Thursday, July 10, 2014

Welcome home, Ryan!

Ryan got to see his family again for the first time in two years and to meet his 2 new nephews! He was shell-shocked for about the first week, but has slowly adapted to 'civilian' life. He said it was harder to adjust to being home than it was to being in the mission field! But we are all glad he's home! He will work this summer and then go to school in the fall. Well Done!

Monday, April 14, 2014

April 14, 2014 - Beira - LAST POST FROM AFRICA

This week has been nice, just finishing up my last p-day, and we had a huge beach bask with everyone from the Manga and Beira zones. I was able to give letters to missionaries to give to people in Inhamizua and Manga. Sometimes I am super pumped to come home but sometimes just super sad. I really am going to miss all the people here. Abreu and Carla finally got the marriage process opened in Matola but they are going to get married May 17th so I will miss it. Sergio and Ana should open up the process this week and get married on the 26th, and we are helping a few youth get baptized on the 19th that have been coming to church for a long time. I have been getting email addresses from the few that have them and trying to call everybody. Still have some left to do though.

  Experience of the week: So Ana and Douce, the couple on the ‘Its a miracle’ video live in Macuti and she has tons - I mean tons - of brothers, sisters, cousins, just tons of family out in our area. We saw her last week and she asked if we would come by and give her dad a blessing. He has been pretty sick lately. So Wednesday we are on divisions and I was walking with Elder Stewart and we go to her dad's house to give him a blessing. So Ana is there, Bartalameu and Audora (old investigators) and like ten other people, most older women who only spoke dialect. So we go in and Ana wanted to start with a hymn but said they would sing one in dialect. So the whole family starts singing this song which sounds super cool and as they are singing just like all these neighbor woman like answer the call and pile into the house. So we gave him a priesthood blessing. Then we got some references of her brothers out of it. One actually came to church with his wife and are really interested. So last night we went to teach them at her dad’s house again. Two more of her brothers sat with us and one had tons of good questions about the restoration. I don't think I have ever taught someone the first lesson who has just understood everything like he did. I had to ask Elder Peckham to make sure he wasn't a member! Also Manuel and Eugenia are seeing a huge difference in their lives and are on fire right now.
     Things are going great and I am going to miss this place but I know the Lord will have other stuff for me to do back in the States. Me and dad will just have to come back and do a safari here in like a year or two!
                                                                                                               Love ya guys. See you soon!

                                                                                                                                           Elder Bigelow

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April 8, 2014 - Beira

April 8, 2014

Well 2 weeks left! I can’t believe time has gone so fast! Part if me is super excited and the other part of me is super sad. I leave next Friday the 18th to go to Maputo and we will probably eat lunch or something with President, Saturday I think I will be able to visit families in Matola and Maputo , and Sunday I will go to Maputo 2 branch again and have exit interviews and Monday I am gone!
          We have been super busy - on the 19th our zone is going to have a collective marriage with 7 or 8 couples and the Relief Societies want to make a big deal out of it. Me and Elder Peckham are working to get Sergio and Ana married and baptized along with some single people, Rosa, Flavio, Lidia , Joaquim, and Luis. Hopefully everything works out and they are all ready by the 19th. We are also teaching a super-awesome family right now, Manuel and Eugenia, who are a reference from Sergio, and a couple we dropped but they came to church Sunday, Felizberto e Palmira.
    We did 3 divisions this last week, one with Munhava and I went and walked with Elder Maizane from Matola, and I went on a division with Elder Proksch, who is our district leader, and yesterday we went on a division with the other dupla from our house, Elder Thomas and Elder Hatfield. They have been struggling getting contacts and lessons in their area so we decided to do a double division and all work in their area. It worked out super nice and we got tons of contacts.
       As far as general conference I probably won’t be able to see it until I get home. Last Sunday was a normal fast Sunday for us but I bore testimony because I will be leaving.
        Cool story for the week... Thursday we were walking in the middle of our area, Chipangara, and we are on this tiny little road and it was night and we see the Snelson’s (the senior missionary couple in that area) truck pull up and they asked us where the house of a member was, so we all walked together and showed them. They were going to watch a kid named Fernando open his mission call so we decided to go with and on the way there Elder Snelson told us his story. So Fernando lost his dad when he was young and grew up with his mom and brothers and sisters. When they got older his older brother moved down to Maputo and joined the church and then his older brother passed away. Two years later Fernando joined the church and his mom was taking the lessons when she died as well! So after all this he saves up money for a passport to go on his mission over a long period of time because they are super expensive for people here. Finally he gets his passport and does his medical exams and his passport gets robbed!!! So he had to start all over saving up money and by the time he gets his second passport his medical exams expired … so he did them again and anyways he opened his call and is going to Angola!! He bore testimony at the end -there were a ton of people and the spirit was super strong! He sacrificed tons to be able to go on a mission!!!
    Yesterday we also found 3 chameleons by our house (sent a pic) and things are going super good. We are staying super busy in fact we have divisions again with Beira 1 tomorrow.
                       Love you guys

                                             Elder Bigelow

Monday, March 31, 2014

March 31, 2014 - Beira

This week has just been a giant blur haha pretty crazy. Me and Elder Peckham ate some bad food at Muslim Mondays, just a restaurant here in Beira, and we both got pretty sick for a few days. Just now am I starting to feel all the way better.
      Now to the good part of my letter. So Last week I told you all about our zone plan to help people get to the temple and how excited we were to try out our plan and help families here in Beira get to the temple. Well this week we had interviews with President Kretly and we talked a lot about the plan and anyways he and the assistants this week took our idea of every dupla picking a family and helping them get to the temple and made it more organized so that now the branch presidents pick the families and a few other changes and our whole zone conference was about helping members do family history and getting them to the temple!! So everyone in this half of the mission received this training and next week everybody in the south will get it! It was super awesome! It really strengthened my testimony of receiving revelation.
     Anyways in my interview with President he asked me ‘Elder Bigelow do you remember how many families were being baptized when you first got here? Or even how many families we had here in the church?’ Very few..... We had to baptize families first and now we have to get them all to the temple. Since December of 2012 our mission has baptized 280 families! I feel like my group of missionaries was called to build the foundation and now they can start working on the walls and the roof and stuff. 
     The branches didn't split yet. I think we need to help strengthen the members some more first but our zone conference was nice. I had to direct and I was super sick the night before but during zone conference I was fine. At the end, Elder Lake and I, the only ones from my group up here in the north, got to bare our testimonies. It was a super crazy experience, we started our missions together and are ending our missions together. We both started crying and it was weird just thinking back on all that has happened the last 2 years. The funny thing is that almost exactly a year ago Elder Lake was in Beira 2 and I was in Inhamizua. This week as well Inhamizua finally has a member branch president and counselors!
   This week I am going to start giving stuff away and I will buy stuff to bring home when I get to Maputo. I already have stuff but I don't know how much you guys want me to bring home? Me and Elder Lake are flying down to Maputo on the 18th and Friday and Saturday we can go buy stuff and visit families - pretty much whatever we want.
    Well love ya guys
                  over and out

Elder Bigelow
Zone Conference in Beira

Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24, 2014 - Beira

Well, I was going to send pictures of Joao and Rosa’s wedding and baptism but the computers here won’t let me send them.
   Our week was super crazy. We had to get everything ready for the wedding, mission leader conference ( .. we had to present the plan for our zone ..) and district leader conference. So last transfer our focus was on working with the members and strengthening our relationship with the leaders while helping them fulfill their callings. The missionaries in our zone who really applied it are starting to see a lot of success so we knew that working with the members couldn’t just be a one-transfer focus but that it is going to take time to strengthen the branches here in Beira. Anyways last week we were over at the Snelsons (the senior missionary couple) and Elder Snelson was talking to us about the temple and how few members here from Beira have been and that in the Beira district which includes all the branches from Beira , Manga , Inhamizua and Dondo, only about 10 couples have been sealed and I knew 1 or 2 of these couples in Inhamizua who were inactive when I was there. The stats were super sad, over 100 families baptized here in Beira last year and not one of them have gone to the temple. So Elder Snelson talks about how easy it is to get to the temple and we were like what? What are you talking about? And he tells us about this plan that is happening here in Mozambique where any family that wants to go to the temple for the first time, if they save up all they can the church pays for the rest. They just have an interview with the branch president and decide how much they can pay for passports, travel, food and everything and the church will help out with anything rest. Kinda like the atonement right? Anyways we were all taking and I think the biggest reasons nobody is going to the temple is 1) because nobody knows how, they just knows it costs tons of money and 2) this plan has not been very well announced or explained and so nobody knew the church would help. I think I had actually heard about it before but I had no idea how it worked or how easy it was. So for the district leader conference we gave to the district leaders in our zone, we decided to make a goal to have each dupla pick a family from their branch and help them get on this program and to the temple. We had Elder Snelson come and explain the plan to everyone and afterwards found out that President Kretly is actually giving a training this week about temples to all the branch presidents. It was super cool. I really feel like the next step for Beira and what the Lord wants is for families to get to the temple. Elder Maizane, the Mozambican Elder I knew from Matola, was at the training and he was super excited and asking tons of questions because he wants to help his family in Matola get to the temple.
  Yesterday President and Sister Kretly gave a training on the new family history program ‘My Family’ and talked a lot about temple work and the importance of getting to the temple. He said being a member your whole life and never getting to the temple is like being stranded at sea and swimming swimming simming and as soon as you hit the beach… dying. It was actually one of the best trainings I have ever been to, the spirit was super strong and the members were pumped!
     Zone conference is Friday and we will figure out what is going on with the branches. I think we might have some more work to do before they split though.
     The wedding went super well with Joao and Rosa and afterwards we were going to baptize them but the water was super gross . Dark dark brown – couldn’t even see the bottom - so I called President Kretly and asked if we could baptize them on the beach but he said no, instead we rented a chapa Saturday night and went out to Manga to baptize them there in superclean water. President was there giving the family history training so everything worked out. Joao and Rosa’s family were just singing super loud wedding songs the whole way over and there were too many people so my comp had to stand up the whole way with his butt out the window haha. Joao and Rosa are a super awesome family
   Also this week I got a call from Abreu and Carla from Matola they still aren’t married or baptized. They have had crazy document problems and then as soon as they were going to open the process his dad got super sick and they had to pay for him to go to the hospital. I was super pumped he called and then I talked to elder Jarvis today and he said Carla and Abreu are going to try to open the marriage process this week so their marriage and baptism will be the Saturday I am in Maputo right before I go home so I can be there to watch!! That would be soooo awesome - I love that family!
   Things are going super well and I love it out here. Today I saw Elder Ebmeyer, who is working in Manga, and he is training a member I knew from Maputo 2, Jose, who was preparing for his mission when I was there. I did a couple of splits with him and he helped us out a lot but he is here serving until he goes to Angola. It was really cool to see him today
          Love ya guys. Tell dad I would love to talk at a fireside when I get home!

 Elder Bigelow

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17, 2014 - Beira

March 17, 2014

Guess what I saw this week? A guy wearing a Pie town New Mexico shirt!! I wish I would have had my camera.
    This week was awesome! So we are getting Joao and Rosa baptized this weekend and already had the process opened but then Rosa’s uncles who raised her said she couldn't get married until Joao payed labolo! Ridiculous right? They are both over 21 they can make their own decisions. So Joao just wanted to tell her uncles ‘too bad what are you going to do to me?’ but it would have caused tons of problems in Rosas family. So whenever there are problems with like anything here in Mozambique they have like big family meetings and everyone has to come to put there 2 cents in. And we got invited to one of these meetings with her uncle. He was just being super selfish and wants money, beer and food and anyways at the end of our meeting they still didn't decide anything. We told them they could just sign the papers get legally married, baptized and then wait and have a huge party with the family later whenever they wanted. Well they scheduled another huge meeting and invited way more people - just this time we were not invited. Luckily their padrinhos are super awesome members and were invited so they could help Joao and Rosa plead their case. We prayed tons that everything would work out but I was kinda expecting the worse, either way the process was opened so they had to get married but we really wanted Rosa’s family to accept it and they did! They called us after their big meeting and they were super pumped so Saturday after their baptism they are going to have a huge party at their house and everybody is cool with it! It only took the 6 weeks from contact to baptism and it would have been on the 8th if Rosa’s uncles would have accepted it.
     Now to the serious part of my letter. So Thursday night we went to sit with an old investigator we wanted to pick back up but he wasn't home, so we contacted a his neighbor who invited us in to his tiny cinderblock house and I am sitting right next to the door and Elder Peckham is sitting next to the window made out of mosquito netting instead of glass. So we are getting to know him a little bit just talking and this huge blast goes off and it shook the house so there is dust everywhere. I had to check myself to make sure I didn’t get shot or anything and we look at the guy and he just says " Oh the dang police in this area." So I started freakin out in my head and we shut the door all the way.  I was trying to think how we could kick down the back wall of his house and run. But then nothing happened and like 10 super long minutes go by and people start walking outside the window and stuff so we asked them what happened, was it a grenade or like what? But nobody knew what we were talking about. So we go outside to leave and look down on the ground and saw……… a coconut! It had fallen out of this super tall tree and hit the metal chapa roof right above our heads. I was kind of disappointed - I thought it was going to be a crazy cool story.
    This week we are also opening up a marriage process of Sergio and Ana who are getting baptized on the 29th and we finally are making progress on documents for a couple who are from Tete. We are really trying to help them get baptized in the middle of April. President Kretly is coming up this week for a zone conference and I am like 90 percent sure the branches up here are going to split!! I am way pumped! Also we got some super awesome new elders in our zone. Elder Hales and Elder Shumway came up from Maputo. We all lived in the same house in Motala and they are super awesome. We are all good friends and Elder Hales is serving with a missionary who I knew in Matola before he left on his mission! I really feel like we are going to see a lot of success here in Beira this transfer.

        As far as where I want to eat when I get back I would be super happy with a barbeque at Saul’s house! But the biggest thing I want to do is go to the temple - Mesa or Gilbert!

Monday, March 10, 2014

March 10, 2014 - Beira

  Well transfers today were pretty crazy - our whole house is staying exactly the same! I am excited though to stay here with Elder Peckham. This week we did a lot of marriage documents. We finally opened up Joao and Rosa’s process for the 22 of this month and we have two more families we are trying to baptize on the 29th who are both references from Douce and Ana, who are recent converts. They are actually on the video ‘It's a Miracle.’
    So in our area in Macute we have a part where we work which is pretty poor and on the other side of the road are just huge mansions. When we tried to do contacts over there nobody is ever home or are muslim. We actually contacted the ambassador from Zimbabwe over there. But anyways - this week we got a reference from other missionaries from a guy who they said had a super nice truck. So I called him and as soon as he explained where he lived I knew he had to be filthy rich. So we walked to where he said he lived and his house was 5 cars 3 story house!!! Biggest house I have been in in Mozambique. His name is Simon and he has a job pretty high up in the government. But he had tons of questions and really wants to know which church is true. He has been to tons of churches and he has a huge mix of beliefs, but we taught him twice on his balcony 3 stories up overlooking Macute. He didn't come to church, but has been reading in the Book of Mormon and we know he will help out the church a ton. Plus he gives us juice every time we go over!
    This month at the end I am pretty sure the branches in Beira will split and in Manga as well. As soon as that happens, more missionaries will be sent here to Mozambique! Our frequency yesterday was 263! We are working super hard trying to get 4 families we found last transfer baptized and I am super pumped!
   Love you guys

                 Elder Bigelow