Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Week 8: Get to the Chappa!

Well, this email is a day and a half later than usual because of a holiday here. We have literally no idea what holiday though. It pretty much meant that more people than usual drank, which is always fun on packed chappas full of people. We took a ton of chappas this week. The first week it seemed fun, its not fun at all anymore... But they get us around. If I die though, it will be in a chappa, or under a chappa that hits me (ha ha ha but really). If there are spelling/grammatical mistakes it's because this computer is set to Portuguese so virtually every word I type is being shown as mispelled by spellcheck...

This week we had Zone Conference. It was interesting to see more of the people from this general area. I got to see the Brazilians we spent a few days with which was funny because I still cant speak to them :)

We did a showing of Meet the Mormons this week. We estimated that 100 people would show up. The ward was supposed to set it up, but they put it all on us... and gave us $6 to make it happen.... So it was just insanity that day. We popped a ton of popcorn in our little kitchen, then walked it over in trash bags. Surprisingly almost 100 people did show up, which was fun. Tons of those different and changing handshakes.

We have a baptism this week! Elder Burchett already had it all in place before I even arrived, but it should be a cool thing to go see. We are teaching several promising families, but the parents aren't married. The process is quite expensive and takes at least a month... Plus very very few people think its important, so its really  hard.  We have lots of people that we are teaching. We could literally teach all day everyday, but we have to really be selective. Virtually everyone will let " a man of God talking about Jesus Christ" into their home. We really filter who we visit. The huge focus is on families.  Marriage is very expensive for them (1000 Met) and the process for the papers takes 30 days. Plus then the man has to pay the womans father for her. Its a real pain that so so so very few go through. In Swaziland they literally buy the woman for 10 cows. On a positive note though, I haven't knocked a door, nor will I. We just yell "Com Lisensa" (no idea how its spelled). It's pretty much "excuse us". Then people come and open the gate. Virtually everyone will sit down for a first lesson, but we spend lots of time trying to narrow down who will seem to actually progress.

Other positive notes, I got my Mozambique equivalent of a "Green Card" this week. I got to go to the US Embassy-- 'Merica soil'-- then to the immigration office. It all went very smoothly. This means I wont get kicked out to Swaziland anytime soon.They also fixed our little water heating device. It caps over the shower head and heats the water... Super freaky. There is a mini breaker box in the shower, and if you touch the shower head (that is maybe 5 feet tall) it shocks you..... But no cold showers.... Then it broke 2 days after we got it.... A different positive note, no idea how I forgot this week 1. We have weird little AC units in each of the apartments here. We are the only African Mission with AC. The past mission president used his own money to buy them for each apartment. It is so nice to get back late at night and turn it on. It also seriously reduces mosquitoes in the rooms.

I also found where the street vendors buy their 15 Met sodas, and cut out the middle man, bought a whole crate for 280 Met. Its the last soda I will buy while in T3 though. Once its gone, its water and coconuts for me. I've decided my soda fund is better spent on sending letters to a missionary in DC :)

Hope everyone is doing well, feel free to email me any questions I don't hit in my weekly emails and I will copy/paste them into my general email.

Elder Howell

Also, it gets dark here at "18:00" (6pm) military time is still really strange to me. But it gets dark, dark. And there are virtually no street lamps. The roads are covered in glass, and such. Tricky walking back home at night.

 Elder Burchett and I walking home.

 Immigration Papers.

 Homemade popcorn in trash bags for "Meet the Mormons" movie. 

 Fried Bean Sandwich and a soda = lunch.

 Cool Brazilian Elder I still can't talk to.

 #Greencard  I'm official.

 Our church building.

 I saw the beach this week.

 Kids always hold our hands to walk around, not sure why. 

 T-shirt guy is a member who comes with us sometimes.

 I bought a crate of soda wholesale...280 Met...Yum.

The following pictures were sent by the mission president's wife from the Zone Conference last Tuesday.

 Elder Stegman, Elder Griffeth, Elder Burchett and Elder Howell.

 Lunch at Zone Conference.

 Myself, Elders Burchett, Brown, Stegman and Griffeth.

 Matola Zone Conference

Is that a new toaster? 

They feed us well at Zone Conference.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Week 7 Finally in Mozambique

It´s been one of the biggest adjustments of my life this week. I flew into Johannesburg International airport on Tuesday. Elder Brown and I were pretty sure we weren´t going to make our flight. We landed and the lines were crazy, but someone was standing just off the plane with our names on a paper... and a wheelchair?  He put Elder Brown in the wheelchair and flew us past all the lines for security, checking in, more security and such because Elder Brown was in the wheelchair. We just made our flight because of him! We still have no idea why he helped us, but it was awesome. Once we landed in Maputo we got to meet the AP´s-Assistants to the Mission President (they helped us cross the boarder/fill out paperwork) then we met President and Sister Koch. They were super nice, and we were quickly into a small van with some missionaries and the AP´s. We went straight to KFC... Yup my first African meal was KFC. It was pretty good because I was quite hungry.

We spent Tuesday and Wednesday night in the mission office in Maputo (which has a swimming pool for literally no reason). We then were supposed to stop by the US Embassy to get our "Mozambique equivalent of a Green Card". But the MTC didn't give the required papers to Elder Brown and I... So, we have 60 days to get the papers sent to us, or we´ll get kicked out to Swaziland while we wait for them because you don't need a Visa there. Once we knew the papers would be an issue they changed my area from Beira (coastal city further North) to an area called "T3". Its kinda the outskirts of Maputo. That way when the papers come, I can go to the Embassy (I currently have a 60 day visa). Anyway, I switched some stuff between bags and only brought one suitcase with me to practice for the future. Most transfers are by plane and have a 40 pound weight limit.

So..... T3...... Oh what to say about it. Well, our house has a total of 6 people in it. Elders:  Burchett, Stegman, Brown (yay old comp), Griffith, and Mayaya. The house is considered quite nice for the area (I will include pictures). Its the house that got robbed just a few weeks ago :)  Anyway, it has a big spiked fence all the way around it, and another gated/locked fence around the front and back doors, then another door to go through. Did I mention we have to have a guard patrolling 24/7? So that´s interesting. ***Let me say though that I have never felt unsafe here, other than the driving.*** The house has two little fridges, a gas stove (literally uses gas cans like a BBQ grill), a small shack outside has a washer (still inside the perimeter fence ). The power has gone out several times since I have been here, which isn't too annoying until you know that when the power goes out, so does the water... for at least 4 hours after the power comes back on. Yay bucket showers. The shower is tiny.... made for very very short people. The shower head is probably almost a foot under my shoulders when I am trying to shower.

The food situation: We can get most foods.... Kinda. I am going to the store after I leave the Internet cafe where we email. There are these little fried ball things that are pretty good here. We eat lots of rice, cereal (with odd tasting milk), quite a bit of chicken here and Shima (no idea if I spelled that right). It looks like mashed potatoes, but don't be fooled. Its virtually tasteless with a very unique texture. The important thing though is clearly drinks. Duh. They have Coke, Pepsi, several types of Fanta, other drinks and Frozy´s. Glass bottles of Fanta are 15 Met.... The conversion rate is like 70 Met to a dollar. Coconuts and a Fanta while I walk is nice.

We walk a ton... I mean a ton. Our area is almost a 30 minute walk from our house. Its a lot of walking each day. Also, somehow I didn't think of this, but the "roads" are all sand. Which is insane when it gets all windy. Kids like yelling "Shao" (not sure on spelling) which means hey. They run up and like walking with us/holding hands. Its kinda fun, but others like to yell "Mahloongoo" which literally means "white person". It was cute/funny for all of 2 days. The kids are mostly nice and fun though. Sometimes we get to play a kinda version of checkers with them, or basketball/soccer.

The lessons and teaching is interesting. Hard to describe, but next week I´ll try to explain some lessons once I hopefully understand some of whats said. The Portuguese here is pretty "messy" as someone described it to me. Often mixed in are random dialect words which makes learning the language quite hard. It hopefully will click in the next few months.

Elder Howell

I forgot to mention, our apartment is crawling. Literally. So many cockroaches :) But there are also some wild lizard gecko things that are inside that eat them, so it evens out?

I´ll be here for a full transfer (6 weeks) for sure. Hopefully the paperwork is fast, but if they have to mail the originals, it will be weeks or months... A guy got a letter my first day here, it was from the start of June.... Some people stay one transfer, others are here for 4,5,6+ it really depends.  Our area for Elder Burchett and I is huge. Literally huge. Sometimes we take a 45+ minute chappa ride out to part of the area to teach people.  A "chappa" is a little bus that should hold 11 people but they stuff like 25+ people into.

I should have brought my umbrella. Its been raining/cold the last 2 days. Cold given I also left my sweater in the other suitcase. But its already warming back up. Before I know it it´ll be stupid hot again. 2 showers a day to try and fight off skin abscesses and worms. We are NEVER allowed to be barefoot because of them. Even always wearing shoes lots of missionaries get the foot worms--yay.

We all cook our own breakfast, then one person cooks for everyone for lunch. We go out and about, do a 15 minute "pit stop" around 5 or 6 to grab drinks/a snack. Then we eat "dinner" around 9 which we each cook ourselves.

Church attendance was small yesterday, there are 400+ baptismal records in the area, 87 people showed up... Apparently its usually 125-150, but it was cold.

I wish you all the best! Hopefully I answered any questions you had!

 The little kids like to hold our hands. 
 Elder Brown's wheelchair ride in the Johannesburg Airport.
 Cooking at the mission home.
 Looking outside from our apartment.
My bed.  We have to sleep under mosquito nets. 
 My apartment.
 Our shoes.
 Chappa ride.
 Cream Soda
 My area.
 Sandy roads.
 Lots of walking.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Arrival in Mozambique

Sister Koch and President Koch with Elder Howell

 Sister Koch, President Koch, Elder Carson Brown and Elder Howell

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Week 6 (Part 2): MTC Packing Time

So, it's been a crazy crazy last few days at the MTC. Nothing exciting to report or really talk about, just lots of preparing to leave! Thankfully we get half of today to do our last laundry, send anything home, pack and say our goodbyes to teachers. Saying goodbye to Irmao Read and Irmao Curtis was surprisingly sad :( They were both so warm, kind and helpful to all of us. Yesterday we threw Irmao Read a surprise party with a Cape Verde flag cake (all of my district but Elder Brown and I are going to Cape Verde). I have several pictures I will hopefully add to this email.

I have the rest of today, tomorrow, then I wake up and hop on a bus at 6:20am. Then it's off to Africa (well a ton of American fast foodie kinda stuff in the airports on the way too). It will be so crazy! Elder Brown is excited to fly, he has been on 1 plane ride ever. I love that because he was picked as the travel leader :D It was funny because he later asked several "Can I bring ____ on the plane" questions that I found funny.

Well, no idea when  I will be able to email updates, I hope everyone is doing great! Keep writing!

Elder Howell

Monday, September 5, 2016

Week 6- Last email from the MTC

Well, there isn't much to talk about from this last week. Our moving buildings was a bit of a pain, but we survived (to the laughs and joking comments of the Sisters in our Zone). Our new building looks identical to our old one, except it has one less microwave -.- We need more microwaves to cook noodles!

This time next week I will be boarding my first flight. I leave the MTC at 6:20

am to catch an 11:50 am flight to Atlanta (5 hour layover) then onto Johannesburg, South Africa (1 hour 20 minute layover) we will probably not make it and then have to stay the night in South Africa. I wouldn't mind staying the night and getting my passport stamped :D Then we catch a final flight to Maputo, Mozambique (22.5 month layover)! I can’t wait to get to Mozambique! We have had an "hours left at the MTC" countdown on our classes whiteboard since week one. The time has gone very very slow in some aspects, very fast in others. Sister Galli told me "The days feel like weeks, the weeks feel like days". While that's mostly true, the last few days since I received my flight plans have flown by (see what I did there??)!

I get another P-Day on Saturday, "In Field Orientation" on Thursday (which will be my first class in all 6 weeks here at the MTC in English). That means I have like 3 "real days of class" before I leave! Next Monday I won’t have time to email, so after Saturday my next emails will be from MOZAMBIQUE!!!

Hopefully I will take pictures with each of my amazing teachers/"investigators" this coming week.

Thanks for all the emails and letters, they make my day each and every time!

Elder Howell