Monday, May 26, 2014

The Book of Mormon and Basketball - 5/26/14

This week has been full of wonderful spiritual insights. There weren't too many lessons again this week and I'll explain that soon.
Working with members: I just have to say that I have found so much joy as I have been able to really work with members. They seem to trust me more now and we all love each other. The investigators seem more welcome and we have made some great plans for activities and programs for the branch. One thing is that now we are doing a Book of Mormon class to teach all members/recent converts/ less actives/investigators/everyone to learn about the Book of Mormon. And then after we go and play basketball or something and get to know each other. I hope that I can be an example and help to get other missionaries in my district to really work with the members rather than trying to do everything themselves because that is just stressful and not very effective.
Investigators progress: So still it's hard to see most of our investigators simply because we don't have time to see them. But almost all of them are doing great. One thing that I have learned is that sometimes we have been teaching too simply. In other words we are not teaching all of the essential lessons. So that's something that we have decided to do. Let them know the doctrines of the Church. All about the plan of salvation. All that they are prepared to learn. I have found great success in doing this. Investigators seem happy as they really come to understand what makes us different from other churches is that we have the FULL truth and so me and my companion decided to let them know this full truth. It really strengthens my testimony as well.
Reasons for not too many lessons: Well one was that for one day I was getting sick simply from exhaustion. I had been pushing myself pretty hard and finally decided that I needed to take a rest before it got worse. And that really helped. Other reasons was because we had lots of interviews to do. Sunday was completely spent on interviews. In Kissy 2 branch there are about 10 people being baptized which is great. Then in Kissy 1 branch we have 2 people. It's great though. It's nice to be busy. It makes time go by fast. The problem is that it makes time go fast so we really have to be wise in our use of time.
Chatting with Elder Bogh: So yes Elder Bogh is pretty much a young version of Mr. Clark (The awesome Physics teacher who recently retired from Mountain View) haha. He is very smart. We have learned a lot from each other. It's pretty funny how most of what we talked about is the doctrine of Exaltation which has been awesome. And then a LOT of Zelda talk. haha We were like talking about the deep history in Zelda and all the deep meanings. haha It makes me wanna play it when I get back. We have had some great chats and it's really fun.
More new stuff learned: I have really learned a lot about the restoration and the need of one. Also I have learned the peace that comes simply from forgiveness rather than being offended. Also I guess rather than simply learning the doctrine is applying it. I have learned that you learn more from the gospel by applying it more than simply reading it. I love this church.
Anyway I love you all so much.
Love Elder Lehr

Monday, May 19, 2014

Very Busy Week - 5/19/14

"Beach Island"

Elder Ravia and Elder Lehr on Super P-day
This has been probably the most stressful week of my mission but we have seen many blessings. I have to say that being District Leader over such a big district is not easy. I would much rather sit back and be a junior companion but I am learning a lot and growing from the service opportunities that come from being a leader. Anyway here for the update:
District stuff: So we have decided that we want to live well here. So we are going to do that first with making the apartment a clean place. Even though we have a plague of little devils (cockroaches) in our apartment we do not need to live in filth. Also we got ourselves a blender which is the first Electrical Appliance in the apartment which is so nice. (Maybe he forgot the oven runs on electricity) We are now making mango and banana smoothies almost everyday. Also we had a leadership training meeting and so many other district needs that we have only been able to have 11 lessons this week rather than the usual 26. It's hard not being able to see all of our investigators throughout the week. It's a good struggle but still a struggle.
Baptism: So we had Jenepha, and Derick baptized on Saturday. They are both confirmed within families which is awesome. Also we had a separate baptism the same day for a man who was excommunicated for 4 years and was finally able to be re-baptized. It was such a strong testimony builder to see a man humble himself to repent and still be faithful through 4 years of excommunication. I was so happy to see him be baptized and ready to come back into the fold.
New missionaries in the apartment: So Elder Koopmans new trainee is Elder Loketi who is from Tonga. So we have 2 pacific islanders in our apartment which is soo awesome. He speaks just a little English but is the nicest guy. And Elder Bogh, the new Zone Leader, is sitting next to me right now at the cafe. So I'm pretty much talking behind his back right now haha. Anyway he is really awesome super smart. When he talks it's like the wisdom from heavens are being opened up unto us haha. He is hilarious. It's a real challenge for the zone leaders in our zone because Kissy Zone is ginormous. We have 39 missionaries in our zone and it's really hard to take care of them all. So that's that.
Investigators: So probably the biggest stress reliever is that Moses was finally able to meet and get everything settled with the health situation. Anyway he is doing great as far as spiritually. And Donald is really good. He is just very quiet. He has been really active in the Church so far and it's been awesome.
New things learned: One thing I have learned is that no matter how much we want to we can't do everything ourselves. I mean if we have 30 lessons a week and 5 baptisms but the members don't know these people then all those recent converts will be less active. So sometimes here we have to sacrifice time to teach investigators in order to get to know the members better because they are so important and they need our help with the work just as much as our investigators. So that's one thing we have been doing is sacrificing time to visit members rather than investigators which sounds contrary to what we think should happen but in reality it's so much more important to build a relationship with the members so then they trust you and are willing to fellowship the investigators.
Also another very good principle I have learned is that we really do control most of our circumstances. I can choose to live in a dirty apartment, or I can choose to eat bread and sweet milk when I could be eating smoothies. So yeah it's all your choice. It takes work but we really can make our situations better. It just requires effort.
Cool miracle: So since no letters or packages have still arrived and I'm waiting for speakers that were sent 6 months ago I decided to buy some cheap speakers here and the day after I bought the speakers the Ipod just died.. it wouldn't even charge. So I said a prayer and the next day it was charging and working fine. So I'm like "YAY I can listen to music." And it was awesome.
Honestly this week has been really stressful but it has gone by really fast. I actually almost got into the state of "There is too much going on I just need to sleep or play pokemon mode." But thankfully I endured it. 

Oh and another lesson I learned is no matter what, do not cut onions in the dark... Don't worry I just got a small cut that's already healed. But don't do it even if there is no electricity. haha
I love you all so much. Enjoy the rest of May.
Love Elder Lehr

Monday, May 12, 2014

This Wonderful Week 5/12/14

Elder Woodhead, Elder McDonald, Elder Lehr & Pres. Ostler (Thanks, Kanzlers)

Elder Lehr and Elder Ravia way in the back at Zone Meeting (Thanks, Kanzlers)

This week has been so busy and crazy I almost don't know where to begin. I guess I'll start with the beach :)

Beach: On Monday we went to the beach and we took poda poda. haha That was fun. There wasn't a seat for me so I just had to sit on the floor pretty much. It was so crowded. But the actual beach was so beautiful. We were the only ones there and it was just so peaceful and quiet. I loved it there. Haha Elder Penia, an elder from Samoa husked a coconut with his teeth! That guy is crazy.
We only spent small time there but it was sweet. 

Transfer news: So no one is leaving in our district. We have Elder Bogh coming to be Zone Leader with Elder Muthoni. And Upgun District is the same so Elder Allen T. is still in my branch for now. And since the zone leaders are in our apartment I am now the new district leader over a district of 10. haha Mom you are completely right. I would rather just be a normal junior companion my whole mission. But I will try my best to magnify my calling and be a leader. I'm still here with Elder Ravia and man it's awesome.

Church: So we were finally able to watch 1 session of general conference and it was sweet. We normally have about 120-130 people attend sacrament meeting but this week we had about 180 people and 9 investigators and another 3 came late so they attended the Kissy 2 branch. But still it was sweet. I loved it so much. (They saw the Sunday morning session with Pres. Uchtdorf's talk on gratitude, Elder Bednar's talk on the Atonement and Pres. Monson's talk on Charity/Kindness)

Baptism: Fanta Amara got baptized and confirmed. Her husband came to baptize her and it was so sweet. She is reading her Book of Mormon and really applying it into her life and has grown to love it. It is so awesome. They plan to go to the temple next year :)

Investigators: So Donald came to church and wants his wife in America to learn about the gospel as well. So we are going to get her info and send her as a referral to some missionaries in Maryland. Also Reverend Moses has been reading the Book of Mormon and knows the Church is true and wants to be baptized. He is going to undergo a surgery soon though but when he recovers he will be baptized. And simply there are too many investigators to name them all right now. As of now we have 2 more baptisms this week. Derek (Victoria's little brother) and Jenepha (James' little sister) so that's awesome. The work is great here. Though there are some more challenges as well. 

Challenges: We were visiting some less active people and we found that there is a pastor who lives at the same compound and we talked to him a bit and he has been "reading" the Book of Mormon but he is really just trying to find all the faults he can. I believe he is the reason why all the other members there are less active because now all the less active members go to his church. I believe that he attacked their belief in the church while their testimonies were still weak. So that's hard. Also we just don't have time to see everyone. So that's really hard right now. 

This morning: So fun thing this morning was more of the cockroach war. Elder Ravia is a fearless warrior. He went into the kitchen with bug spray and killed about 800 cockroaches in the kitchen. Man it was crazy to watch. He is a brave man. So that's this morning. 

Spiritual thought: Well this week's spiritual thought is on charity. I liked what President Monson said during conference. One thing he said in my own words is that charity in not just kindness but it is also forgiveness, selflessness, and love. So that's one thing that I was thinking of especially being District Leader is selfless service and acts of kindness. So that's the thought today.

Anyway I love you all soo much and was so happy to be able to talk to you. 
Love Elder Christian Lehr

Note from our phone call with Elder Lehr for Mother's Day: This will be his first transfer where he has kept the same companion.  He is looking forward to that as he really enjoys Elder Ravia. He is also very glad to still have Elder Koopmans with him in the apartment. He mentioned that there are a good number of "islanders" in their zone. In fact, one of the Tongan elders, Elder Latu, knows Elder Lehr's good friend, Elder Tohi Heimuli.  As he put it, "all the Tongans know each other know matter where they live." He thought it was "sweet" that Elder Latu knew his "bro." As for the beach, he enjoyed walking along just listening to the peacefulness of the waves.

We did ask him about that picture where he and nearly every other missionary has an angry look on their face. Apparently they were told to make angry faces on purpose. Elder Koopmans and Elder Kvist were exempt, I guess. :) 

The work is hard and draining but he is enjoying it.  All the elders in this mission are awesome.  He loves every one of the missionaries that he has come to know.  It was fun to talk to him on Sunday.  He sounds so good.  He has grown so much in just 7 months time.  Can't wait to see what happens over the next 7 months.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Another Good Week - 5/5/14

This has been a very exciting week so I will probably go into a lot of detail and this will probably be a very long email. So bear with me.
Baptism: So Fanta Amara was not baptized on Saturday because her husband (who is a return missionary and in the branch presidency in Makeni) couldn't make it because he had a meeting with the mission president. But we did go with Fanta to get her interviewed and that was an adventure.
Poda Poda: So to get to the interview we had to take poda poda which is the worst form of transportation ever. Imagine a van with all the seats taken out and instead put metal benches. The van should fit about 12 "comfortably" but they push in 20 people. The door is only held up by a teenage boy who is standing on the doorway with his pants down to his knees and he is wearing dirty underwear. Not only are there 20 people in there but there are about 2-3 REALLY REALLY large people in it. And there is a good chance that there is a chicken on the floor pecking at your feet. Then on the outside of the van there are a bunch of funny stickers like "God bless my mother" or "DOOMSDAY" haha It's funny. So this is a Poda. Now to tell you a small poda story.
Poda Story: So while we were in the poda there was a taxi who almost ran into us. So the teenage boy with his pants down to his knees leans all the way out the window and slaps the taxi's bumper and then gets in a small fist fight WHILE the cars are still moving and then he spits on the taxi driver's car. Yeah we see this about everyday. haha Oh Salone. People have no patience here. But we are safe and she completed her interview.
Investigators: So we have a super sweet investigator named Donald. He is super educated and has a family. His wife lives somewhere in the US and he is really, really interested and wants to be baptized. We gave him a Book of Mormon 2 weeks ago and he is already almost done with 2nd Nephi and he is taking time to really ponder its message. This almost NEVER happens in Sierra Leone since most people can barely read. Anyway he is awesome. And let's see. Reverend Moses came to church and knows the church is true and wants to join us. His problem is that he has a hernia and needs assistance but we're working with that. He is such a sweet old man. Anyway we are having some good success. We dropped almost all of the youth that we are teaching who are not too serious because we are focused on a mission now on finding "kingdom builders" or people who can be leaders of the church and also on completing families. So basically we are trying to teach old people who are independent since youth have a strong tendency to go less active.
Food: So I still haven't told you what the food tastes like here and I've been here for 7 months. So anyway there are basically 3 sauces that the people make with rice. Cassava leaf, potato leaf, and ground nut (peanut) sauce. Let's just say that what it tastes like is you mow your lawn. Pick up the mulch and boil the heck out of it. Add lots of palm oil and hot African peppers. This is what we are eating here. It pretty much tastes like fire grass on rice. haha We get used to it. Sometimes people actually make it so it's pretty good. And then as missionaries we make a tomato sauce with cut up hotdogs and put it on rice. This is our dinner every single day for the mission. haha That's life here in Salone.
Flash Flood: Yesterday was crazy. We had a flash flood. The rain was so heavy that in about 45 minutes the roads were so full of water that you could go river rafting down the roads. It was crazy. In fact Elder Koopmans got a bucket and put it outside and within 30 minutes the bucket was almost full. It was crazy. And the hard part was going to church since everywhere on the roads it was full of muddy water that was up to my knees and we haven't received our rain boots yet. So we just had to walk through it. Ahh it was so crazy. I love the rain. The worst part was that it made me really, really want to just sit down and play Pokemon while eating some broccoli soup. That was probably the most I have ever wanted to play Pokemon. In fact earlier we had a fun challenge of trying to name all 151 original Pokemon. I totally completed the challenge like a boss. haha.
Spiritual thought: So recently I have really been pondering about the scripture "If ye love me keep my commandments" and the first and great commandment. As I have been doing this I was thinking about my reasons for being obedient. For example being: not drinking unfiltered water which is an obvious rule in this mission. It's good to keep the commandments because we know that if we drink that unclean water we will get sick. But it's Best to keep the commandments simply because we love our Father in Heaven. I feel like as we keep the commandments simply because we love our Father in Heaven then we will feel his love and spirit more in our life. We will gain a greater desire to keep the commandments and we will grow to know of Heavenly Father even more. This is my small insight. :)
Anyway I am feeling better now. I'm happy. The cockroach war is still ever ongoing. I don't know how but I just killed 400 cockroaches last week and they are all back! I'm just like, "I thought I killed you yesterday". Oh well. At least I'm still killing them. But whatever, it's only temporary. A nice blessing has been that since it's getting into rainy season it's been nice and cool when I sleep.
I forgot to bring my sd reader so I can't send pictures now. If I get the chance I will be back on tonight, my time haha. Also for Mother's Day I will call at around 6pm my time. So maybe 12pm yours. 

Well I'm off to the BEACH!! SUPER PDAY!! I'll be sure to take some sweet pictures of us on a nice African beach. 

Love you all so much!  I can't wait to hear from you.
Love Elder Christian Lehr