Tuesday, February 4, 2014

27 Jan - 2 Feb 2014 Ships,ZoneConf,ElderHamilton,NoLightsMtg

We love the view from our 5th floor apartment windows!  We can watch the heavy downpours and also watch the arrivals of all types of ships, including cruise ships.  This week we noted three military ships had arrived. One was quite large and had airplanes and helicopters on the deck, but the deck didn’t seem long enough for the planes to land or take-off.  Since it had the number 550 on the side, I jokingly put “ship 550” in a Google search to see what I would find.  Surprise!  There was a picture of the ship, which they called a helicopter base.  Later in the day it displayed what appeared to be the Italian flag.  The ships were there most of the week.

Two missionary Zone Conferences, one in Beira and one here in Maputo, were held this week with the visiting General Authority, Elder Hamilton.  Elder Hamilton had arrived on the weekend and so, while he was in Beira, he was present for the Beira District Conference, a conference for members.  Zone Conference for the missionaries in Beira zone was on Tuesday.  He traveled to Maputo on Wednesday.

We and the Hobsons were asked to plan and provide for a refreshment break and lunch for 70 people for Thursday’s zone conference meetings.  They had originally wanted pizza, but at last zone conference the Hobsons spent most of the day ordering and purchasing the pizza and had to miss most of the meeting.  None of us wanted to miss hearing from Elder Hamilton, so Sandy planned alternate menus – for snack: bananas and mini cupcakes and water; for lunch: fresh rolls with sliced turkey and cheese; crisp apples; chips; candy bars, and water.  Richard calls it the “Mozambique Maputo Mission Deli” solution.  We even asked Tad from Gandolfo’s to help us estimate the amount of meat to buy. Monday was a big shopping day at Premier.  We also ordered the rolls so they would be freshly baked and ready for pick-up on Wednesday.

Here we are making 140 sandwiches in our apartment early Thursday morning with the Hobsons.  The conference was held in Matola, so once we got there, with the missionaries’ help, we were able to prepare the tables for the refreshment break and lunch before the conference.  Then, we only needed a few minutes before the break and the lunch to prepare food.  The fresh bananas and mini cupcakes were a hit!   After the break, we took a few minutes to prepare the plates with everything except the refrigerated sandwiches and water.  When it was time for lunch, we quickly put the sandwiches on the plates.  The missionaries didn’t have to wait in long serving lines and we noticed they were able to linger and socialize.  It was all very successful!

Zone Conference this time was especially enjoyable for us English speakers, because everything was done in English, with Portuguese translation, rather than the other way around!  Elder Hamilton acknowledged how the Church was growing in Africa.  He said we should each be praying “Thank you, Heavenly Father, for letting me be in Africa!”  He said that the vision for Africa is huge and the Prophet is pleased. 

Sister Kretly led a discussion on how we can help the families here to raise their children in the right way.  She asked the missionaries to share what we need to teach the parents and what the parents need to teach their children.  Some of the things they brought up were:  continue to show love to your spouse; and respect, serve, be kind and compliment your spouse.  Then she asked, “How did you learn these things?  You are not yet married!  You are not parents!” The missionaries replied that they had learned these skills from their parents!  Sister Kretly explained that that is the way these practices will be learned and then carried on to the next generation.  We must teach clearly and be good examples of how to follow the example of Christ and be kind and treat all people as children of God.  Other things we can teach them are: Involve each other in decision-making; make goals together for the family; how to have Family Home Evening; how to pray sincerely; ask your spouse, “What can I do to help you?” We should provide each family with a copy of the Family Proclamation, as it is like a list of instructions for a successful family.  The Family Proclamation is for every family in the world, not just for members of the Church.
President Kretly reviewed the progress of the mission and reviewed mission goals.  He stressed how the missionaries need to be consistent in doing contacts, teaching lessons to investigators with members present, concentrating on bringing families to the gospel.  Consistency is a life skill you will need after your mission when you go to college, find a spouse, begin a family, determine your career, etc.  He contrasted the stories of Gehazi, a servant of Elisha (2 Kings chapters 4 & 5) and Samuel (1 Samuel chapter 3).  What kind of a servant do you want to be?  Gehazi saw many miracles, but didn’t fully recognize the hand of the Lord in his life.  He wanted the glories of the world and was dishonest.  Samuel, on the other hand, was ready to listen to and follow the Lord.  We need to remember our dependence upon God, humbly recognize His hand in our lives, and thank God in all things (D&C 59:21).

Sister Hamilton led a discussion on the importance of unity in companionships and in the mission.  Unity brings power and invites the Spirit; contention drives away the Spirit.  Being able to teach and testify comes from carefully planning together.

Elder Hamilton asked the missionaries to tell him the challenges or issues they faced on their mission.  These he listed on the whiteboard.  He then proceeded to masterfully teach the resolution to these challenges.  He did so using questions such as "What is our purpose? What brings about change?  What does it mean to have exaltation?  Why do we teach families?  What do we invite people to do as a result of their faith?  What is agency?"   He instructed us on how teaching with questions allows people to think deeply about what they believe.  The Holy Ghost becomes the teacher as they consider the things they are being taught about the purpose of life and the goal of exaltation.  (see Preach My Gospel p. 183-184) 

He also taught and demonstrated important missionary skills:  asking direct questions, promising blessings, bearing testimony and following up (Preach My Gospel, chapter #11); asking for referrals from everyone (last page of Preach My Gospel – see the bolded letters); and how to use time wisely; setting goals is an act of faith (Preach My Gospel, p. 146). 

That evening was the meeting for the members of the Church with Elder Hamilton at the Maputo Chapel.  When we went to the chapel at 18:00, we noticed that the curtains over the windows had been pulled back.  It was a nice effect.  When we entered the chapel we realized why they had pulled the curtains back.  There was no electricity – hence no lights or air conditioning.  On what Elder Hamilton rightly called a “hot, sticky night” the chapel was still full!  The meeting proceeded, the opening song was sung in the dimming daylight, and a branch choir sang “O Fim Se Aproxima” ("The End is Coming", meaning the second coming).  

Elder Hamilton was the main speaker and Branch President Salvador from Matola 2 translated for him.  He thanked those who came and addressed them as first generation members of the church, pioneers of the church in Mozambique.  "You face many of the same challenges the early pioneers did. Thank you!"  His talk was a masterful message beginning with the question, “Do we worship Joseph Smith?”  “No, but we respect him and are grateful for all he did to restore the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth.  Elder Hamilton’s talk recounted the events of the restoration and the undeniable witness of The Book of Mormon.  The second branch choir took their places to sing the closing song, “Trabalhemos Hoje” ("Let Us All Press On").  Cell phones were used to light the choir’s music!  The meeting was a great conclusion of Elder Hamilton’s visit. “Thank you,” he said, “for coming on this hot, humid, sticky night to sit in the dark!  We’re here because we know the Church is true!”

As we went home that night the sky had fireworks for Chinese New Year.

This zone conference and transfers, which all occurred at the same time, caused a lot of missionary travel.  Some missionaries were flown to Maputo for conference because it was cheaper than flying to Beira, even though Beira was closer in distance.  Buses are not an option in the north as it is not currently safe.  Here two missionaries head to the bus station on foot through the busy downtown morning traffic. 

The mission van ran out of gas on the way to the office that morning, so while we waited for another car to take us the rest of the way, Elders Greenman and Williams purchased 35 wedding rings to be used in the marriage ceremonies for those being married before being baptized. They called it "an act of faith."  The rings are not expensive, but are necessary for the weddings.  With us is Elder Rodrigues who is from Angola.  He had just arrived from the LTM in Brazil to serve in Mozambique.

We received the long-awaited Christmas “package” from the Emily and Taige Bybee family this week.  Mail does get through, but it takes a long time.

Naldo, who was working at the mission office since before we arrived as the housekeeper, had his last day this week.  He is now looking full-time for a new job.  He is a kind young man, faithful member of the church, and returned missionary. His brother is currently serving in the Mozambique Maputo Mission.  Naldo speaks English and has been very helpful as a source to learn about Mozambique culture.

At the corner of our street, a little family has a “shop” and we greet the family and the children every time we pass. 

Sonia and Teresa are always happy and smiling and they wave and say hello to us.  Here is Sonia on her way to set up shop on our street. Notice the umbrella she has to provide some protection from the sun and rain. She has something to sit on and her products to display with something to put them on. She carries everything on her head!

Saturday there was a wedding at the Maputo chapel and President Kretly performed the ceremony.  He gave excellent advice to the couple who was getting married:  consult each other in decisions; share in all things; continue to nurture each other; respect each others’ parents; be diligent in constructing your own strong family; form traditions for your family; make home a place to teach your children and raise them with the teachings of Christ; neither of you should ever feel alone; talk together and look to each other’s needs;  work toward the temple, to be sealed for eternity; make your temple sealing your goal for next year at this time! 

The three children on the left of the couple are their children; the two on the right are nieces.

Following the wedding they held a baptism for the couple.  Talks were given by the members on baptism and the Holy Ghost.

Sunday was Fast Sunday and, as usual, there were a lot of testimonies shared and the chapel was full for both meetings. Every week, missionaries are able to contact and teach many lessons to investigators.  With the continued baptisms and many investigators attending church they will need to make some new branches so that all can have a place to sit when they attend the meetings.  They are already remodeling a house in Maputo to allow it to be used as a church meeting place.
This week we have spent a lot of time compiling ideas on how to distribute and use the new “Minha Familia: Hist√≥rias Que Nos Unem” ("My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together") family history booklets which have been ordered for the members.  These 5”x7” booklets, are designed to be a convenient place to put pictures, vital information and stories about yourself, your parents and ancestors up through the first four generations.  We are anxious for their arrival and hope that it will make it possible to get more people excited about gathering information about their families.  
Rice Krispie treats never looked so good!  You can’t buy marshmallows in Mozambique!  The marshmallows to make these came from our friends, Tammy and Solomon, who bought them in Utah and brought them back from the USA after Christmas.

The following quote, attached to all of President Kretly’s emails is important for us all to remember:  “To know and not to do is not to know.” We hope to always know and do what the Lord would have us do.

1 comment:

  1. Uncle Richard/Aunt Sandy: May I ask what your email address is? I would like to send you an email.

    Thanks! - Jake Schlegel jacobmschlegel@gmail.com