Monday, October 31, 2011

District Conference

This past weekend we held the 2nd District Conference of the Luanda District. Saturday we had leadership training at the Cassequel chapel and then an adult evening session. The power only went out once! Then on Sunday we gathered in Talatona at a conference center of a nice hotel that was big enough to hold the huge crowd of about 440 members, friends, and investigators. It was a wonderful weekend!

It's always important for the missionaries to be to the meetings early to greet the members and their investigators. With such a nice lobby in the hotel, there was room enough for even Elders Kelsey and Tolman to get around the crowd to welcome everyone to the conference.

With about 440 people in attendance, the 2nd District Conference of the Luanda District was a wonderful, spiritual meeting for the members here in Angola. We held the event in Talatona in a hotel that had a room big enough for this size crowd. It was a wonderful 2 days!

The District Choir added so much to the spirit of the meeting. The members here love to sing and they do it very well!

After the District Conference it is always fun to talk with and enjoy the company of the members. Ana Patricia, Pedro, and Elder Allison always have good conversation.

New Viana Branch Presidency

It is finally official. Viana is now a branch. Part of the District Conference was devoted to calling and sustaining the new branch presidency. Here we have Amancio, the 1st Counselor, President Pedro and his wife, President Walton, and the District Presidency - President Baptista, 1st Counselor, President Miranda, and President Setas, 2nd Counselor.

Saturday Baptisms

We had two baptims this past weekend. Gerson and Carla Cristina were both baptized in the Cassequel chapel font. Because President and I were involved with the District Conference, we could not be there for this special event. So we did the next best thing. We went with Elders Bene and Davis to their appointment with Carla Cristina. She and her mother discussed the upcoming baptism and chose the songs and talks for this memorable day.

Missionary Work

Our missionary apartments are as different as they can be. Elders Eckman and Sande, from Luanda 2 area, discuss rennovations to their unique accomadations with President Walton.

They've watched General Conference and been fed, so it's time to get out and work. A member, a future missionary from Angola, came to listen with our missionaries which included Elder Rainbolt and Elder Arrington. Missionaries are great!!

This is Elder Bene and Elder Davis off to an appointment. It had rained that day so the dirt roads were a maze of puddles to navigate around - sure makes missionary life/work interesting and eventful!

Watching Conference

We never have the luxury of watching General Conference live, so the missionaries all really look forward to watching it a few weeks after the broadcast. We had all the missionaries come to the Cassequel chapel on two different days so that they could watch the entire proceedings in their native language. It was a worthwhile activity for our missionaries to know what the living prophets are saying. The English group included Elders Harper, Arrington, Borden, Davis, Walker, Tolman, Kelsey, Rainbolt, Allison and Eckman.

While we watch conference we always participate in the songs. It makes a nice break for us. Elders Walker, Borden, Arrington, Eckman, Allison, Rainbolt, Kelsey and Tolman all sounded really good too!

These conference watchers include in the back row: Elders Walker, Davis, Borden, and Arrington. Front row includes Elders Eckman, Allison, Rainbolt, and Kelsey.

After watching 3 hours of conference, we took a break and had our lunch. That is ALWAYS a highlight for missionaries!

Special Dinner

A couple times a year the church sends some doctors and nurses to Angola to teach neonatal resuscitation. Dr. Bosworth happens to be from Elder Davis' home ward in Utah. The night before the doctors flew back to the states they invited us and Elder Davis and his companion, Elder Bene, out to dinner. They gave us a report of all they had done over the past two weeks around the country and we enjoyed a wonderful meal with them. Normally missionaries don't eat this well, but it was a special treat for these two elders! Hopefully next time the doctors come they will have some service projects for the missionaries to help with.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Helpful Missionaries

Missionaries are kind of like boy scouts - always helpful, friendly, courteous, and kind! On Sunday when one of the members had a totally flat tire, the Elders of Luanda 2, Kelsey, Eckman, Sande, and Ventura, were all willing to help change the flat. It was their good deed for the day!

Luanda 2 Baptisms

For the second time this month, Luanda 2 had three baptisms on the same day. This time Judith, Albertina, and Celia were baptized in the Cassequel building font. Baptisms are always a highlight of the week and of missionary work! The church in Angola is growing!

Luanda 2 District Meeting

Once a week President Walton and I try to get to one of the weekly district meetings. Lucky for Luanda 2 District that we decided to do an apartment check after the meeting. They had done a good job on their apartment "pool house", but there is always room for improvement. It doesn't help that they are surrounded by the dust and clutter of remodeling of their chapel. Elders Sande, Eckman, Kelsey, and Ventura make a good small district in the Luanda Zone.

Watching General Conference

In Angola we did not get to watch General Conference live. Two weeks later each branch gathered in their buildings to watch our leaders speak to us. In Viana it was a good turnout! Elders Bauer and Walker are doing a good job with their members there! Then on our way home we passed by Cassequel to deliver yet another package to Elder Davis from his family. He is one lucky missionary to get two packages delivered by friends of their family visiting on this continent.

The Violin's Head to Lubango

Just a few more pictures of our great new casal, the Violin's. They got their truck loaded up, followed President and Sister Walton to the sight of Elder Christofferson's dedication of Angola, then it was a fond farewell as they headed off to the south. Looking forward to seeing you again in a few weeks!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Farewell to our Angolan Missionary

There are so may joys in missionary work, but at the same time we have bittersweet moments when we have to send missionaries home after two years of dedicated and selfless service. I have already posted pictures of Elder Nequetela. He was released a few weeks ago, but has been waiting with family and friends here to receive his visa to Portugal. The night before he left, we had the traditional farewell dinner that all departing missionaries get. Hoping you have a great time in Portugal, but we would love to see you back in the great country of Angola!

Fond Farewells

This week, after staying for an extra month, it was Elder Calls turn to have his farewell dinner. When the Spendloves came from mission headquarters in Maputo, Mozambique, they brought t-shirts and mission pins, and all the missionaries that have served there get to take them home with them. We need to get some mission pins for Angola too since we've had missionaries that have served in both countries!!! Poor Elder Call didn't make it on his plane to London on Wednesday night. That was a long night waiting to see if he would get on and when he didn't waiting again for them to rebook him. So he will leave on Thursday instead and only get home a day late after traveling through Paris. You will be missed in Angola and Mozambique Elder Call!

Arrivals - the Casal finally got here!!

We have literally been waiting for months for the Violins, from Brazil, to receive their visa and arrive in Angola. They were supposed to come some time in June. July, August, and September came and went while they served in the Sao Paulo Temple awaiting their visa. Well, it finally happened. They are here ready to work in Lubango and the southern cities of Huambo and Benguela. This will allow the branch and missionaries in Lubango to have the daily support of an experienced couple to guide them. We are so excited for what is going to happen in the south!

Cassequel District Meeting

One of the pleasures of our week, is the opportunity we have to attend one of the 4 district meetings. This past week we were able to see the Cassequel district in action. Elder Bene gave a great lesson, President Walton had some good trainings, and the new casal, the Violins were in town to be there with us. The district also includes Elders Schioser, Davis, and Harper. This is a good group of missionaries who have a lot of work in their branch.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pictures From Our Road Trip

I could do a whole album of pictures from our road trip to southern Angola, but I'll post 4 pictures for you to see. The scenery was magnificent and there were a lot of small thatched roof villages along the way. They had no electricity or water, so bath and laundry day took place at the local river or water hole. One of their daily jobs is gathering wood for building structures or making fires. Huge rock outcroppings burst right out of the ground and looked so beautiful in the desert landscape. Angola has extremely beautiful countryside and we are glad that we got to see it up close.

Road Trip to Benguela

Our last stop on the long 2000 Km road trip was Benguela on the coast of Angola. The scenery here is dryer than the other two cities, but it has a beauty all its own. So far as we know there is only one member of the church here. We visited with Joao over dinner then the next day as we were leaving, we decided to try some street contacting down near the beach. We may be the first missionaries to ever do contacting in Benguela. The people were happy to talk about religion and as we drove away, there were at least 6 people reading the pamphlets or Books of Mormon that we had passed out in a matter of minutes. We were reluctant to leave, because there were so many more people we could talk to. So the trip was a success and we will be anxious to visit with these wonderful people and cities again.

Road Trip to Lubango

After spending less than 24 hours in Huambo, our next stop was the city of Lubango. We have a branch here with 4 missionaries serving these wonderful people. They are growing and progressing and they have great members and leaders. President Marques and his wife were good hosts. Elders Anhanha, Perry, Guente, and Richter are doing good work here with members and investigators. We can see wards and stakes here in the near future!!

Road Trip to Huambo

Since our arrival over a month and a half ago, we haven't had a chance to visit members and missionaries living in sourthern Angola. This week we took that delayed road trip to meet so many wonderful people. Our first stop was in Huambo, a beautiful city that is much like Portugal. We attended a wonderful FHE with the members and got a quick tour of their delightful city. We feel that the church will grow rapidly here once we are able to send missionaries to help the members, who are anxious for the help and support. Thank you Aurora and Beatu!!