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