Monday, December 28, 2009

"Far Side of the World"

So I'm sending some photos of our activity this 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 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!


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'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 not knowing the members, and no senior couple means an Elder only 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:


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.

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