Monday, June 27, 2016

Week 55: Sticks and Stones....but words can still hurt too!

THIS PLACE IS NUTS!!! It is so much different than what I have been used to for the past year. I have had so much culture shock. People just walk around in animal skins sometimes! Whoa! The culture is way different than Mozambique. The people are also WAY different from Mozambicans. People are definitely much more reserved and "keep to yourself"-ish. Dogs here are extremely dangerous. On more than one occasion I have found myself in a foot race with a mean dog or two, and it is only my first week!

As far as the missionary work goes, it isn't too hard, it is just different. I am used to people begging us to come into their home and they bring out chairs and are attentive and are so willing and ready to change their lives. Needless to say, I am not in Mozambique anymore. Everyone has a fenced house, with a nicely pruned yard and a mean guard dog or two to keep everyone out. So as a missionary you need to work in a different way. I won't say anything bad about the former missionaries in this area, but I will just say that I feel like I am "whitewashing" or starting from scratch. So we have been walking a lot trying to find new families to teach and help come to know the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As a result, I have had the most trying week of my mission thus far. I have had more doors shut on me, more rejections, more cold-shoulders, and more English curse words spat at me in one week here in Swaziland, than I ever had my whole year in Mozambique.

Just a couple of nights ago, we had an encounter with a group of men about my age that pushed me to the edge of hitting someone. I can't remember wanting to hit someone that bad before. We were knocking doors at about 6 o'clock and we came to this one gate. Now, I was tired of running from dogs, so I asked the group of men across the street if they knew if there were dogs at this house. No one replied, so I asked again. The "ring-leader" of the group (obviously trying to look tough in front of his buddies) replied, "Do I look like their cousin to you?!"

"No," I said. " But you look like a neighbor. Do you know if your neighbors have dogs?"

Clearly upset that I had the courage to reply, things started getting heated. To make a long story short, I bit my tongue, and walked away with very colorful language being spat at me from behind. I had never felt so disrespected before. As we walked away, the hatred and anger just kept welling up. Finally, I threw off my beanie in frustration and prayed. I begged for the Spirit to come back. I pleaded for forgiveness. I was at my ropes end and I needed help and comfort. As we said Amen, we continued walking and the Spirit guided our footsteps to a few houses where we knocked on the door and were warmly welcomed.  We took their contact information and marked to sit with them this week. Looking back on it, I am reminded of Mark 13:13.

So that is pretty much how my week went. But there were also a couple of really precious moments.

We have an investigator woman that has been taking the discussions for 6 months now. She is a very special woman, very opinionated, very open, bold, and plainly spoken. Plus, she is white. Her name is Sister Zelda. She is 52 years old, and she has an extremely interesting, painful, spiritual, and difficult past. Her biggest problem that she has is her addiction to smoking. She has been smoking since she was 11 years old. Before meeting the missionaries, she was smoking 2 packs of 30's!!!!! In one day!!!!! Through the gospel, she has weaned herself down to only 3 a day, which is an improvement, but there is still a little ways to go. She LOVES the scriptures. In fact, her grandchildren call her scriptures her "suitcase" because she takes them everywhere with her. Sister Zelda and he grandchildren are so full of faith. Even the 5 year old grandchild will fight with his siblings and cousins over who will pray. The whole family has had a very rough past full of awful things full of drugs, rape, crime, deaths, addictions, and cancer. Sister Zelda was diagnosed with cancer many years ago, and it has continued spreading. She now has Bone Cancer. She just lost her cousin last week to the same cancer. It really hit her hard. Her and her cousin were they only relatives that had a close relationship and she had to watch her suffer for months in a hospital, and then to go through that. But she did take comfort in the Plan of Salvation. Knowing that she will see her again, and that her suffering is now over.  Last night we took Brother Wesley with us to visit Sister Zelda.  Brother Wesley is the branch clerk that has a similarly painful past as Sister Zelda. He opened up to her, they connected, he strengthened her, and I saw a new desire from her to give up her addiction. I know that she has the desire, and I know that she will quit, she just needs a little help.

I have seen the atonement of Jesus Christ work miracles in peoples lives. I know that the Atonement can change people. I have seen it in my own life as well. I know that Christ suffered for all so that we don't have to. I love this work. I love the people that I am serving. I feel the love that God has for his children.

Now to answer a few questions that the family had:

1. We only cover 1 branch, and the area is MASSIVE! There are 3 companionships here in this branch- Elder Chirchir and I, Elder Nunes and Elder Cardoso, and Sister Ross and Sister Santos. My area is bigger than my last area, and it is even farther away from my house than my last area was. We take a 45 minute Kombi ride to get to our area up in the mountains. A kombi is the equivalent of a Chopa.

2. Investigators that we have had for some time... We only have about 3... Like I said, I feel like I am whitewashing.

3.The problem with marriage is not as big as a problem, because traditional marriage is legally accepted here. So if a couple gets married traditionally, then it is accepted by law, and they are keeping the Law of Chastity. But here, for traditional marriage, they do it "Johnny Lingo" Style. One guy in our area paid 160 cows for his wife!!!!! HOLY COWS! But some other guy only paid 18 for his wife.  Mahana you ugly! (quote from "Johnny Lingo" movie)

4. People have normal jobs. This place is much more structured and set up. So there are many more jobs and income. A lot of people have jobs as mechanics or as construction workers.

5. There are hardly ever problems with Power or Water.

6. I am not too sure about the members strength yet. I only have one week here, but I'll let you know as time goes on. But we have 204 registered members, and an average attendance of about 85. But that 204 number is probably wrong. Sidwashini just became its own branch about a year ago, and there may be a mix up with records from the Mbabane Branch.

7. I am about an hour away from where the king lives with his 26 wives.

8. I don't know about going on a Safaris.

9. So that I don't lose my Portuguese, I still have a lot of opportunities to speak Portuguese because there are  so many Brazilians serving here, so I don't think I will lose it. My companion does not speak Portuguese, so that it a little rough.

10. Swaziland is tiny, but my area is massive. Two of the areas that I cover are called Makhohlokohlo, and Ngoyoyo (Pronounced Makolo-kolo, and Go-yo-yo)

11. My companion is Elder Chirchir. He is from Uganda/Kenya. He speaks many African Dialects including, Swahili and Lugandan. He is 6'5". He is really funny. He is extremely ticklish. He just turned 22 this last Saturday. I don't know what else to write about him. I wish you could meet him, though. I will try to download a couple of videos next week of him. He has 7 months on the mission. He came out with Elder Perez.

12. We use the public transportation system to get to our area, and we walk from there. Bikes were used in the past, but got banned after a missionary took a pretty nasty spill off a small cliff... Woops...

Oh, I forgot about the language. Here they speak Siswati, which is pretty much the same as Zulu, which is what Devon will be hearing. In Zulu they use 8 types of clicks, and in Siswati they use only 4. I have actually met quite a few people that have served in Devon's mission, and to spare Mom some worry, that is all I can say about that. Devon, if you want to hear some wild stories, just ask.

I was able to walk with Elder Larsen on a division and that was SO NICE! Even though we hadn't been comps since the MTC, our teaching was such in sync. I felt as though we had been teaching together for months! We were on the same page in the lessons, we taught together, we built off of one another, and everything just ran really smoothly.

Well, I have now run out of things to write about. I hope that pleases you Mom. This took up my whole 2 hours to write, so consider yourself as special. Alright?

*Elder Ryland Rash*

"Everything the light touches is ours...." Silly boys!

Found a cemetery on the side of a mountain.  Elder Rash thought his dad would be interested.


Storm rolling in

Elder Chirchir

I can't believe how bundled up he is!!!  He must be REALLY COLD!

Blisters....all part of the job!

Member family

No comments:

Post a Comment