Monday, November 30, 2015

Week 25:Not your typical Thanksgiving, but still feeling extremely blessed!

Well, sadly this transfer is over... But the good news is that I'm staying!!! Our whole District is staying and we are all SO excited! We have really grown really close together. We are all homies and we get work done! We are also getting another companionship in our Ward. We will have 6 missionaries covering this ward! On a regular basis, the missionaries bring 30% of the congregation to Church. We have been extremely blessed with investigators in this area. Elder Nielsen and I have been EXTREMELY blessed! As I said before, we have 3 families that we are working with that are already married. But Missionary Work is never easy, and there is ALWAYS a hang up. With one of these families, this week we discovered that the father is a Polygamist!!! His wife hates the idea and the other woman. He has 3 kids with this other woman, and 9 kids with his wife. So on Saturday night we went over to their house to teach the Law of Chastity. We weren't exactly sure how we should go about addressing the problem. So our plan was to follow the Spirit. We sit down with him, his wife, and 3 of his kids and some of his grandkids, and we teach the Law of Chastity- addressing everything basic and saving Loyalty to your Wife for last. We get to that point, ask him if he has any problems with it, and he lies to our face. I did not want to burn this guy if front of his kids, so we asked the kids to leave so we could talk to their parents. They left, and I asked him again, explaining very clearly that having more than one wife is a grave sin. That any sexual relationship before marriage is an extremely serious sin that needs to be repented of. Again, he lies to us. So we break out the scriptures. We turn to Matthew 19:9 and Jacob 2:27. We were very forward and strict with him. He said that he understood the commandment clearly, but refused to answer us straight as to whether or not he had another wife. At the end of the lesson I was afraid of losing this family because we were so bold with him, but at the end of the lesson, we reminded them about church on Sunday and asked them if they would be there. The wife immediately replied, "Oh, we are going to be there. Without fail." Haha! She loves that we are burning her husband for having another woman! Haha! And they were at church the next day!

So we have been struggling lately with our potential families. Many have not been keeping commitments, but we were still hopeful. We set a goal this week to have 7 families at church with us. During the week, it was looking hopeful. We had 10 families say that they would be there. We worked hard. We called them. Visited them. Reminded them. And when Sunday morning came, we only had 1 family at Church. I began questioning what the point of my faith was, if people can use their agency anyway. I feel like a parent praying and trying to help a wayward child. You pray, you act, you fast, you pour out your heart day and night, and your tears wet your pillow at night for these people that you love so dearly, but in the end, they continue to choose to do wrong. It is heartbreaking. But I've learned that all that we do; while our faith still has a power in it, that our prayers for them, and our fasting on their behalf, and all that we do for them, will strengthen our faith more than it will help them return. The only way that they will be able to change is by choosing to soften their hearts. Every day I get a taste of how our Father in Heaven must feel when we choose to sin. It kills you. It is saddening. But also on a daily basis, I get a taste of our Father's joy when His children choose the right. I hope all that makes sense.

But as for Thanksgiving went, we didn't eat with Members, or have a MASSIVE meal, but we made pulled pork sandwiches, mashed potatoes, gravy, SO GOOD! I'm sure every missionary says this, but I have become quite the cook! Oh, but during the week, we had a Family Night with one of our awesome recent convert family, Jose and Felicidade! We went over at about 3, killed a couple of chickens (Mozambican style- I've got a couple of videos of Elder Nielsen and I each killing a chicken, I wish I had a way to send them home), prepared the chickens, went to a couple of lessons, invited a bunch of people over, then went back for the Family Night.

This morning we went down to a local school and met up with a bunch of young men in the ward and just DESTROYED these kids in Basketball! We won 8 straight games, blow out! They only scored in 3 of the games, but they just wanted more! But I understand, I was (and maybe still am) a stubborn, cocky little kid. But we whapped these Priests! It was so Hot! The sun was out. Man, I am tired. Well, I don't think I have anything else to say.

Oh, but I do have a special request this week from all of you. This week just keep Elder Nielsen and I in your prayers. We've made it a goal this week to not waste a single minute. We are going to work as hard and as diligently as we can to get 7 families to church this next Sunday. We will be doing all that we can, and I know that we could use a few more prayers on our behalf.

I know that this is the work of the Lord. I'm honored to be here spreading His gospel. I know that this Church is His Kingdom, reestablished here on Earth.

Thank you all.

Talk to you next week.

Elder Rash

Killing these chickens for Family Night

Finding a piece of home

Getting their hair done

Not sure if I like this hairstyle on Elder Rash

Monday, November 23, 2015

Week 24: Miracles happening everyday!

Hello family and friends!!!

          This week has flown by and has been absolutely packed with hard work, great families, and miracles! So let be start by telling you how blessed this area is! This area is definitely choice of the Lord. In one single neighborhood, we have 8 investigating families that are SUPER awesome! 3 of these families are already married, by the end of this week, hopefully all of them will have a baptismal date, we already have 3 of these families with a baptismal date, in total we have 16 investigators with a baptismal date marked, and by the end of the week,that number should double!!!!!!!!! I am absolutely LOVING how the work is going! With one of these families, while Elder Watteyne and I were on a division, he and I visited them for the first time. This man, Peter, is 60 years old, runs about 10 miles every morning, owns 2 houses, has 8 kids, LOVES his wife with all his heart, and they are so humble and prepared by the Lord. Well in our lesson we taught the Restoration. During the lesson we had wanted to read James 1:5. When we brought it up, the wife pretty much quoted it to us! She told us that in her Bible class that morning, they had studied that exact scripture in depth. She told us that she had Bible study class at 10 o'clock that morning! Even weirder, it was exactly at 10 o'clock that Elder Watteyne and I were preparing for that lesson. We had wanted to prepare especially for this lesson because I knew how much potential this family had. I learned from this experience that as you really prepare spiritually for your investigators, the Lord prepares them for you. That lesson we extended the Baptismal Invitation and they accepted! We did not give a date, but you better believe that they will have one by the end of the week. They are already married, and are just so awesome!!!

          Another Miracle this week happened. We have been challenged by President Koch to baptize a family and reactivate a family before the end of the year. We had to drop the family that we were planning on baptizing before the end of the year, because they just stopped progressing, and we haven't been able to find any inactive families in our area. So we have been praying really hard and exercising a lot of faith in order to reach this goal. Well in the past 2 weeks, we've found those 8 families, 3 of which are already married, and an inactive family moved into our area from the other area!!! I know that the Lord hears and answers prayers! Also, thank you for all of your prayers on our behalf. But we sat down with this inactive family on Saturday night, and the next morning, THEY WERE AT CHURCH!!! BOOYAH!!! We're going to continue working with them and helping them out! They really love the missionaries and the gospel.

          As for Church, we had Stake Conference this week (Yes mom, We did go) in Matola! So we all met at the church building in T-3, then took a massive bus together to get to Matola. We get going and then the bus breaks down. Great. We were already running behind schedule and we really didn't want to miss Stake Conference! Typically, you could be stranded on the side of the road for Hours! But another bus stopped and picked us all up only 5 minutes after we broke down!!! TENDER MERCIES!!! We got to the chapel with only 5 minutes to spare! BOOM!

Stake Conference started and they had been having some technical difficulties with the microphone. When the Stake President got up to announce the new Ward Boundaries, he said that because of technical difficulties, that we would have to reschedule the Stake Conference for another week. Mid-sentence, everything started working! TENDER MERCIES! BOOYAH! So he said "Nevermind", everyone laughed, and we continued on! So there were some big changes! We used to only have 3 Wards in the Matola area, but Matola 2 Ward had gotten big enough to divide, that they realigned the boundaries and created another Ward! So now there is the Matola Ward, Liberdade Ward, Mozal Ward, and T-3 Ward! Our Proselyting area stayed the same, but the Ward got a tad bit smaller and we lost our Bishop. We don't know who the next Bishop is, but I'll let you know next week.

          That is all that I've got for this week. I know that God is watching over His missionaries. I have seen so many tender mercies of the Lord this week. I know God lives. I know He loves us.

Ate a Próxima!

Elder Rash

Recent convert family.  This is just some of their children.

He loves the kids in Africa.

Riding the bus to Stake Conference in Matola.

Surprise Birthday Party for an investigator they were invited to.

Elder Brown being a Mozambiqian mom

The Whole Family!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Week 23: Don't hide your talents under a bushel

Hello Family and Friends!!!

          Before I forget, I want to give a big shout out to a couple of people back home!
          Congratulations Kaleb Jacks! Atta boy! Joining God's Army! Best ranks in the world, man! Seattle is blessed to have you, Kaleb. Give em' Heaven out there, Man!

          And Eric Muir! BYU!!! That's nuts man! Congrats on the diving scholarship! When are you gonna get out on the Mission, Man?! Regardless, I'm happy for all both of you guys!

          Also, Broden! I'm so happy that you got baptized, Bro! That is super exciting, Man! I wish I could have been there for it! I love you Buddy!

          If anything else cool happened back at home, send me an email and let me know. Sorry if I missed anyone, this is just all the new information that I got!

Anyways... As for this past week, I'm short on time, so there won't be too many details... But I will do my best!

          We had the opportunity to attend the Seminary and Institute Graduation that they hosted here in T-3! We had about 90 people enrolled in Seminary and Institute in the Maputo Stake! So that was super cool! We also were able to help in the Machambas again, this time it was overcast, so I didn't get sunburt this time. This past Sunday we had the Primary Program! I had so many memories of all of the songs that the kids sang, and the little talks/sentences that they recited. I have fond memories of chilling in Primary with Mom as the Primary President, just singing all those awesome songs! Those were the days!

          Also, one of the Senior Couple caught wind that I am somewhat decent at singing, so I got roped into a choir of Missionaries that meets in the city every Tuesday at 8 in the Morning!!! That means that we have to leave our house at 6 am in order to get there!!!!! It is for some Christmas Program, so we have to go EVERY TUESDAY morning until Christmas... I am NOT excited.

          The rainy season has officially started, and it has been raining pretty regularly for the past week or so. Sometimes it pours, sometimes it is just a light mist. But I absolutely love it! It is so nice. Rather than being soaked in my own sweat, we get misted with nice cold rain water! I love it so much! I've just stopped going out with my umbrella because I love it so much! So the weather this week has been super nice! I absolutely LOVE lightning storms here!!! We've had a couple in the past week, and it is absolutely gorgeous at night!

          Well, Sorry for the short letter, but I'm a little cut on time. I'll try to write more next week!

          But I know that this work is the work of the Lord. I know I am on His errand. I know that this Church is true.

Salani Shiquembue (Dialect that means, "Stay with God") Ate a proxima, Elder Rash
*  No captions were given for any of these pictures, but we're just glad we got some this week!

Future missionary - Bento!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Week 22: You have no idea how blessed you are!

This week has been pretty tough. It has just been extremely irregular, and not as productive as we would like, but we did get some pretty cool new families out of it! So on Monday we went down to the beach and had a multi Zone Activity, and we got back so late, that we weren't able to get out the night to work. On Tuesday we had to go down to Matola for a "Zone Chat". Every week, the Matola zone wants to get together to just have a little chat/fireside together to build Zone Unity. For the T-3 district, it is quite inconvenient because it is extremely difficult to get out to Matola because of the Choppas. They are always full, and very few travel down to where we need to get. So that took up a lot of precious time on Tuesday. Wednesday was just rough because our typical routine had been thrown off and it was difficult to get back in the groove. Thursday we had a Missionary Farewell of the First Missionary to leave from the Ward of T-3! He will be serving in Capo Verde, and he leaves tomorrow. So we spent a few hours there supporting him. Then the rest of the week was just as tough with lessons falling, people not being receptive, people not coming to church, etc. But just to update you all about this new area, I'll give you the details of the investigators, ward, members, and the area! So as far as progressing investigators go...

Silva and Tereza and their 4 kids-

Silva is not a member, Tereza was baptized a long time ago before they got married. None of their kids have been baptized. They are in their late 30's, early 40's. They have been investigating for a long time. They have been taught all the lessons, they have testimonies, they come to church just about every week, they want to be baptized, want to get married, but the process to get married is a little complicated for them. Silva has to get registered again up in Chimoio. Which is up in Beira. This is quite the expensive and long process, so it will take some time before they are able to get married. But they are a super cool family!

Olimpio and Beatriz

They have testimonies, come to church most of the time, have all of the documents ready for marriage, and they want to get married and baptized, but they have been having marital issues. They just argue and don't express their love for one another. So we have been working with them to better their relationship, but it is kind of difficult. But I've definitely seen their relationship improve. *Husbands- Cherish your wives. Come on guys. These beautiful women have to put up with all of our mistakes, arrogance, crazy ideas, and all of the other flaws that we have. Your wives/girlfriends/mothers/women in your lives have to put up with all that crazy stuff, because they love you. Don't take them for granted. Show your love for them by the way that you treat them. That's my relationship advice for the week. I know I'm only some 19 year old kid, but I've seen succesful marriages here, and I've seen absolutely terrible marriages here. Read the Family; A Proclamation to the World. Build your family off of the principles that it teaches. Alright, I'll step down off of my Soap Box.*

Juaquim and Alicinda

They are a new investigator family that we have. We met with them one time, they came to church, the wife came up to me at Church and asked me for a Book of Mormon! She said that all of the women were bearing their testimonies about how reading the Book of Mormon every day had strengthened their relationship with God, brough peace into their lives, and improved their families. Alicinda was so touched by their testimonies, that she had to read it for herself. They are progressing super rapidly and have a baptismal date for Jan. 16. They have two adorable daughters. One is 6 and the other is 8.


Shelsea is a 20 year old genius woman that reads everything that we throw at her. She understands the message, remembers what we talk about, has yet to attend sacrament meeting, but has seen general Conference and a baptism. She has a baptismal date of November 28. She was a reference from one of the Ward Missionaries, Claudio, that walks with us quite a bit.

We have quite a few other investigators, but these are the most progressing at the moment. As others start keeping commitments, I'll keep you guys informed.

            As for the Ward.

            Our Bishop is from Kazachstan? I have no idea how to spell where he is from, but his parents both are Portugese, he returned from his mission 3 years ago in South Africa, he is 24, has a little daughter with his wife, and he is ALWAYS busy. He is a 24 year old guy, going to school, working, AND a bishop. He lives on the edge of our ward boundaries, and a ward in Matola will split soon, and he will probably become the bishop over that new ward. But the ward is super cool! We have a lot of recent converts that are about my age. They are super fun to be around, and they are always willing to walk with us. I've just fallen in love with this ward, especially all of the little girls! I love the kids here! The little girls, with the beads in their hair, and they just are so darn cute. then the little boys just love playing with you, and chasing you around and hanging out! Man, I love the kids here. We typically have a frequency in church of about 130, give or take a few. We have somewhere around 350 Members in this ward, but only that 130 come frequently. We have a bunch of recent convert families that we absolutely LOVE! They love the missionaries and love having us over! Jaime and Kachyta are a young family that just had their first baby 4 weeks ago! He is an accountant with a Super Nice house and like 5 cars! They are a super cute family that loves having the missionaries over! Jose and Felicidade is the other family! They have 6 kids ranging in ages from 2 to 25! They have a few Machambas, and the missionaries always love going down to the Machambas to do service for them. In fact, our district is going down there on Thursday for some service. A machamba is pretty much a swampy farm. But yeah, that family is SO much fun. We're going over next Tuesday to have family night, kill some chickens, and cook the chickens with them! I'm stoked! But they have some of the most adorable little girls! Jose is also super into tailoring and sewing. he does a lot of shirts, bags, pants, scripture cases and stuff like that for the missionaries. So we are all super tight!

            As for our area, our area is pretty massive. We haven't even been everywhere in our area. We typically work in only 1/3, and even that can take 2 hours to walk end to end! But our area covers all of T-3, all of Zona Verde, Unidade D, a part of Machava, Kongolote, and a bunch of other areas that I don't know the names of because I haven't really been there yet. I don't really know what I can compare it to just because I haven't been everywhere yet, but I think it is safe to say that our area is the size of the city of Mesa. Maybe a tad bit smaller. And the other area in our District is even bigger, just because it doesn't have a set border. So the areas here are massive.

            There is one thing that I would really like to stress to everyone this week- The Temple. You all are so extremely blessed to have Temples so close by. The families here have to save for YEARS to pay all of the necessary fees for passports, plane tickets, bus tickets, and all of the other nitty gritty details of traveling to another country to receive the blessings that come from the temple. For many, if not most of you, the temple is a 30 minute drive away, maybe even closer. And all you have to pay is the gas to get there. The Lord has blessed you more than you know. Please don't take the Temple for granted. People are waiting for You to help them make the sacred covenants and ordinances in the Temple. Go to the Temple. Partake of the countless blessings that God is just waiting to give you. These people are willing to give all that they have, and a whole lot of time, just to go once. All you have to sacrifice is a couple of hours a week. Please. Go to the Temple. I promise you that doing so will bring a peace and happiness that you can experience in no other way. Go to the Temple. Go with your family. Go with your Spouse. Go as often as you can. You have no idea how blessed you are.

            I would just like to close with my testimony. I know God lives. I know that he loves each and every one of us. He is our Father. He sent the Only Begotten of the Father to set the example, suffer and die for You, for Me, for the whole world. Repentance is real. We can be forgiven of all of our sins through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that God has once again called a Prophet. We have evidence that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God. The Book of Mormon is real evidence that you can read and pray about. If you do this with real intent, God will tell you in your Heart that these things are true. I know that this is the work of the Lord. If I did not know with all of my heart that this work is True, I would not have left my family and loved ones for 2 years, to go to Mozambique, to bring this Gospel to everyone I meet. I leave this testimony with you all in the Sacred Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Com Amor,
Elder Rash

*  No pictures this week....computers where being slow and wouldn't let him down load from his memory card! 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Week 21: The work is not easy, but definitely worth it!

First let me apologize for not writing yesterday... It was P-day yesterday and our Zone Leaders made it mandatory that we attend an activity on the Beach in Maputo. Now, from T-3, it is SUPER difficult to catch Choppas to the beach down by the office. Let me put it this way; try catching a string of buses from Mesa to downtown Phoenix, DURING RUSH HOUR, while your whole neighborhood is trying to catch the same buses to the same place, while all of the buses are already full... Not fun. So you now have an idea of how difficult and frustrating it is to go down there. We left our house at 8 in the morning, and didn't return until 18:30 (7:30p.m.). So we didn't get to email yesterday because we were down in the city all day. But I did get a phone call this morning from Sister Koch because SOMEONE snitched on me! (Mom) Porque você fez isso! Você sabia que sempre vou escrever para você! Mais, tudo bem!

          I really don't have a lot to write about this week..... I'm also short on time... So we'll see how this goes.

          On Wednesday we had a service day planned, so we woke up and went to work in the Machambas! A Machamba is pretty much a swampy farm/garden that people grow produce to sell at the market! We have a few families in our ward that we are super close with that have machambas, so we went to help out! We worked in the Machambas for 4 hours, filling buckets from water holes, and transporting them all around their plots of land! These Machambas can be pretty huge, too! And we got BURNT! We got burnt so bad. We were the only 2 white guys within a 50 mile radius, without hats, without sunscreen, in the middle of the day! Needless to say, now I have a super nice tan!

          As far as the work is going in T-3, I love it here! Elder Nielsen and I are working super super hard. I love this companionship. We both understand that we are new and not the most experienced missionaries but because of this, we are both super willing and super driven to work with all of our Heart, Might, Mind and Strength. We have truly seen blessings as we've done this. Our investigator pool has practically tripled since the last transfer, and we are working with three families on getting married before baptism. We have been extremely blessed and the work is going extremely well for us. It is by no means easy, but it is definitely worth all of the stress and effort that we put into it!

          As for the Zone Activity that we had, we played capture the flag on the beach! The Beach was gorgeous! Except for the fact that it was crazy windy and sand kept getting EVERYWHERE, it was super fun! I got some pictures of us at the beach, so you'll have to check it out!

          I apologize for the briefness of this letter, but we've got to get out and go to work!

          Oh, but I did get some letters this past week! So a big shout out to all my Homies; Sister Watkin, Jenna Hooper, Minha Princesa (Shelbie), Sister Brandi Giles (Holla at my girl in Mexico!), and Grandpa Rash (Representing New Mexico!) I absolutely loved all of the letters! All I can say, Keep em coming! Well, that's all I've got for this week! Tchau!

Note from mom:  I did not intend to get Elder Rash in trouble yesterday.  I posted on Facebook that I didn't get an e-mail and Sis. Koch, the missionary president's wife, saw my post and made a phone call to my boy bright and early this morning!  Apparently, the power was out and they thought if they wrote their e-mails at the end of the day that the power would be on by then....well, the Zone Activity took longer than expected and they ran out of time.  I feel very blessed to have Sis. Koch watching out for not only my boy, but me as well!  I was able to chat with her on Facebook for a while and enjoyed having a laugh with her over her calling him first thing this morning!  I have a feeling Elder Rash will NOT put off writing his mother again!

Working in the Machambas!

Fun at the beach playing Capture the Flag for P-Day Zone Activity

Reverting back to his childhood.....they bought some Legos to entertain themselves