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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cody has many unusual experiences in Sierra Leone. He is a very happy missionary.

The Roasted Pigs!

Very happy missionaries!!   

Traditional Africana Clothing.

Elder Mukwira and Elder Crandall.  Great Friends.

This isn't the kind of bike most missionaries ride.  

Cody made Salsa from the spices Papa sent him.  Happiness.

Psych out.... I still de de!

We had a sweet week... I am also pretty sure I have written that same phrase in the first line of every email I have sent for the past month haha!

The place we were emailing at yesterday was pretty sketch and the power is so inconsistent in Sierra Leone that we weren't able to finish emailing.  So I'm sorry I had to make you wait a whole day mom;)  haha!

My companion and I have really been working hard and doing our best to sift out the wheat and the tares.  There are sooooo many people that will sit down and listen to you just because they like to hear the word of God... I don't think I have met a single person who doesn't believe in God while I've been here..but Sadly, once they hear it.. they have no intent on following it. We have found some of the sweetest investigators lately and they have a real desire to follow Christ.  My Transfer news comes this Friday and I am really praying that I will stay so that I can finish teaching these people and witness their baptism.

Two of these investigators are named S**** and I****.  They live at the same house and are both married.  They are both around 26yrs and have 2 kids each.  S****'s husband has been in the U.S. for the past 5 years and she is only in contact with him every so often.  He is studying.. but it sounds more like he is "staying" to me.  I don't know if I could leave my family for 5 years... 2 years is Long enough haha!  I**** is married to a Muslim who doesn't treat her the way a man should treat his wife.  He disappears for months at a time but when he is actually at the house they never talk.  Both I**** and S**** are the smartest women I have met while serving.  I wish you could feel the spirit that was there when we taught them about Jesus Christ easing our burdens.  I wanted to cry for them and all I could think about was how I wish I could lift some of their weight... However, I realized that teaching them the Gospel is the only way I can help them in their lives.  Giving them anything else would be a temporary fix.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ Literally Heals deep wounds and scars that could be filled no other way!  It is the Eternal fix.

My favorite Law of Chastity lesson was with I**** and S****.  We gave them the pamphlet and asked them to read it before we came to teach them about it.  They read through the whole thing and even wrote questions they had.  This is rare for my mission.  Normally when we teach the Law of Chastity it feels as though we are just giving them a list of things they shouldn't do... but with I**** and S**** they really understood the principle behind the commandment.  The first thing S**** said was "I wish I was able to learn about this earlier in my life...  all the problems that I have are because I didn't obey this commandment when I was younger."  They were able to see the truth behind the blessings that come from living a clean and pure life.  We then tied it into temples and explained the eternal blessings that come from being worthy to go to the temple.  I felt the spirit so strong.  I can not explain how grateful I am to be sealed to my family.  It brings a sense of reassurance that can be given no other way.  Even though S**** and I**** have very difficult marriages... they are beginning to feel and know that the Savior can take away any pain. 

Prayer day was yesterday and it was very interesting.  It is the end of Ramadan so muslims all dress up nice and do a big prayer together.  The thing that I thought was interesting was how even though it is a muslim holiday... Everyone celebrates it.  I think all of our members did something to celebrate it.. haha.. I guess everyone wants to enjoy a good time when it comes around!   The Africana (clothes) that they wear is so dope!  When a person dresses nice here they call it Bluffing.. So Bo town Bluffed Big time yesterday!  I am gonna try and bring back as much africana as possible when I come home! I'll add a picture of Some Africana my companion bought!

Something that has been on my mind lately is how easy it is to be a hypocrite.  Missionaries teach all day everyday about how to become christlike... but the real test is applying it to yourself.  I want to be changed.  Whenever we ask someone to do something... we better be willing to do the same thing ourselves.  Whether it be praying to know if the Book of Mormon is the word of God... or cleaning the dishes you used for breakfast.  Do we talk the talk.. or do we wakka the wakka??  There is a quote in Preach my Gospel that says, "You can't convert someone beyond your own conversion"  So if missionaries stop progressing... then investigators stop progressing as well.  I challenge myself this week to see from other peoples points of view!

We received the Liahona's for May, June, and July this last week.  I LOVE modern scripture!  Every night this week I have been catching up on all the conference talks!  Listening to conference is great... but studying conference is better!  It is impossible to read a talk given by the prophet or one of the 12 apostles and not smile!  They have so much encouragement, love, and advice for us!  One way to keep your spiritual level high is by reading the Liahona every month!  I love the feelings of the spirit:)

By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.  I have never realized the impact of doing something before being asked until as of late.  If you want to put a smile on someones face... serve them before they ask for your help.  Also, give someone a compliment... and watch them smile!!  It is a very small thing... but it makes a very big difference.

Sorry for all the random thoughts!  but I wanted to share one last experience I had while in a tri-monthly interview with President Ostler.  The second we started talking the spirit was so strong!  I have been very interested in personal revelation lately so I asked him how I can better recognize my own revelations.  Heavenly Father speaks to us in the quiet times.  Sometimes we don't realize that the thoughts that are coming to us are not our thoughts.  The Holy Ghost puts thoughts in our minds that if we heed... we will experience miracles.  If our lives are in line with the Gospel, then our thoughts slowly become Heavenly Father's thoughts.  I said a couple of prayers this week that I asked a specific question.. when I finished... I just waited and listened to my thoughts.  I received many needed answers while doing this.

President Ostler reminds me so much of my dad.The spirit really can radiate off a person. It made me wonder if I give that same feeling to my investigators when I teach them.

I love you all!

Shout out to my favorite Nephew!!! Happy Late Birthday Bud!!  Keep on keeping your parents busy with all your energy!! You better be able to say my name by Christmas!! I love and miss you!!

Also, Shout out to Papa Bear and Cleo!  Congrats on your Talks in church.  Pops... I heard you were out of this world powerful.  I hope I grow up to be like you!  Thanks for all the love and support you give me.  Give 'em Heaven! (classic Steve Crandall Quote)

Elder Crandall the Vandal

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Baptism and Beautiful Pictures From a Very Rainy Country.

Beautiful Green Country

Very muddy field from all the rain.

Trying to stay dry.

Looks Like Mary Poppins. :)

Baptism of two Wonderful Brothers.

Anthony and Mohamed

Monday, July 21, 2014

Kushe Kushe - A greeting that means "Thank You"

I don't know where to start but I guess I'll start with the baptism we had this week!  I was able to baptize A**** F**** and M***** K*****.  Both of these guys are so awesome and have changed theirs lives so much.  I was looking at A*****'s teaching record and I have taught him over 20 times.  I have only taught M***** about 10 times.  It goes to show that we are all at a different place in life.  However, no matter where we are... we can change and become who God wants us to be.  I know that I have changed. If I am asking others to change things in their life then it wouldn't make sense for me to just sit back and stay the same.  I want to make Heavenly Father Happy more than anything.  One of the  best ways we show our love is through keeping the commandments.  Missionaries have their own commandments that are not easy to follow all the time... but when I follow them EXACTLY I can see the blessings that flood in.

A*** is crippled and is one of my favorite people I have met.  For some reason I really like teaching people who are physically handicapped.  In his testimony he bore after he was baptized he said that the turning point in his conversion was when Elder Allen and I visited him the day his brother died.  He said he was so sad and so confused... I remember that day and I remember feeling the spirit as we taught him about the plan of Salvation.  This gospel really answers the questions of the soul.  We don't need to worry and if we are ever lost or confused.. we know who we can turn to to find comfort.  He now is doing all he can to help the rest of his family join the church.  He said he can't wait to go to the temple and do his brothers baptism.  

We had Teefs (Robbers) come again this last monday.  Same kind of thing that happened last time happened this time.  They have completely bent our door so we had to get that all fixed up before they come again.  We bought some pad locks that have some sweet alarms on them.  Our old alarm was a glass fanta bottle that we would balance on our door handle.. hahaha! We figured they have been coming the night we go to town for P-Day... so who knows what is gonna happen tonight... but we'll be ready for em! haha  I really don't feel nervous about it at all.  The Lord is protecting us and will guide us in any time of need.  Plus we have some pretty sharp cutalaces;) haha

Today we turned a little polynesian.  We bought 2 live pigs and decided to roast them.  I missed the first pigs death but I definitely heard it!!  I took tons of pictures so I will try not to HOG them but I might have to send them next week.  We have a couple of Elders from the pacific who knew what to do.  I have never seen a pig being killed and then gutted like I did today... it was WILD! haha!  We are gonna go finish roasting them after I email and then ENJOY boku boku pork!  I've been BACON to do things that are out of the ordinary and we finally followed through!

I went on an exchange with Elder Mupando this week.  We had such a fun and spiritual day.  In EVERY single lesson the spirit was overwhelming.  We really helped people look past their own plan and realize God's plan.  Inspired questions are the bomb...  There is nothing cooler than asking a question that just sparks a feeling inside someone.  It is not an easy thing to do though.  Sometimes the weirdest idea comes into my mind... but when I let it out rather than hold it in... it is what the investigator needed to hear.  We should never quench the spirit... if a thought comes that is good... act on it!!!  Missionary work is so fun if you want it to be.  I have never felt more energized than while in a powerful lesson.  

The past 2 weeks in church people have come up to us and said.. I want missionaries to come teach me and then baptize me.... hmmmm sure I guess we'll pay you a visit!! haha The Lord really provides miracles when you work hard.  Sometimes I feel like I don't deserve all that the Lord gives me but I will do my best to please him!  

Sorry for all the random thoughts but lastly..... I have been reading Our Heritage and am amazed at the trials and persecution the saints went through.  Being a member of this church has never been easy... but when I look at how hard it was to stay firm in the faith back then it blows my mind. Our ancestors were able to endure trials that I don't know I could handle.  I feel GLADY TE when I think about the sacrifice they made for us and more importantly for Christ! (Never ending happiness) We have all been chosen to come into this earth at a specific time and into specific circumstances... Once we learn to accept who we are and where we come from... it is time to look at where we are going.  If for even a second you wish you had the life of someone else.. repent... realize that your trials make you become perfect and without them you wouldn't be able to reach your full potential.

Shout out to Shawn and Shelby Bowen!  Congrats on the wedding!  I love the Bowen family so much! I am so glad that I met you guys and I am grateful for all the memories I have been able to share with you guys in just these few short years!

badabbdabbdab That's all Folks!!

Love Elder Crandall

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ow di Bodioooo!

Things are great out here in Sierra Leone!  I had a great week and for the first time on mission I think I reached EVERY single weekly goal I set!  I tend to set my goals high so that I push myself and this week I finally achieved every single one!  Goals are suppose to be attainable but when I push myself and don't quite reach my goals I feel better than if I set something that is a walk in the park and complete it no problem.

My companion is pretty hilarious.  I have been laughing and joking probably the most this transfer... the only problem is sometimes it can chase away the spirit.  There is one quote in the "adjusting to missionary life" that I thought was funny.  it says to "rediscover your humor"  meaning that.. almost all missionaries lose their sense of humor for the first part of their mission.  I wouldn't say I lost my sense of humor but I have definitely been more serious these past 5 months than I ever was at home.  There is a certain reverence that needs to be learned... and I am not talking about the reverence that I thought was folding my arms in church when I left in the middle of sacrament to get a drink.  The Lord speaks to us in the quiet moments and if commotion is there... you will drown out promptings and feelings.

Even though we reached our goals... I still feel like I can improve in everything.  The numbers we send in to our mission president mean absolutely nothing if they are not backed with spiritual experiences.  Numbers are numbers.... but experiences are life changing.  I know that I can do better at helping my investigators to feel the spirit.  I want people to change for God not for the White man who comes to their house every other day to talk about God.  Unless someone feels promptings to change their life from God... the changes wont last.  We have sooo many investigators who are just struggling to keep commandments.  The problem. They don't feel like they need to change.  Once you realize what you can gain if you listen to the prophets and what you will lose if you don't you will make decisions and act on them!  

I have been reading the Book of Mormon whenever I get free time.  I finished it at the beginning of my mission and I am already more than halfway again!  I love how much inspiration comes from that heavenly sent book.  I swear every time I read.. I read the exact chapter that my soul is thirsting after.  I have my brothers testimony of the book of mormon sitting on my desk.  He gave it to me along with a book of mormon a couple of months before I left on my mission.  I read it about once a week and pray that I can gain as powerful of a testimony as him.  I see progress each week:)  The Book of Mormon is a very personal book even though it talks about people I have never met.. the reason why... The Lord can speak to you if you listen.  If you don't believe me... then try it for yourself!

We had a zone meeting this week that was awesome!  World wide they changed the requirements for what needs to be taught before a person is baptized.  We now have to teach lesson 5 which is laws and ordinances.  We also are asked to continue teaching recent converts at least once a week for 4 months after their baptism!  On top of that...President ostler is giving us an hour a week now to write letters to people we have baptized in our old areas to give them a spiritual boost.  Sierra leone struggles with enduring to the end.  I know that even though this change was for the whole world.... it is perfectly inspired for my mission.  My chest was on FIRE when they were talking about the new changes.  I don't feel the spirit often like that but it was such a "heart warming" experience;)  I really love missionary work.  It is so interesting to me that we spend All our time talking, thinking, and studying for these people and they have no clue.  

I went on 3 runs this past week.  I just want to be exactly like my old dad:)  The mornings when I get up and do something I end up having a awesome day!  As a missionary it is hard to find time for yourself to relieve stress... so thank goodness for going on runs where I don't wake up until about halfway through! haha  I really do love going to bed early and waking up early!  I hope it is one habit I keep after my mission!  I am personally much more able to overcome temptation when I go to bed early!

Shout out to my indoor soccer team!! I scored a goal while playing for P-day today!  Africans are toooo good at soccer so with out the support and love from my fellow team mates around the world I wouldn't have been able to muster the power that was packed behind my bullet!  Also it was raining the entire time and we were all just slip n' sliding everywhere!  Best day of soccer yet! I honestly couldn't stop laughing and smiling!

Also last week on the 4th we set up an indoor court in our parlor and played 2vs2 it was too much fun!  Sometimes when the fun doesn't present itself... you have to be creative and go and find it!

Life is great! don't forget to stop and smell the flowers... or in my case today.. take your time so that you don't eat the flowers when you slip on your face! haha

Love your main man Elder Cran!


P.s. sorry no pictures this week... I will send double next week! I have some good ones!

Monday, July 7, 2014

He's ready if there is another attack. Oh dear. He looks a little bit too friendly.

The shorts his companion found outside.
If the teefs came back I don't think he would intimidate them very much.  He might be taller, but he isn't frightening.
Cody's Companion, Elder Mukwira

Adorable Sierra Leone Children

Front Door when the teefs (thieves) tried to break in.

Awesome thing about Cody's area.  The cool trees.

Oh boy....what an adventure!!!

This week was so sweet and one of the craziest things happened that you are not even going to believe!  Mom... if you don't want to worry then don't read the next part of my email ya? haha  For those of you who want to know what the culture is like here in Sierra leone... continue reading haha
So it was just a normal night at our apartment with 7 elders.  We all went to bed doing the same old thing.  I am a pretty deep sleeper for those of you who know me so I generally can sleep through almost anything.  Well at around like 3:30  I knocked my alarm clock that I put right by my pillow off my bed.  It woke me right up.. I was fumbling in the dark for it and finally found it.  As I was laying there trying to fall back asleep I had a really weird feeling. I heard a loud bang from the front of the apartment... I knew something wasn't right but I was still so tired I didn't think much of it.  I said a prayer to make the feeling go away and I listened to what the spirit was trying to tell me.  I continued to lay there just thinking.  about 2 minutes later I heard one of the other Elders in a very panicked voice calling us to get out of bed.  He rushed into our room and said one word... TEEFS! (Thieves)  Oh man I just flew out of bed and rushed to the front of the apartment.  There was a stick wedged in between our front door being used as a crowbar!  We grabbed some sierra leone machettes called cutlasses and tried to get out the front door but the stick was wedged in sooo hard that we couldn't even open the door!  We went out our back door and rushed to the front.  The gate was wide open and some of the barbed wire on our wall was bent and pushed down.  They apparently have a key to our very generic lock we put on the outside gate.  The only thing that kept the door from opening is this little slide lock that we have on the inside.  I am seriously amazed they didn't get inside.  We did the less smart thing probably and went outside our gate to chase anyone we saw down.  We weren't able to find anyone but oh man my heart was pumping!  It was so fun!! I miss getting adrenaline rushes like I use to!  A rush of the spirit is far better but it was still pretty fun!  When the first elder got up he went and checked the front.. They had taken out our front light bulb and set it on the ground so they could work in the dark.  He said he saw a flashlight and at least 3 or 4 guys!  When he flipped on the light and we rushed into the front room they took off!  The coolest thing about the whole experience for me was how safe and secure I felt.... even though I had adrenaline pumping through me... I was never scared.  I know the Lord was watching over all of us.  I know that if they had gotten inside... we would have been ok.  However, the Lord blessed us by using that tiny slide lock that I have often laughed at myself in the past when I use it.  God would never let anything happen to us that wasn't suppose to happen.  

It was pretty hard to fall asleep after such a rush but I finally managed to get like 5 hours of sleep!  We were all pretty tired the rest of the day and some of the other elders were pretty on edge.  A lot of other drama happened later that morning with our neighbor who we saw when we were trying to find the teefs.  It made me realize that no matter what the situation... no matter the time... Missionaries need to act like missionaries... We are representatives of Jesus Christ so what we do should portray what Christ would do in a situation.  Then it made me think even deeper.  As members... we have all taken the name of Christ upon us... everyday we need to be able to look back and feel content with our actions of the day.  Lots of people are converted through the example of others... Whether we like it or not.. people will watch us everywhere we go.  We can choose to be good examples.. or we can end up being bad examples.  I am so grateful for all the amazing examples I have in my life.  I truly try and model my life after people like my dad.  He is one of the best examples to me and to my friends.  All fathers should be that kind of example to their children and I pray that one day I will be.
Alright... time to lighten the mood a little.  The funniest part about this whole story and culture... in the morning we found my companions shorts that were hanging up to dry on the ground.  he picked them up and made a hilarious face... There were massive brown streaks all over his shorts!!  We searched a little bit and found some African droppings on our front driveway!! hahaha!  I about died of laughter when I realized what happened!!  Apparently it is semi-normal for teefs in africa to leave a surprise behind! ahhhh!!! My companion didn't think it was too funny cause it was his shorts that had feces all over them but my true laugh definitely came out!  I kinda want to find the teefs and just give them a pat on the back for making me laugh so hard! hahaha

There are weird things that happen everyday here.  I am so happy for the uniqueness of my mission!  No matter what happens in life... whether some one wipes with your shorts or maybe an investigator doesn't come to church.  Push on with hope and trust that the Atonement will wash EVERYTHING clean! ;) I love my Heavenly father and his plan more than I could ever express in an email.  Keep on keeping on!

Love Elder Crandall the Vandal!