An African Heart

An African Heart

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Letter to Mom, March 27, 2012

 I have to keep it very short today, very very short. But I included an awesome story in dad's email, the main one I wanted you all to hear. please please read it ok? :) 
Mommy, I love you so much. I am seriously consoled weekly by the thought of all you at home. Your prayers are totally kicking in, and I am REAPING the blessings big time. 
I am learning one big lesson - humility, and it is hard Momma. But I feel that improvement, though slow, is coming. I am realizing how imperfect I really am out here. In a positive way tho, not negative. I have a ton ton ton of room for improvement. But Momma,this two years is so short. 3 months ago I looked at my trainer, Elder Motaung, and thought of how old on mission he is. Now I am there, and I am getting a kid to train from uganda!!!!!! This time is short. 
By the way, I made a delicious omelet on my first try, without any direction. I guessed, and got it :) because of how I am budgeting, I am eating extremely well! And by nothing less than create or die, I am learning to cook different, diverse, delicious meals :) God is soooo merciful!!!
But Momma, I will talk to you in one month :) I love you with all my heart, and next week I will have more time :) Be happy, and know that I am DEFINITELY happy!! The Lord is blessing my area big time, and I see some good things in the future. We have only one progressing investigator at the moment, but many potential. I will keep you updated. And when you ask questions, ask little by little so I can answer them all. Maybe five or ten questions per email. 
Hep A - taken care of,. Getting it next week :) Thank my mission president and his wife too :)
Love you forever mommy, you are always in my heart, and I will talk to you soon :) :) Onward, ever onward!!!! Get to the temple for me PLEAASE!!!!! Not to put my name in, but for your own benefit :) Please mom, that's serious :)
With eternal love and alot of sweat, 
Conraddy :)

March 27 letter to Dad

STORYTIME!!! You neeeeed to share this one too. We were in an area we hadn't been in, and we were walking to Mukuyuni. It was a loooong walk, like over 6 or 7 km. And it was HOT! We passed a house and a lady was outside. actually her husband and mtoto were too. But she welcomed us ("karibu!") and so when people do that we have no choice but to go greet them. So we went over and they invited us inside the home. I was sweating, alot, and I was a tad uncomfortable. But I "put on my happy face" (Spongebob) and we started talking. She mentioned that they were all Catholic, and they were baptized as babies. And then in my mind, a thought played out on its own. The thought was this: "maybe they have a child that died without being baptized..." So amid the chatter, I stopped the conversation short by pointing to their child and asking "Is this your only child?" "No we have five." I remained silent, and she began to explain. One, older and married. Same with number 2. Number three at college. Four, she stopped. I asked, "What about the fourth?" and in my mind I knew he had died at birth. "He passed away" she said. "At birth?" I asked. "Yes" she said. HOLY MOLY!! That is the rare time when the Holy Ghost literally speaks inspiration to the mind!!! We elaborated the plan of salvation and Moroni 8 about children, and they want to come to church. Unfortunately, they are not in my area, but we will follow up still :)
Cool, huh? :) Oh, I'M TRAINING!!!!!!!!!!!!! A GUY FROM UGANDA!!!!! Elder Arineitwa, I think. He gets here on Thursday :) WOWOOOOOOO!!!!! I am happy, and humbled big time. But I am short on time, I love you guys. Especially you, Mercedes [Dad’s note:  Mercedes is our cat]. Love you forever Dad, call you at the end of the next transfer :)
With eternal love, Conwad

March 20 letter to brothers

Guys, I have to email on tuesday now, so quit your whining!! But hey, in the 2012 Liahona, it has a fantastic and totally testimony building story on President Monson. READ IT!!! I promise, your testimony of the Prophet will sky rocket if you read that and pray about whether he's really a prophet or not. He says in it "There are no coincidences." What ancient, Kung Fu turtle does that sound like? (it's Oogwei... in case you don’t get it... but if you don't, I’m gonna punch you. Both.) 
STORYTIME!! On the streets, they sell these nasty little dried fish. They STINK!!!! I vowed, after smelling, that I would never eat them as long as I lived. Lo and behold, Mama Mary fed us them with ugali. BARF!!! It was so nasty, and my breath stank for hours. 
But a word to you both, we are going to the rescue when I return home. Thomas S. Monson said to visit the aged, handicapped, unnoticed, sick, etc. And I feel that we need to. As brothers, we could bring immense joy to soooo many people Ben and Dan. Not only that, when we were baptised, we promised something. Read in Mosiah 18:8-11 I think. We covenanted with the Almighty God. Now let's do it. We're going to visit nursing homes, less fortunate people, anybody who needs the hand of God in their lives, and I promise that we will feel greater joy than we ever have before because of it. We can do it guys. You two talk about it, and I want an answer as to whether you think you'll do it with me or not ok? 
I love you both. You are my eternal buddies :) We'll be racing to Jupiter in no time. Love you guys to death and beyond :) Stay strong, never waver standards, God always delivers. Stay strong in school. How did Jesus Christ teach most of the time? By example. Be leaders Ben and Daniel, by example. Then, others will naturally follow :) multitudes followed Jesus, and He didn't ask them to. He has asked you to follow, commanded even. And I know you both; you both have even more potential than me to be heroes. You two are my heroes. Ben and Dan and Conrad - protectors of the weak, and examples of the believers :)

March 20 letter to Sister

But wow - your life is busy!!!! You are really successful and achieving alot of things you want to do, and I am so dern proud of you Jessie!!! Ya, you are going to be fit! For us as missionaries, in the White Handbook (aka the White Bible) we are counseled to exercise for 30 minutes every morning. I do, and I think I am getting bigger muscles!! WOOT!! And guess what? In the missionary health guide, I read that the exercise we do (you included) gives more energy, better confidence, more happiness, and overall better health!! So you are definitely doing good things! But as far as all these blessings, I feel that they are largely coming from your temple attendance, which I admire hugely. You are so awesome and truly converted to make those regular temple trips. I know for a fact that that place is Heaven on Earth. Being away from the temple is wretched. This land needs one, but first these people need to LISTEN and ACT!!!! But really, you are awesome Jessie! I promise you this - I will come to a Zumba class if you are still teaching when I get home. ugh... I know I’ll regret that haha :)
Just a word of warning - don't get overloaded. You have ALOT of stuff. I trust you tho, and I have no worries. You will be successful and happy, and we are really starting to grow together, I can tell :) Ya you are already grown up, but me I’m just starting. And really, we are both just beginning life. With our foundations on Christ tho, we are immovable, secure, and above all else, happy. "... men [and women] are that they might have joy." :) 
STORYTIME!! We were walking around an area called "Mukuyuni" (Google Earth it haha) and walked into a home of a wealthy man named Nelson. We sat with him, talked, and eventually (and inevitably) got into the Gospel. We really got to talking, and he told a story of one time when he was in a matatu. It was driving, and he was going to get out the money to pay the driver. Suddenly he heard a voice in his head that said 'Move up a seat, put away the money, and put on your seat belt.' He decided to do it, and no less than a minute later, the matatu was rolling down a hill. He was safe because he listened. Three others in that matatu died, but he was safe because of that "voice". We Elders, so excited we could pee, told him what the voice was, and told him all about other things. We are going back to see him again soon :) WOO!! We only have one progressing investigator right now (mother of Karin, who was baptised recently), but we are on the Lord's time and errand. I am fasting and praying for this beautfiul area, and it is all God's will and the people's agency on what I do :)
I am jealous of your Utah trip but... I get to wash my clothes by hand so nyah nyah! Oh wait... that's not fun... well my only leverage is that I am on the most important mission of my entire life, helping the children of the Living God to realize what really matters in life - devotion and repentance through Jesus Christ, who lives!!
Love you forever Jessie, I will be emailing on Tuesday now. The next email to you I’ll put in Ben's :) Love you forever, talk to you soon :)
Love, Conner Bonner

March 20 letter to Mom

Hey soooo don't kill me, but! I am emailing on Tuesdays from now on, starting today. I didn't know til this week, so I am reeeeeally sorry I couldn't tell you last week. But I have some good news!! Persecution - waaaay less :) In fact, the Lord is turning things up in a great way. I am so happy, and life is just great :)
STORYTIME!!! We were walking with Brother Pius to Karin's home in Siumbwa, when we saw an obviously drunk man coming towards us. He spoke loudly and in not-English, and he was very touchy. Finally he is going to leave, so he shakes our hands, and leans in at me. Unphased because of the customary farewell/greetings, I didn't think anything of it. But then he KISSED ME on the neck!!! Twice!!!! UGH!!! As I am freaking out, pushing him away, my companion is cracking up hahaha and I can't blame him!! Then, the drunk man goes over to my companion and my companion runs away hahahahah wow!! He was waaaay too friendly... Drunk guys love us here :)
But as for things to send in the next package, could you maybe send that CD Jessie got me for Christmas? That MoTab CD? I think it was a brown cover. I never got the music from it. I can put it on here but I need the CD please :) But material wise, I am just dandy! I gave bubblegum to all the kids in the branch on Sunday and they were sooo happy. I would lean down and say "Sema tafadhali!" (say please!) and they'd be all shy and say, at .00001 decibels, "tafadhali". Then as they got it they'd jump around and then eat haha :) Happy kids!! The branch is prospering! The branch president, President Sitati is really trying to shape up our Priesthood, and so are we Elders. It's tough, but it can be done. 
I wash clothes Ethiopian style, did I tell you that? You'll see in the next 4 GB SD card. Did you get the 8 GB? It has ALOT on it :) 
Tell Fran and Auntie Lynn I said Asante sana because I looooved their emails. They rock so much :) 
Also, I know how to make porridge now. But in America, we call it malt-o-meal :) I never realized that was just maize meal! When I get home, I am going to make you guys ugali and sukuma wiki :) :) :) and chapati. Oh that'll make me miss home!! But Mom, look at me!! I am talking like a foreigner! Did you ever think I’d be talking like this, over here learning all this that I’m learning? God really does love us. I know it Mom. He is blessing our family so much it's almost unfair. I know that as we continue in righteousness, the blessings just won't cease :)
Well, I’m going to shop! Gonna make those cookies this week :) I will get your email next week, and don't be sad please, it is my fault that I emailed early, but this is the day that works best for us and our areas. I love you soooooo much Mom. You are still my favorite Momma, and we will talk soon, very soon!! :)
With all the love in Earth and farther, Conner

March 20 Letter to Dad

I'm not telling what that means... he, he, he (Major Payne). But dern tootin man, I am stinking inspired when I hear about blessings our family receives. You guys are seriously receiving blessings unmeasured!! The Lord is amazing. And Dad, I learn more and more that He lives. Something I realized though is that huge, Spiritual experiences don't come all that time. Yet, it's up to us to not waver in our testimony, but to remember that witness and bear testimony of what we know to be true. So in light of that, I know that our Father in Heaven lives, and loves us more than we can fathom. Our Brother Jesus Christ is so merciful, and truly the shining example of charity. To master charity is a lifelong process. Can there be more proof of His divinity than His boundless charity? Sometimes I think of how the scriptures call them "long-suffering". Wow, that is true. We mess up so much all the time, over and over, so imperfect! But they smile at us sympathetically, and I’m sure they say "It's alright, I understand. Just try again, we're right here to help you. Be patient with yourself and you can do anything, bud." That's how I imagine them sometimes. And then I know I can do it :)
Dad, get the 2012 Liahona. You HAVE to read about Monson in that thing, he is simply amazing. I know that he is a prophet of God, a man who was most definitely prepared and indeed called. When I get home, I want to do what he did. I feel duty-bound to do what he did in fact! When I return, I want to make sure I devote my time to service of others. Even in my patriarchal blessing, it says, "When you return home, be sure you do all you can to bless the lives of others." And I will!!!
You know how Oaks talked about using our agency and choosing for ourselves, not always waiting for the Spirit to tell you what to do? Well in Alma 43:33, I noticed he used his agency to place his army "according to his desire". haha! What a subtle little testimony in the scriptures. It takes me about a day or two to read one chapter now usually, because I find that every little word, even a single word, can lead to a half hour of study. What a testament of the truth man!
STORYTIME!! I met a man with the surname "Molati". interested, I asked what it meant. He goes, "It means to castrate a lion while it's still alive!!" Shocked, I asked if he did that. He said no, but his grandfather did!!! What the heck man?!?!?! 
You said you didn't wanna hear about when I roped and rode a bull elephant to Egypt, around the pyramids, and back to Kenya, so I won't tell you that story... It's a super cool story, but oh well, I’ll save it I guess..
But Dad, I love you!!! I WILL BE EMAILING ON TUESDAY NOW!!!! That means send your emails earlier. I saw Mom and Ben and Dan didn't have time to send. It's ok, cuz I caught you guys off guard, one day early. But I will email you next week ok?
Last thing - the Lord always provides! The persecution has dimmed! Instead of persecution, I am receiving service from my fellow elders! Respect, and love and respect of my standards too! Dang man! And my companion, we are really brothers now. But he is probably leaving in one week at transfers :( But I might train, we'll see :) I love you dad, I am happy and I will continue. Time is flying... We'll be lookin back confused in 21 months. 
With all the love a 19 year old homie can possess, 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ok confession - I SHOOK HANDS WITH A MONKEY!!! Ya, seriously. So sorry 'bout that! But you are so awesome. Are you doing well? And how are Ben and Daniel? I want you all to be alright. As long as you all are good, I am great!!
STORYTIME!! These people invited us to go to their church to teach something, and wow. For the first time, I was hit with the realization that I am in Africa. They were singing tribal songs and singing in Swahili and swaying and stuff, and it was really peaceful, but wow. This was all in a mud house by the way. Ya... never thought I would be the one in those places you see in documentaries. They were all dressed fairly normal, but man. This is Africa :) Ha and the preacher kept saying "shalom" and everybody would repeat it. hahaha it means peace. But he gave us time to teach, and we (4 elders) bore witness of this church. We were bold, and the preacher attended church that Sunday. We are meeting with him tomorrow; I’ll tell you what happens :)
Patrick said no :( the Book of Mormon confuses him, and he wants time to think about it. So he said "I'll call you" which means another set of missionaries in the future will teach him. But you know what? It's not my job to baptize or convert. It's to give my siblings here the opportunity to hear and accept the Gospel. When we get to the Spirit World they will have had the chance. I hope beyond hope they accept in the future.
Read Mark 5:1-13. Specifically verses 7 and 8. Doesn't that sound like when Theoden was possessed by Saruman, and he's talking to Gandalf? Ya... totally came to my mind right in the middle of personal study time hahahaha!!!! I LOVE LORD OF THE RINGS!!!!!!
WELL! Other than that, I still have not had the chance to send your letter. I have it all written, and I actually am going to write a more current one for you and send it soon. Dangit!! This place is primitive Jess, a whole new world. I miss you right now :( But things will be alright!! Life is good, and I have my eternal family to come home too. I need to forget myself and make that wonderful blessing of mine a reality for the people of Kenya. Be strong, keep going to the temple, never ever take that for granted ok? I love you so much :)
With a warm cup o' eternal love, Conners :)

Short video that got cut off the end of the other video I posted.

Hey Momma!!
I am so happy :) Times here are a little difficult sometimes, but when I read your emails, I realize that the world is still good, and that I really don't have anything to complain about :) I love you so much Momma :) so first off, ingredients. I am going to make a list. Most abundant: flour, sweet potatoes, maize meal. Also, eggs, peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, spices, mangos, bananas, oranges, maize meal, oats, rice, noodles, tomatoes, onions, bread. Besides that, there isn't  a whole lot out where I am. But it's ok, I am very healthy and happy still :) I usually have oatmeal every morning, sweet potatoes cuz there's alot. But I just want simple simple recipes to add a little variety to my meals. I trust whatever you send to be ok. Preferably with few ingredients :) 

Ok give Grandma a HUGE hug for me. The Preach My Gospel that I use is the one she gave us one time as a gift. It has a note from her in it and it helped me so much. An encouraging little boost from my granny Franny!!!  
I use my tennis shoes every day when I work out in the morning. I go outside my flat where it's all isolated and I work out hard to keep in shape. Exact obedience is a massive blessing, and one that I will teach to anybody I train, if I get to, By the way, transfers are in about 2 and a half weeks. And I’ll get a new companion!! I’ll tell you if I am training. :) 

My flat location - I told Dad. He should know, because we did this thing with Google Earth and I pinpointed it for him. Ask Daddio and he'll show you. Ya that is sad about Manuel, but Grandma should be told about the Plan of Salvation again, that oughta lighten her Spirits :) 
HAHA!!! Ben is amazing. Simply amazing. He is going to grow into something incredible; I can just feel it every time I think of him. And the piano is a huge blessing. The boys need to know it, I have 4 students to whom I am teaching keyboard and music theory, and also I have 2 missionaries. I have taught very little so far, and only 1 lesson to my branch students, but I know the Lord will sustain us and help their understanding be opened. 
So the work: Yes we go hut to hut. Mud homes, sometimes cement over mud. The people here are so incredibly humble. they speak Kibukusu, they are the Bukusu people, and I love them. I speak a little Kibukusu but I am learning slowly. We get fed often by members and investigators, and the Lord protects us food-wise. I trust him completely, and I am making sure to be wise so as to qualify for the Lord's protection ;) We have about 5 or 6 investigators, soon to be more. The Lord is blessing us so much. Baptism is not as important as conversion, and that is what we really strive for. Our branch President is President Sitati, the only son of The Elder Joseph Sitati of the quorum of the 70. Awesome man, very wise.  My responsibilities in the branch - sometimes teach, mostly play the "organ". haha, the little kids love to gather round and listen to me play. It is fun to sing with them, they are so cute, and have finally realized that I am nice and won't eat them. I know why Jesus loved the little children :) 
The rat, Elder Munyoro killed it. He's another elder in our flat. The pests are not really a problem, and my health is good, so no worries :) 
This is truly the hardest thing I have ever done. Times are always difficult out here. Maybe it is just the current area, but it is soooo demanding. Time is beginning to fly faster and faster. Do you realize in less than ten days I will be 1/8 done with my mission? Ya... wow! Tell Makel that Paraguay will probably be demanding as well, and that her best friend will QUICKLY become Jesus Christ and her Heavenly Father. They are mine, and will forever remain so. 

I love this work momma!! I am so happy to be out here. Once I decided to serve my siblings more, my load was lightened. I stopped contending with my companion and submitted for the sake of these people. They are why I am here and this work is serious. Many Elders play too much, using the excuse that we have to enjoy the mission. But I realized, this is the salvation of souls we're talking of here. We are talking about the Eternal salvation of these people, my brothers and sisters, and we need to treat it seriously. It is no light responsibility. Yet, I am having fun, and I am enjoying myself. And I am trying my utmost hardest to be exactly obedient. I will say this, I receive persecution. But all Saints do right? God will provide, I know. And as for prayer, I am coming to realize how intensely real it is. God answers prayers and truly speaks thru the Holy Ghost. Wow. I know this is all real, and any time I get mad at somebody, I close my eyes and mentally look past them, and see the Savior. And in my mind, I think about what will matter in the end, and it's easy to forgive. Because eternity matters, nothing else does :) 
I love you all so much, and Mom, especially you!!! I feel your prayers, and I am strengthened by them. With you all behind me, I don't lose. I am given peace often, and I know you are sending it via prayer ;) Times get hard, that I won't deny. And mom, especially against my standards sometimes. ugh it's hard, and it comes from other Elders. Is that not ridiculous? But what harder test could the Lord provide? I will just submit like Christ, obey His commandments, and let Him shape me :) As Dad counseled, let go and let God :) 

Love you forever Momma, and you are always in my prayers. Talk to you soon (2 months), so warm up those vocal chords :D

Your Son for Eternity, Conraddie :)

I am losing myself in these my brothers and sisters. I am seriously, like seriously starting to see these people as my brothers and sisters, with whom I lived in the pre-mortal existence. Everything becomes so much more real now that an understanding of the Gospel is being graciously given by my Father who really does love me. Man I wish I could tell you in person so bad. I hope you can feel the sincerity behind this: I know that my Redeemer lives; and I know that my Heavenly Father is watching and protecting me; and I know without a single doubt that when I pray, I am literally communicating (for He speaks back) with my Father in Heaven; and I know He gives blessings to those who follow Him. Dad, I will never leave this church. quite the contrary actually, I will never cease to serve this Church with everything I am for the rest of my life. In the large view, nothing really matters except fulfilling what is necessary to please Father in Heaven. I love you Dad. You are, and forever will be, my hero :) We are father and son forever, and I love you for as long as we are father and son ;) With love, Conraddo :)