Monday, July 27, 2015

Welcome to Angola

Hello family and friends!!
What. A. Week. Wow I don´t even know where to start. Me and Elders Smith and Bradshaw got our visas the Tuesday before we were supposed to leave for California and it was pure craziness and happiness for the next couple of days. Sadly we had to leave Elder Bradshaw behind because of tonsil problems, but he'll be joining us here in a couple weeks. Wow the plane ride was just awful, two whole days of flying and waiting for hours in Dallas, London, and then South Africa. When we finally got here, we were exhausted, but sooo excited. When our plane descended below the clouds, all I saw were miles and miles of rectangular metal shacks where a lot of the people live. There was a welcome party of 5 at the airport waiting for us- President Merrill, his wife, the AP, and two others. The drive to the mission home was way crazy. There´s dirt and dust everywhere here and people sell all sorts of stuff on the side of the road. There were actually six missionaries leaving that night after serving two years here, so it was really cool to talk to them about the mission and some crazy stories they had. I also got to talk to the legendary Elder Rush, serving as Assistant to the President. I told him that literally all our moms read his blog and we read it all the time in the MTC, which he thought was hilarious haha. The next day, I met my new companion, Elder Slade. He´s been out here for 2 transfers, but he´s just about as fluent as you can get. Really impressive. My favorite part so far about being out here is just walking around and talking to people and Elder Slade. The people here are pretty friendly. They see nothing wrong with a stranger coming up to them and asking if they´re married for some reason... They also can´t quite seem to figure out what nationality we are. In the last couple days, I've been called Chinese, Russian, Australian, and Mexican. The other funny thing about them is they see us, the only white people around for several miles, and automatically assume that we can´t speak Portuguese. People talk about us all the time as we´re walking down the street. We try to be polite of course and usually don´t call them out on it, but every now and again, Elder Slade needs to inform them that, yes, we do in fact know that you are calling us beautiful chinese men from the Seventh Day Evangelist Church and we are actually missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We get some pretty stunned reactions haha.
The church is pretty new here, so we have to build a good base for it to actually grow. That means that we have to focus on families and not single drunk men on the street. But it is very rare to find a couple that is married lawfully. So we generally look for nicer cars or houses that would imply that they are following the law of chastity and are being blessed for it. Almost everyone is willing to sit down and talk to us about the gospel here, but it´s our job to find the elect in Angola. People who will eventually be leaders as Area Presidents or General Authorities in this part of Africa. The scripture "The field is white, already to harvest" is taken very seriously here. If a person we meet is not ready to receive the message we have to offer and won´t keep the first commitment of coming to church, we move on. It´s been hard at times to just move on after someone´s been so nice, but if they aren't willing to accept our challenges, we know they´re not ready to join the church yet.

It´s been a really really tough week so far. We had a ton of appointments fall through, so we've had to walk a lot. Plus it´s really frustrating to see people not come to church even after we explain how important it is. But, I've loved every second of it. I love the people and this opportunity I have to share the gospel. I love this church and so grateful that I grew up in it. Have a fantastic week!!
Elder Christensen

[A little extra from some follow-up emails]:

I forgot to say where I was in the mass email, but I´m in an area called Vianna which is in Luanda, but it's the eastern most part. My apartment is supposedly the best in the mission. It has constant hot water and electricity which is really nice. We study for four hours every morning and then go out until 8 at night because it gets sketchier after then on the streets. There´s a lot of interesting smells everywhere, but the people are really funny and nice. All the little kids call us Amigo, which is friend in Portuguese as long as you say the last o with an ooo sounds as in hoot, but they call us amigo with a hard o at the end which is just them making fun of us for being foreign because that´s how non-Portuguese speakers say it. The first week was really tiring, but it wasn't super discouraging. My language is not as good as I´d like it, but I can communicate pretty well with people. Dang I only have 20 minutes left so tell the family hi and sorry if I don´t get to all of them.

Oh also we have 5 investigators that are progressing. The mission average is about a baptism every two weeks for every companionship. We could have a lot more, but we´re looking for the elect and ready. Our next planned one is mid.-August I think