Monday, December 31, 2012

African Accent, Huge Miracle & Goat Burgers

Well the week was sweet. I still don't think I have an accent like you guys say I do, but it's all good. I liked hearing that missionary work is still going on back there. As far as getting people to sit down and talk with the missionaries back home goes, it's definitely a lot bigger challenge than here. But the problem here is finding people who are serious about wanting to stay committed for the whole lives and not wanting to just talk to some white guys. I'm pretty jealous of the holiday season you guys got to spend, but it's okay with having to give up two of those to serve the Lord. Elder Burton and I are throwing our own party this evening to celebrate the new year. We'll drink some super cheap sparkling lemonade and talk about setting goals for the future. oooooooo be jealous. But we won't be staying up until midnight, that would just be crazy! I wouldn't be able to walk the next day. One day is pretty filled and exhausting.
The week was pretty good. There's this one guy we've been teaching who is a pretty crazy guy... I think I might have talked about him in the past. Some guy that was trying to cut in on one of our lessons and justify getting drunk. I think I talked about him before. Anyway, We went to see him on like Thursday and see how he was doing. We've been continuing to see him and had taught him just about everything, and he's even come to church a few times. When we'd go and see him he'd always write these page long summaries of what he read in the pamphlets we gave him and would usually find scriptures in the Bible to oppose what we were trying to teach. But even with that he never was really convinced about anything we were teaching and said that he was really strong and had a high position in his church, so he would pretty much wouldn't leave it. The last time we had seen him we told him that he needed to be reading from the Book of Mormon and not worry about the pamphlets so much since that's what we had just discussed with him. He said no problem and we gave him an assignment to continue reading where he left off (for him to start reading in 1 Nephi 3). The next time we came we asked him how the reading went and he was just super excited. He said he had learning so much about faith and he saw that Nephi really had a desire to do what's right and that he too needed to show more faith in God. We talked about it with him and testified that we knew the message we were sharing was true and we invited him to be baptized again. He accepted but said he didn't know how he would be able to because of his position in his church. We talked with him some more and said that his baptism was in about two weeks so he could pray and make his decision. Well, Sunday came and he told us that he had submitted his resignation to his church and knew that the Book of Mormon was true and that he wanted to be baptized. WHAT?? I wish I could tell the entire history of us meeting with this guy but WHAT?? I honestly thought he would never be baptized. But he left everything behind and said he wanted to do it, and I know it's because of the things he learned by reading the Book of Mormon. The book is true! Simple as that. I know it could sound weird to other people but if you just take a small amount of time to listen to missionaries and understand why this strange book is here now it makes a lot of sense. Anyway, it was a huge miracle for sure and I can't wait for the day of his baptism! Everything here is going good! I'll talk to you all next week!
Elder Stewart
P.S. Big Black- Happy Birthday! Nothing but a peanut.. or noona. Keep working out, you've got a long ways to go to catch up to me.
 SAB'S! It sells something like American food and its pretty great (and expensive-so we don't eat there often). It's always a good day when we can go there. It's not as good as it looks, the meat inside is goat meat.
 Some crazy kids of this lady we're teaching. I told them I wanted to take a picture and they all attacked that dog. Poor guy. Haha.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Pretty Good Week


So first of all tomorrow I'll be calling around 5PM our time. I don't know what that is back home because you American people (minus Arizona) have your crazy daylight savings and I always get confused. So yeah. Around then.  So look out for that. Anyway, I can't wait to talk to all of you! The program we put on was interesting... tell you more about that tomorrow. Sounds like Savannah's team is doing well though. We had a pretty good week this past week. Elder Dyngee and I baptized all the investigators so Elder Burton and I have been contacting people like CRAZY. Its so funny how missionary work here is though. We've talked to lots of random people and every single one of them agreed to give us their number and allow us to come see them. Seriously. Every. Single. One. People here love God so much and are always wanting to hear his word. So sitting down with people is super easy. It's just getting them to get up and act! Anyway, we're finding lots of people so it should be pretty exciting. Anyway, We'll talk more tomorrow. I love you all!

Elder Stewart

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Packages, Christmas Zone Conference & A Christmas Program

Hello family!

Sounds like it was a nice week full of wonderful Christmas
festivities. I'm definitely missing the whole aura of Christmas time
this year. I don't know what makes the difference than last year but I
just feel it this time! Getting to open all those presents now makes
it pretty sweet though. I'm wearing a Christmas tie right now and I
ate some Oreos earlier this morning. Gotta love that. Anyway, for the
Christmas call- yes, expect a flash. I will flash you (haha). So be
excited for that quick call and hang up. Hopefully we won't have any
problems, its gone pretty good for the first two. Also that Christmas
music has been working just fine. I have a little stereo thing that
you just plug a flashdrive into it and is plays any music on the
flashdrive. Also, this week I got a package from Grandma Stewart.
THANK YOU. I loved all the little bits of family history too.
Definitely feel free to send lots of those. Also tell Devin I said
binnaway (sorry, yeah? in Mende) Sounds pretty poopy to almost cut
your own finger off.

Well it's been another great week. My new companion has come and
things are going great already. Before he came, we put on some
activities for a zone conference and it went really well. We played
some water sachet volleyball, gospel jeopardy, ate some sweet food,
played some little games and heard a powerful instruction from
President Roggia. Pretty great. The same day Elder Burton came and
that Saturday we had the baptism for the guy that got married last
week! Pretty great. He was really excited and really happy to finally
become a member of the church. Sunday he was even confirmed by the guy
that first invited him to come to church. Something that's been going
on lately though is we're in charge of organizing a Christmas program
for recent converts, investigators and members. All the branches in Bo
are part of one district but for the missionaries its split into two
zones. So we're working with the other Zone Leaders to make a nice
program. Have you ever watched those Bible videos of Jesus Christ's
life? If you haven't, you should- they're amazing! But we made a
program that we'll read a couple verses of scripture, watch the clip,
and then sing a song based on that scene. It's like you yourself are
the little choirs of angels that are always chilling in the background
when important things happen in scripture!!! How fun is that?? Also
there's some testimonies from recent converts in there and some of the
songs will be sung by the district choir, some by the whole
congregation, and some by the missionary choir. We're going to print
out some invitation cards today too. Woooooooo. Should be sweet. But
seriously, anyone who hasn't seen those videos but likes Jesus should
watch them. I really brings the scriptures to life! Is that cheesy?
Anyway, we're super late for a practice now so I have to go!
Everything is going great!

Elder Stewart

  Picture from the football game we played today. The guy using my
camera didn't want to walk over there I guess.
 They play tetherball here! It's just a little different... and they
call it "teh teh"
  This is some crazy fruit we tried. It was kind of weird but good at
the same time.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A New Stake, A Wedding & A Baptism

Hello family!

Wow. This week was one of the most fulfilling weeks I've had so far.
But I'll get to that in a little bit. It was pretty crazy to hear
Breeann and DevOn are in Lafayette! Kind of funny really.  I can't
wait to read that article..(click on this link to read . ) the 3000th stake of the church was made
here! Man so nuts. I'm hoping that before I go home I'll have the
chance to serve in a ward. That would be pretty sweet. If I had to
guess I would say I have only one more area after this one, but it's
pretty much impossible to guess accurately. Speaking of areas and
transfers and those things, we got transfer news yesterday! Elder
Dyngee is going off to Freetown, and I'll be receiving Elder Burton!
I'm super excited because Elder Burton is sweet! He's from Idaho and
he's a pretty funny guy. He was the super tall white guy that was in
the same apartment as me in Kenema. We're going to enjoy like crazy!
We just need to find some new investigators because the area is a bit
dry right now. Haha, but I'm not too worried about that one.

So one huge thing that happened was that we had a baptism! It was a
nice service and we switched it up and had it in the evening because
we were busy in the morning because that morning we had a WEDDING. So
this is the story. I think last week or so I talked about a man who
couldn't get baptized because of his living situation and how his
girlfriend wanted to change to Christianity? It's about that man. So
we were talking with our branch president about that man and suggested
that they could do a very simple and brief civil wedding in the
church, and then they could go have their big traditional wedding
whenever all the man's family could come in. He said it was a good
idea but the only problem was that the woman's father is super muslim
so we didn't know if he would approve his daughter getting married in
a church. Luckily for us, the father had traveled in from the village
that week and so on Tuesday, my companion and I, our branch president
and his wife, our investigator and his girlfriend, and their fathers
all met at the man's house. It was kind of sweet. We were sitting in
council with all these old African men. Kind of a sweet experience.
Anyway, to make a long story short the woman's father was very
agreeable and understood that marriage was important and said it was
fine. Score! He had to be there for the event but he was leaving the
next week so we planned it out quick and set the day for Saturday.
Everything somehow worked out perfectly and Saturday we all met at the
church building and witnessed their shotgun wedding. It was incredibly
simple but it was so humbling to me to see this man work so hard to do
what's right. There was about 25 people present, and they were married
by our branch president. They two of them were so happy and Elder
Dyngee and I just kept looking at each other and saying "WHAT????"
Because man, this kind of thing NEVER EVER happens. I've taught so
many people who say they'll get married but they never actually do it.
It was absolutely amazing and yesterday the man got interviewed for
his baptism. The baptism we had this last Saturday was his niece and
we've talked to his wife and his father and will begin teaching them
sometime soon. Needless to say it was a week I'll definitely never
forget. The gospel of Jesus Christ is true! Anyway, I love all of you
and will talk to you all next week!

Elder Stewart

P.S. Clayton Bridge- Happy Birthday TODAY. Go catch yourself a nice
big noona and celebrate. Miss you man!

The electric pump to fill the baptismal font in the district center
broke and someone drained all the water out of the font... so we
filled the entire thing the old fashioned way. 
  Super sweet wedding! Notice the tie.. figured I had to wear it to
at least one wedding.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hot Christmas, Bush Deer & It Doesn't Take Much to be Happy

Hello family!

Well it has been another nice week. We had a baptism and the service
just went along oh so well. Good to hear about everything going on at
home. So like I said last week, on the back of those "ornaments" on
the Christmas Tree, some people who wrote asked questions or said
things I want to respond to. Sooo Elizabeth Awbrey- YES it's hot for
Christmas. It’ll be cool in the morning but its generally hot during
the day. Cade is driving? What? I thought he was still a little kid?
Ryan Nelson, I love you (not in a weird way) too. Grandma Semmerling,
give Bertha a kiss for me. Payton Nelson- the weirdest animal I’ve
seen is called a bush deer. Its head is in the shape of a donkey head,
its body is shaped like a deer but is super small, about the size of a
medium sized dog, and its legs are the size of these tiny little twigs
and I honestly don’t know how it’s able to support its own weight on
them. Grandpa Wayne, that little cabin is HUGE now.  So I hope I
answered all the questions. I really loved the gift and it was nice to
hear that so many people read the blog. But it would be a little bit
nicer if you people that read the blog would write me so I could
actually know what’s happening on your side of the world! I hardly
ever get letters! So feel free to write me, even if I don’t know you.
Mail is just exciting.

This week I had a sweet moment of realizing that really it doesn’t
take a whole lot for someone to be happy. One of our investigators is
living with someone he’s not married to and so he can’t be baptized.
He’s been wanting to get married but the way they do marriage here
requires getting the woman’s mom, dad, uncle, sister, brother, dogs,
fish, third cousin, neighbour and children to all come meet one place
and then you have to give all of them some money. So most people just
skip the whole marriage thing because they can’t pay for it or they
can’t get the people to all come together. Anyway, this guy is
absolutely great and comes to church every single week. He even
chastises the members when they don’t show up to church. It’s pretty
funny. Well, he’s managed to save enough money to pay the family
members but the problem he is facing now is getting the people to come
so they can do the traditional wedding.  Anyway, the point I’m trying
to make is that the guy is stinking sweet and really tries hard to do
what’s right. One thing though is that the woman he is wanting to
marry is muslim and he is a Christian. It’s really common here to see
people of different religions together, but seeing as how it’s hard to
build an eternal family when one is going one side Sunday and the
other another on Friday, it can still create problems. This last week
though we were talking to him and he said he had news for us. He told
us that he had talked to his wife and she said she wanted to change to
Christianity! The week before this we had been at his house teaching
his niece (who is getting baptized this Saturday) and his woman was
around. We were teaching the Word of Wisdom but for some reason this
time she was super interested and started asking us lots of questions.
We had also sat down with the guy earlier and taught him about temples
and how families can be together forever. He said he wanted that and
understood what had to happen to get that. I don’t know what it was
but she decided to change! The thing that made me really see that it
doesn’t take much to be happy is because of how happy this man got
when he saw his wife wanted to be with him as a Christian. It just
made me think about how such simple things can sometimes bring the
greatest joy. We definitely are excited and they’re actually going to
have a small marriage ceremony done by our branch president so that
the man can finally get baptized. I was just super happy for him. I
also realized this week that with all the many many things and
experiences I’ve had here and what I’ve learned, after these two years
I still won’t know how to use a washing machine. Yeah. Give me a
bucket, water, soap, and some dirty clothes and I’m golden. But when
it comes to pushing buttons I have no idea. Anyway, I love all of you
and will talk to you next week!

Elder Stewart


Monday, November 26, 2012

New District, Zone Conference & God Answers Prayers

Hello family!

Man this week was crazy! Sounds like you guys had a pretty crazy awesome week though! I hope you warned Destin for me, next year is going to be nuts. Also, I got the package from you guys filled with presents as well as the one with the massive Christmas tree and ornaments! I took down a list of things to say to some people who wrote on the back of them but I'll have to answer them next week because I forgot to bring it. But WOW. I don't know if I've ever felt loved by so many people at once. I didn't realize how many people actually read the blog too. So to anyone who wrote to me on those things THANK YOU. I love all of you.

Anyway, so some pretty exciting stuff happened this week. Sunday we had District Conference and President Roggia announced the creation of the Kenema District (Districts are like the same thing as Stakes but not as big of a deal, in case you didn't know.) So it's exciting to see places I've served in growing so much and seeing the joy it brings to people there. We also had Zone Conference which was super sweet and all about the gifts of the spirit. My companion and I gave an instruction as part of it about why do we need the Holy Ghost. I felt it went pretty well. One thing I've definitely learned and understood a lot more since I've been here is what the purpose of the Holy Ghost is and what it really means to receive it as a gift. One thing we talked about during the conference was helping people to recognize answers to their prayers. We always invite people to pray and ask God about the message we share with them, but if people don't know how the answer will come, it really won't do too much for them. We learned a lot of different things and practiced them. The day after we had a pretty sweet experience with one of our investigators. This one guy we're teaching (the guy with the Conroe shirt on actually) has been struggling to progress and just doesn't seem like he fully understands the message we're sharing with him. One thing we've been encouraging him to do is to read from the Book of Mormon and to pray and ponder about it. As we went to see him we asked him how the reading was going. He said he had read a little bit but didn't see anything really to it. We asked him if he prayed about it and he said yes. We then asked him if he had seen any changes in his life since he had begun doing so. He kind of sat back for a moment and thought about it and then he looked at us and said yes. We asked what he felt was different. He said that since reading his desire to gain knowledge and to read God's word has increased and every day he feels like doing that, whereas before he never really had that desire. We then asked him where he thought that feeling came from. He sat there for a while and he said to us quietly, "From God." We read Moroni 10:3-5 with him and he seemed to really understand it. We had also brought a member with us who had been a member for about 3 months and he started to testify about how he used to be like our investigator but he read and prayed about knew the church was true. We didn't even ask him to say anything but he just started talking to him and their interaction was just so sweet! The investigator started asking him about his past life and the spirit was just super strong in the lesson. It was definitely a super great experience. It's cool though because its that simple. You can get an answer from God who you know will never lie to you. It's just left with him now to act and continue to search. We'll see how things go with him. Anyway, we have to go to Kenema this evening so I've got to go! I love all of you and will talk to you next week!

Elder Stewart

P.S. Jordyn Ingram- Happy (late) Birthday!
 Our cultural picture. All the missionaries are representing different nations. From left to right to down left to right we have: Kenya, Liberia, Qatar, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, England, America, Samoa (American), and Nigeria. Pretty crazy that so many people all over the world can come together as one!
 Coke loves everyone.
 You see the writing on his shirt? "Conroe Medical Center." On the back there is a map showing a place known as Conroe just north of Houston. Ever heard of it? Haha, it was pretty crazy because the day before I got a letter from Clayton! Don't get your noonas all stressed buddy, I already wrote you back and its on its way.

Monday, November 19, 2012


Helloooo people,

Well, I think that this Thanksgiving will be a chicken and rice and fried leaf day! Pretty wonderful. So I guess transfers are just to stay the same, we never heard an official word but they're acting like everything is the same, and we're giving instructions in Zone Conference this Friday so I don't they will have any changes. We're also starting the third week of the transfer already so yeah, I think it's the same. Haha. No packages yet, but no one has come from Freetown since forever ago. So hopefully they'll come with the Roggias on Friday. Savannah told me about her tournament, I miss playing soccer competitively so much! It's all good though. Can't wait to see the newsletter, it's always way sweeter than any other ones I see. You'll have to tell me all about the trip to Destin- I'm SO JEALOUS. Going to the beach and hanging out and eating tons of amazing food just sounds so ridiculously too good to be true.

I don't know if this is good or bad, but I laughed when I read the line about Charlie still being alive.

Anyway, this week was pretty chill and nonchalant. Nothing too crazy comes to mind. We did meet a pretty interesting guy and his mom this week though. We were sitting down teaching one of our investigators the Word of Wisdom when a semi drunk guy walked up (funny how that works) and started asking us crazy questions and quoting random places in the bible. Like trying to tell us that drinking is fine because Christ taught somewhere in the bible that it's what comes out of us that defiles us, not what goes in us.Anyway, we kind of calmed him down, took his number, and told him we'd come see him. The next day we went to his house and met him. About 2 minutes later his mom rolled up half drunk and told us she had just come from church. As we were sitting there talking to them she suddenly looks at me and shouts, "I LOVE YOU!" I was like, "oh wow, that nice, thank you." And then she was asking if we'd be coming back. We said we would be coming back other times and she seemed satisfied with the response. Anyway, we proceeded to teaching the Restoration and they were actually both really quiet the whole time and didn't really ask any questions. When we were reaching the end of the lesson the lady kept shouting, "Oh, you guys just want me to start coming to your church, don't you???" We were just like, "uhhhh well, we can't force you to do it but if you choose to go there we definitely won't be upset." Then she was just muttering something to her self and saying things like "hmm I knew it, I knew it." Anyway, they both accepted a date to be baptized but that Sunday they didn't come to church. We received a text from the guy that evening saying "Sorry I didn't come today. But you guys should study the Bible more." We tried to call him but he kept rejecting our calls. Then we ran into him a few days later and he was laughing awkwardly and we set an appointment for Wednesday. We'll see how that goes. Haha, I know this story isn't very spiritual or anything but it's kind of funny/weird. Anyway, We're still teaching sweet people and our next baptism is scheduled for the first of December (It's already December??) I'll talk to all of you next week!

Elder Stewart

P.S. We ran into a snake waiting by our front door this morning, it was nuts.

 These are some adorable children.
Our branch President's wife in her "rally gear." People here have these rallys where everyone goes and screams in the street and dances for the presidential candidate of their favorite party. Her party is the green one.  (Sorry, for some reason we couldn't get this pic to post the right way!)

Monday, November 12, 2012

One of My Favorite People I've Met Here


So the big news for transfers is...... nothing! Not that nothing happened but that they haven't told us yet. Things have been a bit crazy for President so I guess we're still waiting on that one. Maybe tonight. I'm pretty sure that hardly anything will happen in the whole country, but it would just be nice to hear an official word so we can get that nagging thought out of our minds. Yeah, I heard about the election, we were actually in the middle of teaching a lesson when someone's radio nearby announced it. I got really distracted (which is bad) and then I couldn't remember what I was talking about so I just suddenly stopped and asked if the person had any questions. Haha. My companion laughed at me later. But yeah, I'm pretty bummed about that. Right after they announced it they started talking about legalizing marijuana or something and so then I just tuned it out. Anyway, I'm glad that so many missionaries are being sent out now from our stake! It would be cooler if one of them came to this mission though! Oh, some big news in the mission is that Elder Holland is coming again! But he'll be in Freetown to organize the country's first stake so we won't see him. They said he's not doing anything with the missionaries. But it's still exciting because I served there (Hill Station) so it'll be interesting to see the changes that come along with that. Freetown is split into two Districts and only the West one is becoming a stake.

Well, this week was pretty great because we had a NICE baptism! this is the only weekend in this month that we can have baptisms and confirmations because last week was General Conference, next week is Sierra Leone's own presidential election, and the other one is District Conference here in Bo. The building we baptize at is also shared with other branches so generally there's always a big service with lots of people there. But this one was especially huge. There was like 20 people baptized that day! So nuts. One of the women we baptized though has been probably one of my favorite people I've met here. She's the lady with the pink thing on her head in the picture. The little boy in front of her is her son. Anyway, the reason she's so great is because she's so different from all the other moms I've ever met here because of the way she treats her children. Most people here will shout and yell at their kids if they do the smallest thing wrong and don't really show them a lot of love. Whenever we would teach her and her son, her son would always say these crazy things like young kids say and she would always just laugh and treated him so great. She has two other children who have baptized and she is a single mom. She works really hard and tries to make things good for her family. One time when we went to see her she was talking about her past husband. She said that after she had been married to him for some time he started trying to force her to be a muslim. She said she didn't want to be one and he continued to force the subject until finally he left her over it and left her to take care of their young children. She expressed to us though that she really has the faith and belief that the right guy will be able to care for her and her children and that the choice she made to be a Christian was the right one. It was pretty sweet. But the thing that really made this whole story sweet was on Sunday when she was confirmed. The guy that confirmed her blessed her that she would one day enter into the temple and be married and sealed to her family. After the confirmation was over she was crying and it was pretty much the most spiritual punch in the face ever. Man! It was so awesome. The day that I hear about that one being fulfilled I'll probably just fall down and cry like a little baby for joy. Anyway, it was really great and that Sunday as a whole was filled with lots of people coming to church and just enjoying the Spirit. Anyway, this last week was good and hopefully this next one can be better! I miss and love all of you!

Elder Stewart
 The baptism we had last weekend. So sweet!
 Our little two man apartment. That little separate grey building is the kitchen. It's so great when it's pouring rain outside.
 The baptism we had a couple weeks ago. I don't think I sent a picture.
One of our investigators walked out of his house with three sticks and said "Gotta make a place to sit down." We kind of laughed at him because he came with three sticks and nothing else but then he made this little deal and laughed at us. He said "I'm a true Scout!" They don't even have Scouting here!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Voting for Jesus, Delayed Transfer News & Raising Children with Love

Hello family!
Soooooo congrats to Heidi! I liked that you said she had a cub now.
Haha. I also liked the writing on Ben's cake. Pretty inspirational if
you ask me. I've been trying to send pictures these last two times but
the internet has been lame so we'll see if they get sent for this
week. I might run out of time but we''ll see. I also want to hear
about the election. The news coverage for it is always playing here
but surprise surprise I don't really get to sit down and watch it.
People here always ask me if I'm going to vote. I tell them yes, I'm
going to vote for Jesus. The people here are also preparing for their
own election which is supposed to take place on the 17th. Pretty
excited for that.
So yesterday we were supposed to receive transfer news but since
President Roggia had to go to Ghana on the same day it hasn't been
released to us yet and so we're hoping that tonight we'll get it. The
big news for this week was that last Sunday we watched General
Conference! Yeah! Haha. This time was nice because here in Bo they
have a nice District Center that was built by the church so we went to
a nice big building that looks somewhat similar to the buildings in
America and watched it on a nice big screen. We watched the Saturday
Afternoon and the Sunday morning session. I keep hearing rumors that
at some point they're supposed to show the other sessions, but I'm not
really banking on it. Anyway, those two sessions were great and I took
lots of notes. I decided that when I get home I'm going to get a
notebook and just fill it with notes from General Conferences. Elder
Hollands talk was pretty much the sweetest thing ever and always makes
us laugh. One talk that I really loved though was the talk that Elder
Oaks gave about children. I felt like he was talking directly to this
country. I just wish that more people would realize that raising
children with love is so much more effective that raising them to fear
you. That one seventy, Elder Gay, used to be the mission president
over this mission when Sierra Leone, Ghana and Liberia (and maybe
another country...), were all put under one mission. The story he
shared about a kid crying on the street because he lost the money he
earned for selling for the day was sooooo familiar. Man! Children
really need good direction and it was so obvious that everything they
were all talking about was so true. I'm definitely happy that we have
apostles and prophets today to help us. It's funny because I remember
General Conference always seeming like it was the longest thing ever
but now it goes by so crazy fast. Anyway, the work here is still going
well and I'll let all of you know what happens with transfer news next
Elder Stewart

Monday, October 29, 2012

Junk Food Makes Me Happy & I Know the Book is True


Well, I do have to agree, the weeks are going by like crazy! I can’t
believe it’s already November (almost)! And this last Saturday we, you
guessed it, had a baptism! It was a nice service and the girl was
really excited because her best friend was a member and now they’re
both members! I know in the pictures everyone looks angry all the time
but I promise you, they’re happy. They just don’t like to smile here.
Haha. As far as the package goes.. uhhh all I could think of
specifically was cetaphil and some old spice body wash. Other than
that I guess just like Oreos and junk food. That pretty much makes me
the happiest. Haha. And yeah, I meant that I don’t need money or
clothes, I’m all good on that. I’m glad to hear everything is
continuing to go well at home though! Don’t cry for me too much! Haha.

Quick story for the week- remember that man that we randomly
contacted? No, he didn’t get baptized yet but we had a sweet lesson
with him. He’s really smart and has researched lots of religions and
asks really good questions. As we sat down to talk with him he was
having some concerns about The Plan of Salvation. As he asked
questions and raised concerns, we helped him by reading places in the
Book of Mormon. I feel like so much always comes back to that book.
Like, I think about it, and really the whole reason of coming all the
way out here is because I know the book is true and from God. I mean,
it is the keystone of our religion after all. Anyway, as we were
finishing the lesson we were coming to give him an assignment in the
Book of Mormon. He sat there and looked at it for a second and
suddenly started bearing his testimony on how he knew the book was
true. He said that he was really skeptical about it and didn’t really
believe the story behind it. But as we read, he said that he came to
know “more and more that this book could not have been written by a
man, but could have only been written by those who were inspired of
God. It’s easy to tell when things are written by man but this book
was not coming from the minds of men.” It was so sweet! The Book of
Mormon really can help us today. I’m glad he was able to see that and
I hope everyone can! Anyway, it was a great experience and hopefully
we’ll continue to see conversion take place in this guys life! I love
all of you and will talk to you next week!
Elder Stewart

P.S. Lexi Hayob- Happy Birthday!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Baptizing like CRAZY

Hellooooo people,

So, once again, I am insanely short on time. But to answer your
questions, you can paint my room if you want.... but I do kind of like
the way it is. I've been able to see the wedding pictures. The files
are huge but the little preview it gives of the pictures is big enough
so I can see what they are. I got the letter from Carson and already
wrote him one back. I'll start making a list of things for Christmas,
money is good, clothes are good, and yes, I love food! Haha. Anyway,
the week has been great and we had a Zone Meeting this last Tuesday
and I instructed about having spiritual baptismal services. We
actually have a lot of crazy ones, believe it  or not. Haha. We also
had a baptism two weeks ago and last week and we have ANOTHER one next
week. We're baptizing like CRAZY here. We'll have one every single
Saturday in the month of October. I would send a picture but the
internet is slow today so it won't work. Maybe next week. Anyway, I'm
doing great and I'm trying to work hard and do what's right! I miss
all of you and will talk again next week!

Elder Stewart

P.S. The package came! THANK YOU. I'm almost finished with the Oreos
already. Haha. Oh, and I want Cody Guilbeau's address. THANKS!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Answers to Random Questions

Hello family!

Well, I'm super behind on time today because I was typing up some
stuff for a training meeting we have tomorrow and an hour of internet
here costs EIGHT THOUSAND Leones. Which is like 2 dollars so it's not
that crazy. But in proportion to how much money I have it's
significant. Anyway, I'll answer your questions. But very brief story-
remember how we would complain about an hour drive down the highway to
go to the temple? Some people left in a bus for a 6 day journey on bad
roads to go and stay for three days. We're blessed!

1. They (children) go to school! And wear uniforms! I'll try and get a picture of
a uniform. Savannah you'll like the ones you have now much more. Their
school day is about 6 hours or so. Some people go "morning shift" some
go "afternoon shift." Afternoon shift sucks because it's from 12-6. We
proselyte from 10-7.

2. They have some organized sports teams.. they aren't very popular
though. I've never seen an organized game going on other than some
people running track for their school in the spring time. They have
some sort of professional premier league for soccer though. But no
matter what you will ALWAYS run into a pick up game of soccer. Always.

3. In my area- no restaurants. In the town center of Bo there's a
place that serves goat meat hamburgers which are pretty much amazing.
It's super expensive though. Here and there you can find a "cookery"
where you can buy a cheap plate of rice with that green stuff I showed
you on it.

4. The grossest thing I've eaten? I don't even know. If I had to pick
one thing maybe snail? Or cow skin? I've eaten some weird stuff. Haha.

5. Weird holidays? Not that I can think of. It's weird that they
pretty much have zero holidays. They have their independence day,
Christmas, and Valentine's day... that's all I can think of right now.

6. Does my companion think I'm weird? Probably, I'm a pretty weird guy.

Okay, well, I'm all out, I love all of you and will talk to you next week!

Elder Stewart

P.S. Kelly Landry- Happy (late) Birthday!

Some pictures I (Jill) stole from the Mission Presidents Blog!! (You should check it out- there are pics from the temple trip Elder Stewart is talking about)

Monday, October 8, 2012

16 Investigators and One Sweet Experience

Hellooooo again,

So everything is going pretty great! As always. I'm sure it gets pretty boring hearing me say that all the time. Haha. I think the change in age for missionaries could be a good thing. It's all left to the maturity of the person. And also this mission isn't exactly a walk in the park when it comes to living conditions. Haha. Anyway, thanks for sending that package, I'm going to enjoy it VERY much. That's for sure. I also liked that little comment about Thanksgiving. Hopefully my thanksgiving feast this year will be better than my one last year. (Spam, beans, and rice).

So the new area has been going really really great. For example, last Sunday we had 16 investigators in church! Whaaaaaat. We were both blown away. We're working with lots of sweet people right now though. One sweet experience from the last week definitely happened with contacting, Here we don't do a lot of street contacting. Most people are referrals or just come and sit down and listen while we're teaching someone else. But one day this last week we found ourselves having all of our appointments fall through and didn't have anyone to go see, so we decided to just go talk to random people. We were walking down this one street and saw this man sitting on his porch reading a book. We walked up to him and said, "Hi, we're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." And he said, "I'll go get some chairs and let you guys come on in." It was strange, like the feeling was as if he was an old friend and that he had been waiting for us. We sat down and gave him something to read about the Restoration and explanied small about our purpose and left. We set an appointment the next day and he had read the whole pamphlet and asked a whole bunch of questions. We talked to him and taught him and by the end he understood everything and said he felt like what we were telling him was true. The lesson was just really powerful and everything just fell into place. He also has a nice family and we're planning on teaching his wife and him the next time. Everything went great and he committed to come to church. And that Sunday... he came to church! So good. I was pretty amazed and it was just another testimony to me on how the Lord can guide you to people who are ready. We would have never met him if the appointments would never have fallen through. Anyway, it was great and I really hope he continues to progress (this is usually where lots of temptations and distractions start to come in). But okay, I'm out of time. I'll talk to you next week!

Elder Stewart
First two are in Kenema and the rest are in Lewabu.

Sunset picture is our chapel here.
 We had a baptism last Saturday!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Lewabu, New Companion & No African Halloween

Hello family,

Well it was a pretty good week this last week. Since last Monday I
spent Tuesday going around my area and trying to get it prepared for
the two Elders coming in and saying bye to some of my investigators,
and then Wednesday they brought a van full of six missionaries to
replace all the people leaving. I saw one of my old companions, Elder
Asiedu, and then I hopped in the van and got dropped off here in Bo
town. I threw my stuff down in the apartment and we were right out to
go see the people. And that's pretty much how it's been since then.
The area I'm in now is called Lewabu and my companion's name is Elder
Dyngee. He's from Liberia and is actually from the same branch as
Elder (Brother) Pabie. He's pretty sweet and knows how to work like
crazy. The area always gets older missionaries because Zone Leaders
are always in this area so everything is in good shape. The branch is
pretty much set up, the investigators are sweet, the members give
referrals. It's pretty nice. But it also puts a lot of responsibility
on us to make sure we don't mess it up. Being a Zone Leader is cool I
guess, mostly we've just done a lot of paper work and thought of a
goal for the Zone this month. More stuff will happen as time goes on
but so far it hasn't been too much different. Tomorrow will be
exciting though because we'll be going back to Kenema to do trainings
with the district and I'll go proselyting in Simbeck again! SO I'm
pretty excited about that. Kenema was definitely my favorite place
I've served even though I was only there for 3 months.  This place is
cool too though. We have good investigators and have a lot of people
planned for baptism this month. Now we just have to make sure they're
converted first! Living here has been a bit different though because
our apartment is a two man apartment. I know most missionaries back
home all live in them but most of them here are 6 man apartments, so
it's weird. It's alright, it's just soooo quiet all the time. The good
thing is that the apartment is always clean though. It's not bad, it's
just different. I'll get a lot of reading and journal writing done
though. In case you're wondering I've been doing a really good job of
keeping my journal. So I'll have lots of stuff written there. I've
only missed maybe 10 days in the whole time I've been here. Woo. Be
impressed. Anyway, I'm doing good and we've been really working hard.
I'm excited to learn my area so that I can be of more help! I'm glad
everything is going well back home too! And "How you be" just sounds
Louisianian, sorry Louisiana! Haha. The word be doesn't really exist
in Krio.. too much. Weird right? Haha. Anyway, I'll talk to you all
next week!

Elder Stewart

PS: Dad mentioned something about wanting to send a package last week
so I thought of some things you could put in: Easy to make stove top
things, Pop Tarts, SOCKS, Oreos (If those orange Halloween ones have
come out, I want those! Not orange flavor, just orange color... don't
ask why but I like them. Also, no, they don't celebrate anything like
Halloween here), shampoo (something that will make my head nice and
moisturized, it's got some... problems right now), a pack of Bic pens
(like those plastic packs with 15 pens in them that people buy for
school, either black or blue), peanut butter (crunchy!), and
toothpaste. I always feel so needy sending these lists of things but
those things would make my day! And if it's not too much already I
just want to add this Reese's dessert no bake cake thing. I dunno what
it's called exactly. Clayton sent it in a package for my birthday and
it was stinking amazing and super easy to make. And (so needy) if it's
possible to send a flash drive or SD card with music on it that would
be sweet. If you look on that external hard drive with all my music on
it and pulled all the Explosions In The Sky, any piano or instrumental
songs, Disney music, EFY/churchy music, orchestral movie soundtracks
(uplifting ones!), some Christmas music (exciting yet not crazy
intense) and anything else you can find that falls under those kind of
categories would be sahweet! If you're not sure about something just
put it on and I'll delete it later if it's not good. But if that's too
much don't worry about it. I can still survive without those little
comfort treats. Haha. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Baptism, Zone Leader & Transfers

Hello people!

Well, it's been a pretty crazy week this past week. I liked that email you just sent though. There's always a work to do! Like setting up a lot of fans to blow out the linger longers... man I was pretty much about to crack up really loud around all these people. Then I would be a crazy white man with a devil inside him. That would be weird.

Anyway, this last week saw some pretty crazy stuff. We'll start with last Saturday. Saturday Elder Richards and I woke up feeling good and starting the day off with a nice baptism. The guy was really excited and he'll be a great member of the church. He even did everything in the face of opposition. Pretty sweet. Saturday afternoon we swung by some investigators houses and invited and reminded them about the Book of Mormon class we were starting up that evening. Five o'clock came and we weren't met by people but instead by a torrential rainstorm. Well it started up around 3 and was still going on. Around 5:30 it had died down small enough and about 4 people showed up- 2 investigators, a recent convert and a member. about 20 minutes later we got a phone call from the assistants and, since I was the one teaching the class, Elder Richards grabbed the phone and went outside. Suddenly I heard him from outside going "WHAT???? NO WAY!!!" I tried to keep my cool and finished the class around 6. Turns out we had gotten small of transfer news early and it was just to tell us that he and 2 other people in our district were all getting transferred to Freetown. He packed all his stuff up that night and we celebrated his last night in Kenema. Sunday the guy showed up on time and was confirmed no problem. At the end of church Elder Richards bore his testimony and the couples came and picked him and the other 3 people up. So it was left with me and two other guys, Elder Mills and Elder Weller. We were now all waiting for the evening time to come so that we could hear who our new companions would be. The phone call came and I was told that I too was going to be transferred to Bo and would be the Zone Leader for the Zone. What?? I was pretty surprised and actually kind of sad about it. Haha. I've only been in this area for two transfers and so I was still looking forward to a lot of good work and experiences here. The district is also receiving SIX people to the apartment so they'll be eight. They'll enjoy doing lots of dishes. Haha. Today the three of us went crazy and completely cleaned the heck out of the place though. Like Mom, you would be so impressed. Like I know how my cleanliness standard and yours are very different but I promise it would have passed yours. We all just kept sitting there saying "holy cow this place is so clean..." Anyway, so I'll now be living in Bo and my new companion's name is Elder Dyngee. He's Liberian and I've gone with him on boku exchanges because he was the zone leader and I was the district leader so it happened a lot. I'm looking forward to working with him though. I'll be coming back to Kenema every two weeks to do interviews and trainings and stuff so I don't have to completely kiss this place good bye (I'm so relieved). I think I'll be leaving here on Wednesday or Thursday so we'll see how it goes by next week. I feel better about it all now and I'm looking forward to all the new learning experiences (I'm so cliche)! Oh, and Elder Richards got transferred to Hill Station! So he'll enjoy that place. And Elder Symons got transferred to my zone so i'll see him around now. Also Elder Asiedu (my third companion) is coming to Kenema. So I'm getting to see lots of old faces. Anyway, I love all of you and am happy to know you are all safe and well! We'll talk again next week!

Elder Stewart
 This random huge empty place in the middle of our area. So much grass!
  If you look off in the background you can see a mosque with blue tops. I always see this place and imagine it being like the sickest paintball course ever. That's about it.
 Dae sabi pak pak motocar dem

Monday, September 17, 2012

Zone Conference, Highest Baptisms & If you lack wisdom, ask of God

Hey Family!

The week has been pretty great as always. No take the chicken episodes this week, we've been trying to avoid that place as much as possible. Haha. Don't worry, I know these people so well now it's kind of ridiculous. So I wasn't nervous or scared or anything. But like really. I know these people so well now it's crazy. But what's even more crazy is that story! So nuts that those 10 minutes on the street led to so many things and how many more it could lead to. It kind of makes me want to make a movie about it. Haha. Keep me updated on that one for sure. Who knows, it could be a sweet opportunity some day! That would be pretty cool. I never imagined myself going to Denmark one day but hey, I never saw myself coming to Sierra Leone either. Well that's mainly because I had never even heard of this country, but still.

Anyway, this week was pretty normal. We traveled to Bo for a Zone Conference where one of the Seventy, Elder Sitati, came to instruct us. The instruction was pretty good and he talked a lot about our purpose here on this earth. I talked about it a little bit more in the email to Dad but we also found out that we're the highest baptizing mission in the world! But I won't let that get to my head because there are SO MANY people here that are ready so we can't slack off. This upcoming week is the last week of the transfer so next monday I'll be telling you what happened. I'm thinking Elder Richards will be going so there's a good chance I'll be getting a new companion. We'll see though. Something sweet this week was with this one kid we've been teaching seemed to be really struggling with the decision to be baptized. The reason he was struggling with it is because he is scared what his dad would think if he was baptized. His father is Muslim and he's not sure if his dad would approve. It was something he was bringing up when we first started teaching him but we continued to tell him to pray and to read the Book of Mormon and the pamphlets we gave him. The thing that made him different is that he read EVERYTHING we gave him. Like that never ever happens. This last time we saw him he told us that whether or not his dad agrees he knows it's the right thing and is going to do it. I mean obviously it's preferred for the dad to be happy for him, but it's cool to see the change that happened within him. I know it's because he was reading and studying and searching for himself. He's a great guy and is supposed to be baptized next Saturday. Should be a great day! So the moral of the story is if you lack wisdom, ask of God. Seek and ye shall find. Pretty simple! Anyway, I'll talk to you all later! Have a good week!

Elder Stewart
  Playing around with the focus. My tag has gotten kind of dirty
  Do these guys look familiar? When we took this picture it was EXACTLY one year later. I haven't seen them since I left the MTC! (Elder Liufau- the one i met through that guy who's hair Breeann cut in the MTC who is his best friend- and Elder Nickle. They've been in Liberia this whole time, just came to Bo)
 Our latest friend.
  The front of the Simbeck chapel
  The back of the chapel
 We looked sweet for Zone Conference
 At the back of the IDA chapel. (I'm in Simbeck)
 One to make your hearts melt
 Jersey fever caught on in this apartment too...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Take the Chicken!

Hey family!

Everything is going pretty sweet, as always. It's got to be getting pretty boring to hear me say that every week but it's true! The good news of the week is that I got the tie and wedding announcement! I wore the tie to church last Sunday. I stuck out quite a bit wearing such a nice flashy tie, but it's all good. When you dress up really nice people here call it "bluffing." So a lot of people at church were like "Ayyy elda stewat! Yu de bluffo!" Yeah. Anyway, I dig the tie and will be wearing it to the Zone Conference we have this Thursday. Elder Richards will wear the pink one. We'll look pretty sweet. Gotta say I loved the pickle story. Man that kid is funny.

Anyway, you were asking for a cool Africa story so here's something pretty exciting that happened. It's not very spiritual but it's pretty funny. Just try and picture it in your head. So a few days ago my companion and I decided we wanted to go and buy some chicken to fry at the market. Now, you need to be reminded that going to the market and buying chicken is very different from driving to wal mart and going to the frozen food section. Basically the place that we buy chicken.. it's like a really big warehouse filled with a HUGE amount of people with lots of tables with fish and chicken on top of them. It stinks like fish and there's flies and dirt and all that nice stuff everywhere. People are shouting and the area to walk is so skinny you're just brushing against people trying to get to the place you want to go. There's little kids weaving between you trying to sell plastic bags and other random objects on their head. Anyway, we made our way to a lady selling chicken and told her we wanted 4 legs. Four legs costs 10000 leones and we said that before she began to cut them. There's no like official prices of anything so you kind of have to talk all of it and negotiate a price to get it. People always try to charge us missionaries ridiculous amounts for things because they think we have lots of money. We usually have to always talk plenty to be able to get it down to the right price. Anyway, we had already settled on the price with this lady and she started putting everything into a bag. When we went to pay she saw we were only giving her 10000 and said that we were supposed to pay 14000 for everything. We told her that wasn't right and said we knew the price and wouldn't take it if she wouldn't give it to us for that price (this happens like every day) she refused to bring it down so we just told her we wouldn't take it. I guess she really didn't like that so she started yelling at us and saying we had to pay for it because she had already put it in the bag or something. A lot of people started staring and it was making a big commotion so we started to just walk away and leave it. About 10 seconds after walking away we heard a scream and turned and saw the lady SCREAMING and running after us shouting "TAKE THE CHICKEN, TAKE THE CHICKEN" (this part doesn't happen every day) We walked out of the place and the lady kept yelling and was trying to grab us and force us to pay for them. By now we had gotten onto the main street and the lady was standing in front of us yelling and shouting and refusing to let us pass. Being a white guy in Africa makes me stick out a little bit so when everyone saw something going on literally 50 people came out of nowhere and surrounded us. The lady was going CRAZY and shouting and saying we're terrible people and everyone around was saying they wanted to settle the dispute. Some guy told us we were rich so we should just pay the lady the amount. We said no (if we took it then everyone would rip us off and we'd have no money... they all think we get paid to do missionary work.). People flipped out. We finally managed to push our way out of the crowd and just walked away. I don't know what the big ordeal was about but it was kind of exciting. But we had no chicken. So the next day we sent some other missionaries and they got it no problem. Anyway, I guess you kind of had to be there but it was pretty crazy. Anyway, I'm out of time. Love you all!

Elder Stewart

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pink Tie, Obnoxious Music & Eternal Marriage

Hello family! And newly extended family!

Glad to hear that the wedding went so well! I enjoyed that quick recap very much. Haha. Definitely was a miraculous week for sure. I'm very happy for the both of them and can't wait to meet everyone and see ALL the pictures from the day. I wore my pink tie because I know Breeann likes pink and that tie I actually only wear it for special occasions. So this totally counted! Anyway, there's this super obnoxious music playing in this internet cafe, pretty much just imagine the same song being played over and over again for an hour. That pretty much sums it up. I don't have a lot of time though because their computers had some major problems and now we don't have time to go do a lot of stuff. So here are some pictures. Also, on September first we taught someone about eternal marriage and how families could be together forever! In honor of the special day. Everything is going good though!

 We somehow found ourselves walking up this dense forest trail and found a waterfall hidden up in the mountains! We took some sweet pictures. That place was so cool!

 Super dorky picture but CONGRATULATIONS to the Allen family! Still sounds weird. Sorry
More sweet pictures. Africa is sweet!

I love all of you and can't wait to see more pictures from the wedding!

Elder Stewart