Monday, March 28, 2016

Makadii Week 8

Yo! Happy Easter to all!
My first transfer is officially over! I get to do this 16 more times. I can do that, right? :) I sure hope so. I think with all of your help I should be able to.
This last week of the transfer was pretty uneventful. We didn't end up having very many lessons, and not much happened at all. This transfer was very quiet, and there were basically no changes in my zone. I will officially be staying in Marimba and Mufakose for at least 6 more weeks. Hopefully things continue to go well! Elder Milikafu will be leaving in 4 weeks. I'm not sure what the procedure will be when that happens, as far as where I will be going and who I will be with. I will just have to wait and see. I'm super worried and nervous for what might happen. I just don't really feel like I'm ready to lead an area, or be a senior companion. If that's what is asked of me, I will do my best, and trust that the Lord will help me with the rest. I still just have so much more to learn, and I haven't really gotten the chance to lead lessons, or take control in certain situations yet. I'm just trying to observe and learn as much as I can. I know the Lord will help me. I'm trying not to be scared. Mili is slowly getting me more involved in his District Leader responsibilities. This week, I even gathered and reported all the the key indicators for the district! Maybe I will be a DL soon!? Not sure if I'm ready for that yet. :/
I've taught the Restoration many, many times now. But, it always seems to be just as powerful each time. The spirit really loves it when we teach that lesson. No wonder it is the foundation for everything we teach as missionaries.

As far as investigators, we have about another 8 who are progressing toward a baptismal date on April 23. 2 of them are sisters who will have to be married beforehand. Shylet Meki, and Sister Rondinyu are their names, and we have been teaching them for a while now. Marriages are a big road block for baptisms here. It is a lengthy process to fully complete, including 3 weeks of announced bans in church, and it requires a lot of patience for both the missionaries and the investigators. Lobola, bride price, is also a problem that comes up. Many people just start families without being legally married, which is something we have to make sure happens, so they can be baptized. Shylet has a marriage date set, and the husband is being very supportive. Sister Rondinyu however, doesn't have a date set. The husband keeps avoiding the topic, and won't settle on a date. We might have to postpone her baptism if things don't change. Other than that, our investigators are doing pretty well. The toughest thing that I've come across so far in getting them to come to church, and really commit to what we teach. For some it just happens and things go well, but for others it is really tough. In most lessons, people are really engaged. My companion does a great job of doing that. I hope I can learn to do that as well.
I'm still learning the layout of things here. I even found a road atlas, and have been studying the streets. It's just so unorganized! AH!
I'm pretty solid with the stick shift now, but am still very bad at hill starts. Our car is starting to die, so that makes it even tougher. It will be getting fixed soon! (Hopefully...)

One thing that you will probably find very funny:
There are tons of pigeons that stay around our house. Almost every morning, I wake up to the sound of stupid birds making noise. On top of that, almost every day when we get back to the house, there is one bird that has managed to get in the house through the ceiling. It is a real pain to get them to leave, and clean up after, especially when it poops everywhere! I'm just trying to laugh it off, when deep down it really irks me! haha :) I'm sure it is something that I will look back on later and laugh about.
Soccer was pretty uneventful this week too. I didn't even get to play! Africans just take their football way to seriously sometimes. :)
General Conference will be coming to Zimbabwe a week later than it happens in the U.S. We will be watching it at our chapel, which is also the Stake Center for the Marimba Park Stake. I'm very excited to hear the council of our beloved Prophet and the Apostles. I really hope that there are some things that are talked about that will help me out here. I'm sure there will be.
The Shona word for the week is Hove. It means fish. There is actually an Elder Hove in our district, which is pretty funny. Everyone calls him Fish! :)
I love you all more than you know. I hope things continue to go well for all of you back home. Stay sweet, and trust in the Lord. One thing I've really come to learn is that our church leaders are truly called of God. Trust them, and heed their counsel. Always make time to study the scriptures, and read church magazines. I struggled with that a lot back home, but I know it can really help you. Never forget to pray either!
I love you! Go Pokes, Go Celtics! Stay strong, and stay safe. Until next week....
Shab-Shab (good-good)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Makadii Week 7

Hello Everyone!
Things are going great here. We actually ended up having 8 baptisms on Saturday! 8 people! I got to baptize 5 of them, and confirm 1 of them, which was a really cool experience. My first transfer was definitely a wonderful experience, and I hope we can continue to find success. Our chapel actually has a font, and lots of meetinghouses don't, so it was nice to do it inside. It's super tough to cover two wards. We are technically only assigned to Marimba Park, but we have just picked up Mufakose as well. Almost every person you talk to is willing to be taught. Any missionary here can be successful if he or she chooses to be.
We had a Zone Conference on Tuesday with the Area President Carl B. Cook of the First Quorum of the Seventy. I love Zone Conferences! My first one was awesome. It was great to learn so many new things with a bunch of other missionaries. I'm usually just with my companion, so it was really nice to be with and see some other missionaries. We were combined with another Zone, so it was pretty packed at the chapel. I got the chance to meet with President Cook one on one, I was one of the few that he met with in person. It was great to hear his advice and counsel! I learned so many new things! Also, President and Sister Ashton, my MTC President and his wife also surprised me by showing up with President Cook! It was great to see them. They asked me to give them some words of advice to take back to the MTC missionaries. I hope they take it to heart, and that I can help them.
Another highlight of the week was exchanges! Because of our baptismal interviews, which have to be done by another Elder, we switched for a day with our Zone leaders, Elder Robison, and Elder Nyamuri. I got to spend the day with Elder Robison, an American Elder from Utah, in Domboshava, which is where we play Soccer every Saturday. It is very rare to have to Americans teaching together, but it was great. It was a wonderful change of pace. Domboshava is the most beautiful place I've been to so far. It is in the country side, and it is pretty typical Africa. There are really cool huts, Zebras running around, monkeys, and everything is spread out. I hope and pray that I will get to serve there during these next 22 months. It is a special place with such special people. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see any Zebras. I was pretty bummed, but I'm sure I will see them in the future :)
My first transfer is coming to a close in a week! Pretty crazy that I only have basically 15 left to go. I can do this 15 more times, right? :) I'm learning so much everyday! Elder Milikafu isn't really training me though. There is a 12-Week program we are supposed to go through, but we have only gone through part of it. He is so far into his mission he just does things his way most of the time, which can really frustrate me. I'm learning a lot of things I can apply to my mission, and learning a lot of things I don't want to apply. He is a great guy though, and I'm still getting along with him well. He is super crazy, and super interesting. I'm just trying to be patient. Only 5 more weeks with him, though!
I'm also struggling to find things in common with some of the other missionaries. It's been tough. The other American Elders really aren't much help. I've been figuring things out on my own. All of the Utah Elders are super typical. Their views are just so different from mine, and have grown up with so many stubborn influences. I'm so glad that I am from Wyoming. The BEST state in the USA. Always has been, always will be :) Go Pokes! I hope I can find some common ground with them.
The numbers of missionaries here is going down quick! So many are leaving, and not enough are coming in. Hopefully things will still work out. Just means more work for all of us that are still here. One thing that really frustrates me is listening to missionaries who are almost done. It makes me feel like I have such a long way to go, when really it's not that bad.

A couple of cultural things:
The kids here are the cutest, and most friendly people on earth! They just come up and hug me, walk with me, and hold my hand. I love it! As a missionary, you really don't get to show affection very much, so it's great to be around kids. It makes me feel so welcome to be here. They are crazy, and fun :)
My area, Marimba/Mufakose, is much less developed than the actual city of Harare. Parts of it are fairly nice, but many of the places we go are very less developed. Everything is really dirty, and the roads are the absolute worst I've seen in a town. The houses are very small, and not very well maintained. Still, people are loving life. There are also no washers and dryers anywhere, except the transfer house. I've had to do my laundry by hand, and will probably have to most of my mission. Kind of a bummer, but when I get home I will appreciate technology even more! So should you! :)

Still haven't eaten anything crazy, but I have found a love of Sadza. I am going to make a whole Zimbabwean Sadza meal for you guys when I get home. You will love it! Also, we never use any utensils. You just use your hands :). I'm excited to show you a real Zimbabwean meal!

Today, we played soccer against another Zone. I kicked butt, scored 1 sweet goal, had 1 assist, and almost another. We beat them 7-3! :) Soccer is such a big deal here, and I'm starting to really love it. Basketball and running are still the best no doubt.
I hope all of you are doing well! I hope spring break was wonderful. You are all awesome, and know that I love you! All of you!
Even through frustration, I've found so many reasons to be happy. I'm doing and experiencing so many cool things, and this mission is making that all possible. Thanks to all of you for supporting me at this time in my life, it means so much. I hope that you all can find happiness in frustration. Just look for the good things, and don't let the bad things get to you. Heavenly Father wants you to be happy, Satan wants you to be miserable. Trust in the Lord to help you make the right choice.
I've really come to see that a mission is so much more than teaching people. Though that is our main purpose, a mission is a complete experience. It's awesome. It's also really nice to never have to worry about exams, or homework assignments! I feel bad for all of you UW students back home. Haha :)
I've decided to do a Shona Word/Phrase of the Week each week.
This week it is Pakyipa. It means: life is tough, things are tough. It's a really fun thing to say when things get awkward. The people here just laugh :)
Have a great week everyone! Know you are loved! :)
All the best...

Monday, March 14, 2016

Makadii Week 6

Hello Everyone! This week has been a blast. I'm having a great time here, and learning so so much every day. There are frustrations no doubt, but I'm doing my best to overcome them. Africa is just insane! I hope I include the things you want to hear.
I hope things are going well for all of you wherever you might be. I love all of you, and wish you all the best.
A couple of funny/crazy things:
1. White people are called Murungu here in Zim. I'm the only white person in literally my entire area, so people always call me that pretty much wherever I go. All the little kids freak out when they see me. They say, "murungu! how are you?" cause that's the only English they know. It's pretty funny, especially when I speak a little Shona back to them. They are so surprised! All of the older folks do well with English for the most part, but the kids don't know it well at all. I am learning some new Shona words and phrases every day, and am doing my best to put it into practice :). It's getting much better for sure.
2. African people do not care about time at all! They are always late to everything, and they are never in a hurry to do anything. They have no idea how to stick to a schedule. At first it was irritating, especially because I was always quick to do things back home, but now I just find it funny! I'm learning to just let it happen, and just do my best to work with it. People show up to church like 45 mins late, and our lessons are so irregular it's crazy! I'm getting used to it though.
3. The driving here is the craziest thing I've ever seen! You can literally do whatever you want and no one will care. No tickets, and no one will get mad at you. It's just a free for all, but it's always on crappy roads. I have absolutely no idea how there aren't more problems. Things just work, even if it makes no sense at all! haha :) Mom, you would go crazy if you saw what it was like.
4. Everything here is so cheap! You can get 2 weeks worth of food for like $40 dollars! It's crazy. I will have a ton of stuff to bring back home for sure! I still haven't eaten anything crazy, but will let you know when I do.
5. People just do whatever they can to make money here. Businesses are pretty crazy, and not well maintained. People literally just do anything to get the money they need to feed their families. It's so different from back home. I'm not really sure what some of the jobs members or investigators have here, but lot's of them don't really have a set career. The unemployment rate is just crazy high.

Thank all of you for the birthday wishes. My actual birthday was pretty uneventful, but it was nice. I was able to have some really good Pizza for lunch, and was able to get a wonderful cake to eat that night, along with some ice cream. You can't have a real birthday without cake and ice cream! I still can't really believe that I'm twenty years old! It seems just like yesterday that I was on the stage being Oliver! That was 8 years ago! Time sure does fly.

 We had a Zone meeting, and I was able to bear my testimony. I talked about my struggles with the gospel in my life, and my struggles in the first weeks of my mission. I know that I touched their hearts, and the spirit was definitely felt. I know without a shadow of a doubt that this church is true, and that through it we may be converted to Christ. I'm learning something new every day that reaffirms that fact. I urge all of you to study it out for yourself, I know you will be so blessed as you do so.
We are going to be having 6 baptisms this next Saturday! 6! My companion said that he was going to have me baptize all of them! I'm super excited to have my first baptisms. Our work in the area is sure going well. My companion and I are very blessed. The weather here is always around 80 degrees during the day, and around 60 in the evenings. It's only ever hot when it's just the sun and no clouds or breeze. If it's rainy or it's night, the weather is perfect! Everything is super dirty, and I've come to realize that my white shirts will never be completely white. That's just the way it is I guess! We are really lucky to have a car to get around. I'm getting a little better with the manual. :)
A little bit more about my companion. His name is Elder Milikafu, and he is a native of Zimbabwe, and lives in Queensdale. He actually grew up in the area we are serving, so he knows lots of people. He is 27 years old! (Yes, 27). He has had a pretty crazy life. He was a literal celebrity here in Zim, and had his own TV show for kids. Everyone loves him! He did have a lot of negative influence with his career choice, and as a result made some bad choices, but has become such a great guy. He is planning to get married, and become a politician. He can really help make Zimbabwe a better place, and I hope he can do some good things. This country really needs it. He is the District leader in our district, and has only 6 weeks left on his mission. I'm super lucky to have him as my trainer. I've learned so much from him already.
Transfers are every 6 weeks. After a transfer, I could be sent anywhere in the mission, and/or get a new companion. In two weeks I will be done with my first transfer, but will stay in the area I am in now to finish my training. My comp will be leaving part way through, so I'm not sure if or when I will be getting a different comp to finish my training. We will have to wait and see, I really have no idea what to expect. My first transfer ends on Easter Sunday. I will have a total 16 full transfers, and the 17th will be partial,
Today, our whole zone, Harare Marimba, went and played some golf with some of the members here! It was a blast! We got to hit some balls at the driving range, and also got to have some pizza and cake. There were 2 other missionary birthdays this past week, along with mine, so we all sang Happy birthday. We also got some free golfing shirts, which was a sweet bonus! For my first activity, it was awesome. I can now say that I've played golf in Africa! Pretty cool stuff :). We will be doing some more cool stuff in the future. Also, I finally saw some wildlife this week! There was a group of monkeys in our area that were running around. One of them even climbed the church on Sunday! That was the first real wildlife I've seen so far. I'm hoping to see some Elephants and lions soon :).
Our district recently bought some hats and go them embroidered. Mine has KJB and WYO stitched into it, along with the Zim flag. They are pretty sweet! Districts usually get a district item every transfer. Shirts, hats and stuff like that.It's all custom made too! I also got a really cool stone carving of an elephant. It's the coolest rock coloring I've ever seen! I also am in the process of getting a pair of my scriptures wrapped in elephant leather. I'm pretty excited for that!
We will also be having a Zone Conference tomorrow. The Area Seventy, Elder Cook will be coming to train us a little. I got to hear him speak and got the chance to meet him and his wife when I went to the Johannesburg temple while at the MTC. It's pretty cool that I'll get to meet him again. He is a great guy.

In one of our lessons this week, the Baba (father in Shona) really touched my heart. He expressed how thankful he and the rest of the Zimbabwean people were to have me here all the way from little Wyoming. He was wowed that I was willing to give up my whole life back home to preach the gospel. I'm so glad that people are noticing the sacrifice I've made, and that they are thankful for my service. It really makes me feel good to know that I'm truly where I need to be, and I'm so humbled to see the Lords hand in my life. He truly is my Savior, and he only wants the best for me. I just have to be willing to open my heart, and to be willing to learn.
My whole life, I've struggled to be truly happy. I was always focusing on the negative, and was always looking for things to go wrong. In these short 6 weeks of being on a mission, I've already learned so much about how to find that true happiness, and I know that Heavenly Father brought me here to realize that. Just be happy everyone! We are loved and blessed so much more than we can even imagine!
One quote that has been on my mind this week is from my favorite band. Zac Brown and his music has truly been a saving grace throughout my life. This quote from one of their songs was actually my senior quote. I think it applies to all of us in our lives.

"Quiet your mind. Soak it all in, it's a game you can't win. Enjoy the ride!"
I've really learned the truthfulness of this quote out here. In today's world, we truly have to quiet our minds. There are so many things calling for our attention. We have to realize that life is a game we can't truly win on our own. We need the Savior. I'm doing my best to soak in this mission experience, and to enjoy the ride as much as possible. I hope you all can apply this quote to your lives as well. It has helped me so much, and I know it can help you too.
I love you all so much, and I continue to pray for you daily. I wish you the best of luck in everything you do, and hope that you all enjoy spring break!
I will be sending some pictures in a separate email, and I hope you like them! I'm doing my best to get pictures of everything that I can, This place just has some much to offer! It's so hard to show you everything.
Have a good week everyone! Until next week...

Monday, March 7, 2016

Week 5

Things have been going pretty well here this past week. Our house has had some much needed improvements done to it! We now have hot and cold water, a shower head, no leaking water, electricity in every room, a shower curtain, and new faucets. It's much cleaner and better put together now for sure.

The culture here still wows me every day. Things are just so different! I'm slowly getting used to things more and more, and am becoming a little more comfortable with things. I still have no idea where I am most of the time, so I still have a long way to go in figuring out the layout or not only my area, but Harare itself.

All the people here are extremely humble and willing to listen. They all have so little, but do some much with it. The only cares they have are of their families. Everything else doesn't really matter. They are all usually very receptive to the gospel, but they have a hard time keeping the commitments, and coming to church most of the time, which makes it hard for us to get them to progress. Their care free lifestyle is a blessing and a curse for them, and they sometimes struggle to see what is good for them. Almost everyone has a strong belief in God and Jesus Christ, so it's easy to find common ground.

I'm still really overwhelmed by a lot of things. The culture, the people, and most of all missionary work itself. I'm really struggling to be happy and joyful 100% of the time, but I'm trying my best to have a positive outlook and attitude. Shona is still the name of the game, and I just get so discouraged when I teach. I know they can understand me, but they are just too stubborn to go out of their way to talk with me. It's really hard, but I'm trying to play my part, and find ways to be useful during lessons. I'm just always super lost. We still have around 10-15 people we are preparing for baptism. Hopefully we can keep them progressing toward a date in the near future.

I love you all so much, and I'm so thankful for all the birthday wishes! It's pretty crazy that I'm officially a real adult. The teenage years are finally behind me. Growing up kind of sucks though! Haha :)

Thank you for all your words of encouragement, and all of your thoughts and prayers. I couldn't do this without all of you! I wish you all the best in everything you do, and know that I pray for you everyday! I know our Heavenly Father loves us, and wants us to be happy. 

1st Picture!

Here is one photo that I've managed to upload. It is extremely difficult to upload and send photos from here. There is something wrong with the connection between my camera and the computers. Anyway, this me in my area! I love you all!