Monday, July 27, 2015

Week 7: First Area - Matola

Well, week one is over and it feels like ages since I've had a P-Day! The flight over here was super draining and long and boring! Everyone keeps telling me that I'm super lucky to have been to London, but all I could see was an airport from the windows, plus I flew in the middle of the plane, so I didn't even see anything, but whatever! But anyway! We flew to Johannesburg with a whole slew of other missionaries, 14 of us in total, I think! Some were going to Angola, some to Madagascar, and then there were the 5 of us going to Mozambique! We were supposed to have 3 more Elders with us, but 2 had some minor Visa problems and one had to get a surgery, but they should get here within the next two weeks!

Okay, So I'm serving in Matola!!!!! Matola 2 Ward is the ward that we are assigned to! Our area covers Units G, H, and F in the Matola units on the outskirts of the main city of Matola! It is awesome!!!!! I found out where I was going, and who I was going to be with about a few hours before I went to my area. My companion is Elder Badger and he's from Missouri! He is super awesome! He's got 4 transfers left on his mission and he speaks Portuguese super well! 

The language isn't as much as a barrier as I thought that it would be! I can actually speak pretty well about quite a number of things, but it is just difficult for me to understand people on my own, so a lot of the times, Elder Badger translates or handles the conversations, but I do participate quite a bit in the discussions! But I'm actually learning quite a bit of the African Dialect that they speak in Matola and Maputo, its called Chongane! In fact, we've both started to pick up some Chongane! Chongane is the dialect that they speak in Matola and Maputo! So it is super cool! We know a bunch of greetings and salutations in Chongane, and the older generation thinks it’s hilarious when Mulungos (White Guys) try speaking Chongane!

So pertaining to this, last night we were walking to an appointment, and we were walking past a group of Elderly Men outside of some hole in the wall bar (They are literally holes in the wall- It is a little room, tiny, like, smaller than my bathroom back home, with a bunch of beers on shelves that the "bartender" serves. These "bars" are all over the place here!) But as we were walking past them, I said, "Xipelele" (Zipayleelay) which means goodnight, and one of them just lit up with a big smile and walked over toward me! I was so happy! I had said it right and they were all laughing that I could speak Chongane! So he walks over to me and grabs my hand super fast to shake it. He caught hold of my index and middle finger in his hand and latched onto me! He would not let go! Elder Badger was on the phone a few feet ahead and didn't even realize what was going on! So this man (they were all probably in their 60's) starts trying to drag me into the alley! Now it is night time, its dark, I have no idea what he's saying to me, there are 5 strange old men pulling me into a dark alley, and my companion has no idea what is happening!!!!! You can imagine my fear! I've only been here for a few days, and I'm thinking that a bunch of 60 year old drunk men are going to kill me! So I keep trying to pull my fingers out of his death grip and I suddenly realize that his buddies aren't trying to grab me, but are trying to pull us apart, and I'm suddenly aware that one of them is speaking English, primitive African English, but is telling me to be careful! I was trying so hard to think in Portuguese and trying to understand what they were saying, that I couldn't even understand him when he was trying to use English! So eventually, his buddies pull him off of me, and I go walking away to try to catch up to my companion that has no idea what just happened!!! As I'm walking away, I shout back, "Canimambo!" Which means thank you, and they all just laughed again! So yeah! I thought I was going to die!!! Haha! So that was fun!

So yeah, we landed in Mozambique on Wednesday at around Noon and were greeted by the AP's, the Mission President and his Wife, the office Elders, and a couple of Sister Missionaries (to pick up Sister Chunga who came with us)! So we jumped in the cars with all of our luggage and I thought that we were going to die. Everyone drives so crazy. We drive on the left side of the road here, and the roads are terrible by the way- pot holes everywhere- and there are really no traffic laws! People drive wherever they want and hope that they don't get hit! The way I had it explained to me is that everyone is such a bad driver, that it just works out! You'll be flying through traffic, dodging cars and people by only inches between life and getting in an accident! Plus all of the cars are stick shift, which just adds another level of suspense to it, because the stick is in your left hand, because the car setup is backwards, so yeah. Needless to say, it is crazy, but it works!

So we got to the Mission Home/Office and they told us to go take a nap! I didn't feel tired, and I really just wanted to go out proselyting, but they insisted that we go to bed. So reluctantly I struggled to get into bed because of the Mosquito net, and was out within 2 minutes! I took and 8 hour "nap"! We slept from 2 in the afternoon until 10! We woke up, had dinner, and then went back to bed again!!! So we got something like 15 hours of sleep or something like that! But we stayed in the Mission Home/Office for Wednesday, Thursday, and we left to our areas on Friday afternoon! So the field is awesome!

Last night we committed a family to baptism and marriage! They are a new contact that last night was our first meeting with them! They have come to Church the past 2 weeks BY THEMSELVES! Apparently they had met with a couple of missionaries a long time ago and believed everything, then something happened and they stopped getting taught! But within 5 minutes of our lesson the Husband said that pretty much he knows that our church is the true church of God and that he wants to get baptized!!!!! Whoa!!!!! That floored us! So we said that we can definitely do that, but that we had to talk about marriage with him... So Labolo is the dowry that the husband has to pay his father-in-law to marry his daughter! The father in law can ask for as much as 10,000 Meticais!!!!! This is ridiculous money here! Just as a comparison, One US dollar is 40 meticais, here! We bought a pineapple the other day for 25 Met, so it was like 60ish cents! And so everything is super cheap here! A choppa ride, which I haven't had yet, but will have today, is only 7 Met, and they take you pretty much wherever you need to go, Choppas are their bus system, and I'll send some pictures hopefully sometime next week! But the theory is to cram as many people as possible into the rickety van, they can seriously cram 30 people into a 15 passenger van, don't ask me how! But yeah! 

Well, I'm just about out of time, so I'll finish up by saying that I know that this Work is the work of the Lord and I am honored and privileged to be a part of it!!! I love you all! Have a wonderful Week! 
Tchau tchau!!!

Elder Ryland Rash

Elder Rash with President & Sister Koch

Missionaries being greeted by President & Sister Koch

Elder Rash arriving in Mozambique

Instruction from President Koch
A Brazilian Dinner in Mozambique

In the mission home

Elder Rash's Trainer - Elder Badger

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Week 6: Travelling to Africa

Unfortunately, we will have no letter from Ryland this week as he is traveling to Mozambique. As I write this, Ryland is about 1 hour from landing in Johannesburg, South Africa for a short layover before making his final flight to Maputo. We were fortunate to be able to speak to Ryland three times during his travels, so his mother is quite happy. Ryland called us from the airport in Salt Lake, Dallas, and London. Ryland will have spent nearly 2 full days traveling and 24 hrs of actual flight time to get to Mozambique. Ryland said he was able to sleep some on the flight to London. He and his companions had center seats and the 3 of them were the only ones on the row so they could spread out a little and stretch out some.

During our phone calls, Ryland said he is just anxious to get to Mozambique. He spoke to us in Portuguese and sounded pretty good, but what do I really know? He loved his time in the MTC. He has really enjoyed being in a threesome with his other two companions. A total of 7 missionaries actually traveled to Mozambique. Two additional missionaries did not receive their visas in time and had to remain behind at the MTC until the visas arrive. Ryland expressed his love for everyone. Ryland is definately maturing just in this short time at the MTC.

Stay tuned for the first email from Mozambique next week. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Week 5: Last Week In The MTC

So this is my last week here in the MTC!!! I leave Monday morning on a 2 day journey to Mozambique! I leave on the 20th and arrive on the 22nd! Yay! The travel office can't really tell us much about our Visas other than that we haven't been reassigned, which is a good sign! We have received our itineraries and so we most likely have our Visas! They tell us that "No news is Good News!" Meaning that if there aren't any hang ups, they can't tell you anything! So yeah... That's all I know! But I sent home a picture of my flight itinerary! So take a look at that! My layovers are sick!

So on Tuesday, July 7th, we had a Devotional in which he spoke about the importance of the First Vision in conversion. He said, "The First Vision is Sacred and Precious and Important. It is a gift. Give it as such." Super good talk! He also said, "You don't have to believe the missionaries about the First Vision, Ask God; He was there, and He'll tell you!"

Then on Friday we got to watch the Broadcast of President Packer's Funeral. And that was a really neat and sacred experience. As I sat pondering before the funeral, they had the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing, and as I pondered, I could imagine the hosts of heaven singing and rejoicing that One of the Lord's "Noble and Great Ones" had returned home, having "fought a good fight". Allan F Packer, M. Russell Ballard, Dallin H. Oaks, and President Monson all spoke. It was really neat, something I've never seen before!

On Sunday we got to hear from Richard I Heaton- The Administrative Director over the MTC! We heard from him a few weeks ago, but this was part 2 of his talk! This time he taught about the Book of Mormon, and it was really good! One thing I got out of it was, "Don't let your testimony become insincere and common place. Don't let your testimony lose its flavor and zeal." So that was really good. He said that you can and should always be praying for a renewed testimony of the Book of Mormon. That after a while you may not feel of the truthfulness of the Book, but you can ALWAYS pray for renewed faith and a testimony! So that was really good!
Just a quick "Holla" at my girl Kaitlyn Ray for that sweet package! Thank you so much! It meant a lot to me that you were thinking of us missionaries out here! And thanks for the gum that I'm not allowed to eat... Haha! But we are definitely going to race those cars that we got!

So this week, Mom sent a package, and within that package were some Ping Pong paddles and Ping Pong Balls! Booyah! That very second, we cleared off our table and began the Zone 7 Ping Pong Tournament! Needless to say, Elder Larsen is really good at Ping Pong. And it doesn't help that the table is literally 4 feet long.
I see Elder Hofeling and Elder Gurr just about every day! Elder Hofeling lives just a floor above me, so I go up just about every night and say goodnight! So this week we're going to film our testimonies and send them home for Brother Bazzell hopefully! If it all works out! I haven't been able to send videos home, but with the Lord's help, all things are possible!

So Congrats to Sister Kinnaman on making it to the Brazil CTM! That is awesome! We've have quite a few of the Elders in our zone receive their visas and have left for that CTM! I have also met several people here that are going to the same Mission as Sister Kinnaman! So they're going to say "Hi" for me!

Also, Elder Watson should be coming in tomorrow! Good news, Elder Hofeling and I are hosting! So there is a slim chance that we could pick him up from the curb and bring him in! Fingers crossed!
Also, Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday to Grandma Starr! How does it feel to be 50   ;) Same to you Grandpa Boushley!

Well, that's all I got this week! The next time you hear from me, I'll be half way around the World! 

I pray for all of you, and may the Lord bless you in all of your endeavors. I have a testimony of prayer. I know that prayer is mysterious as well. I know that the Lord is has blessings in store for all of us, but all we have to do is ask for them. We don't always get the answer we want, and they don't always come in the format that we may expect, but be patient. Answers do come. Sometimes answers to our questions come as the Sunrise, bit by bit, piece by piece, until it is as bright as the noonday Sun. Never give up. Never lose faith. The Lord will bless you as you humble yourself and go to Him in prayer. I testify as a servant of the Lord, Jesus Christ, that God lives. That He loves His children. I testify that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, just as Abraham, Noah, Moses, and all of the ancient prophets were. I testify that we have a living Prophet today. That God has not left us alone. That we have a mortal man that receives revelation on behalf of the whole world, from God. His name is Thomas S. Monson. I promise you in the name of Jesus Christ, that you can pray about the Message of the Restored Gospel, and that you will receive an answer. I testify that the Book of Mormon-Another Testament of Jesus Christ, is the word of God. That a man can become closer to God and Jesus Christ by heeding its council. I testify of these things, and do so in the holy name of the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ, Amen.

If I forgot anything in my letter, just let me know and I'll address it in my email home on Saturday.

Last week to send me Dear Elders! Don't be "Fubecas!" That means "Slackers!"

Elder Ryland Rash

Note from Parents: Ryland's flight itinerary

Tuesday - Ryland flies from Salt Lake City to Dallas. He has a 3 hour layover in Dallas. He then flies to London arriving at 1:00 PM on Wed in London. He then has a 6 hour layover and leaves London 7:00 PM on Wed and flies to Johannesburg, South Africa arriving on Thursday morning around 8:00 am. He then has a short layover and then flies to Maputo, Mozambique. Also, Ryland says that they are only speaking in Portuguese now. he said that he has picked up the language pretty quickly....we will see next week when he finds himself immersed in the language.

Elder Rash

Elder Rash and their makeshift ping pong table

Friday, July 10, 2015

Week 4: A Training Success

Can you believe it?!? I've been out for a whole month! This is CRAZY!!! It has just flown by! Man, I sure have loved it, though! I have grown so much already! I can't wait to see the results in 2 years! Man! I can't tell you guys how much I love the Gospel!

I am just so hyped to get out and start ACTUALLY sharing the gospel! I got a little taste of what it will be like when, this week, we committed our investigator Franca to baptism! He is a theology major that was convinced that the Church was true, but he didn't want to be baptized because he felt like the members of the Church were hypocrites, that they professed one thing, but went and practiced something completely different. He also felt this way toward some missionaries, and he never truly felt like we loved him. So after a lot of prayer, study, and pondering, as a companionship, we knew what we had to do. So we went to the lesson, knocked on the door, and we all gave him a big hug! Um grande ambrasso! We just joked around with him for about 10 minutes, talking about basketball and soccer, and his son, Lucas, and about his life and likes! He started asking us questions about our family! Now, before this next part, just a bit of background on Franca. He is divorced, has a 9 year old son, and has been divorced for a few years now, and he is 30ish... Anyway, he starts asking us if we have sisters! Elder Draney and Elder Larsen said that they both had younger sisters that were like 9 or 14 or something like that, and Franca said, "Man, they are too young! I need someone a bit older!" Just joking around! So it came my turn and I told him I had a 14 year old sister, he seemed kind of disappointed, and that I had a 23 year old sister! His eyes got big, and a weird smile came across his face! It was hilarious, and we all laughed! Then I told him she was getting married in September! Haha! This was his response, "Oh, so I've got some time to change her mind!" Haha! We all just died laughing! We kept joking around and I told him that if he got baptized, that we'd help him find a girl! He laughed and asked if I promised! I promised him and we just kept on talking and joking around and laughing! So then we started the lesson with a prayer. The spirit was immediately in the room and we could tell that he felt it. We based our lesson on Romans 3:23, which teaches that we all fall short of the Glory of God. We are all sinners. Every single one of us. But the most important thing is, is that we, as missionaries and as members of the church, try to repent on a daily basis to live worthy of our potential and our Priesthood. We testified that we love him. That God loves him, and wants him to be baptized. He told us that he knows the he needs to be baptized, but that he was just waiting for someone that he thought was worthy to baptize him, and we convinced him, and the Spirit convinced him that we were worthy, and that it was time that he's baptized. He asked Elder Draney to baptize him! So we were all super stoked!

Now, for those of you who don't know. These "investigators" are not real. They are real people that our teachers taught on their missions, and our teachers "become" them in order to help us with our teaching skills and let us practice. So our teacher is Brother Machado, and Franca was really one of his investigators when he served in Brazil. Right after the lesson, Brother Machado pulled us aside and told us that he had been playing Franca for years as an investigator for missionaries, and that we were the first missionaries to identify his problems, and help solve them. No other missionaries have been able to commit Franca to baptism, but we did! I felt so good and excited to get out in the field and start doing some real work!

Anyway! This week was great! Last Tuesday night we had a devotional from Elder Joseph W. Sitati, of the Seventy! It was a really great devotional! One of my favorite quotes from it was "The message you have is a special gift; give it preciously."
Then we also had a 4th of July Devotional at which President Daniel K. Judd spoke at about ancestry. He quoted President Packer by saying "You are standing on their shoulders." Talking about our ancestors.

Then we had a Mission Conference because it was Fast Sunday! President Burgess spoke and what I got from that was; when you trust someone, you know that person. When we trust in the Savior, we know and love him.

Then, Sunday night we had yet another Devotional at which Jenny Oaks Baker spoke and played a lot of music with her family. From her talk, I learned that there is only one type of Faith; Faith is Christ and in the Will of God. Not faith in miracles, not faith in healing, but faith that God has a plan, and that everything He does and everything that He allows to happen to us is for our benefit.

I came across this scripture in my personal study and it made me think of home and of my parents, and of all parents with Missionaries out serving right now. It is 3 John 1:4! I really hope that this is how I make my parents feel, and I can only imagine how our Father in Heaven feels when His children choose the right!

Also, I don't know about my visa yet... Typically there aren't any problems with Mozambique visas, but no one knows if they have theirs yet or not. We will start to find out within 10 days of our departure date, so I'll know more then. But there is no way to check the progress of my visa, it's either approved or it's not... So, yay... But we're all in the same boat. With Brazil visas, there is a website to check the progress of it, but not for Mozambique... So for my mission "credit card" I guess you'd call it, it has 65 dollars loaded onto it for some reason, but in Mozambique, that is worth 2500 dollars..

Well, I'll wrap it up! Dad, Google translate stinks. I understood very little of what your letter said, other than you want me to send you a letter all in Portuguese? Maybe? Idk! Well, I love you all! I'm responding to people's letters this week, so if you wrote me, you should be receiving a letter sometime soon, hopefully! If not, my advice to you is that Patience is a Virtue. I'm a busy man, okay? Cut me some slack!

I love you all! The Church is True! It has become very precious to me.

Elder Rash