Elder Derek Miller's Mission Site

Build Relationships of Trust

Date: September 05, 2011
Area: Quelimane, Mozambique
Companion: Derrickson


Dear Family,

Well the picture is of the choir I played for. Ha! that was fun. back in Manga.

Well this past week has been interesting. We started talking to members and trying to get them ready and stable so that our investigators have a strong base. Starting from nothing is super hard work. We have been just walking around most days doing contacts. I am pretty sure that no matter where you are in the world, knocking doors is one of the least effective ways to find the right people and it is a desperate last resort to fill your time. That's how I see it here anyways so I refuse to knock doors. We usually just make casual contacts on the street as we walk past people or whatever. It has proven to be pretty effective. But we sure do get a lot of walking in--about 15-17 K on a normal day. Lots. and lots. of walking.

Nothing too interesting happened this week. I say nothing too interesting because I forgot what "normal" actually is. My perception of normal is skewed permanently. So I'm not even sure really. Ask my son. He would be able to tell you a plethura of crazy things. HOWEVER, last week I forgot to mention that we visited a mosque to show the community that we are friends and not crazy zealots and to build relations within a community. As you can imagine, I was very fascinated by it. We went on Friday which is the day that they all get together and have their meetings and sermons and stuff and we listened in on a little bit of it. They have one person speak in Arabic and then a translator stands by and relates it in portuguese. Too bad the microphone was having troubles--I had a really hard time understanding alot of it. BUT! Of course I chose our day wisely because August is the month of Ramadan which is their month of fasting--they fast during the day and at nightfall they have a big feast and invite others (usually poorer class folk) to feast on their banquet together. So this was the Friday before the end of Ramadan. They talked about abstaining from Alcohol as was said by the prophet mohammad and any other harmful substances even if they aren't expressly forbidden in Islam (ie, smoking, drugs, excess of sugar etc.) And that during this time they are to continue to remember what God has given them and be grateful for it and instead of thinking to ask, think first to give. They said something about animals but the microphone went funky so I didn't really understand. Then everybody lined up to do the prayer ritual. By the way, all who enter must take their shoes off and leave them at the door. there are no chairs so you sit on the floor. Kinda fun. But we all got up to do the prayer ritual. I had no idea what I was doing and I wish somebody would have explained something. I came to the mosque asking for advice a few days prior but I got a very general mozambican response. I should have asked an arab. haha. But it's all good. They got up and we stood in filed lines and at certain phrases they would bow at the waist and hold for several seconds and come back up again. I didn't know what to do so I just stood there. Then everyone got on their knees and bowed putting their foreheads to the ground. Confused, we awkwardly knelt down and not knowing what to do just sat there for several seconds. Then they stood up and repeated the whole thing. So again there we were awkwardly standing while everyone bowed. Then it ended. Good thing that Islam puts a lot of emphasis on focus during prayer otherwise we might have offended a lot of people. However the kids did look at us like we were crazy. Oops.

Afterwards, we were greeted very warmly by many people asking why we were there and if we liked it and stuff like that. It was like we were instantly befriended--an important lesson for us. I felt appreciated and there was a genuine and sincere concern shown by the muslims there in the mosque. One of them asked if I knew anything about Islam. I said I had studied a little back home before I came here as a missionary. Then he said, "why are you not muslim?" Oh boy. being very careful with my words, I tried to explain that God will save those who do his will. I tried to be very sensitive and careful. He recognized this and accepted. A true muslim will never force anything and they always try to steer away from offense because according to the prophet mohammad, to offend your neighbor is a sin. So that was good. I half wanted to say "well I am muslim. Just not in the same way you are muslim." Muslim is a derivative of an arabic word meaning dedicated or loyal. So I think that would be appropriate there.

Anyways, we continued talking with people and there were lots of warm smiles and greetings exchanged. Then as we left, one of the arabic muslims--an older sheikh (means elder ironically)--offered a ride in his van to our house. He explained many things and told us about his bakery that he had and how the bible talks about mohammad somewhere and such but just being really friendly and explaining to us a little about islamic religious culture. It was really fun and actually a little humourous sometimes. It was a very similar feeling to my own religious culture--but still very, very different. haha.

So how about that for an experience? Even days later we had people who remembered us and asked us how we were doing. We were even invited to a few parties on the ending day of Ramadan. I wish we could have gone but our schedule was already full at the time so we couldn't make it. But the end of Ramadan was pretty cool. Muslims closed up shop and went around spreading joy and praises to Allah and stuff. I thought it was really cool. They really are a wonderful community and the least of my worries here as a missionary.

My comp has a good noggin. He thinks logically and clearly but is still able to open up his mind to deeper and more abstract things (very important for me). He is pretty simple and down to earth. He is probably going to buy a guitar today and I'm gonna learn a few things from him. He plays very very well. As for what I am teaching him? Well I don't think I teach him anything. The only thing I can really teach him is to constantly seek the Spirit. When you are a missionary, you are a missionary to the world--even to other missionaries--calling them to repentance. For that reason, you must have the Spirit because if you don't you will be lost. So what is it that the Spirit will teach him? How to tame the mozambican beast. or even the human beast in general. That is what I am learning.

I am very happy...despite the increasing heat of the day... *nervous chuckle*

I love you all!

Happy Birthday Tal! Don't forget to smile! Feliz Aniversário!

Parabens a você esta data querida muitas felicidades e muitos anos da vida!

Com amor,

Elder Derek


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