Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Almost Thanksgiving Already???

Hello everyone!
How are you doing!? I'm doing great over here in Africa. The teaching has been going great lately, I love it! We have been getting a lot of new investigators and it is awesome getting to know these people. One thing that I have been amazed about is how people here just want to be able to know their God more fully and to devote their lives to him. It is quite opposite from the US, where many people now do not know anything about God and they don’t want anything to do with him. Even the young kids talk about God and the Holy Ghost and a lot of religious things as they walk home from school and it just blows my mind!

For Mom, I am sorry for not taking more pictures and I promise that I will! It's hard to find a lot of times when we can and we have to be careful in the sector when taking pictures because we don’t want to look like those "white people" and I don’t want my camera to get taken! But I promise I will take more and more. As far as what's available for food, we can buy chicken and on rare occasions hamburger.  We can also buy flour and that kind of stuff and we do have an oven. We can buy lots of veggies and noodles as well. We just have a hard time finding a lot of variety to eat.
District Meeting with Elders Rakotondrabeharison, West, Legerski, & Larson

For Thanksgiving, we are having a zone conference with the mission president at the Coleman's house and after we will have a dinner. It might not be like just like home, but it's way better than usual so I'll be happy. I am really excited for my birthday but I feel like I'll be so old! 20 is just way too old for my liking, but I guess I will be a real man:) I really hope the package gets here soon; the Coleman's said they have never had someone send mail Fed Ex and they don’t know where the Fed Ex is in Douala or if they even have one. Most people get their mail sent in US Priority Mail. Also, they have a UPS here but no one has ever sent a package through it. For future packages, I would email them (the Colemans) and ask about the specifics because there are a bunch of little things that you sometimes have to do. So I hope that my package makes it here through all of that so I have some stuff for my birthday! As for the percentage of people who speak English, Cameroon is a bi- lingual nation, but it is more French.  I would say 90% of people speak French and 10% English. Many French people understand English and speak a little, but we teach them in French.

Well, for this week I just wanted to talk about 2 experiences that I had. The first one was pretty funny.  We were out with our ward mission leader Lionnel and we were looking for a lady named Antoinette who's number we received a few days before. To get to her house, we walked 45 minutes to a marche, or market, and waited for her.  After not being able to find her, we started back to another rendez-vous but she came out of nowhere so we headed to her house. Her home was just a small room with a twin size mattress on the floor and then her personal effects on the other half of the room. It was so small but we somehow fit all 4 of us in there. In addition, the room had no ventilation at all so it was so hot! On top of that, she was cooking in the room. It was like giving a lesson in a sauna; my face and body would not stop sweating and I sweated through my pants and my shirt! It was so gross:) But it was a very good lesson and even though the sweat was dripping from my face, I could feel the spirit.

The next experience was one that I had with a man named Patrick. Patrick was a man who contacted us on the street while he was a little intoxicated (this happens quite a bit here in Africa). But when we called him later that night, he seemed very eager to meet with us so we set up a meeting. The next day we called him and then he said he would meet us at a taxi call. So after while he showed up and lead us back to his home. Well his home was a building that was under construction and since he was the supervisor, he lived there all alone. This is probably the sketchiest building that I have been in yet, built with cinderblocks and with chunks of cinderblocks all over the floor. Well, there was no power in this building so we went all the way to the top floor and had a lesson in the room there with no light but the light of the moon, sitting on cinderblocks. There he began to tell us about his life and how he regretted the things that he has done and how he now wants to have a life that God would be proud of and that he can be proud of. When asked why he stopped us he said "I don’t know", just that he felt like he should . This is the kind of people who are over here in Africa; they are just amazing. I'm so lucky to teach the people here and they have been prepared and many of those who have been taught gladly receive our message. I'm so grateful to be a missionary here in Africa and this is a time that I will forever cherish.

Since it is the Thanksgiving season, I would like to say that I am so thankful for my family: my Mom and Dad, Koltin, Megann, Skya, Grandma and Grandpa, Debbie, Trent, Luke, Marcus, Thayne, Lisa ,Biz, Lauren, Julia, Alex, Troy and Jamie. I miss them very, very dearly. I am thankful for being born in the US and having all that I have. I am thankful for my amazing ward back home. I am thankful for my Bishop and his amazing family. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve a mission. I am thankful for the prophet and his council. But I think most of all, I am thankful for this Gospel and for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave His life for me, that suffered so much pain so that through him, I may become clean once more, and that one day I will be able to marry a wife for eternity and that someday I will be able to be sealed to my family and live with my family once more. He that gave me so much and demands so little from me. He who's debt I am always in and I am forever grateful for. I wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. Go eat lots of food for me please! And most of all, don’t get caught up in black Friday; enjoy family because family is the one thing that I miss the most here. Well, that is all.  On to another week of work! Eat lots of cheesecake for me!

Elder Legerski

Monday, November 17, 2014

Love Me Some Beignets!

Hello Everyone!
This week has been such a good one! Its crazy to think that I have already been here
in Douala for almost 3 weeks! On average we try and have around 5 meetings a day and usually we
end up having around 4 rendez-vous (or meetings) a day. We do a lot of studying in the morning
because I am being trained and we are learning a new language. Since for right now things have
settled into a rhythm, I'll fill you in on the highlights.
Elder Larson and I have formed an addiction to beignets, or French doughnuts; they are only 50 francs or 10 cents! We want to have an eating contest to see who can eat the most, I really hope we get to do that soon!  Also, during a lesson with a recent convert, there was a little girl who was running around naked the whole time. While for you that may seem weird, we are now used to it. Little kids hardly ever have clothes on! Also, when you see an adult, the less clothes they have on the crazier they are. One day Elder West and I were walking to get a taxi and we saw a man with nothing on, just standing in the middle of a field! I was shocked and Elder West just said "yeah, sometimes that just happens!"
This week I was able to do some service for a member. He sells food on the side of the road by the airport, which here is really common. So to help him out, I cleaned and gutted fish for about an hour! It was really gross, but now I have no problem with cleaning fish at all!
Also, the Jehovah's Witness church is really big in Africa. They have a lot of missionaries and members here and they walk around with little badges on. Many of the people that we talk to think that we are JW's.  This week, two JW missionaries stopped Elder West and I on the way back from service and gave us pamphlets and talked to us. I thought it was so funny! And if anyone needs a good rec team name or 3 on 3 name, JW.org sounds pretty interesting to me!
Also this week, we got an opportunity to teach an albino lady! They are really common here but I thought it was awesome! As for the teaching here in Douala, it is great! Most of the time we never have to go tracting but it does happen in our mission. Douala is a huge commercial city, so most people move here for business opportunities so they are not the people looking for the gospel most of the time.  Here in Bonaberi many people live in apartments or houses and most of those have a gate with a guardian, so knocking doors here is very hard! Tha guardian most of the time will not let
you come in and teach the people.
The people that we do teach though are amazing! They are usually very receptive of our message, which is great! They understand a lot of what we say but it truly is like teaching to a child so you have to be really simple in your speech. It's amazing how many young people that we teach, many of our investigators are 20 years and younger. I would never have thought about religion that young, but here, young people are so intrested in religion. But that's about it as far as teaching goes.
The French is really starting to pick up; I can now read a lot in French and understand it. During the lessons, I am beginning to understand almost everything! My speech still struggles, but the more that I speak the better it gets!
This week has been a great one and I can't wait for the next to come. The thing that I
have thought about this week is the standard of living here in Africa. We have an apartment
that in the US would be so bad, but here it is like upperclass. If we buy a lot of food, we feel
self-concious, even though for us it's not a lot; for them it would be so much. Never before have
I been so thankful for the things that I have! I'm truly blessed to be here in Africa at this
time. I know this is where I am supposed to be. I truly love it here and I can't wait to have more amazing experiences. Well, that is all for this week. Someone go have a nice big steak for me!

Much Love,
Elder Legerski

Monday, November 10, 2014

Life in the Big City (of Douala:)

Hello everyone,
How are you!? Things are pretty normal here in Africa! I don’t know if I told you all yet but right now I am staying in the country of Cameroon, and in the city of Douala! It is a very big city, around 6 or so million people, but no one is quite sure how many! The city itself is pretty spread out so a small town Wyoming boy like me doesn’t have too hard of a time fitting it! Life has been pretty good lately. I have almost been hit by moto taxis and regular taxis several times! For clarification, moto taxis are motorcycle taxis and even though taking them looks very fun, it is against mission rules so I will not be taking any. Also, I think that my grandmother would kill me if I did take one anyways! There are still chickens and lizards everywhere! I want to catch them all but they are so fast! Today I felt like an awful person because I took out our garbage and just threw it on the side of the road. But I forget that it's totally okay over here! Every few days a garbage truck will come and pick up most of the trash but for the most part there is trash everywhere!
I have finally begun to feel like a real missionary after being gone for almost 2 months! Everyday is a long one but it I love it already! Ebola really stinks! Since it has gotten so bad we cannot eat at members homes which makes me sad! I would love to try African food, even if it landed me in the bathroom for a few hours! So far we make all of our food, often in the mornings we have pancakes or beignets (I don’t know if that is how you spell it) but they are French doughnuts and they are so delicious! Elder Larson and I are going to have an eating contest soon to see who can eat more! The weather here has been getting hotter and hotter. Walking is not bad at all, it is the lessons which are super hard! As soon as I sit down, I start sweating so bad! Often times I leave a puddle on the floor before I leave! I now see why white shirts do not stay white here. Despite it being as hot as it is, I am getting used to it! The average temperature is around 28 or 29 degrees celsius outside and in a house its around 24 or 25, so now when a room is 20 degrees (or room temperature in the US) I am freezing! We had our first huge storm and it poured and poured and almost snapped a few trees in half! Even as cool as it was, it stunk because ever since then our power has been very faulty and we are lucky if we have power for a few hours a day!

Pre-game Prayer Circle
Church here is amazing! Even though the entire thing is in French, I still love it! Sacrament meeting is in a building and luckily the big room has air conditioning! We sit on lawn chairs and other than that it is like a normal sacrament meeting! Although people here don’t understand punctuality and they often show up around half an hour late! The people here are so nice though. All the members shake our hands and greet us. They cannot say my name at all! And many say "Leberski" which I have no idea why! But they are very sweet people and they love the gospel. At church every week, we usually have at least 5 or 6 of our investigators, which is great! Its so nice to invite people to come to church and have them keep the commitment. After sacrament meeting,  we have Sunday school which is same as always and then after that is priesthood. I don’t understand a lot of what is said but I do my best! The biggest difference in church here is that every meeting ends and begins with a song. The people here love to sing and often times our rendezvous (appointments) with people start with hymns!
Soccer!! Elders Quorum vs the Young Men
The language is very difficult still! I try and speak as much as I can but I am still very bad! The thing that has helped me the most is reading out loud. I nearly have all of the little stupid rules for saying things down and I can read most things and understand them! French is very hard but I know that as I keep studying and working on it that I will be able to speak it soon!
As this week has gone on, I have come to realize that my time here on this earth is a time for me to get ready to meet God. In Alma 34:32 we read that this life is a time to prepare to meet God. As I think about this, I think about how God has a plan for me. And right now I am on that path that He wants me to be on. But I still must work. Every day as I walk through the streets, I listen to know what the Lord wants me to do. This is such a hard task; in order to know the will of God we must take quiet time and read the scriptures and pray and most of all listen. Listening is key and that is the one thing that I did not realize before my mission. I did not listen and now I am always listening so that I may always listen to the promptings of the Lord. For you people at home, I challenge you to take quiet time this week. Pray to the Lord and ask if what you are doing now is what the Lord wants you to do and just sit there for 5 minutes. While you do this, pay close attention to your thoughts and feelings. The Lord works through the still, small voice and He will lead you and show you the way; we must just be willing to listen.
All in all, I am loving it here in Africa.  Sometimes it gets hard but strong spiritual moments keep me going. This is the Lord's work and there is no better work I can be doing. I thank everyone who has kept me in their prayers. It means a lot and it strengthens me.
I hope everyone is good at home. Somebody please go eat an Uncrustable with a large glass of cold milk for me!
Much love
Elder Legerski


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

First email from the mission field!

Hello everyone!
 How are you doing! This is my very first p-day in the field! Overall this has been such a blessing but so hard as well! I got done at the MTC this last Tuesday and it was actually really hard! I have grown so close to so many of these Elders and they will always be dear to my heart!
Gonna miss these guys!!
To start the travel day, we got all packed up and then headed to the airport. And there it was a typical day in the Ghana airport. When Elder Larson and I got there, we found out that our bags were overweight. Now President Robison had told us that if we had problems with that, the drivers would come forward with money so that we would not have to pay. However, the drivers did not and Elder Larson and I had to go through the airport to find an ATM machine and then pull out $80 to pay the overweight fee.  But then they said they needed more money and by that time our drivers had left. So, we had to go all through the airport looking for a security person to talk to and after about an hour we were able to finally head through security to start boarding our plane.
The plane ride to Lome was very short and we were fortunate enough to be able fly with all of the Elders from our district, except one, so I was very fortunate. While in Lome, we had a 2 hour layover so Elder Larson and I said goodbye to the other Elders who are going to Benin and Togo and then we boarded the plane to Cameroon. Once we got to Cameroon, Elder Larson and I looked around and said "this is more like it!". It was crazy how as soon as we landed, we had a sense of belonging.
We waited for our bags, which came very fast. Then came the hard part; waiting for the right drivers. People were crowded all around us, asking for money and offering rides. This was all in French, so we had abosultely no idea what was going on! But finally a man said he knew the missionaries and it felt right so we followed him and saw Brother Coleman and the Mission President pulling up and we loaded our bags up and we were off.

From there we went to the Coleman's apartment where we met the other members of our zone. Our zone is very small and only has 8 elders.  The districts only have 4 each and then each companionship is in a sector. So we met our zone leaders, who were very nice, and one of them was taller then me! I was so surprised but I guess they send goofy tall kids to Africa all of the time:) Then we had dinner at the Coleman's and it was so good to taste kind of American food! They gave us brownies and mint ice cream for desert and I thought I was gonna cry it was so good! After dinner, we all had a meeting and I met my new companion and my trainer, Elder West. He is from Ohio and he is a great elder! He did a lot of theatre in high school, as well as band. We have bonded very well and we are working towards having a great companionship!
Elder West, Elder Legerski, Elder Rakotondrabeharison, Elder Larson
That night we landed, I went to my apartment. And let me tell you, every apartment in the US looks like a penthouse compared to what I have seen! By African standards, we have a very nice apartment: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a living room and a decent sized kitchen. I got lucky and got the apartment with air conditioning so I'm soooo grateful for that! Now for the downsides of our apartment by American standards: we have ants everywhere and it is just run down in general and we have problems with cockroaches sometimes and they are huge! So it's a good thing I don’t mind bugs at all:) But I feel very fortunate to have what I have.
Zone Conference
Then came morning and the biggest moment of my life so far! Day one in the zone. To start, we went back across town and had a nice zone conference. After that I went and had my very first lesson as a missionary! Before I tell you about that, let me tell you about my sector. I'm in the Bonaberi B sector. It is one of 2 sectors that do not use taxis, so we walk everywhere! And in most places it is just dirt roads or dirt paths! Plus, Elder West and I are being white washed, which means that we are both brand new to the area! So we don’t know any of the investigators well, where they live, where the members live or who the members are! So we have quite the challenge ahead;) Because Cameroon is a 2 language country, we have anglaphones who speak English and frankaphones who speak French!
Sister Coleman, President Monga,
Elders West, Colindres, Legerski, Hatch, Larson, Okon, Johnson, & Rakotondrabeharison
My first lesson was with Sonita who is an anglaphone and it went so well! I think that she may be baptized soon which makes me so happy! She is such a sweet girl. I probably sweated off five pounds during the lesson, too. I had sweat pouring down my face! Its getting into dry season here in Africa which is when it gets really really hot! So I'll be losing a few pounds!
There is so much to say that it is impossible to write it all down! So I'll tell you all the weird things about Africa! The ladies don’t shave their armpits so that’s really weird. There are canals on either side of the street that hold all kinds of stuff and they smell really, really bad. It's not uncommon for people to drop their pants and do their business in the canals so that’s always nice! There is trash all over the place and huge piles on the side of the road. It really makes me appreciate America! But I found the most amazing drink and its called dudu! Its like liquid yogurt and it is just delicious. We don’t eat in members home at all because of the new rules from Salt Lake, so we as an apartment have to cook 3 times a day so we get pretty creative with what we have! We have had pancakes and pizza, and tacos so far, so I guess we can make anything!  Real quick note about the language: French is hard! In French lessons, I understand the general idea but other than that I speak and understand little but it gets better everyday! I know it will take time but soon I will speak French.

Now I want to share a spiritual thought with you all. This last night I was having a hard time; I was homesick and it was just all coming down on me. It had been a hard day, it was hot, I was in a foreign country and I felt like I was failing as a missionary. But then as I read through Preach my Gospel, I realized something. We all are never perfect and this life is a life that is meant to become better. At that moment I felt such a strong desire to become the best person I could be and the best missionary that I could be. I encourage everyone to have this same fire in their heart as they go through their daily lives. If you can look back and say "have I done any good today?" and you can answer "yes!", then you are becoming a true disciple of Christ. In 2 Nephi, chapter 31:17-20,  we read about enduring to the end. This is the hardest step of the gospel but one of the most important. Always stay strong with the Lord and thank him every night for everything he has given you.

Now its time to say goodbye! But before I do, I have a challenge for you all. Go into a store like Walmart and stand in the middle of a food aisle. Then imagine you are standing on a dirt road. The aisle changes into little stalls all around you. You hear people speak but cannot understand anything. Its so hot you sweat through 2 shirts. There are flies and dirt on all the food. The stench of sweat and rotten food makes you want to throw up. This is the average market in Africa. Never again will I complain about having food that I don’t like, or the availability or cleanliness of the food. Make a challenge of complaining less and start to be thankful more!

Well, that’s all for this week; someone go have a Baconator for me!

Elder Legerski