Monday, February 29, 2016

Feb 29, 2016

Alma 26:36

"Wanderers in a strange Land" That Is exactly who I am and the Lord has been very mindful of me, and the other missionaries here in Liberia. It's been a great week. 

So I'll start with the big story, we had a baptism! And Oh man this baptism was a memorable one, firstly because of this awkward statement; Peter was not baptized this week like I said he would be.. Peter is married, but his marriage is a traditional one, and not yet registered by the Government, just the families. So in order for him to be baptized he needs to have the certificate by the Government. It was a little hard for him, and really hard to tell him. But his faith is great and he is working to have that certificate within the next couple weeks, he is solid, so we're are excited for him. 

We had a baptism of 4. And it started out with it's fair share of Wahala's (pigeon= problems) First, there was not enough water in the font so we waited over an hour for the water to pump into 1st) the well, then 2nd) the building and 3rd) the font. Well we checked after an hour and a half and there was nothing coming, we waited for nothing. Great, we're only and hour and half late. Okay we will just do a kneeling baptism with the water that we have, it'll work. So we go to get the baptismal clothes ready and SURPRISE THEY WERE ALL GONE SAVE 4 TIGHT AND/OR RIPPED JUMPSUITS. *insert loonnnggg sigh* "They told us everything would be ready! We gave them more than a weeks notice!"....."TIA" (This is Africa= The code word used by missionaries and Liberians alike to explain the frustrating, confusing, or just plain weird)

In the end it worked out and the was a wonderful sense of the Spirit there during the baptism. I don't know how to accurately describe how happy the 4 men were to be baptized. But you could just feel it radiating off of them. They didn't care about the problems or tight clothes, they were getting baptized. Thats all that matters. It was a great experience for me and for them.

In other news, Elder Treadway is going home TOMORROW! haha man he is outta here! He is spending the night with us and will leave tomorrow sometime to the airport. I can't believe he is going home, when he got to Liberia he had six months left! It doesnt feel that it went that fast, but it did. And it is for me and its a little intimidating considering that I don't feel I've learned all I can, nor changed as much as I need to. But I am working my hardest to Become the Man the Lord needs me to be so I can help those He has prepared.

One thing I've learned and cherish (and I'm sorry If I don't word this right or it sounds jumbled, I really don't know how to put it into words) is that this Gospel is REAL. It is not just something we say and talk about to make ourselves feel happy inside and blind ourselves from the world. It's not just fluff, or air, or words. It's real. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the one key to total happiness, to confidence and hope. To peace. It is accompanied by a real power. A power that can be felt, physically and spiritually. And it is used and brought forth by a real being, someone who cares, who loves, and who knows us. who knows me. They are there, Our Father, and His Son our Savior, and we can know that and feel their love through The Holy Spirit. I want you to feel that too. The love and the peace that comes from their guidance, Their Gospel. Seeing peoples lives change, their happiness increase and being touched by the Spirit because they live this gospel has changed my own life. I Want it to change yours. Even if you live it now, you can live it better you can find even more happiness I promise. Haha cause I am far from perfect (HAHAHA) and there's a lot I need to do better on, but the love of God is there, and just want to make sure that everyone who reads this knows that they can feel that. Anywhere, all the time.
I love you,
Elder Verdoni

Monday, February 22, 2016

Feb 22, 2016

1 Peter 4: 12-14

This email shouldn't be as long as last time, I don't think I have much to talk about considering this week snuck by me, but I'll see what I can find noteworthy.

The first thing is that we went on an Exchange with the Zone Leaders out in New Georgia, Elder Cichoski and Elder Degen with their companions. It was a lot of fun! They are great missionaries and it was a lot of fun being with them, they work hard. The roughest part although was the simple fact that there are no extra beds there, so Elder Wight and I came up with the obvious solution. Lay a sheet on the concrete floor and sleep on that. We did. It was not fun. I felt something crawling on me all night. I did sleep pretty well though sometime after 3am though, so we're good. The rest of that day was sweet! The best part? We taught a Ghanaian family! We even spoke twi! Well at least I did with the family, oh how I miss that. The lesson was great and they have great faith. After the lesson, they fed us Ghanaian food! Kokonte with groundnut soup. oh man oh man oh man! Loved it. I met the women in my area a couple months earlier, so when we met we recognized each other and got a long good really fast. It was incredible.

Another cool story: My Investigator, Peter, gave me permission to tell this story. He was bearing his testimony at the end of a lesson, we were talking about faith and miracles and he shared one miracle with us. I'll try to write it as best as I can remember. "during the Civil war, I had a lot of close calls with Death, being a Krahn man (the tribe that was largely hated and hunted during that time) it was a hard time for me. One day, I was caught and they took me and a group of men to the beach (that's when my heart stopped, beaches mean death). They stripped us down and lined us up facing the soldiers. They started to execute us. one by one, Pop, right to the head. They got to the man next to me, I was last, his blood came all over me. I knew in that moment I was going to die and told my God that if this was my time, I'm ready. But they didn't kill me. They asked me if I was Krahn and I replied 'no' in another tribes language. My name is also different from Krahn so I told them that too. I said I was framed. They then let me go."
He then went on to show how the Lord helped him during the war. He is an incredible man. It was a humbling experience for me, realizing how personal the war was for everyone. I love his faith and steadiness in the Gospel, he and his friend Matthew will both be baptized this Saturday.

Lighter noted story: I figure I should probably lighten the mood, so I'll do so by saying, the Branch choir performed a musical number on Sunday and is definitely the best performance I've ever heard in Africa and challenges my Ward Choir back at home. holy cow. They did a beautiful rendition of "Let us all press on" They stunned the whole branch, I was blown away! I think MoTab did it before. I almost teared up it was so beautiful. Aaron, the excon investigator? he has joined that choir, as well as a recent convert, Bouktak! haha man it's so cool to see them participate in the Branch and use their gift of Bass to help out a little.

But those are the highlites of my week, at least the ones I can remember. We're looking at another good week, we always are.
Elder Verdoni

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Feb 15, 2016

2 Corinthians 4: 16-17

"Though the Outward Man Perish.."
Elder Wight and I have tested this scripture this week, for our outward men were worked this week!
We had a lot of good things and miracles disguised as hard work happen this week, and it was wonderful! We have been teaching a lot of people and like I've said before, It's a wonderful experience to watch someone change their life to become happier right in front of your eyes.

Three of whom are the "W" family. They were baptized this Saturday. Oh man I love this family so much! A few of their children are already members and have been a great help and support for their parents and sister. It's been so fun to get to know them so well and to just feel more and more love for them and from them every time I visit them. They we're not too serious about the Church until one of their sons left for a Mission in Nigeria, after that I assume they felt something because they started to consistently come after and just took the Gospel with their whole heart. One thing I love about them is their commitment to follow what they believe. We met the father a little tipsy one night, they next day we went over and taught them the Word of Wisdom and from that day on he hasn't touched a drink or a cigarette. And they are always so Happy!! Oh man the family is always laughing, it's never a bad time when we're at their house (their food is also delicious). Another great thing about the "W's" is that because of them, we are teaching a couple other people who live in the same building. It's really nice to see all of them get along and come to church together.

One thing I love about Liberians is for the most part, they are all friendly and helpful with each other. Because of the things they've had to endure, they tend to look after each other pretty well. Oh and everyone's family, If I ask, "Who's that, your friend?" and it's usually, "No, my brother/sister/uncle/aunt" but in reality they're just neighbors or friends. I love it.

The "W's" baptism was a pretty memorable one as well. First and foremost, our baptismal font actually had water in it this time WITH NO COMPLICATIONS. And I mean on the day of baptism, preparing the font is always complicated.. anyway, no one from the Branch Presidency arrived to preside over the baptismal service, we were all ready an hour late and couldn't wait any longer, so I gave a call to my mission president and I became the presiding authority for the service. What? haha because we're still under a District and therefore the Mission President, he was able to do that. But man it was funny! The member conducting the service said, "Presiding today is Elder Verdoni (everyone laughs) and I, Bro Darku am conducting under his direction." I laughed again. It was a great service, and it was also pretty cool to be able to give the closing remarks at the end. It was a neat experience that I don't want to forget.

Also, I ate way too much food this week. For further reference an FM is a free meal, pretty much any meal offered to us that we didn't pay for (usually from members or investigators). We had 15 FM's this week! 15! oh man it hurt.Thursday, we had 3 in 30 MINUTES. Same house, 3 different people, luckily there was four missionaries, but it was insane. Only to get another an hour later.
Saturday we had 2 in 20 minutes, oh by Saturday Evening we were just hurting.
It was so delicious, just painful.

Alright I know my letters are long. I apologize, I know how it is to read long letters so I don't blame any of you for glancing through or skipping entirely.
With Love,
Elder Verdoni

Monday, February 8, 2016

Feb 8, 2016

This was a pretty full week for Elder Wight and I. Full of meetings, lessons, and miracles.

President has told us that the Missionary Department wants the Assistants areas to have the model area for the mission, A proselyting area that can be used as the guide/example area for other missionaries to work towards having...woah. Talk about responsibility. We were a little nervous on how we would accomplish this because how much we have to do outside of standard missionary work, but we took the challenge and the Lord has provided. We have been finding more people, teaching more lessons and have more people progress in their testimonies than ever. Sunday we had 14 investigators attend church, which blew our minds, we were so happy that they came, and they loved church. We are working really hard to become that "Model Area" and I believe the Lord is helping us out.

The main portion of this email is about a man named Aaron (not his real name) and the Miracle he is to us, and the miracles the Lord has done for him.
Aaron was released from Prison this week. He has been there for about two years. The Wollenziens, a senior Couple went to the prison with a woman from the Red Cross to deliver some reading materials to the inmates there a couple months back, and a little while ago they received a very well written and serious letter from this man. He had read Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson and was converted from that book. he Asked for a copy of the Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants and the Pear of Great Price. He promptly received those from the Wollenziens. He was released because he has TB and cannot get the proper treatment from inside the Prison (it was a miracle he was actually released, the Red Cross woman they were with didn't think they really would). 

Thursday afternoon, Elder Wollenzien was talking to us and Sister Carlson about this man and said that he might show up at our chapel one day, so we should keep an eye out. About 20 minutes later we left and were walking to the Chruch when I got a call from a recent convert telling me that some man named Aaron was here looking for us (we were dumbfounded at how fast it happened). We met him and wow what a wonderful man. We only met with him for maybe 20 minutes but it was filled with love and the Spirit. Aaron is an older man who is very smart and articulate. He has a change of heart and is so willing to come unto Christ. For years he thought that he was too old to repent and change, but when he read from President Benson, he realized that he could repent, that he could be happy, and he is working to do just that. I don't know, it's a lot to write but the way that the Lord has shaped the events in his life to get him here are too obvious to ignore, The Lord loves this man and has performed miracle after miracle to do so. I am grateful that I am able to meet and witness this man and the miracles the Lord does for him.

His miracles were very apparent and obvious to him, and to us. But that does not mean the Lord doesn't provide numberless miracles to all of us. The Lord loves us just as much as he loves Aaron, and works just as hard to help us as He has him. "By small and simple means are great things brought to pass" The lord performs miracles for us everyday, we just need to realize it more.
Elder Verdoni

Elder Cichoski from Vegas
Delicious soup (casava leaf)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Feb 1, 2016

Remember when I said that I was worried that Elder Wight and I would have no investigators to teach last week?
Yup that's not an issue anymore haha,this week was filled with work, and a lot of it.
Elder Wight and I found 15 new Investigators this week, who were Either Referrals or people who just walked in to church on Sunday for the first time. It's been a great experience to meet them all and to find how easy it is to love someone.
Elder Wight and I worked pretty hard this week and saw the results.

This mission is going to get HUGE super fast. So right now, there are 62 missionaries, March 8 we get 14 more, April 19 we get 13 more and May 31 we get 11 more! 38 missionaries in 4 months. Most of the missionaries are already training, and when they are finished they and their companions will train, and that will happen again with more missionaries! So it's been a crazy couple weeks and will be a couple busy months ahead for us and every one really. But I am looking forward to getting this mission bigger and able to work harder.

Also this week I have really learned how well the Spirit can work in a Testimony.
So as missionaries we are to "testify when you teach, and teach when you testify" and I really wanted to work on that this week. I had just some incredible experiences with it. Speaking and sharing your testimony that what you've taught is the truth and can just make someone so much happier if they live it and having the spirit not only teach and touch their hearts, but to guide your testimony as you speak, is a very humbling experience and I'm very grateful I have that.

I have realized something about this Gospel, or God. All he wants is for us to be happy. Yes we all say that but I was able to think of it in such a way that just made sense to me. Every commandment ever given has been done to make us happy, or to bring us joy. And then the Lord will bless you for being happy! 

The Lord is telling us, "I command you to be happy and safe, and if you do that, I'll bless you!" haha It's a win win! No wonder King Benjamin says" Consider the Blessed and happy state of those who keep the commandments of God" All God wants for us is to know "complete Joy" and that comes from his commandments, he designed and gave us those specifically for the reason of bringing Joy into our lives and into our families. 

"Prove me herewith, saith the Lord." Test His promises, and they will bring a greater sense of love, and peace, and joy into your life.
Elder Verdoni