Guess what!??? This week was full of greatness! It was a little harder than last week. I’ll give a quick update of the new families who came last week. Joao and Gina have both received their answers from God that these things are true, so has their 19 year old son. I love teaching this family. Joao is such a humble and happy man from Beira. I just love looking into his shining eyes as he tells us that he knows that Joseph Smeny (that is how he pronounces it) was a true prophet. The family is doing well but we are also finding some difficulties we will have to help them overcome. The pastors from their previous church came to their house this week, and we also found out that their son Sabado who is 19 has a drinking problem and he also smokes weed…ya. We’ve been working really hard to get Sabado integrated. We introduced him to Daniel, the ward missionary leader who is his age and they’ve gone to some youth activities together and Sabado has realy enjoyed his time. This week Joao and Gina didn’t come. Joao was super sick and Gina had to take care of him, Sabado on the other hand was there and loved church. Leonardo and Emilia, who also came for the first time last week came this week as well. We have come to love this family so much. They have a baptismal date for August 18th. We have come across a few problems though, we found out on Saturday that they still go to their other church throughout the week and Sunday morning before they come to ours. This week we have a plan to help them recognize that they need to chose one. Also two weeks ago we found a muslim man named Abdala. (he’s not really muslim, and neither is his family, he was just born into a muslim family and basically doesn’t go to church.) He has a very big family of six kids. One of them is currently living in South Africa. All the others live with him at home. The second oldest already has a wife and lives there as well. The Abdala family is really special, and very interested in learning more about Jesus Christ. They also feed us loads of African food every night we go there. Which is nice, but it also makes us late for our other appointments, and there is no way you can just deny their food, so our genius Idea is to bring a container and say that we have to go, but they can put it in the container. African food is soooo nice. Last week they couldn’t make it to church because they had already committed to go to their cousin’s baptism. This week they promised that they would visit and be at church this week as a family. Claudio and Emilia are doing well but still don’t understand why they need to get married as soon as possible. All in all it was a really good week. On fruits day (Sunday) we were blessed abundantly, I could even say that is was a miracle. Once again we left home early and were in our area two hours before church started. We passed by all the houses of the families we are teaching and sent them off to church. We were confident that we would have at least 4 families at church again. When we got to church still none of our investigators had arrived yet, and…..the power was out in the chapel which translates into extra hot rooms….. But that didn’t phase any of us. One by one the investigators that the Assistants are teaching started showing up. We were really happy for them, last week they had 4 families at church and we could see that many were coming back. Still none of our families had come yet. We had also found out earlier that day that Claudio wasn’t going to be able to make it to church because he had to go work. We waited patiently at the gate of the chapel, the first class had already started and was going to end in about 20 minutes. In those twenty minutes all our families started coming. I don’t even know how to describe how happy I was when I saw them all coming to church. By they time sacrament meeting started we had 7 complete families at church and two other part families. It was such a blessing to see so many people that were being taught by the missionares there. (what is even more amazing is that we had two new families that came that had never been taught but that we had invited just the night before) The assistants also had many families and investigators at church. The frequency at sacrament meeting was 109. Of that number 45 were individuals that were brought to church by the missionaries. In just a short amount of time our branch has grown a lot. When I first got here in this branch we averaged 80-90 people at church. This week we had 109. What is even more impressive is that that Sunday the new Matola chapel was being dedicated so various members had gone there instead of staying and helping out in their branch. I believe that if all those members would have come to our branch we could have had 130 people at church which is a growth of more than 30% in one transfer. Our branch is growing and our area is exploding in large part because we are applying the things we are learning in District meeting with Elder Croft. He has given us a greater vision of how to do missionary work creatively. Recently was published an article in Deseret News about the families he baptized in Beira. When he got to the area it was dead and he walked a ton every day with no success, but he decided to change his paradigm and let God work through him. (http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/63802/Miracles-in-Mozambique.html )
I have also been thinking a lot more about the needs of the districts in my zone. I want to talk briefly about the attitude that the missionaries in Magoanine had towards their branch and their area:
Their attitude was negative. It was so hard for me to hear their complaints about their branch and how nobody in the branch give references or helps. The paradigm is so skewed. The magoanine branch is the strongest branch in the mission. It has the most melchesidek priesthood holders and the most full tithe payers and wonderful members. Yesterday after Church Elder Hamrick and I took a chapa to Magoanine to give a training. In the training I taught them the principles of a paradigm and how a negative paradigm never has helped anything or anyone become better. Further more I explained about a positive paradigm and how it is so much better than a negative one. To explain this we did an activity. I displayed four pictures of common scenes in Africa and gave them about 30 seconds each to write every possible negative thing they could. We repeated the activity writing down all of the positive things in the pictures they saw. After this experience I invited them to no longer have a negative paradigm about their area or their branch. But then I went on to explain that it isn’t enough to just have a positive paradigm. We did the activity once more writing down creative ideas, or solutions for the negative things in the pictures. Being a creative thinker is SO much more powerful than a positive thinker. When we just think positively we aren’t always fixing the negatives, in fact I think it is safe to say that a positive thinker often times tries to ignore the negative things. If you ever want to make a difference you must recognize what needs changed and then creatively find a solution. At this point in the training I invited them to think about their branch. I didn’t have them write down the positive or negative things about their branch, they already knew those things, but I invited them and gave them some time to write down all of the Creative ideas that could come to their minds to change the situation, to help the negatives become positives, to help weaknesses to become strengths. I testify that God gives us weaknesses so that we can be made strong. There will often be times in our lives where we will have to humble ourselves enough to accept God’s help in strengthening us, our area, or our branch. All of the Elder were touched by the traning and I pray and hope that they will begin to apply the things they learned so that when they get transfered they will have made a difference, and they will be sad to leave an area and branch they love instead of being so happy to get out of there. When change is needed we can either let those who will come next make it happen or we can. I am decided to be the change I want to see in my area, my branch, and the world.