Monday, April 24, 2017

Week 98: Weddings and baptisms....Oh my!!!!

This week has been really busy. Elder Carlson and I have been running around from place to place trying to get so many people taught and get them ready for their baptisms on the 13th of May! We are trying to get two weddings all planned out and ready for the 6th of May, and there is a lot of work to be done to get everything ready! 

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about Alfredo and Anora and about their situation, and there have been a few more developments in that story that I want to make you all aware of. After that whole fiasco that went down, things were pretty calm. Alfredo and Anora were doing well reading the scriptures every day together and praying as a family and keeping every commitment that we threw at them, and things got better for them. Her parents were touched by the Spirit and agreed to allow the weddings and they became huge supporters of them getting married to keep the Commandments of God. Well this week we ran into a new and bigger problem- Alfredos Mom. She is determined to not allow the wedding unless her son participates in the African Traditions of Presentation of the Groom and Labolo. As we explained to her that the Traditions are keeping her son from keeping a commandment, she did not care. She says that if they decide to get married, that she will kick them out of her house (they are currently living in a side room of her house).  It got to the point where I asked her,  "Sister, are you going to condemn your son for trying to keep a commandment of God?"  And her response,  "Dang right.".
The conversation continued on like that for a while, and in the end we felt inspired to give her the best chance possible to change her mind. We put things very simple for her by explaining that False Traditions come from the Adversary and if she chooses to continue with her plan, that she will be supporting the Adversary and what he wants, and that she will be fighting directly against the Will of God. At that point she became so furious that she stormed off and refused to speak to us anymore... Alfredo and Anora backed us up, and they told us that we did not say anything wrong or anything that was not true, but at the end of the night Anora told us that they will probably postpone the wedding because of Alfredos Mom... I was so crushed. I had no idea what to say. They have fought for 3 years, and we have seen so many miracles these past 3 months to get them to this point, and now it may all go down the drain. It is really sad to see someone with such a strong testimony of the Gospel have their faith shaken by something like this. I'll let you guys know what happens this week next P-day.

But other than that we have a lot of people that are progressing really well. This last Sunday we had 22 investigators come to church including a new investigator that will be baptized on the 13th of May as well. His name is Albino. He was actually a reference of a recent convert that Elder Price and Elder Donker baptized just  a couple of weeks ago- Fernando. Fernando just showed up with him to church 2 weeks ago and we met with him a couple of times this week. He has progressed so fast. He is a really smart kid that loves and understands really well the Book of Mormon. He has a deep love for the Gospel and has a massive desire to learn more about and apply the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Briefly, here is a list of the names of those that will be baptized on the 13th of May, please keep them in your prayers. We need all the help we can get if they are all to be baptized on the 13th-

Joao and Cristina
Alfredo and Anora
Ivan, Mauro, and Dudu
Isabel, Admira, Sharia, and Catia
Ismael, Edilson, Sandramo, Ezequiel and Guilliermina
Amelia, Emilia and Yasilla

I love this work. I love these people. I know that God lives and that He is our Father.

Elder Rash

Walk along the beach with Elder Carlson

What a view with Elder Carlson

Elder Carlson with some cute kiddos

Elder Rash in his happy place!

Have NO IDEA what kind of fruit this is!

Doesn't look to appetizing

Ocean view

Love these boys!


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Week 97: He is sharing less and less.....

Note from mom:  Ryland is staying supper busy and focused these last 35 days.  So much so, he doesn't really write us good letters right now.  I asked him a few questions and he answered them back.  So I will share them with you.  No pictures or videos either.....Yes, I'm sad.....

Yes, we do celebrate Easter here. But it is a lot different than Easter in the states. Here, people use the resurrection of Jesus Christ as an excuse to throw a big party and get drunk out of their minds... So that is how our weekend was.  Full of a bunch of drunk Africans.

 As for speaking in church, yes. I spoke a couple of months ago while I was still with Elder Smith. I spoke about dedicating our lives to the service of others. I haven't had to speak any other time than that. The ward is pretty good at assigning people to speak ahead of time. We are also focusing on helping the ward become self sufficient. So when the ward asks us to do something for them. We tell them to look for a member to do it first. And if they can't find anyone, then they can ask us. They are typically able to find someone who can get done what they need done.

President and Sister Koch will be skyping each of us to say their final goodbyes and give us any last advice. They won't be coming to Beira, but they will just Skype us to see us.

I love you, Mom! Thank you for the pics! I wasn't able to see the videos, but I saw the pics! Everyone looks so different! It is crazy!

 Well if you have any last questions for me, feel free to ask! If you have any requests for me to do something or to buy something, you'd better ask soon. I only have about a month left.

I love you Mom!

Also, FYI....a new Mission President has been assigned.  President and Sister Senna from Brazil.  Ryland will have one month with this president.  I know he will miss the Koch's, but I know he wants to see them when he gets home.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Week 96: Miracles all the way to the end!

This week was really hectic, but we finally saw the fruits of our labors! This last Saturday we had a big baptism and saw so many of our brothers and sisters experience the first fruit of repentance and make the decision to follow Jesus Christ by being baptized. I'll send those pictures, but it was such a neat experience that will NEVER get old! It was so touching to see so many people decide to follow the Savior. I love this work so much.

 We have transfers this week and I am pretty sure that Elder Carlson and I are staying together. Because President/Elder Koch was out of the mission for about a week, he wasn't able to finish making transfers... So we won't know about transfers until the middle of the week.

Elder Carlson and I saw two miracles this week that I just wanted to share with you guys. We have been teaching this man named Sergio, and his wife Sara, for a couple of weeks now. He is a super intelligent guy and has been progressing really well. His wife is a bit slower and a not too interested. They are a younger couple and don't have any kids yet. Well we had been wondering what we could do and how we could help Sergio even with his wife kind of dragging him down... I had spend quite a few nights praying about him and asking for the Lord's help. Well, the Lord works in very mysterious ways and one day when we showed up for our visit with him, we learned that his wife had left him! What the heck!? It kind of surprised all of us! But he wasn't too distraught about it... He is still just really excited about his baptism! He LOVES the Book of Mormon! He reads it all the time! He is definitely one of the elect. But in the end I guess you could say that it was a miracle that his wife left him! Haha!

 The other miracle also comes with a really depressing part as well. I believe that I have mentioned Alfredo and Anora before. They are a family that has been investigating the church for the past 3 years. They are also a younger couple- he is 21 and she is 19 and they have a 9 month old baby named Smith. But the only reason that they have not been baptized is because the parents refuse to sign for the wedding without him paying Labolo (the Mozambican Dowry). She is legally a minor here and her parents need to sign for her to be married and they have been refusing for the past couple of years. Well last Sunday, Elder Carlson and I went to the parents home with Alfredo and Anora and taught them a lesson and we were very blunt with them. We shared with them Ecclesiastes 12:13, D&C 3:7, and to polish it off we read Mark 7 with them where it talks about how the False Traditions of our Fathers cause us to break commandments. We told them that Labolo is NOT from God and that it prohibits people from keeping the commandments. I know that the lesson was inspired. At some points during the lesson I was afraid that they had been offended, but they said that they would talk to their family and that they would pray about it. This whole week we have been really worried about the situation. We have been praying and fasting that the Lord would soften the parents hearts and allow the wedding to happen.

Well we went to visit Alfredo and Anora last night, but only found Anora at home. We began talking to her about if she had spoken with her parents yet about the wedding. As we mentioned it, she got a huge grin on her face and explained to us that her parents said that if it is what God commands us to do, that they are totally fine signing for the wedding without receiving Labolo!!!!! That they want to do what the Lord wants them to do!!!!! AAAAAHHHHH! I nearly cried! I was so ecstatic! We talked a bit more about it and she was super happy.

Then her countenance changed. She got really quiet, looked at the ground, and got really depressed. We could sense that something was wrong and guessed that it was related to Alfredo. After talking with her a little bit and after a bit of coaxing, she told us that Alfredo is cheating on her... Whoa. She told us that it has been happening for a few weeks and that just that day she had confirmation after seeing him with another woman... She began crying and talking about how her only desire is to have a happy family to raise her son in. She told us that she wants to move back in with her parents and leave Alfredo. It was really sad when she said, "Satan is winning. After all of the miracles that the Lord has done for us to get us to this point, Satan still has a hold on this family. He won. It's over." My emotions went from the point of crying tears of joy, to the point of crying tears of sadness. We just sat there with Anora for 10 minutes talking with her about Family, and God, and trials that we have in our lives. We will be going over there tonight to talk to the two of them about the whole situation and try to help them out a little bit...

Elder Carlson and I are working super hard still. I have found that in order to keep me motivated, we have had to put a bunch of people on for a baptismal date of the last Saturday that I will be here so as to keep me busy. We are currently planning 4 weddings for the 6th of May, and 20 baptisms for the following Saturday, the 13th. We will see how many of these actually happen, but things are looking pretty positive at the moment. I will keep you guys up to date with all that goes on.

But I am now starting my last transfer... Whoa... Only Six weeks left to help as many people as possible. Gonna make the most of it!

I love this work. I know that this is the Lord's church. I know that God Lives. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. The Book of Mormon is the word of God.

I will talk to you guys next week. Love you so much.

Elder Rash

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Week 95: No letter this week, but news from General Conference that was a big deal for Elder Rash

Note from mom:  Elder Rash sent a very short e-mail this week.  He let me know that he is alive and busy sharing the gospel.  He didn't have much time to write so he just answered a few of my questions....not worth sharing on the blog.  BUT, there is some exciting news to share regarding his Mission President.   We love the Koch's and are so grateful for their service to the Mozambique, Maputo Mission.  They came to the mission just a few days before Ryland...Ryland's group was their FIRST group to come to them.  They were excited to send home their FIRST group that they have loved and cared for so much these last two years.  A new assignment has been issued and they will be leaving the mission on April 24th BEFORE Ryland comes home.  Pres. Koch was called to be a member of the Seventy during the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference over the weekend.  So Ryland will have a new mission president for the last month of his mission.  It is bitter sweet....we are happy and excited for the Koch's but are sad for the mission.  They have worked so hard and have accomplished so much and have been a wonderful example to the missionaries.  They will truly be missed!  Well Done Pres. and Sis. Koch!  We love you and support you in your new adventure!

New Member of the Seventy:

Elder Joni L. Koch had been serving as president of the Mozambique Maputo Mission at the time of his call.
Elder Koch received a bachelor of science degree in statistics from Brigham Young University in 1991. He received an executive MBA/Logistics from FGC/SP in 1994. During his career he has worked in senior management positions at Cargill Foods, APM Maersk Group, and most recently as the CEO of Conexão Marítima Ltda.

Elder Koch has served in numerous Church callings, including full-time missionary in the Brazil São Paulo North Mission, bishop, stake mission president, stake president’s counselor, stake president, Area Seventy, and president of the Mozambique Maputo Mission.
Joni Luiz Koch was born in Joinville, Santa Catarina, Brazil, on March 19, 1962. He married Liliane Michele Ludwig in April 1988. They are the parents of two children.