Monday, May 26, 2014

Maxixe 41st week - May 26, 2014

This was quite the week. To kick it off we had a lesson first thing on Monday morning with Axxxxxx and Dxxxx. They accepted the Law of Chastity and we set a baptism date. Wednesday, we had another lesson with them and they are pretty darn set into tradition. Big party, all the family, on and on it goes. They want to put it off getting married for five months. We are going to keep pushing along a bit with them to see if we can help them see the importance of keeping the Law of Chastity. Last thing of the night on Thursday, we made a last ditch effort with them. We brought “E um Milagre” to watch with them. The video is about couples here in Mozambique sacrificing tradition to satisfy God and testifying of the blessings of keeping the Law of Chastity. Unfortunately, tradition is hard to overcome, it makes me sad when I hear,"Oh well we are already sinning, we are already sinners. We’ll just put it off until we are ready".

Tuesday we had a lesson with Jxxxxxx and Lxxxx. We taught them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They understood very well. We had another good lesson with them on Thursday and they are starting on documents.  Later this week, we had a great Word of Wisdom lesson with them. Jxxxxxx has a bit of a problem with drinking, but said he would give it up because he wants to obey God.

Wednesday started out pretty rough but we had a great lesson on the Law of Chastity with Pxxxx and his wife. They really accepted to live it and made some good realistic plans of how they are going to do the documents. Saturday we taught them about the Book of Mormon. They are really pushing forward with documents.

Something annoying: When I put insect repellent on and not too long afterwards, watch a mosquito hover over my hand. Of course, I am thinking, “Ha! I have a force field of repellent! What are you going to do now evil blood sucker?” Immediately after that thought, the mosquito landed and started to bite me! I swat at him and he flew away because I missed.

We had a temple preparation class (way out there) with Gxxxxxx and Lxxxxx. It is a long walk and that’s walking at a missionary fast pace. During that long walk I got to thinking about time and how interesting of a thing it is. It is absolutely constant, never changing. However, depending on us, on some occasions, we perceive it differently. It feels like such a short time ago I graduated, yet it was a whole year ago.  I thought of two common sayings.
#1 “I don’t have time” – Actually this one is true, nobody has time. It is impossible to own time. All the money in the world can not create more time.
#2 “ Time is money” – No time is time and money is money.
 The way we use time is really important. Here is a little phrase I thought of:
We have just passed the past and are now opening the present to see what is in the future.
Every moment that passes becomes the past, a memory, let’s all make good memories!
During a lesson this week, there was a dog in the next yard over making some odd noises. It made me smile as I remembered the time we had the missionaries over. We had locked our two dogs Baby and Luv in another room so they wouldn't pester the missionaries as we ate. As the missionaries were finishing up by leaving us a message, Luv started making some very un-doggy ruckus. It was very distracting and one of the missionaries turned and asked us something to the effect of “is she okay or is that normal?” Unfortunately for Luv it was normal.

While we walked one day, we watched a boy climb up a 30 foot or taller coconut tree drop a bunch of coconuts and then climb back down. all with his bare feet and hands. Wow!

Saturday I got the courage to bend my glasses because they were getting so loose. I got a pot of boiling water and dipped the ear pieces in for a bit and adjusted them. It worked like a charm. It left some white residue on the glasses that I cannot remove.

Sunday we had a good group of 46 people at church and I got to teach Principles of the Gospel class as the teacher couldn’t make it today. After church we had a meeting with President Chambal. That took up quite a bit of time. Then we had a good lesson with Cxxxxx and Axxxxxx. The lesson was on the Law of Chastity, they accepted well. Cxxxxx is worried about money as he doesn't have steady work. We promised that there would be a path prepared if they take a step of faith.

I have changed, last P-Day I bought (get this) broccoli, mushrooms and onions. Who is this kid? With these ingredients I made the best pizza. I didn’t use cheese. What has happened to me? I made a fantastic stir-fry. I cannot believe I have been missing all of these good vegetables my whole life! I am pretty sure I am at the point that I will eat about anything and probably like it.

Mama Editor Note: To understand how much Elder Kanaga’s eating habits have changed, I must tell you this is the boy who would not (WOULD NOT) touch vegetables (unless I tricked him by putting yellow crookneck squash in smoothies and shakes or made enchilada sauce out of pumpkin puree or other such mommy tricks). He didn’t like the texture of melons and a lot of other fruits. Up until he was a teenager, if we went to Sweet Tomatoes he would pile his plate with nothing but cheese. He loved cheese! In fact I didn’t realize how much of my grocery budget went to cheese until after he left and I didn’t have to buy it anymore.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Maxixe 40th Week - May 19, 2014

Sometimes in life, and on a mission, you ask yourself “What am I doing wrong?” not because things are going particularly bad but because you feel like nothing is going…“just right”. Unlike Goldilocks who eventually found a “just right” chair, bowl of porridge, and bed, in real life “just right” is not always an option. Of course it is just a feeling that isn’t really true and it eventually passes. But some days you feel like it will never pass.

This week we had some good lessons, some so-so lessons and one particular lesson that went from good to bad. When lessons fell through during the week, we did contacts. We also visited with a recent convert.

The lesson that went from good to bad started out great. The man we were visiting was the first person since I have been here to say “God comes before tradition” However, his words did not match his intentions. During the lesson he would come up with unrelated questions that actually took away and distracted from the lesson. At the end of the lesson he refused to pray in Portuguese but insisted on praying in dialect. We explained that, that was good for personal prayers but that in a group, out of respect, you pray in the language that everyone can understand.  But he would only pray in dialect. 

Another lesson we had marked with a different man fell through this way. When we called him, he had asked us to meet him at a certain time at a certain spot. He didn’t show so Elder DePina called him and was talking to him. Then there was a pause and the man’s wife got on the phone. She said that the man was far, far away and would not be home for a couple of hours. Now that excuse usually works, but just two seconds earlier Elder Depina was talking to him on the same phone.

We had a very long walk to the first counselor in the branch presidency’s house. We are helping him and his wife prepare for the temple. We had an awesome lesson with them. They are so ready to go to the temple. They had some good questions. They wanted to know if they needed a perfect knowledge of the scriptures to enter the temple. We explained that wasn’t necessary.

I have been thinking about how we, as human want everything right now. Instant gratification is not God’s way. He knows things of REAL worth come through time, perseverance and hard work. I hope I can better learn to be patient.

We had a lesson with a man with two wives. He also has children with many other women. However, he is enthusiastic with the gospel and wants to change his life to follow God’s commandments.

One lesson this week was with Axxxxx and Qxxxx. Their dog almost took a bite out of my leg. I could feel his teeth through my pant leg. But the lesson was awesome. The wife is awesome. They participated and even accepted the invitation of baptism. That was Wednesday and we marked to sit with them on again on Friday. When we got to their house on Friday they weren’t there. We called and they had something they had to leave for but Qxxxx, the wife, had just left and she came back to talk to us. It shows she cares. She explained why they couldn’t be there for the lesson and we marked for Saturday. She left again but came back to ask if we could not only teach her and her husband but also her kids. Of course teaching the whole family together is what we want! We were finally able to sit with them on Saturday and had a really good Book of Mormon lesson where they really understood what the Book of Mormon is and sincerely promised to read. Their dog that tried to bite me earlier in the week has two names. Dog and Snoop (Snoop-dog). 

Something I have noticed, in Maxixe, is that people have separate houses (on the same property) for their children to sleep in.
We had a great lesson with a new family on Thursday Jxxxxxx and Lxxxx. They are going to come to church. We had another good lesson with them on Saturday. They were cooking crab, something I have never had the desire to eat. But for some odd reason it sounds super good now. So I think I am going to buy some and try to cook and eat it.

We also had a lesson with Vxxxxx this week, he is a reference from Axxxxxx and he is solid. He was taught by the missionaries a couple of years ago but stopped coming to church. He is here to stay this time. On the way home we found a group of flesh eating bunnies – not true but we did find a group of teenage males dancing. They had music and made a circle. One would go in the circle and dance then trade out with another one. Some of them were really really good. What a fun way to finish out that day and we had another good lesson with Vxxxxx on Saturday.

Also on Saturday, while walking around trying to unsuccessfully make contacts, I saw a really old Machamba-Mama (an elderly woman that works in the fields). She started walking towards me with her hand out.  I initially thought she was asking for money (it happens a lot). However, it was quite the opposite; she was trying to give me money. What! I, of course, didn’t take it, but it did leave me pondering why she wanted to give me money.
Sunday we had an astounding frequency of 48 people. After church we went to visit Axxxxxxxx and Exxxxx and their brand new baby girl. She is so cute. Babies rock! Then we went back to the church so the Branch Presidency could have a “GoToMeeting” with President Kretly. That gave me time to study.

I really should have cleaned the refrigerator last P-day but didn’t. I hope to this P-Day.  I know it will feel really good to have a clean shiny inside to the fridge.

As I loved to say as a youn’in: “All in all it was a good week”

Monday, May 12, 2014

Maxixe 39th Week - May 12, 2014

We had a lesson with a family at 8am last P-Day. When we arrived, the father of the family was already drinking. Not only that but he had four other guys drinking with him while he was holding his baby in his arms. I have a hard time with that. Children shouldn’t be anywhere close to the trash of alcohol. We had a lesson on the Book of Mormon and I asked him to read and to promise not to drink before reading it.

P-Day we also had fun by buying some ingredients and meeting with a member and his mother to learn how to cook a meal. It took four hours and the food was AMAZING. You take dry beans and crush them and then cook them. Then you add onion, tomatoes and garlic. The beans, when cooked, make a sauce, I don’t know how to describe it, but on rice it is really awesome. I also found out I have no idea how to rasp a coconut.

We had a “strong” lesson first thing Tuesday morning with Jxxx and Axxxxx We really laid down our purpose as missionaries. We emphasized the importance of reading, praying and coming to church. We made solid the fact that this is the one true church of God and that this is either true or not and they need to get an answer for themselves. It was a good lesson. 

It was really cloudy almost all that day so it was really nice (I was still sweating all day, a lot) Most of our other lessons fell through that day, but we walked a bit with a member, Jxxxx. Even though the lesson we were going to with him fell though.  We went to Gxxx’s house (the really good first lesson we had last Sunday). He wasn’t there so we called him and he said he wouldn’t get home until late. Then about five seconds later he called back that he was doing a job very far away. It made me feel good to know he valued our lessons enough to call back and explain why he couldn’t make the lesson. We re-marked his lesson for Wednesday. We also had an interesting first lesson with a family who has had a lot of interaction with the missionaries in the past. About two years ago, the missionaries helped them carry blocks and building materials down to build their house. I hope this time around they make it to baptism. It would be really great to show that we don’t always see the fruits of our labor.

We had a bold Word of Wisdom lesson with the family we taught on Monday. It really made me sad, because I could see the deep addiction to alcohol in the father’s eyes. I could see he couldn’t imagine not drinking. It made me want to make sure I don’t have vices in my own life. We had a lot of lessons fall thought but that’s missionary life. We had a very odd lesson though. It was quite far away and we had to ask for directions. The great thing about Mozambicans’ is not only will they give you directions, 95% of the time they will go out of their way to SHOW you the directions. That is so nice and quite Chrsitlike. Unfortunately, once we found our way there, the lesson didn’t work out so well. The couple has a very low level of formal education they don’t speak a lot of Portuguese. It made sharing our message quite nearly impossible.

Thursday we had a lesson marked with Jxxx and Axxxxx marked first thing in the morning but he was in Inhumane, so it fell through.  I think we all by now know what that means… Contacting! After a day of contacting, Elder DePina got to call his family. The assistance said it was fine for him to call Thursday instead of Sunday because that is when they were available. It was a little bit of trouble. He had to Skype on President Chamballs laptop but there were problems with the laptop and the internet was not very good. Finally everything was working fine until the microphone went out. We tried and tried to fix it but it was no good. He was able to switch laptops and finally got to speak with his family. After his call we had two lessons, one with a new family Nxxx and Axxxxx. It was a really good lesson except that he is really sick right now with malaria. It looks very painful which makes me want to always remember to take my daily Doxy because I don’t want to gain knowledge of how painful it is.

Two Relief Society sisters went to visit Axxxxx on Wednesday. They had a good and long visit with her and she said she will be coming to church with them. Yea, I hoped it would work out, but later in the week I was told she would not be coming to church and had given them an excuse. It got me to thinking about excuses. How often do we excuse or justify ourselves? Imagine a society where people were responsible because that is just what it boils down to. We excuse ourselves from responsibility and then justify why we didn’t do it. Imagine if, in our daily lives, we all just stuck to our word. Instead of saying “oh, but this happened” we would either do the thing, or if we fell short, as all humans do, we would own up to it. What if we said “I am sorry, I didn’t (or won’t) do that. What can I do to make it right?” It would be much more responsible if we were upfront and upright about the things we should be doing.

We also go the sad news that Sxxxxxx will not get married. He said he isn’t sure if the woman he has been with for two years and has a daughter with is the right one for him. If another woman comes along who he wants more he doesn’t want the responsibility of marriage. That was sad and to me is an example of not owning up to ones responsibility.

Friday morning we didn’t have any lessons marked so we went fishing – that’s not true – we did contacts. While we were walking I got a really cool phone call from Elder Reed. He is in Tete right now and called to ask about a family I taught in Manga. They are now in Tete and working with the missionaries. They have some problems but are working them out. They remember me, which is a highlight. The call also made me feel good about my Portuguese. When Elder Reed called, not knowing who it was, I answered in Portuguese, he asked to talk to Elder Kanaga. So obviously my Portuguese passes as a native (at least over the phone with a bad connection).  That evening while we were doing contacts, there was a man strolling around in a leather vest, slacks (and to top it off) a leather fedora. We walked so much doing contact that I broke my previous pedometer record of 41,239 steps in one day with a new (undesired) record of 42,846 steps. I don’t want to jinx myself but I really don’t want to break anymore daily step records.

I also got some fantastic news during district meeting. I get 15 or 20 minutes more to talk to my family. But that was sad for Elder DePina who had already contacted his family.

Saturday the branch finished watching the Saturday afternoon session of general conference.

Sunday I gave a talk about the church in Christ’s day. Then after church I got to Skype with my family. Let me tell you, there is no way to see time pass faster than that.   It was like I had just said “Hello” and blink it was time to do the hardest thing in the world by saying goodbye. It was so amazing to talk to them and see them. December seems really far away for our next call but I know it will come quick. It was really nice to see them again. 

A lesson I learned from my Mother’s Day call I have named after a popular-ish (or at least it was when I left) YouTube video “Life comes at you fast bro” or better yet in the words of the scriptures “Don’t procrastinate the day of your repentance” That call went by so fast. I remember I looked down at my stopwatch about half way through and thought “I have a bunch of time still”. Then it was over. Life is the same way, we always think we have a lot of time left, but the “day of reckoning” always seems to come fast. Whether it is having to go to college or pay a bill or whatever. So we should not leave for tomorrow what we can do today.

After my family Skype we went to work. We had some contact time and lessons. Irmano Jorge was kind enough to sacrifice a couple of hours of his Sunday to help us with some lessons. We found a really nice lesson Sunday night. A really nice family. They are already married with three kids. Mxxxxxxx and Zxxxxxx. They are solid, they paid attention and understood some parts of the lesson people usually have trouble with. Needless to say both Elder DePina and I have high hope we both felt really good about this family

BOM, That’s this week.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Maxixe 38th week - May 5, 2014

P-Day is a special day. We buy our food and wash our clothes. It’s the day we get ready for the rest of the days! Last P-Day I bought a meager food storage! 2 kg brown rice, 1 kg oats, 1kg dry beans, 4 tins of tuna, and 4 liters of long-life milk. I do have to say that I am rather happy with the decision to do so. It feels really nice to have a bit of a buffer. I definitely know that I will do food storage when I have my own house and family. There is just no reason not to!

Tuesday most everything fell through. We did have two lessons. One with Jxxx and Axxxxx and one with Oxxxxxx and Mxxxxx. To both of them we talked about the Plan of Salvation and the Law of Chastity. That is always difficult to tell people that they need to get married. Here is the real interesting thing: Mozambiçan law, yes a law of the Mozambiçan government, is that a man and a woman have to be legally married to live together. However, the culture is the exact opposite. The government has the right idea, but the culture says it is wrong. Thursday we had another good lesson with Jxxxx and Axxxxx but on Saturday, we had a heart breaking lesson with them. That wonderful family pulled a 180º on us… They are afraid of what others will think if they come to God’s true church. Elder DePina read to them from Lehi’s vision and invited them to come. The problem is they haven’t prayed, read, or come to church. So, they haven’t used any of the ways we have gen them to know if the gospel is true. It taught me two good lessons:
#1 what others think doesn’t matte, we need to please God
#2 the importance of prayer, reading and church attendance.

Please, never let Satan’s tool of embarrassment stop you from feeling the fullness of Gods love and joy.

Tuesday we passed the house of one of our investigators, but the wife said the husband wasn’t there. I had a strong feeling that he was. Just after I felt that, Elder DePina turned to me and said, “But I have the impression he is home”. We asked again, and she said the same thing. We disappointedly said “Okay, we will pass by tomorrow”. I will never know if our investigator was at home or not but I think it is amazing both my companion and I had the same impression

Never let laziness get in the way of doing those things that are important. No one is too lazy to eat; they always remember to feed their bodies. So please do not neglect feeding your spirit. It needs daily care as well, in the form of daily prayer and scripture study. We had a lesson with some fairly new members. They have a problem praying and reading daily, both together and personally. The thing is though; they have a lot of time together at home doing nothing. They sleep and that is about it. Every time we pass by they are asleep or eating. We had a “strong” lesson with them. I hope they can see the importance of these things and start to change. I know it really makes me look at myself and really evaluate how I am doing and where I can improve. It makes me think, I am going to work very heard to make sure NOTHING, and especially laziness ever gets in the way of daily scripture study and prayer.

On a different note, the city is laying bricks on a road. It will be very nice. Anyone who knows me knows that a couple of years back my wonderful family and I laid some odd 3,400 square feet of brick pavers. SO… seeing a man level the ground and a couple more men methodically place pavers really sent me back to that long-hot summer putting down brick paver with my family. At the time I hated it, but afterwards I looked back at what we had done with pride. Now I realize it was one of my favorite memories with my family.

I can’t help but say our testimony is like a brick paved road. The ground must be prepared then laid brick by brick. It is a long process that takes days, weeks, months and years. Sometimes it seems like there is little or no progress, but when you stand up and look at it, you can see how far you have come. Each and every brick is laid with care by diligently doing those good things you know to do, reading the scriptures and praying to our Loving Heavenly Father.

One morning, I was rather thoroughly enjoying my breakfast smoothie when I looked down into my cup (this is where something gross usually happens) but luckily for me I looked down and saw a smiley face looking back at me! That, my friends, is a good way to start a day.

Thursday we had a good lesson at 16H 30 at a house that we door-knocked. Jxxxxxxxx is Agnolada, during the lesson he and his family seemed to have real interest. I hope it all works out with them.

Friday was good we did contact and had a district meeting (via phone). Then we had a lot of lessons fall through so we did more contacts. While we were walking there was a series of loud cracking sounds. My first thought was gunshots; however, upon looking to the source of the sound I saw a huge giant (just kidding) I saw a giant Mango tree falling over. It turns out someone chopped it down. Later Friday evening we had the worst lesson ever. The husband was nice and listened but the wife kept asking odd and unrelated questions. When we were about to read out of the Old Testament, she said that only the New Testament was true. It was a bit of a mess. Finally we said “Oxx, sorry we have to go. Can we leave with a word of prayer?” Both my companion and I had nice head-aches after that.

Saturday we had some lessons and watched some General Conference. Some of the members helped us deep clean the church. I mean we really cleaned, lots of soap and water all flood-like on the ground. When we were done it was spotless! As we were leaving the house I saw a boy wearing an Arizona shirt! Whoop! Represent!

We also watched some General Conference on Sunday. I have almost been out one year. I am pretty darn confident in Portuguese but conference is still hard to understand. I did leaps and bounds better than in October but big words and crazy accents still soar over my head. It doesn’t help that literally 94% of the time one or mare babies were screaming bloody murder. A girl from Magonine was visiting Maxixe. She wants us to teach her dad, we got his number I really hope he works out, at 17h we had an awesome lesson it was with a family that goes to the 7th day Adventist church. It was a really solid lesson. At the end the husband Gxxx asked for more lessons and if he could come to church next week! Yay!