An African Heart

An African Heart

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

On a Lighter Note

Considering i left on such a sad note, i thought i could share some other things that are happening or did happen on a lighter note :)

This week we're going to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania! It's gonna be AWESOME!!!!!!!! Elder Mulondo often tells me about how awesome Dar is, so i am really excited to go. Plus, it will give me more chances to work on my Swahili. No English speaking down there, only Swahili. Heh..... heh..... better stay with my companion ;) lakini, naweza kuongea Kiswahili vizuri. Naendelea kujifunza na mwenzangu ananifundisha. (but, i am able to speak Swahili well. I'm continuing to learn and my companion is teaching me.) It's a pretty cool language, and it feels super cool to learn it. By the way, does George of the Jungle take place in Uganda or the Congo?

Wanna hear a funny story? (assuming you said "yes" unanimously) OK!

We were asked to laminate some things. So we get out the laminator, fire it up, run thru a sheet, and it comes out all messed up. This happened twice before we realized there's an issue. Well, we cooled it down, and when we inspected, noticed a big piece of melted plastic stuck inside. So we began to work to get out. After about an hour, we started to get weary. The Elder who was helping me had to leave, so i was on my own. Discouraged after another half hour, i went to one of the best places for revelations - the toilet! So i sat and the thought came - "Have you prayed yet?" 'Well, no...' i battled with my conscience, 'but do i really need to pray about something so small as fixing a laminator?' "Why not?" came the sensible reply from my conscience. So i left my "revelation seat" and went and sat in front of the laminator. I bowed my head and said a prayer that i could get the plastic. When i finished, i had a fleeting thought to try from a different way, and boom. Got it out in under 3 minutes :) Now tell me... does God hear EVERY prayer? My testimony is yes. Yes He does. Even about laminators :)

The office is getting easier. The hardest thing is that we never get to teach people unless the Upperhill elders need help. I MISS TEACHING PEOPLE SO BAD!!!!!!!!!! :( It is not fun at all to be away from that. We got to teach a guy cuz the office elders needed help, and when i was teaching, i just felt the wonderful familiar feeling of the Spirit working in me, whispering things to my heart and mind, the confidence of the Spirit filling me, and my attitude and temper controlled and directed. AH! I LOVE IT!!!!!!!! Sometimes i have trouble listening to the Spirit, but when i teach, i have no doubt as to which direction to take. The Spirit takes full reign. By the way, when you are dealing with somebody who dislikes the Church or is trying to confound you take this approach: be humble as can be, listen very closely, respect their opinions and feelings, look for truth in what they say or think, show LOVE even if they are offensive, and simply tell the truth about our Church and doctrine and bear testimony. The Churches around us half part of the truth, remember that. They have some truth, and there are wonderful churches and great people. But this Church has everything!

Well, love you all forever. You are my greatest joy. I can't even imagine what it will be like to have my own family with my eternal companion. I hope they are as awesome as the family i have now. I love you all so much.

Love forever,

Keeping Eternal Perspective

Howdy family,

So I'm feeling upset right now. We just got word that an Elder here on mission, actually a previous AP who did SO much to change the standards of the mission in a very good way, his mother just passed away. He is a good friend of mine and i love him alot. He only has about 2 months left on his mission, and this happens. Please PLEASE keep him and his family in your prayers. His name is Elder Pocock and he's actually from Idaho.

Thinking about this, and having it happen to somebody who is close to me, I realized how much we need to have a testimony of the Plan of Salvation. The greatest consolation will always come from the Lord and His Gospel. Sometimes we don't really grasp the truth and the reality of things like the Plan of Salvation. But i want to testify that it is real. When i die, i will go to the Spirit world. Elder Pocock's mother, though prematurely, is currently living in the Spirit World and is awaiting the further steps of eternity, having finished her mortal test. When mom and dad pass away, they will pass into that life. We will not see them again in mortality, but we are sealed in the Holy Temples of God by the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood of God, which is eternal. No earthly or evil force can separate us from each other, and no holy force would. I hope you all see that we must build our defences and KEEP them high. We need to do away with anything that may cause our bonds of sealing to be nullified. We need to increase our physical health to do our part to prolong our mortal life. It can happen in the blink of an eye. I talked to Elder Pocock on the phone last night, joking and laughing. I text messaged him this morning joking and having fun. Now, the mood is pretty different. This could be any of us, and we need to know what needs to be done.

I won't say that i don't mean to sound solemn and serious, because it is something solemn and serious. Please keep him in our prayers as we reflect on how blessed we are to be healthy and strong and alive still. I love you all with all my heart and know that God has blessed me beyond what i deserve for sure. I had a picture of you all on my desk here, the family one we took, and an Elder from Nigeria who is also a great friend of mine and also an orphan, picks up the picture and looks at it. He is usually very jokey and lighthearted and happy, like all the time. When he looked at the picture, he was still smiling, but he asked, "Are you proud of this family?" I thought it was a jokey question and laughed and said yeah that i am. He didn't laugh, and looks at it again for a while, and then he puts it down and looks at me and says, "I hope you get on your knees and thank the Lord for this beautiful family. It is a blessing." Again, not sensing his tone, i chuckled a bit, but then i realized, 'He is totally serious, and the look on his face was a look that said that he would give anything to have a beautiful eternal family that i have, and to feel the love of a mother and father and siblings, and to belong somewhere.'

Bottom line is, we have been blessed to have our beautiful family all still in mortality. But death is a part of the plan. Even the prophet's wife just passed away!I love you all so much and just want you to know that i know the Plan of Salvation was established before the world was, and Jesus Christ, because He knows and loves us, volunteered to come here and suffer the most difficult mortal sojourn that has ever been experienced so that we can feel comfort and forgiveness and peace. The Gospel and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, and it is the only true and whole Church of Jesus Christ on the whole Earth. I know God loves us and cares for our welfare, and notices the struggles and difficulties we go through, and is eager to help us in His higher and better ways. Maybe not how we expect, but it's how He knows it will help us best return to Him.

Love you all forever,

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

To Mom

Hey Momma :)

Missionary petunias, huh? That's a nice thing of Sister Richardson to do. I have thought about her alot. That's cool that she would do that for all of us. But oh my goodness i had no idea that all those were out serving!!!!!! And out of all of them, i may be the first one home, huh? When does Makel Michael come home? Is she going to beat me home or will i be first?

Yeah well your Mom radar sure is working. Not that we were in alot of danger, but driving on Mombasa highway is never a safe thing for sure. We had a very very safe journey though! It's just that the things that go from the coast to Kenya or Uganda inland have to come through Mombasa, and therefore have to use Mombasa highway. So there are TONS of big semi's. Somebody told us the daily statistic of trucks passing on the Mombasa highway road daily, to and from Mombasa: 65,000 trucks DAILY!!! AH!!! That's SO MANY!!! So we were passing alot alot. But really we were protected and safe and for that we thank the Lord. I will share more about Mombasa in my big family email.

Kirsten is going to be a great missionary. She's a good woman. Poor Ty... his first missionary! Man, when i think about when i first left, i had no idea how much a i had to learn and was going to learn. It's mind-boggling and humbling in retrospect. But it can suffice to say now that i will be eternally thankful for my mission and all that i have learned out here. I am still changing and definitely not perfect, but i am trying to improve.

Man... well, those Idaho summer days aren't too far for me. I am really thinking about school still... I'm afraid i may have pushed for an answer too quickly. I don't want to ask the Lord again if He already gave me an answer, but i feel like now i understand some things i didn't before. For example, i have now seen and felt what it's like to live the life of a non-active missionary, being in the office, and it sure is different. I have gotten so used to busy, active life, that sit-down life, or life without a perfectly scheduled day is a little bit tough. I'm wondering how it will be to go home and do even less, except work and stuff.... So i have things to think about.

I love you too so much Momma. I know your prayers protected us on the road this week. You are a blessing to my life and I know God put us together in mortality because we can help each other. I think you help me lots more though. I love you and respect you as my mother and I am so thankful for how you have helped me in the past and in the present. You are the BEST!!!! :)

Love forever, Conrad

Mombasa Raha! (Happy Mombasa)

WOOOOOOOOOO doggie. Let me begin the email by telling you that i can't wait to sleep in my own bed now that i'm back in Nairobi. I can't even imagine how it'll feel in six months... :)

Well, here's the rundown. Wednesday we went to an area called Chyulu. Chyulu is one of the very rural areas. Many famous national parks are located in Chyulu, and the wild animals were definitely there. Just on the drive there we saw camels, zebras, monkeys, and cows. Camels always look like they're smiling, by the way :) Chyulu is a cool place and we stayed there for the night. The next morning we went to Mombasa.

Mombasa... the humidity is unlike anything i've ever felt. The heat was pretty bad, but not the worst i've felt in Kenya. But the humidity - wow. I don't know if i have ever constantly sweated for a longer period before. It was like, my body was sweating and i didn't even feel that hot! SWEAT!!!!!!!!! Good ole' Mombasa. The zone conference went even better than the first ZC in Eldoret. It was spiritual and powerful, and sad just like the last one. The only time i almost cried was when President was hugging everybody goodbye one by one. I can't imagine how it will be during the last one in Nairobi here :( i'm sad thinking about it. The Lord really helped us in our training though, it went well. After zone conference, my companion and i and some other elders we trust went with us and we crossed the famous Mombasa ferry and went to the beach and WOW it was SO COOL!!!!!!! The beach felt great and it was beautiful. Do you know how terribly tempting it was to jump in that clear blue warm ocean water? The Indian Ocean has alot of sharks apparently. But sharks put aside we didn't get in. I put my hand in though :) Can't wait to go swimming again, that's for sure. I got some cool things, but i ain't gonna tell you what :) HA! :D

The next day, Saturday, we went on exchanges. I went with two elders named Elder Lyons and Elder Dimingu. We went and met a man named Maxwell, and we had planned to teach him about the BOM. Well as we started he revealed that he had been having a week filled with trials and problems. We explained that that is what happens as one moves towards the path to eternal life. I felt prompted to share with him about tithing when he mentioned some financial issues. Well turns out he had been talking with a friend earlier in the week about paying tithing and decided that if he paid tithing he probably could have some of the things in life that he needs. He didn't know how or if it was right and was basically distressed about everything wrong that was happening in his life. Well, after we taught him about tithing he said that he knows now that we are sent from God, because otherwise we never could have known about that. He says he knows that we are messengers from God to tell him what he needs to do, and he knows it will be hard still, but he must do it. He even said that he was thinking that the bad things that happened the previous week were because he was exploring this new religion. But, he told us, when he saw us he felt a warm and good feeling inside him. The Spirit works wonders for us, huh? :) After that lesson, his youngest child was sick also. We offered to give him a blessing of healing. They accepted. The child was crying constantly from the start of the lesson, but when we laid hands on him, the crying stopped. When the blessing ended, he was sound asleep :) AH! Church is true :)

So after all the other lessons, we took the ferry home again. I noticed, as we were walking in the giant crowd to the ferry, a blind man walking next to me. I'm thinking, "This guy is going to try to walk down on the ferry, across the ferry, up the hill on the next side, and then to his destination alone?" I felt bad, but didn't really know what to do, so i just felt a feeling to tap his shoulder. I did, and the man reached down and grabbed my hand and said something in hard Swahili, but i could pick out that he was going to a part of Mombasa called Bamburi. So Elder Lyons and Elder Dimingu started talking to him, and i led the man down the stairs and walkway until we got on the ferry. People were looking and i felt a wee bit awkward, but once on the ferry amid the people, it started to move and i looked at the blind man next to me. I had a realization at that moment that he was literally my brother, just as Benjamin and Daniel are. He was crippled and had a rough life, knew no English, and in mortality i had never met him. But finally i had met another of my brothers from the pre-mortal existence and found a way to connect with him. He told Elder Dimingu and Lyons (who speak Swahili) that he wants to sing a song for me for helping. He sang something in Arabic, it was a Muslim song of blessing haha! When the ferry stopped, i led him up the hill-side, avoiding rocks and stuff and into a matatu that was going to Bamburi, and left him from there. I'll probably meet him again in the Spirit world. And i doubt that he will receive the Gospel in mortality, but i hope that when he gets to the Spirit world, he will see how the missionaries helped him and he will accept the Gospel there.

Sunday and today we drove back, back into the relative cold :) I like Nairobi alot, it feels alot like home now haha. But overall, a pretty darn exciting weekend. Lots to write in the the journal about. I love my mission. It will take adjusting to be in the office, but even so i love doing what i do and i will just do my best to serve the Lord with the little time i have left. I love you all and hope to hear from you :)

Love forever and ever, Conrad