually, and this week they had their first lesson without the missionaries! Elder Snow and I were so excited for that. We have a baptism coming up for this week, Judicael. He should have been baptized last week, but he is still having trouble with cigarettes; it is his only problem. He is at all church activities and is calling members on his own to pick him up for church. I know that the Lord is watching over this island and that he will bless us in reaching our goals if we as missionaries are responsible and accountable for the goals we set. In fact, that could be said for any righteous goal we set. Judicael should finally be baptized this next week. He really needs our prayers to stop smoking. We finally fixed a plan for him with our district president. Judicael has the desire, he wants to serve a mission and he wants to follow the path of Christ. We had a great lesson with him about that path, and how if he has not seriously repented and given up his sins he cannot be baptized. And the dangers of if we take up that path, the consequences of leaving it after the baptism. Nephi(2 Nephi 31), tells us that it would be better that we had not known Jesus than to quit this straight and narrow path. This gospel is the best, it is the perfect gospel, and there is no other way under heaven in which we can gain eternal life with our sweet families. Judicael is serious. We are seeing changes in him, and I am thankful for your sustaining prayers that help him. I'm gonna to let him know that you pray for him as well.

So, I'm not getting transferred; Elder Snow and I are still zone leaders. So that will be fun to be with him again. He is my boy. There was a talent show the other night for the district. He can sing pretty dang well, and I played "Everything" by MB....we stole the show! Actually, we didn't see many of the other performances because it started an hour and a half late, and so we had to take all the elders home after only a half hour. Our zone has not changed too much, they are sending over two other missionaries, making 16 here! I feel bad for the collings because they love to teach, but they never have time because they are ALWAYS doing office work...they feel bad, they so badly want to teach and change lives, but without them we would be up the creek. It's too bad too because they have such a great spirit about them; they are great teachers and every time they teach, you sense their sincere love of the gospel. Oh and to answer dad's question, they can speak pretty well. They did serve in France for two years, but they have the most horrible accents ever haha. We missionaries get a kick out of 'em.

Well I gotta go, but I love y'all and you have to give Spence a big "what's up" from me. Oh and congratulate Ben...he is a stud (cousin Ben Seagle made the "A" football team).

Monday, July 27, 2009

"Growing Older But Not Up"

What a sweet birthday I had! Your package actually arrived on Saturday afternoon! So I was pretty excited about that. HAHA I loved every little thing. On judging how much I liked it though I have come to the conclusion that I'm a huge nerd, but that's OK. Thanks so much though! It was really a great birthday! Its weird to think that I'm 20! I still feel about 14, and act probably younger. The Collings made me a sweet cake that we ended up eating at a family night, so it was a good day. The members were good to me, they are such sweet people. I love them, all of them, There are many that the only way to describe them is pioneers, with a roll-up-their sleeves, get it done spirit that I wish I was more full of. My favorite family, The Eclars (its thanks to Pres. Eclar, that I now know kicking butt is the key to happiness). All they do is work. Everyday they are both working, hungering to do missionary work, even though he is the district president and she the relief society president with two young kids. There are days at a time that they do not see each other. And each time Sister Eclar tells us she wants to work we ask her, "Sister Eclar...have you seen your husband today?". She replies it doesn't matter Elders, we have eternity to be together...she is the best. And he is MR Kick Butt.

Well this week has been a little tiring. Elder Snow and I had to prepare for Zone Conference for President Gamiette. That means driving elders and president to and from airport, making sure everything is ready for interviews and zone conference. All really wanted to do was prepare spiritually, but I thank the Lord that I made some time to fast and read a bit before. There were definitely some questions I had that were answered this week.

I believe every missionary at the conference was humbled and edified more than ever before. At the beginning President Gamiette started off a little bit shaky with the English, but I think as we were praying in our hearts to feel the spirit, the Lord began to speak by President Gamiette. The spirit prompted questions by elders, and we had a powerful experience. President Gamiette has a way of taking the simplest scriptures and opening your minds to what they mean. I guess it would be more appropriate to say the spirit has a way of teaching the scriptures simply. He taught us from the Beatitudes, 2 Nephi 31, Mosiah 4, and Moroni 8:24-26. If you would like to do a study I would encourage it. Oh and also 2 Nephi 32 the first part. Even Elder Colling came away saying, "I have taught the doctrine of Christ and the Beatitudes thousands of times but I have never understood much until today." It was a great humbling experience. We ought to be so grateful for those that have the keys to receive revelation and lead and guide us in our wards, in our stakes, even our primary class rooms. I do know that those keys had been passed and the President Gamiette holds them.

After Friday I was so excited to get out and work, even though it was a busy week we got a lot done. There was some running around Saturday for some baptisms. Judicael is stuck between two chairs(as they say in french) because his parents don't want him to be baptized, or at least not right now. They say it is too early. He wants to and he is ready, but we are glad he doesn't want to be disobedient to his parents. If it continues to be a problem though he knows that his first loyalty is to his Heavenly Father. So if you could pray that his parents' hearts will soften that will be great. We have also been working with Stephanie and Katia, a part member family whose mom is DIFFICULT! Elder Snow and I have tried teaching the doctrine, she even had a spiritual experience, and she still believes they are not ready. I have tried working the Neff charm, we made a cake and all but nothing. But things are going very well. I'm excited for this week to come and this transfer coming up. President has been worrying about the youthfullness of our zone so he has talked about making Elder Snow and I zone leaders and trainers at the same time. I about pooped my pants when he said that. I'll do it if I have to, but zone leader is tiring enough. So I sure hope not. I miss the days of just worrying and focusing on my area. Anyways, I love you all!