Monday, December 28, 2015

Dec 28, 2015

Tis The Season to be Jolly!

This week was awesome!
But this email is gonna be short, I've just been so tired lately so this might not be the longest email.
Christmas was the big thing this week, I GOT TO TALK TO MY FAMILY, man what a time, that was so cool. I was even able to talk to Brandon, my brother, serving in Ohio, that was so cool. Anyway, I just wanted to share a few stories that I thought were interesting.

Early Christmas morning, Elder Treadway and I headed to Doe Community (a relatively far distance) to give a gift to our widowed investigator. Her husband Peter, who was also an investigator, passed away the Saturday before Christmas. We bought two, 25kg (like 50lbs) bags of rice for her for Christmas, and we dropped those off at her house in the morning while she was away (felt like Santa haha). All was good and great, till I realized I left my scripture bag, with our house keys, on the keke (thats what they call it). We are way out of our area, which is where we found him, and man I was freaking out. But I remembered that mom said something about Miracle prayers, so that's what I did. I prayed, asked God to help me find my scriptures, then went back to work. We visited a few of our investigators in Doe and spent a little time with them, it was fun. Now I really had the faith to find my scriptures, but man it was a little worry in my head the whole time, I tried my best to not focus on it though. Anyway, we did our things, hopped on another keke and headed back into town. We take the drive, and he drops us off at an intersection, as we're crossing the intersection, a keke stops at the red light and yells at us "hey I have your bible!", IT WAS THE GUY, He had them still. I gave him a hug, Then I had a stupidly big smile on my face long enough to make my cheeks hurt cause my Prayers were answered and I had my own Christmas miracle.

We have a couple of baptisms coming up soon! One this week, one on the 9th of January and another on the 16th. We've worked really hard to teach these people, and I say it every time, and I know I'll say it again later but man watching people change their lives is an incredible thing to witness. When we teach, and the Spirit touches their heart, they know it, and their spirit clings to it, clutches it and doesn't let it leave. They love the spirit and the Gospel, and so do I. It's changed my life just as much as it has changed theirs.

I hope all of you have a Great New Years! And keep ALL the resolutions you make!
Love, Elder Verdoni

She's awesome
Mom's favorite game, Plants vs Zombies

Monday, December 21, 2015

Dec 21, 2015

Elder Verdoni versus the Christmas Party

NOTE: sorry this is long, I know.

I know I say this Every week, and I'm sure I'm going to continue to say it, but this week was incredible, and it went by so fast.
I've had to just to do so much this week that it just *poof!* flew by.

Elder Treadway and I were in charge of planning/organizing/preparing/executing a Christmas Party-Devotional for the mission. We have known for a few weeks but this was the week (it happened today). I can tell ya it was a lot of work, more than I thought, but it was fun. NOTE: I now know that my fiance will definitely be in charge of planning the wedding, cus shoot planning a five hour party was rough. 

Anyway we did a lot of running around and phone calls and office work, but it was quite fun. The Office Couples really helped out with the whole thing, it would have been impossible without them. But we did go without two very important people; President and Sister Carlson. They are stateside for another week for some things, but will return quite soon. 

We did the party at The Mission Home and it was awesome, it went really well! One thing I learned was "success comes from the preparation, not the execution."
There was a lot of socializing and fun and food but I really wanted to highlight my favorite:

The Carnival of Life.
So this little game was to represent the Plan of Salvation. We had set up 10 various little stations to do around the compound, stuff like minute to win it games and soccer penalty kicks, to watching Nativity videos and scripture mastery. Each rewarded tickets if they completed the activity. The catch is though, the spiritual stations (like the nativity and scrip mastery, ect) gave out different tickets than the fun ones. Elder Treadway spent his time trying to get people away from the spiritual ones and stay at the fun ones, while I did just the opposite. At the end, they were gathered one by one until all were together again.
Now, none of the missionaries knew what was going on, until I said "Elders and Sisters, I'm glad you all had fun, but welcome to judgement day." I then proceeded to have them count their tickets. The ones from the fun games meant nothing, but the ones from the spiritual activites were the ones that mattered, so who ever had the most tickets from the spiritual activities was the winner. I explained my role (Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost) and Elder Treadways (Satan) and how we tried to get them to the certain activities, and how those activities determined their eventual outcome. They got a kick out of it and thought it was really cool, as Did I. Elder Allen (office couple) then gave a talk about the plan of Salvation and the Birth of Christ. It was a really fun and cool experience.

We then called President and Sister Carlson and sung Christmas Carols to them, wishing them a Merry Christmas, they loved it and sang to us back, I love those two so much.
So the Christmas party was a kick and I'm exhausted. 

We have had some good things happen at Doe Community this week. We went their a couple times and we now have some Branch Missionaries who also come and help teach, loved it! The investigators are progressing really well and love us, and I love them. Crazy how you can develop a love for a people so fast, but I've done it. 

Sorry I don't have like super cool spiritual experiences to share this week, I've been busy.
Elder Verdoni

Monday, December 14, 2015

Dec 14, 2015

One of the Funnest Weeks Of My Mission

Oh man this week was beyond awesome. I loved every hour of the day, it was so cool! Every day is different here. After My Mission President said that, it has been proven true every day, especially for this week.

First, we had Guests most of the week!
The New missionaries arrived Tuesday night around 9 pm to our apartment. They were with us (doing orientation and getting things ready) till about 11 a.m. the next day where they were all transferred to their various areas. One of them, named Adjei-Boachie, is from Ghana, but specifically where I served! That was really cool, so we connected on old missionaries and places of his home. Really cool. 

The rest of that day and Wednesday was filled with teaching our investigators to get them ready for their baptism on Saturday, which is always fun. I love these people. Wednesday though, we went to Doe Community to teach the people there that I have talked about, we had eleven show up. They are great people too, this whole country is filled with great people. In the Evening though, Elder Hawkins arrived from the Provo MTC in Utah. So he is coming in blind to West Africa, to the heat and the language, from 20 degree weather UTAH. And all his luggage was lost on arrival to put the cherry on top. He was a great sport about it all and asked a lot of questions, which is great! He was fun to talk to. We tracked his luggage and it was stuck in Amsterdam (he never flew through there so we're still confused) but he got it about 2 days later. What a start to his mission!

Friday was the day that we were having our investigators interviewed at the Chapel for their baptism. Our District Leader, Elder Hales, and his companion Elder Adams, showed up to do the interviews. On top of those people, quite a few others were there to practice the Primary Program, and even more were setting up for a wedding the next day. So there were quite a few people there, and Elder Treadway brought a Football. It was a huge hit! from little kids to old people, they loved it. Some even surprised me by how good they could catch and throw, didn't see that coming! It was a ton of fun. 

We got the baptismal font cleaned and ready that evening for the baptism the next day.
Saturday was the baptism. It was to start around 10am. We got a call from our Zone Leaders Elder Wight and Elder Tarbah around 7 saying that their chapel baptismal font has no water, so they had to ship their four candidates from their area to ours (luckily they are pretty close). So we thought all was well until we find out that our font has no stopper and the water will just drain. Dangit. After some time, we jerry rigged our own and were ready to start the water.. but now our water didn't work! Oh man! so we ran around and the facilities manger and some others were helping us and FINALLY got it running. We just started the service as it was filling, it filled fast so that was okay. The service was great, I gave a talk on the Holy Ghost. I have really gained a testimony on the wonderful and sacred Gift that is the Companionship of the Holy Spirit and the guidance, comfort, counsel and protection that He gives. I also was the one who was able to baptize our investigators, that was so cool and such a great experience, I love them all so much. 

Later that day, we went back to Doe Community to teach them again, and extended a baptismal date to sixteen of them, I've never seen a happier group of people. And I love them so much! It's so odd to me how quickly I feel close to the people there and how much love I have for them. 

Sunday was a great day too, went back to Doe Community again to teach them even more, all loved it. I still loved it. Spent the rest of that day with great members and investigators. I just love this place so much, This is where I am supposed to be, and I know it. These are my brothers and sister and I can feel it. I love them.

Also, I am learning Chinese! On of our (now) Recent Converts is fluent and teaches it at the UN, So I am trying to pick it up haha, I only have the conversational basics like "how are you, I'm fine, good morning, thank you, see you" but it's pretty cool.

Anyway yeah, thats my week. Super filled and super cool! This coming week is going to be really busy too, but I'll let you know all about it.
Elder Verdoni

Monday, December 7, 2015

Dec 7, 2015

Christmas Mist and RPG's

This week was a cool week! Still went by super fast but I remember much more than I did of last week! so let me talk about it!

First! Christmas Mist. So this week Christmas Mist started, it is pretty much this dense mist that covers the whole city from now till early January. From our office we can see all of Downtown, but now, I can't see any of it, it's cool. The best part is that it cools the weather down, which is so nice because it's getting so hot. It's to the point where If I'm only sweating on my face when I go to bed it's a good night and I can sleep well. It's hot here.

This week, Sister Smith, the receptionist for the Mission Office had her birthday, so she had cake. But this was real cake. PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE. It was the most delicious thing I've had in 15 months, or darn close.

Okay and as for the RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) let me explain, it's not as exciting as one would hope. We have a member at our Branch who is a good friend of ours, really cool, funny guy. We were talking to him one day and he started talking about how during the Civil War his Grandpa taught him how to work, assemble, and shoot weapons. He explained everything from AK47's to an RPG to a Grenade like it was normal. I didn't know you could do something to an RPG to stop it from exploding and instead it just becomes some huge rock that you shoot. But he did! I thought it was awesome at least. 

I also have an Investigator, Sister P, she is a great woman. The problem we face with her though is that she is illiterate and cannot speak English well. She speaks colloqua (really bad English). We were teaching her with some members this week and she brought up how Elder Treadway's name and mine were too difficult to say and remember. So the members told her to come up with names for us that she could remember. Elder Treadway is now T-Boy, and I am Sonny Boy. Those are Common nicknames here and I guess they stick with her because she really does call us that now, it's so funny.

The Embassy of the United States had a little fair this week, it's where they sell all their trinkets and souvenirs and cater it to the white folk (and make it super expensive, smart move though) Of course I went to see if I could find some things. I bought two Nativity scenes, one carved out of wood, but my favorite is MADE OUT OF BULLETS. Yeah, it's so cool. And incredible Ironic. Things made to kill and destroy are changed to represent the Prince of Peace Himself. I though it fit really well with the Scripture in Isaiah, "they shall beat their swords into plowshares."

Pretty much that was my week, I have been working in the office a lot getting ready for the Transfers today, and preparing for the new missionaries coming in Tomorrow, super excited, the Mission is growing so fast, faster than we can kind of handle, but we'll manage. This upcoming week should be filled pretty much with teaching people. Wednesday we're going to Doe Community to start teaching a large group of people who want to be baptized, really excited.
Love you! 

Letter to Mom
We met a man who is a Marine and works at the Embassy, he didn't know the church was here and has been inactive since he has been deployed. Super excited to see us, and we were super excited to meet him. Okay mostly me cause he's a marine, but he wants us to meet with him and yeah it's super cool!

Christmas is coming up! How exciting!! I am excited, they actually celebrate it here! and the Ebola rules will be lifted prior to that so I will be getting FM's! WHOOO!!! 

But really I am so glad that I am serving here, or well serving at all. I have grown up so much, physically and spiritually. I was going through older emails, I don't know how much I have changed, but I hope I have. I feel that I have. I shutter at the thought though of who I would be if I didn't serve a mission, I would be so lost and without direction and would not have nearly as much help from Above as I do now. I know I came here to bless and serve others, but I feel that I have been just as equally blessed. I love it so much.

Rasta Wig

Bullet Nativity
Craft Fair - US Embassy
Packing charcoal with a member family

Elder Treadway Helping with Laundry
 Christmas Decorations and Christmas Mist

Monday, November 30, 2015

Nov 30, 2015

Missionary served Hot

Hey everyone! This week was really good, we taught a lot of lessons and it was awesome! I really enjoy being able to get out more and teach. This week went by really fast though, so I really don't know if I have too much to talk about, but that might also be because I am exhausted. 

We are preparing 8 people for Baptism on the 12th of December, and it is such a great experience. One of my favorite things about being a missionary is that I am able to witness people's lives change, or see people change their lives actually. 

With the ones I'm teaching, I see just that. I am teaching one man who is from Togo. He was raised with Traditionalism or Pagan. But he wanted to know if Christianity is the right thing, and wow to see how he has grown. He reads the Book of Mormon everyday, he is so much happier and it makes me so happy to see that. I love being a missionary.

Today was really fun! We met up with the Elders in Paynesville and Congo Town to play some Soccer. Man I love soccer, it was so much fun. Our team won, did I score any? No. But I defended my goal pretty darn well, definitely improving. 

Man it was so hot today though, I am burned, but not as bad as my Companion, he looks like Rudolph haha. After the activity we all went out to eat lunch. It was such a good time being with all of these Elders, We're all pretty good friends. As we were leaving though, things got crazy. Saw a car hit a motorcycle. The bike tried to make a right turn from the inside lane and got clipped by the car. No one got hurt thankfully, and the police were right by so they responded quick and helped out! Figured it was note-worthy.

Well, sorry if this email is all over the place, I promise I tried, I am just so tired.
Love you all
Elder Verdoni
The crew
Got this sucker in my kitchen. that makes me and the bugs 2-0

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nov 23, 2015

Doe Community and EBOLA

Okay lets start this off with the elephant in the room.. for those of you who havent seen the elephant yet, it's ebola. Yes three new cases appeared this week in Liberia. No we are not in Danger. It was a family and all three were quickly recognized and sent to the Ebola Treatment Unit here, the response to it now was MUCH faster than before. So fast I am not worried about it. Nor should any of you be! To be safe, although, we are following some rules for a while including, No handshaking, no eating food off the street, and no FM (free meals). That makes life a lot tougher for a missionary but we're used to hard things here so we keep on.

Besides that, this week was amazing! I dont know why but these past weeks have been flying! they are going so fast, its weird.
I had an interview with President Carlson this week and that was nice, even though I get to see and interact with him everyday, it was nice to sit and have a one on one conversation with him. He is a great man.

But the coolest thing that happened this week was a little place called Doe Community. We went there Sunday with President and Sister Carlson and two other missionaries. Elder Treadway and I have been assigned to also work here and teach some people that have been coming to church for the last little while. During the second hour, we went to the Gospel Essentials class (where the investigators and Recent Converts of the Church go to be taught and receive answers to their questions) and there were quite a few of them. So we asked "those of you who are not baptized please raise your hand" and WOOSH all of them rose their hands. All THIRTY of them. wow.
We had an excellent discussion and they gave very intelligent responses. Most all have been coming for 6 months or more and are quite prepared.   

We are planning to have a baptismal service for them in late December, and another baptismal service for our other branch (with 10 investigators) in early December. It's really weird covering two branches and areas now that both have progressing investigators ready for baptism. It is A LOT of work but I am so excited to get down to it.

I hope all of you have a great week and a great Thanksgiving!
Elder Verdoni

Bike Taxi man with a D-Backs hat, I had to
My birthday/Halloween package arrived!

Fishing boat


Monday, November 16, 2015

Nov 16, 2015

This week went by really fast, really fast. In fact this whole Transfer (a Six week period, we have started week 4) has gone by crazy fast!
But fortunately I do have some things to talk about.

Dry Season has started this month, it's one of the two seasons Liberia gets all year, Wet and Dry. But even in Dry season it rains haha, it's awesome. What's not awesome is how hot it's getting, I haven't been able to check the weather, but that with the humidity, can kill a man. Or at least try to kill me, I drank like 5 Liters of water a day this week, and I was sweating bullets. Worst part about it though, was last night. So Mad. Hot all day, come back at night, eventually get ready for bed and as I get in bed, I feel no breeze. Now mind you our generator goes off at night, so we rely on a breeze to keep us cool, especially in dry season. But no breeze, no nothing. I tried to sleep, but I was miserable. it was a really rough and uncomfortable night. Not my first, nor my last but what made it so bad was that I couldnt take it anymore, by 5:30 I was up and was too hot to go back to bed, so went to drink some water and stepped out on the balcony..AND IT WAS COLD OUTSIDE. It has been cool all night long yet for some reason it never reached into our bedroom. Haha sorry I spent so much time on this but It bugged me:)

Speaking of bug, I got attacked by one this week.
I dont know what it was. but it was a monster. It landed on my lips as I was in my room and I smacked it (and myself) off onto the floor. This thing was mean, its legs had like pricks on it and its pincers were huge! he didnt live long.

Anyway, on a real missionary note, we had our Mission Leadership Council this week. This is where us, and the President meet with the Zone Leaders to help the mission and get things moving. I love it. It's such a great opportunity to work with the leaders here and help the mission in such a direct way, also it's so awesome to learn and be with President Carlson so much, he is a great man.

Lastly, played Basketball this week with a few other Elders in our Zone. Our team was Elder Ojo, Elder Randall, and us. We dominated. Basketball is my worst sport at home, but when I play on a broken concrete slab with a make-shift hoop attached to a palm tree, I don't do half bad! It was a lot of fun. 

I love this place, even though it's really hot. I wouldn't trade this place for the world, I am so glad I'm here.
Elder Verdoni

Smile for the camera!

Playing basketball