An African Heart

An African Heart

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Busy Week and Mixed Feelings

As the title implies (as it almost always does) this was... well... a busy week and i had mixed feelings throughout the week!

From last week, we were finalizing transfers, and guess who my new companion is? ELDER GIDEON AGAIN!!!!!!! :D :D :D We are pretty flippin excited for this privilege to be together again. We work really well together and are good buddies. Unfortunately, President Hicken has informed me that the Brethren have asked that no Assistant ever finish their mission in the office, therefore I will be leaving the office after this transfer. That means I have five weeks left as an Assistant. Then I will spend my last six weeks in a proselyting area somewhere. I have mixed feelings because I have grown very close to the Hickens, and also Elder Gideon is awesome and we work well together. To be together for 2 transfers as Assistants would have been awesome. But, I am very excited to get out and go work again. I have my fingers partly crossed for Tanzania so I can solidify my Swahili before I come home. But whatever the Lord desires from me, I will do it. He has been so good to me and done things for me and granted me my desires throughout my whole mission. He has taught me lessons and made known His presence and His love on too many occasions. It took alot to teach me, but I can't deny or doubt that He and His Son live and love us. Jesus Christ is so much more than the world makes Him to be. There shouldn't be a time when He and His standards and expectations are not forefront in our minds and hearts. Personally, I really do love Him because I know He has done TONS for me. Some I see, some I don't see but He still does it all for me. I thank Him for all that He has done and I completely willingly will do all that He asks of me.

Transfers were crazy, cuz they were quite big. But with the Lord's help, I was able to direct them and they went smoothly. As of today (Saturday), everyone is in their new areas and they are happy and continuing in the work. Transfer week is always early mornings and late nights, so we got sleep when we could. Haha, over Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I think I slept less than 10 hours though... a bit crazy :) But all is well now, President Hicken is very pleased, and Elder Gideon and I are rejuvenated. As Elder Gideon has been learning to drive in Nairobi, he is doing well. The driving is so insane that is an acquired skill. It makes me realize what an absolute miracle it was for me to learn. I learned:
1. To drive stick in 2 days
2. To drive it in Nairobi
3. Opposite sides (steering on the right, drive on the left side of the road)
Man...... the fast that we had all together really brought results according to our faith and the will of God. Cuz now i can drive stick just fine. Elder Gideon says I drive like I have been driving stick for a long time. Ha..... and by the way, I want a stick shift when I get home. That will be my goal for a car. Preferable a small truck :) Oh yeah!!!!

I have less than 80 days left, according to one particularly trunky Elder in my group. We have been doing lots of scheduling and coordinating and preparation for President and his conferences and councils up until December. As the senior Assistant it is alot of responsibility, especially since President has now informed me unless he is otherwise informed, I will be leaving the office after this transfer. So I have to teach Elder Gideon EVERYTHING in the next five weeks. Whew.... but the Lord can do it, and Elder Gideon can do it. He is an awesome guy, my brother really. We're very close and I am thankful for it. You ALL should email him if you would, just let him know we all love him. President even had us do some disciplinary stuff with him. It was amazing, and we learned tons from what he had us do. He is so willing to teach us at every opportunity. Again, another mercy from God. I will use them in whatever calling my future may hold.

So this month, we will be going around for Mission Leadership Councils. We will visit Kisumu, Arusha, and Mombasa. We will also go to Mwanza to visit. These will be my last travels as well :) Time is running low! Elder Lawson got home and even sent me a picture. Yech....... well, love you all to death. Hope you're still good. Stay healthy please.

Love always, Elder Schneider

Monday, September 23, 2013

From President Hicken regarding my inquiry about terrorist attacks in Nairobi

Dear Bro. Schneider,
All missionaries serving in Nairobi proper have been on lockdown since the attack occurred on Saturday afternoon. This morning I let the missionaries on the southern part of town, several miles from northern Nairobi where the attack took place, back out to proselyte.

 Elder Schneider is very safe and is normally with me.
We notified all parents and/or priesthood leaders on Saturday night that all missionaries were in their flats and safe. 

Elder Schneider helped make most of those notifications but must have forgotten his own parents. 

Sorry for missing you.

All other missionaries are far from Nairobi and not anywhere near this event. 

With much love and regard for your son
Pres. Hicken 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Mission Tour, Transfers, and 2 transfers to go

Well......... thanks to the title of this email, I hope there will be no confusion as to the topics which I will address within this email. If there are....... well.......... awkward.......

From the Thursday that we went to Eldoret, it was a crazy ride. Thursday August 29th, we went to Eldoret in the afternoon. President did some interviews, and the next day Elder Mkhabela of the 70 (area 70 I think, or maybe the 2nd or 3rd Quorum) came to get ready for Eldoret District Conference. Saturday and Sunday was the district conference for the Eldoret district. Unfortunately, I didn't see much growth from early 2012 when I was there with Naitiri. However, while numbers have stayed small, the actual spirituality has gone up according to my feelings. People felt more spiritually mature. Elder Mkhabela gave some nice talks too, interesting ones. Overall it was an interesting little experience. Got to do some service as well, so..... yeah.....

OK on to the interesting stuff. Elder Renlund arrived on Sunday evening but we didn't get to hang with him. Elder Renlund last spoke in the October 2009 General Conference, a VERY good talk and interesting too, called "Preserving the Heart's Mighty Change". So my companion and I, with some of our trusty zone leaders, went early to clean the chapel. It was spotless and good-looking when Elder Renlund came!! We had a fantastic zone conference, and Elder Renlund shared some great counsel in a leadership meeting before the main meeting. I will summarize the counsel he gave after a summary of events.
After the conference, we ate some delicious food, and I got to talk a long time with a senior couple called the Moons while eating. It was really nice, and that guy has seen alot of miracles in his life. Miracles really do happen according to the great plan of God. After eating, we took off to the airport. At the airport, we still weren't exactly comfortable with Elder Renlund. In that I mean that we hadn't gotten to know him much yet, so we didn't openly just go and talk to him. But as my companion and I were sitting aside from President Hicken and his wife, and Elder Renlund and his wife, we were both thinking, "Man, it would be cool to ask him some questions." Elder Renlund comes out of the bathroom, and as he's about to walk back to his seat, he turns abruptly and sits down with us and says, "Ok Elders, do you have any questions for me?" WOOO!!! So immediately, I fired off a question and asked him what the apostles are like. I've never met one so I was super curious, plus it's the first thing that came to mind haha. He then proceeded to give me and my comp a rundown of each apostle, one by one. What they're like, how they act, all these things. Elder Renlund has spent alot of time with the apostles in his time as a GA and in his profession at times. It was SO cool. Unfortunately we only got to Russell M. Nelson before they called for boarding.
When we got to Nairobi, we went home for the night. Elder Mulondo and I, that same night, did all our wash (with a new washer that the mission got us cuz our other one was dying. A REAL WASHING MACHINE!!!! :D :D :D) and packed for Mombasa, since the next day we would not go back home before traveling to our next destination.
Tuesday morning, another leadership meeting, this time that really pricked my heart but also taught me one of the most impressing lessons I have experienced. My leadership has changed because of it. It was all about Leadership in the Church, and how it differs so much from other leadership positions. And it really does, a TON. But we'll talk about that. The zone conference was wonderful, had a sandwich bar for lunch, and the Assistants got to meet with Elder Renlund for 30 minutes or so. He let us know that President Hicken just praised us when he talked about us, and expressed to Elder Renlund how much we help them. That was touching. Our relationship with President is really strong. We do love him and sustain him 100%. Then at 3:30 we take off to the airport to get to Mombasa. We had about 2 hours in the airport before we left. Guess who I sat next to? Yup. Elder Renlund. I asked him, "Don't you ever get tired from traveling all the time?" Cuz I was personally fatigued already from traveling straight from last Thursday and going going going. He explained that he feels tired while traveling, but when it comes time to be in the conference or any spiritual meeting, all the fatigue leaves and his focus and energy are there. It reminded me of King Benjamin in Mosiah 2:30, supported by the Lord. A miracle in itself! Cuz if I, a 20 year old, healthy young man, needed energy, after only a few days of travel, what about a 60 year old Elder who travels on a weekly basis? Cool. So we talked in the airport for a long time, and somehow settled on the topic of revelation vs. tradition. Rituals and traditions can block revelation when they become routine. No doubt this is a big reason why the Lord commanded us to refrain from vain repetitions, because how can the Holy Ghost give you certain things to pray for if every prayers goes the same way and the same things (or sometimes same words) are mentioned? It was a super enlightening chat and I am thankful for it.
When we arrived in Mombasa, a branch president who owned a matatu picked us up and drove us to the hotel (Pres and Renlunds) and the ZL's flat (my comp and I). While in the matatu, Elder Renlund shared with us about the dedicatory prayer for Central African Republic (CAR). Elder Holland dedicated it, and holy cows. Amazing. When an apostle dedicates a country for God's work, it is no joke. The Heavens listen and the prayer is fulfilled. CAR just recently got a new stake too, by the way. At home, I never appreciated what a HUGE deal it is to get a stake, since there are many. But here, where there are sometimes one per country (Uganda, Kenya, zero in Tanzania, CAR, etc.), it is a BIG milestone to form another stake. Kenya will get another eventually, after I'm gone.
The next morning, we met in Mombasa a bit late because of traffic, but had a fabulous zone conference. The leadership meeting was a great one again, and he focused on the very topic which we had discussed in the airport - revelation vs. ritual. In fact, midway through the meeting, he turned to me and said, "Elder Schneider, you may be able to teach this better than I can, so why don't you take over and discuss this principle with everyone." Sheesh! Talk about flattering me!! So I taught with Elder Renlund the principle that he had enlightened me about the evening before. Whew.... I taught with a 70 :) :)
That afternoon we got back to Nairobi, and stayed the night. I was tired. :P
Thursday morning we flew to Dar es Salaam, or as Dad calls it, Der Al Shezam. It was pretty hot... Mombasa and Dar are HUMID. We had another good conference, and Elder Renlund and Sister Renlund were both ill by the end actually. Haha, don't know why, but they were. So they went back to the hotel, I got a picture with them and everything, and said my goodbyes, and Elder Renlund expressed his great thanks to us for the work we are doing, and also reminded me that he still owes me the last half of the apostles where we left off from Eldoret airport :) He also asked Elder Mulondo and I alone to conduct the last leadership meeting!! So we did, with the ZL's, DL'z, and STL's (Sister Training Leaders). Went AWESOME.
These were the 3 main principles from all the leadership meetings which we taught:
1. Leadership in the Church. We can not lead as other things in life. In the Church, we lead like Christ. We do as Joseph Smith taught, we "teach correct principles and let them govern themselves." We exercise love, we don't seek to condemn. We have patience and hope for the best, we don't jump to conclusions. We seek to lovingly guide God's children to repentance, not to push them to inactivity. In short, where a stern hand and no mercy would suffice in most worldly and business leaderships, in the Church we lead like no others. We do not rule, we serve. Jesus taught so much about how the leader or the chiefest is to be the servant. It's something i need to work on for sure, and i have been applying it since he taught us these things and WOW. Charity skyrockets and the Holy Ghost brings consolation even when things don't go how you think they should. It is leadership that relies on the Lord, instead of trusting in your own strength and wisdom to accomplish things.
2. Christlike ways to give correction. Giving correction is not confronting somebody in a apathetic way and telling them point blank that what they did was wrong and needs to be corrected. Elder Renlund was once in Malawi with a newly called Branch President. He went to visit some members with him, and while at the first, a Priesthood blessing of healing was asked for. Elder Renlund asked the branch president to anoint, and then he would seal. This is what happened: the branch president opened the oil, held it about 3 feet above the member's head, splashed a drop on his head, and said out loud, 'I anoint you with oil so you will be healed, AMEN!' Needless to say, Elder Renlund was a little shock. But what did he do? He went ahead and sealed the anointing. I was amazed when he told us that he did that!! I was thinking, how does that work?? But Elder Renlund explained that the Lord can not sit on his throne and say, 'Because my child does not know how to anoint and has not done it correctly, I will hold back my blessings from those affected by it!!' And that is true, God would never say that. Elder Renlund, after that first blessing, walked with the branch president to the next appointment and read with the branch president from the white handbook about giving blessings, and the branch president saw for himself how to do it correctly, and corrected it form that point on! Christlike correction is lasting and humble.
3. Ritual vs. Revelation, which i addressed earlier.

All I can say is that 4 days with a 70 of the Lord was amazing. One thing Elder Renlund did every conference was deliver a message from the 1st Presidency to us in the KNM. He first taught us what the duty of a 70 is and what office he held. He didn't do this to build himself up, but instead to help us see the significance of the messages he was about to share. He shared from Exodus 24:1, 9-10; Numbers 11:4-6, 10-17; Luke 10 chapter heading; and D&C 107:21-25, 33-34. Then he delivered this 3 part message:
1. Thank you from the 1st Presidency and the Quorum of the 12 on behalf on the Lord and His Church.
2. You are called to this specific mission by the Lord Himself. And if you don't know it for sure, you have the right and the obligation to find out.
3. President and Sister Hicken are called of God to lead this mission, and were chosen unanimously by the 15 prophets, seers, and revelators to come to this exact mission.

Whew............. It was priceless to me to learn these things. I am doing my best to apply these things as Elder Renlund taught us, and as President Hicken has taught us. Elder Renlund told us on more than one occasion, "I know no finer President and wife than the Hickens." Now that is saying something considering he is the Africa Southeast Area President, and there's over 10 mission presidents currently, and he has seen over 20 come and go in his time there. And he expressed the great significance of the call the Lord has given Elder Mulondo and I to "train" and welcome the Hickens into this part of the Lord's vineyard. I don't really know how to express that I am thankful for the charge the Lord has trusted me with, but I am thankful beyond words for what the Lord has done for me, all the chances he has given me, and for all the opportunities he has given me. You are one of my infinite blessings and I love you all with all my heart :) don't count the days until I'm home, it's going too fast for me :(

Love you forever and ever!!!!
Elder Schneider

Saturday, September 7, 2013


You all thought this would be the group email, huh?!?! Well it AIN'T!!! I have no time right now as we need to go to Stake Conference saturday sessions so I will write hwne i have time, but it may not be until after Monday, or on Monday. But to give you a sneak peak, I just spent the week with a member of the 1st quorum of the 70, Elder Dale G. Renlund, and we had a grand ole' time. I learned more than I had hoped. I am thankful to God for that amazing opportunity. Love you all times infinity. Talk to you soon.

Love always, Conrad
So i don't think i ever told you all, but last Friday when we had to go to Dar with President for a district conference, with the problems at the airport from the fire that happened there on Wednesday we were delayed a bit...

We arrived at the airport just before 9 AM on Friday. Feeling fresh, crisp morning, ready to get to Dar es Salaam and get down to business. So we waited outside in a large mass of people who were also waiting to go. We discovered quickly that all these people were going to different places, but were all standing in the same place... and not moving... so we got an attendant to help us out with what was going on. She took our itinerary and returned 30 minutes later and said that they would call our flight soon. Awesome, we were thinking. So we stood outside... 10 AM..... 11 AM.... 12 PM..... and 12:30 hits and they call our flight!! :D so we stood in a line to go inside the very first security check! At 1:00PM we got through the security check, and then went to stand in line to get our boarding pass and check some luggage. Luckily, we got right up to the counter. The woman checks in one of the new Elders, Elder Steed. Boarding pass acquired, leaving in 2 hours (because of some delays). Then the next person in our group walks up to the counter and the attendant says, "Oh sorry, that was the last seat on this flight, since we had to take people from an earlier flight and put them on your." Alright, we thought, so when's the next flight? "I can give you boarding passes for... 10:30 tonight." ............. so we waited! And as we waited, I discovered that i had a horrible cold developing! In the airport! Yay! Hours passed... In the course of those hours, we met the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, i got a video of him passing and waving to me and him shaking Elder Mulondo's hand!!! We also had tons of gospel conversations with tons of different people, and met people from all over the world. One guy, my same age, from Zimbabwe, i noticed was reading the Bible. So i went over and sat by him and asked what he was reading and i ended up sharing the Restoration message with him, and he wants a BOM and wants to come to Church. We are still communicating. Bottom line is, we got on our plane at 11 PM. As we ate a small snack, i had some cold pills that are segmented for day and night. Well i figured that i could take the night ones, i just was worried i might be a little drowsy. I asked Sister Hicken if they make you drowsy, and she and President assured me they don't. Well I quickly found out that was not true. The plane took off from the airport at 12:30AM, and landed at about 1:30AM. As we went through customs and such, I was so drowsy it would have appeared i was drunk. I struggled to stay conscious and fairly normal as the customs guy questioned what i was doing in Tanzania. He must have just thought i had a few beers on the plane cuz he let me through. We arrived finally at the missionary flat where we were staying at 3:00AM, and i crashed. Needless to say, that was one for the journals.

But all was well, and i recovered fine, until an emergency made us to return to Dar yesterday. All went well at the airports, the emergency was taken care of because of the courage of missionaries and the Spirit guiding President Hicken, and we were able to get on our return flight the same day. While on the evening plane, President and Elder Mulondo had been issued seats right next to each other. For reasons that the Lord knew, i was given a seat 3 rows back next to strangers. A woman from Canada sat down next to me. Her name was Larissa, she was an environmental scientist living in Tanzania. She also happened to be an atheist. We talked alot about Tanzania and Kenya, about Swahili, about her job, and even about mine. As we talked about our beliefs, I did my best to share with her what I believed to be true. We talked about the Big Bang Theory (the actual theory, not the tv show), evolution, life after death, etc. I shared lots of Church doctrine with her and she really liked it alot. I was feeling pretty satisfied! Towards the end, I had a feeling that i better tell Larissa that I don't only BELIEVE that God lives and is there, but that i KNOW it for a fact. It felt like the only thing missing and this gospel conversation would be perfect. I hesitated, for fear that she would be offended. And that simple act of hesitation has hurt me since last night. It is our duty as Saints to testify boldly to the world of what we KNOW to be true. The gospel teachings and principles are not guesses, suggestions, or maybes. They are eternal truths. Thomas S. Monson, in his 2004 Priesthood session talk said, "A moral coward is one who is afraid to do what he thinks is right because others will disapprove or laugh. Remember that all men have their fears, but those who face their fears with dignity have courage as well." From that experience, I did learn a great lesson. First of all, it reaffirmed that God puts us places to learn lessons in ways we didn't expect. The other thing i learned is that we testify of what we know because it is true. We do what is right because it is TRULY what is right. By right, I mean that it was right pre-mortally, it is right now, and will be right forever. And if something is right in the eyes of God, we must never do that which is otherwise. We'll make mistakes, but Jesus Christ lovingly hugs us, tells us, "Get back on your feet and try harder. We're counting on you." We are forgiven and we become stronger. My goals from this are that I cannot compromise. The time is too late for that. We do what is right despite logic and reasoning and justification. It is my personal goal to be a man that can look my Priesthood leaders or my parents in the face and tell them I have done my best to do right. President Monson also said this:
"Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval."
"Someone has said that courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery of it. At times, courage is needed to rise from failure, to strive again."
And then this scripture basically sums it all up: “Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.” -D&C 107:99.

I'm not being too hard on myself (maybe a little), but i know that the things i have shared are true, and i know that God put me there to test me and teach me, both of which happened. I know God lives and i love Him. I know Jesus Christ lives and loves me. My greatest desire right now is to be humble and become one with Them. I love you all as always, and i wanted to share these feelings because they are important and real to me. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Love always, Conrad