Monkeying Around – Cameroon 4.23.18

Yoyoyoyo

This week we got the chance to go to the Mefou Primate Reserve! It was a really cool experience, and it was really far from Yaoundé, right in the middle of the jungle. At the reserve they work to protect many different species of primates. They save primates that have been mistreated and work to rehabilitate them and to reintroduce them into the wild. There were Chimps, Mandrills, Monkeys, and Baboons, but I’m pretty sure that everyone in the appartement loved the gorillas the most. They would fight eac hother and bang their fists against their chests (which kinda supprised me because I thought they only did that in movies). We spent a while watching this group of gorillas and once the dominant male gorilla got up really fast and ran towards us. This only slightly suprised us as we were separated from the gorillas by an electric fence. But our tour guide yelled for us to watch out, and as soon as she yelled this, the dominant male threw an avacado seed at us at a frightening speed.

I really enjoyed the chimpanzees too, they would hoot and holler, and we weren’t allowed to get too close to the enclosure, as the chimpanzees have an unflattering habit of throwing their own feces at guests. The chimpanzee is super smart too, the guide was telling us about how the chimpanzees in the exhibit would use dry wood to climb over the electric fences and escape their enclosures from time to time. This is possible as dry wood does not conduct electricity.
It’s crazy to see these animals up close and in their natural habitat, and I will make sure to send all the photos we took over there. Ooooooo one interesting fact about the Mandrill is that the male’s face and butt are multicolored to attract females, and the dominant male’s butt and face will become more colorful than the rest.

Because it is far from the city, the road to mefou passes through heavily forested areas, and many small and rural villages. While we were passing through one village we saw a guy holding a decapitated snake on the edge of a stick. We told the taximan to stop, and we got out and bought the decapitated snake from the man. Viper is a delicacy and is really expensive in Yaoundé, but we were able to buy the snake from the man for only 2,500 francs roughly five dollars.

It was an amazing experience and a very up close reminder of how beautifully complex the world really is.

Dieu est grand

Elder Thomas

 

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4.9.18 Elder Thomas letter

A couple of weeks ago me and my comp found two new investigators, Brother Nikola and Sister Nicais. They are two friends who have recently made contact with the church, but have already made amazing progress. We gave sister Nicais a Book of Mormon last week, and during our next visit with her she told us that she had read all of 1 Nephi. In addition to this, she briefly researched all the books in the book of mormon, and all the introductory texts, then she wrote a brief resumé of all she had learned. This really took me and my companion by suprise as usually an investigator will make excuses and never actually touch the Book of Mormon. A couple of days later we taught Brother Nikola and Sister Nicais at the same time, we taught the Book of Mormon again, as Brother Nikola hadn’t yet learned about it. While we were teaching Sister Nicais testified to her friend that the Book of Mormon was true, and that she had recieved her own testimony by the power of the Holy Ghost. Because of this testimony Sister Nicais knew with absolute certainty that the Church of Jesus Christ was the true church of god. The Book of Mormon is truly the keystone to our religion, and I’m so grateful to have such a book in my life.

This week was also conference week! Which apparantly here in Cameroun requires quite a bit of endurance. During the Sunday session we were required to watch three sessions with only ten minute pauses separating each session. This was a rather daunting task for someone like me, who gets a little sleepy after about two talks into the service. The situation became even more intimidating about thirty minutes in when the fans quit working. This didn’t however cause the chapel to become stuffy and uncomfortable as one might expect, instead it caused the chapel to become the ideal temperature for a nice nap. After the first session my eye lids gradually got heavier. I looked around me and a couple of the members in the assembly had already fallen victim to the intense urge to take a nap. As the second session progressed the other members steadily dozed of as well. By the end of the second session about a quarter of the room was sleeping, and I was barely hanging in there. It took a lot of focus, and more energy than I’ve ever exerced watching general conference, but in the end I was able to make it through all three sessions, only dozing off for five minutes.

Elder Thomas 3.26.18 (Rat Hunter)

3.26.18

This week we had a baptismal service for brother Daniel. It was scheduled for last week but due to water problems we had to reschedule it for this week. We were pretty nervous though because  the day before the service there was still no water at the branch. We thought that we would have to reschedule the service again, however the morning of the service the water came back and we were able to fill the font. Fr Daniel was so excited for this service and his friend, who gave us his contact , had the opportunity to baptize him. Daniel was really ready for this service, it’s rare that I see an investigator as devoted as him. Something pretty cool is that Daniel takes with him his Book of Mormon wherever he goes. He calls it his knife, and he says that as long as he has his knife with him no one can hurt him.

We also had a rather remarkable visit with Brother Etienne. During the first contact with Brother Etienne he made it rather clear to us that he was part of another church and though he wanted to learn from us, he had no interest in attending our church meetings or becoming a member. However during one of our visits with him we had the opportunity to finish the Plan of Salvation. This lesson consisted in us explaining to him why we’re here on earth, and what will happen after this life. After the lesson he exclaimed to us that before this lesson he had never understood these things with such clarity. He then told us that he wanted to be baptized and that he wanted to come to church this Sunday (which he did). We taught him a second time this week and we were surprised to find that he had drawn out the whole Plan of Salvation diagram onto his blackboard, he told us that he had been teaching these things to his family.

This week I also fought a sore battle against a rather large rat. In the moments preceding the battle President Thompson came over to do his monthly interviews with each one of us. While he was interviewing Elder Bamba, the rest of us were in the living room with Sister Thompson. Me and Sister Thompson were talking about recipes when I heard a familiar rustling sound coming from our garbage. I hurried onto our balcony and I surprised two shoe sized rats who were feasting away at our garbage. They had to run past me to get to their escape hole and surprisingly,I held my ground. The first rat ran past me, but I was able to stomp on the second while wearing my apartment flip-flops. The rat let loose a squeak but instead of continuing its flight it paused, obviously dazed by my flip-flop attack. I continued to stomp on it, but this only served to awaken it from it’s daze. It bit at my flip flop and I had to shake it off. In doing so I accidentally flung him closer to his escape hole. He sprung at this opportunity and scurried off. The battle seemed lost, however, several days latter we smelt a rather repugnant smell coming from his escape hole. This smell hasn’t yet left us, and we can only assume that he died in a place beyond our reach. I claim it as a victory, but it came at a price.

 

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IMG_0022.JPG3.19.2018

Yoyoyoyo

 

So this week was really great, we had a ton of amazing and very spiritual lessons. One of these lessons was on tithing, which I didn’t think was possible considering how almost everyone who we teach here has a deep christian background and thinks that tithing is rather normal. But I was proven wrong during our lesson with Brother Daniel. We thim this subject and it made him so happy. He was so interested in all the little aspects of tithing that are normally take for granted. He was excited when we told him about how we put the money in envelopes and pay in secret, and he was flipping out when we explained the difference between tithing and fast offerings. I’ve honestly never seen someone so excited about paying tithing. But I guess we should all be this excited for the privilege we have to pay tithing. Brother Daniel’s utter joy upon learning about tithing was a great reminder to me of how important the commandments are in our lives, and how we should be excited to keep them.

 

Another cool lesson we had was with Brother Etiene (Stephen in english). We finished up the Restoration with him and we handed him a pamphlet for the Plan of Salvation, and explained to him that this lesson will offer the answers to the questions Where do we come from? What is our goal in life? and Where are we going after this life? He responded by saying “C’est pas possible!” which means that’s not possible. He told us that he’s asked the first two questions his whole life and he’s never had a clear response to them. We then taught him and his wife together the first principle later in the week, and they were so excited. His wife even exclaimed in her prayer at the end of the lesson “Please let these young men come back one day.” Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have grown up with this knowledge, and this direction in my life. There are certain people who have been searching their entire lives for these things. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to be out here helping others come to know the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Elder Thomas

African Masks and Baptism 3.12.18

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Pictures 3.12.18-  Baptismal service for sister Elizabeth, and some fun with african masks

3.5.18

So yesterday me and my comp had a rendez vous with one of our investigators, Sister Elizabeth. She lives rather far, so we had to pay a lot of transport money to get there. We were kinda dissappointed when we saw that she was not there. However, her husband and another lady were there, so we decided to stay a little bit to talk to them. We ended up talking with the lady for about an hour, we also ended up taking her contact and giving her a brief message. During our conversation we also found out that the lady we were talking with was the chief of the village, which is a pretty big position here in Cameroun. This made it a little interresting when she offered her daughters to me and my companion.

Speaking of Sister Elizabeth, we also had a rather interresting lesson with her husband. He is an alcoholic and a smoker. Our  encounter with him started with him doing the signs of the cross as soon as he saw us, we then talked to him for roughly three minutes. Following this, he stood up without warning and walked away to smoke some cigarettes. Yeah, I don’t think we’ll be having any more visits with him.

We also had an interresting lesson with one of our investigators named Brother Emanuel. Brother Emanuel comes from the Bamiléké tribe here in Cameroon. One of the practices of the Bamiléké tribe is that they worship the skulls of their ancestors. They Beleive that this ancestral worship brings them good luck. So we had a conversation with him, and we explained to him why it is against the commandements to worship these skulls.

That’s about it for this week

Elder Thomas

Elder Thomas 2.26.18

This week we had a baptism for two of our investigators, they are the central african kiddos I was talking about a couple of weeks ago. The service went well and everyone felt the spirit. They were so excited when they got changed into their white clothing, and their mother even commented that they looked like little angels. It was a combined service, with investigators from three different branches, one from Anguissa, three from Biyem Assi, and two from good ole eleveurs. It was pretty cool though because I taught a couple lessons to the guy who got baptized from anguissa (my old branch).

This week we also played football(soccer), and instead of getting picked last (like last time), I got picked third to last. I was pretty pumped about my rank advancement. Looks like this lil elder is no longer just a human meat shield.

This week we also had to take a little time out of the sector to organize the transfers, and to pick up the elders who just got here. Elders Luteso, Kadiebue, Makwikilla, and Bamba all came with the last transfer (if you can’t tell by the names, none of them are american). I was pretty pumped to see elder Luteso, because we had spent some time together in Brazzaville.

This week we had the opportunity to teach sister Elizabeth, about certain commandments. We were teaching her about the word of wisdom and she asked us what she should do about her husband, who is an alcoholic, and isn’t interested in god. We told her the typical stuff such as, be a good example, and pray. Then I bore my testimony concerning one of my earlier experiences with a family who couldn’t be baptized because husband wouldn’t let them. I explained to her that through prayer and hard work he had accepted the gospel, and tears came to my eyes as I told her that today their whole family has been baptized in the church of Jesus Christ of Latterday saints. It was a very powerful experience, and it made me think of the impact every person I have met here on the mission has had on my life.

The church is true and the book is blue

Elder Thomas

 

2.12.18- Elder Thomas

Bonjour bonjour bonjour

So this week we were able to have a really cool lesson with one of our investigators who has been searching to know whether or not the church is true. During the lesson he asked us why he’d have to get rebaptized to become a member of the church of jesus christ of latter day saints. We then asked him whether he believed that the priesthood was restored by Joseph Smith. He told us that he did, this kinda surprised us because for the last couple of lessons he hadn’t been sure about the restoration. He then explained to us the reason why he believed these things to be true. He said that he had been praying about our message and that he had had a dream a couple of days ago which he had interpreted as his answer. He told us that he couldn’t remember all of the dream but he remembered seeing me and my companion and in the dream he had a strong feeling that it was true. Brother William has accepted a baptismal date, and me and my companion are currently helping him to be ready for that date.

We were able to meet a new investigator this week named Frere Daniel. Frere Daniel is Central African, and he came into contact with the missionaries through a member of our branch. We taught him a really spiritual lesson about the restoration and after the lesson we asked him whether he would pray to know if these things were true. Brother Daniel however, told us that he already knew that these things were true. He then told us that he wanted to bear his testimony, he told us that for a couple of weeks he had been feeling sick, but once we had started teaching he told us that his sick feeling had disappeared.

I was also able to do a split with Elder Tall this week. Elder Tall and I started the mission together, but this week was the first time that we had the chance to work together. So we had a good time telling each other of all the crazy experiences we’ve had during our mission. I also had to do three baptismal interviews for his companionship which was both exhausting and spiritually stirring.

Love ya all

Elder Thomas