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Monday, March 31, 2014

Views of Kissy and a local Muslim guy.

Cody with his lovely delicious hot dog that took 30 minutes to make. Sooo Good!!

Rice and Crab. For those of you who know Cody, I'm sure it doesn't surprise you that he sends pictures of food home. ;)

"This life is a short test. With Jesus whispering the answers to us... we can ace it every time" - Elder Crandall

Man... that transfer went faster than I can explain. It feels like yesterday that I met Elder Chemhuru and now he is off to be a big bad Zone Leader. He was our district leader and he always talked about how he doesn't like being a leader because He hates when people look to his example... well, He has the best example of any missionary I have met while I have been out so I know exactly why they trust him to be a zone leader. He has taught me so much, I will miss him a lot but I am sure I will see him in the future!
I am staying in the same area and I am receiving Elder Mthony.. a Kenyan who is apparently pretty sick! I will meet him tomorrow! I am a little nervous though because I will be leading the Area and we have had so many people to teach that Elder Chemhuru and I haven't even visited half of our area! So I have no clue where the boundaries are but I guess I'll just be winging it and let the Spirit lead the Way!

Half of the guys from our apartment are leaving so it will be Elder Lehr, Koopmans and myself staying. Elder Koopmans is my favorite. He reminds me of some of my buds back home! We sit and crack jokes in our weird voices all night so I am really glad he is staying. Also, He has been helping me with Krio. I am doing better at understanding but man, sometimes I have no clue what they are saying! There are weird things that they say that mess me up like "What Ting u For Get" which means, what thing do you need to do.. but to me it sounds like what should you forget about! haha! Or when they understand they say " I done understand" but to me that sounds Like I don't understand.. hahaha! so sometimes i'll keep explaining and my companion has to give me a nudge haha! But I'm getting better. I found the best way is to talk to the kids, because they don't care how bad your Krio grammar is... which in reality.. Krio is just bad English grammar... so who knows? haha I wish I could have a tally of how many times they've called me white man... it would be over 10,000 by now haha!

So we aren't suppose to freak you out, but Ebola has broken out in Guinea and has killed quite a few people over there. Mom... its fine... don't worry. We are taking precautions in case it is spreads to salone. I think we'll be fine but we aren't allowed to eat anything that we don't cook ourselves.. so bye bye to FM's (free meals) I am starting to love the food and just in time for them to tell us we can't eat it haha! All i eat now is corn flakes.. and a load of sugar... I WILL get fat... so much for all that time I spent working out haha! but like I said.. don't freak out.. yes ebola is a crazy freaky disease... but we are safe. We are in the Lord's hands.

Ok so now time for the good stuff. President Ostler gave me permission to read "Believing Christ" it is the sweetest book I have ever read. It helps you learn how what and how to use the Atonement. It talks about how we Belive in Christ.... but we Don't BELIEVE CHRIST. what this means is that sometime we don't have real faith in christ. The promises that Christ gives us are real. If we follow his gospel and endure to the end We WILL go to the Celestial Kingdom. For some reason, in the past I have wanted to compare the good things I have done in my life to the Bad things I have done in my life. In my mind I thought that if I have done more bad than good then I won't be able to go to the Celestial Kingdom. Well, I was completely off. Our past doesn't matter. If we put our faith in christ then He will make up the difference we need to reach Heaven. I wanted to save myself.. but it is impossible. That is why our relationship with Jesus christ is soooo crucial... without him we are nothing... with him we are EVERYTHING!!! "If we don't follow Christ by choice then we follow Satan by default" quote from the book. This means that even though we might not be bad people... if we aren't following christ... then we are following the world.. and Satan is in control of worldly things. We ALL need Christ to become perfected... we won't become perfect in this life and even if did become perfect on our own we still have sins from our past and someone must pay the penalty for each individual sin. Christ has offered and already payed the price for us... so why would we not seek his help. I am not very good at explaining what I learned... but let me tell ya... it was soooo clear in my mind when I finally understood what Believing Christ means. I want to invite anyone and everyone to read this book. We can all benefit from it. For me.... it changed my whole perspective and gave me hope. I can promise you that if you read it, you will have a spiritual experience if you are willing to act on your impressions! Jen... This book is seriously perfect for you. The whole time I read it I was just thinking about you. Please give it a shot. I love you sooo much and I know your relationship with God and Jesus Christ will grow if you read it. I have been soooo happy this past week and I know it is because I have found/understood the Grace of God. I love my Savior Jesus Christ and I will never be able to thank him enough for his guidance and suffering he has done for me. All he asks is that we try our best. So, that is what I have been doing... trying my best.

I have a baptism this Saturday with one of my sweetest investigators. His name is Ibrahim! he is 17 and He is such a stud. He is one of the happiest people I have met. I just realized.... the people who are really happy here are the people who are ready to be baptized and have repented of their sins... coincidence? I think not! haha! The Atonement is real and it Will make you happy if your USE it!
"This life is a short test. With Jesus whispering the answers to us... we can Ace it every time."
-Elder Crandall

Wowsers.. that was a money quote and It just popped into my head.. haha!

I love you all so much! thank you for all the prayers!

Shout out to my main man Milo!! I miss you like crazy! The babies here are cute but not even close to as cute as you! I wish I could hold ya and give you a big hug bud. Keep given your mom and dad a wild time.

Elder Crandall the Vandal

Monday, March 24, 2014

Elder Crandall, Anadu, Alisha, Andrew and Elder Chemhuru

Beautiful View of Freetown, Sierra Leone

Pretty Sweet Week - and - Thanks to all my leaders.

So I've had some pretty great experiences.

I realized that missions are hard. Everything so far had gone pretty easily and I didn't feel like I had faced any serious hardships. Well, The Lord will test us and Satan will continue to Tempt us. I faced some pretty hard things last week but through the help of incouraging words from my dad in heaven and my dad on earth I was able to refocus. Satan will use our weakness's against us no matter what they be. With the help of the atonement... those weakness's can end up being our greatest strengths. I truly believe this. It takes hard work, but any challenge we face can be overcome. Within just one week, I feel like my weaknesses have are improving tremendously. God will never get sick of us praying for the same thing... but it is up to us to listen to his answer so that we don't NEED to pray for the same thing repeatedly. God hears our prayers and he will answer them NO MATTER WHAT! we just have to be patient sometimes.

Zone Conferences were this last tuesday. To be honest I was bummed that we wouldn't be able to go out and teach and we would just be sitting listening to instruction. It was 6 HOURS long!!! The even crazier part... I never fell asleep and I LOVED the entire thing! I can truly say that I felt the spirit so powerfully whenever my mission president talked. He is amazing! I know that I was called not only to serve in Salone, but to Serve under President Ostler! I love the happiness the spirit brings to your soul. When he talks I feel soooo happy! The best part of the entire conference however, was when Elder Despain bore his last testimony on mission. He leaves home this next week. I can tell that this Elder has changed so much, and that he gained his testimony from the scriptures. He bore the most powerful testimony on the Atonement at the exact moment that I needed to hear it! I pretty much cried... I was trying to hide it cause there were tons of missionaries there.. I cried more than Elder Despain did haha! He is my zone leader and I will miss his example very much! He has helped me so much and I have spent very little time with him.
I had some really slow days.. I think I taught lessons on thursday! It was the slowest longest day ever. Everyone we planned to teach bounced us so we found and contacted 2 people... not a very common day in salone. but the week got much better after that.

So the best day was this Saturday! We had a baptism and thankfully all 3 of our canidates showed up!! Andrew, Aisha, And Amadu. I hate to pick favorites... but Andrew (23) is the coolest guy I've met here. He lived such a crappy and hard life and he is the perfect example of someone who's life changed 100% and so did his happiness! He is the Happiest person ever!! it was his birthday sunday too so can you imagine a 5 foor 5 tall Salonian on his birthday getting confirmed and cleansed from all the sadness in his life! I have never seen someone so Jubulant (I wanted to use a big word but I realized I can't spell anymore) haha! Amadu is a 17 years old and was contacted by the missionaries 5 months ago!! Elder Chemhuru has taught this Kid from the beginning... so to see him finally realize that this is what he wants in his life was incredible to see! He took some of our pamphlets and is giving them out to his girlfriend so that she will join as well hahaha! we taught him about celestial marriage so He was pretty concerned about his girlfriend.. but now he is starting to do his own missionary work! (also he talks like such a boss, I wish you could hear the way he words things in english... it kills me) Aisha is great, she is the first person I ever taught so it was cool to baptize her. I did the baptizing for all three! There were 15 people baptized saturday.. it was mayhem. I never thought running out of baptismal clothes would be a problem... but it was!!! they were having to put on soaking wet baptismal clothes to be baptized! I even had to let one of the elders borrow my pants cause he gave his away to someone to use!

Sooo Weird stuff this week...I saw a dog fight... it was insane... I tried to capture it on my camera but I missed it... it was honestly 40 dogs going at it!! It was like every dog for themselves. They helped me understand the meaning of DOG PILE! hahaha I met the black pope, he is a boss... he lives in my area, but he is really just a drunk "pastor" he makes me laugh everytime we see him! Everyone who knows him calls him "double Punch Pope" because double punch is like the cheapest liquor you can buy here.

ALso I saw a biker gang haha! they were all peeling out doing wheely's down the road by our apartment... I have seen so many fail blog videos that I was just waiting for one of them to go down and it just turn into crazieness but it turned out ok haha! whew!

Shout out to Gary Fuller and all of my other leaders I have had! I have thought a lot about you guys this past week. It is because of leaders like you that this church works. You helped my testimony so much and you always made me feel loved! I would kill for a taco right about now haha!

Shout out to Boin Peterson... Congrats on your talk! I wish I could have seen it! You should send it to me through the pouch mail! Good luck in Russia.. you are seriously gonna need it hahaha!
Love you all
Elder Crandall the Vandal

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sounds like a familiar quote.

Sierra Leone is a Crazy Place.

Sierra Leone is a crazy place. Every time I hike in the mountains it reminds me of playing with my best bud Davis Busteed. There are so many funny and random objects that I know we would pic up and make a huge collection of random objects. Anywhere from Animal bones.... because that is what you use to collect to random doll arms. haha!
I went on exchanges with Elder Despain this week. He is such an awesome example. I hope that I can be as good a teacher by the time I come home. He has only 2 weeks before he comes home. He lives in heber valley I think. He went to Utah State before he left so we had a lot to talk about! I have been struggling with asking inspired questions so we did something to work on that. For the first 10 minutes of every lesson we taught, we were only able to ask a question. if you say something that isnt a question then you lose... I don't know what you lose but it made it really really fun. He made me laugh sooooo much. He would say a comment and then quickly realize it wasn't a question so he would add ya? ya? ya? to the end and just look at me and laugh. I have 3 baptisms this saturday. One for Aisha, Andrew and Amadu. They are just a sweet bunch of batteries... triple A... really cheesey but I just thought of that as I was typing their names.
Sorry this is so short and not very spiritual. I had a tough week but I have a feeling this next week is going to be great! I am always praying for you all!

Shout out to The Curtis Family! Thank you so much for everything you do for the Church. You are an awesome example to me and my family. Also thank you so much for bringing the package! I got it and I can barely lift the dang thing! must be because I don't work out anymore!

Monday, March 10, 2014

A View over Kissy near Freetown, Sierra Leone

The missionaries in Cody's aparatment with their MANgoes (huge mangos)!!

Spiritual Experience

Where to begin... Every time I sit down to write at this computer it amazes me that it has already been a week since I was writing my last email!! time is flying by... but at the same time, I have a long way to go, but I am glad I have a lot of time left.
So first of all, I am afraid to get fat... hahaha! I eat so much rice that I am almost destined to get a rice belly and that legit scares me! They love their rice sooo much... and their favorite topping is fire grass... thats what I call it at least.. it is actually casava leaf. They pack sooo much pepe in it that if I don't have a full bottle of water when I start to eat then I practically breathe fire for the rest of the day! Papa bear, you would love the food.. because there is no flavor except HOT! maybe you and Cleo will Serve here!!! We eat rice at investigators house usually once a day. then we come home and every night we make rice with a some kind of tomato paste that is getting old... but we do cut up hotdogs and put them inside... It reminds me of lucky charms because I just fish through the rice looking for the hot dogs! hahaha!
My Companion and I are really starting to click! He is such a stud. Every morning in companionship study he teaches me something new that is sooo interesting and very important for our investigators to understand. We have talked a lot about the Atonement with each other and even though we study it basically everyday... We haven't even skimmed the surface. The Atonement goes so much deeper than we can even comprehend. I love Jesus Christ and I will never stop thanking him for what he has done for me and everyone on this earth!
So this week I have been praying so hard that I might have a spiritual experience that builds my testimony as strong as the time I prayed with tanner. Well, there is this cool thing about God. He answers prayers!!! What?!?! crazy I know right... but it is true and I have the proof. So last tuesday, we had 4 or 5 lessons, and I couldn't focus at all. When I would teach I fumbled over my words and it was just bad. I knew why this was however... I wasnt teaching by the spirit but I was trying to teach lessons the exact same way I had taught them in the past. Everyone needs to be taught in a way that they understand so If I teach the lessons the same everytime, then maybe 10% of the people I teach will truly understand and really feel the spirit. Teaching with the spirit is soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo important. It doesn't matter the way I say something but what matter is that they understand so that the spirit can tesitfy the truthfullness of the message. Its a deep concept and I am kinda bad at explaining it, but it became so clear this week so I hope I continue to teach by the spirit. (if the last paragraph doesnt make sense... then say a prayer and have the spirit explain it to you! hahaha)
Anyways I didn't get to my spiritual experiences yet. So I went on exchanges with Elder Allen on Wednesday. He has been out 6 months. My goal was to teach with the spirit and to say whatever came to my heart. Well, we taught a family that has repeatedly rejected the missionaries message because they don't believe there should be another bible. We got there and they started asking what proof there is that the Book of Mormon is ture. Elder Allen is one of those kids that loves to be right so he started reading off scriptures in the bible that talk about the BOM but the people weren't buying it. They continued to argue and I realized our lesson wasn't going to go anywhere so I kinda but in on the contention and bore my testimony about they only way they will find out is by learning for themselves and reading the BOM, I told them that I had wondered the same thing but until I read it and prayed to know if it was true I didn't know either. The lady seemed kind of at a loss of words... after about a minute she accepted to read the BOM even though 10 minutes earlier she said ahhhhh no, I have no time, so just go on your way. People want proof of these things... and the lord gives it if they sincerely look. This made me feel so happy inside because all I did was speak by the spirit and bear my testimony. Thats all the lady needed. Investigators are never taught by the missionaries but they are taught by the spirit. My testimony grew and this was a small spiritual experience that I needed to have because it prepared me for the big spiritual experience that was to come.
I went on exchanges again on Friday with Elder Simmons. He is a great guy who has been out the same amount of time as Elder Allen. We taught a few lessons and the day was going great. We headed over to a lady's house who was baptized just the week before. She wasn't there but we saw 2 guys playing Draft (type of sierra leone checkers) on the porch right next to us. We went over and started talking to them. They said they went to church the last week and had only been taught 1 time by Elder Simmons and his comp. We sat down and started chatting. Immediately, one of the guys, his name is Peter, started asking sooo many questions about the BOM. He wanted to know why we needed another bible if in the introduction to the BOM it says that the bible contains the fullness of the everlasting gospel. Elder Simmons and I showed him some scriptures in the bible that talk about the BOM similar to the ones that Elder Allen had used with the other lady and her family. They 2 guys in return replied with other scriptures that were trying to disprove our point. like I've said, you can never convince anyone of anything. The spirit has to. These guys seemed like all they wanted to do was to prove me and the church wrong. I tried explaining to them a bit more about the BOM and how it makes things more clear when we use the bible and the BOM together. They were very rude and cut me off in the middle of my sentence and continued to bash the Church and BOM. They just kept condemning everything I was saying and everything they have heard about the church. I was starting to get a little angry and It seemed like elder Simmons was too. Elder simmons accidentally said something he shouldn't have that practically condemned their church. They lost it and starting questioning me hard about how missionaries are "suppose to be good, nice people" but now we were saying bad things about their church. The whole time they were saying this they were directing everthing at me! I cut them off and said with a raised stern voice "Look, we are 19 years old... we are not perfect... but God is and if you don't want to listen to us then that is fine, but our message is God's message." I then bore my testimony about everything I know to be true and I bore it more powerfully then ever in my life. I put my entire heart and soul into everything I said. I know this Gospel is true and it is only because I took the time to learn for myself. I seriously was overfilled with the spirit. I have never felt the spirit as strongly as I did when I bore my testimony to these 21 year old guys. Elder Simmons then asked one of them what was on his key chain... it was a concecrated oil container. Elder Simmons then said " Elder Crandall, meet Peter and Samuel, they are both returned missionaries" I cannot even begin to explain the emotion I felt. They had planned to do this the day before. Elder simmons said he was planning on it being a 3 minute thing but peter just kept it going. He said he felt bad because he could feel how powerfully I bore my testimony and how from what I said he Knew I was speaking straight from my heart. Even though this was a prank.... I am sooooooooooo much grateful for what they did.. they challenged my testimony and I stood up for what I believe... Not once did I doubt my own beliefs. Our testimony's grow when they are put to the test. Man, my testimony grew 10 fold. Tears were about to come out of my eyes when I was bearing my testimony. This experience is so hard to explain... but it what I am most grateful for this week. I might not have converted an investigator to the gospel.... but I converted myself to the gospel when I bore that testimony. I wish you were all there to witness how real this experience was. This is a weird way to have a prayer answered. None the less.... my prayer was answered way better than I had even hoped.
I wanted to share one more experience but I don't have tons of time. One of my other investigators named Andrew... He prayed this week and he said the feelings that overcame him were undescribable. He couldn't help but cry when he was praying for forgiveness of his sins. I know that God answered Andrews prayer. Andrews baptismal date is the 29 and he is the first investigator that I have witnessed to have their own spiritual experience. He is awesome.
Shout out to my Father in Heaven this week... Thank you For answering prayers.

I love you all so much!
love, Elder Crandall the Vandal

Monday, March 3, 2014

They want the Apoto (white man) to do the baptism!

So I'm not gonna lie, it felt like yesterday that I wrote you so I don't know if I'll be able to think of all the details and great stories this week but I will sure try!!

So We have done a ton of teaching this week!! our goal was to maybe get 10 lessons because we were busy most days going to the bank or doing other weird missionary things that I am not use to yet! We taught like 24 lessons!!! What?! yes 24 lessons.. that seemed like a lot for me because throughout my entire life I have maybe taught 10 to friends... which im not very proud of haha!

Also the other big news about this last week. I had my first 2 baptisms, and I was the lucky one who got to do the baptisms! I really only taught the 2 girls like 4 times so it didn't really seem like I did much.. and I think i only did the baptizing because they probably wanted to say they were baptized by a white man or and Apoto. Another word for a white white clueless man... safe to say I get called that everyday of my life haha! But it was super awesome to see people coming to christ. There were 8 people baptized on the same day by other missionaries. I will try and send the pictures but I'm scared to plug my camera into the computers because these things are probably loaded with viruses and some missionaries pictures have gotten completely erased. So if you ever get pictures it means I have been praying really really hard and my courage is up at the moment because I'm risking losing all my pictures! Anyways, I probably repeated the baptismal prayer like 50 times in my head before because I did NOT want to mess up my first time! Well, my prayers were answered and I did it perfect for both of the girls. oh another funny thing, as a part of the baptismal program I was suppose to introduce the Girls. They are named Adiatu and Sita Conteh... they are sisters. So like I said, I was suppose to talk about their progression and some other good things about them... well they are out of this world shy so they have maybe said 10 words to me... So I basically just said they were very nice and sweet while all the other missionaries went on for like 5 minutes about their investigator.. but whateves... everyone knows the girls were great and to be honest everyone there knew more about them than I did haha!

So my favorite spiritual moments of the week have been while teaching the Restoration. For the past month I have been praying to have a stronger testimony of the Restoration and in Joseph Smith because if he isn't a real prophet then everything we believe falls apart. Well, my testimony has definitely grown in this area. I KNOW that joseph Smith was a prophet of god and I KNOW that the Book of Mormon is the 1 true book on this earth that tells us EXACTLY what we need to be doing while on this earth!! So the first time I taught the restoration I taught it to a recent convert... In my mind I was like, well... He has already heard it so I guess I don't really need to go into much detail. Well I kinda went through the lesson as if the restoration was a cool story. I didn't teach with the spirit and I could tell. MY companion pointed out how important it is to teach with the spirit and to not go through the motions just because it is a member and they know the lesson already. So my goal this week was to teach the restoration with the spirit and to really express my testimony and feelings of its truthfulness. BOOM<--- I did it!!! I taught a lesson to a 19 year old named Ibraham who lives at the tippidy tip top of the mountain.. I really connect with him, he is soooo nice and just wants to follow Jesus Christ. He goes to another church but was willing to listen to our message. Well, I took the lead and everything was going great. It came to the part in the lesson about Joseph Smith and the first vision. I'm not perfect yet so I don't have it memorized... which is my goal by next week, but I read from the pamphlet. I could feel my spine tingle and a warm feeling in my heart as I talked about it. Man, I looked up into his eyes and I know that he was feeling the spirit and I know that he knew what I was testifying of was true. That is exactly when my testimony of Joseph smith grew 3 sizes. (just like the grinches heart! haha) Well he came to church this week along with 7 of our other investigators that I would love to tell you about but I don't have tons of time to tell you about everyone! One other person I want to talk about, Brother Abdu... He is such a stud. He can't read and he isn't very smart... but every lesson we have taught him the spirit is so powerful. Just writing this email and looking back, I can feel the spirit from the lesson we taught him! We have taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ 2 times, so that we know he has it down since he can't go back and read for himself. Even on the second repeated lesson, the spirit was strong. Such a great guy... he just needs to remember what time church is so that he can make it this next week!! We have 12 investigators with a baptismal date... their only problem is remembering to come to church... ahhhh!! Church is a riot here... I wish I could explain elders quorum. Half the time I don't know what anyone is saying but I just sit and laugh because of the elders quorum president. He reminds me of someone but I can't put a finger on it... maybe ed wycoff. because he has his plan, and he doesn't care what peoples questions are, he is going to get his point across!!! He was asking an elder if he did his home teaching and the elder started to respond in a humble manner that he had a lot of problems the past week and so he couldn't find the time. The Elders quorum president responded "Do you have faith in God?" the elder, "yes.".... "well then forget about your own dang problems and go solve the problems of the family you are suppose to hometeach!!" hahaha everyone was dying!! haha! Another funny thing.... There is an elementary school across from our apartment and they had some kind of party... well, in Salone they don't have children's music... they were just blasting loud hip hop and the kids were just going crazy!! Everyone in Salone can Dance!! there were like 5 year olds who were like 10x better at dancing than me! hahaha! the best part however, this guy with completely shattered and messed up broken arms was outside the school in the middle of the street dancing his head off!!! he was dodging cars while doing the whackiest dance moves I have ever seen! I can't explain how hard I was laughing because his twisted arms would just fly around in the most unnatural manner ever!!! ahhhh so great!! Sorry to leave with a weird image in your head but, that's all ive been able to think about since I saw it so I thought I'd let the weird traffic dancing man be on your mind for awhile too! If you have ever seen Rush Hour.... Picture that!!!! but in a very very dirty city were if the guy was hit by a car.... they wouldn't stop, they would just keep driving!! Funny funny stuff happens everyday... oh man hahaha! Shout out to President Crandall (Daddio), I loved your talk for ward conferences! I have prayed every day that I will picture "if the savior stood beside me" I have been much happier whenever I picture christ next to me leading me where I should go! Love you all!! Kushe for the Work!!! (Thanks for the work) don't know why they say it but they do!! haha! Love, Elder Cran Man! (Cody sent pictures, but they didn't work. Not sure how many pictures we are going to see while he is gone)