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.

Monday, March 1, 2010

"Cayenne, Fare You Well"

Andy included a copy of his weekly e-mail to President Gamiette:

Dear President,
We had another awesome week in Cayenne! And the best part is that there is room for a lot of improvement! Normally those two sentences don't work together, however, this week they do. This week we found many inactives who decided to come back to church and some of them are potential Melchizedek priesthood holders! We have been working with inactives very hard this week. We have been teaching nearly every hour of each day. The improvement, however, comes in finding the balance between the large reactivation work that is going on and the investigators. The goal this week is to work with these inactives and find those that the Lord has thoughtfully put around them. I know that there are many prepared elect around the inactives and new converts. Already this last week we received two references who I'm sure will be baptized in the next couple of weeks. They did not come to church unfortunately because it wasn't until last night that we taught them for the first time.

All In Cayenne is up to date. After our zone conference I made sure to be diligent every night with the area that is up to date, and Elder Olsen and the other two new missionaries coming to Cayenne won't miss a beat!

The unity in the branch is doing much better as well. Our numbers don't show it, but we spent a lot of time teaching active members the doctrines behind baptism, the sacrament, and all church functions. As I said last week, the language barriers have upset some members that have not understood. Elder Rodriguez and I prayed really hard to be able to love the members who had been much less than patient. And it was so easy, after praying for that, to teach them with love and understanding, and then to help them understand. This last Sunday was much much more edifying and the spirit of unity was strongly present. The Branch is in good hands and the last touches before I leave will be updating 40 Days.

I want to thank you President for the chance I have had to serve in Cayenne and especially with Elder Rodriguez. I have loved my companion as well as Cayenne. I m excited to try to work in Abymes...from what you said it seems that the members need some inspiration to work and serve the Lord. I pray that the Lord will strengthen me and Elder Evans so that we may really strengthen that branch.

Elder Neff

The Fogas Family in Cayenne

Andy wrote to us:

Hey Mom and Dad, thanks for the emails

Its always good to hear from you two...

This week was much much better. The Lord really prepared me for the transfer call this week that I would be leaving. I have not yet had to say goodbye to these families but I have almost shed a few tears already......ALMOST haha. I was pretty depressed when I heard from the Collings that I would be going back to Guadeloupe. I was loving my time here. The Spanish, the people, the car! Oh wait the car sucks....but really...I was depressed until President called me the day after and explained why he wanted to change. He said he really needs me to work with the members in Abymes...the branch is not doing any missionary work, and they have been stagnant the last few months....President's love, faith, and encouragement was really motivating. Right now I'm stoked to go to Abymes and tear it up! I'm going to work my tail off....KICK BUTT MAN!....This whole next transfer, I will never wake up after 5, and I'll never miss a day of studying from the Book of Mormon.

I have really appreciated the tender mercies of the Lord especially at the end of this week.... At the beginning of the week like my email showed, I was really worrying about the well-being of the branch....members were complaining, and there was just not a sense of unity. All of the members loved the missionaries, and it was almost like it was that love that was holding it together...we were just the intermediaries for the French and Spanish speaking people. Ok, I guess I make it sound like a war, and it was nothing like that, but they just were not meshing. And I don't blame them! Language barriers are hard! But I remembered back to when I just started speaking French all the time, and it was really hard to have a good relationship with my companions without being able to really communicate. I remember that I read Moroni 7:48, which tells us we must pray to have a pure love of Christ. As I did that, and I prayed to love my companion as Christ would I began to understand and to have great patience with my companion. Obviously those were two things this branch needs, so Elder Rodriguez and I began sharing that message with a couple members. Those that we taught this great principal of love, and that we challenged to pray for it and pray to have patience with the leaders of the church...we found that it works. One member that was having a problem with our Branch President didn't come to church last week. We passed by his house twice this week. The first time we shared that message the man was prideful, not understanding, and ornery... and the next we came and the spirit was in His Home, He was smiling, and he told us, "Elders! I talked with the Branch President. I think we understand each other now!" He was at church yesterday and back to normal.

There were many more cases like that, and I'm so grateful the Lord prepared me to leave with such a great week.

Well, it sounds like I'm gonna start getting to hear about a lot of homecomings... TOMMY, BOX, and then GARR? Or who? Chas only has two more transfers...time is flying!

Let everyone know my mail address will be once again at the Colling's address.

Andy and Cesar at Baptismal Service