Finished my first transfer. Guess that means I am no longer the newest missionary in the field. We got 8 new missionaries this transfer and lost one. That is good because our mission has been shrinking until now. This is the first time we have had more come in than go out in almost a year. Within the next 6 months the amount of missionaries coming should double the size of our mission, so anyone putting papers in, you may be serving with me! Also, they are suppose to be mostly American’s since  when January comes around, all the American elders will be gone but 2.

The work here is coming along well. Every day I have been praying that I’d learn the language. I was hoping it would come easy, but as any missionary will tell you, learning a language is hard. Anyways, my prayers have been answered in a different way because almost all of our regular investigators speak English now. Which is crazy because there are only 12 people in our branch that speak English (counting me and the senior couples) and now we have 4 investigators who speak good English. So I guess maybe that’s why I got assigned to Arusha. Somehow my mission president knew I would find those who spoke English. Speaking English is important because most of the church material isn’t offered in kiswahili and even when they are translated they lose a lot of their meaning since kiswahili is a basic language were there aren’t many ways of saying what you mean like English.

This week I haven’t had any crazy or cool stories or experiences to share but I haven’t felt more at home on my mission than this week. I am starting to become comfortable with the way things work here and have been finding ways to enjoy myself (without breaking any rules of course) Since I don’t have any stories I will share one of the things you have to do as a missionary here. Since there are very few churches here, we have to travel far to get to members in our branch. To achieve this, since we have no bike or car, we have to take what is called a doladola (in English, van).They are these crazy Nissan vans that should only seat like 8 people safely however they stuff them full so they won’t lose profit. So far my record is 23 people. They also are decorated with the most random things. I have seen them with Jesus, the Star of David, Bob Marley, and tons of 90’s rappers like Tupoc, Warren G, and Wotang clan. They are always uncomfortable and last time I rode on one someone spilled their bag of chicken guts all over the floor and my shoes. It was a good way to leave an impression on the investigator we were going to visit but they never said anything about it.

My message today is we should not get caught up in our possessions.  There is a quote from a book that I am going to paraphrase. This quote is from a wealthy man in Tonga. When asked why he wears old clothes even though he can afford nice new ones, he says, “Why would I buy a new shirt when I don’t need one, all it will do is make my neighbors feel like they need to buy nice new clothes too and I know they can’t afford them. I don’t want to make them feel bad about what they can’t afford if I don’t need it myself.” I am not saying that we should wear old clothes or anything but we should be careful that we are not buying things just so we can show off to those around us. We get so caught up in keeping up with trends in today’s society when we could use that money to better our families or the lives of those around us.

Elder Pavik