Sunday, August 8, 2010

"Living and Dying in 3/4 Time"

We have had a super great week this last week. Finishing with an incredible fast and testimony on Sunday, where despite some crazy events, the spirit filled our hearts.

Cayenne is now starting to flourish. I was grateful for the president's decision not to send me to zone leader council, because I was able to have a solid week of wonderful work in our area! There is nothing better than that, too. Our goal for the week was to give out many baptismal dates! And we were turned down many times by many of our investigators that filled our teaching pool...but that did not discourage us. We were still able to weed out those that are not ready for the restored gospel and fine the amis (friends) like Nelson who are prepared and ready to receive the fullness of Gods gospel! Nelson is a young man of 17 years old. He is much more mature than his years however, he understands the divine significance of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith...after receiving an answer to his prayer to know if the Book of Mormon was true(which took some time to teach him how to recognize his answer) he tried to teach his mother about this wonderful book! After church Sunday he called us wondering about which verses it is that Jesus teaches his disciples that there are other sheep not of this fold! We have another investigator John Robert who was intrigued and touched by our first we were not sure how much he understood, but the next day we went by he had already talked to his cousin about how great it was and gave us a referral. We fixed 2 baptismal dates with them. Me and Elder Lunt are trying to adapt our teachings based on the needs on our investigators. We are trying to listen to their needs, and then make it more personal. Elder Butler is doing a great job at implementing what he learned at zone leader council and turning us into the teachers the first presidency wants us to be.

Unfortunately, our only investigator in church this week was Nelson, but he is a stud!!!! I'm almost sure he is going to be baptized to and go on a mission soon. The crazy thing is we just met him 10 days ago, but already he is in love with the Book of Mormon. He has read a lot of First Nephi and has already received an answer to his prayer. It was actually interesting because we came by for the second lesson and we asked him if he had received an answer when he prayed about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith...he sort of disappointingly said not yet. He then said he wasn't sure if he had even had an answer to a prayer. We had planned to teach him the plan of salvation and to fix a baptismal date with him. But as we listened to the Holy Ghost, Elder Lunt and I felt to teach about the Holy Ghost and the way he answers prayers. We taught Nelson how to recognize the spirit in his life. As we taught him and he began to understand that the answers from God do not always come in visions, or big dreams, but more normally through a still small voice and through feelings that we might have in our heart, the light of understanding came across his face and he told us that not only had he felt those feelings in answer to prayers in his life, but that was how he felt as he read from and prayed about the Book of Mormon! He is just great, and the only prevention might be his parents...they are actually very supportive but his mom wants his dad to be there when he chooses a church to be baptised in and for now he is in Haiti...we don't know when he will be I hope soon.

Wouldn't that be so wonderful to see a baptism! How wonderful it is to be part of that sacred covenant or promise in which we have so graciously been given. I pray with all my heart that one of our investigators may be baptized before I leave. At this moment Nelson looks to be the closest. We actually dropped Jose Ca this last week because he was no longer progressing....I think if it was a language barrier we would have overcame it, but I think it just wasn't the right time for him. I don't know if I told you but a family me and Elder Cottam taught in Lamentin was finally baptized. It was George that actually gave them as a referral and for the longest time the mom would not get baptised because she had a boyfriend. She knew the church was true but she couldn't bring herself to let go of the father of her 3 kids. Well I guess the missionaries there finally got a hold of the boyfriend who loved the gospel. They have now been living separately for a few months and just got baptised!

Elder Lunt is motivated, and he is one that has an uncanny ability to achieve when he is motivated. Its funny he doesn't do it in the normal ways that I have been used to, so its been hard getting used to that. I love my companion and he teaches me so much. It's sad to see that while he is just starting this wonderful adventure that will surely be filled with trials, obstacles, success, and achievements, mine is coming to a close. I hope to be the best example for him so that he can continue to convert others and himself more fully to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

"Where's the Party"

HOLY SHMOKES! What a week what a week. I have to thank everyone for the birthday cake and wishes! Better not have had my favorite popyseed cake or I might just lose it. haha...naw...even if you did it's ok because I ended up having a SAWEET birthday!
Andy and Elder Drolet (Senior missionary/new Branch President)

When I got my flights to go to Trinidad I was pretty disappointed because it had me gone about 7 days from Cayenne! I was pretty mad because I did not want to be away from my area that long! And so I talked with Elder Colling who talked to president for me. I told him I'd go if he'd like, but I proposed that Elder Butler, my district leader, go instead of me, since he is younger. Turns out that president had not realized I was going home after this transfer and so it worked out for the best! But shoot! They had me going to Guadeloupe for a one day layover, after to Trinidad for a day and a half, and then on the way back I would have had a one day layover in St. Lucia and another day in Guadeloupe! That was not gonna fly! Shoot with only so many days left I cannot afford to lose that many days of work!

We ended up having a really good birthday dinner Saturday night though...we hit up a steak restaurant. First steak in 2 years! I got medium rare and the dang thing looked like they just killed the cow in the back and then slapped it on the plate! Haha about as rare as they come...I got about 2/3 done and then was finished. Nephi probably would have been able to finish but not me. Last night we had 2 awesome cakes at the Colombians. I actually paid for one of them before I knew the Colombians had all pooled their money together to buy one. Any time you can share your birthday with people you love it's great. It was nothing big...just cake...but it was unforgettable.

The area is going pretty well. We had a huge disappointment at church yesterday. We had over 6 investigators who I was sure would come. Isabelle, Willy, Chile, Fernanda, Alberto, Colin, Nelson, and Josef Ca had been coming too. These are all people that have been keeping commitments as well. Elder Lunt and I were really disappointed before church. I have concluded that it's because these people needed firmer/harder dates. We need them to be coming to church not to fulfill commitments, but because they want to be baptized. We will adjust our teaching, and work on never leaving a lesson without extending/reinforcing a baptismal commitment. Elder Lunt has not yet got to a point where he is teaching 5O percent. That is one thing we need to do better. Consecrating more time to role play in our studies will help him feel more confortable at taking the parole (word). We are currently working with Yvens Timol and were disappointed because he missed church last week after what happened, but he had a legitimate excuse and we were able to teach him 3 times this week which is 3 more than I have ever had in the 6 months I have been here. We have him committed to restart the Book of Mormon, and to search a greater knowledge in it....because he already knows it really well. He has taught so much with the missionaries itHs natural. he knows Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. We are also working with Sr Cledi, and we are teaching her friend Fernanda. We teach her in Portuguese so it goes a little slower, but she loves the Book of Mormon, and this last week we taught her the gospel and the reason for which we must be baptized. She half excepted the baptismal date...but she wants to come to church first. She said she would come, but we haven't been able to find out why she didn't. Colin is from Guyane Francais. Elder Lunt is doing a great job when we teach him. He has the spiritual tools to teach so great, he just needs the French. But Colin recounted to us the entire experience of Joseph smith translating the plates. He love reading, and he finds the story about Joseph Smith incredibly interesting. We have him reading, and if he hadn't come down with sore tonsils he would have come to church. Chile is another friend of ours who speaks only Spanish and Haitian Creole...he has been studying the book of Mormon in Spanish. We really wanted to fix a solid baptismal date with him this last week, and so we took Mario, one of the native Spanish speakers. We taught him the restoration, and we offered the baptismal date. I feel we didn't firm the date up as solid as we should have though, and for this he didn't come to church. We have a great many investigators at the moment who should very realistically be baptized. We needed to keep finding, and also be more effective in sifting the good investigators from those who are not yet ready....I know that baptismal dates will help do that. If we extend a baptismal date when the spirit is there and they say NO....they are not yet ready...I will study, practice, and commit more people to baptism this week.
I have studied the gospel very indepthly this week in the Book of Mormon, and I have been touched at the simplicity and depth in which the Book of Mormon shows us what we must do to gain salvation. It is not hidden, and we are not obligated to search in the most difficult places to find it, but the doctrines of salvation are as clear in the Book of Mormon as the sun in a cloudless sky. I am infinitely grateful to Jesus Christ who constantly supports and uplifts me. Never does a moment go by when I am not constantly supported by his infinite sacrifice. There is truly only one name under heaven by which man may be saved, and it is Jesus Christ. I treasure these last few days I have to proclaim his name and his Gospel.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Anything, Anytime, Anywhere"

This week has been an incredibly fulfilling week. Elder Lunt and I have worked harder than we ever have before, and even though Elder Lunt has been a tiny bit upset because we have had to skip two lunches, he has been ecstatic about the work. He has become the person who constantly reminds of us to reach goals and has been a great example. I am impressed with the awesome changes that I have seen in his attitude and faith! We see that we are now only missing 0, 1, or 2 goals a day instead of 3 or 4. We are seeing miracles almost every day! And I'm disappointed with myself because this transfer I have not been a good journal writer. But, this week we had a great experience with a young man named Timolus. He is a 20 year old young man that was baptized over 2 years ago. The church changed his life, and he was truly born again through his baptism. He started working often with the missionaries. Even to go as far as to be the main reason missionaries here in Cayenne broke the world record for member lessons with 60 member lessons(or so rumor has it haha, but over the last year he started to fall slowly back into some of his old ways. We tried and tried to reactivate him, but he has truly fallen. Until yesterday we had only been able to catch him a few moments at a time, never having a moment to sit and teach. He is either with his friends or working. The guy works probably 50 hours a week at a boulangerie. Well, last night we felt to go by and see him. When we went by, his home was aflurry with worried parents as he has fallen terribly ill. He was trembling and shaking with heat, and had lost sight in his eyes. They had already called a Taxi to rush him to urgence (emergency), and it was outside waiting. We assumed that he may have been sleeping and woke up with these symptoms. Even though everyone was in a hurry to get him to the hospital, we insisted on giving him a blessing. The spirit was strong, there was no great miracle or so we thought. He left, and was rushed to the hospital. Well, this morning he called and with great gratitude he related how he felt. He said, "you know Elder Neff, when I was in so much pain, all I was wishing was that I could somehow receive a blessing, and no sooner did I ask God than you to showed up". He testified to me that he knew that God lived and that he was blessed by his power last night. He is bed ridden for 1 week or so...but he made sure to let us know he wanted us to come by.

Sometimes it's amazing how God works. He waits until his children are in super need of him, and then if they turn to him he embraces them in his arms of security. I know he is conscious of each of his children. Timol is someone that will be a great missionary for this church! And there is no doubt in my mind he is now back to stay.

Along with the inactive work, we have been praying, working, and sweating our tails off to find the two families for whom the district presidency fixed their goals. We feel we may have found one of them, but at the last minute they were not able to get to church! It was very discouraging as I thought for sure it was THE family. We did have Willy and Chile come to church. It was our first time to get them to church and we hope to fix a hard baptismal date with them this next week. Chile is from Haiti but he speaks creole and Spanish. He does not speak french. We made plans to have members teach with us. We are working with many members and their friends in Portuguese. Fernanda is the friend of Sister Cledi. We taught her again Thursday night, and she told us her husband who is in prison is now reading constantly from the Book of Mormon. He never lets it down(maybe he just has no where to put it) We gave her a Book of Mormon as well and she was so grateful! She said she was going to ask her father in law to take her to church, however when Sunday came around her newborn baby fell sick! Jose Ca has been difficult to see this past week, too. We had a member lesson set up with him but he didn't end up coming. It is so hard to see it happen, and I just cant help feeling it's just because of the language barrier. He has been to church 4 times...and needs to be baptized. Elder Lunt and I are working for our goal of 2 baptisms this month, and we have faith that our works and the hand of God WILL realise these righteous goals.

I guess I'm heading to Trinidad on Sunday, and I'll be back to Cayenne on Wednesday. At first I didn't know why I was going...I mean what could that profit our zone if I'm leaving in 3 weeks? But I'm committed to seek the inspiration of the spirit of the Lord as to be able to help French Guyana as best I can. I always have loved Zone leader council, because they are always so spiritually enriching.

Thanks so much for the birthday wishes and money...I'll probably just buy something for you all...I honestly don't know what I want haha! Elder Lunt already got me an early birthday present....well sorta...he is making me a BUCKET LIST haaha. So, I guess I'm speaking the 22nd? Do we know what the subject will be? Kelly Astle is the best! What an honor to speak with her...let me know if you hear about my subject though.

Well. This week I guess I'm turning 21. It feels weird. I still feel like I should be 18 or something. But the biggest plans we have this week is to KICK BUTT....after all kicking butt is the key to happiness!

I love you all,


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Brother I Can't Explain"

WHATTTTT!!!!!?????? TUCKER!!! That dog! NO WAY!!!!....that is where I wanted to go so bad! This is incredible. Actually when I was reading your email the first thing I saw was Carson City, Nevada and it actually got me pretty good too! Looks like me and Tuck are backpacking through Europe in 3 years! SPAIN, FRANCE, and ITALY!!!! I'm so proud of him...he is such a stud! I was not expecting it to come so soon...well I'm definitely gonna have to learn Italian now...I wanted to anyway actually.

The cabin just sounded like a blast...ok not too much with all the rain, but pretty fun still. HAHA, great Seagle stories! What puts!

Well, transfers were last week and I guess I'll be dying as zone leader, with Elder Lunt as my comp. I'm stoked for that. There are a lot of things I can learn from Elder Lunt. He is a great chum. Elder Rodriguez is actually staying and Elder West is coming to be his comp in the same apartment. Elder West is a beast! He is a rugby player from England, and he and I have been buds for a while but have never seen too much of each other during the mission. Oh, I found out too there will be a Zone Leader Council in Trinidad, so I'm lucking out. I think that Elder Coleman of the 70 will be there! Anyways, Elder Lunt and I have fixed our goals for the transfer. We feel that we can have 2 baptisms this month as well as 5 reactivated. We feel it is a stretching goal that will push us to work our hardest. Elder Lunt and I are excited for this new transfer that is starting. I asked the the district presidency to fix a goal for the district for baptisms. They prayed and feel the Lord wants us to bring two families to the church this month. We feel we may need to up our goal to 3 to make a father, mother, and child. Then maybe the other two companionships here will get the other...but yeah.. Cayenne is doing so much better! This past Sunday was just great when the call was extended to Elder Drolet as Branch President. After only one Sunday with him as branch president the feelings in the branch are that of relief and peace. Church is starting to run so smoothly now. We only had 50 at church this last Sunday but there are a bunch of members that are on vacation. There are many less actives that are not very consistent at coming to church and we will use 40 days to bring them back to church and help them become strong members. Our work is progressing. This week we made a lot of finding efforts, and we will be consistent in those finding efforts all the way through the transfer. Although we had 63 contacts we could have done better...many of these contacts were not available until this next week either. We were able to meet some great families though that may be potential investigators. We will see this week. Most of the people we are teaching at the moment are Portuguese speakers. Our progressing investigator Jose Ca wants to be baptized ... but he needs to be better at keeping commitments. And it is frustrating because he doesn't have money for a phone, and he never knows when he will get a chance to work. So a couple times he has been at work when we should of had an appointment. We need to just have consistent member help with him. I can manage in Portuguese because i know a tiny bit of the base and with Spanish we can communicate. Even though he has been coming to church, he has missed a few appointments. At church we sat him down and had a good lesson with him afterwards, with Jose William(a new member who speaks Portuguese well) we were finally able to communicate well with him and help him understand some questions we didn't even know he had. We are seeing it is much easier to teach Brazilians here. They are so much more open to the gospel. In our area in which we work there is either rich Guyanese, Haitians, and Spanish/Portuguese speakers. Unfortunately the Haitians aren't too receptive. We are contacting all though and know that the family that god is preparing is there! We do not let a family walk by without contacting them.

We have also starting advertising our English class a lot better. We are putting up flyers in Chinese shops, and passing out pass along cards to inform people about the class. There are a lot of people interested in English and it will be a good way to get them into the church to feel the spirit and to make quite a few investigators. The other elders just started teaching one of the men that's coming to class.

I know that the Lord is preparing ways for Elder Lunt and I to accomplish all that he wants. He wants so many great and wonderful things for the people here in Cayenne. I just pray that I may be an instrument in His hands.

Thanks for sharing that experience dad. I have often asked myself the same questions. Actually very often...Almost every night i ask the lord to except my work...and I search for that reassuring feeling like you had. I know I am not even close to the most talented missionary...almost every night I can look back and see how many mistakes i make, whether its with the language or whatever it may be. And it's true that no matter what we do we will still be unprofitable servants...but if we work our hardest and try to be better then that's all the Lord really expects of us..

Andy with Elder and Sister Colling, the Senior Couple on Guadeloupe

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"(Not) Lip Service"

This last week was really a great week for Elder Lunt and I. Even with zone conference taking up a good amount of work this week we feel we had a very productive week. We were able to find quite a few new investigators and some great contacts. We are applying what we learned in conference, and already we are seeing much better lessons thanks to good planning. I'm currently working on trying to master "search, analyze and apply" questions to be a better teacher. I feel that is so key to unlocking our investigators natural tendency to tune out the scriptures and to really read and apply them. This last week we were teaching a Sister Bienvenue and as we taught her and used those questions the spirit testified to her and she was touched. We then asked her for a referral and she was more than willing to give us one!

The branch is actually going pretty well despite the absence of President Parades. Although there are no real capable men worthy to lead the branch at the time, there are some who are working on worthiness. Brother Narine who has recently been reactivated is a stud. He had had law of chastity problems when I was here last time with another member. Yesterday he shared with us his burning desire to be sealed in the temple. He has been on a mission, and would have the experience necessary to be branch president in the future. We are going to start him on 40 days.

We are teaching a ton of new investigators, in all sorts of fun languages: Creole and Spanish, but most of our good progressing investigators are Portuguese surprisingly ... who are progressing little by little. They are working towards baptism but it's slow because we teach them in Portuguese. These are important investigators however because they are referrals from members. Sister Cledi and Sister Darci are both working with us so much, we have received many referrals from them, and they are really becoming great member missionaries! Its great to see Sister Cledi especially who was just recently reactivated. It's hard for these two women who see the progression of their friends in the gospel and they love it, but their biggest desire is to see their husbands baptized! This week a miracle took place while teaching at Sister Cledi's. We were teaching one of her friends about the restoration and when we got to the Book of Mormon she started having some question that were a little defensive of the Bible. Well, Max who usually never listens too intently because he would much rather be watching his weird Portuguese TV heard that, and started explaining to her the Book of Mormon. I don't know if it was because I'm still about level zero in Portuguese or what but he sounded like a member of 10 years. As Max actually testified to this friend of the importance of the BOM as another testimony of Jesus Christ you could almost see a testimony cultivating in him at the same time. The spirit was so strong! I know this is Max's first step towards baptism.

Jose Ca did not come to church yesterday and that was sad. It's harder for him because he has not support at church other than the missionaries. He is not a referral but it was us that found we have to teach him more regularly with members. Its great though I'm enjoying it because the Portuguese is such a cool language! It's really difficult to pronunciate!

My companion is doing really well. He's staying encouraged, and he told me about the President's proposition to send him to the English side, and I'm so glad he said no. He is going to come a long. We work hard together. He is working with all his force, and I just want to help him get his whole mind and heart there as well. He is working hard but he doesn't prioritize his studies very well.

I actually heard about Sophie Barton passing away a day after it happened. I was in zone conference and President Gamiette took me aside to tell me. He knew that we were good friends. I can't lie and say it wasn't a huge shock. My heart has been very heavy the last few days for Chas and his family. It's almost overwhelming to think of the pain that he and his family must be going through. I imagine Chas is handling it the best coming fresh off the mission, the veil of unbelief is thin for him, and I imagine his burning testimony of the Plan of Salvation he left here in the West Indies provides a warm comfort for him in his sorrow and pain. I wish so badly to be there and to comfort him. This week I read President Monson's words from this last conference when he pronounced that man once dead will live again. The message of last conference was that of a Living Christ. I have read and pondered the testimonies of prophets, dead and living, and I am convinced that it's true. We will live again. I pray that they may continue in faith know that they will see Sophie again.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

"Smart Women"

This week we had some pretty heavy events happen. Our search for a new branch president become a lot more urgent. President Parades left to France this past Monday because he had to show up for an appointment concerning him and his family's legality. He had had to raise 600 euros to go, and he even asked the missionaries for money. The whole idea seemed fishy because he knows sure well missionaries don't have the right to give money. He left giving us the assurance that he would be back Saturday before church. He has not yet returned. And we are not sure if he is coming back. His family didn't come to church on Sunday and although they are still in Cayenne I'm pretty sure they are leaving soon. But the Sunday meeting was not too bad. Nothing was mentioned about why President Parades was not there, but we carried on the reunion like usual. That's why I love the church. It doesn't matter if we only have 5 worthy Melchizedek priesthood doesn't matter if we are abandoned by our current sustained branch president...the doctrines and the principles of the gospel are what reigns! We as latter day saints do not have faith in any president, teacher, or missionary...but we have faith in Jesus Christ. We desire to repent and to renew regularly our covenants through the sacred ordinance of the sacrament. Sacrament meeting this week was just great! We had 65 people at church, many of those numbers consist of woman doing inspiring jobs of raising their children in the gospel by themselves. Woman are just so much greater than men! They are so full of love and of patience that it amazes me! The women such as Sister Cledi, Sister Bouchou, Sister Darci, Sister Anthony, Sister Litampha, Sister Pascal, and Sister Bienvenu are all sisters with noble and righteous hearts!

Brother Litampha is doing good. He came to church Sunday, but he slept through a lot, and didn't seem too happy to be there. We did have an inactive family come who has been inactive for years. It was only the mom and her daughter... but this sister is married to a high priest of the church who has been inactive for years. He served a mission and even been in a stake presidency, I believe, but ever since coming to Cayenne and seeing the state of the church here he doesn't feel it a need to go. We pray that this man may be the key! He obviously would have the experience...but we will see.

Well the work for Elder Lunt and I specifically has been difficult. I will say that Elder Lunt is having trouble with the language and that because of that he is having trouble getting really involved with the if you could just pray for him and for me. I love the guy to death! He is definitely a guy I'll catch up with after the mission. He went to Orem High. It's weird to think he is Tuck's age!

Speaking of which that is just awesome to hear his papers are in! I'm holding my breath! I don't have much more to say this week.

Keep on keepin''s the work that you do that creates the spirit of Zion in the hearts of those around you, especially at home! LOVE IS TRULY THE KEY, ISN'T IT! Thanks for your great example!



Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Coming Around"

We worked extremely hard this week. It seemed almost every night we were pedaling our bikes as fast as we could to talk with as many people as possible in order to get our 10 contacts. On more than four occasions this week we didn't get the tenth contact until the last ten minutes of the day. Elder Lunt and I are grateful for the miracles we have seen this week. Our goal has been to be working with a sense of urgency but without impatience. As a result we have been able to better wait on the Lord and rest hopeful until the miracles happen. For example, this last Thursday we had a goal for 2 new referrals, a member lesson, and two new investigators. The whole day was not going as planned, and the only thing we had firmly set up was a member lesson with a recently reactivated sister from Brazil, Sister Cledi, but she does not speak too much French. When we called about a half hour before the appointment she said her friend had canceled on her for tonight. Our first thought were "DANG, WHAT WILL WE DO NOW?". Instead of fretting or worrying we went to the lesson anyway hoping that God would figure something out. AND HE DID! In only 30 minutes Sister Cledi had called and invited another family to come receive the missionaries, and they agreed. It was a miracle! And I know if we will wait on the Lord with patience and continual faith, we will see miracles. Now the first lesson with this family was not as we wanted. He is firmly based in another church and because of the language barrier(he speaks only Portuguese) we did not teach the restoration as I would have liked. In my little Portuguese I know we taught the Book of Mormon. He loved it! We will see them next week. Although in that lesson we did not give a baptismal date, that is our goal and plan each new lesson. We are teaching the doctrines of salvation, and every first lesson we are giving baptismal dates. However, we do find that sometimes we must break the restoration into two lessons in order to obey time constraints. Teaching in Creole and Spanish slows us down a bit. But we are finding most of our investigators among Haitians and Refugees. The branch is doing alright, however the priesthood is really lacking in leadership. And meanwhile we are still pursuing the branch luck as yet...but patience and hard work will pay off! We do need to get all our contacts though or we are not doing our very best!

We are teaching many, many people, however, none are too close to baptism. This last week we took 60 numbers or addresses that we need to follow up on and we still have the 55 or more from the previous weeks, so it's hard to stay on top of that with a companion that doesn't speak much.Luckily Elder Lunt is a stud, and I love him to death...he keeps me happy even when I get in my real upset/stressed moods.

Elder Lunt is progressing. Honestly he will be a great missionary, but I'm trying to work with him with the french. HE hates it!!! And because he hates it, he won't study it like he needs to. He is very limited as far as what he can do in French.....I love that kid to death...but I don't know how to help him love the language though! We talked about it this last week, and since then he has been praying to love it. He is a great missionary with a great soon as he gets french he will be unstoppable.

Well, it sounds like everyone had a great week...good to hear. I can't wait to see the two Seagle munchkins haha...they are the best.

Your creole food sounded pretty legit...I'm disappointed to admit my cooking has been taking a break here in Cayenne...I don't know why...I think it's just a lack of time. As zone leader again it's harder. I'm also trying to learn some languages in any spare moment I have. I'm now able to teach in Spanish and Haitian creole, but right now the biggest need is Portuguese. So hopefully I can learn that one, however, the pronunciations in Portuguese are so different from the other languages I have learned.

PIONEER TREK IS RAD! I hope Hill remembers it well, but not for the same reasons that I do :)

Well, I've got to go...good LUCK ASHLEY! Hope you have a great recital.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"African Friend"

Jose William was finally baptized on Sunday. I felt bad because I really wanted a member to do it, but I couldn't tell him no when he asked. The baptism was great. Elder Rodriguez spoke as well as Mario.

The Branch President search is coming along well. Like I said to President Gamiette, Elder Lunt and I must be more prayerful, but this last week we met with a couple less active members and we are gonna see if we can start teaching them. At first I just assumed we would need to baptize him, but there are quite a few Melchizedek holders who are inactive and already have the experience necessary to be a great president. One is the district president's sons...Brother Litampha...he is married in the temple and his wife is just wonderful! Three fourths of the time he doesn't come she gets all 5 kids ready and teaches Sunday school. She is a returned missionary too, so he already has the built in support he would need. He worthy as well. His case is just one of laziness....there is also another man who is actually from America. He served a mission in France when he was my age. He ended up moving to French Guyana after his misison. His name is Mr Wilmur and hasn't been to church in 20 years....apparently he doesn't like the church here in Guyana and how it's run, but when he visits the states he goes to church. I know he sounds like a huge nerd, but that's what we are working with and who knows if the Lord has been preparing him.

The wealthy couple is not panning out to well...apparently the husband isn't too interested, and although the wife is interested, she is getting a lot of trouble from her husband. They actually got into a fight the another night about we are going to give them some distance right now. We don't wanna cause problems.

I'm doing great...I'm getting up early and working out still, although I'm not able to run because no one wants to. It's not to bad because we have bikes. But boy I can't wait until I can get home and run whenever I want!

JOSE CA is doing great! He came to church another time, and he is just one of those Africans that should do Dentyne commercials...always smiling! I have learned a tiny bit of Portuguese from some of the Brazilian members, and with that and Spanish we can carry on a lesson but it's still really rough. I did a splits with Elder Rodriguez this last week and he is able to communicate in Spanish pretty mind is starting to explode with all these languages though...currently we have investigators that speak only Spanish, Haitian creole(which I didn't know before), and Portuguese. I think the Lord is really blessing us to be able to teach and find these amazing humble people that let us and our terrible language share with them the message about the restoration! It is already blessing the life of Jose's the best! How many people really heard that a young boy conversed with God and angels only 200 years ago? To most that is blasphemy! We are part of a very very few that have heard and believed in the message of the Restoration...and we are blessed for it, aren't we? The church is just so SAWEET!

Well I gotta go, but take care. I love ya!

Andy and Elder Lunt just after a huge hurricane....ok, maybe just a really big rain storm.

Monday, June 7, 2010

"Ridin' In Style"

Well, our zone is the ultimate soccer zone. Basically you could put us up against Brazil and we would kick their trash! We have Elder West and Williams who come from England and they have played soccer their whole lives, as well as Elder Miranda from France, but By far Elder Rodriguez is the best player; he is incredible! So we have fun on Mondays making Elder Lunt and I look like fools.

Jose Wiliam was not baptized this week. We finally got permission again, but he didn't come to church. We will be fixing a baptismal date soon.

Tell Tucker that I sucked (about getting home at a decent hour) and that he needs to start practicing getting up at 6:30 so he is not like one of the puds that complains about it in the MTC! I got my whole apartment who has trouble getting up on time...I gotta plan something good to get them! If any one has any ideas I'll welcome hearing them. Cold Water? Elder Heiner was telling me the other day that he used a hot iron on his companion's foot once because he refused to get out of bed haha. I'm not that mean.......or am I?

We all got brand new bikes here in French Guyane...the coolest mission in the world is now complete!

Andy on a teaching appointment with John Paul, a member from Haiti

Andy wrote the following to President Gamiette:

Dear President,

My family is doing just wonderful this week. Although school has just got out for the summer, everyone is staying motivated and busy. My dad gave me some great advice this week in order to help me and Elder Lunt find the new branch president that Cayenne needs. My parents are staying motivated with me just till the end. They are the best.
Cayenne is going just wonderful. This was our first full week of good solid work! I feel close and "in" with the members once again. However for the first part of the week we searched searched and searched for a new branch president. We contacted everyone, and even did some tracting in areas where we felt we might find him(and I'm totally anti-tracting. But members were just hard to see in the beginning of the week. However we know that we will most likely find our branch president through referrals, as most of missionaries personal finding efforts lead us to the more humble people. We actually found many Haitians that were really humbled and interested, however, the state of Haitians refugees isn't the best for a new branch president. We are also teaching a young man from Africa. His name is Jose Ca. He is great. However, he only speaks Portuguese. He came to church this Sunday, and we plan to give him a baptismal date as soon as we learn how to say that in Portuguese. Luckily there are quite a few Brazilian members with whom we can work. But at the end of this week we are still looking for our branch president. Currently we are teaching a family who are a referral from a member. The husband is a business man who is wealthy. He is very smart and could be a great leader for the church. But he is wanting to go slow. His wife on the other hand wants to move faster. We may need to just pray these two into the church! Things are going really really well though.

Elder Lunt is tearing it up. He is always in a great mood, which is my kind of missionary. This week he had some break throughs as he has begun contacting without me for the first time! It was actually last night that he finally got the courage to break off and and get ur' done. That has been one of the reasons contacts have not been 10 each day, is because we had been doing them together. But, yesterday I believe Elder Lunt had 4 by himself! His effort and courage is inspiring and he is a great example. The french is coming as well... really slowly, but it's coming.

I feel the love of the Lord when I search each day to follow his will, and to reach my goals. The fatigue I feel at the end of each day fills my heart with thanks towards him and for the tiny understanding he is giving me about what he goes through for us! I search to draw myself even closer, and to tire myself a little more so that I might understand more and more. I love this great work in which we are engaged and I know that here in Cayenne we are about to see great things!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

"Boats to Build"

I actually slept through the whole flight over the Caribbean! I was so tired! We flew to Martinique and stopped to pick up some other passengers and then it's direct to Guyane. I did get woken up to have a breakfast. There is nothing better than a free airline meal isn't there? That goes right up there with staying in a hotel.

What a great week! I felt so blessed to be able to see all those great people back in Cayenne! I gotta see Cesar who has now taken over for Elder Rodriguez as translator during sacrament meeting. He is also teaching the gospel doctrine class to investigators and new converts, and is blessing the sacrament. Talk about a tender mercy from the Lord! It was so great to see him going strong. It was also equally great to see Jose William, who recently got permission to be baptized. Not just that but he has met another Latino member from the branch and they want to go to the temple! Jeah! But first things first for Jose...he must be baptized. The Fogas has been going well apparently...they are consistently inconsistent about coming to church...usually about once every two weeks. I was probably most happy to see Elder Rodriguez though. He definitely struggled with his last companion who didn't want to work too much...but he was a stud throughout the transfer. He is my boy and easily my best Pal in the mission. He has grown up tons since I was with him, and is now a powerhouse missionary. It's thanks to him the branch hasn't just fallen apart. But now we are back and we have some work to do. There will be no cutting corners though, it will be a lot of hard work, which I'm excited to have already started. The biggest work will be in finding a new branch president and bringing back all the french members that have gone inactive.

Andy wrote to President Gamiette:

Dear President,
Congratulations to your family on the recently completed triathlons and 5K race. I don't know if I told you in my last interview that I'm signed up for a marathon a month our two after I get home. Of course, right now I'm not focusing on training for it, however, I am keeping goals to help me stay in good enough physical shape to jump out of the starting blocks in a few months when I go home. And so for me your example really helps me see the importance again of fixing goals to meet the bigger and greater ones. That is my goal in Cayenne. I know we will not have much success if we do not fix marker goals. But I would like to share with you my personal goal for this transfer. I actually received it from the Lord. It was during sacrament meeting yesterday while we were taking the sacrament and I was doing a count of the members. I felt a strong impression that this branch needs a leader. Right now President Peredes is doing a so so job at branch president. But I had a very strong impression that Elder Lunt and I need to find a branch president this transfer. The funny thing is that later that night, when we past our branch president's home, we found out some interesting news. He and his family have just received French visas...they are planning to move to Paris within the next 3 months. For me that was a strong confirmation that what I had felt earlier was right. So that is our goal. We have not currently set any marker goals, but that will be very urgent to get done. I pray that I may have faith as Nephi and know that when the Lord commands, the way is prepared.

I would like to ask you though what might be some good Key Indicators for finding a branch president?

This week in Cayenne was not the best for numbers. Elder Lunt and I were getting familiar with some of the investigators that were left and try to build strong relationships with members. We are currently teaching a sweet family that is a referral from a good sister! They are not yet married, but are planning to get married by the end of the year. We are having a family night with them tonight and they are planning on attending church this next week.

We did have one investigator who came to church this last week. Evett has actually been to church 3 times already but for some reason had lost contact with the missionaries. She is great though! She was actually the one that invited herself to church.

Elder Lunt is doing well. This last transfer really hurt him though. He was not able to work because of being sick, and there was absolutely no progression in the language. I try to speak as much as I can without making him too frustrated. He is a great elder though! He is a totally different missionary when we contact someone who speaks English. I want to help him have the faith and courage to just give up the English, and I think he is close because as we live in an apartment of 4, the other two elders both speak only french. So, even though I have never been a fan of 4 missionaries in an apartment, it's actually really great for Elder Lunt.

Thanks president for putting me here in this great area! Things are going to get going! We are getting the whole zone going on 40 days again. When I got here there was absolutely nothing. Because of that less active work was slow last week, but things are starting up! I feel incredibly optimistic about the work!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Souvenirs (of Abymes)"

The One and Only President Eclar (originator of kicking butt)

Sisters Kasango, Prince, Monlouis, and Cesarin

Investigator Alain. He is a stud!

"Turning Around"

AYE AYE AYE ARRIBA ARRIBA(which actually means upstairs) I guess I'm going back to the JUNGLE! It is kind of a bittersweet for me. It is sweet because I will be able to see all my wonderful Colombian friends, and I'll be able to speak spanish again! JEAH! Elder Rodriguez will be with another elder from France that speaks Spanish really well, so I think my work with Spanish investigators will be fairly minimal. The only lame news is that I will be back in a car, STINK! I was just getting back into shape! Anyways, I'll be zone leader over there. Usually I would be depressed about that but I'm excited for the challenge. Apparently, French Guiana has not been doing that well. One of the branches is on the verge of collapsing, and the Spanish/French Cayenne branch is in cahoots. So this mountain ahead will keep the pedal to the metal for me. There is no letting up! My companion is a reincarnation of Jack Black..haha, he walks, talks, and cracks jokes like him. He came in with Elder Schwab and this whole last transfer he has been out with the Dengue(a nasty sickness, that they call the bone braking flu). So he has not had much experience. But I like him already, and know we will have a mighty great transfer.

We had a great lesson with Claude Laurent this week. He is really progressing, and although he said he doesn't want to get baptized at the moment(about a week ago), he is still coming to church probably. When he is at church he is great, however, when he is at home he doesn't do anything with his life. His inability to ACT is really preventing his FAITH from increasing to the point where he feel he needs to be baptized. I feel he recognizes that he feels good at church, and so he continues to come. Two days ago we had a great lesson with him and we taught him about the plan of salvation. The spirit was so strong as we taught him from the Book of Mormon about why we are here on the earth, and what we are here on earth to do. We read from Alma 32:32-34. As we used good questions to help him understand that we are here on the earth to prepare for eternity and to meet God he also understood that we can't just waste the precious little time we have. We then explained that the only way to use our time the best is by following the holy ghost. After which we read 2 Nephi 32:3 and 5....the spirit was so strong. We were planning on challenging him again to be baptized so he could always have that divine influence... however when we went to commit him, the spirit wasn't pushing us in that direction so we challenged him to read the scriptures every day. Nephi set those scriptures up in a way that either commitment works... but Claude was excited to do so and I really believe that as he keeps that commitment his faith is going to soar to the point that Elder schwab and his companion will baptize him in the next few weeks.

ZOUK (a type of local music) IS THE BOMB DIGGITY. IT IS EVERYWHERE HERE!....Look up a song called 'elle ou moi' and 'kembe red pas moli' They are two of my favorite I hear on the bus haha. I try not to listen to it too often because it really chases the spirit, but its still cool.

This transfer has just flown by, and without a baptism in the area I do feel I could have done a lot better. We were not as consistent at finding, teaching with members, and working with inactives as we should have been. The were times when we saw great success in each one of those aspects, but the consistency was less good. I have learned a lot by my mistakes though, so there are no regrets. I am comforted by the fact that the state that I leave my area is better than when I arrived! One Melchizedik priesthood holder was fully reactivated. Jose Lucea is now coming to church regularly, paying his tithing, reading his scriptures, and preparing to go to the temple. We are just finishing up that last step and he will be done with 40 Days. Another brother, Simon Laurent, is now working towards getting the 2 priesthoods. When I got to the area there were no investigators whatsoever. Right now there are 2 investigators, Claude Laurent(Simon's brother) and Alain. Alain just needs to stop drinking coffee and stop gambling. He is drinking and gambling less and less though as he reads the Book of Mormon. And last night he accepted a baptismal date for 3 weeks. There are many other investigators who have soft baptismal dates and have been to church at least one time.

I share you these things to not boast of me and my own work, but to show that despite my weaknesses as a missionary, despite all my flaws, I have still been able to be a tool in the hand of the Lord. I plan to apply what I have learned by my weaknesses to be a better missionary in Cayenne. I plan to hit the ground running! The mercy of our Heavenly Father inspires me to be better and to work harder.

So another week gone by....I thank you mom for the love and support you give me. I love you and pray all continue to goes well for everyone.

Monday, May 24, 2010

"Vampires, Mummies and the Holy Ghost" (or scaring Elder Scwab)

What is up everyone! It has been a great happy week in the wonderful city of Abymes. Mango trees are flourishing, banannas are dirt cheep, and it's been raining cats and dogs which is fun. One of the fun events this week is that I think Elder Schwab screamed about 9 times like a girl, hahah! He definately is a jumpy, so I have had fun scaring the poop out of him! I even got the cockroaches on my of them got into our rice and as Elder Schwab went to pour some rice, it scattered out, he screamed and the rice went flying. We are having fun though.

As for the work...this has been a very trying week for me and my companion. We experienced many many dissappointments. It seemed every goal we set fell through. And even as we worked our hardest, and did our best to clean ourselves of any ounce of lack of effort, it just didn't happen. Going into the week we had 4 baptismal dates. One had a baptismal date for this coming weekend, but he cancelled our last appointment with him last saturday and said he would not be able to come to church either. I'm convinced it is because he is not reading from the Book of Mormon. We made the faulty error of simply asking if he had read, and of course he said yes. I'm excited to apply the advice of President Gamiette so we can be more sure when our investigators are really reading or not. We will ask more penetrating follow up questions. "What have you felt?" or "What have you learned?". So we will do better with that. Currently we have some promising investigators, however, none of them were able to come to church this last week for legitimate reasons. This week we did have, however, 2 new potential priesthood holders at church. And in fact 3 in all. Claude Lorent has now been 3 times to church. Yes! The Lord needs his priesthood bearers here! There are so many amazing righteouss sisters, but sometimes us brotheren just need a slap in the head to get the motor runnin'. But, Claude likes us and he has a firm faith in God, but his lack of social skills mixed with a weak desire to read is making his conversion processes very slow... both spiritually and socially.

Elder Schwab is doing great! He is talking on the phone, and managing most of his contacts that he has in french! I have never seen a new elder learn so quickly! He is a stud, and right now we are just working to grow our testimonies in goal setting! I have had countless wonderful experiences of setting a goal and seeing miracles to reach it, however, I think maybe I have forgotten the work and the anching knees that went to reach those goals. So right now I must repent and do better so that Elder Schwab and I can both be better instraments in this great work, as well as to increase our personal testimonies in goal setting.

Abymes is going great! The members are starting to becoming a little too relaxed in the work. We are sort of getting into a routine of working with the same members, however, this week we are going to try to work on spreading the love, and get other members chances to work! I hope they see it in that way at least....

Well things are awesome here....I dont feel trunky at all...just feel like I need to kick more butt! I need to reach my goals! My faith is not yet where it needs to be, especially with goals. I believe that anything is possible with the help of God...well, I have maybe a tiny grain of a seed that that is true. If I truly believed it and had sufficient faith I would reach all my goals. That is my goal...I want to master that before my mission ends. Honestly...if I cant reach my goals/covenants that I fix with the Lord every night during nightly planning or during weekly planning, and those goals are of pure, and good desires. Probably the most pure goals I'll ever fix. How can I expect to reach personal goals such as scholastic, work or family ones? So these next few months I gotta push, grind, and above all pray so that I may reach my mountains all throughout my life and for eternity.

Anyways a big thumbs up from ABYMES

Monday, May 10, 2010

"Hot, hot, hot"

Sorry I didn't write much today. I want you all to do know that I don't plan to let up. I got to push push all the way so that my momentum will carry me through and past my return date home. I plan to serve, and kick just as much butt at home as I do here. That is my prayer. And so the same spirit that possesses my spirit on my mission will have the power over me after. That has kind of been my motto and my motivation. I just know if I can't learn to always have effective scripture studyings, to serve even when it's hard, to meet my goals, well then, I sure have no hope to do it after my mission. This work of saving souls, does not stop when I get home. If all I'm doing my working is saving mine own, so be it. But glory to God, and let us build up his kingdom in all parts of the world, and pray that we might be instruments in his hands.

I think it is kinda selfish of me, but I'm kinda hoping that Tucker leaves on his mission at least a little after I get home. about multiplying and replenishing the earth...that's wonderful news that Emily is pregnant.

Alright well I love yall...have a great week!

Also during our phone call with Andy for Mother's Day, Andy shared with us that he was fortunate enough to participate in a radio program that was broadcast throughout the French Caribbean. Andy, President Gamiette, Elder Lish, and a local member answered questions about the church and its missionary program.

It's been really hot on Guadeloupe. It reached 105 degrees on Sunday. The good side of the heat is that all the fruit is growing and ripe for the picking. He said that they are eating lots of mangos, plantains, and bread fruit. He shared with us how they prepared the bread fruit. He learned how to properly prepare it from Elder Anahia. First, put the fruit on the stove top and burn the skin. They then tear the skin from the fruit, and place the flesh in a towel or t-shirt. They beat the flesh until it is the consistency of dough. Then scoop the flesh into small ball shapes, and soak for two hours in coconut milk. Andy tells us that this is the way the Tahitians use the bread fruit, and it's a great treat.

Andy's Letter to President Gamiette:

Dear President,
Thank you so much for the wonderful Zone Conference that we had. I feel my faith was increased, especially to achieve our goals. These last couple months i have not been meeting all my goals and I realize the damage that it has done to my faith, and my ability to succeed. This week, and more precisely today, is the day that changes! Me and Elder Schwab are excited to go and be challenging and testifying misionaries. Last week we taught many first lessons, and found 8 New investigators that all accepted baptismal dates! What a miracle. We had over 10 people who should have come to church, but as the lord sometimes does, our faith was tried and only 3 ended up coming. However, we were not disappointed. These three people, Sister Onestas, Claude Laurent, and Charles Garnett, are all on track to be baptized soon. I am perfectly fine with the fact that 70 percent of those we challenged did not come to church, but the fact remains there are 3 people that we have on track to be baptized. What a miracle from the Lord! Me and elder Schwab are excited to go out and challenge some more this week. Our goal is to challenge 16 people this week to baptism. Like you during your mission, many are saying yes. So mine and Elder Schwab's goal now is to effectively help our amis (friends) progress by helping them read and understand the doctrines of the gospel according to the book of mormon and use members to integrate them and befriend them.

This week was not so great with our less actives. Our friend Lucea, however, is now active, and is now using his car to pick up members and investigators every Sunday! It has really been a real blessing for the branch. He is making huge sacrifices to come to church. This last Saturday he started work at 9 at night, finished at 7 Sunday morning. He went to church at 9 and then had to be back at work at 2. Great, great sacrifices for the Lord!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"That's What Living Is To Me"

The area is growing great! This week finished with bang! The hand of the Lord and his divine blessings were truly seen at the end of this week! For the most part, however, the first half of the week was extremely difficult. Elder Schwab and I made a goal to get our 10 contacts everyday no matter what! Every day we contacted everyone and consecrated much more time than usual to do contacts. Not only did we not have our 10 contacts each day, but we had less contacts than last week! We had 3 days where we didn't even go in for lunch! We eat good though...usually we have been buying tuna cans from the grocery store, and been putting that on a baguette...BON APPETIT! But, along with our contacts, our lessons were all down too. Every new investigator we have been teaching we have been giving baptismal dates to, and if they aren't ready we haven't been fixing return appointments. But its great, because although we have had trouble finding new investigators, but those we do have are progressing towards baptism. Throughout my mission I have thought, oh well, if not ready for baptism maybe they will be ready after understanding the plan of salvation, or the gospel. But, the truth is that God knows who he wants in his church, and HE prepares them! Elder Schwab and I have been striving to be the missionaries outlined in "A Challenging and Testifying Missionary", a great talk by Alvin A Dyer which Tuck should really read if he can find it....haha... It was pretty discouraging as we got rejected over and over again. But at church we ended up having 2 investigators that we hadn't expected as well as 5 returning members!

One of our strongest returning members, JOSE, just received a call to be branch clerk, he was beaming all Sunday! Sunday afternoon we were again blessed by the Lord when we were able to teach one of our contacts from earlier in the week. We taught them the restoration and the whole family felt and understood the truthfulness of the message. Despite the fact that they were all Catholics, who tend to be stubborn when given a baptismal commitment, Elder Schwab gave a great testimony helped the Holy Ghost sink deeper into their hearts. They want to be baptized! They are now praying about a date for the 25th. The area is going great, Elder Schwab is a great companion. He is a stud and is going to do great things on his mission!

For more baptisms, we have to get some people to church. I don't know if I told you about Alain? He came to church and was welcomed very well by the priesthood. I really like this guy. He has been giving me some pointers on how to cook fish! This week Elder Schwab and I made some dope creole rice with fish! It was pretty good...

HAHAHA....that is so cool that Tucker bought Airborne! I love that movie! I will vouch for Tuck that he always loved it! " I thought you played hockey" "ON NINTENDO!" hahaha

Because Mother's Day is on Sunday and I'm a little further from the Collings, I'll probably just use our cell phone and call you when we get home from working for the day...we will go in about 2 hours earlier to give us each some time to call...but how about 7 o'clock my time? I'll buy a calling card here, and I'll call either the home phone or a cell phone...let me know which one I should call and I'll check my email real quick Thursday when we update our online area book.

YES! I got the package on Tuesday! Thanks so much! Loved the jerky! I had forgotten how dang good that stuff was!

Keep kicking butt! I know that this is the Lord's work that we are doing! This is the most purifying and edifying work we can do...and it's not just being a full-time missionary that I'm talking about. Parenting, teaching in church, serving others, being an example, and just being charitable are all things that help to advance the kingdom of GOD! So let us work hard, play hard, and love hard and see the blessings of God poured out on our heads!

Monday, May 3, 2010

"Truck Stop Salvation"

I don't know...lately I have doubted my love for the people a little bit. I have found that I keep thinking that they are the biggest hypocrites. They talk more about God than any other culture, but they probably do the least about their beliefs. Everyone we teach seems to be another preacher, another pastor that knows everything about the Bible without having read it...and almost everyone has their "own way" to worship God that will save them. Of course, it is more than easy to love the members but sometimes I find I really need to persevere on my knees to find the love for the people here. I am praying everyday to love the people for who they are, and to love them a little bit more how God loves them. I do know that the people here are how they are not for any fault of their own, but because of the traditions of their fathers....they have been pounded with "the good word" since infancy to the point where we talk to them and it enters into their ears and goes out the other. It's just frustrating. But they are a people that have been so really is not their fault. We must just be that much more powerful with the spirit. And like you (mom) said make yourself available to the Holy Ghost's influence. The Book of Mormon is the key! Isn't it? I love it. That is our biggest goal when we teach. No man can pray to know if that book is true and not receive an answer if they read that book with a true desire to know if it's true and to change their life according to their answer.

Elder Schwab is a stud. He gets up at 6:15 to run at a park that is not to far from our home...but he is one of those persons that doesn't like to push himself too hard. Run one lap, walk another type haha. So I give him garbage about him working out like a girl, and he gives me garbage about eating like a girl . We are starting back up with Pres Menardin tomorrow...he was in Santo Domingo for an area conference.

HAHAHA....oh shoot....little Ty (Seagle) is not so innocent anymore (Ty pulled a trick with a zipper and a finger). It sounds like something T FUD would do. I can't wait to see my little bud Ty again. Ange and Bry have got a great family!

Andy's letter to President Gamiette follows:

The Abymes area is going just great! I'm so blessed at this time to be serving with a new elder, because he is helping me stay hopeful and faithful. We had a really rough week. We taught many first lessons this week, preaching the doctrine of the restoration. Although I did a lot of the teaching, Elder Schwab is helping out a lot as well, and he is doing great at testifying. The reason for why the week was hard was because we extended probably 15 baptismal dates and very few accepted. I felt the power of the Holy Ghost very strongly as we taught these people, and I knew that many of those we taught understood and felt the spirit as well. It is hard to see so many people turning this GREAT message down...THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE MISSING OUT ON!!! Oh how lucky I am to have Elder Schwab who always has an encouraging..."the next rendez vous will be the ONE" ...and I believe it...I believe as we go about preaching the word, tiring ourselves and being obedient we will continue to win God's trust and power. So we are keeping a good attitude and focusing on the great miracles and blessings we are seeing.

Speaking of which, our recent reactivated convert blessed the Sacrament yesterday. It was just wonderful to see this man, Jose, use the priesthood he has to bless the lives of members...our other recently activated brother, Simon, brought his brother to church yesterday. So things our going well!! This week we see a need to up our contacts. Elder Schwab has been pretty nervous and scared to do them, but his confidence is building up and he is really starting to come along.

Thanks president for allowing me to serve here in Abymes. These members are amazing; I love them so much, and I would really love to continue serving with them. Thanks for all you do.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Bank of Bad Habits"

Madame Onestas is hanging in there...thank you for your prayers. She came to church last week and loved it...she is such a sweet MAMMIE...every day for the last 10 years she has taken dinner to her son who is in the hospital. She lives with and takes care of her brother who is handicapped and she is just great. She is older though and real worried about damaging relations with the only people that matter to her. It's really unfortunate, but we have faith that all will go as the Lord wants.

Sometimes it seems that Guadeloupeans are just so hypocritical and numb to the word of God because they are preached it since they can walk. But because they have not received the true gospel, but an empty one, given by those that do not live what they teach, they are a little insensible to what we have to say sometimes.

Clean the cabin sounds like such a great activity... I would love to get my hands dirty and work on that cabin...I have been dreaming about the cabin for a much as I miss Utah...I miss the cabin even that works out great..everyone works on it and makes it look good for me when I get home!

HAHA...My siblings are such brats...sorry....I always tell my companions about how sorry I am for being such a turd before my mission...I always tell them of how I was a huge jerk to my family before my mission. But I have to say...I never had too many PPIs....maybe you should just bring back the spankings.

Well, I love you are the best...Elder Shwab and I are getting along just great! He is a stud from Seattle...we definitely don't have a lot in common...but that doesn't matter. In fact I have always gotten along better with companions least like me...I think because I try and pray harder to have a good relationship, knowing that if I don't there might be a problem.

Hahah the other night I got him so good! We were in an area where I had been last week when I was with Elder Evans. It was nighttime and it was real dark when we passed by a huge tree of bread fruit. And as I went over to pick one, a huge dog jumped out of no where and scared the crap out of me when I realized Elder Schwab and I were in the same area and it was dark I decided to be a huge jerk and scare him...Elder Schwab being all excited about Guadeloupe was starving to try every native fruit and food he could. So, naturally he was pretty quick to run up to the tree and grab a bread fruit.. almost on cue the dog jumped out and went after him as if it was gonna kill him...hahaha I have never seen an Elder run so fast and scream so much like a girl haha.....

It was fun...I love the mission...its just great!

Well I got to go...but I'll catch ya next week


Andy's Letter to President Gamiette:

Bonjour President,
Thank you for your email that boosts my spirits and lifts my hopes every week. This week although physically demanding, and spiritually draining, ended in a great way! Although the first two days of the week were extremely difficult to get things done(Elder Evans was sick) it seems Elder Schwab and I are off to a great start. Thanks for putting me with such an incredible elder. He is an incredible worker, doesn't complain, and has already an exemplary love for the people. This week has been a week of working through difficulties with investigators. We have one, Sister Shermain that should have been baptized this coming week. As soon as we heard the message from our zone leaders that you wanted all the missionaries to fix hard baptismal dates for this week, we went out and did it with her. We taught her the doctrine of the restoration. We helped her understand the restoration and its necessity to our salvation today. After we bore testimony, the spirit was there to push her to say yes to a baptismal date. Those teaching skills we worked on in conference are really working; we fixed two other soft dates this last week(yes we need more, and we will have 10 this week), but unfortunately with Shermain as we have come back to teach her again and again, she seems less and less ready. The change of heart has not yet occurred. We have been finding many new investigators through her however...this last Sunday we passed by her apartment and in the hour we were there we had 4 new investigators!

Our other investigator who had a BD for this Sunday is still facing family controversy over her baptism...they are all against it. We have taken President Kasaongo by to try and help...and we did succeed in befriending the children that were there. But they are still against it, and the solution lies in the faith of our investigator..she has a decision to make...

The returning members we have been working with are going well too...we are using 40 days to make them stronger and help them practice the traditions of Zion. We are slowly seeing the priesthood grow in Abymes and it's exciting...with more patience and continual hard work we will see some baptisms soon. I firmly believe that our success depends on our personal righteousness and our imploring the Lord for his help. We in Abymes and everywhere need HIS power to advance HIS work.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"The Oldest (Handiest) Frenchman in the Caribbean"

HEY EVERYONE....sorry I'm late in writing....this week has been crazy hard and difficult, at least for my own area. Three days this week i had to be out of the area for baptismal the work kinda of floundered... But i Still choose to glory in God and the his mighty hand in the work. What a great reason to rejoice! Three baptisms, three more Zion builders and workers. But, there will be a change in Abymes...Elder Evans will be going to the other Abymes Branch in Point a Pitre and I'll be training Elder Schuab!!! HAHA...STUMP THE SCHUAB (old game show on ESPN)...just by his name I'm sure he will be a pimp! He arrives tomorrow. So I already have some pretty funny ideas in my head about what he will look like.

But, let me tell you why the work has been a little rough...Madame Onestas is having her faith really tried at the moment. Like i told you, her baptismal date was for this next week. Well, when her children found out about that they did all they could to put a stop to it. Unfortunately, like many misinformed losers, they believe the rumors that fly around about our church. One of her sons is also Jehovah's Witness, and the crap he is giving her is about being baptized is enough to give her a heart attack. I talked with her last night and she really wants to be baptized...she has felt the spirit many times, and she sees its influence in the lives of other members. She is really confused though and does not want to create contention in the family. My new companion, Elder SCHUAB, and I will do our best to discuss the manner with her kids. I know she would benefit greatly from your prayers.

We have also been teaching another mamie...or grandma...Sister Vincia...from Dominica. She is a really smiley, happy lady! She is so humble as most Dominicans are. Ten years ago she met the missionaries and she was recontacted about 7 months ago. Things had slowly been progressing with her until finally she came to church my first week in the area! However, after that week she has had trouble keeping commitments and reading from the Book of Mormon. It was one of the hardest persons I have ever had to drop. She loves the missionaries so much and she has a testimony that all we teach is true...but right now was just not her time. I felt terrible as we said goodbye for the last time, but I have hope that the missionaries will once again contact her when she is more ready.

Although investigators are not panning out at the moment, we are finding a great deal of success with inactives. Simon and Jose both came to church this last Sunday, along with the Lunguidy family. It is really such a tender mercy from the Lord to be able to have even those little successes to keep motivated and excited about the work. It has been hard with Elder Roberts and Snow leaving and all. But I look forward to serving a good while longer among this absolutely incredible people.

I am not too nervous to train, i just hope the Lord will help me be someone of a good teacher for Elder Schuab...but as is usually the case I'm sure the Lord will permit that I end up learning much more.

Dang....the playoffs are heating up...the March Madness seemed pretty loco....and well there is much as I'm missing those sports I'm getting more and more nervous to get home. Seeing my buddies leave the field is hard each time, and makes me count my blessings and the good amount of time I have left. KICK BUTT!

Other tidbits: Now that some of the older missionaries have finished their missions, Andy is also close with "his current zone leader, Elder Lish and Elder West also. He is going to Guyan though so that sucks. Elder Roderiguez feels like my little bro, but I still talk to him every week or so. Ee is tearing it up in Guyane."

Sorry short emails this week! I didn't get too long


Monday, April 12, 2010

"The Hangout Gang" Has Gone Home

It sounds like conference was a very spiritual and uplifting weekend for you as it was for us, and I'm sure the rest of the kingdom around the world! We watched conference in the Abymes chapel with all the district of Guadeloupe. We were luckily able to watch it in English...we actually had to watch the first two talks in french on Saturday thanks to technical problems..and I realized that it really is so unfortunate for those of other matter how hard translators try they just cannot do the prophet or apostles justice. I'm grateful to the Lord who truly poured out his spirit upon the saints Easter weekend. The message for me was that yes times are hard, yes we may get discouraged, however, we must continue to strengthen ourselves and above all strengthen and protects others! And the overwhelming message that Christ lives, was exactly the spiritual means and inspiration we needed to go on forth. I want all to know, but especially the family to know, that I believe in the testimonies of our inspired leaders! Christ truly does live, and the Holy Ghost bears witness of it! The best way we can show forth our faith is by abiding in the same good works that the master abided in: Loving one another, serving one another, and extending arms of mercy and love to all those that need it. I felt so deeply a desire for the arms of mercy and love of my Savior this last weekend, so as Pres. Uchdorft said, it is not only proper, but obligatory that I extend the same to others.

I especially loved President Eyring's talk on diligence. His words ring true and especially at this moment on my mission when Elders Snow, Roberts, and some of the others will be going home(by next week I'll be the oldest french elder! Yikes!), but President Eyring's words and his example are like a great RA RA for me.

This last week has gone well. We ended up being able to teach quite a few lessons despite very a very ineffective weekend. Simon again came to church...he is progressing, but he still needs that confirming testimony that will be his rock and foundation in this church. We have a baptismal date for Madame Onestas on the 17th of next transfer...and we have another date with a sister who did not come to church. Besides Abymes, we also work in Morne-A-l'Eau, so I'm working in the ole stomping grounds (we worked there when I was in Moule).

Mom and dad, I want to thank you too for your great examples and teachings that helped me in finding my testimony early in life. Sometimes I wonder why I was not more grateful for that gift you had given me but I realize now I couldn't have been grateful for something I didn't know I never had, let alone understood. Oh I wish I could have recognized that which I'd had! To Ashley, Tuck, and Hill......YOU KNOW! Get on your knees and ask God to know if all the things mom and dad have taught are not true...better yet get out in mutual or at church and share with someone your testimony...take the leap of faith, and in doing these things you will gain that spiritual recognition of that which you already know and feel is true.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

"Coastal Confessions"

I must say that although our numbers do not show it this week, it was a successful week! We were be able to be with the members very often, however it seemed that many of the lessons we had would fall through. However we did not get discouraged but took advantage of the time we were with a member and we saw less actives or new converts. I predict that our lessons will continue to fall through too unless we can help the members have sufficient faith to take the gospel and the Book of Mormon to their friends. Those appointments don't fall through, and so Elder Evans and I are focusing on that and on making ourselves member trainers. The good thing about being with the members often is that we have many RCLA lessons which were taught with a member. We have been seeing some great success with two inactives in particular. Simon Laurent came to church again this week, and he attended a family night and institute all by his own. He should be receiving the priesthood pretty soon. The success with him has all been coming because of the Book of Mormon. He is getting into that powerful book and feeling the spirit as he does. He commented this week that he would like to go out with the missionaries to see some of his family and friends he wants to talk to about the church. We are also working with Jose, who is an inactive member of the Elders Quorum. I feel very deeply that things are progressing very well in Abymes, and with patience we will see members who are more converted and who are teaching inactives and investigators.

Hey paps thanks so much for the sports updates; it does the spirit some good. I have been thinking alot about sports...and how many regrets I have in them...How did you let me not play baseball? I hope we will be doing a softball league when I reach home.

About the march money is on Michigan State....cause I had their bball shorts....but as long as Duke doesn't win...I'm happy.

So this week has been blazing hot! We are actually in a pretty bad drought here...but fortunately no one has told the fruit trees yet...they are still pushing out bananas, passion fruits, mangoes, like we won the lottery...we joke (me and my companion) that he has a built in GPS of our area and he knows where every fruit tree is. It comes in handy while we are out walking in that Caribbean sun. This week I managed to make an alright Columbo...I wanna master it before i get home.

I'm glad to hear there is some campaigning to come to the West Indies Mission. Honestly there is not a better time to be coming to the West Indies Mission than in the next two years. President Gamiette is a man called of God and is one who magnifies the keys in which he has been given to save the souls of the people in this mission. As he has opened our eyes, our hearts, and our souls to the task at hand. In the west indies it has been scary at times... I don't know if I'm supposed to share this but only 5 of the 26 stakes in the Caribbean qualify as full functioning stakes....5...The priesthood keys and calls are not magnified as they should be, but the changes and training are being made to fix that. I am comforted that here in Guadeloupe the priesthood base is strong....we just lack numbers. Currently what lacks in Abymes is a ward mission we and our branch president have made a goal to find the ward mission leader and to baptize him...I love what happens in the church in Zarahemla as Alma establishes it more fully....and I see that happening here in Guadeloupe(Alma 6;6). I know that the call I've been giving is from God, and I'm learning more and more each day that the prophecy that those on the isles of the sea will be blessed does not only apply to the natives..but applies also to me. I'm SO LUCKY to be here...and I thank Heavenly Father so much for this great opportunity. I love the fam, and I thank all of yall for your support!

Kembe red Poma li!

Elder Andy Neff

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Book of Mormon is a "Diamond as Big as the Ritz"

THINGS ARE IN SWING here in Abymes. The work is about ready to explode. This last week Simon, a less active, came back to church. He has been a member since he was 8 years old...actually his mom was one of the first members on Guadeloupe, taught by the first two missionaries. She, too, is inactive, but we saw her the other day and set up a rendez vous for this week. So we are praying that will go well. We are really trying to find success with the members, and more importantly we are trying to make it THEIR success not ours. The missionaries have kind of done their thing in this area without the members for the last 2 years and nothing has really happened. It's true that there are a bunch of members who are kind of spiritually dragging their feet, so it has been hard in the past. But, I believe with the Book of Mormon, with spirit, and some Creole we are going to help them.

Haha, I love hearing about Trent doing a great job in his talk. He is such a stud! He is gonna get himself hitched pretty just watch!

Here is my letter to President Gamiette:

Dear President,

This week was quite an amazing improvement on the last week. We were able to see members and teach them more than 50% of the time. Some of them are starting to give us referrals because we have won their confidence. This week we worked with frere Jose Lucia in our area. He is less active and has recently been coming back to church. We are trying to focus on helping him understand the blessings and responsibility of the priesthood he has. Missionaries have taught and taught this man and all though he does make some baby steps to return he never has fully come back. The converting power of the Book of Mormon is incredible though. Our goal was to get him reading every day. Last Thursday as we read Nephi 2 with him, we had a breakthrough. We were talking about the great plan of happiness and the role our free agency plays in this plan. It was incredible as the spirit bore testimony to us by the Book of Mormon of this eternal truth. Jose began to understand by the spirit instead of his head how each choice in his life affected his eternal future. We were able to rejoice with him because of how excited he was about what he had learned. He said, I want to know why I have had this book for 4 years and have never learned that! He committed to read every day for the rest of his life! We are seeing great miracles President because people are reading the Book of Mormon! We are seeing great success with less actives...maybe you remember Simon Laurent who lives in Abymes? He is about 24 and has been a member for about...well since he was 8. He came back to church as well this last week...but my testimony has been so strengthened this week that these people who are coming to church for the first time, or returning after a long absence...that they will not stay if we can not help them read the Book of Mormon every day.

I love the Book of Mormon. Its my comfort, and my guide wherever Elder Evans and I go. It's that book that we turn to. It's amazing the blessings that spring up out of its pages...blessings that I didn't know existed before my mission! I'm so grateful to be out here serving, so that now I may recognize those blessings.

Monday, March 22, 2010

"Fat Person Man (or so Andy thinks)"

Thanks for the update on everyone....that was definitely weird to hear that they are all home...It kind of freaks me out!

Things are slowly starting to progress in Abymes. This week definitely could have been much much better, however I do not feel discouraged. On the other hand I feel very confident about what we need to do in Abymes. The area the we live in is not flooded with many members...most of them live in Pointre a Pitre, but Elder Evans and I are focusing on the few members and inactives that live here and in Morne a L'eau and we are going to strengthen them and get them preparing for the temple and we are going to teach all their friends that the lord is now placing in their paths, We have tried the contacting and tracting routes, and all we have met is missed rendezvous, with nothing else but more tracting and contacting to do in replace. Of course we are still striving to get our 70 contacts each week(this last week my companion fell sick again Sunday after church so we did not get a chance to finish our 70) so that we may teach and baptize those that the Lord puts in our path, however we will focus on those the Lord puts around the members. Already tonight we have two lessons set up to teach at members' homes to referrals.

Elder Evans and I are getting along just great. He is a very talented and strong missionary, and I feel it a privilege to serve with him. He has already become a very good friend.

Well, this week I was really touched by the lesson the assistants taught on planning. They taught of the importance of planning and how it is something our Heavenly Father has mastered. It really changed my perspective and view of my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I caught a little spiritual glimpse of what they might be like, and how I can reflect their traits by mastering planning and many other godly attributes on my mission. The spirit testified to me that we are all God's spiritual children, and with work we may all become like him.

The work is advancing, and like you said in your e-mail, I'm not going to expect a great change in the work, but by working hard I'm fairly certain we will see some changes by the end of the transfer. Again not huge ones, but we are going to be focusing getting some inactives strong and back at church. Christ always focused on the one...not groups. I feel very sure and confident in the work right now, and I know that's the spirit testifying to me that Elder Evans are on the right track.

On another good note, Elder Evans and I are walking tons! It feels great to get those legs alive again and work on that huge butt of mine. Every Tuesday and Friday we have a kick butt workout with President Menardin! He is legit...the legend is that it was him that Warner Brothers used to create the bat suit mold from batman haha. This last Friday we went with him early in the morning to these huge flight of stairs where he kicked our trash...There are six flights in all and the last workout I carried Elder Evans on my back all the way up. Gotta love the workouts! I've decided that I want to run the St. George marathon this year so if you can would you sign me up? Thanks a honey bunches of oats

Well I gotta bounce

I love you all so much, and I pray that you are well.

Monday, March 8, 2010

"Only Time Will Tell"

This week was pretty difficult as you read (see the e-mail to Pres. Gamiette below), however, I'm not discouraged... it just means we have tons of room to improve. I love my companion, Elder Evans. He is a stud. He is from West Jordan. He played all kinds of sport there...track, water polo, volleyball. It's cool because he likes to work out. He is huge, a giant we could say. His personality and size remind me a lot of Pat! He is a motivated missionary, I believe, but the last couple transfers he has been with some elders who are not the most obedient. It's not difficult, but he wants to change I'm pretty sure. Actually, before we did any work together I asked, I asked him if he would like to pray with me for a moment so that we could really be unified and of one heart in accomplishing what we need to in Abymes. While he prayed he asked that the Lord help him be more obedient than he has been. I was really touched by his humility, and am grateful for his desire. Unfortunately, the change will take some time. But with the Lord's help, sooner rather than later.

He is a sweet guy though. He is kinda like me because in one sense he is a joker, loves sports, loves activity and goofin' around, but he also has his nerdy side. Superman, enders game, star wars....haha the best kind of man!

To answer your questions:
Well, you pronounce Abymes come (a-beemes,and no I have never been in the branch before. They are in the same building however as Lamentin(so I got to see all my buddies over there, SCHWEET!). But, I already knew quite a few of the Abymes members. The only problem is that hardly any of them live in our area. There are two sets of missionaries in the Abymes branch. Point a Pitre and Abymes...and most of the members live in Point a Pitre...but there are inactives and new converts in ours. OH YEAH, and also Moule now comes to the Abymes branch so a couple of days of the week we visit those members. I saw Luisant(my first baptism in Moule) I was so happy to talk with him and actually understand him. I also saw George who is doing sweet in Lamentin! He is a butt kicker, he is teaching with the missionaries a couple of times a week and doing great. We were both excited to see each other.

It's sad though Elder Snow is not in Guadeloupe so I won't see him before he dies. He is going home next transfer! He is in St Martin. I talked to him the other day though. Everyone in his ward and in his family except his dad think he is coming home a month later. He told them he extended his mission, haha. He wanted to surprise his mom. He says she was pretty bummed when he told her that he was staying an extra month haha.

Well i gotta bounce> LATER

Andy's letter to President Gamiette:

Dear President,

This is one of those weeks where I'm a little ashamed of having to report to you such low numbers. I know that we and the members can do better. Our first real day of work was Thursday and my companion fell sick on Sunday. So these are our three day numbers. When I arrived there were no progressing investigators. I know that this area has been hard for the last few transfers, but I have faith we can see great success here if we work with all the members here. Our goal is to really strengthen them and help them practice all the traditions of Zion, including that of missionary work. We are getting referrals and people are preparing for the temple. I'm grateful to be in a place that needs a lot of improvement. I know there are many things that I'll be able learn and many ways in which I'll be able to help.

When I arrived my first goal was to make sure my companion and I would be one…so we prayed and talked about goals, and the plan of the mission. I know that this plan is the unifying factor and stepping stone to bringing Abymes to the next level. But first we must be one, and make sure everyone has and is aware of our work and goals. Elder Evans and I discussed the mission plan with our wonderful branch president Kasango.

My testimony is strong. I'm learning more and more each week about sanctifying myself so that I might be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to bringing others, whomever it may be, unto Him. I feel that I have an incredible long distance to go before I reach where I want to be, but little by little, it comes.