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.