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May 26, 2014 – Miracles

So this is the last week of my second transfer here in Mozambique. That means that next Monday will be an extremely stressful day especially if I am transferred. I don’t know who has already heard about this from President Kretly (see below) but our mission boundaries were just realigned. Now I have the opportunity to not only serve in Mozambique but also Swaziland. We were talking to the AP’s today who had come out to our area to play soccer and basketball and found out that missionaries will be interchanged throughout the two countries. Swaziland is an English-speaking country and so odds are no Cape Verdans, Mozambicans, Brazilians, or Angolans will serve there that are already here on the Mission because none of them speak English, so the American English-speaking missionaries may be getting another stamp on their passport. This was extremely huge news for us here in the field but probably doesn’t surprise anyone back home or in other missions. And I really don’t think I will get sent to Swaziland. They speak English there and they wouldn’t send someone who still has to practice their Portuguese. But you never know how the Lord works. I’ll go wherever I am needed.

Now onto some miracles that I have witnessed in the past two weeks. So since I first got to Matola we have been fighting and working our butts off to get a frequency of 250 people in sacrament meeting. When I got here we were averaging about 180 or so then the past couple weeks we were hovering around 215, after that we jumped up to 232. And finally as of yesterday we hit a frequency of…..259!!!!! There were 259 people who came to sacrament meeting yesterday. Its been a fight but we were finally able to achieve it through prayer, hard work, and fasting.  Also, we added a set of missionaries to our ward so they can focus on a big area that hasn’t been receiving a lot of attention. They have been working with a lot of less-actives and have been finding new investigators as well.

The chapel is fairly big and we also have a big overflow area that has yet to be opened. Their is room for all the people so its just up to us to get them there.

Another miracle I am extremely excited to share is a family that we met two weeks ago. Their names are Ignacio and Efigenia. They have a 3-year-old daughter and have been together for 7 years. They haven’t missed church since we started teaching them and are extremely intelligent. Something that has amazed us is their interest in progressing. I will now explain. We taught them the restoration and they came to church. Then we went to teach them O Livro de Mormon that night. We finished it and asked if they had any questions. Ignacio said “I have one. We heard today that in order to be baptized and become members of the church we have to get married. Is that true? Because if it is we’ve discussed it and it’s something we would really like to do.” Elder Abel and I were beyond ecstatic. Then we went with a member that week and taught them the full Lei de Castidade lesson. They accepted and came to church the next Sunday. We went and visited them after church and read some scriptures with them. At the end Ignacio was like “I have another question. I was talking to a friend that is also investigating the church, and he told me that we aren’t allowed to smoke or drink. Is this true?” We responded, “Yes, it is.” All he said in reply was “Good I’m glad I didn’t quit for nothing.” This man had heard that in the church we don’t drink so he took it on himself to quit drinking and smoking on his own. This may not sound like a miracle to people but without sounding stuck up, you don’t know the Mozambican people. I love them but getting them to do anything is like pulling a tooth every time. For someone to quit on his own initiative is a miracle.

We did have to push the baptisms back to June 21st. We weren’t able to get the documents done in time. So we have to open the process this week so they can be married on June 21st. We are also gonna try and set up another casamento colletivo in July as well. For some other couples we are working with. Hopefully it all works out.

No one will ever have all the documents they need to get married like from the get go. We have to get them to do almost all of them. We were working with another couple but he had problems with the word of wisdom that he has overcome and her dad died so she’s been out of town for half the transfer. We’ve had to visit him every other day to make sure he is doing strong. You also asked about a few other couples. Z and L are still doing well but they missed church yesterday so they only have one more chance to make it back. And if they don’t they are dropped. The other couple was O and N and they haven’t been back to church since week 3 of transfer one which was a huge disappointment but it taught me that you can’t really judge someone until they are in the font being baptized.

I’ve been extremely blessed this transfer, and I know as long as I continue to be obedient and work as hard as possible I will continue to be blessed throughout the transfer. Thank you all for your emails.

Elder Keck

President Kretly’s email:

Dear Elders Sisters, Parents and Leaders, from Mozambique Maputo Mission,

We are very excited to announce that we have receive from the First Presidency of the Church the have anounced that our Mission have been realingned.

Starting effective today, besides the Country of Mozambique, the beautiful country of SWAZILAND was added in our mission. Located on the south border of Mozambique, and about 1:40 min by car from Maputo (130km ).

This country have 1.2 million people, it’s is a Monarchy  and a very safe and stable place. We have there one District with 4 branches and one group. About 1350 members. Two beautiful chapels, 14 wonderful  missionaries and one incredible Senior Couple Missionaries. We have been there this weekend and we were amazed with how kind and special are the members and the people in general.

Our goal now is, work hard and help the Lord to do Miracles there like He is doing in Mozambique. We will work for a Stake there. Please, let’s pray and work hard to make that happen. The Lords wants families to be baptize there and the leadership and the members are all very exited about this news.

Thanks for all your prayers and support, we love you all,

President and Sister Kretly

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May 19, 2014 – Open House in Matola

So, unfortunately I am in a place that I can’t send pictures from so there aren’t any this week.

As for cool things that happened this past week, our chapel here in Matola had an open house and people were able to come and be shown around and be taught the restoration in 5 minutes. The first two nights were not very successful but apparently the 3rd night was crazy successful because of two reasons: 1. The sisters were there and so we just mentioned to these young guys we would try and get in was that these white girls would be the ones showing them around and they would immediately go in; and 2. President Kretly was the one teaching the restoration to the ones that came in.  Probably no one knows this but President Kretly is very famous here and in Brazil. All we had to do was tell older people that they could meet Paulo Kretly and that got them in there. Also we have a current goal of 250 frequency in our branch here. This past week our frequency was at 232 which is awesome. Elder Abel and I found this new family we are pumped to work with called Zephenias and Laura. We taught them once and they came to church early on Sunday and sat together and stayed the whole time. It was a huge blessing. I don’t have to much more to say this week sorry. But I appreciate everyone’s emails and look forward to them next week.

Love you all! Elder Keck

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So another week has flown by and they just get faster and faster. It was great to hear from everyone on Mothers day and find out that you are all doing well. I was extremely trunky after that call and for those who don’t know the meaning of that word it means kind of like homesick but also not. It’s hard to explain it. The missionaries who are receiving this email will understand. Glad to hear that everyone is doing well and I even got to hear a word from Ryan.  

As for this past week some cool things happened. The first is this: We were commissioned by the Office Elders to go and take pictures of a wedding that they weren’t able to attend. What this means is we got to go to the wedding where they have very good soda and food and enjoy some Mozambique wedding transitions, Not to different than American other than the Choir of old black women singing in xhangana. But weddings are the only time missionaries are allowed to eat Mozambican food. Which is some of the best food in the world.

Another cool thing that happened this week is one of the lessons we had. We had contacted this man one time who we found out was a leader in another church. He was officially married but generally you don’t mess with leaders of churches. We then ran into this man 5 other times randomly in our area. We took it as a sign to sit with him. So to prepare for that lesson we called the Second Counselor in the Branch Presidency for Matola 2 (which is not my ward). The reason we called him is because this man whose name is Soares was a very big leader in the ** Church before he was baptized in our church. We wanted to bring him as back up. Unfortunately, as we expected, it turned into a bible bash. Which we won. This man kept pulling out scriptures and we were able to counter them all. He gave up before we could even get to the Joseph Smith story. We were extremely grateful for Soares’ willingness to help. We then found out that he actually lives in our Branch Boundaries and now are hoping some things will happen and he will be moved to our ward. 

It seems like everything we do is hard no matter what way we try and approach it but when its all over its so rewarding and feels so good. I will see if I can learn how to cook like a Mozambican and cook some of the dishes we see here. There is something called feijuada that I never thought I’d like but has turned into one of my favorite foods.  Its a sauce you put on rice and it usually has tomatoes garlic onions some other spices and beans and also some kind of meat is put in it. Its extremely filling and good. 

[I found a recipe for it in case anyone wants to try it at http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/feijoada_brazilian_black_bean_stew ]

We get money at the beginning of every month. We actually get more than most other missionaries because we can’t eat with the members and we can’t drink the water here so we either have to drink nothing the whole day or go and buy something – hence soda. Its very impractical to carry around water everywhere. Also no one lives in their areas except one dupla so we have to take transportation to get here. We are cautioned to save some every month as an emergency fund in case we need to get to the office quickly.

I think that’s all for this week. I love you all and am excited to read your emails next week,

Love Elder Keck 

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Two week’s worth of emails

[we didn’t get any emails last week from Nate, but this week got the explanation as well as the emails :)]

LAST WEEK’S EMAIL:

So some things happened this past week that have been kind of a downer of spirits. We were working on opening the process for two families. The first is Nascir and Marta, the second is Seljio and Zunita. We are still working with Nascir and Marta and are trying to get their process opened in Maputo so that it can still be in time for the 17th but it seems like we have hit an obstacle at every point in the road. And the other family we were doing docs for were taught the word of wisdom and we found out that Seljio has a big problem with drinking, and hasn’t been able to quit. So we had to push their wedding back. But we are still working with them and trying to help them overcome these issues.

On the cool side of things we got to do a service project this past saturday and we went and cleaned up a cemetery that is up the road from our church. I have a lot of pictures of the service project but unfortunately I don’t have my camera with me today. So all of the pictures will have to wait until next week.

[I snuck a few off of Elder Reinstein’s blog!]

   The Matola Branch service project at the cemetery:              Elder Keck and Elder Reinstein:

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We have been working with some other good families as well here. One of them are Manuel and Cynthia. Manuel is an English Professor that grew up here, left home to study in Cuba at 16, got conscripted into the Cuban Military during the Cold war, finished his studies, lived in South Africa for many years and finally returned to Mozambique. They are an extremely intelligent family that have never missed church once in the 5 weeks we’ve been working with them.

 One cool thing that happened this past week was we were walking down in the baixa area (which is a jungly area full of grass huts) and we were feeling lost as to what we should do. We stopped and said a prayer and like 10 seconds this guy walked past and we started to contact him. He said he appreciated our offer to come and sit with him but he was already baptized in another church and he was wanting to return to that church. We asked him what the church was and he said “Igreja de Jesus Cristo dos Santos dos Ultimos Dias” So we are currently working on getting him reactivated and married to the girl he is living with and getting her baptized as well. That’s all for this email. Sorry I don’t have the pictures with me.

Love Elder Keck 

THIS WEEK’S EMAIL:

So as some of you accurately guessed, I was in the Capital running all around doing marriage documents. We finally got a break and we were in the internet cafe doing email; I was literally right in the middle of sending my weekly message and typing it all out when all of a sudden the power went out at the place. Which means we weren’t able to email our families. I had only gotten to email one person before the power died and the internet went out so I apologize for that.

We are not the highest attended branch in the mission but we are working on getting into the contention for the south half of the mission. There are some branches up north that are currently hitting the 280 marks every week, and right now ours is doing the second best for the Maputo-Matola district. We are currently averaging right now at about 215 people a week. We want to get it up higher though.

So now our baptism has moved to the 31st of May and we are currently working on having 9 families married and baptized that day. Elder Abel and I have been blessed with a lot of great families that we are currently working with. We are currently working primarily with 7 families right now and are constantly trying to find more that we can work with. Heavenly Father blessed us a lot this past week with finding new families. We were able to sit with 6 new families this past week.

Real quick I will explain contacts here in Mozambique. We are only allowed to contact men and they have to live at home with their wives and not go to a church. So contacts are very specific for what we can count. Well we prayed very hard and asked for help and Heavenly Father blessed us with 108 qualified contacts that we can potentially go teach this past week. The reason we can only contact families is because we are trying to establish real growth down here in Mozambique and that comes through baptizing families.

I think that’s it for this week, thank you all for your prayers and love.

Love Elder Keck 

Snippets from other emails:

The weather is about the same here. Hot and blue with a lot of dirt. Its going well though. We are still working with the families trying to get them squared away. It seems like every time I hear a song about missionary work I tear up. I think a mission is turning me into a big baby. And then I go out and walk 15+ miles in the hot sun and I think that maybe its not turning me into as big as a baby as I thought. And the clothes are starting to look a little to big for me but that’s ok. I think I had a lot of extra weight to lose and this is the place and lifestyle to do it. 

So I have discovered this fruit down here that I think you would really enjoy and I want you to keep your eye out for it while you are at home. Its called Maracuja and I think its some kind of citrus but it is amazingly good. We had a birthday party the week before last for one of our investigators and we were forced into a situation where we had to eat. This is bad for 2 reasons. 1. We don’t know how cleanly the food was prepared, and 2. It was extremely good and now I want to eat more Mozambican food. But its probably for the best we can’t eat their food.

We are currently working on establishing 4 stakes here in Mozambique. One in Matola, one in Maputo, one in Manga, and one in Beira. This means that we all have our work cut out for us because right now their is only 2 districts, so everything needs to be divided and cut into half to get the four stakes. I hope things back home in the stake are going well.