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

Monday, November 9, 2015

Nov 9, 2015

Liberian Thanksgiving

This week was such a good week, I can tell because by Sunday evening I was exhausted, almost too tired to get up from my desk, this week was a lot of work.

The week was so good because all we did was normal missionary work, just go and teach people. I loved it so much. We have 6 people progressing towards Baptism this month as well as two part-member families we are about to start teaching. The work in Liberia is incredible.

A cool thing about this week was Liberia's Thanksgiving. Now when I first heard about it I told myself, "Yeah, they just say that, it's not gonna be like home." You know what I was? I was wrong, really really wrong. It went like this; Since no one is gonna celebrate thanksgiving lets go get a nice lunch. We did that and as we were walking back to the chapel we got invited to our Recent Converts house to eat. Okay no big deal, I have learned to eat a lot. Man, we ate a lot, haha, they really celebrate it here, except not with turkey, just rice. Little did I know, I was about to experience THREE more of those before the day was over. It was really tough actually, so much food, it stopped being enjoyable and turned into endurance, and then torture. I was so full that I hurt. Awesome day.

On another note, I started the book of Isaiah this week, and boy can that man write. It takes a lot of rereading and thinking and searching to fully understand what he is saying, but I have enjoyed it so far and I am that much closer to finishing the Old Testament!

Now for the crazy note. The Mayor of Monrovia has started some city-wide beautification project. Sounds good right? I thought so too, until It looked like a bomb has gone off all over the place. I would take pictures, but I felt that would be insensitive. Along the roads and all over building (people's houses, shops, shacks) are destroyed. It's a crazy thing to see, honestly looked like a war-zone. You get the demolition crew with their bulldozers and such, and to protect them you've got the riot police, it's insane! One night, as we were walking back to our apartment around 7pm we ran into a police roadblock. It was not letting any cars down the street we needed to go, but allowed foot-traffic (mind you it's pitch black outside so it's all dramatic 'cause you got the police with their megaphones yelling and their lights flashing over all the buildings) so we walk through so confused to run into the "beautification." More police, more lights, two huge Backhoes with a dump truck crushing buildings on the road. And at the end of the road you have two dump trucks blocking the road to stop traffic. It felt like a movie with the way it looked, so crazy. Now granted, the houses she is taking down are ones illegally built too close to the road, in alleys, or without permits. But they don't compensate the people or help them relocate, they just come and destroy and move on. Pretty hardcore stuff. Luckily none of the members of the Church or our investigators have been affected by it.

Liberia is crazy and I love it.
Well, this week went by too fast to remember much else, I hope it was a good one.
Take care,
Elder Verdoni.

Here is the video they made last week with Elder Bednar and his wife.
Elder Bednar Visits Liberia LINK

Donuts and Weights 


Monday, November 2, 2015

Nov 2, 2015

You know what this week was? Ridiculous(ly awesome)

NOTE: Sorry this is sooo long, just had a lot to say, don't mean to bore you!
This week was so cool! Also super stressful at times, Also super spiritual at times. Let me begin!

So to start, I can't talk too much about my investigators or proselyting because well, I taught a total of four lessons this week. yeah, 4. And even then, half were 20 minutes or less because I got sick (what a surprise!) I ate Shawarma this week cus you know, it's in the Avengers, and was it worth it? I'd say yes. Will I eat it again? Not in this country, no, and that's because it got me sick, just for that day though so no worries.  ( Shawarma scene from Avengers )

We have worked a lot this week. The big things were getting new missionaries from the MTC on Tuesday. They are a great group. The Lord is really blessing this mission with outstanding missionaries. I keep thinking to myself, "man I would love to be that Elder's companion one day" Because they are just solid and prepared and so ready to work. We had 6 come in, Elders Mulbah, Dogbatse, Edosomwan, Arvig, and Mineer as well as Sister Adu-Tutu. They are from Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, US, and Ghana. I love them all so much already. We spent the remainder of that day doing an orientation for them and what not. They all left to their areas Wednesday morning.

The next day we had a group of missionaries leaving here to the MTC. That was fun although we didn't help too much as we went up to a District of missionaries in Caldwell. That was fun, we went on a half-day exchange with the District Leader and his companion. It was actually really fun and I think that companionship will really start to improve and really have the spirit of unity.

Friday was supposed to be our proselyting day but got cut short due to my shawarma. I felt better in the evening, luckily, as we had a meeting with the Mission President and the Film crew and Church public relations. As part of Elder David A. Bednar's visit, the church wants to show that Liberia is a safe place, that the missionary work (and the missionaries) are safe and productive and that the church here is doing well. So the best way they thought to do that was to have the upcoming World Report on Liberia. So that's why they came. Best part? we're involved.

Saturday was a big day. Started off great as our Generator was having issues which meant no power, and no water to bathe with. But have no fear, I have learned to adapt rather quickly. Luckily for me, it was raining pretty good outside so I put on some gym shorts, grabbed my soap and ran out the door. Worked pretty well and now I can say I have showered in the rain. how cool is that?

President picked us up around 7:45 and took us to pick of the crew (they're from Ghana but the camera guy was the main camera operator for the movie Freetown! how cool!! and the Public Relations guy is from Nigeria, (we got along really well as he has been to Mesa, AZ quite a number of times) So for a few hours we went to a number of Missionaries and interviewed them! They asked them questions about the work and Liberia and what not. They had them walk around and contact people and interact with others and filmed them in some lessons(we also participated). And at the end Elder Treadway and I were also interviewed. That was awesome, I got to talk about how I was originally called here, them moved, and now I'm back. It was really fun. So make sure you watch the World Report this General Conference because I might be there! (if I make the final cut.)

Sunday was the really big day though. All three districts in Liberia met together at some big pavilion in downtown Monrovia. That was really cool. I was an usher and that was fun, I was really glad to see my converts there. But holy cow what an experience. I went from never seeing an Apostle of the Lord in person to hearing him, a President of the Seventy, and a member of the Seventy all at the same time. Wow, it was incredible. 

Elder Bednar's talk was great. He talked about Grace, and how we use the Lord's Strength to get us through our trials. He used himself as an example. He said he's not qualified to be an Apostle, he's not smart enough, he's not the most experienced, he lacks a lot, yet he is one. And that is because the Lord called him, and the Lord qualifies whom he calls. At the end of his talk he said, "I'd like us now to sing How Firm a Foundation and as we do, I want us to think about the Lords grace, because that is what this song is about." And what followed is what I will describe as an outpouring of the Spirit. As soon as we all started to sing, about 4,100 in total, the Spirit entered the whole hall. To be honest, I couldn't sing every word, I had lost it pretty early in to the song, as did most the other missionaries around me. The Spirit I felt then is not something I will forget easily. I could compare it to how I have felt in the Temple, it was just an overpowering, and very humbling experience. 

One thing I love is the way the people sing here in Africa. They don't just sing the words without thinking, they sing it with all their heart and strength. They bare their testimonies through their singing. They may not sing on key or on Tempo but they sing with all their heart, and it was just a great experience to witness that on such a large scale. 

After that there was a leadership training meeting with Elder Bednar and that was a cool experience too, he did a Q&A. Really cool. Elder Bednar is a really great man, he is a normal man too. I forget that they are ordinary people with an extraordinary calling. I learned so much in that meeting, maybe not to apply to my mission, but a lot to carry home. Just an incredible thing to meet an Apostle. 

This week was awesome, yet went by super fast. I forgot to even mention my birthday haha. It went well! But can't do too much with it on a mission, although it was still fun!

I know that life is not an easy thing, and that we get hit with a lot of trials, even when we are doing everything right. But it's all the more opportunity to remember to rely on the Lord and His Grace. I have learned that time and time again being on my mission and specifically being here in Liberia. I love my Savior, I love His plan, I love His Church, I love the fact I get to represent Him and His church to the world. Just trying to find ways to do it better.
Elder Verdoni

A girl wearing an Arizona shirt

 Filming crew

 Liberia District Conference 

 Brother Olukanni, Public Relations. such a cool guy!