This week wraps up my first transfer in the mission which means that I am currently half way through training. I have really enjoyed the mission life so far and everything it has to offer. My companion Elder Lusk has been a great trainer and we continue to get along very well. Our teaching gets a little bit better everyday and we have been able to have more success lately.
You could say this week was full of ups and downs. I had my eyes opened this week and had a lot of really good learning experiences. Tuesday we got to teach Anton and Julius some more and that was an interesting experience. Julius is very interested in everything that we are teaching him but he lacks the knowledge of the scriptures that his friend Anton has. Anton went to Bible school to become a minister and has enjoyed our discussions but I think we have hit a road block with him. We were teaching lesson 3, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we got hung up on baptism. He told us that he has already been baptized and so we went over why it is necessary that baptism is preformed by priesthood authority and he couldn't get over the fact that just because his pastor went to Ministerial school he doesn't have the authority to baptize. So we had to wrap up that lesson because we started "Bible Bashing" and talking in circles. So I don't know if Anton will progress much, but I feel like if we can teach Julius alone that he could progress and accept baptism.
Also Tuesday we went and did a baptismal interview for the Kawama Elders candidate. His name is James and he is very qualified for baptism. They were able to baptize him on Sunday. On our way home from the interview we hopped into a taxi. The driver was nice enough to give us bus fare price, so k5, instead of the taxi price of k20. So we were already feeling very blessed for that when we picked up another person on the side of the road walking. We started talking and found out that this man, Simon, knew some missionaries when he was going to medical school in Uganda. He is now a Radiologist at the Kitwe Central Hospital. He said the missionaries he met were some of the nicest people he had ever met. He decided to pay forward the kindness he received from them and not only payed for our taxi fare, but he also invited us into his home for dinner. He actually lives only 3 minutes away walking so we are practically neighbors haha. Simon isn't a member of our church but he seriously has to be one of the nicest, if not the nicest, person I have ever met in my life! He not only fed us a wonderful dinner of Chapatis (flatbread/tortilla), Rice, Nshima, Isabi (fish), and other relishes, but he gave us lots of Mango drinks from his little shop that his family owns. He also told us that we are welcome to join them for dinner any night. We were just taken back because of the unceasing generosity! I asked Simon, "Is there is anything that we can do for you? Can we repay you in any way?" He told us, "It is enough that you are preaching the word of God. You can't do any more than that." We were just so blessed to have met this man and his family. Before walking us home, sense it was dark, he insisted that we take the leave them with a prayer, and then take the left over Chapatis, so we gladly accepted. We were able to make breakfast burritos the following morning with them that were so good! Haha
Later in the week I learned a very important lesson that will stick with me for the rest of my life. While me and Elder Lusk were out tracting, a man who will remain unnamed, called out to us by saying, "Brothers of Mormon!" We were both like who is this? Hardly anyone in Africa knows the term "Mormon." Anyway this man insisted that we go to his house and meet his family and teach them so we gladly accepted. As we approached his house I was excited that someone actually sought us out and wanted us to teach him. He took us around back and we entered in through the kitchen were we met one of his daughters who was doing dishes. As we proceeded into the house I instantly got this weird feeling that something was wrong and that maybe we shouldn't be here. Unfortunately I pushed this feeling aside and followed my companion into the house. (Ah it feels so weird just typing up this experience...) So the man proceeded to show us around the house and very briefly introduce us to his children. The house was very dark, and I mean very dark, like it was hard to see where we were going. I again got the weird feeling that something was wrong and that maybe we shouldn't be here. At that point I made eye contact with my companion and we both looked a little uncomfortable. The man then led us to a room where he said we could have our discussion. As soon as the door opened I immediately knew why I had received those impressions earlier. The air was filled with cigarette smoke and there where obscene pictures plastered on the wall, so me and Elder Lusk immediately walked out of the house. After getting pasted the gate we both decided that we would not be returning to that house again. It was a huge learning experience for me. I learned that whenever you receive a prompting YOU MUST ACT ON IT! Before coming on my mission I thought that I would feel the spirit constantly for 2 years. However I have learned that's not the case. It is hard to always feel the spirit but you can definitely tell when it leaves you.
Okay after that happy note... The rest of the week went pretty well. We have begun teaching a man named Munshya and he is very interested in everything that we are teaching him. He is actually keeping his commitments and read everything that we give him. He told us that he is very excited to start reading the Book of Mormon. We are also continuing to meet with Mougie and he is excited to continue his progression towards baptism! He just needs to come to church gosh darn it! haha
Okay I promise there is some really good news haha I saved it for last! with some really exciting news, we were finally able to baptize Gabriel this past Saturday!! It was so good for him to finally take that step and become "all in". It took a lot of work getting him to this point and frankly it almost didn't happen this week but we were able to pull it off. So we had been trying all week to schedule a baptismal interview but we kept having conflicts between the zls schedule, ours, and Gabriel's. This is because President Kupu did some switching around mid-week. So now we have a new zl, Elder Olsen, who I met in Lusaka and he is a really cool Elder. Anyway we were finally able to get them to come out and interview Gabriel on Friday and thankfully he passed. We then had to hurry and make all the arrangements for the baptism the following day, including calling people, cleaning out the water trough, and then filling it with water. As soon as we had everything prepared, Friday evening around 7pm we got a call from Gabriel and he told us that he wouldn't be able to attend the baptism anymore because he grandfather (who he lives with) just unexpectedly passed away. Me and Elder Lusk were so shocked and didn't know what to do. Eventually we told him, "It's okay... just take care of your family first and we will reschedule everything for the following week." So we then had to call everyone and tell them that the baptism was canceled. After doing that we were now feeling kinda down because it was looking like we would both have our first "dry transfer," so we called up Pizza Hut and had them deliver us some pizza so we could eat away our feelings. Haha well and we didn't have any power that night either so we didn't have many options. So we ate our pizza and then tried to go to bed but sense the power was off we weren't able to shower and it was so hot in our flat that I wasn't able to sleep a wink and my companion said he didn't get much sleep either. So we spent the majority of the night staring at the ceiling thinking about how we were so close to having a baptism but then it slipped away. That following morning just as we were waking up we got a call from Gabriel again, this time he told us that he was able to work things out and he stills wants to be baptized today! That totally made our whole day!! So we then called up the Branch President and some others and told them the baptism was still on. We went to the church early to make all of the final preparations. Gabriel showed up in good spirits and was excited to get baptized. We had a grand total of 6 people at the baptism consisting of 3 members haha, our Branch President, President Daka, Aaronzo, and Akim. So due to the lack of numbers we all got to help out. I got to give a talk and conduct the music. Nonetheless it was a very good baptismal service and Gabriel looked very happy!! Gabriel was busy the next day with the funeral so he wasn't able to be confirmed at church during sacrament meeting so that will take place this upcoming Sunday. Ah it just felt so good to finally have a baptism after all of the hard work that we have put into reviving this area!
Well that about sums up my week. I hope that all is well back home! Sure love ya all!! Sending love from Africa!! The church is true and I love being a missionary!! Well most of the times... haha