Monday, December 28, 2015

December 28 letter

So I don't really have much to talk about seeing as we just talked 2 days ago but I will say that I figured out that I will be getting transferred on the 11th of January going to Swaziland. It is going to be a whole new adventure and I'm pretty excited actually. I hope to return to Mozambique before the end though. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

December 21 letter

Since we'll be talking face to face this week I will just write a small letter. 

Yes, Elder Brown's birthday was on the tenth and we celebrated it by going and getting some good pizza at a pretty nice restaurant. It was really nice and a good day. We obviously did nothing crazy because it was a normal missionary workday.  Also, let me say that I expected you guys to choose option 2 I just wanted to give you the choice. I also really was not looking forward to fighting for computers there in the mission office. This is just a far better option. Doing the skype at the church. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

December 14 letters

To Mom:

So they changed the plans with Christmas. They are flying us to Maputo on the 24th to return on the 26th. So I called and they gave us the option of either doing Skype there on Christmas day and doing it normally (30 minutes with lots of interruptions from impatient missionaries) or doing it when we get back here to Chimoio on the 26th. At which point Elder Brown and I would split the time up for each of us to get 2 and a half hours. He would take 4 to 6:30 our time and I would take 6:30 to 9 our time. So I'll let you guys choose which one you want.

We live about a 10 to 15 minute walk from the church. It wasn't really a formal request from the branch presidency haha they just asked the mission president for me in the branch presidency meeting that we had.  Yes we have several progressing families right now. Many of them have been having some frustrating document situations but we should finish the documents and have a marriage and baptism on my last week in Chimoio.

We've found a few new really nice families in the past two weeks. They are really interested and have real questions. That is a great sign here because a majority of families don't really bother to learn or be interested in the doctrine. Often times they are just looking for a church that will visit them and is fun to go to. It's really frustrating because there are a lot of members like that. It's really pretty easy to baptize people like that but I always try to look for people that will become converted to the lord not the church. A few of these new families are looking like that could happen if we teach them properly.

To Dad:

In the form of spiritual experiences I can talk a little bit about a lesson we had last week. It was really great with a lady that we are really concentrating on to train to be a leader. Elder McAllister and I actually set her up to hopefully start dating our guard haha. But anyways, I think she has real potential to be a leader and we talked about it in some presidency meetings and decided to call her as 1st counselor in the relief society. We've been visiting her a lot to help train her and increase her testimony and stuff. We had a lesson the other week where I just shared a spiritual thought using my current favorite scripture in mosiah 14:12. She has historically had problems with accepting callings but this lesson was really powerful and I explained that God will bless her life if she becomes a dependable servant of him and it really struck her. She even started tearing up in her prayer. It was really powerful.

I'm doing a lot other things to help this lady and others. Elder Brown and I sat down and made a list of priority members to focus on and she was one of them. I have also been making a scripture study book for her. There are 40 chapters  of the book of Mormon represented in the book (my favorite 40 chapters). Every page has a chapter and then my favorite verse of the chapter. Her job is to fill out the book. She will read the chapter and then write her favorite verse on the other page. Also I wrote my thoughts on the chapter at the bottom and there is a spot for her to write her thoughts as well. I also put my testimony and stuff in the front so I think it will really help her dig into scriptural study.

We are focusing on other members as well and in the future weeks I'll try to send stories of them as well as our investigators. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

December 7 letters

To Mom:

In respect to all the questions you asked I'll try to answer them the best I can.

President Koch trained the branch but he also had a private 45 minute or so lesson with Elder Brown and me about the growth of Chimoio and our view on the branch and the work here as well as our area. He told us a few cool things about the area that he will send another companionship here after we start regularly hitting 200 people in sacrament meeting. At this point he will also file a request to make Chimoio the next district in Mozambique. To get to that point, however, we really have to work pretty hard seeing as we are at 130 to 140 ish on average.
We had a presidency meeting with the branch president, his counselors and Elder Brown and me along with President Koch and his 1st counselor. We talked about some branch business and our questions and stuff. It was a really good meeting. The audit is something that happens in every unit in the church semiannually usually. It is just a review of the expenditures of the branch to make sure all the finances are in order and that nobody is robbing money and stuff.
President told me that I was staying the day before transfers but I really don't know why. It was good though. He just told us during our meeting. Also, the branch presidency and I were planning on making an official request from all of us for me to stay so they asked afterwards and he told them that I was already staying so that was good.
Elder Brown is really awesome and definitely one of my favorite companions. I really have had 6 straight transfers of companions that I've just loved. A great experience here in Chimoio. Never a bad vibe just good companions and good missionary work success. It's been the best period of my mission for sure. Elder Brown is probably the companion most similar to me of all of my companions that I've ever had. He even loved and played a ton of Clash of Clans. We get along great and are always laughing. We actually play some seriously intense uno games. With our own little twists to make it all based on skill. It's a pretty good time. Yesterday I won a game and it was way intense. When I won he just threw his cards on the ground as I was just celebrating. Yes, he works hard.
This week was actually fairly uneventful. We found a few new promising families and worked really hard but we'll have to see how it all turns out. 

To Dad:

I know exactly where you are coming from with the things to write. I've been doing the same thing over and over again for a long time. It is always pretty hard to think of noteworthy events to write to you guys about that I haven't already written about 10 times. I wouldn't be surprised if my emails weren't just really boring to read. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

November 30 letter

So yes President Koch was here in Chimoio this week. Yes, I got my package, no I didn't get transferred and I didn't have any baptisms this week.
President Koch: So he got here in the morning on Sunday and came straight to church. Then he gave a big lesson to all the people instead of the relief society and Priesthood meetings and stuff. And then, we had sacrament meeting last. There was a ton a people there and it was way sick. Then we had some other meetings. We had to do a presidency meeting and the audit and some other good stuff. All in all a really good experience. Then afterwords we went went to the hotel and ate lunch with the Kochs and also the first counselor in the mission presidency. It was really good. They also checked our house out but fortunately it was way clean so that went really good.
Package: I really liked the package, especially the big thing of taco seasoning.  Thanks for putting together that album.
Transfers: neither I nor Elder Brown got transfered which is just so awesome. I was so happy when president Koch told me I was staying. Then today we got the entire transfer board and found out that elder brown was staying too and we were way happy. I will pass Christmas and the New year here in Chimoio I really am so excited.
I will say that doing skype in an outside area is just so sick. The reason is because there is no time limit so I can just talk to you guys for a lot longer. There won't be a bunch of other missionaries in the background bugging you to get off so that they can talk to their families and whatnot.

Monday, November 23, 2015

November 23 letters

To Mom:
I haven't received a package in a long time but I think this week I'll be receiving a package which should be nice. Next Monday are transfers and the mission president is coming this week to Chimoio so I'll probably get my package somewhere in there. It should be a really good week. I'm super excited for President Koch to come. He will give some trainings and he's going to do some visits with us which should be really nice. Then on next Monday transfers are coming which might mean a new area for me. I've been in Chimoio for a long time.

This week was pretty good. We had some good visits. I was sick one night and another night the weather was so bad that we couldn't go out. The rainy season has hit hard. Also, we took our first real shower yesterday for the first time in a couple weeks which was way nice. Maybe this week we'll take some more real showers because there is a lot of water through rain. Aside from the normal African problems the week went fairly well. More of our families made some good progress and we should finish it all of this week for the marriages which will be nice. I gave a training to all of the youth that are leaders (deacons quorum and stuff). It was really good and they really learned some of there duties and responsibilities. 
To Dad:
Man I seriously miss eating good food at restaurants. The best food that I can eat here in Chimoio is the food that I cook for us. To go home and try the smallest thing will just be heaven. I can't even describe the taste of even any old fast food restaurant will just be heavenly. I cannot wait for the food, It is definitely one of the biggest things for me in thinking about home. I'm not really that far off either just 7 months left. A good amount of time to really work and get things done; it should be really good. I can't say, however, that I won't see that day as the greatest day ever as you know as a former missionary. Although I will say that you left you family and home but still remained in the United States. Leaving the country to a place so poor makes it exponentially more poignant. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Nov 17 letters

To Dad:
First off let me just say that yesterday we didn't have any internet in the city so I wasn't able to do my emailing yesterday so we came this morning to do it. 

I would have to say that the sketchy neighborhood in Philly would definitely be the rich area of the city here. All of the downtown areas in all the cities look like a crappy version of that downtown in Philly and they are the richest parts of the city for sure. 

This week was another great week for the continuation of the strengthening of the organization of the branch. We were able to start up a few new meetings and I gave a training to the home teaching leaders on how the organization needs to work and the basics of home teaching. It looks like we are going to get a really good home teaching system in. At this point I just need to look to training up the women to take care of visiting teaching as well. It's a lot of work to make lots of prezi presentations and set up the computer and projector in the chapel and find scriptures and do everything but it's all worth it because the attendance is rising and the organization is making leaps and bounds. When I leave I hope to be able to leave a terrifically functioning branch in my wake. Right now it's looking like that will be the case. 

To Mom:
We watched general conference with the branch this week on Saturday and Sunday. It was pretty good. We had a ton of meetings and other things that were really good. I explained a little bit more about those to Dad already. 

Our main families are progressing really well. We had two main families that are Bernardo and Eguiness and Mabanje and Maria. They are neighbors and were referrals from another family in the branch. They are progressing really well and should get married here in the next few weeks, depending on how the documents work out. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Nov 9 letters

From Mom:I read an article in the Ensign about literacy in Ghana. How is the literacy in Mozambique?  Do people learn to read and write Portuguese?  Are the native languages written or are they just verbal languages?  Do most people know Portuguese?  This article said that even though English is the official language of Ghana, only about 50% of the population knows it and that the native languages are only verbal languages, so people don’t really read or write, especially the women.
From Daniel to Mom:
The English Colonies are a little different than the rest of them. They allowed the native languages to be more prevalent. In Portuguese Colonies, however, they tried to smother the native languages. Everyone still speaks them but at the same time everyone also speaks Portuguese. It's rare to see someone who doesn't speak Portuguese and if they don't they are usually way old. There are a lot of people however who can't read. Or read very poorly. There are very very few who read Portuguese better than me or other missionaries. Those languages are not written either no. 
We were watching general conference for the first time this week and I really enjoyed the conference. I really liked President Nelson's talk and some other ones from some seventies. We had some other fun experiences this week. We ate a fruit called licha. One of the families that we baptized has a tree and we picked a bunch and ate them. They are pretty good.
To Dad:
So this week was a really good week on my end. A lot of families got some good progress done on documents and also spiritually. We have a new family that is really good that I'm super pumped about. They are coming along great. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

November 2 letters

To Mom:
So this week was kinda uneventful. We get some good work done with documents and found some really cool new families but really nothing crazy that I can tell the story of.
On Saturday we took that kid who was eating the pancake to a restaurant for his birthday. He has never eaten at a restaurant in his entire life. The majority of the kids never have. It was pretty crazy. They have done so many things for the first time in their lives with us. For example, take a shower in a shower, eat a hamburger and various other foods, use a toilet, eat pie or lemon bars or any other kind of desert, cook on a real stove and much more.
Also, this week we went to the most expensive restaurant in Chimoio it cost like 30 bucks or so. I got these pretty good giant prawns.

Also, this week one of the member's house burned down so we did a service project to clean the house up to rebuild. Because all of the walls are built of blocks just the roof burned with the stuff inside but the walls are all good. So we cleaned up inside to get it ready to put on a new roof. 
To Dad:
So this week I was able to organize with some of the leaders home teaching and visiting teaching. This week I have to make 5 or 6 trainings to train the leaders of the branch. We will be going to the church every morning this week probably so that I can make prezis to train the leaders. It should help out but it is kindof a pain in the butt arranging all the quotes, reading the material in the church handbooks, finding appropriate scriptures and stuff but I think it will be worth it. Also, I've been training the branch secretary a ton so that he can do the necessary work after I leave. It's a lot of work. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

October 26 letters

Our toilets are normal to answer you first question. At least in our houses. However, almost nobody has real toilets. They usually have little outhouse type things but they don't have seats.  It's just a hole in the ground and they have a bucket of water on the side to wipe your butt with your hand. Most houses have electricity but that one I sent you a picture of last week does not. Neither does it have water. What people do for water here is they have a little tap in their front yard and they fill up buckets and stuff with it. They take bucket showers 100% of the time and wash their dishes on the ground in buckets and hand wash clothes on a rock and whatnot.
This week was really good though and we got a lot of good work done. Nothing really crazy happened this week though. Elder Keck got transferred to an outside area and he is my district leader even though he lives like 1000 miles away. 
I've been doing a ton of work in the branch. This week I organized the home teaching and next week we are going to organize the visiting teaching. Also, I have really been training the secretary how to do all of the financial and mls work. I think I have the church administration manual 2 memorized by now. All the programs and meetings that I organize along with the visits and work of cleaning up the church records. Helping families go to the temple and work on the patron fund. I'll probably have to start communicating with South Africa here in a bit if things continue with the temple family work which would be way awesome. 

Email to Dad from last week that Daniel accidentally sent to someone else:

First things first I think I'll explain a little bit more funny stuff about the planes. We went into the room to go through security in Beira and there was no one there to work the metal detector or anything we called a guy over to check our stuff as we put it through and they weren't even looking. Then, we walked through the metal detector with all of our bags. We literally could have brought a machine gun on the plane had we wanted to the security was that bad. Also, in the Maputo airport things were a little better as far as security goes and they stopped me twice because I had a wooden elephant in my bag and they made me take it out and show them what it was. They thought it was something dangerous even though it was so clear that it was just an elephant. I would take it out and then they would say, "OH elephant ok" it was super annoying. We got transfers today and it turns out that I will be staying here with Elder Brown for this transfer so I'm super pumped. We should be getting a lot of baptisms and marriages.
His language is going well. We only speak English to him because we are always with members going to visits and there are some kids (that one kid that I was eating the cake with) that are always at our house so he chats with them and gets a lot of immersion through that. I dream in a mixture of Portuguese and English. When I pray alone I pray in English but all out loud prayers are always in Portuguese. 
I made these pancakes for him because it was his birthday. We put matches in the top for candles and sang. It was good. The kid I was eating cake with and said was my best friend is this one's brother

Monday, October 19, 2015

October 19 letter

We came home after church and took a little nap and then went out to work like normal last week which was good. It's always good to get back into the normal routine after a trip like that. Its something pretty unusual that I don't think a lot of missions have but these vacation zone conferences are pretty sick.
Elder Brown and I are staying together for another transfer. Basically nothing changed for me with these transfers. The next one is on November 30 so I expect to leave then but you never know I guess. I'm super excited though because I just love Chimoio.
Here in Mozambique there are not real movie theaters. That's actually something I'm really looking forward to seeing again. They have this little stick huts with a tv in them that you can pay a little money (I don't know how much because I've never gone in one) and watch a movie. All movies are dubbed over English movies. They love crazy bloody action movies here though. People can buy cable here and it's just all the south African channels most of which are in English, but a lot of people have it anyways. There is one Mozambiquan TV company that does news and shows some Brazilian and Mexican novelas that people watch. That's the normal that everyone watches. There are 2 channels I think.
Most people don't know how to use the internet and the majority don't have computers but if they do you can buy internet. It isn't a monthly bill though you buy a little credit to use. The vast majority of people have just crappy phones. Some have smart phones but Iphones are insanely rare. I've never seen one just on the road but at the airport it is possible to see them. Plus the senior couples and President have Iphones. 
We helped one of our families move to this absolutely tiny house. The room in the second picture is like 3 feet wide and i don't think I could lie down in it. We can't stand straight in the house. They are super poor and this is their first house that they own. Next year they will start to build a real house on the land that they own. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

October 12 letter

Zone conference was really good. I was also able to get into my extra suitcase in the office as we passed through Maputo. That was nice because there was some pants and shirts that I was able to grab and replenish my supply. Also, a couple of nice ties. 

So we got on a plane Thursday morning to Maputo. We then had a layover for a few hours at which point I got into my suitcase and we ate at KFC with Elder Keck and his comp because I haven't seen him for a few transfers and he is working in Maputo. Then we hopped on the plane and went to Beira. I was able to visit all of the families that I baptized in Maraza on Friday and Saturday which was super nice. I really enjoyed spending time with them and I was delighted to hear that they are all still strong in the church. It was definitely a rejuvenating experience.

Zone conference was on Friday and was really good as well. We heard some trainings from the zone leaders, APs and obviously President and Sister Koch. I probably enjoyed the part when we split up into the three zones that were there and had our trainings from our zone leaders the best. I also had an interview with president Koch which was really good as well. We talked about the branch and whatnot.

On Saturday night we got on a plane going to Maputo and then slept there. We had to wake up super early to catch our flight to Chimoio. That was all really good but we were definitely really tired on Sunday. We arrived at church just in time for me to stand up and give a talk which also went really well. I talked about how we can have a better and more real conversion.

Everything is going really great over here and I'm really enjoying my time. Although I will say that I feel like going home is definitely creeping up on me faster than I think is possible.
seeing my best little girlfriends from Maraza

the line at the water payment place (at least 4 hours of waiting)

The plane ticket

Monday, October 5, 2015

Some pictures from other sources

The picture above is from the mission newsletter for September
From Elder Keck's blog - Daneil got a jumpsuit that was too small

From Elder Keck's blog - ingredients for 7 wedding cakes

October 5 emails

To Mom:
President Koch actually calls us fairly frequently and asks about our area. He talks to me about a bunch of the stuff that goes on over here so that's pretty nice. I don't think the outside areas are his focus but he does put more interest in us than president Kretly did. 

Every companionship has a cell phone that the mission pays for the minutes and such. Our zone leaders live in Nampula and our district is made up of the Elders from Tete and Maxixe which is kind of bizarre but good. The nearest missionaries are in Beira, though. The calls are all easily paid for with the giant plan that the mission has and pays for. 

So this week we had another wedding/baptism which was super nice. We had a few youth and one couple get baptized. I'll send you some pictures with this email if I can. 

This week we are flying to Beira for zone conference so I'll give you some updates on that next week.

This week we also climbed a pretty sweet mountain which is quite rare for Mozambique that is almost all super flat. It was a beautiful view of our whole area. We saw some way sick giant lizards and it was pretty good.

This week we are out of water again unfortunately so the whole crappy reality of that is back again. 

(From Mom): A weird thing about this week was this super weird dream I had about you the other night.  I don’t remember very many of the details, but one thing I remember is that you were home form your mission and you wore fake eyelashes.  And they were really obviously fake because they weren’t wide enough for your eyes and they were about 2 inches long, so they were like these shooting spider legs out the middle of your eyelids only.  You said they were all the rage and that you loved them and they were super cool.  I didn’t get it.  You were doing some other bizarre things, but I can’t remember what. Have you started wearing fake eyelashes?

Daniel's response: No I have real eyelashes 

To Dad:
Occasionally it gets a little chilly and it rains a lot but it's usually just a really warm rain. The heat just kills me though. I am so excited to experience cold again. It won't happen for a long time yet though but in the meantime I'll just endure the incredible heat. Fortunately I'm in Chimoio which is the second coldest city in Mozambique. But even with that it's still super hot.

I really like Elder Renlund. The branch president and I looked up the new apostles together and we were way pumped and high fiving and stuff when we say that Renlund was the new apostle. We were super excited. 

The suit jacket was something that my comp and I had made by a member. They're pretty sweet, I like them a lot. 

They don't seem to have jumpsuits that are Daniel's size!

me and one of my best buddies here in Mozambique, his name is Daniel

Monday, September 28, 2015

September 28 letters

To Mom:

(In answer to my questions about Beira) It's about 4 hours to Beira by this really crappy bus thing that we have to take.

This past week was really good. We had a lot of really nice lessons and this next week we should be able to make a ton of document progress with a bunch of families to set up some marriages for next month which will be nice. We also have a marriage this Saturday so that is going to be way amazing. I'll send you a picture of the whole thing too so that should be good. 

To Dad:

I'll tell you a story of this week instead of mom just because I don't know how she'll react to this one haha. So last week when we were doing email and shopping and whatnot, someone broke into our house and robbed us. It was really funny though because we came in to the yard and my first thought was dang we forgot to lock the door. Then, I saw the lock all cut on the ground and my heart dropped. Then I went to our room to see what they had robbed and my first thought went to some American dollars that I had. They had looked through my suitcase but not found this money. Then, I thought of my electric shaver and they had also missed that. Elder Brown pointed out that he had one thousand met on his desk that they hadn't taken. I began to subconsciously doubt that we got robbed and then I remembered the cut lock. I guess they were disrupted during the robbery and weren't able to get everything.  All they got was our dvd player, an empty gas tank, both of my sidebags and both of us had old crappy broken cameras that they stole. They'd even broken into the closet that has our safe and not taken the safe haha. It was pretty funny. The one problem is that now I can't wear a sidebag because they were both stolen haha. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Happy Birthday!

To Mom:

My Wallet had fallen out when we got a ride from a random guy and it was really a miracle how it came back to be in my possession. He found my wallet in the back of his car and then gave his number to some worker guys that work by where he dropped us off. We walked past there again and they gave us the guy's number. Then we called the guy and I got my wallet but he had used all the money. He has slowly paid back the money and he said he'll finish the rest today. So really a good story of integrity. It was quite a surprise but an awesome story.
This week was really interesting. We went to Beira to do some migration documents for me. I feel pretty old on the mission because I'm having to do this stuff. Before I know it I think I'll be home. Time is certainly accelerating as things go along. These most recent transfers and months have just flown by. It helps that I just love Chimoio. 
Today, before we came to do internet, we went to the register and opened a marriage process so it's a guarantee for the 3rd of October. We should have a really awesome baptism that day involving 5 people. Plus this marriage should be pretty big too because they really want a real marriage. They even made us push the wedding back again so that he could have his salary and have a bigger party. They are pretty poor but combine all the different sources of money and it should be a pretty dope day.

Things are really going great with Elder Brown and I. We are getting along nice. He is a good missionary with a desire to learn and I don' t think that I could ask for a better trainee. It's kind of crazy training in an outside area because I have such a large influence on him. He has no other example or missionary to see. No divisions, nothing. 
To Dad:
We did a few mentionable things for my birthday. Firstly, when we were in Beira on wednesday I took some money out and we went to one of the nicest restaurants there with some of the other elders that I like. It was really good, I got ribs (some of the best meat I've had in a while). Then yesterday, after church a bunch of my favorite kids came over to our house and hung out in the yard while I made a ton of pancakes for all of them as a birthday celebration. There wasn't enough milk for us to have any though so I just made it for the kids and then fortunately, my recent converts (micheque and Minda) invited us over for lunch or we wouldn't have had any food, haha. The majority of people do not celebrate birthdays and the poorest don't even know what their birthdays are. It was a good birthday I guess though. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

September 14 letters

To Mom:
This week has been pretty good. My new companion is super cool and I really enjoy training out here. All of the programs exist but I've never heard any person (leader or youth) talk about or do anything with faith in god, duty to god, personal progress etc. They struggle with going to church let alone doing these extra programs. I'm going to start trying to implement some new things though. This week we organized the young women's class presidencies which is the first time I've ever seen that in Mozambique and next week we'll get the deacons teachers and priests. Also this week the branch president took some initiative to try and get mutual going in some form with the young men and women presidents so we'll see how that goes. We are really working hard to make as many changes and put as many things in order as possible. They never do mutual or have anything like scouts or activity days. Many of the kids come to church by themselves. One day the church will grow and have good programs and such but right now the leadership just has no chance of handling any of that.

This week we got a ton of work done. We should be opening a process of marriage tomorrow which will be pretty good. We are planning a big marriage baptism on the 3rd of October. Everything is basically set. Also, my wallet got stolen on Friday so could you please go and cancel my card. Anyway, the preparations are going well. Elder Brown and I are getting along great and things are pretty chill between us. I am definitely enjoying my time with him. 

To Dad:
Being a trainer is fun but hard to be sure.  The language is the hardest part because he doesn't speak or understand much so that puts a lot of the load on my shoulders. It's all good though because he is learning surprisingly quickly and I'm sure that in no time he'll be up to full productivity. I'm not in the branch presidency yet because one of the mission presidency has to do that and none of them have come here or probably will any time soon. I doubt that I'll be officially in the branch presidency at least for a little while. In the meantime, I am really trying to help the current branch presidency magnify their callings and get the branch up and running properly. This week we organized the young womens class presidencies and next week we hope to organize the young men's as well. They don't really have too many meetings seeming that many of the leaders battle with just going to church regularly but the ones that we have my companion is welcome to sit in on. My companion is Elder Brown from Riverton Utah. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

September 8 letters

The baptism this week was super awesome and I really loved the wedding. Probably the most relaxed wedding that I've had here and I just loved it. I would consider those two days among the best of my entire mission. Those young men were all baptized as well. The next baptism and marriage is close to ready as well. We want to try and get a few young people and two couples for this one so things are still falling into place and some more documents need to be done. It should probably happen at the end of September.
I did get my birthday package and I'm sorry but I already opened it. I really wanted to use the contacts for the wedding. Great package though! Thank you so much.
So yesterday was transfers and things are super crazy. Elder McAllister got transferred to Maputo which bummed both of us out. I just received a brand new missionary so I'm training. Also, The transfers say that I am going to be serving in the branch presidency which I hope goes through because I think I would really be able to take action and help the branch really grow. This is kind of a rare calling but a great opportunity. No missionary has been trained in an outside area for over 2 years and the last one in Chimoio was in 2011 so that is also super rare.

A missionary from Davis High came in this week that I knew and liked. It was super weird talking to him because we are from the same grade but at this point I am a veteran missionary and he is just a brand new greenie. 
When the water goes out we have a few days of the water in the tank and then that's it. We have some buckets and stuff that we usually have filled up and we can take bucket showers. If worse comes to worst we can always go to one of the neighbors' houses and use their well to get some water but that water is kind of sketchy because you never know if there is a leaking septic tank near by or something. That's how it goes here in Chimoio.
This past week was awesome. At the zone conference I was able to have an interview with Elder Hamilton of the Seventy and that was interesting plus the training he gave was super cool. There was a question and answer session that was pretty nice as well. 
Mouzinho - 1st counselor in branch presidency; Micheque and Minda - our couple; Pres Machava - the branch president; Meivas - president's wife and RS president

Monday, August 31, 2015

August 31 letter

Our next transfer is next Monday. I will probably not get transfered. I have only been here for two transfers and Elder McAllister has been here for 4 transfers so I will probably stay. I would be super bummed if I left but I'm not too worried. I doubt we get any more missionaries but I guess it's a small possibility because our mission is getting the biggest group that has ever come in this transfer so I don't know.
We were able to open the marriage process for a family this week which means that things are set for this Saturday which should be really nice. We are going to have a really awesome day this Saturday. Lots of baptisms and a good marriage too. I'll be sure to send some pictures as well.
The branch here is growing tons. This week we got the highest all time attendance of Chimoio so maybe soon we'll be able to split and get the church really going here in Chimoio. We are really working hard with the leadership to get things organized so things are definitely looking up here in the Chimoio branch and area.
We taught about marriage a few times this week and several families accepted the challenge to get married so the work is really rolling. It's super amazing the blessing the lord has given our area and the amazing families that we have the privilege of helping. I am in a competition with one of our investigators in reading the book of Mormon. If I win they owe us lunch if he wins I will teach them how to make key lime pie. I was at Alma chapter 1 and he just finished 1 Nephi so whoever finishes the next book first wins. I don't know where he's at right now but I'm in the 20s.
One night we went to do visits with one family and all the families wanted to visit the others with us so we ended up going into the last lesson with three full families with us which was pretty funny. They are all friends and neighbors haha. It was super funny just watching them converse. They are going to really strengthen each other in the church which will be super nice.
Celse continues to be awesome. There is an army of kids that are all his neighbors and friends that go to church now. He just can't help but invite everyone. His mom came to church and told the women in relief society that she was there because her son told her he would never go to the Catholic church so she figured she'd go with him. He loves to read the scriptures and help others and stuff. It's truly amazing.
This week we go to Beira for a zone conference with a seventy so that should be pretty good. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

August 24 letters

To Mom:

This week was also incredibly awesome again. We had tons of success with a bunch of investigators at church. The Branch and our number of investigators is definitely growing big time. Sounds like you are having a great time over there in America, enjoying all of the 21st century conveniences and 1st world country comforts. We are just warrioring it out over here. This week we actually didn't have any water for 6 straight days. It was pretty rough. There wasn't even enough water to take bucket showers.
It's crazy how many things are happening in my absence. Marriages, homecomings, sicknesses and so much more. The world will be a different place when I get back. Certainly, taking in the life of a normal person will be like trying to drink water from a fire hose. With all the new things to do and old hobbies and whatnot it's going to be something crazy. I actually only have 10 months left on the mission now so it's definitely moving along quickly. That of course doesn't mean that I can take my foot of the gas, rather, it needs to be a sprint to the finish. 
We have a bunch of new families that are just loving the church and we are progressing very fast. We brought another one of our investigator families over for a visit to one of them and they got along great. The way I can describe their conversation as listening to a bunch of talkative old people, It was pretty funny.

This week we actually directed a funeral. Some people went to the house of a member (she is just a daughter of the house) to support her because her aunt died. The Girl who died (she was murdered) didn't have a church so the funeral duties were left to the church of our members parents. Their church didn't show up because they suck so they asked us if we would direct. Our first counselor directed and I gave the graveside speech. It was quite the experience. When they brought the casket out at the funeral home all of the women family member fell on the ground weeping as is mozambiquan tradition. It was definitely interesting. They put like suitcases on the grave and bury them with tons of plates and stuff to use after I guess. 
To Dad:
We never really teach anyone that doesn't believe in Jesus Christ. The followers of any church here are either so strong because they are immigrants or something or they just don't know what they are talking about. For example, the majority of all muslims believe in Jesus Christ as their savior. People just go to church because they have some inner desire to go to church. Most Mozambiquans actually believe that every church is true and that you just have to find the right church for you. I would say that that is a much bigger battle that to convince them that they should go to our church as opposed to theirs.
The thing is is that no mozambiquans really have any religious background knowledge wise. They have just gone their whole lives and the info goes in one ear and out the other. They don't know anything and take anything we say as the truth so the battle is create real testimonies and help them understand the doctrine. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

August 17 letter

So this week was super awesome. The most success that I've ever had on my mission finding wise was probably this week. We found so many really awesome families through member referrals. The members really pulled through this week. We have probably 4 more families now that I'm considering as super solid probable baptisms. It was definitely a very blessed week. We had tons of people at church, both members and investigators which was awesome. The work is going amazingly here right now.
This week was really good. One thing that I've noticed on my mission is the increased interest in reading the scriptures. This week I've just been reading them so much. I'm absolutely flying through the Book of Mormon right now. During the moments when we aren't doing I just grab the BOM and get reading and it's really been helping my entire mission with the spirit. The additional tool of the spirit in every moment that I get with the basic practices of prayer and the scriptures is wonderful. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

August 10 letters

To Mom:

So this week we were able to get a lot of document work done with our families that we are working with and it looks like we will be able to get 3 families baptized either late this transfer or early next transfer. It's been a lot of work but it's really been worth it and we're really excited to be making the final moves in the progression of these families. 

Several of our recent converts had interviews for the priesthood this week which was really nice and hopefully that means that adults won't have to bless and pass the sacrament every week. Getting the youth to do it will be a big step in the progression of the branch. 

The mission should get an aditional 22 missionaries this next transfer which will greatly increase our numbers meaning that we will possibly get a new companionship here in Chimoio which would be really nice and really help the branch a lot. 

We bought a small grill type thing this week (one of the ones you saw in that picture last week). and a grill thing to go on top. Chimoio has the best beef in mozambique so we bought hamburger and made our own hamburgers this week which were way good and this week we're going to do some steaks which are actually pretty cheep and should be pretty good.

To Dad (answering some questions):

Celso is 12 and he is still going super well. I think that our zone is called the quellimane zone but it's just all of the outside areas so we usually just call it the outside area zone.  Before we were only allowed to listen to hymns and now we can listen to any music that will invite the spirit so hip hop no but some of the music that I had will be good so I wanted to grab a few songs. That rule was changed by the new mission president which we are all really excited about. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

August 3 letter

So this week we had a ton of lessons in preparation for our baptism this past Saturday and the big group that will be baptized here in a few weeks. The work is really going great and accelerating here in Chimoio and we are truly being blessed with tons of success. The baptism ran great and was really spiritual. One of the kids that we baptized is super funny, his name is Celso. He is sooooo happy to be baptized hahah. Ever since we told him that he could be baptized he has just been so happy. He calls us all the time witch for him really expensive phone credit just to tell us how happy he is. He wants to say both prayers in every lesson just because, he tells us, he's happy. We told him we'd give him a scripture highlighter for his new scriptures that he received with baptism and he called us this morning asking for it. We told him to come over to our house and he just basically yelled into the phone I'm coming I'm coming! and ran the whole way hahahah. He's a really good kid. The other 2 that we baptized are really awesome too. I'll send some pictures. 

Another family that we have, Micheque and Minda are making terrific progress on documents and spiritually. It's really awesome and they are progressing really well. The area really is going fabulously not only because of the high numbers but because of the high quality of the investigators that the lord has blessed us with.


The stove is what 99.9 percent of people cook on here or a wood fire if they're really poor.

Everyone carries stuff on their heads

The house of a member

Monday, July 27, 2015

July 27 letter

So first of all I'd like to start by saying that today was the first transfers that president Koch has sent out. I didn't get any changes at all. I'm super happy with it though because I'm loving my time in Chimoio with Elder McAllister and this transfer we should just have a baptismal flood.
We haven't had water for a week or so now so I haven't taken a shower in two days, I feel terrible. Today we are going to the water place to complain and try and get something done so we'll see what happens with that.
This week our investigators made fabulous progress. We have specific dates set for next transfer including all document plans and family preparations for 3 marriages so it should go super well. Two of those families actually are just planning on signing the papers and then having a real marriage party a little while later. With one of them, their family lives in Beira so they will wait and do the party there. With another, they have an expensive dowry to pay so they will just sign the papers and then pay the dowry with the party and stuff in a few months.
I really cannot express how pleased I am with my mission up until this point. The areas and companions that I've had have been way nice and pretty close to ideal. Seriously couldn't be happier with the mission right now.

July 20 letter

This week on Thursday we got a bus over to Beira and that night were able to visit all of my old families in the Maraza area. It was super awesome and I was able to have a great time hanging out with them. Then, on Friday, we were able to have the zone conference. President Koch talked about some things, no big changes or anything yet, but it was really good. Then we had our interviews which were nice and that was about it. He is different than President Kretly for sure, one of the senior couples put it best when she said he is a minister not an administer like president Kretly.
This week we had just an amazing week at church with well over 20 investigators there. The work is certainly accelerating here in Chimoio and next transfer we should have many baptisms including several families. We were able to have some great visits with our favorite families and find some new ones. Others came out of the woodwork from being almost dropped to coming to church. All in all, a really good week.
I have decided to focus on two of the piano students that I have. One is that rich investigator that we have because he already took piano lessons and has really good potential and the other is young woman in the ward who also has really good potential. I gave the extra piano of the church to that young woman to practice and Fulgencio (our investigator) already has a piano. I also teach others randomly just because they beg me but I focus mainly on these other two.

This week we also took up a bunch of 8 to 15 year old kids because they have been coming to church for a long time without being baptized so we have them come to our house every morning to be taught and in a couple weeks we'll baptize all of them. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

July 13 letters

With the loss of the phone we just used our guard's phone and I had my previous areas phone numbers memorized so it wasn't that bad to get in contact with the mission office. Migration work is a id that you have to get once a year in order to be legal in Mozambique, it's called a DIRE. It costs a ton of money and is one of the reasons why Mozambique is the third most expensive mission in the world.
No I'm not a member of the Beira nor the Manga Zone but yes, I will be there. The outside areas are their own zone and several are going to the Beira Zone conference while others are going to the zone conference in Maputo [to meet the new mission president]. 
In this branch since I've gotten here we haven't been able to walk with too many members. Fortunately, this week we were able to sit with several members and young single adults and therefore gain there confidence. The work that we will be able to do with members should definitely improve as we move along into the coming weeks so that is something fairly exciting about this week.
 The trip that we had to Beira this week was actually really nice and productive. Also, the year mark was nice, we went out to a really nice restaurant in the city. Unfortunately, it was not as good as it should have been for the price but, nevertheless, it was a pretty good meal. Then, we got many visits in with our favorite families. My relationship with this area is growing and I'm meeting and learning to love new people everyday, I hope that one day, it can be as nice as my previous area in Maraza. 
The weather is certainly different here in Chimoio. It's less humid and quite a bit colder. It's actually fabulous weather and I just love that aspect of Chimoio. It's never too hot or too cold, it really reminds me of a slightly colder San Diego. The sweet family is going super well. He wasn't able to make it to church though because of a work thing but she came and he came to our English and Piano classes yesterday. Yeah, haha, by the way, my companion teaches English and I teach Piano every Saturday. It's pretty fun. I don't have any callings but I did have to give a talk in church last week. The branch is actually run pretty well and none of the organizations really needs too much help from us as the missionaries so we just sit in with our investigators and help them out. It's actually really nice. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

July 6 letters

We were in a small house and we are now renting a bigger one (for the church). So we moved all of our things from the old church to the new one and then set it all up. The new and old chapels are super close to each other so the move didn't take that much work or time because many members were there to help in the work. Also, we rented some carts and stuff to help carry the stuff over. The new chapel is super nice and the attendance shot up this week because of it. We're really excited because of how well the branch is doing.
We are currently in Beira to do some migration work for Elder McAllister and to get our phone, which we actually currently have and are very excited about. Also, I had left some things here in Beira that I was able to grab which has been really nice as well. We will be going back to Chimoio tomorrow.
This week we had a super cool experience with one of the families that we are teaching. So These guys were actually found before I got here but up until this Sunday we had never visited them because we didn't have the phone and they live far away. Also, the wife actually works in Beira so she was never there. Then, this Sunday they both came to church which was super nice. We decided to go and visit them that night and just saw a miracle. They had both decided that they really badly wanted to be members of our church and stay forever. It was the best music to the ears of a missionary ever. They said they want to be members quickly, need to be good members not just ordinary members. They talked about how being on time always is important and they were going to do that. They said that they really need to get married as well and still don't know that that is what we do or that they need to do that before baptism. With such a rich family we expected them to talk about how they needed to get married but a large wedding and party takes money and time to prepare. We asked them if that was what they were waiting on and they said no and that they could do all of that later. The reasons they gave were because for her to get transferred to Chimoio (she's a teacher) she would need to get married and that they want more unity in their relationship. Basically every amazing thing that an investigator could say, they said it and should be married and baptized fairly soon. 

The new mission president got here last week but he has yet to enter Mozambique he has only been in Swaziland but, there will apperently be a zone conference on the 17th in beira where I think the outside areas will be sent to. That should be an exciting time to see the changes and meet the new mission president

Here are some interior pictures of our house. I'll get you some more next week of the house and of the chapel. One is my bathroom, the varanda and our bedroom which has Elder McAllister's bathroom in it.

Monday, June 29, 2015

June 29 letters

To Dad:

So my companion was in Maputo for zone conference because his companion was going home. He flew to Beira with the rest of the people getting transferred up and them him and I took a four our long bus ride out to our area. I've never seen any cool African wildlife but we did see the sticks there really is very little city in all of Mozambique so if you travel 5 minutes from any city, you're in farm land. Here in Chimoio though, there is a wildlife park that missionaries are allowed to go to that has giraffes so we'll be going there in the next few weeks for P day. I'm not yet sure what will happen when the new mission president gets here but he is apparently getting here on the second of July.

We are part of the Outside area zone so I don't know how that will work with the new mission president. I would imagine he will do a full mission tour in his first few weeks so he should come to Chimoio. When president Kretly used to come here he would usually come, stay in a hotel for a day or two, eat with the companionship there, do some trainings for the branch and then move on so we'll see how it is with the new mission president I guess. My comp has been out for 6 more weeks that I have been.

I'm excited to see the changes that are about to happen and really have been working hard.

To Mom:

This week has been plagued with one difficulty: we don't have a phone. It was lost or stolen last Monday and it has been just a nightmare trying to run an area in a city all by yourself with no phone. The stats certainly dropped and every aspect of the work has gotten so much harder. It is also a lot more difficult for us to get a phone because we are out here alone as well. Finding is especially hard because we have no way to contact the people that we talk to on the road.

We also moved the chapel here in Chimoio this week to a place just basically across the street from the former chapel. It is a lot bigger and nicer and should be really awesome as the new chapel. It is also more visible so I think that will give us a little more publicity. I'm really excited and it is a nice step for the church here in Chimoio.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

June 22 letters

To Dad:
The new area is nice. I am in the city of Chimoio which is in the province of Manica. We are the only missionaries in this province. It is definitely richer than my last areas but still super awesome. It's just weird having an entire city almost as big as Beira as your area. obviously it is a branch and the frequency number is usually around 100ish I guess. I'll send some pictures next week, I've yet to take any of the new stuff. We have an entire house to ourselves and it's pretty big because it has had 6 missionaries there before. Maybe the next mission president will send more. My comp is super nice and we're working super hard. The success is the best of these outside isolated areas but the area isn't going amazingly right now. This week we just did a ton of working with finding new people though that I'll explain more in the email to mom. 
To Mom:
So the first few days of the new house were pretty rough. We didn't have any water and apparently hadn't had any water for several months. The house was very dirty and bucket showers just really suck. I wasn't going to accept that as a way of living, however, and promptly took steps to fix the water situation. We got water on Saturday and I was able to go really hard in cleaning of the house. It's still not done but there is a huge difference. Also, I gained a large appreciation for real showers., although the current showers are super hard to control so I have to be careful not to burn myself.

Also, we didn't have a ton of investigators when I got here so Elder McAllister and I have just gone crazy in really digging in and finding new people. Several new families showed up to church this week with a total of 9 new investigators at church and more still to come. I'm super excited to see the progress of this area because it truly has so much potential. Leaving Elder Keck was a bummer but Elder McAllister is really cool and I'm excited to work here in Chimoio. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

June 15 letters

To Dad:

I'm sorry I don't have a ton to say. We had zone conference this week I guess which was pretty nice. We have one family in our area that is actually almost ready to go to the temple. We have been helping them through these last processes and it really is such an amazing experience that brings so much joy to see a family prep to get eternal salvation. It is incredibly rare for a family to go here. In this ward, they will be the first. We are always supposed to help people with the temple prep, it is one of our focuses but to see so much real progress is amazing. 

To Mom:

The wedding actually ran fabulously and two more families were able to get baptized. I would send pictures but the computers aren't working well right now so I'm not sure it is going to be possible. I will say that the wedding went great. 

So in the beginning we were waiting on the ward to show up and the guests and whatnot but no one was coming. I was super worried because there were so few people there to support and help these new couples for the wedding and baptism. I was praying super hard that the lord could provide a way for the wedding to go well. Just before we were going to start anyways, a big bunch of like 20 women came in from another wards relief society who were there to clean the chapel and that just wanted to come and watch. They left after the first little bit but while they were sitting in a bunch of other people came in and there turned out to be plenty of people. Really it was an amazing miracle and a wonderful experience for everyone involved. 

So today was transfers and it looks like I'm getting transferred out into the boonies to an outside area. It is a super cool area but I will just be all alone with my comp. Fortunately, I've heard good things. The whole process is still uncertain though because it is kind of a crazy situation. The transfer board didn't come out just the guy from the outside area is coming down to get me because he is my comp I guess. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

June 8 letters

Q: What types of jobs do most of the people you contact have?
A: The most common jobs are gaurds, construction (make cinderblocks and stuff) and chapa drivers/workers. 
Q:Do people move very much?  Do they live by their families that they had growing up, mostly, or move away? 
 A: Most people rarely move and I would say that most stay around the area where they grew up. The majority of the people that I have taught, especially in this area are all from Beira. In my last area, it Praia Nova where it is super poor, many of them were from the province right about ours called Zambezia. They came down to get jobs and make a better life for themselves. But, yeah, people don't generally move. 
Q: Are most people literate?  Do the kids go to school?
A: Most kids go to school but the school system is terrible. They only have to go to school for like 3 hours a day. I would say the majority of people can read alright, not very well though. There is a good chunk however, that cannot read. I have had many illiterate investigators and it is really hard because they cannot gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon without somebody else reading it to them. 
So this week really kinda was disappointing. We were stuck in side from Monday until Thursday because I was sick. Throwing up and whatnot which really sucked but fortunately we were able to get out and work by Thursday which was really essential so that we could get our two marriages for next week ready to go. This week will also be super crazy because we have zone conference and another big wedding to prep for. All in all, a really hectic couple of weeks. During our time inside, we got really good at several card games and bought monopoly to play as well. We played so much hearts that we ended up creating all sorts of different versions to entertain ourselves during our endless imprisonment of different Elders being sick and whatnot.

Yesterday, one companionship of Elders from an outside area came in for zone conference so we prepped a way nice lunch to welcome them. Tacos, lemon bars, key lime pie and coca cola to top it off. It was a super nice meal for us at the house and, because their train broke down, the other elders ate it warmed up but still really good. Fortunately, because I've had to do it so often, I can now make some wicked tortillas. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Jun 1 letter to Dad

Colin asked some questions this week and Daniel responded.

What is your convert retention like?  Do all of the people you have baptized continue to remain active?  Do you spend a lot of time working with them as new members?  Are there enough strong, well established members to provide fellowship to all of the people you are baptizing?

The retention of converts is insanely high because of the family baptism focus. When a full family is baptized, it is an automatic support group around each and every member of the family which is a really good part of the vision of the mission. My personal philosophy is to visit each recent convert once a week and teach the lessons again. The first time through we just teach the basics but the second time through is really nice because we dive in a little deeper, using tons of scriptures and really just strengthen the testimonies of our recent converts. There are good established members but they still have there problems seeming that there really aren't any second generation members of the church. Also, we organize big family nights where everyone gets together and gets to know each other, making friends and whatnot so that everyone feels included and loved. The current ward that I am in also does a really good job of giving callings to recent converts very soon after baptism which is really nice. 

In your last baptism picture, there were 11 people dressed in white (not counting you and your comp).  In the Maningue News scoreboard, it lists you having 8 baptisms for the month of May.  Why the discrepancy?

 In the last picture that I sent, 1 man was actually baptizing his son that is eight, he is the first counselor in the bishopric. Another man in the picture is named ossumane and he baptized his brother (one of our investigators). Both of those men are insanely strong, really awesome members. 

May 25 letters

We had another big wedding and baptism. This one wasn't as big because none of the other missionaries had couples to join in with us which was kind of disappointing but we still got 3 families married and baptized which is such a wonderful blessing from the lord. One of the families actually didn't participate in the the wedding they just signed the wedding papers in the morning before the wedding and then stayed and participated in the big wedding because their parents aren't here in Beira and they didn't want to do it without them. The wedding was awesome and it ran about the exact same way that the other one did. Afterwards, however, we went to their houses and had a big march with African singing all the way to their houses and they had big feasts and big stuff happen. We weren't able to stay for the food because we had to clean the chapel up after the wedding but the music and footage was fabulous. I have tons of videos to show you here in a year when I get home that you guys are going to love. 

We actually did the cakes entirely by ourselves this time and they were actually quite beautiful if I do say so myself. Preparation of cakes, the chapel and all other things however did take up an entire 2 days of our time (Thursday and Friday) which was a fun and crazy experience. I'll send you a bunch of pictures of the wedding and much of the preparation involved for you to see. 

Lots of baptisms

One of the three wedding cakes

Singing and celebrating

Brides and grooms