So this week was the first full week with my new companion Elder Haslam! He just finished training and so that makes me his ‘mission mom’ (2nd Companion). He’s from Bountiful, Utah, loves rockclimbing, hiking, playing the piano (he’s really good), and making music. He’s 18 years old, he’s the oldest in his family of 7 (2 brothers and 2 sister), and he went to the Ghana MTC before he came to the mission field. He has the best ties in the mission, is super positive, and a happy guy that is ready to do some missionary work. He got what he’s wanted because we’ve worked super hard in St. Pierre for the past week. I seriously don’t think I’ve been more tired on my mission than I have this past week. We’ve had some cool experiences these past few days.
Our progressing investigator Itema is such a stud. He’s 24 years old, lives alone and has had a pretty rough life. About a year ago he drove his motorcycle off the road because he was smoking and drinking alcohol that night. Both of his legs were pretty damaged and he can’t really play any sports until another six months have passed. However, if you were to look at him, you would never tell that he had an accident. As a result of this, he’s been looking for some friends and the members have really been accepting him into the branch. On our lesson on Saturday, we taught him about the Book of Mormon and more about the restoration of the gospel and what our purpose is in life. We read 3 Nephi 27:19-21 and we asked him what he thought his purpose was. He responded that he needed to repent and be baptized. As the spirit directed, we invited him to prepare to get baptized. He committed and we set a date for December 30th. I think he could make this date and if he is determined he will be able to. We gave him as homework to read 1 Nephi 8 – Lehi’s vision of the tree of life, and when he came to church on Sunday he had already read it and loved it! He’s one of our best investigators.
Just yesterday night, we had a lesson set up with this guy that Elder Alvarez and Elder Juchau tracted into last Wednesday and neither Elder Haslam nor I knew him. Upon arrival at his house, we were guided by a kind neighbor through his gate on to a backdoor into the house. There were a bunch of chairs set up and we took a seat. We thought we were just going to teach Fabrice, but we didn’t meet him until some eleven other people came. Before it began we were talking to this one couple who seemed to be around 40 years and they seemed like the head honcho’s of the group. We got to explain a little bit about our church and what we believed in, but then it seemed like the head honcho wasn’t too interested because they believe that they, themselves are the church. They said that they don’t need a church to save them, but just their own conversion and the Holy Spirit. I wanted to ask them, out of curiosity, if they do baptism, but we had already begun the what I would call “multi-family home evening”.
We sang some Christian rock songs and some of the people just started slowly dancing with their eyes closed and mixing in a few ‘amens, thank you lord, and hallelujahs.’ I think this is how they thought the spirit was felt, but in my experiences I’ve never felt the spirit that way. After the song, some of the people in the group were going to Métropole (Paris, France) so a few prayers were said on behalf of them. When they pray, some people keep their eyes open and look around, so you really have to pay attention to what they are saying and take some hints from the people around you to see if they close their eyes and bow their heads. It’s also not really clear when they begin praying so it was like they would be talking and then you would notice some phrases that are directed to God and then realize that they are praying. They also mumble a lot of stuff when they aren’t the person praying. I couldn’t tell if they were repeating the words of the person saying the prayer, or they were just whispering their own prayer, but when someone said something they liked, they would say a medium-voiced ‘amen’ in agreeance. They shared a bunch of scriptures which they knew off the top of their heads which was quite impressive and most of the scriptures focused on the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and personal conversion. Their mindset was this: They had seen that many churches had become corrupted as a result of the great apostasy and had just given up on going to church, so they kinda just formed their own little group. They call themselves Christians with no specific denomination, they read the bible together, pray, and sing together.
They took turns sharing their conversion stories and the guy who was sitting across from us shared a really great change in his life. When he was twelve years old he began smoking cigarettes, and at about thirteen he moved over to marijuana, and by sixteen he was hooked on cocaine. He said that until he really prayed to God when he was about twenty, he didn’t know God existed . When he prayed, he felt the power of the Holy Ghost which changed his life. He’s around 27 years old, has a wife and kids, a good career, looks really clean and just a great guy. We sang some more Christian rock and ended with a prayer. They invited us back next Monday and said that we could bring friends, so we might bring some members, but we gotta find some that are really strong and willing to come to something like this. This was an excerpt from my journal. The young couple that I mentioned earlier are really cool. We are going to talk to them more next week and hopefully go and visit with them and start teaching them. We are kinda using this as a finding activity and a lot of the people were interested in us. We’ll talk to them more next week and see how it all works out. But, it was kind of a weird experience.
Personal Letter Excerpt: So for Mauritius, if we go there, we will stay there because Reunion has a policy that you can stay for 3 months in every six months without a visa. January 19th is our 3 month date and we have to be out of the country by that time and we can’t go back to Reunion until six months from October is up. So we will probably be in Mauritius until we get back to Madagascar. Hopefully it is just 3 months in Reunion, 3 months in Mauritius, and 18 months in Madagascar. That would be a pretty good mission for me.