Monday, August 8, 2016

The Work Goes On!

Aug 8, 2016

Hey everyone,
This week was actually a lot of fun!
We have been preparing three people for their baptism this week, Bill, Esther, and Beauty. It's been a great experience being with and teaching these three, I'll tell you about how the Service was next week but I'll show you the photos in a couple weeks.

We've had great members with us this week, I am so grateful for their willingness to serve and teach! We really wouldn't make the progress we have without their help. Members are the key, here and at home. 

Sunday was pretty cool, First Sundays of the month are always packed! So many people show up only on the first Sunday. The service was great though, wonderful testimonies that I needed to hear. Towards the end of the service I was called in to the Branch Presidents office for a meeting. Now there are two branches in the building we use, Caldwell, and Upper Caldwell. Elder Degen is in the other branch. Turns out the two branches are coming together to host a little send-off party/fireside for the two of us plus a couple other missionaries who are leaving soon. That'll be Saturday, after the baptism, so that day should be great.

Also today we had some fun! Being Elder Degen's last pday before he goes home next week, we met up with a few other Elders to eat Ghanaian fufu, go to a bakery and walk some train tracks! There are some tracks here that run from the docks to way inland, these tracks fun 50 yards in front of my house and it also crossed the road via a bridge by the restaurant. So after taking photos with the Elders and the bakery owner, we did the next logical thing which was to climb the adjacent hill and get on the bridge! Now don't worry about the train, it hardly passes through and people walk the tracks all the time, but the bridge was just fun to be on, sweet pictures! But like I said, I'll show you those myself soon enough.

Looking forward to another great week ahead, more work and more joy. And the funny thing is that is always continues. I'll never finish the work, when I go, another Elder will replace me and work on what I left behind. We can never finish the work, but we're not meant to, we're here to do our part, and to do it well.
Elder Verdoni

Monday, August 1, 2016

Liberian Independence

Aug 1, 2016

Another week came and I thought I would have time with it but it ran from me too fast! Still a good one!

Tuesday was Liberia's independence Day and holy cow we had fun but it was a little crazy. So first, I found myself at home for a little bit when I went to our Elders Quorum President's house for lunch. We were eating salad (not common) with Avocado, cucumber, and tomato(Unheard of) while listening to Jayson Mraz. Then after teaching a lesson to their niece who is investigating the church, we played Monopoly with the family with NCIS on the TV. 

I know all this may sound very normal to all of you but I assure you THE ENTIRE TIME I WAS JUST SO HAPPY AND CONFUSED WITH WHAT WAS GOING ON I HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCE SOMETHING SO NICE, I MEAN NCIS WAS ON THE TV, COME ON. Sorry, had to let it out somehow. We had a good time, except when I first showed up the rain was heavy and I slipped and fell in a pile of mud. Awesome. They drove me home afterwards to change.

We saw a few other families and investigators that day but most were busy celebrating by eating rice and playing football (the real one). But holy Moses these people go insane for Independence. Honestly it's hard for me to describe so I'll just list some descriptive words; Music, people, SO MANY PEOPLE, riots, thieves, short or limited clothing on those people, clubs, alcohol, slight mayhem, basically having the time of their lives. Like I live outside the city and that's what I experienced.

On another note, we are doing well preparing our friends for their baptism in a couple weeks! I am hoping they will continue to keep their commitments and grow their testimonies, super excited for them. They are working hard. I really love the Branch and the members that are inside of it, there's just a spirit of friendship and union here and I love it. Feels like home.

Well, I could have probably put in more quality things, but this is all I can think of now. I love this work and how much focus and energy it takes to be successful.

"When you play, play hard. When you work, don't play at all"

Elder Verdoni

Monday, July 25, 2016

Just Call Me Rooney

July 25, 2016

Just Call Me Rooney

Well this week started on the wrong foot, followed by a series of unavoidable wrong feet. But I still had fun with it and really made the best of what we could!

This week we have had no water, and no power. Took me back to the good old days, didn't know I could miss fetching water from a well with a bucket till I had to do it again! and again! and again,,, and again, and tonight as well. Good work out on my back though!
Ever bathed with less than a gallon of water? surprised at how clean I can get with so little water! (But I could be wrong)

As for the missionary aspect of things it's going well, we found a number of new investigators and one is a family, okay 5 of them are a family! The issue is (and is very reoccurring here) that they are not married, and therefore cannot be baptized, at least until they are married. But they are serious and have been to the Church so were hopeful. Just crazy to think now I am finding people that I will not be able to personally see baptized. Kinda wild. Dont worry though I'm focused. But we're working on a few people who will be baptized the 13th of August though, and they are progressing extremely well, love them to death.

The reason for the subject line though is because today as a zone we played football! And me with my Red Devil (Manchester United) Jersey swept the field today! Okay not really, I'm nowhere near as good as the African Elders, they're insane, but I did my part. Didn't score any goals but I sure defended my goal and its keeper well enough! It's my favorite sport by far, I just wish I could play it.

Anyway, another week come and gone, they are going way too fast!
Elder Verdoni

Monday, July 18, 2016

July 18, 2016

A Much Better Week

Ya Ello! Hada (how the) day?
So as the subject line says, this week was much better! The Lord was just testing our resolve I suppose and I think we passed the test because man the miracles came flying! A number of serious new investigators and plenty of members willing to come out and work with us, it was really good.

Teaching a lot of families right now and it's been great! They are all pretty serious and progressing, the only issue is that some are not "legally" but traditionally married without Government recognition, hence the not legal. So with that they cannot be baptized until its registered with the Government, for a pretty hefty price for most Liberians.. so, small small.

We have also had a lot of fun this week with our house guests.. Mice. Man we have declared war on those losers and so far, it's an even fight. Last night out of three we found, we got one, and broke our broom and our mop in the process. But still a victory. We ran out of traps this week so we were left with broom sticks and shoes. Those suckers are fast! But my lightning-like broom strikes are faster! Au Revoir little mouse.

Sorry not pictures as of late, can't find a place that has wifi! You'll know when I do though!
Love you guys!
Elder Verdoni

Monday, July 11, 2016

July 11, 2016

You Win Some, You Lose Some Too

This week sure did have it's ups and downs, but that's the way life is!

Elder Tana and I were a little less than successful this week in our work. Just one of those weeks where you plan well, you work hard, and yet still things end up falling through and not going the way you wanted. 

We had a lot of appointments fall through this week, and things working out in pretty much as opposite as we could have wanted, but it was still pretty good.

On Thursday we had Zone Meeting, and that was pretty good, Elder Degen instructed on Humility and Virtue, I learned a lot actually. Humility is total dependency on a higher power, or Our Father. Humility is not what a lot of us think about. Most of us have seen Local or General leaders of the church who are very upfront, or bold, or even abrasive. Not usual definitions we put to Humble. But most of them are that way because they are not here to please us, they are here to serve God, with exactness and without restriction. So at times they have to be willing to offend, or as the bible says, "to salute no man by the way." They gather their strength from Christ, for the love him, rely on him, and follow him as best they can and help us follow Him too. Humility is strength. It is power. It is boldness. When we are humble in following His will, we are not afraid, "for perfect love casteth out fear." It was just interesting to me to think that people are willing to be so weak, to lose so much strength, because they refuse to receive God's help. Why anyone would reject a God's help is beyond me, but I guess that's why I'm a missionary, to help people learn that there is a God who is willing to offer his help and strength to our lives. I try to receive it daily, and I try to help others receive it too.

Other than that, this week was nice, I love the people. I think I say that a lot but if there's anything I want the people here to ever remember me for, it's that. It's not my powerful messages, or the number of converts, but that I love them. That they felt a piece of God's love for them because I served and loved them. And I will do that till the very end.
Elder Verdoni

Pics will be updated later in the week :(

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

July 5, 2016

Remember what its like to be dry? Me either

Well I'll start by saying that I have never seen more rain in my life than I did yesterday. To celebrate the Birthday of the Great United States, Elder Degen and I with our companions went into town to meet up with a few other Elders (Randall, Wight, Carlson, Hales, Harman, and their companions). We left our area with a slight sprinkle, no problem. By the time we got to town, the rain was falling so hard that the city literally turned into Splash Mountain.

Certain parts of the road were heavily flooded, which we had to walk through, the manhole covers were pushed off and water was gushing out. At the climax of it, the 10ft deep canals that run through the city overflowed. There was no road, there was no sidewalk. Just a river. The rain was torrential. Where we were to meet up with everyone was on higher ground so when we got there the flooding was gone. But there wasn't an inch of me that wasn't wet. There's a road here called Somalia Drive, the Elders who took that road said the only way to pass was by bus, because the water was up to the door handles on some cars. So Dope.I honestly loved every second.

Other than that, we had a successful baptism on Saturday, I had three and Elder Degen had two. It was a great baptism, a lot of people came to show their support for those baptized. The Lord even stopped the rain, brought a hot sun and puffy clouds just in time too, and brought the rain right back after the closing prayer was said. It's safe to say He was pleased with their decision to make those covenants, as were we!

Nothing too crazy besides that, just living in West Africa and loving it!
Elder Verdoni

Monday, June 27, 2016

June 27, 2016

General Authorities and Blue Rice

Well this week was really eventful!
First off, the rain is killer! Don't get me wrong I absolutely love the rain but I do come home wet and muddy everyday haha. I am just too lazy to wear those dang rain boots! I enjoy my sandals just fine and they are dry enough in the morning haha.

But really this week was really cool, Elder Vinson of the Seventy, and the new Africa West Area President came to speak to us on Thursday. What an incredible experience. My Zone had a special musical number, so we sang "Bright Beams Our Father's Mercy" to the tune of "Come Thou Fount" It was pretty good! But after we sang Elder Vinson used it as a lesson! 

That a lower light, is the light below the light house to give the ships out at sea the more direct route to the safe harbor. The lighthouse gives the general idea to wear the harbor is, but the avoid the reefs and rocks a lower light is needed. Of course we are those lower lights. He used a story of a time when Elder Packer was in Samoa and was on a boat en route to another island at night and in the midst of a severe storm. They reached close to the island where the lighthouse was but could not approach the shore due to the rocks lurking underneath the water. The problem was that the man who was to use his cars headlights as the Lower Light was there, but asleep and the car was off. They waited and waited in the storm. They had to leave at a point due to the severity of the storm and took a very dangerous route around to the other end of the Island. Elder Packer said they almost capsized and drowned. All because one man was asleep. 

I cannot afford to "sleep" and turn my light off. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father who is heaven" That light of mine is what will guide people to the safety of our Father. I won't know when those people will see the lighthouse and then be looking for the lower light to guide them. I need to be ready at all times, wherever I may be, to teach and testify about Christ and his Glorious Gospel. I love it.

Wow this long.
On Saturday, one of my converts, Comfort, got married to her long time boyfriend, Timothy. She was baptized in October and Timothy will be baptized soon. Super happy for them and they were happy too. It was really nice going to that wedding because I saw a lot of my friends/converts. It was super fun. She came to take a photo with me and the she danced with me, don't worry she's a mom, it wasn't weird just awesome and everyone got a kick of the white man dancing. Anyway they fed us before we left and it was fried rice, with some sides a DELICIOUS chocolate cake. But the weird thing was that the rice was blue! I have no idea how or when they would have added the color but it was awesome!

Life is so good. Tonight I will go home and eat french fries for dinner. And then tomorrow spaghetti. Our goal is no rice. That's what happens when you put 3 Americans and one Ivorian (Ivory Coast) who loves fries and pizza together.

But on the serious note, we are having a baptism this week of the couple that was married two weeks back. Super excited for them, they've made great strides!
Love you!
Elder Verdoni

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

June 21, 2016

Hey Everyone! Instead of spending 10 minutes trying to decide what to put as my subject line, I just left it hope to figure it out by the end of this email and not forgetting to put anything there.

This week was good! In terms of missionary work it was sweet! Elder Tana and I are steadily improving with the area and the people we're teaching. We have a number of investigators but my favorite as of now are the families we are teaching, it's hard to find strong knit families here, but God has helped me find three of them. One of which just got married at the church on Saturday and will be baptized in two weeks. Man I love them, they are just awesome people. We have been working hard with the other families (no small help from the members either) to help them progress. They're great. 

Something that can just make your heart sing is when you see a less active member come to church. This Sunday we had two. We've been working with them very closely and it's been a great experience. I love them all. That's just what I have been trying to do. Love the people. Once someone understands that you actually care for them and are will to help them and become their friend, they tend to open up and listen to what you have to say because at some point they start caring about you too. I'm not here just speak some words and make sure they come to church. I am here to make sure they know that God loves them and that happens by feeling my love, which gives them the confidence to do the things I ask them to do to repent and feel the Spirit. 

Elder Tana has also been improving in his teaching abilities greatly, he isn't reluctant to open his mouth and testify, which has been a great blessing to me haha. I love that man, he's a lot of fun and a great Elder.

The rain is still coming, which is why I didnt send this yesterday, the storm knocked out the Internet.. but I am loving the rain, sure not getting this level of rain at home so I am soaking it all in...literally (Ba dum pish)

Well that was my week, it went by super fast! This coming one will be pretty cool as Elder Vinson of the 70 is coming to visit the Mission on Thursday, stoked.
Elder Verdoni

no new pics until later

Monday, June 13, 2016

June 13, 2016

Tis the Season! Of rain!

Oh man its rained everyday this week, not all day but at least once everyday and I have loved it!! In fact, we were at the mission home earlier today and some of the zinc roofing got ripped off because of the wind! So cool!

Elder Tana and I got drenched this week was well. We were walking back from a lesson and we saw some clouds rolling in pretty fast, so you know, a little rain was coming but we can handle a drizzle. No. Straight downpour... and the rain drops were huge! We took cover in some little shop selling lots of plastic goods like bowls and such.. a few powerful gusts of wind came in and blew all his good everywhere. Time to show the people what missionaries are made of, and boy did they get a kick out of it! Mind you we are amid a market with tons of people watching and laughing at us run around in the rain trying to catch all this mans goods. I had a great time. In the end we got him and his friends number and are seeing them tomorrow. Worked out well!

We've got some great families were teaching too. The sisters here before left us two sweet families who are preparing to get married and be baptized. Its real rare here and its been a very good experience to teach them. They are so prepared and so intelligent. Gosh I love them! I will try to get photos of them soon, this week if I can.

Really I am just enjoying life and taking in everything I can from this wonderful place. Only downside is that I get fed all the time and its giving me a cute little rice gut. So I've been working hard to get rid of that too, and I will! 

I love you all!
Elder Verdoni

Letter to Mom - (because I hate spiders)
This week was great, worked with a lot of members, lots of lessons, lots of rain, lots of Killer Bunnies (card game), and LOTS OF SPIDERS. I have fought and killed the biggest spiders I've ever seen in my life this week. Huge. As big as my palm. 

One was pregnant and hatched all its babies as we were trying to kill it. luckily I had bug spray at the time and blew all 1000 of them to kingdom come. They are all trying to escape the rain. but I legit thanked God for allowing us to catch the prego spider before it hatched in our house............


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

June 7, 2016


Hey everyone!
Sorry this is a day late, we got really busy yesterday and bad traffic caused us not to come home till around 6pm.

In short I am loving this place so much, It has been so much fun working out in a new area. My new companion is Elder Tana from Hawaii!! He's Samoan and huge. Its been so fun. The other missionaries, Elder Degen and Elder Smith are also great guys. The apartment is also SO DANG NICE. We have near constant power, a generator if we dont, a washing machine, tons of games, and 4 Americans, we have too much fun haha.

Of course its not without its challenges. All four of us have been working blind here as the sisters were here before and didn't leave us with much to work with. So we have struggled a little bit but it has improved day by day. The people and families we have found have been really good and have great potential, I'm excited to spend my next 3 months here.

It also rains cats and dogs here. Rainy season has begun (as I type this I am wearing boots) and it's not gonna stop. I love the rain, even if it makes things a bit harder at times. 

Also a great strength I have had here is Sister Smith. She's like the Secretary over at the mission office, which doubles for the church offices in Liberia. Her and I are close and she's in my area! she's a lot of fun and makes great food. Her whole family is awesome. 

Well you're going to have to endure one more week without pictures! The cafes here charge way too much and so I am gonna buy a modem so I don't have to pay tons of money..
But I love you guys, till next week!
Elder Verdoni

Letter to mom
Life is nice though. Holy cow I miss so many people from my last area. I wish I could just spend hours telling you about all of them, I wish you knew them like I do, you'd love them. I don't feel it to much now but going home will just tear my to pieces. Being so excited to see you, but being absolutely heartbroken at the fact that I will most likely never see most of the ones I love again till after this life. It's a hard thought, but I have been able to stay in contact with them so that's been good.

I really really love you mom, you are such a good mother. I read Elder Hollands talk, Behold Thy Mother and man I love you. I miss you too, a lot. I cant believe how much time I don't have left.
anyway I gotta go, I love you!!

Because no pics were sent, here are some from the rainy season last year!