Dear Family and Friends,
Nearly every Monday since the day I began living here in Africa, someone has asked me if I've seen lions, elephants, zebras, giraffes, monkeys, hippos, etc. I'm sorry to inform you but, I don't live in the bush where people walk around with nothing but loincloths, slay their own food with spears, and wrestle lions with their bare hands. Because of this, the most exotic wildlife I've seen so far on my mission are the pregnant goats that people throw rocks at when they get too close to their homes. However, today, after long anticipation and constant prodding from my mother, I was finally able to enjoy God's creations while on a zone activity to Akagerra National Park in Eastern Rwanda. We were able to see every animal imaginable in your wildest dreams except, lions and elephants. Still, unreal nonetheless. I was able to drive 5 others with me in our Zone truck for the Safari. I was depended on for everyones safety hahaha. It was just a blast being around my zone for a last hurrah before transfers.
This week, Elder Nambale and I were super busy getting ready for transfers and making preparations for some of the changes that are happening in the zone. We received news that both Elder Nambale and Elder Koopmans are heading back to Uganda, and 6 new missionaries- 4 elders and 2 sisters will be coming, pushing our zone total up to 12 missionaries. My new companion is Elder Grant who went to Woods Cross High School. I am so excited to serve with him. I have met him a few times in passing and from what I have observed, he is a humble missionary who loves the work. I am excited to learn from him and continue building the foundation of the church here in Rwanda! These changes have made the zone even more powerful. and I'm looking forward to discussing how to set new goals to help us take the work here to the next level. Elder Nambale and I were up and down and all over town getting Elder Nambale's exit papers filled out, getting our truck serviced, purchasing new apartment accomodations for the new missionaries, and finishing our zone exchanges. I was able to bring Elder Shumway into my area and a few parts of the day were the hi-lights of my week.
Every Tuesday I teach an English class to the family of two of our recent converts and a few of their neighbors. This week, Elder Shumway and I brought hymn books and we taught everyone how to sing "I am a Child of God". We had one of the neighbors, Joseph, who usually helps me translate during lessons, explain each word in Kinyarwanda. Elder Shumway, Elite, Philomene, and myself would then sing a line so everyone could hear the tune. Then we would all sing together. It took us about an hour to learn the first verse, but when we sang it all the way through, the Spirit was so strong in the room. Everyone then applauded when we finished. I'm extremely grateful for the hymns in the church and the way they invite the Spirit, no matter what activity is taking place. It makes such a difference in the day, even listening to a Mo-Tab CD driving to an appointment.
That afternoon, we got bounced from an appointment, so we decided to do some finding near that individual's home. About 10 minutes into knocking doors and walking around, we walked by an open gate and open door and heard a lady call out, "hello!" Thinking she spoke English, we turned around and talked to her. Her English was somehow broken, but she could understand us and we had a member with us, so we decided to go inside and share a short message before she left for work. We intended to share a short Restoration lesson with her, but when we told her the message we share blesses families, she lit up and pointed to a picture of her husband on the wall who passed away some time back. She told us through our member that she misses him terribly. Shumway and I called an audible and we shared the Plan of Salvation briefly in 20 minutes. When we bore testimony that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, her and her husband will be resurrected and they will see each other again, she raised her hands above her head and exclaimed, "AMEN HALLELUJAH!" Haha it was a quick lesson and who knows if she will come to church, but it was a testimony to me that everyone is searching for the comfort our message brings and that Heavenly Father is preparing his children for us. We just need to give sufficient time to finding them. We had a great ZDM this week and set a bold goal as a zone that each companionship would baptize a family per transfer. Like Ether 12:12 says, For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.
I know that faith is the absence of fear and as we continue to set goals to make us stretch and diligently work, through grace and the Atonement, we can accomplish things we wouldn't be able to do alone.
I love you all,