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!