Monday, March 28, 2016

Week 42: From the Beach to the wet Machambas, he'll teach the gospel ANYWHERE!

So this week has really flown by. I really feel like it was just yesterday that I was emailing home! But quite a few great things happened this week!

On Tuesday we had to go down to the hospital in order to get Elder Perez's ears checked out, because he still can't hear all that well. 3 weeks ago he woke up and wasn't able to hear me speak at all. He is doing better now and can function to some degree, but he still can't hear all that well. But when we went to the hospital we met with a doctor who is from Cuba who spoke Spanish with Elder Perez the entire time (He is fluent in Spanish as well) and I was blown away by how much I could understand. I always knew that Portuguese and Spanish were somewhat similar, but I could actually follow the conversation and know what the Doctor was talking about! Crazy!

On Wednesday a few different cool things happened. In the morning we had to go to the Central Hospital of Beira which is right on the beach to meet with a different doctor, also a native spanish speaker. When she asked me if I understood what she was saying, I replied, "No hablo." She just busted up laughing and then continued rambling on in her Spanish to Elder Perez. After the hospital, we decided to enjoy our time in that area, and we decided to take a little time to do some studies on the beach! So gorgeous! Have you ever read the Book of Mormon, in Portuguese, with a Mexican, on the Beach, In AFRICA?!? I highly recommend it. Later that night as we were walking around in our flooded area with massive rain boots, we encountered a "venomous" snake (or so we were told) just crossing the road. People began freaking out, so I took the initiative and killed it. People here are really afraid of reptiles and amphibians.

Do you remember that story of the contact with the man whose house is in the middle of a rice machamba that I  had the super spiritual encounter with? Well we went and sat with him on Wednesday night. Definitely a very humble and spiritual family.

On Thursday night we sat with a family named Lorenzo and Amelia and talked with them about the Plan of Salvation. At the end of the lesson we briefly spoke of the Law of Chastity and invited them to be married before their baptisms on the 30th of April. At first, the wife was very apprehensive and told us that the baptism may need to be moved until next year so that they could prepare for marriage and baptism. Then, out of nowhere, Lorenzo spoke up and testified about how this is a commandment of God and how they NEED to follow it as soon as possible. He told us that he would talk to his wife and try to help her understand the true nature of Marriage and Repentance. Whoo hoo! They spirit works miracles within people!

I don't have a lot more time, but I just want to mention and say that the Lord has been extremely generous in blessing us with 13 families that have both Marriage and Baptismal dates in the coming month and a half. Please pray a lot for;

Calisto and Tania
Tony and Carolina
Joao and Julia
Duarte and Eliza
Lorenzo and Amelia
Zacharias and Elena
Eduardo and Dusha
Buracha and Tereza
Souza and Adelina
Joao and Fatima
Shawn and Fransisca
Sergio and Katya
Celestino and Zinia

These are the families that we have really come to love and we are helping them all work toward temple marriage here in a year and a half or so.
I love you guys so much!
Elder Ryland Rash
Coconut water helps hydrate them during their long day

This log path they have to walk down almost everyday

Public bathroom just out in the open

Beach in Beria

Investigators house in the middle of a rice machamba

Beautiful sky in Mozambique

Durante and Eliza's family (investigators)

Morning hugs

Elder Rash made Easter Crepes for his buddies

He was so proud of his crepes!

Getting ready for some Futbol on P-day

Indoor futbol arena on P-day

Monday, March 21, 2016

Week 41: Missionary life can be pretty exciting!

Another great week in the life of a missionary. excuse any typos in advance, this keyboard is pretty ghetto.

here we go.

Monday- We had a super good lesson with one of our investigator families named Eliza and Duarte. They have two kids, Elton (4), and Sterra (1 month). Eliza comes to church every week without fail and she is super strong and they have a baptismal date for April 30th. I hope that they can make it, but something needs to change with Duarte if they are to be ready for that step. In this lesson, Eliza asked if we would fast with her in order to help her husband have more of a desire to accept the church. she testified that she has faith that the Lord will bless her for her fast. she is super strong!

Tuesday- I had a division with Elder Roque, a Mozambican that is in my district. We started exploring a new area of our area and had a couple of strange experiences! The first one was as we sat down to have a lesson with a new family. We asked the mom to say the opening prayer, and as we bowed our heads, a little 6 year old kid walked out of the house, naked as the day he was born, and reverently said, Let us all bow our heads and close our eyes. HAHA!!! I would have died laughing but the prayer had already started! So that was hilarious.

The other weird experience was when we started knocking doors and began talking to a woman at her house. When I asked for her name she said that he name was Raelee. Whoa! I hadn't heard Sister Kinnaman's first name in forever! Nor have I ever met anyone else with that first name! Who would have thought that I'd meet one here on the other side of the world!

I've got to go now, but very quickly,

This week we killed a chicken, taught English, had zone conference, had stake conference, and I wish that I had more time to explain all of my super spiritual experiences that I had this week. I'll do my best next week to write more. I love this work and I know that God lives.

Until next week.

Elder Rash

Pres. and Sis. Koch are taking such good care of my boy!

They are being well fed both physically and spiritually!

Zone Conference for both Beira and Manga Zones

I love my boy!

Sitting with Elder Christiansen the Assistant to the President

Pres. and Sis. Koch with the new missionary couple, Elder and Sister Wilkins from Utah

Their apartment needed some work done....what a mess!

A chicken ranch IN a members home!

Jack who walks with Elder Rash and Elder Perez almost everyday

Trying to light a fire...Elder Rash finally took over!  Being an Eagle Scout comes in handy sometimes!

The chicken he killed with that knife....sorry chicken!

His two sons....and his favorite companions so far!

Elder Rash reunited with his MTC companions, Elder Larsen and Elder Draney

Elder Rash and Perez with their Zone Leader, Elder Rispress

Chillin during Zone Conference

There has been LOTS of rain in Manga....he finally got some rain boots!

A day at the beach for P-Day!  I love this picture!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Week 40: "Wars and Rumors of Wars"

Chris sent Ryland another questionnaire letter.  We got LOTS of information on this letter!

·        Please give us more details about the political upheaval and possibility of war if you know? Has President Koch said anything about it?
So as far as the political upheaval and possibility of war… All of this is just from “wars and rumors of wars” that we have heard from members and investigators. In all honesty, the war never really stopped and there have been attacks all around the country for the past couple of years, but mostly in the outside areas. Inside of the cities and the areas where the missionaries are stationed is completely safe. Nothing major is happening anytime soon. There is really no “War Threat” per say, but there has been shootings on major highways and things of that nature. But it is the equivalent of living in Mesa and having a shooting happen in Las Vegas. There is no immediate threat that we have to worry about.

·        Tell us more about your investigators?
Our area has been so blessed beyond belief! For example; in our first week in our area we had 0 progressing investigators, 0 investigators at church, 1 family that we were teaching, and really no direction or focus. But this past week, we had 15 investigators at church, 4 families at church, 10 families that we are teaching, and we have direction, focus, a vision, the trust of the ward, and we have members walking with us to almost all of our lessons that we have.

Eduardo and Dusha- Our golden family that we found on one of our first nights together. They are progressing very well. Even though they weren’t at church on Sunday (he worked and she was sick), they are quickly developing strong testimonies of what we are teaching them. They read the scriptures, keep commitments, and are on date to be baptized on the 2nd of April. It probably won’t happen and we’ll have to adjust that date to the 30th, but they are an amazing family. They have 3 sons, Pai(7), Leo(4) and Miguel(1).
Calisto and Tania- Calisto is a member of 8ish years but went inactive, started living with his girlfriend, and now she is 7 months pregnant. But it was really a miracle that we found them. Their house is tucked away down this tiny little alley way that is typically flooded and tough to get to, but one night we were searching for the house of one of our contacts, and we just happened to get lost and end up at their house! We started talking to them, they invited us in, we talked and got to know them, they are an adorable young couple and they both came to church this week! She has a baptismal date for the 30th of April as well, and she is quickly progressing as well. They are both very fun, a very cute couple, and they have huge potential to be a really strong family in the church.

Duarte and Eliza- Eliza is the power house of this relationship. She was sitting nearby when we had a lesson with her neighbor/best friend, Julia and Joao(John), and then she showed up to church on Sunday! She came to our English class, she is super nice, she is dedicated, and she is prepared. She lives in a tiny little room with her husband Duarte. They have two kids, Elton(2) and a brand new baby girl of 1 month. Her husband has yet to come to church because he works at the shipping yard with all of the boats and stuff and it is tough for him to have time of Sunday. But he said he would come next week.
We have a lot of other families, but these are the three that are the most progressing and the ones that have touched me the most.

·        Tell us about the members?
So we have an area of force that has about 30 members within a 5 minute walking distance of each other. There are about 250 members in our ward and this ward used to only get an attendance of 80ish people each week. But since having 2 couples of missionaries in the ward, we have more than doubled that number with hitting 174 this past week and it has been on a steady climb for the past couple of weeks. We have about 15 members that on a regular basis have been visiting and teaching our investigators with us. One of our most favorite members to walk with is a young man named Wilson. He is 20 years old, and has been a member for 1 month. He walks with us just about every single day for hours on end. He is super cool. He doesn’t know the doctrine very well, but he has a strong testimony that our investigators can feel.

·        What is church like in the Manga area? Do you have a church building?
Our “church building” is just a nice house that the church has rented and built a nice shack in the back with AC for our Sacrament meetings. Manga is still a district and not a stake, but by the end of this year it should become a stake.

·        Is it still raining? Please get rain gear. We do not want you to get sick. We will put money in your account if needed.
It hasn’t rained in a couple of days. I forgot that I had those rain ponchos! I do have them with me. But I also bought an umbrella for when I need it. But it isn’t too bad. I don’t think I need to buy too many things.

·        What do the people of Mozambique do for a living? Especially in Manga where it is a poorer area?
There are a huge number of things that people do here for a living. Like asking, What do Americans do for a living? But I guess you could say that a large majority of people work for security companies as guards. Women typically have a little “barraca” or a little stand outside of their house that they sell fruits, veggies, snacks, and little stuff like that. But there are a lot of jobs that people do…

·        The fact that it is made up of the political enemy of the government does that mean it is more dangerous for the missionaries there?
Not really… “Officially” Beira is run by Frelimo, but outside of the city, everyone is Renamo. But it isn’t dangerous at all here. In fact, I feel safer here than in the South.

·        How far do you have to go to do the internet?
Internet places are just a choppa ride away. Maybe a 15 minute choppa ride to get there. But the problem is that there are so many missionaries competing for the same internet cafes.

·        How big geographically is your area?
Geographically… I don’t quite know yet. I haven’t walked my entire area yet…

·        What are you doing to teach the other missionaries obedience?
The biggest thing that I’ve tried implementing is micromanaging, that you said Dad. At times it may seem harsh, but sometimes it is the best way to get them to be obedient.

·        What are the typical homes like in Manga?
Manga is much poorer than Matola or T-3. So the houses are cinder block houses, or reed huts. You typically find much more people living in one house than you would find in the South.

            *  I (mom) want to hear ALL ABOUT how the piano is going?!?!?!?!?! 
Hey as for the piano lessons go, it hasn't quite started yet. I was playing some prelude music my first week there at the church because everyone was being pretty rambunctious, and so they asked me if I could play during sacrament meeting. I told them I didn't know how to play the hymns that they wanted played, but that I'd practice them. Then, Bishop volunteered me to teach some of the youth of the ward how to play the piano. I remember quite a bit, and they do have a simplified hymn book as well. But we also have a keyboard in our house, so I'm able to practice at home. I just use some of my personal study time to practice these hymns.

            *  How was your first English Class on Saturday?  How many people did you have show up?
English Class was awesome!!! We had about 20 people this week and by next week I have a feeling that we'll have more than 40 people! Bishop has also asked us to start teaching 2 times a week... Idk if we can do that, but bishop has been giving us a lot of responsibilidades. People love the English class, especially Bishop.

Mickey Mouse pancakes...I really just loved seeing the keyboard in the background!  I would love to hear him practice!

Hammerhead shark for dinner!!!  Bought it for $1

He said it was delicious!!!  GROSSS!!!!

Look at that face....this is Pai, son of Dusha an investigator.

Dusha with her three boys and some neighborhood kids!

Learning how to shave coconut.

Elder Rash LOVES throwing kids!

Elder Rash's two "sons".  He is a proud papa!

Getting a ride in a chopella made for 2....wait, what?!?!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Week 39: Rain, Rain, GO AWAY!!!!!

Well another wonderful week in the life of a couple of missionaries in Mozambique. I can't say that it has been the most productive week, unfortunately, but it was still full of miracles and full of the spirit. We ended up having to stay inside 3 days this week... Elder Perez hasn't been feeling good at all, and had been commanded to be bed ridden for a few days by Sister Koch. So we didn't get out too much. We had to take him to the hospital to get some medication and get him checked out, but everything seems to be clearing up now.

Also, this has been a wet week. It rained and rained and rained and rained, for almost 3 full days. Some missionaries weren't able to get to their areas unless they literally swam there! Luckily for us, while our area was still pretty flooded, we were still able to get to most of the places that we needed to go. But we still don't have boots, so, we wrapped our feet in plastic bags and went to work- wading through mud, ponds, and puddles in order to get where we needed to go. I don't think that helped with Elder Perez's health... My bad... But Elder Perez is amazing! He is always positive about our situations. For example, one day it started POURING rain before we had to go out to work. I had left my umbrella down south, I don't have a rain jacket, and so I just figured I could tough it out. I felt like a bad trainer, dragging Elder Perez through that because he was in the same situation. But, we walked out into the pouring rain with smiles on our faces, joking with everyone that gave us an odd look. People here hate the rain and every time someone saw us, "Are you Crazy?!" they'd say. To which we would reply, "Nope! Just a little wet!" But Elder Perez is always willing to get to work, work hard, and we have reaped the benefits of our labor.

I don't know if I mentioned the family Eduardo and Dusha in my last letter, but they came to church this week!!! And they loved it! During our classes, as we observed our investigators, we could see light bulbs going off in their heads that things started to make much more sense! We fell in love with this family the moment we met them, and we are so happy that they are keeping commitments with the Lord in order to follow Him.

I love this new ward! Not only are the members much more involved in the work, but I have been drafted into so many "unofficial callings" in the ward. I've been recruited to teach piano to some of the youth, to play the piano in sacrament meeting, to teach the Gospel Doctrine class with Elder Perez, to occasionally teach Elder's Quorum, and we are also English Teachers! We have started up an English Class and the whole Ward is on Board. The Bishop is super excited and has completely backed us up. But we will be teaching English Classes every Saturday afternoon for an hour. We hope to have a huge turnout!

Well, I think that is all that I've got for today. I love you all and pray that you have a great week.


Elder Rash
I was in a training this week and one of the zone leaders told us a story that I though was super interesting and made me think a lot about life and the mission in general. I love this example. I figured that you guys would enjoy it.:
There once was a man who loved God very much. He wanted to do everything he could to further the work. One day he stumbled by a very large boulder. God talked to the man and told him of his will.
"My son, I have a work for you to do. I want you to push this boulder. I will help you, and through your faith, all will be accomplished."
Very eager to obey, the man immediately began to push on the boulder. He used all the strength and energy that he could exert to move the boulder. After quite some time, Satan appeared to tempt the man. 
"Why are you pushing this boulder? You will never move it you fool. Stop now while you still have some strength to walk home."
The man resisted the temptations of Satan, and with frustration and tears in his eyes he cried unto God.
"God, why have you forsaken me. You commanded me to move this boulder and with my diligence and with my faith, you said that all would be accomplished."
God spoke to the man in with a still small voice.
"My son, I didn't command you to move the boulder. I commanded you to push on the boulder. Your arms, your back, your shoulders, and your legs. They are stronger from the work that you hath done for me. And now, my son, I will move the boulder for you."

In front of their church building which is really a house that the church rents

From left to right: Wilson-19 convert as of 3 weeks ago.  Walks with us to lessons EVERYDAY!  Jeque (pronounced Jake)-20 Ward Mission Leader.  Faustino-21 an investigator.  All are still in High School completing 12th grade!

Happy Birthday Elder Perez!!!!

Elder Nielson