First off all, it was very weird to see nick driving a car... is he really old enough to drive? I can't believe that he is going to PG high in a few weeks. I'm pumped for him! And I'm also excited to have been invited to write a talk for Morgan's baptism. I'll start on that.
But anyway, we had a pretty good week here in the Matola zone. We were unbelievably busy with the open house that ran all week, until Saturday night. It was without a doubt, the focus of our week. We were also able to give out a lot more invites! In total, we had given out about 25,000 invites all over the city of Matola to basically anyone and their dog. We knew that not everyone would show up, so we knew we had to give out tons of them!
In all, I would say that open house was a success. There were a few things that could have ran a bit more smoothly, but it turned out alright. Some members took the open house as a "free time to hang out at the new chapel and make tons of food and make some noise." We did our best to control it, so that new people could feel the spirit and learn more about the gospel during the tour. The tour was a very spiritual one. Our role as missonaries, was the bring the people to the chapel, and also to do the first part of the tour, before handing them off to the members.
When it wasn't our turn to give the tours at the chapel, we were busy out in our area contacting and bringing people to the chapel. On many ocasions, we were able to contact men, and walk with them to the chapel in that very moment. We would hand them off to other Elders at the chapel, and then go out and find more! We would them follow up a few days afterwards to go teach the family.
In total, there were about 50 new families who showed up to the open house and went through. And I did not hear a single complaint for any of them. They all liked it. And we have a couple new families in our area as a result of it!
Elder Lake and I also stayed busy on Wednesday, as we went out to Maputo to participate in the Mission Leadership Council. The MLC consists of the 6 zone leaders, the 2 assistants, and the sister training leader. It was a good council, and we were able to talk about a lot of things we can do to improve our zones. We were able to pass on ideas to other leaders, and we received a lot of good ideas from others leaders that we will apply in our zone. Elder Lake and I were also asked to give a training to the other leaders on the marriage proceess. We made a training that we have passed on to the Beira ZL's and the Manga ZL's that will help all the companionships know the marriage process a little bit better, and what documents are necesarry. The better we know that, the more families we baptize!
Our area is coming along little by little. Feliciano and Joaquina are doing well, and are excited to be baptized. We watched the Restoration video this week with them, and they loved it. We tied that message into living day prophets, and the Spirit was so strong. Feliciano has such a strong testiomny. It's amazing to see.
We found a new family this week. Sara, is a single widow that was 2 teenage kids named Jessica and Joao. The first day we went to their house, we convinced them to come to open house with us. They weren't very excited since we kinda forced them over there. But I'm glad we did! They loved it, and when we showed them the baptismal font, we invited them to be baptized on the 17th of August. They accepted, and were at church yesterday! We got a text from them yesterday afternoon saying that they loved the first week. They fit perfectly into the branch. I'm excited about them.
Aires and Jurema keep coming to church as well. We continue to pray, hoping they they wil eventually accept this commandment to get married. We also found out that Jurema was a very successful professional basketball player, and has played all over Africa. If that isn't cool, I don't know what is.
The dedication was a very special event as well. The youth choir did an amazing job, as they filled up the chapel with the Spirit of the Lord. The was full of people as well! It filled almost all the way to the end of the overflow. It was amazing to see. Sister Thornton did an amazing just playing the violin as well. She played "How Great Thou Art." It was very powerful. None of the Elders in the zone believed me when I told them that I played the violin for 4 years. Haha. But it's true!
Over the past few weeks, me and Elder Lake have talked a lot about what this zone needs to improve. It has always been a little bit behind the others as far as baptisms and getting families to come to church. We think we know what the solution is... In reference to the new beautiful chapel, we decided, "If we build it, they will come." I am excited to see the difference. There will be MANY families baptized in the months of August and September.
That was pretty much the week for us! We continue to find new people to teach as well! Last night, we were contacting and we saw a nice looking man up in front of us. I turned to Elder Lake and said, "I guarantee we baptize this man." I said it in a joking, but at the same time, a very serious way. He was a nice man named Mario, and he said he wanted to learn more! He said his wife was home, and that we could go over right then. We went over there, taught him and his wife the Restoration, and they accepted to be baptized. We talked a little bit about preperation to be baptized and we said that they would need to get married to live all the commandments. They accepted that as well! Turns out, that Mario's wife and brother-in-law were married and baptized last month in Maputo. And they loved it. So were are pumped about this family. We will be going back on Wednesday night.
Of all the hard times that happen on the mission, the good times defintiely trump the hard ones. In matter of a few hours, I can feel like God is so near, or so far. It's easy to forget how much God is apart of this work. Right when my faith is small, God shows us another miracle. It is humbling that Heavenly Father lets a bunch of punk 20 year old be apart of all this. I don't know how he trusts us. But he does, because he loves us. THE BIGGEST THING I HAVE LEARNED ON THE MISSION, IS THE LOVE THAT GOD HAS FOR ALL HIS CHILREN. I see it, and feel it every single day.
I love you all, and have a good week!
"Don't live your life without Miracles"
-Elder Neil L. Andersen