Monday, September 30, 2013

Matola - Week 76

2 anos realmente sao 2 semanas

I almost don't believe how fast one week can past. Every week goes by faster and faster. But we did have a good week here in Matola.
Being the first week of the transfer, all of the missionaries in the zone were excited to work. I'm going to do my best to help everyone have this desire always. And we did see some miracles in the zone this week. More marriage processes have been opened, and more families are continuing to be found.
But on the same hand, Satan is constantly trying to destroy the work here in this country. One thing that this mission has struggled with in the past is gossip. I bet just about all missions have this problem. It is almost as if there was a rivalry against missionaries. Many Americans think that the natives are out to get them, and many natives think that Americans are out to get them. We ran into a little bit of tension in our house this week, and it is completely unacceptable. Every missionary needs to think before they say something. I had the idea of doing nightly prayer as a district, and since then, there has been no problems. It strenghtened my testimony on the power of prayer. ALWAYS, will I hold daily prayer with my family. It defintely keeps the Spirit in the home, which is what we want.
But the work goes on! This Wednesday, me and Elder Brandao put on a training for the district leaders. A lot of missionaries overlook the responsibility of the district leader, and the influence that he can have. We helped them understand they they have a big role in the real growth in their branch. We also showed them how the zone is growing. Over the last 6 weeks, we have been teaching three times as much as we were. And more investigators are coming to church. The zone has been seeing big differences over the last few weeks, and will only continue. Receiving the numbers last night from the companionships, I was pleased to see that everyone really is working a lot harder than before. "They key to missionary work, is work!"
Yesterday, it rained here in Maputo. And mozambiquans do don't like rain! That is always to first excuse to not go to church. The frequency went down in all the branches in the zone. One thing we are working hard at, is to help the members develop more faith. The members need to be the examples for the investigators. Rain is no excuse to not come to church. It strenghtened my testimony of the Sabbath Day. We will be teaching the Sabbath Day many times this week. 
On the way to church yesterday, we passed a Catholic church. They were singing and the church was full off people. Hundreds and hundreds it seemed like. There were cars parked all over the neighborhood. I thought to myself, 'how to they bring so many people to church so easily?' I got a little discouraged and thought to myself, 'how is it that we have the true message, true authority of God, and a living prophet, and we can't even fill up one building in Matola? and these others churches have mutiple all over the city and thy are easily filling up?' I don't understand how people are so blinding from the truth. I don't understand why people don't want to follow Christ's true church on the earth! Sunday afternnoon read the following verse in 1 Nephi 14:12-
"And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon the many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon all the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw."
That was a huge reminder to me that the truth will always be rejected. Just because the church of the Lamb has fewer members, does not change the truthfulness of our message. I wouldn't deny the truthfulness of this work and gospel, even if I were the only member in the whole world. So that was a pretty cool experience I had this week.
We have been very busy with preparations for zone conference! Tomorrow morning at 10 am we will be having zone conference here in Matola. We have ordered food, and this afternoon, we will be going to set things up at the chapel. We ordered food from Mimo's, the local pizza place. We were asked to order a total of 70 pizzas! So we will eat pretty well. They aren't big pizzas obviously, but still. haha
There will be a total of 55 missionaries participating in the zone conference, so I'm excited to receive more trainings from President and Sister Kretly. I talked to President Sunday night, and he asked me to conduct the zone conference tomorrow, so that will be a good experience. I write abut the things we learned next week.
Our investigators continue to progress as well! We had to wait til the end of the month to get some marriage documents, because our investigators were waiting on their salary. This week, they will get paid, and jump all over the documents!
We will be baptizing 2 more families in the zone this weekend! One of them being Narciso and Telma, a family that we had contacted in the street, and started teaching during my weeklong division with an Elder in the district. THe Lord defiintely blessed us that week! I will be doing some more baptismal interviews this week, so that's always exciting becuase people are getting baptized!
This week, I got a little emotional... I guess it hadn't really hit me that we are entering October already. It is so scary. I will continue to make the best of the time I have in this amazing country. I honestly think I could go on forever! I never want to take of this missionary badge. It has been the most rewarding thing that has ever happened to me. And it is something very personal to me. 
I love you all so much, and I hope you continue to do what is right! We really do live in a state of happiness when we keep the commandments. I love you all!

Love, Elder Williams

Monday, September 23, 2013

Matola - Week 75

Well more weeks have past, and that means that transfers have came. I was very pleased and satisfied to know that I will be staying here in Matola this transfer. We have a lot of unfinished work that we need to take care of, so I am very excited! Me and Elder Brandao will also be serving together still. I is nice to have a companion that is always willing to work hard with me. I know we will see many more results this transfer. 
The Matola zone has improved dramatically over the past 4 weeks as far as numbers are concerned. This work is not about the numbers, but it's a sign that the Elders are working hard and the work is continuing to go forward. Ever since we have done those splits with the district leaders, the elders have caught a new fire, which is good to see. We focused on contacting, saying that when we start street contacting well, the other numbers will go with it, and that's exactly what happened. The contacting number doubled, the lessons taught tripled, and they investigators at church with a baptismal date skyrocketed. We are starting to do things the right way as a whole zone. As we continue working hard and be diligent, the Lord will bless us just as times in the past.
The Lord blessed the area of Elder Brandao and I as we have been diligent over the past few weeks. We came across a couple named Jose and Sandra. Never before, on my whole mission, have I seen a family so prepared. And that is saying a lot. We contacted them one afternoon as they we walking to church! They went to a church called "A Igreja Mundial" which is "The Worldly Church" quite a name right? They went to church every afternoon together.
So we marked a lesson with them for the next morning, and I we went over there. They understood the Restoration so well. They are very educated and they asked very good questions as well. We explained the importance of the Book of Mormon, and that afternoon, they went to their church to say goodbye to them and that they will never go back. 
They have already recieved and answer that the Book of Mormon is true, and they aren't going anywhere. They were the first ones at church both Sundays! The other miracle is that they want to do a simple marriage! So we are going to bring someone who has authority to perform a marriage, and they will sign in their house with normal clothes, in order to be baptized the next day.
They are the perfect example of a family that is 'Searching for the truth, but they know not where to find it.' I'm grateful that the Lord has placed these prepared families in our path.
 These people aren't only changing their lives, and repenting, but they are making the necessary steps to live in the presence of our Heavenly Father again. It is amazing to see. 
As we are seeing these families progress, we are seeing others that aren't progressing. We continue to find, drop, find, drop, so that we can find the prepared familes. 
As we see these miracles, Satan continues to try to destroy our Faith and Hope. My testimony has been tried so hard over the past few weeks, but at the same time, it has been built. We have ran into more Anti-Christs than I've ever seen. We taught a man from Melbourne, Australia who tried to destroy me and say that there is no God. Lots of Jeovah's Witnesses as well have ran into us as well. And I do not have a answer for many of the questions that are thrown at me. I don't know that Bible very well either. But I know for sure, that the Book of Mormon is true. So that is all I need to know. I have felt the presence of God so much, that I can't deny that he is real. I know he is Real and that He loves us. I know this is his work, and I'm so blessed to be a part of it. I wrote a long letter to President this week, so I didn't have much time to write.
I hope you all have a great week!
Love, Elder Williams

Monday, September 16, 2013

Matola - Week 74

Good morning family! It had been awhile since I have written a letter. Last week, we went to 3 different internet places, but none of them had functioning internet. So we didn't have a choice. It's a little unpredictable here, but that is part of the adventure!
Since I didn't write at all last week, I have so much to say! I don't even know where to start. So many miracles happened, that I can't even count them! I will try to fit in 2 weeks worth of missionary work so that you all have an idea on what we've been up to.
The split we did out in T3 was a success. We decided to change the split up a little bit, and me and Elder Brandao both went out there to work with the district leader. I walked with the District Leader in his area, and Elder Brandao walked with his companion, also in their area. Right at 8 am, we hit the streets. We street contacted the way that street contacting should be done. By lunchtime, me and the District Leader and Elder Brandao and his companion for the day, we came back to the house with the phone number of 20 new families. 40 in total. We are trying to focus a lot on street contacting, because that is how we find people to teach! Preach my Gospel says, "Nothing happens in missionary work til you find someone to teach." A lot of Elders struggle finding people to teach. So we are working hard with talking to everyone! Presidents goal for us, is 35 qualified contacts a week. Which is 35 complete families that are interested and give us their phone number. As we have looked over the stats, we have seen that one family is baptized about every 400 contacts. So we need to contact a lot more to find the prepared families. Me and Elder Brandao end up with about 70 or 80 each week. That way, we can shuffle through the unprepared familes, and find the ones that are prepared. So T3 had seen so many changes over the last few weeks, and I'm excited to see the improvement out there.
We had a baptismal service on Saturday the 7th. And this a miracle. When we woke up on the 7th, me and Elder Brandao had no clue that we would baptize someone in our area on that day. Haha but a few hours later we ended up baptizing someone, the very day of. 
It was supposed to be a baptismal service of the Matola 1 branch. 2 teenagers we're getting baptized. We had the responsibility to fill up the font since we are the ones with keys. As we were at the church, I got a phone call from Elders in Maputo wondering if we were having a baptism. They said they had no water in the Maputo chapel, and wanted to come out to be apart of our baptismal service. In the meantime, seminary and institute was going on at the church. During that specific week, I recieved a phone call from a 19 year old girl in our area who said she wanted to be baptized. Her name is Eva. She said she's come to church, has learned and wants to be baptized. I told her that on Sunday we would mark a baptismal date for her, and make goals. Well she showed up at institute that Saturday morning, and afterwards, expressed her desire to be baptized. The Spirit told me and Elder Brandao both to baptize her then! I said to her, we are going to have a baptismal service in 30 minutes if you feel ready. She said she felt ready, so thirty minutes before the baptism started, we did a baptismal interview and she was very prepared to be baptized. Twenty minutes later, we put her in the water. She shared her testimony during the interview and she was very emotional. She has plans to be on a mission here in one year. It was a cool experience. I know we made the right choice. 
Our area is seeing a lot of growth, and so is all of Matola. Just to have an idea, yesterday the frequency (church attendance) in Matola 2 was 151. Never before has that been seen in Matola 2. It seems like yesterday when I came here four months ago and bore testimony in a living room of a house. (that is where we had sacrament meeting.)
Now we are seeing real growth, and it is amazing to see. The best part is, all 4 families that me and Elder Lake had baptized together are staying very strong. 2 of the men passed the sacrament yesterday, and another gave principles of the gospel. It is so cool to see.
Not including recent converts, me and Elder Brandao had a total of 7 investigating families at church yesterday. and not just 7 families, but 7 complete families. Dad, mom, and if they have them, kids. So Matola is about to explode even more!
We are excited about the growth and we know that the Lord will continue to bless us if we work hard. 
As we enter into the last week of the transfer, we will be working our tails off. We need to leave our area stronger than we've found it. I feel like we've done a good job so far, but we can still get better. I imagine that I will continue to serve here, to see even more growth here in Matola, but I guess we'll wait and see! I have grown to love this people here in the southern part of the country. They really are special.
I don't have very much time to write today, becuase we are on our way to the city to pick up some materials for Matola. I hope you all have a great week! 
I know this is the Lord's work on the earth. It's not my work, it's not President Kretly's work, nor President Monson's work. It really is the work of our living Heavenly Father. And His son and our Savior is at the head of it. I'm honored to be apart of it. 
I love you all!
Elder Williams

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Matola - Week 73

Fathers' note:  "No letter this week from Mozambique... and Mamma is not happy."

Monday, September 2, 2013

Matola - Week 72

I am super grateful to hear about Morgan's baptism. Glad to hear that it ended up being a good experience for all those who were present. After hearing about the details, and seeing pictures I feel like I was actually there. I am so proud of Morgan!
I had a very interesting week... I wasn't planning on having the week that I had, but it was very necessary and it ended up being a great week! I ended up doing a division or a "split" with another Elder in the zone for a whole week. I didn't get to walk in my area any day this past week, but I was able to help in another area. I have talked a lot with the other zone leader here in Maputo, and we have both decided that one of the biggest problems we have encountered down here with the other elders, is being excited about the work. A lot of Elders, especially here in Maputo, get very discouraged when the area isn't going as they would like. We are trying to help the Elders gain the Faith to do this work. If we believe that all of our lessons will fall through, they will all fall through! We need to have faith that The Lord will place the prepared people in our path.
So I did a split with an Elder that was feeling discouraged and depressed about the way things were going in his area. He didn't know why he wasn't seeing results. President Kretly gave us authorization to do what we thought was best, and we thought it was best to do the division. We definitely learned that the Lord doesn't bless us until we are diligent and do all of our part. So we work hard from 8 am- 20:30 which is when we need to be home these days because of the theft going on in Matola. We ended up having a great week! We found over 100 new families! That sounds a little extreme, but I'm serious. We talked to, and took the phone number of more than 100 men who have a wife and kids. Some of them were from the area where we were working, and others were from other parts of Maputo. With those phone numbers, we were able to mark new lessons with new families. In our zone we are trying to pound the contacts. Preach My Gospel teaches, "Nothing happens in missionary work until you find someone to teach." Lots of missionaries complain that the have no investigators, but they do nothing about it. If you want people to teach, you need to go find them! We ended up having 18 new investigators during the week from that area. All of which accepted the baptismal invite in the first lesson! So the week ended up being a miracle. The Lord blessed us for the hard work we had done. Those 2 Elders who work in that area, are no longer discouraged, but are excited to work and they realize that they really do have a super good area. Our attitude really does change everything! I realize as well that the Lord put all those people in our path. It's Him who makes these miracles. Not us.
We saw lots of miracles, but that doesn't mean that disappointments don't happen. After doing all those street contacts, we had marked a total of 11 lessons marked on Saturday. We were excited for the day, because all 11 lessons were with new families. Well, the first 10 lessons all fell through! It was a little disappointing, but the last lesson was a great family that accepted everything we said. The Lord doesn't bless us until we have endured something challenging. And if we endure it well, he blesses us. We saw proof of that on Saturday.
I did get to spend a little bit of time with my companion this week. We went to participate in the 2 district meetings of other districts in our zone. It was good to see the needs of each individual missionary, as they talked about their areas. It was also a good chance for us to give trainings to those districts. Hopefully we see a change in the amount of finding we do as a zone. We are not finding or teaching as nearly as much as we should. The Lord expects a lot more from us. Some Elders aren't working as much in the area as they should, and like staying home for longer than we need to be. The Lord doesn't bless us if we do that! I hope me and Elder Brandao were able to help a little bit in those trainings that were given.
Me and Elder Brandao also had one lesson that we taught together, which was taught to Geraldo and Emma. We taught them at 7 am on Friday morning. The first lesson, they had rejected to get married. But we had been praying a lot about the direction to take with the lesson, and we ended up having a very powerful lesson. We taught the plan of salvation, in a very simple, loving way. But we also taught it so clearly that they would understand that no unclean thing can dwell with God. Emma almost started crying because she felt so bad for living with her husband without getting married. She realized her soul was at stake. At the end of the lesson we asked if they would cumprir (fulfill or comply) with this plan by repenting of their sins. Gerald said, "what is necesary to get our documents ready?" It was a miracle! Just a few days after rejecting the law of chastity and repentance, he decided to live it. The Spirit was so strong. We are 20 year old kids, and we can't convince people to do things. But the Spirit can! I'm so grateful that we were inspired to teach the lesson the way we had taught it. Emma will be traveling in two weeks to get some documents where she was born. In the meantime, we will be taking care of his documents here in Matola.
Elder Brandao did a good job with the area while I was working in the other area. I missed our investigators a lot, and I'm excited to get back to work. But we won't be working in our area until Wednesday, because here in a few hours me and Elder Brandao will be heading out to T-3 again to do a division. Because of traffic and distance, we will both be working out their tomorrow. We will double mark the area of the district leader and we will get to visit all of the families that are getting taught out there. They have good Elders out there, so I'm excited to get out there and work.
Yesterday, I got to do something that I really enjoy doing. I had that chance to teach Principles of the Gospel at church! The topic was 'Work and Personal Responsibility.' I have grown a true love for teaching, especially the gospel. I hope I am able to teach the gospel for the rest of my life.
So, we had a good week here in Matola! We had our hard times like usual, but the good times overshadow the hard times. It is starting to warm up as well! I'm excited to work through another Mozambican summer. I can't believe we are already entering September. Time is going by way to fast. It is so scary. I appreciated the reminder that Dad gave me about my journal. My first 7 months, I never missed a day. Since then, I haven't been so good. It really is hard to have time. I use that hour at night to eat dinner since we don't eat lunch. But I am making a promise to write in my journal everyday starting today, until the end of my mission. I needed a good reminder like that. Thanks a lot.
I am happy! It's amazing how happy I am. I love each and everyday. I feel like a part of this people. I dread the day when I need to leave this country, and leave behind everything that has changed me. Sometimes I feel like I want to press pause on the time! It seems like each day has only 12 hours instead on 24, it seems like each week has 3 days instead of 7, and it feels like each month has only 2 weeks instead of 4. This really is the best two years. I love you all! 

"I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory in myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea,and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance, AND THIS IS MY JOY." -Alma 29:9