Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Love and Luck"

We had a beautiful baptism for Cesar this week, and although Jose was not there with him in white, he felt the spirit of it all, and the sacred alliance Cesar made. Jose is going to have to wait...something that we didn't expect, we are just waiting on permission from Salt Lake. But he is strong! He is going to be baptised without a shadow of a doubt! He is my buddy Jose. This last week as we taught the law of chastity he shyly asked if it's alright to date woman from the church. Of course we answered that it was more than alright but encouraged. He was all smiles after that. Haha. After playing detective for a minute we found out he has a crush on the organist. She is about the same age as him, 30ish, but she does not speak a lick of Spanish, and he doesn't speak a lick of French. Hahah...even after telling him that though he was just fine knowing that he could give it a shot. He is a great brother though.
Elder Rodriguez and I are getting along great. He gets mad because I laugh at his accent when he speaks in English, but whatever...I think it's hilarious... I told him he can make fun of my Spanish and French accents which are terrible if it makes him feel better. But, I learn a lot from him about being patient and kicking butt. We start today working in Cayenne all by ourselves now that Elder Anahia and Taerea have left. That was hard to see them go. One because Elder Anahia was a G...He was one of my good good friends in the mission. Two, it reminded me that I have less than 6 months left. PEDAL TO THE MEDAL THOUGH. With only two of us we know that the work will be hard, and will require much planning and effort to stay on top of the work load. But, we are excited to be able to work again with most of the French members. We feel that this branch has a lot of room to grow in unity. And it's a real thin line that the branch walks right now. The last couple of weeks we have seen members walk out of sacrament meeting because they were sick of hearing Spanish, or sick of the slowness of talks because of translations from Spanish to French(or French to Spanish). President Parades is still new, and is learning a lot still. And we try to support him in everything he does. He is the glue of the branch right now even if some of the members don't realize it. As we have seen these problems though, I have been deeply touched by the love of God. My love for all the members here in Cayenne has grown so much. By loving them I have been able to understand their differences and why the complain sometimes. Elder Rodriguez and I are working our hardest to invite members to do missionary work, magnify their callings, and love each other. We are excited about the work here because there is much faith in these members. Because of their faith they will answer the call to do missionary work, and as they do that I know the work of God will unify them.

My testimony is built upon a sure foundation, it always pushes me through. I see the testimonies pushing them through as well and I know that God is ready to pour out his blessings here in Cayenne if the missionaries and the members can be the obedient saints worthy of such blessings.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"The Perfect Partner"

This week has been such a great success. Our zone is finally starting to baptize weekly! The elders are all doing their best to reach the goals we have set together as a zone so that we may accomplish all that we have accomplished as a mission! As President Eclar in Guadeloupe says, IF YA BELIEVE, YOU WILL SEE! Well we believe in our goals, and that they are covenants we make with Heavenly Father. We try our best to reach every single goal. Of course, we are far from perfect, and we repent when we make mistakes. But instead of being discouraged by my weaknesses and faults, I am encouraged because I know that we can see even greater miracles. I know that by Jesus Christ and his infinite atonement we can become better, and I'll never forget. Elder Rodriguez and I have had some great spiritual experiences this week with our two investigators Jose and Cesar who are both prepared to be baptised this next Saturday. They are both so excited! This week Cesar went up to a member and with his broken french asked her to come to his baptism and also to say one of the prayers at the baptismal service. Oh how good I felt to see that. To see the smile on the member's face, and how much that flattered her. I know that because they have taken the steps of true repentance Cesar and Jose will both be members that will stay in the church. We are having also success in teaching by the Book of Mormon, and finding referrals. This week the focus of Elder Rodriguez and me is to help the members and more importantly the branch leaders catch the vision of the mission by studying the mission plan with them. I'm so grateful to be here in Cayenne and to be able to play a part in the great work that is happening here. ELDER RODRIGUEZ

Um....really quick, you asked about investigators. Well who knows really? We are teaching about 90 percent in Spanish, so I'm lost. haha. It's definitely a different work I'm doing here especially since Elder Rodriguez does a good portion of the teaching. But he is a stud! I have not seen a missionary with his desire to kick butt before since Elder Garotta! It's a euro thing maybe(who would have thought Europeans?).

Anyways...actually the Spanish is going fairly well. I understand fine when we teach and talk about the lessons and religion, but outside of that I'm lost. It's coming though. I'm hoping to stay another transfer at least; I imagine I will too since we have been seeing so much success. Oh, I forgot to tell you that last week Delaina Fogus was baptised. She was a daughter of that family Elder Copa and I reactivated. That was such a great baptism. The family has been steadfast at coming back to church, and are talking with president about a plan to go to the temple.

Sorry but the baptisms for Jose and Cesar are next week. Gosh They are Saweet though!Every lesson is just smooth as butter!

Note to mom:
Its been a tiring week! Actually the whole transfer has been tiring! Ever since I started getting close to the 18th month mark, I have been freaking out a little at how fast time has gone by and how little I have left. I gotta kick it in to overdrive. So I have been really, really, really lame at letters. But...I do want to wish you big happy birthday this Thursday? I know its the 18th...you are the best mom!

YOU are the ideal kick butter.

Monday, February 8, 2010

"Slow Boat to Suriname"

For the zone conference this past week, Andy travelled first to Kourou by van where they picked up a couple of missionaries.

Then on to the border of Suriname where they took a motor-powered canoe to cross the Maroni River:

Finally taking a taxi and arriving at the Church for Zone Conference.


especially when you have euros....you are kings!

We did our shopping for 3 weeks there...just because it is so much cheaper....we also bought some things for the Colombians here because it is so much cheaper. It was nice to do something nice for them. I loved what mom and dad had to say about service. Conference was extremely uplifting..I really liked the lesson Elder Barton and his companion shared. I learned so many things..and now I'm trying to apply them. Already I'm seeing many results. I'm still trying to master the art of reaching my goals. I truly know that all our goals are possible. Right now I've been learning to be patient with myself and that although I expect to reach them all, if I don't reach them it should not be a reason to get down on myself but to learn and to thank the Lord for his grace, and example of perfection.
Stake conference sounded great. I have been learning so much about service the last couple of weeks...because, for me, these refugees are the living examples of what service is. Usually true service is not something convenient or something easy. It is something that may take you out of your comfort zone. I know its not easy whenever President Peredez invites 8 people to eat over at his home during the week that he doesn't know at all. All he knows is that they are refugees and they need food. So he invites anybody knowing that its takes away from the very little food that he has for his family. He also recognizes service as the very best way to do missionary service because it is not simply teaching or talking about the gospel, but living it. MAN I LOVE IT HERE!

Andy's letter to President Gammiete follows:

Dear President,
Elder Rodriguez and I left zone conference on a spiritual high. We were focused and had faith that we would reach our goals. And I testify that faith and attitude change the work. We had one of the best weeks of my mission this week. This week in Cayenne we saw so many miracles. We saw members working together, overcoming language barriers to serve one another and investigators, and felt the holy ghost powerfully during sacrament meeting. Right now we have two investigators that are truly two of the elect of God, Cesar and Jose. The very first lesson with Cesar we fixed a baptismal date with him, and since we fixed it his testimony has been strengthened because of the book of Mormon and the great spirits of the members. With our other investigator, Jose, we had an incredible first lesson but did not feel prompted to exend a baptismal date right then. One day later we had an activity at the church and the spirit had so worked on him that he asked us what he needed to do to join the church. We fixed 5 other baptismal dates during the week....our only problem was we need Spanish Book of Mormons for these persons or they cannot meet the criteria for baptism. The miracle came Sunday when the big shipment of Book of Mormons arrived during our fast to receive them. Things are moving!...the members are excited and it shows by the references we get from them!

Elder Rodriguez is a great missionary. It sometimes feels....well, actually quite often, as if I'm the one being trained. He is a stud, and is already far and ahead where most missionaries are after 2 transfers. We are getting along great, and learning tons from each other.

My testimony is continuing to grow. I'm grateful for the trials and obstacles that God gives just when our testimony seems to plateau...Heavenly Father always is mindful of what we need.

Monday, February 1, 2010

"Kick It In Second Wind"

Its so true that we can never be grateful enough for our trials and the humbling and learning power in them.
Haha TY….he is still a small little squirt huh? I can just imagine the dog all over him.
SHOOT! I can't believe T FUD is 19…CRAZY…I got an email from my boy Scott today and he said he saw Tuck at his homecoming…said he is looking real good…ok, well I guess his words were he looks a lot like me…haha same thing.

Hey everybody. This week has been such a SWEET week ! Miracles have happened and Elder Rodriguez and I have been kicking butt! This week has been a real testimony builder on how unfaithful it is to doubt, or to be negative. It was this last Tuesday when I realized how weaksauce I had been. Because last Sunday at church was the lowest we had seen at church in all the time I had been there, I think I had started to question a little bit about how effective the change of the Branch President had been. Elder Rodriguez is having to translate so much for President and all the other members(remember that half the branch is still French) and I had to do it to when Elder Rodriguez was busy…that things were not moving very fast. We have a huge activity planned for next Saturday and by Tuesday not much had been planned just because of communication problems. We had virtually no investigators, all had kinda of just fallen away little by little. And as Elder Rodriguez and I walked Tuesday in the pouring rain, I think I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, I felt a little useless about learning Spanish. I went to from being pretty confident in French to Greeny status in Spanish. And I think I was feeling kind of discouraged. As Elder Rodriguez and I walked in the rain, I started thinking about all the sweet blessings I had..at how much the gospel has blessed my life and the lives of millions of others. I asked myself, who am I to be discouraged? Of course it's sad when your investigators don’t accept what we are trying to offer them…of course it breaks your heart when you see members fall away and not come to church, but how do you think GOD feels? Millions of his children choose the world and iniquity over HIM and happiness every day. That’s just how it is! But we who have received so many blessings! We, who claim to have faith in Jesus Christ, KNOW that the scriptures are true, and if we endure we will be received into the mansions of heaven. We have no reason to despair. SO as we walked and I was thinking these thoughts, and thinking of what a loser I had been the last couple days. I started to have some fun with Elder Rodriguez, I wanted to get him loving his mission, even when it's hard. I bore my testimony to him a little bit of what I did just now and then we decided to be real full time buttkickers the rest of the week, no discouragement, or despair...but just good old fashioned buttkickin! HAHA its was the best week ever! We had some great lessons with some sweet refugees. We aren’t really teaching many French people, because the Spanish are much more humble. This Friday we taught two new investigators we found who just barely arrived from Columbia. One is named Jose, and was a police officer in the Colombian police(which is apparently pretty risky business). He was forced to leave the country by the rebels. He has seen a lot of suffering lately, and had to leave his family behind in Columbia. We taught him and the man he lives with, Celsar. They were both sweet lessons, and although its hard in Spanish, we are teaching 50 percent each one. Elder Rodriguez has a lot of patience for me, he is my boy … but little by little its coming. Aside from the Latinos, we are working with many French inactives. The Sebeloe family came back to church this last week. And the mother has started reading her scriptures everyday! It's sweet because when they were baptized(about a year ago) she was by far the weak link in the family, however now she has turned into the gears behind the family. Always pushing to get them to pray together.
We have a couple baptismal dates but they are in about 2 weeks…its good to see the difference it has made in changing the baptism criteria. President Gamiette and the zone leaders really raised the bar when we had our meeting in Trinidad…and since then baptisms have been really down, but the quality of baptisms has really increased. Because of the new criteria it requires that we be a lot better teachers, and to teach with the converting power of the Book of Mormon.

In another e-mail:

I have been thinking a lot this week concerning our reason to be here on earth. And and of all the experiences and trials we have here are really just given to us as preparation. We know that if we endure(which I think can mean learn as well) from all our experiences here on earth we will one day be like GOD, and like Jesus Christ. We must use our agency to learn to make the same choices Jesus and our Heavenly Father would make.

'how bout them jazz'

It's nice to see they are playing well...I cant wait to get a letter from Aunt Carol!

SO right now we are in KOUROU...we woke up at 4 in the morning to start the drive across French Guyana to go to SURINAME! Its going to be sweet! Because Chas is assistant to President I'll be seeing my BOYEE there a little later. So it will be fun...no worries I'll take plenty pictures of the boat ride!