Friday, May 27, 2016

27 MAY 2016 - May's Emails, Laplap, and More Baptisms

22 MAY 2016

Hey everybody, how's it going? I am doing all good. Everything here is going great. The usual introduction to the email. So, this week we were able to get out and teach a bit. We were walking to one of our appointments the other day and these two kids, Minnie and Jason came up to us and were so excited to see us. They took us into their house and we met their family. There are 6 of them. Sirry, Nerry, Minnie, Jason, Lilon, and Rosline. So, they accepted us to come back and teach them. It was great. This week has been pretty good. So, this week I actually was able to fix my guitar. The bridge was peeling off so I got some glue and glued it and replaced the strings. It's been broken for about a month haha. Anyways everything is going well. We were able to teach Isaac again and he brought a friend too. We also taught Lilyrose again on Sunday.
We also met a family when we went contacting and we taught them last Monday and last Thursday and they are doing great. It's three Mamas, Mary, Charlene, and Lafinya. They were asking us how they become members and all this stuff. It is really going well here in Vanuatu, the Lord has really blessed these islands. Love you guys!

16 MAY 2016

Hey Everyone! How's it hanging? Everything is great here in Vanuatu. This week has been pretty good. This week we were teaching a young boy about 15 or so, his name is Isaac, and then his brother and sister were also there, Ericka and Daniel. His sister is a member but his brother isn't so now we are teaching them both. And they both came to church on Sunday! It is really cool. On Sunday we received a referral from our Bishop and he brought a family to church. The husband is a member and he wants us to teach his wife. Gibson and Lilyrose. They don't think the wife's family would want us over at their house so we are teaching them at church. It was really good. This week I had laplap for the first time. It was called tuluk I think. It was manioc laplap with meat inside. It was the weirdest thing I've ever eaten. It was like spongey and strange and stuff. It didn't taste terrible but the texture was beyond strange. Well that's my week basically. Office, teaching, same old same old. I hope all of you are doing well. I love you guys!

8 MAY 2016

Hey Everyone, this week has been anything but normal. In a good way. On Tuesday a member took us to see a young girl about 15 or so, and she wanted us to teach her. So, we go and it turns out that the girl is part of a family that we know. That family had my first three converts and we had another one (Masse) getting baptized on Saturday! So, we were teaching the Restoration (the girl's name is Pauline) and Pauline's brother Roy joined the lesson. So, that's two new investigators! Then E. Jeffries got sick. So, the next day I had to take E. Broadbent with me to teach while E. West stayed home with E. Jeffries. We did that for the next 3 days while E. Jeffries was sick. We would go teach in my area and then we would go teach in E. Broadbent's area. We went back to see them so we could prepare Masse for her baptism this week. During that lesson, Roy tells us that our last lesson touched his heart and he wants to be baptized this week with Masse. Although he couldn't because he hadn't
come to church. But then they told us that he did go to church Pauline too. So we helped prepare them for baptism this Saturday as well. E. Broadbent and I taught them everything and got the interviews done and everything worked out. I also went with him to Nambatu and helped him prepare two pikinini for baptism this Saturday as well. So E. Jeffries and I had 3 baptisms and E. West and E. Broadbent had 2 baptisms! It has been a really good week. We combined our baptisms and we had a great service with lots of support from the wards. That's basically my week haha. Well I love you all and Happy Mothers' Day!

1 MAY 2016

Hey everyone! I'm doing great here. And no I didn't even feel the earthquake. I'm completely fine. This week has been good. We did two exchanges last week. One I went with E. McQuivey and the other I went with E. 'Iloa. Exchanges are tiring because it throws you out of routine. They were good but I'm glad to be back in my area. This week has gone really well. We were teaching a part member family and they said that their 9 year old daughter wants to be baptized. We already taught her all of the lessons back in Jan-Feb, so we have just been reviewing. She came to church and so she is going to get baptized on Saturday! Her name is Masi, which is funny because when something funny happens people say masi! It's kind of like Wow or Oh Man. But she is great. That family has a recent convert (my first baptism), an investigator (Masi), and a less-active named Pamela. So, when we teach them we can help all of them. It's really neat. We also got a new investigator this week. His name is Ansley. He went to church at nambatu and talked to West. Luckily he is in OUR area so we get to teach him. He actually lives right across the street from our house. We taught him the Restoration and committed him to baptism! The cool part is that we are teaching him in English! He knows English better than Bislama. It's the first time I've taught in English since the MTC. That's the most exciting part of the week. Everything is going well here. Transfers are next week, so hopefully I get to stay long enough for Ansley's baptism but I guess I'll have to wait and see. That's all for this week, love you guys!

At "Seaview" after the baptisms

Curtis' Ride

Monday, March 28, 2016

Baptisms, Pink-eye, and Rain - 28 MAR 2016

27 MARCH 2015

Hey Everyone, how is it going? I am tired. This week has been pretty exhausting and pretty interesting. We have had a bit of lessons this week but the highlight was our baptisms on Saturday. We had John who is a 15 year old boy get baptized, and we had Jerol who is the 10 year old son of a recent convert. It went well. There were two wards there and so it was combined. Since, there was no one from the stake presidency there, I was the presiding authority. I basically ran the baptism and
made sure everything went well. It was kind of crazy.  I also baptized the Ohlen Sisters' investigator. He is an 8 year old boy named Olivier, he really likes me. He's a cool kid.
Elder Jeffries, John, and Elder Bramell

This week we have been trying to see people we haven't seen in a while. Saturday we saw Tasiy again. She has a hard time because she never went to school so she has a hard time reading and she prays everyday for understanding. We talked about how with God all things are possible and even though Joseph Smith was uneducated, that with God's help, he translated the Book of Mormon. We also saw James throughout the week. He has been doing everything we taught except coming to church. He told us that before it was good, but now he feels different. He feels like he changed. So, on Sunday he came to church! He is on track to be baptized in 2 or so weeks! Everything is going well.

This week has been pretty rainy. It has rained almost everyday. It's usually on and off. As the locals say, "rain, sun, rain, sun." Sometimes it comes down pretty hard, sometimes just a trickle. We have taught several lessons in the pouring rain and it gets hard to hear. As for the pink eye, I don't think I have pink eye. But for the past couple days my eyes have been pink and sore. It kind of stinks especially since I drive and use a computer and everything. I use my eyes all the time and they always hurt. But I don't let that stop me. I just shrug it off and keep doing what I'm doing.
Elder Jeffries, Mother, Jerol, and Elder Bramell

Sunday was pretty good too. I was sitting there during sacrament meeting and about halfway through, the 1st counselors daughter told me that I was giving a talk on the Resurrection because it was Easter. So, I had like 15 minutes to prepare a talk. But it was good, I gave a ten minute talk and I had scriptures and everything. All in Bislama. I think I have the language pretty much down.

Evri samting i tuff we tuff. Mi wantem sarem se mi glad we glad mi stap serve lo ples ia. Mi save se Jisas Kraes hemi Sevya blo yumi mo mi save se hemi stap laef. Mi lavem yufala evriwan. Namburu hemi wan tuff eria mo spos mifala triem best blo mifala, mifala save casum fullup baptaes. Lo mission ia hemi wan gudfala mission we hemi bitim evri nara wan. Lavem yufala. Alle.
Elder Curtis Bramell and Elder Jeffries cooking in the Apt.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Sun is Cruel - 5 MAR 2016

5 MAR 2016

Hey Everyone!

How's it going? Everything is good over here. This week has been full of teaching and full of contacting. Tuesday was the first day of the Market Stall! I think I've mentioned it before, if not it's just a stall at the Market and we stand out there and pass out cards and pamphlets and talk to people
about the church. It was a huge success! We were out there for 12 hours and we passed out about 600 pass along cards, 400 pamphlets, and received around 170 referrals. Guess who's in charge of the referrals, that's right me! So, I spent a long time separating and distributing them. From now on we will have a referral phone and I can send them as they come, which will make my life easier. We had missionaries come sing and help out, it was cool. I taught one guy the entire Restoration, Sabbath day, and the 10 Commandments all by myself in Bislama. It was tuff we tuff. (That means very good.) Mi bin mekem fullup samting lo ples mi bin stap lo Market. Hemi bin fun mo mi wantem lo mekem samting ia bakegen. I'll let you guys figure that one out.
Guess what happened at the Market Stall! My watch broke. It literally fell off my wrist. It still tells
time but I can't wear it. That was really disappointing. I'm going to have to find another one to replace it. My watch tan is bad, like really bad. Because it was soo bad something special happened. Yesterday we did some service. We were helping a Mama gather rocks and lay concrete for a small school. It took a while and it was tough work. I got fried. My face and neck were on fire. I didn't notice until afterwards. You know what else got burned? My watch tan. The whiteness that used to be my watch tan is now solid pink. It hurts. This is the first time I got burned in Vanuatu. And it sucks. My face and neck and wrist all hurt but it could be worse.

Yesterday, we also went to a nice restaurant because an Elder went home today. So all the office Elders went and had a farewell dinner with the Grangers. We went to the Stonegrill Restaurant. You get some meat and then you grill it, on a stone. They have a special molten stone that cooks it while you eat. So naturally, I had a Tbone steak. So did another 8 of us. Most of us got Tbone steaks. It was good. Then we went back to the Mission Home and had a short program. It was nice.

Other than that this week has just been full of teaching. Not as much as weeks before but a good amount still. Well that's all I have for this week. No need to worry about me, I'm having a great time.

I love you guys!

A Cyclone, Temple Dedication, Zika and More Baptisms - 26 FEB 2016

26 FEB 2016

Hey everyone, how's it going? It's all good here. This week has been pretty good. First I'll start off with the temple rededication. It was on Sunday and there were three sessions, at 9 12 and 3. However that was fiji time so it was actually 8, 11, and 2. But we did make it on time. It was very nice. The second session was not nice. They closed the windows to keep out the world and all that. It became an oven basically. It got painfully hot. It was so hot people couldn't focus and people started leaving because they couldn't handle it. So, they eventually opened the windows. But overall it was good.

So, now I'll mention the cyclone. During the Fiji Temple Rededication the cyclone was hitting Fiji hard. A few people in Fiji were killed. Cyclone Winston then started to come towards Vanuatu. One nice thing about it was it got pretty cool. It came closer and closer and turned South. So, no cyclone here. I am completely safe. No worries.

There's a new virus going around called Zika. It's a mosquito thing. The locals call it redeye. It makes your eyes extremely red and it gives you some pains. So, I've been using a lot of hand sanitizer. I am not sick yet so that's a good thing. I don't think I'll get sick, I'm careful. It's hard because people rub their eyes then go to shake your hand. You cannot say no either so that's what the hand sanitizer is for. It's all good though.

Other than that this week was full of lessons and appointments. Today was full of baptisms. Efate
Baptisms of Joanna, Titus, Martha and Maki
alone had 26. I am not sure about other islands for obvious reasons. Today we had 6 baptisms. We had Jack who was a referal from the 1st counselour in the bishopric. He was baptized and now he wants us to teach his family. We also had Irish, who has been an investigator for almost a year. Then we had 4 kids, Joanna, Titus, Martha, and Maki. They are children of some recent converts that we had taught. It was a great day.  Well that's this week. How has all of your guys' week been? I hope it was good. Well that is all for this week. 

Love you guys!

Elda Bramell, Jack, and Elda Christensen

Elda Bramell, Irish, and Elda Christensen

Monday, February 8, 2016

Baptisms! - 5 FEB 2016

5 FEB 2016

Hey, sorry it's so late. I don't know what time it is there but here it is about 3:30pm. I am usually able to email earlier but I couldn't because of baptisms! Yeah we had 3 baptisms for us and there were 14 total among the zone. Our three were "S", "A", and "L". They are two Abu's and an older Mama. Abu is grandma basically. They are all related. We have another mama and a young girl from that family that will be baptized at the end of the month if they come to church. "K" was supposed to be baptized
Elder Bramell and three new members of the Church!
this week but he wanted to talk to his mom first so he will be next week. The baptism went well though. Elder Christensen did two of them and I did the other. It was nice. Elder West also had a baptism. There were a lot of missionaries there with baptisms. Don't worry I have pics.

This week has been decent. We've been having a lot of appointments fall through lately. It's not ideal but we are making the best of it. We had the new AP come in this week. The Assisstant to the President. His name is Elder Fidow from Samoa, it's him and Elder Crowell. He was serving in the Solomon Islands when Elder Christofferson went there. Which reminds me...

Elder D. Todd Christofferson didn't come to Vanuatu but he did go to the Solomon Islands. President Granger was telling us all about it. President got the impression that we needed more missionaries in the Solomons. He wanted to increase from 8 to 20. The only person that can approve an increase in missionaries is, as it turns out, an apostle. So, with E. Christofferson's visit, there's going to be 20 missionaries there within the next 6 months. That means that some people from Vanuatu are going, so I could go to Solomons if I needed to. Elder Christofferson also bestowed an Apostolic Blessing
Missionaries at Zone Training
on all the missionaries, including me. I don't know exactly what it says yet, but President wants to get a copy to every missionary, so next week I could tell you more about it. During our office meeting on Monday, President was reading it to us. It was super spiritual until Rex (a large lizard), who was on my shoulder, decided to go to the bathroom, on my shoulder. It was nasty but it was funny at the same time. So, needless to say I got distracted.

But I mean it's been a good week. How have you guys been? I've been doing good. It's nice to finally email, sorry for how late it is. There are 3 computers in the office and 8 missionaries. So, sometimes it's tough. Hopefully you are all doing well. It's nice to hear from you guys. Take care guys!
Children of members who were baptized on Saturday

Umm...I can't explain this photo!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Highs and Lows - 29 JAN 2016

29 JAN 2016

So It's been a pretty decent week. So last Saturday after I emailed everyone, I was bored so I started playing cards. Eventually we got a poker game going. It was fun. Then later we bought little candies and used those in a game and it was crazy. I ended up getting two Elders to go all in and then I cleared them out with four 5's. We played until only one person was left and there was just one huge pile of candy. I also bought a guitar at a Chinese store. It's nice and I got it for a cheap price. It's black and I just bought a silver sharpie so it's going to look so cool.

Our baptisms are going fairly well 4 of the 11 aren't scheduled yet. 2 of them we have to push back because they didn't come to church. But the other 5 should be baptized on next Saturday. All the others are still going to be baptized just not next Saturday. On Sunday, one of the members brought 2 friends to church, and now we are teaching them! Jack and Solomon. They both said they would get baptized. So now we have two new investigators. That's what happens when members help the missionaries.

This week we had some new missionaries come. Four of them were the visa waiters I was in the MTC with. Then we had 3 more. Only 2 of them are staying in Vanuatu, the rest are going to New Caledonia. They left for New Cal on Friday. So we hung out with them all week and brought them to our lessons so they could teach with us. It was nice, they are all cool people.

One really big disappointment this week is that Elder D. Todd Christofferson is not coming (Elder Christofferson serves in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles). The runway at the airport is messed up so Air New Zealand refuses to fly here until they fix it. Because of that, Church Security cancelled his trip here. They don't want to risk anything. So all the meetings and special stake conference and everything are all cancelled. Everything is back to normal. It's really disappointing, I was really looking forward to that.

But that's my week. It's been mostly good with a couple of not so good times. But that's okay, that's how we grow and improve. I'm lucky to know all of you. I love you guys so much! Have a great week!

David:  Curtis wrote me a response to some questions I had.  I thought his response was sweet and a good glimpse into his personality...

Happy Anniversary! You two are amazing. I hope I'll be as happy as you guys are. Everything is good here. I'm getting used to the weather, but when we go indoors to teach it gets like 10x hotter. I've been trying a little bit to learn to cook. I can make rice so I can survive haha. The baptism font is at the Numbatu Chapel, the Stake Center. Hopefully someday I will get to baptize in the ocean. Make sure you tell the Sisters congratulations on their baptism! I know how tough it is. I can only imagine how hard it is for them. Sorry if I'm not making sense I'm trying to answer all your questions haha. But it's all good out on the home front. I hope work isn't stressing you out too much remember to take a breather I know how stressful things can get. Well I love you so much, you are the best father a boy could have!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Halo! Olsem Wanem? - 9 JAN 2016

09 JAN 2016

Halo, olsem wanem? Me bin teachem tumas. Me bin gud tumas. Evriwan telem me "gud aftanun" mo "gud naet wan taem". Hemi strange tumas. Yumi evriwan nice tumas. Me hope me telem lo Bislama right. Hemi olsem yufala save me. me no save tumas Bislama. Bislama blo me i small small. Mi save casum wan biscuit. Stret.

Hey guys! So I don't know if that is accurate Bislama but it's the best I got. You guys probably won't understand it anyway so I guess it doesn't really matter. I can understand it better than I can speak it. Yesterday I told the story of Joseph Smith (or Josef Smit as they say here) in Bislama, and it was very hard but I got through it. I've gotten really good at bearing my testimony in Bislama.

Everything over here is good. Now that I actually have stuff to do in the office I enjoy it. The other office Elders are all really cool guys too so we hang out a lot. The office is nice because I'm in the air-conditioned office for the hottest part of the day. So, when we go proselyting it's not so hot. Elder Christensen and I get along well. He's a good guy. He visa-waited for three months in Indiana.

This week most of our lessons have been with recent converts. We are trying to strengthen them while we still can. The baptism we had was a recent convert papa baptizing his 9 year old daughter. It was nice. The baptismal font was at the church but not at the one we go to. We have also started teaching a former investigator named James. We set a baptism date with him so hopefully he commits and follows through. We have had around 11 lessons so far this week and we have 4 more today and tomorrow. The area is not very big but it's a fair size. President wants the Office Elders to be the highest baptizing district. I want that too, and I am ready to work.

One thing I do not like is our bathroom. It has running water and all that which is nice, but it has cockroaches. They freak me out. The other day I jumped off the toilet because a cockroach started climbing it. I do not like them. For some reason they just stay in the bathroom, which is better than having them everywhere I guess.

I'm doing much better this week. Last week was rough which was why my email was kind of negative. Sorry about that. But now I am doing good. I'm getting in the groove of things. I don't really have a lot of pictures. Sorry, but I do have a couple.
The place they eat at a lot is across from the water
Curtis also shared the following story:

"We were walking to one of our appointments with tha recent convert when we passed a kava bar. They have kava bars kind of just next to houses.  Anyway, this man walks up to us and starts talking to us.  We said, "we are representatives of Jesus Christ" and he's like, "oh, well do you guys want to come back some time and teach me?" Of course we said, "Yeah!" So we have a potential investigator and he walked to us and started talking to us.  The Lord just sent him right to us."
Typical Elder Bramell eats...

Some of Elder Bramell's handy work in the Mission Office

Monday, January 4, 2016

Back in Vila - 1 JAN 2015

1 JAN 2015

Hey guys, so I'm emailing today because I guess today is p-day but maybe Monday still? I have no idea what is going on half the time. I'm in Vila. I am not in a trio like I thought I was going to be. My new companion is Elder Christensen. I am an office Elder now. I have to work in the mission office for like 3-4 hours a day. It's not too bad but it's kind of boring. I'm in charge of like inventory and mail and orders and stuff like that. The office has A/C and we get a truck so it could be worse.

I've met a lot of missionaries. Between here, Malekula, and Santo I've probably met close to 70 missionaries. Granted they're not all my best friends or anything but I have talked to them. It's kind of weird being in the office because all the other office Elders are like super experienced. Oh well.

On New Year's Eve all the missionaries had to be inside because of all the drunk people. The other office elders, Pres. and Sis. Granger and I went around in a party bus to make sure everyone was inside and we brought cookies and stuff. It was a bunch of fun. Almost all of the missionaries were inside. It was a good time.

I didn't know that I could email until now so I don't have many pictures to send. I'll send them probably Monday. Apparently my area is the most productive area in the mission. We have a baptism later today. I'm not counting it as mine because I haven't even met them. But I guess It's a good area. I don't know how long I'll be here. I hope not long. I want to go somewhere else like Santo or something.
Elder Bramell with the Mission President's pet "Elder Rex"

I'm making it the best of it.

Alright well I am in Vila, I'm okay and I feel pretty good. I love you guys and I miss you guys. I'll keep pressing forward.

The view from Elder Bramell's Haus (house)