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! video

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?