5.21.18- Brazzaville, Nkombo Ward

So about a week ago from today I was transferred back to Congo, I am currently working in the Nkombo ward, roughly three miles from my old sector. One might think that I’d be dissappointed to work so close to an area that I already know instead of experiencing the other cities and countries of the Congo Brazzaville mission, but I am actually pretty stoked. It feels so amazing to be back in the city that I have grown to love so much. It feels so familiar too, as if the entire city was on pause during the year I spent in Yaounde. The sights, the sounds, and even the smells have greeted me here in Brazzaville like an old friend. I even feel nostalgic whenever I hear the people shout moundelle at me. It feels good to be back, and it felt even better yesterday during stake conference when I had the opportunity to see all the people who had made a significant impact on my life back when I was in Massa. I was able to see most of my converts, pretty much all of the members, and even an old investigator who even now hasn’t been baptised, it was truly a remarkable experience. I had thought that most of the people here would have forgotten me, but I was proved wrong. Not only did the people here remember me, but they even remembered my name, and we were able to talk about the experiences whe had shared together. The Congolese are truly an amazing people, and I am excited to serve among them once more.

I am also working with Elder Muluane who is my first companion who isn’t from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He is from Vanuatu, a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean. He is an amazing guy, probably one of the nicest and one of the most humble missionary I’ve ever had the chance to work with. I am excited to work with him.

Well that’s about it for this week,

Bye o

Elder Thomas

Pictures include missionaries and companion in Brazzaville at Stake Conference.  Flood on the Street Road/River.

 

 

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4.30.18

Bonjour!!!

So this week we had the opportunity to hold a baptismal service for three people, Sister Niquaise, Brother Nikola, and Sister Abigail. It was an amazing service, and the spirit, as in all of the baptismal services we’ve held throughout my mission, was extremely strong. after the service Sister Niquaise and Brother Nikola had the opportunity to bear their testimonies. They explained how they had both heard of the church a couple years earlier, it had peaked their interest and they researched it relentlessly. Despite their efforts however, they never came into actual contact with the church. One day a couple of years later Sister Niquaise was walking in Bastos when she saw a sign that said The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She got really excited and immediately called her cousin Brother Nikola. They attended the church services the following Sunday, and following that encounter they were put into contact with my companion and I. They testified concerning the truth of this gospel, and they testified of their unwavering testimony that the Book of Mormon is the word of god. I was reminded through this experience of the manner in which god prepares his children to hear his word. I am grateful for the people that god has put in our path, and for the manner in which this message has affected their lives.

One of the greatest blessings of living in our appartement is the opportunity to grow acquainted to the smell of rotting rats. The rats living in our appartement complex scurry through an intricate system of holes and tubes scattered throughout the appartement. this week someone in our appartement (names will not be mentioned) thought it would be wise to solve our rat problem by using rat poison. This wasn’t however, a very well thought out scheme because the rats once dead are impossible to dispose of. Because of this we have a couple rotting rats hiding in the infrastucture of our appartement, and when we walk into the kitchen or a certain section of the balcony we are hit with the unpleasant and almost tangible aroma of deteriorating rat. O quelle joi

Oh we also had zone conference this week, it was great.

 

Love you all

Elder Thomas

 

 

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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

 

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