Archive for September, 2010

Donde esta el missionario?

September 20, 2010
I’ve decided to have a liturgical mission.  The hymn for this week is “How Firm a Foundation” (http://lds.org/churchmusic/detailmusicPlayer/index.html?searchlanguage=1&searchcollection=1&searchseqstart=85&searchsubseqstart=%20&searchseqend=85&searchsubseqend=ZZZ ) and the reading for the week is 3 Nephi 17 (http://scriptures.lds.org/en/3_ne/17) from the Book of Mormon.
Since my Indian heritage visa still hadn’t arrived by the end of my training, the Church decided to send me on a temporary assigment in the States rather than just having me sit and wait (for which I am very grateful, since as good as the training is, it’s not what I came out for.)  It was actually a little like getting a second mission call.  They told us on our last Wednesday that we’d be going out the next week, but they wouldn’t know where until Thursday or Friday night.
After much excited waiting, we stopped by the Travel Office and were handed our itineraries for travel to the California San Bernardino Mission.  So now, instead of being halfway around the world, I’m just an hour outside of LA.
We arrived two weeks before the end of a transfer so I’m living with zone leaders until they can put me with a companion.
I’ve been able to go right into the work, and it’s good.  The Saturday before I got here the Elders I’m with baptized a Nigerian woman named Monica, and this Saturday we went with her and some other recent converts to the Redlands Temple so they could visit the Temple for the first time.  That was a very powerful experience.
We also had two lessons this week with a man named Luis who’s preparing for baptism.  He’s pretty much ready but he still has some concerns that he won’t be able to stay away from sin.  He looked very haggard and nervous when we arrived on Tuesday, and said he really felt unworthy and unprepared.  He’d also been having a lot of trouble sleeping.  So we talked with him about the power that prayer can have in our lives when we’re struggling, and about how praying and reading the scriptures every day can bring us closer to God and give us power and joy.  It was a very powerful lesson, and he prayed for us before we left very powerfully.  On Saturday he was looking much better and said he was feeling a lot happier and more focused.  We read from Alma chapter 7 in the Book of Mormon, and talked about the covenants he’ll be making with God at baptism.
I’ve also had a really good time meeting members and other missionaries this week.  Since my companions are the zone leaders, I’ve met most of the missionaries in our area and I’ve spent a lot more time at the mission office than I otherwise would have.  We eat dinner at a member’s house most nights.  They’ve all been very accomodatibng of my vegetarianism, although most people are pretty bemused by it.  The other missionaries were worried that people would start cooking all vegetarian meals, but so far everyone has made meat and then had an alternative for me.  It has brought me my first nickname, from Bro. B, who’s a really cool guy and a great cook.  He calls me “the vegetable Elder.”  At dinner on Friday, he told me that I’m the first vegetarian he’s ever met, and that he cooked the first vegetarian dish of his life for me.  It was an absolutely fabulous stir fry though, so I guess he’s just a natural 🙂
Love you all, God bless and be with you.
Elder Mattathias Westwood
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Week 2

September 8, 2010
I’m a double-uncle!  I laughed out loud when I read that baby Elijah has sideburns.  I’ve been praying for him and his parents, so I’m glad to hear that all is well and joyous.
Monday night was the Health and Safety Meeting for departing elders.  There was one for the US and Canada, and one for international missions.  They probably should have divided more because some of the concerns in ours (water purification, for example) really only apply in developing countries.  Dad will be glad to know that “Take Care of your Feet” and “Don’t Do Anything Stupid” were heavily emphasized, being respectively rules 1 and 9 of the 10 rule list.  A lot of focus was also on taking good care of smoke/CO detectors, and not disabling them.  Apparently two missionaries in Romania  died a few months ago because they had disabled the CO detector in their apartment after a false alarm, and they didn’t tell anyone or get a new one.  Several of the General Authorities who have come have also mentioned this, and emphasized very strongly the importance of staying safe, being cautious, not doing a stupid thing like that.
Classes continue to go well.  I’m learning a lot about teaching and about listening to people.  Elder P and I are getting much better at teaching together, working together.  There’s been a really strong Spirit in our studies and practices the past few days.
Well, time’s running out.
Love

One week down…101 to go ;)

September 1, 2010
My first week as a missionary has been excellent, if at times a little rushed (As one of the guys in my district keeps saying “The days are long but the weeks are short.”)
The orientation line reminded me of the knighting scene in “The Court Jester” (Yea, verily, yea!) and I think the point my have been to turn us around enough that we’d be happy just to sit down for the orientation itself, instead of wanting to run around looking at everything on campus.  If that was the point, it worked.
After orientation, our first class, and dinner, there was a teaching demonstration which demonstrated the massive importance of listening to people, being humble, respecting them deeply, and listening to the Holy Ghost.  Those principles seem to run through all of the teaching trainings, and I’m learning a lot.  It’s very good.
As I said last week, there’s one other elder headed for India right now: Elder P.  He’s my companion, and the rest of our district is headed for New Jersey.  It’s a fun group.  70% of us have been diagnosed with ADD, and it shows, but we have a lot of fun and get a lot done as long as there’s someone to supervise us.  I’ve run into three or four people I know from BYU, including several teachers here.
I had immunizations last week, and another 2 doses of Hep B to come.  I’ll be sending a reimbursement form by mail later this week.
I can only e-mail you two, and since I only have thirty minutes for e-mail a week, I think I’d like to just get e-mail from you two so I have enough time to read it and write my own.   But everyone else can send me snail mail, which I can read any time.  While I’m in the MTC, you can send letters free through dearelder.com
Well, those are my disjointed thoughts for the moment.  I only have a minute left, so I’ll sign off now.
Love you lots,
Mattathias