Monday, March 28, 2016

How Beautiful Upon the Mountains are the Feet of Him that Bringeth Good Tidings

Dear Mom,

So to help you out with your seminary request for teaching Isaiah 53--

From what I have observed, most new converts to the church who truly embrace the church and its teaching enjoy a newfound sense of identity. Beforehand, many don’t understand their true relationship with God, that they are his literal spirit children. Many also do not understand their purpose on this Earth---they think that Adam and Eve messed up big time in the Garden of Eden and that we're now living under God's B plan (as if God just wanted us to come to Earth so we could worship him endlessly, and that his plan was somehow ruined).

Without restored gospel truth, I have seen that most people here live their life believing that we are either hopeless (so why bother trying), or they think that Jesus Christ's role was to allow us to be lazy here on Earth (i.e. "We're all saved anyway, hallelujah, now I can do whatever I want.").

Both lifestyles are contrary to happiness, When people accept the message we have to share, and align their lives with the commandments, they begin to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, and start to understand and experience true, eternal happiness. 

This understanding of our divine identity and this happiness are often forgotten when people are not 100% converted. Many become caught up in the routine of church (teaching lessons, planning activities, fasting, etc.), and don't remember the reason behind everything we do, which is Jesus Christ. 

When Isaiah talks about beautiful feet on mountaintops, he is talking about His (Christ's) feet. However, we can all experience a little bit of what this scripture is talking about through missionary work. 

It's important to notice that, the phrase "beautiful feet" isn’t literal. Jesus was described as a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief ---- not one you'd find on the cover of Hollywood magazines. Interestingly, my feet are pretty disgusting as a result of missionary work, I’ve got about three warts on the big toe of my right foot that I’ve been dealing with for about three weeks now (don’t worry, I’m treating it). I also had tons of different sores. Back when I used to wear the closed toed sandals, my feet got weird tiger-striped tan lines. I’m also getting over some sort of allergic reaction that I had during the week which gave me red rashes all over my body, including my feet, and my left foot also got a little swollen (don’t worry, I’m also treating that too).

So, we're not talking about a physical kind of beauty, but there is something really special about helping people to understand the same gospel truths that you know. My favorite converts are L--and M-- . Elder A-- and I taught them just as we would any of our other investigators, but they accepted the gospel so fully. They are now married and making preparations to go to the temple. I’ve heard that L-- also has 3 callings in his Branch now.

Once while I was visiting Cococodji to do a baptismal interview, I ran into M--, she was so happy to see me and kept saying, "Hey it's Elder Walls, it's because of him that I found the church!"  Which, I suppose is partly true, I helped in the process, but Jesus Christ is the true Shepherd. 

It's very fulfilling to be a part of His work. Hopefully, one day we'll all stand side by side on the mountaintops together. I'm sure his feet will outshine ours by a long run!

Hope that helps you Mom!
Elder Walls

PS My letter to the family keeps getting erased--so frustrating! I haven't gone to the doctor again--I've been kind of focused on this allergic reaction I have had this week. It is very irritating! After about 15 days of being on the amoxicillin (for the other problem I was having), I broke out in this full body rash. I don't know what is going on with my body. We did that allergy testing before I left for Africa which specifically said I was not allergic to penicillin, so I don't know what my body is reacting to. I will try to get a check up appointment soon. Love you!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Back to Work

Dear Family,

Life is great here in Africa. I am working hard, sweating harder, and scrubbing yet even harder to get the sweat stains out of my shirts. 

This week has been pretty normal, a welcome relief after not feeling well the last few weeks. My health is fine. I will go to the doctor some time this week. 

The new formation of the new stake is in about 5 weeks, so we are all excited about that! And that is really interesting to know that some of Elder Stanfill's family lives in our ward. I am pretty sure he will be here when the new stake is created. I will have to mention that my dad teaches his grandchildren in nursery :)

Sorry, Mom, I don't have much advice for you on Isaiah. It helps to understand the political situation of the time. The Book of Mormon manual helped me with that. Good luck subbing in seminary. 

I will share a scripture I really like:
'The wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion' Prov 28:1

Don't forget that course registration is this week. Thanks for taking care of that for me--sorry that it starts at 2:00AM! I will send you another email with directions and the classes I would like for you to register me for. 

Love you guys, 

Elder Walls

Monday, March 14, 2016

All is Well

Hey Guys,

I don't really much to report on for this week. I am doing much better now. The swelling has gone down quite a bit, and there is only minor swelling now. I got the ultrasound on Tuesday, which confirmed that it was just an infection. I didn't really find out any more information. I am still taking the anti-inflammatory, and am in the process of getting the antibacterial prescription refilled. I will see the doctor again in a week to make sure everything is fine. 

It has been nice to be able to relax this week. The doctor gave me a medical release from all work for 5 days. It has made a big difference in how I feel. I guess sometimes the body just needs to rest. 

President Morin made a surprise visit on Thursday, to visit our landlord. We didn't know he was coming. I hope he is okay with my having the medical release for the week. He didn't really say much. 

Anyways that about it for this week I have had lots of sleep, and am feeling better. I hit the four month mark on Sunday! The one good thing about this little infection is that it has definitely helped me keep my mind here in Africa, and not thinking ahead to going home. 

Love you guys.

Elder Walls

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Good News is that I Don't Have Cancer


Dear Family,

So this week has been an interesting one--I wouldn’t describe it as fun, actually, it's been pretty downright scary! I suppose it is a learning experience, but I haven't yet found the lesson to get out of it yet. 

So, ever since Tuesday evening, I have had pain. It started out small and I didn't think too much of it. It didn't go away though. I started to take some Ibuprofen, which helped to mask the pain, but after two days the pain came back when I stopped taking the medication. And while it was a mild pain, it was constant. I knew something wasn't right. And then, I started getting a headache, chills, cough, feeling weak, diarrhea, etc. I wasn't sure if those symptoms were related to the pain or something else. And then I noticed swelling in the area where the pain was, so I decided to call Sister Morin. She said she would get me an appointment for Monday. 

I wasn't sure about the timing of the appointment because: 
1) Elections were on Sunday and the crowds could be unpredictable (remember last year?). And also, 2) Transfers were happening Monday, and we would be all over the place. And we wouldn't even know the details of the transfers until the last minute. 

With the transfers, Saturday we found out that my comp, Elder F, is going to Porto Novo (Cool!! He will love it there. And he will be working with a Tahitian, one of the two left in the mission.) Since my comp would be changing, I would have to go stay with the Cococodji elders for the morning (since I would be without a comp for the morning), which would make getting to a doctor appointment difficult. However, I learned that if I didn't get in to see the doctor on Monday, that I would have to wait until the following week. So, I eventually found a Cococodji elder who was willing to go with me to the appointment. I told Sister Morin to go ahead and make the appointment. The clinic was closed, so she couldn't call until Monday.

So I went to Cococodji not knowing if I would have an appointment or not. Unfortunately, it made goodbyes with Elder F really stinky because my mind was elsewhere. I was with the Cococodjians when Sister Morin called to say she had confirmed an appointment for 9:30. I was relieved to have an appointment, but when I checked the time it was 8:30!! I had an hour to get dressed, find a taxi, make the 40 minute drive to the bureau and from there find the hospital that I'd never been to. Didn't seem possible. It took 25 minutes just to find a taxi that was willing to go to Cadjehoun. The whole way there, I was so worried I would miss my appointment just because I was late. We made it though! And Mom, do you remember that pillow you got me before I left for Africa? I have to thank you for making me  stuff it into my suitcase--I brought it with me for the taxi ride and it totally helped manage my pain on the bumpy ride to the hospital. 

The doctor I saw is from Algeria. She checked me out and said that she didn't think it was anything to worry about like cancer, etc. PHEW! So much relief right there! She says that I just walk too much, and with the heat and humidity here, it just makes it worse. She is putting me on an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory. I will go in for an ultrasound tomorrow, just to confirm that it isn't anything serious. I am supposed to take it easy for a week as well. Not the best timing since I have my new comp, Elder M. 

Elder M will be a zone leader with me, and will probably end up replacing me here. We worked together in the same apartment in Porto Novo, so we already know each other pretty well. Hopefully, there won't be that awkward getting-to-know you relationship stuff. And hopefully, he knows my work ethic, and knows that I am not trying to get out of doing work for this next week. 

So that's basically been my week. We did go out teaching--I thought it would help take my mind off the pain, but it didn't really work. I will rest this week and hopefully be in good shape to get back to it next week. I have been sooooo worried--I've never had anything like this before. I didn't know if it was cancer, some sort of blood disease or what. And then I was worried it was something that would cause me to have to come home early, or have to have surgery. So, it is a relief to know it isn't anything serious. I should be just fine. 

One blessing of this whole situation--it has helped me focus on being HERE, in Africa. With being close to the end of my mission and having to start thinking about getting things arranged for going back to school, my mind has started to think about going home. But this week has refocused my thoughts to my work here. 

One funny sight this week. A motorcycle driver here was trying to rev his bike too much and totally pulled a wheelie that threw him and his two passengers onto the ground. No one was hurt thankfully. You see a lot of crazy drivers here!

I love you guys.
Elder Walls

PS Mom, I really am going to be fine!