Monday, July 29, 2013

Matola - Week 67


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!

Elder Williams

"Don't live your life without Miracles"
-Elder Neil L. Andersen

Monday, July 22, 2013

Matola - Week 65

"We have good days and harder days"

The pictures of Alaska were absolutely beautiful. But I can promise you, that you will be way more blown away with the beauty of the country of Mozambique. I have been here for a good amount of time, but that is something that will never get old. Especially the sunsets. I'm excited for you guys to see this place.
But it sounds like it was a good week back home! I throughly enjoyed the missionary experience on the cruise ship. It was to bad that lady has been having some hard times. WITHOUT A DOUBT, you guys were supposed to be there to help her. Our Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways, but he knows exactly what his children need. I'm glad you were able to have that experience.
As for me, the week was very hard. I had probably the two hardest days that I've had on the whole mission. But at the same time, it ended up being a very successful week, and good things happened. 
First things first, we have 2 marriages processes opened! Feliciano and Joaquina as well as Manuel and Linda. After opening the process, the government makes them wait 20 days before the can legalize the wedding. (In Beira it is only 10 days) So both of these couples with be getting married and baptized on the 10 of August. So they will have the same anniversary as my parents! Kind of excited. Both families are doing well, and have developed friends in the Branch. All 4 of our complete families at church yesterday, sat next to another family that we have taken over to their house. We gotta hold onto these recent converts!
Ok, let me tell you a little about Thursday, which might have been the hardest day of my mission. We started the day off doing weekly planning. We were very excited about our area, and the way direction the the zone heading. We had 7 lessons marked for that day, including Aires e Jurema, 5 new complete families, and a couple named Helder and Fatima. We had planned to teach them the Law of Chastity. We left the house that day just pumped! Ready to take on the day. Well, all 5 new lessons fell through, we sat at Aires and Jurema's house for 2 hours while they complained why they didn't want to get married, then Helder and Fatima straight up rejected the Law of Chastity and said they wouldn't get married til next year. But we did have a good 8 hours of street contacting.
We walked home the night pretty depressed. But it's ok. We have good days and we have harder days. I have no reason to complain. 
But that was the progress of Aires e Jurema this week. We were praying, trying to figure out the best way to help them. We called them every night, reminding them to read and pray together, then we sent over a recent convert family  that has recently become friends with them. We didn't go over there until Thurday. But when we went over there, what a change! They had read in the scriptures each day together, and prayed daily together. Their relationship changed a ton! Jurema said, "we are finally friends again." I was so excited when I heard those words come out of her mouth. It was their answer that the Book of Mormon was true. Something false, would not have had such a positive influence on their family. That night we talked about the beginning of the plan of salvation, and when we got to the part about our lives on earth, we focused on the family proclamation. Thank you mom for arranging that nice copy in portuguese for me before the misson. It is now in the home of Aires and Jurema. We read through it together and talked about how we can have a successful family, but that it is necessary to be married legally. They loved the lesson, but don't want to be married. It was a tough pill to swallow considering that have already recieved an answer to the Book of Mormon. So they are semi-dropped. We will see what happens as the continue to come to church and strengthen their testimonies. They said they won't stop coming!
Now it is time for the miracle story of the week! One day, during companion study 2 weeks ago, me and Elder Lake were talking about ways to strengthen our branch. We decided to do something we don't do very often. Call inactive members. There are no complete families in our area, but we saw a man that lived in the area of Machava that was baptized in the year 2000. Machava is close to our area, but has no missionaries. We talked to him on the phone and invited him to church. He said he would come and that he would bring his wife. This man's name is Lionel.
We didn't think much of the calls we had made, but when sunday came around, sure enough  man named Lionel introduced himsellf to us! He was with his wife as well! The members knew who he was and helped him feel welcome again. His wife, is a non-member so we marked a lesson to go teach the family. 
Friday came, and it was time for the lesson. He picked us up in his car. (he is a very successful lawyer.) We went to his house and got to know a little bit more of his story. He has such a strong testimony, but for the past few years has gotten lazy in the church. He was one of the first 10 members of the church in Maputo. His father was converted in Portugual many years ago, and he sent a copy of the Book of Mormon to Lionel here in Mozambique. Lionel read the Book of Mormon, and wanted to be baptized way before the missionaries were here in the country. When he heard the missionaries were coming to Mozambique, he went to the airport and waited for them. He was baptized shortly afterwards. 
He told us that he "just needed someone to call him and invite him." He said he will never miss church again! Plus, his wife Celeste accepted baptism the first visit. I know that Lionel will be a great leader out in Machava in the future. We just need to get them married so that he can get worthy and so that she can get baptized. We are so excited about this family! It's amazing, we are able to follow the Spirit without knowing! We didn't know the Spirit was telling us to call Lionel. We just did what we thought was best, and the Lord guided us. The result, is a strong family the will pioneer the area of Machava. So cool!
Well! I'm excited for this week! We will have the open house all week! It ran so smoothly last night for the first day. The Spirit is so powerful in the tour. Just so you have an idea of how strong it is, let me tell you an experience. The VERY FIRST PERSON to do the tour, was an older single lady. By the end of the tour, she was in tears. I was a witnesses of it. It was a very special experience. ONE MORE PROOF that these things are true. 
I love this Gospel, my testimony is getting tried so hard! But at the same time, it is building so much. I ove you all. Have a great week!

Elder Williams

"We do not preach and teach in oreder to 'bring people into the church' or to increase the membership. We do not teach and preach just to persudade people to live better lives... We invite all to come unto Christ by repentance and baptism in order to open the doors of the Celestial Kingdom to the sons and daughters of God."
-Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Matola - Week 64

tenho muito para falar

Good morning family!
I loved receiving the letters this week from everyone. Sounds like everyone is doing well. I want lots of pictures from the Alaskan cruise!
Well, I don't even know where to start. The past few weeks have been so busy, and we have gotten so much down out here in Matola.
Preparations for the open house continue to run smoothly. We are handing invites out like crazy! Over the past few weeks, we have given out about 13,000 invites. We give one to every person that passes by us. Men, women, and teenagers. We contact the men that give them out to. President Kretly said that he wants every house in Matola to have an invite to the open house. We have a long way to go, considering just our area has over 53,000 people.
Other preperations have been made as well this past week. Me and Elder Lake were assigned to make a "script" for the tour at the house. During the tour, missionaries and returned missionaries in the area will be basically teaching the Restoration as banners will be throughout the cultural hall. I show some pictures when the open house actually happens.
We also did a group fast as a zone so the the open house will run smoothly, and so that families can be baptized out of it. I know the Lords will bless us.
Our area definitely saw some growth this past weeks. Miracles are happening day after day, and families are accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 
Feliciano e Joaquina is a family that we has found the very first week of last transfer. He came to church the first week with his daughter, but we couldn't get Joaquina to get to church. Their marriage documents had problems as well, so we dropped them. We told them that when they come to church together, we would go back to teach them. A couple weeks went by, and they didn't come. Then last Sunday, they both came! We went over to their house that very day, and taught them. We started on their documents with them the next day, and the the got everything done in a matter of days! We will be opening their marriage process with them tomorrow, and will be baptized a few weeks after. What a miracle! We helped them realize that The Lord didn't give them help with marriage documents until they both acted and came to church. That is when the blessings come. This past week, we brought over Joao e Heriqueta, our recent- convert family and it seems like they are the best of friends! They came to church together yesterday. We will be doing a family home evening over there over the next few weeks.
Last night, we went to Feliciano's again, and we talked about Lehi's vision of the tree of life. Feliciano's two kids, 23 years old and 16 years old, are both going to the Catholic church, but he has been trying so hard to help them find the truth. Feliciano has developed such a strong testimony just over the past few weeks. Last night he went off on this 10 minute tangent on how he has never had a happy life, he has never had a lot of money, and that only bad things have happened to him. His other daughter died at 13 years old and he didn't know why. (the plan of salvation lesson with them was amazing.)
He said last night that he has "found that which will show him salvation. He want to "partake of the fruit" with his whole family. So we will see if his kids can get on board. It was a very spiritual lesson last night. After he stopped talking, I couldn't help but stand up and give him a big hug. Such an amazing family.
We will be opening the process of another family tomorrow as well. Manual e Linda. Great family that has been keeping commitments. Our focus with them, is member present lessons. Linda is very shy, and needs some friends in the church. So hopefully we'll continue to have success will member present lessons this next week with them. We will be going by there tonight.
We are doing everything that we can with a new family as well! Aires e Jurema is a money family that would help the church so much here in Matola. They are very intelligent, educated, and fairly wealthy. We found him contacting on his street. We actually contacted him twice before sitting him. Obviously the Lord wanted us to teach him. The Restoration lesson went super well, and they excepted baptism. But when we talked about the Law of Chastity, they revealed to us that they have marital problems, so they weren't willing to get married. Because of how much they work, and stress about building their new house, their relationship has gotten worse over the past few months. So we focused in on strengthening their realtionship. And what strengthens the family? Obviously daily prayer and scripture study. They said they were willing to try it to see what happens. Then, I threw a question at Aires. I asked him "when was the last time you told your wife that you love her?" He didn't respond... He couldn't remember that last time he had said it to his wife of his chiildren (he has the 2 cutest kids in the world.) He admitted that it had been weeks. So we made him tell right then and there. He struggled, but he got the words out! It took her a lot longer to him that she loved him, but after 7 or 8 minutes of awkward silence, she got it out as well! I know for a fact, that their relationship will get better if they say that to each other each day and do daily and weekly scripture study. 
I learned a lot from this experience as well that I can apply to my personal life. I promised myself that I won't let a day go by, with out telling my wife and kids that I love them. And we will not miss a single day of family prayer and scripture study. The difference it makes, is unbelievable. I've seen it.
So that has been the past few weeks for us! So many ups, and so many downs. I learn so much each day and I'm trying to make the most out of my experience. I am so excited to hear about Jarrett's call to Madrid, Spain! He is going to love this work. I am getting emails from other friends of mine who are putting in missionary papers and preparing to serve the Lord. It's so hard! But it's worth it. They will be so happy. 
Heber J. Grant said, "The key to happiness is laboring for the happiness of others." So true. I love you all so much. Have a good week!

Love, Elder Williams

Monday, July 8, 2013

Matola - Week 63 (Friends Newsletter)

Note: Elder Williams has been blessed with great friends over the years.  In order to stay connected with these friends, one of them suggested that each of them write a letter each quarter that could be put together into a newsletter so that they could stay connected while on their missions.  This week's letter was one of these letters that will be included in the newsletter to his friends: 

Hello Friends! 
It has been way to long since I have written a good letter to all of you, so I apologize. The mission continues to go by at a rapid pace. Way faster than it should be going. But I have learned so much and I feel like I have changed alot as well. I love nothing more than teaching the Gospel. My dream, is to be a Seminary teacher one day! (see how much I have changed?)
Well, let me explain a little bit about the Mozambique Maputo Mission. Over the past year, the mission has changed dramatically. There was always a big problem in the country that was hurting the growth of the church.The problem was that families were not married legally, and didnt have enough money to get married. This left missionaries in a tough situation for years. Missionaries did reactivation efforts, hoping to build the church that way. But what the church needed, was new families to establish the Church in Mozambique. 
Miracles started to happen as missionaries looked for ways to improve the situation. The mission started looking into how we could help these families get married so that they could be baptized. The mission came up with a collective marriage idea that allowed multiple couples to get married on the same day. This is the miracle that Elder Neil Anderson talked about in his General Conference talk. Since then, the country has started to take off. We ONLY teach complete families. I haven't taught single people or teenagers for the past 9 months. This is the only way that the Church will grow.
Mozambique has yet to have Stake. But within the next 20 months, 4 stakes will be organized in the country. It is so exciting to see! So that is our goal here in Mozambique. To establish Stakes! And these people deserve it! There is not a more gentle, humble people that I have seen. They are so willing to except the gospel. It is humbling for me to enter houses made of dirt and teach the true gospel to them. People really are changing their lives.
As for me, I am doing well! I get along with my companion and we are working in an area that has one member family. So it is fertile soil. We are slowly trying to build this area into a powerhouse. We are working in the suburbs of the countrys biggest city, Maputo.
Nothing to crazy has happened over the fast few months, except this past week, me and my companion had a scary situation. We ended up being chased by 2 crazy guys trying to beat us with rebar. My companion dodged a blow right to the head. But we ran away and we were save! Even though we did get seperated for a few minutes because of it. Haha
Well I hope each of you are doing well! I hope you all undedrstand that this time we have, is short. I know that this is the Lords work here on the Earth. I am humbled and gratful to be apart of it. Love you all!

Elder Williams

Monday, July 1, 2013

Matola - Week 62

O Senhor esta com pressa aqui na Africa

Good morning family! I hope everyone had a good week. From the letters, sounds like everyone is doing really well and that the week was a success. Especially for Andrew tearing it up at BYU basketball camp and Nick going to EFY. Some of the most spiritual experiences I remember before the mission were from EFY. I am glad he had a good experience!
Transfers happened today! Transfers are always pretty exciting to see where everyone will go and where they will serve. We had a total of 11 new missionaries come from the MTC this week (8 elders and 3 sisters) so we knew that some changes would happen. Our zone didn't change to much, but we did have a few elders get switched in and out of the zone. The zone also added one more companionship, so that will be nice. But as for me and Elder Lake, we will continue to serve together as zone leaders in Matola. 
I am so excited for the elders who were transfered into Matola. As President Kretly said this past week in zone conference, "when we move out to our new chapel in matola, matola is going to explode." I know that is true and it is so exciting to be apart of it.
With the transfer coming to an end, lets look at the growth in Matola that has happened over the past 6 weeks. From December 2012- June 2013, the zone of Matola had baptized 8 complete families. In the past month alone, June 2013 the zone of Matola baptized 7 complete families. It was a miracle from the Lord. Over the past few weeks, the elders have started to "catch the vision." Me and Elder Lake gave some trainings on marriage documents, chapter 11 in Preach My Gospel, on how to know when to drop a family, and we are seeing crazy results. I am so grateful to be apart of the work in Matola, and I wouldnt want to be anywhere else.
We had a very good zone conference on Friday. President Kretly always gives unbelivable tranings. He talked about the miracles that have been happening in the mission. President Kretly always helps us to recognize the hand of the Lord in the work, and I really do. It is amazing the work that the Lord has done through a bunch of 18 and 20 year old kids. That is just one more testimony that I have about the truthfulness of this gospel. The church here is growing so fast! It is not because of the missionaries, it is definitely not because of me, but it is becuase we have a loving Heavenly Father who loves the people of Mozambique. I cant remember which Apostle said this, but "The Lord is in a hurry with Africa." And that is so true.
Our area is starting to look pretty good. We have about 4 families that are progressing very nicely. Manuel e Belmira, Manuel e Linda, Mateus e Ancha, e Arnaldo e Rosa. Two of them should be baptized over the next transfer. That will be nice going into the new chapel. I will be talking about the new chapel in a bit.
Fernando e Ivone were dropped yesterday. So sad! There was just no prgress with the documentation for marriage, and they missed church for the first time yesterday. But that is part of the work. The Lord obviously wanted them to be taught for 5 weeks. Maybe they will get their heads on straight and come to church next week! 
Yesterday, President and Sister Kretly came out to church with us and he talked about the chapel situation. I don know if I have told you guys, but we have been taking buses out to T-3 to go to church every Sunday morning. The rented 3 buses, and all the members meet all the old location here in Matola. Then, we have a huge sacrament meeting in T-3 with 3 branches. Yesterday, about 350 people were there. It was crazy! That is currently our chapel situation.
The open house for the new chapel will be on July 20-27, with church on the 28th for the first time. It is going to be a huge event! The building is right on a huge road here in Matola. Yesterday, the AP´s gave us 3,000 invitations to give out to people. President Kretly wants the whole city, including Maputo to know about it. It will be an exciting few weeks building up to it.
I am very ready for a new transfer. This past transfer, we had some hard things happen. We had some problems with some Elders, others had to go home to take care of some things, and I definitely felt the burden of being a zone leader and the stress that comes with it. But what an amazing opportunity it is to serve this amazing city. I am so grateful for the miracles that the Lord blesses us with day after day. I know that He loves us, and He truely is in a hurry with Africa.
That is why Elder Jarrett Anderson will be called to the Mozambique Maputo mission. There is not a better mission in the world. So I guess I will talk to him in a few months when he gets sent to the Matola zone!
Well, have a good week! I hope the summer continues to go well and that everyone has a good 4th of July.

Love, Elder Williams