Monday, December 26, 2011

A Phone Call, Missionary Mode & Pure Sacrifices


Well, it was definitely nice getting to talk to everyone last night! One hour was definitely too short. Its all good though. The work goes on. I decided this morning that I've officially gone into that missionary mode. Like where all I think about is missionary work and if anything else comes up that distracts from it I get annoyed. Haha. I really am loving everything though. I think a big thing about everything is because I came on mission not wanting to come back the same person. More than anything I wanted to learn lots of things about growing up. I feel like that's happening. So naturally I'm very excited about everything. Man. All of those guys in our ward that got their mission calls- Congrats! You'll all do great and learn so much. And Alexander- Welcome to Africa! Man I'm so excited for you.

So I have some bad news. I got the wrong cord for my camera so I'm not able to send any pictures today. Sorry! I'll do better next week. Oh, yes! If you can send that flashdrive back that would be great. Im glad you enjoyed all the videos and pictures! I'm going to try and take better pictures. I feel like I'm not doing a very good job with that.  Payton Nelson, continue to look out for my worrying mother. I appreciate that. But yeah, I'm glad everything is going well back home.

Alright so quick story that I didn't tell last night. Remember that lady who lives in the one room shack? This past Sunday her little boy walked into Church and tried to hand me some money. I was like "woah what is this?" He said it was his mom's tithing money. This is the second week in a row she has payed her tithing. She has nothing but still always pays her tithing. Man, that alone made my heart do about 19 flips. People can be so crazy sometimes, but when they make those pure sacrifices to serve the Lord, it makes them seem a little more humble. Or maybe just more crazy because it's so strange to see people keeping the commandments in the world today. Either way it's sweet.

So anyway, I wish you all a great week and all that stuff. I hope everyone else is doing well back home as well! I miss and love you all!

Elder Stewart

This is a picture from the Mission President's Blog of all the missionaries in the Freetown East & West Zones. Our missionary is holding the H :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

An apology, a strong impression & "football"

Hello again my sweet sweet family.

I'm sorry but before I say anything I have to give a HUGE apology to my dear friend Clayton Bridge. I want you to know I did not forget your birthday. I wrote it in my planner and I even talked about it in my journal. But I only have a picture of my planner which I've sent home so you know that I'm serious. I hope you had a really good birthday and I'm apologize that I won't be able to meet up with you this new years. Something has come up. Book a time for me in a couple years though. I plan on being there to have a crazy Noonafest. Yes sir. I'll try and write you a letter, things have been a bit crazy lately though.

So yes, it is so strange that I will get to talk to all of you in a week. I'm thinking I will call around 8:00 PM my time. Maybe a little earlier. I'm not 100% sure. But if all else fails, plan for that time. I'll be sure to speak some Krio for you guys. Haha. That language is so funny. But before I do that I definitely want to hear your version of it.

So this week was a good one. It's very different being on the flip side of missionary work. Now I'm in charge of sooooo much more. Before I pretty much would just follow my companion around and sit down and help teach the lessons. There are so many more things to think about now though. I enjoy the challenge. Trust me, there have been challenges with different things that have come up, but I'm learning from all of them for sure. At the end of the day I'm always so insanely tired though. I'm enjoying though. I've realized there are a lot of things that happen around here that I totally don't even think twice about anymore- things that would sound so crazy back to you people in America. Like the other day this crazy guy that was super high on jamba (weed) stopped us and was demanding us to teach him. That happens every now and again so I'm kind of just used to it now. Oh, and just in case you're wondering, yes, I totally laugh at the fact that the smoothie place is called "Jamba Juice." I understand why so many people like going there now.

There are these two guys we are teaching and they want all of their families to be baptized so we have like a baptism of like 8 people planned for one day. The man has a smoking problem though. It was a small spiritual experience how it came up though. We were planning on teaching the man something completely different, but as we were nearing his house I just had a really strong impression that we should teach him the Word of Wisdom. I even wanted to just teach what we had planned, but it was definitely clear to me that we should teach the Word of Wisdom. We did and the smoking problem came out. It's good that we taught it now because it gives him plenty of time before his baptism to try and quit. It's not easy though. We helped him make plans and we're hoping that he will take them serious. He seems really sincere about baptism so we will continue to work with him and see what will happen.

One other thing, today we played football! Man it was so fun. The 4 missionaries from Wellington District came to Grafton and we played a bunch of recent converts and investigators from the Grafton Branch. As missionaries we aren't supposed to let things get competitive so we don't keep score. But I feel like if I just had to throw out a score I would say we won 4-2. But we didn't keep score. It was really fun though. The field we played on was a dirt, not grass. As you can see in the picture. That's dirt, not a spray tan. Anyway, I can't wait to talk to you guys next week! I love you all and I will TALK to you soon!

Elder Stewart

Monday, December 12, 2011

Getting Flashed, New Companion & My Best Two Years


I sent Dad an email in Krio. I felt so bilingual when I sent it. I also felt like I just had really bad grammar because that is a huge part of speaking it. Anyway, sorry for that abrupt ending. Haha, I went back and read it and kind of laughed too. That was pretty much the end of the story though. I dunno. It was interesting. Oh before I forget, what you read is true. ELDER HOLLAND IS COMING!!!!!!!!!! Yeah, I was pretty excited when I found out about it. I've been meaning to tell you guys for a couple weeks but I kept forgetting when I came to email. Man. That guy is so great. And the good news is that I probably will still be in Sierra Leone when that time comes. Cause if I was in Liberia, it would mean no Elder Holland for me. He is supposed to be coming in February, so as long as I don't get transferred at the end of this transfer I'll be okay. Because seriously, if I couldn't go I would probably go stand on the back of a big 18 wheeler not holding onto anything. Or well I guess that's not that dangerous because I see people doing that here all the time. Anyway, yeah I'm excited.

So to respond to your email from last week, we are indeed planning on having better food. We have a couple days of fun with the mission so I'm hoping we will get food there, but we are definitely going to try and have better food in our district. For the Christmas call, we just call home from the cell phones we carry around with us. So there's two ways we can do this thing. I feel like the most hassle free way is like this though- I flash home and then you guys call me back. Oh, and when I say flash I mean call the house and then hang up when it starts to ring so you guys will have a missed call. Here you don't have to pay for the phone call if someone calls you, only if you call them. So us missionaries get flashed all the time. I'm witty. Anyway, I'm thinking I'll do that. I'll also have that card thing we bought, just in case. I have to take a moment to say to everyone who has done so, THANK YOU FOR THE PACKAGES! Man, you guys are amazing. I have gotten so many packages. All the other missionaries are extremely jealous. I hope you guys aren't going broke sending me all these packages though. I got one from Grandpa and Stephanie, as well as another one from the Pattersons (you guys are able to send me packages without even being here, it blew my mind! Haha, just kidding). I've also been stinking enjoying the 25 days to Christmas. I've been keeping a list of my guesses each day as the time goes. Some of those scriptures y'all chose are so witty. I'm enjoying. Haha. So cushe for that.

Savannah, I'm expecting a picture without your braces. No excuses. Also, keep up the sweet soccer playing. I'm so happy I'll be back in time to see you play before you graduate! Keep up the good work. I'm proud of you!

Man, I wish we could watch the Christmas Devotional. I've definitely developed a very different feel and love for modern day leaders. Man, I cannot express how much of a blessing it is and how true the church is. It's times like these where I feel like Alma in Alma Chapter 29 sometimes. Pretty sweet scripture when it comes to the gospel.

So, now the moment you've all been waiting for... my new companion has come! And his name is Elder Osei-Kissi! He is from England. He has an African name because his Dad is from Ghana, and his mom is from England. He lived in England all his life so yes, it means he has a sweet British accent. I had an idea of a very short video clip I want to send home for Christmas, so we'll see if it's small enough to email. I think Harry Potter fans would enjoy. Hopefully I can get him to do it. He's a super cool guy and is really excited about missionary work. Being a trainer is already a big turn around from being trained because I find myself extremely thirsty all the time. The reason being is because I talk SO MUCH. I feel like I'm really annoying but he says it's okay because he doesn't understand anything their saying. We'll slowly work out and work more in unity as we go, but for now, man it's hard work. I'm definitely a lot more tired at the end of the day. Haha. I also started cooking for myself. I cooked some super delicious rice and beans (not really) but it was pretty sweet. I like it though because when I come home I'll be able to cook some stuff and I won't have to eat all the microwave meals all the time. Even though they're super easy and delicious... we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

I love my mission though because it's such a good preparation to deal with things that come up in life. Sometimes I stop and think about the fact that I'm a 19 year old kid walking around Africa, speaking a crazy language, asking crazy people to give me rides on their motorcycles, going into fly and mud covered marketplaces to buy random things, hauling buckets from a well, handwashing my clothes- and then I realize that it doesn't matter who I am but where I let the Lord take me. I see miracles happening every day and I am loving every experience that comes by. I can see why they call this the best two years and I hope that anyone who reads this and is able to serve a mission will do it. I know this is the right thing and I know that everything will work out the way it's supposed to as long as we keep the commandments. It's that simple. Keep the commandments and prosper. I am doing great and everyone around me is doing great as well. I love you all, and I will talk to you in a few weeks!

Elder Stewart
 My new companion Elder Osei-Kissi from England!
 Elder Pabie cutting a kids hair using a razorblade and a comb. It was stinking hilarious.
 A baptism from a couple weeks ago. We combined with the Rokel Elders
 The people we baptized that same weekend
Someone's house that was near the waterside
 A super sweet picture I edited small while I was waiting for the internet to load
Don't worry I wasn't far from the edge. That place was super cool though
Family picture. Me with my dad and son (Yeah, things get kind of weird in missionary work sometimes)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Transfer News, Chubby Baby Blessing & Half of a Spiritual Story

Well. The internet decided to suck again. I was sitting for two hours before we got one to work. I don't have time to read any other emails people have sent me or to specifically reply to this email or to send any pictures. While I was waiting I was able to type a letter about transfer news and I started telling a story but couldn't finish. So... enjoy?

Well, transfer news came yesterday. I’m not sure why, but I think President likes to make the transfer news for our district exciting. I like it though. So here’s what happened. Elder Tawiah and Elder Walker are still together, as are Elder Taylor and Elder Essego. But, Elder Taylor is now our District Leader, which means that Elder Pabie is leaving. Elder Pabie is the new Zone Leader for Freetown East Zone (the zone I’m in now) which of course also means that I’m getting a new companion. And who is my new companion you ask? Well, if I knew his name I would tell you. How can they not have told me someone’s name that is moving to me from another district in the mission you ask? Well, it’s because my new companion isn’t in any of the districts; he’s coming fresh from the MTC. Yup. I’m training. Do you want to know when my last day of training was? Yesterday. For those of you who don’t know, on a mission a new missionary is trained by their first companion for 3 months, and most missionaries don’t train right after their training ends. I don’t really understand why I’ve been called to train a new missionary; there are so many older missionaries who know how to do everything way better than me. It’s definitely going to be a challenge. I was really blessed to have such a good trainer in Elder Pabie though; I have definitely learned a lot since I’ve first come. But still. It’s like, what do I have to teach this new missionary? I’m going to make a lot of mistakes but I feel that I’ll grow the most during this whole thing. We’ll see how everything goes. I’m excited for the challenge but I definitely realize that I’ll never be able to do it without the Lord’s help. Man. I’ll be able to tell y’all more about who he is next week.

Apart from the transfer news, everything has been going as normal. We had a baptism this past weekend. We had planned for four people but one of the candidate’s mother died and she was never able to get an interview in time. The three we had though were all there on time and showed up to be confirmed in Church the next day. We had combined our baptism with Elder Tawiah and Elder Walker, so we had 8 people baptized the same day. That also means that we had 8 confirmations in church the next day. Then after the baptisms they asked me and Elder Pabie to bless two babies. Remember that really chubby little baby I sent a picture of a few weeks ago? I think he might have been wearing a yellow shirt. Anyway, that’s the baby I blessed. That little fat kid is so cool. Haha.  Needless to say, we definitely exercised our priesthood yesterday.

Cool spiritual story- So yesterday Elder Pabie had to do a bunch of baptismal interviews so we only had time for one lesson at the end of the day. There was this one person we really wanted to go see but they lived super far away. We walked all the way to their house and when we got there the person had decided to leave and go do something else instead. So we walked alllllll the way back and stopped by one of our recent convert’s house to have a lesson with them. After that we had to go back to the apartment to send in our numbers for the week. I was fasting yesterday so I was insanely thirsty and was really tired from the far distance we had walked. The day before Elder Pabie had left his shoes with this guy to fix them, and so Elder Pabie said, “Hey let’s go pick up my shoes real quick before we go back.” I was super tired but I figured it would be quick so it was no problem; we just had to walk to the other side of the street. When we got to the guy he said that he thought the shoes were at his house (we know him well, his wife is a member and his son is that fat baby I blessed). I felt like I should have been annoyed because they live down the side of a cliff and we were going to have to greet all the people that lived down there, but I felt really calm about it and we went down to his house. We went down and talked to people and the guy went in and checked for the shoes. As we were waiting this muslim lady we know came out and greeted us. She looked very unhappy so we asked her what was wrong. She said she felt really sick and asked us for a blessing. We gave her one and left. I asked Elder Pabie how she knew about blessings and he said that one time him and his previous companion were called by the members around her and they gave her one. She said she wouldn't join the church because her family would kill her.

Elder Stewart