Monday, November 28, 2011

NOV. 28 zone conference

Hello family and friends,
I come to you at the conclusion of what has been an eventful week, which concluded (today) quite nicely.

At the start of the week, my companion and I were preparing for 4 people to be baptized. On Tuesday, we stopped by a member's house. Sister D help us teach often, but has been under the weather (I gave here an oil concoction for stomach issues and she is feeling much better now, and didn't have to go to the hospital). When we were leaving, we saw her cat which had apparently tried eating a plastic bag and had been successful in at least passing said article through its digestive tract, if not doing anything to it. But, back to the point, the bag was in the process of being removed from it's body in what I can only imagine was a fairly slow, slightly painful, and really funny to see way. We had Zone Conference on Friday, and in preparation these last 2 weeks, one thing led to another and I was conducting our Zone song: Battle Hymn of the Republic. In the end, they all relented and we followed the ideas I had for the song (based largely on a version of it we did at American Heritage School) and it ended up sounding quite good despite the fact that almost nobody in our zone has a vocal musical background besides myself (not trying to be mean, just stating the facts). The Mission President and his wife were impressed, and Sister Dube (the Mission Presidents wife) even told us we were the best Zone Choir in the Mission. Some people were complaining (mostly jokingly) that they would expect even better next transfer, so I am trying to think of some good hymn Ideas (so far, I have thought of "Be still my soul" or "Where can I turn for peace"). If you have any good ideas that would probably be more to the liking of the other missionaries, feel free to shoot them to me (though not at my face. I can't catch things with my face very well).

On Saturday, we had a zone car wash in town, and despite bad initial organization, it ended up being a pretty big success. We washed a lot of cars (even a bus), got really wet, and met a lot of people.
Sadly, the baptism wasn't as good as we were hoping, but Brother Jerold was still baptized. I was able to do the baptizing, and when we got into the font, the water was a little too low, and there was a large spider in the water, as well as a drowned millepede (I guess they can't float as well as spiders or swim as well as fish =/ ). After re-clearing the font, I baptized Jerold (first time baptizing someone as a living ordinance) and we all ate the doughnuts (the doughnuts here are more like frosted or cream-stuffed scones shaped like doughnuts). As we were planning for much more than we had there, we gave seconds, and took the rest (20-30) home. We still have some left!
Apparently, sister Tinash skipped out on us, and we didn't see her at church on Sunday. Brother Wonder was also no-where to be seen.
On Sunday, we went into our area to pick people up, and we stopped first by Brother Wonder's house. He said he needed to bathe, so we told him we'd be back in half an hour or so. We went around to other investigators, and none were willing or able to come to church. We stopped again by Wonder's place, and he was gone. We asked where he was, and some people said he had gone to work, and others to church. We were almost late so we decided to head to church and hope he was en route as well. We got there, and ended up having 3 investigators at church. 1 who is almost ready to be baptized (wasn't able to this last week because she was out of town when we were planning on seeing her), and Deniss Minuki (the amazing boy mentioned earlier in these letters) who AGAIN brought a friend to church; he isn't even baptized yet, he's 12 years old, and he does more missionary work than most members in the branch, if not the zone.
After church, we went into our area, and around dinner time, we went to see an investigator who is progressing nicely and we saw, guess who: Brother Wonder there. Drunk. We said hello and immediately goes off into the "I'm sorry!"s. It took us a few minutes to get him to admit he had been drinking, and when he finally admitted it, we told him we were disappointed in him and that he needed to go sleep it off and pray for forgiveness. He said thoughts of his wife had made him start drinking again, so we counseled him to pray for help and go see brother Henry next time he grew sad about it. He eventually left for home. After our lesson with Leonard, we passed Wonder's house, and he was out with a neighbor with a cigarette in his hand. I called him over and he dropped the cigarette en route and when I told him he had been smoking he fervently denied it, then proceeded to try and give me a hug and repeat the "I'm sorry" business. My companion and I told him that he needed to stop doing these things he knew were wrong and to go to bed and pray. He tried to give Elder Hayes a hug, but he had had enough and firmly pushed him towards his home. We walked away and Wonder began just calling after us. We ignored him and went on to our next appointment.
Near the end of the day, we stopped by his house yet again, and surprise surprise, he was gone with his door locked (the doors padlock from the outside only). Nobody knew where he was, so on Tuesday we are going to give him fire and then kind of drop him until he gets things together. I can honestly say that the drunks here can be pretty bad. Teaching them is obviously worthless, and it is even worse when they are our actual investigators.

To top of the week, we went to Vumba this morning as a zone, and that was awesome. Some amazing views of Mozambique coupled with great looking foliage and awesome pictures made this morning a great one. I apologize for the less than amazing quality of the pictures (Dad, if you really want to you can get me a good camera, just not too good, and send it to me). But, nonetheless, the pics are pretty good (I will get a few from my comp). Sadly, there was little or no wildlife at Vumba, but it was a gorgeous view. Sorry, in the pictures with us on the ground, the first one was an attempt to take it while down and staring up into the most painful sunshine I have ever seen, so I was taking that blindly-ish. We also got some good-ish in the air pictures. One of them was a small hill, but the other 2 (the better ones) are over a 2 meter -give or take- (6ish feet) drop at the golf course. The others in this one are just of scenery at Vumba.

Questions I have been Asked (by Mackenzie. Come on people, ask questions!):

~How is it with your companion ?
I love my companion. We both love music, and I think that is one way that we can help the people here to appreciate the gospel more. We get along well and he is a good trainer. We work together well, and he really loves the people. 
~What is your favorite thing about being In Zimbabwe?
The scenery here is incredible (as illustrated by the pictures). It is kind of weird to think that I am here in Africa, as I just view it as home(ish) now, so it feels normal.
~What random thing do they not have there?
Everyone has a cell phone, (incoming calls are free) and they all have a color tv (even those who live in 1 room), but we don't have public bathrooms. When they do, they smell horrible and are mostly just holes in the ground in a small cement building used by over a hundred people as there go-to bath house / toilet.
~How is the language coming?
I am learning the language pretty nicely. I know almost all of the greetings and farewells as instinct, but most everything else is going to take some time.
~Have you seen any spiders?!
very few. Someone who I talked to at the MTC who grew up in Durban South Africa and has been to Zimbabwe before told me that any of the Big animals won't just pop up. You have to go looking for them, and as you know, I WILL NOT go looking for spiders of any notable size. The biggest I have seen to date was the one in the Baptismal font (maybe an 1 1/2 inches in diameter with legs at normal extension) and it was fairly largeish. 
~What is the worst thing they eat there?
I have never been a fish person, but I love chicken. They eat both mostly the same way. Cook it whole, adding lots of salt to the fish, and then they just eat it. They don't separate it into pieces, or de-bone it or anything. If you want boneless chicken, go to a restaurant or de-bone it yourself. They eat the whole chicken here (and fish). Guts, bones, everything. In fact, I once got chicken and sadza at Spar (common good quality grocery store) last week and had what I believe was probably chicken liver or some other organ. This was just an average meal like when you go to a deli. I also have had fish here. It tastes pretty good (not fishy really) and didn't realize until I started crunching the bones that there were so many spine bones. I figured it was already in and just crunched away. I did not, however, eat ALL the bones, or touch any of the head. . . this time =P
~Is it hot or cold there right now?
they have 3 types of weather here. Rainy, hot and hot/sunny
Rainy is a constant downpour, hot is overcast and upper 80's to 90's, hot/sunny is 100F and very sunny (Elder Hayes is very burnt). 
~What is your most favorite thing you have learned so far?
I honestly can't answer that, because there has been so much. Learning to love the people I am teaching even though they lie to me so much (they do it because they don't want to say what I don't want to hear). So I guess tolerance of things I don't like at all. 

I also want to talk a little about what I have heard from home. I have heard that my younger cousin Chase just got his first deer. It is so good to hear that my family is learning to hunt so that in the last days, they can put food on the table! I am so proud of you Chase. My brother, Collin is getting his Patriarchal Blessing soon and I am so excited for him. I know that mine has changed my life so much, and that the council provided therein is so vital for us to listen to. Collin, don't take your blessing for granted (or any others of you who might). It is important for you to read it often. I read mine almost every day. My sister Athen went to church all by herself! everyone else was tired from traveling, but she still wanted to go and did it all by herself. She is such a big girl, and I am so proud of her.

I love you all, and think of you often, 

~Elder Taggart Williams

Remember: Pray always, and look to the Lord. Write often, and live life to it's fullest.

Doubt is the seed of failure. ~Taggart Williams

Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not. ~God (D+C 6:36)

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