Monday, October 24, 2016

Week 72: Prayer and The Book of Mormon bring souls to Christ

This week was jam packed with work to do. Elder Taukiuvea and I have been running around all week from lesson to lesson all over our area. We polished off our week with 36 lessons! Now I don't know what thing are like in other missions, but for me, this was a personal record. We have been giving it everything we've got in our area and we are seeing the blessings that come from our diligence.

Hercilio and Saquina are now planning their wedding for the 26th of November and are super excited for their baptism the following week. (I'm not sure if I mentioned that in my last letter or not).

Belmiro and Berendina both came to church this week, are both studying and understanding the Book of Mormon, and are really excited about baptism. They have strong testimonies that the Book of Mormon is true scripture and I have noticed a huge spiritual change in their lives. When we first met them, they didn't even know HOW to pray; now when we start the lesson, both are extremely excited to pray and talk with God. They almost fight to see who gets to open the lesson with a prayer. Their daughter, Nizia, is as adorable as ever and also LOVES to pray. They always tell us the funny stories about how at night she asks if she is allowed to talk with Heavenly Father. This family is so precious and has been changed already by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We will be teaching them this week about the Law of Chastity, and I hope and pray that they will be willing to get married quickly so that their baptism can still happen soon.

Our other family that we were preparing for the 26th, Elizio and Clara... I got extremely upset with them this week when they told us that they need to push back their wedding until maybe February or January... They have been pushing their wedding back for about 8 months now and I don't know they will ever decide to keep the commandments and repent. We made it very clear that they need to repent, but they still just didn't care. We got really disappointed, really sad, a little mad, and got in their face a little, spit enough fire to just singe their eyebrows a little, and in the end we dropped them until they are ready to commit and repent.

On Wednesday this week we had a division and I walked with Elder Osorio in his area, and Elder Goes walked with Elder Taukiuvea in our area. It was a super good division and the most spiritual part was when we visited one of their new/golden investigators named Edel. He is one of the most wealthy men I've ever met here in Mozambique, one of the most intelligent people I've ever met in my life, and also the nicest and most family oriented person ever. When we sat down with him in his mansion, we began talking about the Plan of Salvation and he had a lot of great questions, and really understood and loved the answers that we gave him. At the end of the lesson, he told us that he knew the Book of Mormon was true, and then he proceeded to tell us about his experience with Prayer and the Book of Mormon.  He told us that for the first 5 nights after the Elders first met with him, that he prayed diligently hoping for an answer, but never got one. He said that he started to get discouraged and when the Elders gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon, he had more hope, and continued to pray for a few more days. Then he said that one night he prayed to know if these things were true- just like he had done before; if Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and if the Book of Mormon was true, and if this Church is the TRUE church on the Earth today. He closed his prayer, and went to bed. He said that he was awoken in the middle of the night by a light in his room that startled him at first. He sat up and saw a man sitting at the foot of his bed, dressed in a white shirt and tie. The man stood up and walked out of the room. A little afraid, but also curious, Edel followed him out of his room, down the hallway, and into the living room that was completely illuminated by 3 other men, dressed the same way, sitting on his couches. The fourth man sat with his collegues, and Edel sat in the available chair. When he looked at the men, they didn't have faces but pure light radiated from them that made it difficult to look at them. They told him many things that he said he didn't remember, but the thing that he did remember, was that each of them testified of the Book of Mormon and the truthfulness of all of the things that the missionaries were teaching him. He said he couldn't tell how long they had been there, if it had been 5 minutes or 5 hours, but they eventually left, and he woke up in his room. He said that he didn't know if it was a dream or if it had actually happened, but it felt real to him. He tells us that he felt a peace that he had never before felt. He sat up from his bed, grabbed his copy of the Book of Mormon, and began reading it. That it enlightened him. That he knew it was the word of God. He tells us that he knows that the things we have been teaching him are true. That he cannot deny them. And that he is a little scared that God has trusted him with this testimony. He is afraid that he will mess up in the future, that the Lord has trusted him with a great responsibility that he isn't sure if he will be able to fulfill. He told us that he needs to speak at church and testify of what had happened to him, and about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon- we told him that he can take a few minutes at Fast and Testimony meeting.  As he told us his story, the Spirit was almost tangible in the room. The Spirit touched all of us that day, and strengthened my testimony that God answers prayers. He strengthened my testimony, and I know that he was telling the truth.

I know God lives. I know He speaks with His children. I know He loves us. He sent His Son to save us from sin. Christ showed us the perfect way to salvation. We have those restored truths today because of a living prophet. Joseph Smith was a true prophet- The Book of Mormon is evidence of that. Read it. Ponder about it. Pray and Plead about it.  God answers prayers. This is my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

*Elder Ryland Rash*

*note from mom - Again NO pictures or videos....not gonna lie...I am a tad bummed!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Week 71: Weddings, baptisms and exercise

We had a really good week with a lot of good quality lessons.

We sat with Belmiro and Berendina and they are such a golden family! They understood the Book of Mormon perfectly just after reading the introduction, and they wrote down notes and summaries of what they understood. When we showed up, they asked us questions about the Book of Mormon, and at the end of the lesson, Berendina asked us one more question.

"We really feel that we need to be baptized. We really want to be baptized. What are the steps that we need to take before being baptized?"

We told them about faith and repentance and committed them to be baptized on the 26th of November! They are super excited!

That same day we sat with Ercilio and Saquina and talked about weddings with them. Ercilio decided that he wants something as simple and as small as possible. We told him that it is possible to just sign the documents if that is what they want. We could see the wince of pain on Saquina's face as he said that that was exactly what he wanted! Haha! I know that she wants something more special than that, but the quicker they get married, the better! So they will also probably get married and baptized on either the 12th of November or the 26th. But they are both progressing really well.

Our third couple that we are preparing for marriage is Elizio and Clara. They are that part member family. We took the Branch President with us to talk with them about baptism and repentance. Now we are just waiting on a response from them about their wedding. I have a feeling that they will also decide to be married at the end of November.
We are planning a couple of baptisms on the 29th of October. Nora and Josefina will both be baptized. Nora is so awesome! We've only been teaching her for a couple of weeks, but the change in her is already so apparent. She is always so much happier and you can see her physically light up when she talks about the gospel and the happiness it brings her! She is super excited for her baptism! Josefina is also progressing really well. She is a police officer and has to work on Sundays sometimes, but she has a burning testimony of the things that she has learned.

For an activity that we are planning for Halloween, we are teaching the youth how to dance Thriller by Michael Jackson, and we are going to present it at the Branch Activity. So that has been super fun. We have practices every Wednesday and Saturday. It is super funny to watch them dance!

I also found this week that we have P90X3, and so Elder Goes and I have been doing P90X every night and it is kicking my butt! But it is going really well.

That's all that I think I've got for now. We are working really hard with the members and finding a lot of quality families.

Until next week.

Elder Ryland Rash
P.S.  no pictures, videos, or audio this week....sorry!


Monday, October 10, 2016

Week 70: General Conference, teaching, and making memories!

We had a decent week this past week. We weren't able to get as much missionary work done as we have in the past weeks because of different things that came up. For example, on Saturday we were asked to download conference to watch as a branch, and it took us 4 and a half hours to download the sessions! Just stupid stuff like that came up and wasted a lot of our time in the area.

As for an update on our investigators, we found a lot of new families this week and they have a lot of potential.

We also still have Ercilio and Saquina, and we are still waiting on their decision for their wedding and baptism. He had to fly to Maputo for work and so we haven't seen him in a few days, but we will be visiting them tonight to follow up with them.

Casiano and Ercilia have not been coming to church, and so we may drop them if they don't come next week.

Elizio and Clara are another family that we have been teaching for a long time. They are a part member family that needs to get married. They took a trip down to Beira this last week and they got their documents that they need for a wedding. The only thing holding them back is that they want a big wedding with the whole family... Ugh...

Like I said we found 5 new families this week and they seem somewhat promising, but we'll see what happens this next week and I'll let  you all know.

On Tuesday we had an activity with all of the YSA's and Youth and we made Smores! It was so nice! Definitely something that we will be doing again on our own.

HAPPY 29th BIRTHDAY, MOM!!! I love you and hope you had a good Birthday! Know that I was thinking about you on Sunday! I love you!

I think that is all I've got for this week.

Oh! We watched Conference in English during the week and I thought it was amazing! The theme that I noticed was the message of the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. Two of my favorite talks were Elder Gary E. Stevenson and Elder Holland.

Elder Ryland Rash
Watching General Conference

Young Single Adult Activity - making S'mores

Elder T

Elder Rash enjoying his S'more

Roasting marshmellows takes patience

Oh my heavens......

Elder Rash's shoes are looking bad!  Found a guy that will add some tread to them.

I don't know if they will last another 8 months!

Making S'mores with these handsome missionaries

Making FACES with this cutie pie!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Week 69: "Fourth Floor, last door"....EVERYONE deserves to hear the message of Jesus Christ

So in response to recent complaints, this letter will be a bit longer than they have been the past few weeks. So quit whining...

So, just to review and to catch up.

I am currently serving here in Nampula with my companion Elder Taukiuvea. He is just about to go home and only has 9 weeks left until he leaves, so we are trying to stay focused and work hard during the tail end of our missions.

We have been doing a lot of finding recently because they just got done having some weddings and baptisms right before I got here, so they had been busy with preparing those families, and so now our focus is on finding families. Lately we have been doing a pretty good job at it. We have been working really hard with the members at getting references from them. We currently have a family- Ercilio and Saquina. They are a reference from the first counselor in the Branch Presidency, and they are super nice! We taught the Law of Chastity last night and are preparing them for marriage and baptism on November 12. They told us that they would discuss this date and let us know when we pass by on Friday. Ercilio is ready for a quick and simple wedding so that they can get baptized; Saquina, on the other hand, is a woman. She wants a big party, the dress, the cake, the whole shabang! I hope Ercilio is able to convince her into a simple wedding. Saquina has also been a huge help in inviting her neighbors to receive our visits. In fact, this week we will be sitting with two families that live next to them and teaching them about the Restoration. So I hope all goes well with that.

We also have a new family; Casiano and Ercilia. We have only sat with them once, and the husband came to church and also to an activity at the church, but the wife stayed at home because they have a newborn baby boy. They had promised to come to church yesterday, but he said that he had to run some emergency errands and wasn't able to come. We marked a visit with them and we hope that they will all come this next week. They are a really nice and beautiful family that would be really blessed by the gospel. So please pray for them.

We also have a few other families that we have been teaching, but they have been kind of getting on my nerves these past few weeks because they haven't been keeping commitments and I won't take the time to write too much about them.

We have begun focusing our efforts more centralized around the chapel, which means that we have been knocking doors in a lot of apartment buildings... We haven't been having too much success. We knocked an entire apartment complex of about 25 doors and were only able to sit with about 2 people... And with these two people, we will probably be dropping them this week. They don't look too promising.  The same thing happened in 5 other apartment complexes that we hit up. So we've moved back out to the neighborhoods right on the outskirts of the city, which is where we have all of our progressing investigators. (note from mom:  After reading this part of Ryland's letter, I instantly thought of Pres. Uchtdorf's talk from the General Women's Conference last week.  Ryland hasn't heard this talk yet, but I hope when he does, he understands how important it is to knock on every door and share with EVERYONE our Savior's plan of Happiness!  Never give up or discouraged!  Someone will  be grateful you knocked on THEIR door!)

So I understand that this last week was General Conference. I am going to be downloading it today and watching it during the week, so I'll write about what touched me in my next letter.

This past week we had 2 baptisms in our area and a child of record baptism in our Branch. We had Casilda who is a cousin of one of the RM's and also Deolinda, who is the aunt of another one of the RM's. At the end of the month we should also have a few more baptisms of some part member families, and in November is when we should really pick up with the new families that we are finding, November will be a busy month with baptisms and weddings.

Well I think that is all I have got for this week. Sorry it isn't as long as I was hoping, but it should do. I love this work. I love being a missionary. I love seeing the gospel change peoples' lives. I love my Savior. I know He lives. I am so grateful to know that through His atonement that we can all be cleansed of our weaknesses. I love my family and am so grateful for the knowledge that I have that we can be together for time and all eternity as we live worthy of the covenants that we have made with God.

I know this work is the work of God. I love being a Missionary.

-Elder Rash I (Not to be confused with Elder Rash II who is serving in Jo'burg)

Elder Ryland Rash

Elder R.'s first baptisms in Nampula

Baptismal font that they fill with a hose