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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Elder Allen and Elder Crandall with Mohamed Barry :)

Yo Bobo De! (Your Boy is Here)

Wow so there is a lot that I happened this week but I hate how little of time I get to tell you about it.  Our P-Day was switched to tuesday just for this week because of a zone meeting.  So I'm sorry I didn't get to make all of your guy'ses monday's like I usually do... jk jk... I am still working on my humility haha!

So we had a baptism this week for a 19 year old guy named Mohamed Barry.  I met him the first day I got out here and realized very quick that he was ready for baptism.  Man... He is so sweet.  He told me about how he knew that everything the missionaries had told him was true.  He explained the feelings he gets every time he prays and reads his scriptures.  I love it when investigators share their experiences because it totally boosts the spirit and gives me so much joy that what we missionaries are doing is truly making them happier. 

In salone... and Im sure in other places as well, the people are people pleasers.  They will keep commitments or come to church for us the missionaries rather than to please god or themselves.  When old missionaries leave the area their recent converts testimonies can waver.  They love the excuse of... well my missionaries left me and I had no one to come teach me anymore so I just stopped going.  I think this is why I was so impressed with mohamed is because... His testimony is his own.  He has felt the spirit and he follows the commandments and comes to church because He loves it, not because He likes his missionaries.  However... he does like us quite a bit haha!

Classic salone though.  There was no water in the baptismal font.  Apparently you need water to do a baptism... who knew...? haha so we pushed it back to sunday after church.  Baptisms are so cool.  I love the clean fresh vibe you can feel from someone who has just covenanted with God.  So sweet.  We can have that same feeling every week when we partake of the sacrament.  I use to be very jealous of a newly baptized people because they are as clean from sin as a newborn.  Well... duhhhh Cody.... or Elder Crandall... Every single week God promises us that we can be 100% clean from sin when we take the sacrament.  Sometimes we forget this, but when we remind ourselves of the importance of the sacrament we can feel that same joy.

So... one of the things I pray for almost daily is to have a spiritual experience.  There is nothing betta than the burning feelings of the spirit or knowing that your testimony is being strengthened.  Well, God answers your prayers much different than you would think sometimes.  So we got bounced and were looking for someone to teach when this guy with a very weird accent yelled to us.  He had a bug muslim beard but sounded very different from the people we usually talk with.  He is apparently from Rhode Island and he talks like it too! haha!  We asked if we could sit down with him and talk for a little bit.  He was all for it.  He kept asking us if we knew that Islam is number 1... haha kinda weird but I would just laugh to myself and think. "no" haha!  We asked him some of his beliefs and he would have kept going until the sun when down if we didn't interject a couple of times.  It was so interesting though.  While he talked... He spoke soooooo much truth!!  He talked about Agency, premortal life, this earth life, life after death and so much more that I was just like.. Ya we believe this stuff too!  However... the one thing that he didn't understand... which kinda ruins his beliefs are the Characteristics of God.  He would say God is 100% love... he is perfect... he can do anything... he is limitless never ending.  Amen brotha!! God is that!! but then he COULD NOT believe anything that had to do with christ.  He would then say God can't have a son... God can't do this... or God wouldn't do that... So he thought he understood the idea of a limitless god... but then again... he would restrict what God apparantely can do.  Very very intersting to listen to.  I wanted to just play back what he had told me and see if he realized that what he was saying contradicted himself.  He also didn't understand Justice and Mercy of God.  God has such an amazing plan for we but it is all made possible because of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ pays for the demands of Justice.  We tried explaining the atonement in a very calm and spiritual manner.  He just sat and shook his head.  Well, good missionaries don't leave without helping someone to grow.  So I asked him if He would pray and ask God if what we had shared is true... Well apparanetly he didn't like that too much.  He Said, I know you are wrong and I wont pray about it because I know Jesus Christ is not the son of God.  He then verbally attacked me... not me and my companion... but just me... about not loving God.  He told me for about 5 minutes of how I do not love god and I am distracted by jesus Christ.  Well, Missionaries don't like contention... But I also don't sit and let someone try and destroy my spirit and beliefs.  I let him finish and then I bore One of the strongest testimonies I have given about how much I love God.  How much I love Jesus Christ. and how I will do anything for God. I told him that I know God loves him.  We left and I felt the spirit for like 25 minutes after.  My heart wouldn't stop pounding.  Not for a tinge of a second did I doubt my testimony or my love for Heavenly Father.  I love experiences like this because my testimony was tested.  It is not often in salone that someone will go after your testimony or beliefs so when they do.. you have to stand tall and never waver... only let it build you up from the inside. 

So many other sweet experiences but so little time.  I love you all and I hope you know you are in my prayers.  Be thankful for your trials... we go through every trial in life for a reason.  Heavenly Father knows what is best for you!  

I want you all to know that I love my Father in Heaven more than anything.  I cannot wait for the day I kneel before him with Jesus Christ by my side.  I love the plan of Salvation and I love this Gospel.

Shout out to all my missionary buds and friends at home.  I miss you guys like crazy.  Thank you all for helping me to become who I am.  My friends are the ones who truly helped shape me.

Love Elder Crandall the Vandal

Monday, April 21, 2014

Cody Sweating in Bo!!! Easter with his Companion and Roommates. Adorable little U of U Cheerleader!

Una Duo?!?! (How's it going)

Pretty great week.

My new companion and I are getting along great! It is really nice having an American Companion. He has been out 8 months and he has spent the entire time in Bo. Our area is called New Barracks. He has spent quite a bit of time here so it is looking like He will leave and then I will be leading an area that I will have only spent 4 short weeks in. I still don't even know how to find the apartment haha!

The main way of transportation in Bo is by Okata... or a Motorcycle. I wish the missionaries had their own motorcycle because I can just picture two white missionaries flying around the streets of africa with their ties flying behind them! haha It is pretty intense ride every time we go into town cause it can get pretty busy.. but I love flying in and out of cars and passing people... The only real physical thrill I get to enjoy as a missionary! haha Mom... I know you did everything possible to not let me get a motorcycle before I left on mission so I wouldn't die... but who knows.. maybe the experience would have helped!;) All the missionaries say, "Ahhhhh, I hate riding those things!!! I am never riding a motorcycle when I go home!" but I just love it!! And now I definitely want to get one when I get home! haha! I am never worried because I know we are in the Lord's hands as missionaries. Stuff can still happen to us.... but we do have a weird protective shield that is hard to explain... it is just something you can feel around you that gives you comfort. (Holy ghost)

So I got a text from my last companion this saturday saying that Amara Kamara was baptized. He was a super smart and spiritual kid that I had been teaching the Entire time I was in Kissy. I was so happy to hear that everything turned out great. funny story.. the day before I left to bo he was suppose to be interviewed but He left church early without letting us know.. So we ended up taking the Zone leaders ALL the way up our mountain to his house! They were dying and sweating boku boku! He ended up being at his house so I was there to see him pass his interview. Such a sweet guy! Not gonna lie though... the zone leaders weren't as happy because we wiped them out on the hill... shows how exhausting my last area really was!

Everything in Bo is a bit slower. I got here and everything was basically cut in half. there is a much smaller teaching pool... half the amount of people progressing... half the amount of baptisms... but the people I have taught seem to be a little bit smarter! Kinda surprised me! So there is definitely work that needs to be done here.

For some weird reason I get a weird Fearful feeling whenever we plan on contacting people. I learned something cool about fear in my district meeting this week that has been helping. As soon as you do or try to do whatever is scaring you the fear can completely vanish if you are listening to the spirit. I think the reason I am getting the fear is I think to myself... "what if the spirit leaves me hanging and isn't there for me" well, he hasn't done it to me yet! Ya i've had some pretty awkward and dry conversations... but they are necessary so that I can learn from my mistakes! We definitely get rejected wayyyy less than all the other missions. So when it does happen it is a little surprising and a little hard. But I am learning small small. Usually when something scares you it is the thing you need to work on. Just like with working out.. Whenever I had an excercise that I hated doing... I would try my best and work so hard on that exercise so that it would become one of my favorites because I would become better at it! My contacting needs a bit of toning haha!

Easter was sweet, Elder Allen got a package from his aunt that had a bunch of easter Eggs in it so we had a easter egg hunt in the dark with our flash lights while we waited for the time when we are allowed to turn on the generator. it was a blast and I kept having a weird urge to tackle one of the other elders every time they would find and egg. I think every single easter egg hunt I have had with jen and tanner turned into a wrestling match and the easter eggs would just be flying everywhere as we tried to steal each others. Thankfully I holstered the natural man and didn't take any of them out haha!

Since it was my first week in this branch I was able to bear my testimony. I am way less scared to do things in front of people now. I don't know if it because I know that they don't completely understand me so I could just say anything or because I am overcoming that fear... but I hope its the later! haha I also sung in the choir. Elder Allen is very musically talented to he is in charge of the branch choir. Which means I get to help too. I am singing my white little heart out let me tell ya. we sang He is risen... something that kinda made me laugh... with their accents it sounds like he is Raisen... I would do my best to keep my laughter to myself haha! but I would just picture the raisen box with Jesus Christ on it instead of the girl with the red hood haha!

I am so grateful for my savior. Without him we wouldn't have any hope. I can't wait to finally meet him and give him the biggest hug. "we can never do more for the Lord than he can do for us." -Elder Ballard.... this quote is pretty deep if you think about it. Give God your everything and you wont be able to capture all the blessing he will send your way.

Shout out to Tanner Rach and Milo for graduating College this Week!!! Your family is such a good example to me and I pray that my future family will be a replica of yours! I know that public health is definitely needed in Africa and I know that you can be the ones to make the difference!

Shout out to Wampa bear!! Good luck with the surgery!! I bet you will be running around the tennis court in no time!! Sit back and enjoy the Diet coke until then!!

Love you all Boku Boku!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Upside Down

Soooo this past week has been crazy. transfers came and is was just lots of missionaries everywhere. Some didn't have an apartment yet so they were staying with us. Then, when they finally got moved out. One of the Elders in my apartment, Elder Koopmans was given a new missionary to train. The new missionary is from England and apparently has some health issues that he didn't put on his papers that he realized is going to effect him way more than he thought. He has this condition that makes his eyes and mouth dry out crazy fast and he gets really light headed and dehydrated. Not to mention that Elder Koopmans Area... Looking Town... is the 2nd most physically taxing area in the mission. (The 1st most taxing area would be mine in Kissy 2). So That elder talked with the mission president... and well, he left after 4 days in salone. Soooooo Elder Koopmas... who is also my favorite elder I have met so far joined my companion and me and we formed a trio.

Kinda funny how this worked out... at transfers... I honestly said a couple prayers asking for a companion like Elder Koopmans... turns out my prayer was answered haha! So for about a week and a half we managed the 2 most steep/tiring/exhausting areas in the mission. At first it was a little weird teaching with 3 in a companionship but we figured it out and ended up having some super sweet lessons. My other companion.. the one I was first assigned to.. Elder Muthoni... was kinda bugging me at the beginning of the week but I prayed hard to see the good in him.. and one day... I just realized the things that were bothering were my own problem and it was nothing he could change its just the way his culture is. Once I figured out to just love him.. we all go along so great and had a stellar week.

I can't even explain how tiring missionary work is and how much more tiring it is when you have to cover 2 areas that are just straight up mountains. However... I was loving it at the same time.

Well... Sunday morning I got a text from the Zone leaders. Emergency transfer to Bo. So, I am officially in Bo as of noon today. Another Elder out in Bo had some health problems and is going home. He is from uganda and was in Kissy 2 right before I was there. He has had health problems ever since he came and the Kissy 2 area apparently destroyed him. So now Elder Koopmans and Elder Muthoni are companions covering the 2 hard areas without me.

This was the first time I think I realized I am really starting to love the people. I went to church yesterday for my last time in that branch. I was soo sad when I had to say goodbye to my recent converts... especially Andrew and Amadu. I didn't realize how happy they made me whenever I would talk to them and then to have to tell them I probably wont ever see them again was heart breaking. During Sacrament I was praying so hard that the people I have taught will endure to the end so that I will be able to see them in heaven. I hate saying goodbye but I have learned that it is going to be a big part of missionary work. BUUUUUMMMMEEERR.
So they picked me up this morning and I drove 4 hours to Bo. My new companion is Elder Allen. He is from Oregon. He is pretty sweet. He is super into music. He went to BYU for a year before his mission and did lots of musical things there. He said he knows all the people who do the accapella thing. He said when he gets back from mission he will probably join that group. I thought tanner and Rach might think that is pretty cool since I remember they took you and dad to a concert recently.

But it is safe to say that my world has been turned upside down. I will be pretty lost and confused for the first week I'm sure. Apparently Bo and Kissy are completely different missions so I'll have a lot of learning to do. I just hope the Krio I have picked up on the first transfer will help me. The people speak with much thicker accents here in bo and less of them can speak english. Even worse... the literacy rate is even worse here and I thought it was really bad in kissy. So, teaching people to learn about God on their own is going to be a little bit different. Good thing you don't have to read to be able to pray! haha God loves everyone regardless of how smart, how successful, or how well known you are. God loves you! That is a message I share very often and I love it when I can see in their eyes that God loves them just as much as he loves anyone else.

I hope you all know that I have lost at least 2 liters of sweat while typing at this computer. Bo is significantly hotter without the breeze from the Ocean. It is going to be readjusting all over again. Plus... I stress myself when ever I come to the computer cafe because I want to write stuff to everyone but there is never enough time! :/

Shout out to my young hip mother!!! Happy Birthday yesterday!!!! I'm gonna take a guess cause i'm not sure... but I think you just turned 40 right??? Love ya mom! I sent you a letter yesterday so let me know when you get it!!

I would send pictures but I don't know how safe these computers are yet. Hope you all have a great week! Remember... God Loves you!! Keep your head up and look for the best in people!

Also... I was just thinking about it. this mission has had so many people go home. There have been at least 6 plus while I have been here. It is so sad to see. nothing scares me more than having to leave earlier than my 2 years. It is a challenge out here... but every minute is worth it if you make it count. I pray everyday for the health of all the missionaries in this mission. I hope that no more will need to go home for health issues... it also effects soooo much all the other missionaries. not just because they get transferred.. but it puts a damper on the mood of the mission. So I will stay up beat and happy no matter what this emergency transfer brings! Love you all!

Love, Elder Crandall the Vandal

Monday, April 7, 2014

They use cash for everything. No such thing as credit.

I have yet to say a kneeling prayer without being crawled upon.

So this last week has been pretty hectic in the apartment. We had transfers and they opened up a bunch of new areas near our apartment. However, they didn't have an apartment for the missionaries in the new areas... soooo.. we had 10 elders in an apartment with 1 bathroom that doesn't flush unless you have "wata" in a bucket that you can use to flush. Yikes!! haha! there were some funk bunk smells in the apartment this week I'm sure you can imagine.

Also, since it was transfers... I decided to clean out my suit case of all the cock roaches that have made a cute little home in all my "tings" (they don't pronounce there TH sound so I figured I'm gonna start writing that way haha) and wowsers. I took it outside and started taking my clothes out 1 by one... there were Boku Boku (a lot) roaches scattering everywhere!!! It was like playing dance dance revolution... I was stomping on as many as I could before they escaped! haha! It was pretty wild and funny! I decided it might be a good idea to keep my suitcase zipped up from now on! haha! even after 1 week though, I found some inside.. they probably layed eggs or someting... :( Even last night... I took a shirt out of my closet tingy.. that yes mom... had been hung up perfectly so it wouldn't get wringled (I have been outstanding wit that while on mission... love ya mommy) I found over 40 roaches inside the shirt. good ting I didn't put it on right?!?! they would have probably dug inside my skin and made me look like the guys from the "Mummy". I had a fun time stomping those guys to death too... who knew I would be so destructive to Heavenly Fathers creatures... while on a mission too! haha!
Enough about the living conditions though. I could go on forever about weird nasty things that would have used to weird me out but now it is just a part of everyday life.

So I had another baptism this week. Brother Ibrahim Kargbo. He is such a stud. I have loved teaching him, he asks good questions and has so much faith in papa god. He is 17 years old and learned about the church from one of Elder Chemhuru's recent converts named Bokari. Bokari is such a great member. He was able to baptize Ibrahim and it was sooo sweet to be a part of it. The joy that a newly baptized person has is different from any other happiness I have ever seen. They can't stop smiling and they honestly glow! (the only time they don't smile is in pictures hahaha! We tell them we are gonna take a snap.. and they instantly get their mean mug face on... must be an African ting haha) I will try and send a picture of Ibrahim and Bokari together.

So since Elder Chemhuru left me... I have been the one leading the area! This past week has definitely been a challenge. I still hadn't even visited more than half of my area so i was a little nervous. BUT.. I put my faith in Heavenly Father and leaned on his help. We ended up having a pretty great week and I don't think I got us lost for too long haha! We weren't able to teach as many lessons as usual because of all the craziness with transfers but I know that this next week will only get better.

My New companion Elder Muthoni is pretty sweet. I know the Lord sends missionaries to new areas exactly when the area needs them. Our first day of teaching together was... out of this world spiritual haha! We had some investigators that just haven't been progressing and they needed something but Elder Chemhuru and I just couldn't seem to figure out what exactly they needed to build their faith. Elder Muthoni is very confident and rely's so much on the spirit when he teaches. I had it in my head that a newly transfered missionary is like a brand-new missionary for the first week... but boy was I wrong. He connected sooo well with the people and was able to show them in just 1 day how much he cared about them... I can definitely learn to love and connect with the people in salone much better. The people are so sweet here but they can definitely put up a guard if they don't trust you. I am getting much better at breaking down their guard so they feel comfortable sharing their true feelings but it is taking a lot of effort on my part. One of the lessons in particular.. we taught a lady named **** ****. Her husband is cheating on her... a lot... and the owner of her house is the pastor who's church she attended. So she has a lot of outside pressures that are turning her into an object rather than an agent. We have been teaching her the importance of prayer and how it only works according to our faith. Elder Muthoni and I taught her about alma 34 and how are faith is like a seed. I know she was feeling the spirit so strongly. there is nothing I love more than to be able to see someone feel God's love. So sweet. Anyway, we were able to explain to her that Papa God will provide a way for her problems to be solved.. but it is up to her faith and whether or not she is acting on that faith. I said a closing prayer and I couldn't help but tear up as I said it because I could almost feel the suffering she was going through. I have felt pain in my life and when you have that pain... there is nothing you want more than to get rid of it.. it is hard to tell someone that they need to suffer longer before things will get better. Patience is so important and it is something that Hawa is definitely learning. I read D&C 58:4 "For after much tribulation come the blessings" God gives us trials. If we didn't have trials, then we would never grow and become better. I thank my Father in Heaven EVERYDAY for what I have been through because it has shaped me into who I am now. I know that I will face many more long and hard trials because... I am not perfect... BUT through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.. I will be. Moroni 10:32-33. God wants us to be like him.. that is the point of this life.. to change.

Another sweet experience...( if you can't tell, sweet is my new favorite word haha) so church here is usually not exceptionally spiritual.. the power goes on and off so sometimes the microphone works... sometimes it doesn't.. sometimes the fans are on... sometimes I sit in a soup of my own sweat! we never know haha! But this fast and testimony meeting was different than weeks in the past. Suba, one of my investigators, got up and bore a deep testimony about how she is coming to know the truth of the church and the book of Mormon.. She gave me a very sweet shout out and said that if it wasn't for the missionaries she wouldn't be as happy as she has been the past month she has been taught. It made me realize... my efforts really are helping. Some days I feel like I just wander around the mountain and teach lessons that aren't really effecting anyone. So it was really nice to see the impact missionary work has even when you don't see immediate affects.

I am loving the scriptures more and more everyday I read. I remember my main man Tan (Tanner bear Crandall) told me once that if he were to be stranded on an island all he would want is his Book of Mormon. I kinda laughed in my head when he told me... I would've wanted like a sword or something survival like... but now... Hands down... I would take my book of mormon. It is the one book that tells us exactly what we need to do in this life and how we can do it. Read your scriptures!!! if you ever need strength... Read your scriptures!!! if you ever feel sad... Read your scriptures!!! if you ever need an answer... Read your scriptures!!! if you ever need anything... Read your Stinkin Scriptures!!! I hope you caught hold of my point haha!

Shout out to all the bugs in my apartment.. I have yet to say a kneeling prayer without being crawled upon. LOVE IT!!

I hope you all have a great week!! Read your Scriptures!!