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Monday, June 12, 2017

They are Sending Cayden Home

Cayden's mission president called us yesterday morning to tell us that he feels it is time for Cayden to come home. His health is to a point where it is not getting better and he needs to come home to get the best care. We have not shared everything in his weekly letters but he has had excruciating stomach pains that only rarely let up and each day is filled with frequent trips to the bathroom (there aren't a lot of those available in Zimbabwe)

We spoke with his mission president at length. President Mkhabela is an amazing man with a great love for his missionaries. He said this about the 8 months Cayden served in Zimbabwe: 
"Cayden is the most courageous person I have ever met. He has dealt with immense pain over the last several months but it has not impacted his work. He has accomplished more as a missionary in the short time he has been here than most missionaries in two years."

We then talked to Cayden for quite some time.  He had already met with President Mkhabela and knew that he was being sent home.  We made sure he knows he has our full support and that he has NOT let anybody down.  President Mkhabela assured us that according to the Lord Cayden has served a full time mission. After talking with Cayden at length it is clear that he feels the same.  Cayden said he had been praying over the past few weeks that he would feel good about whatever decision his mission president made. He said he feels like the Lord prepared him for what was coming and he is just so tired of being in constant pain.

From Cayden Today:
 "I truly have grown a deep love of family and for the Lord. I am excited to be going home, and I know it is time. I will be strong in faith and try my best to always be happy😊 I am not gonna write a weekly for this week, just because of the things that have gone on. I am so excited to see the family, and have taken a ton of pictures that I will just share when I return home. I love you all. I am so so so thankful for the support I have received and the love I have been shown. Before you know it I will be home once again. Love you all, Elder Cazier"

Message between Me and Cayden:

A letter to us from his Companion Elder Cameron Condie:

If anyone gives him flak....

 My name is Elder Condie. I'm serving in the Zimbabwe Harare mission, and for the past two and a half months I have had the blessing of serving along side Elder Cayden Cazier.

 From the time of our childhood, we young men in the church are pelted with a barrage of counsel, direction, and guidance from leaders, parents, and friends about the importance of serving an honorable full time mission. We sing songs in primary like, "I hope they call me on a mission," "I want to be a missionary now," and, "We'll bring the world his truth," and participate in Sunday school, Priesthood, and Mission preparation lessons all centered around the message of honorable missionary service.

 With unrestrained zeal and determination flowing through our bodies, we set off into the world. Dreams of contacting thousands and baptizing hundreds fill the minds of every new Elder or Sister, and for many, the first 3 weeks of the MTC bring the anxiety to get into the field to an almost unbearable level.

 Then something interesting happens.

 Reality kicks in.

 The cushy, relatively safe environment of the MTC is ripped away, and missionaries are thrown headfirst into a strange, brutal, harsh new life. Rules are strict, companions are obnoxious, schedules are tight, food is bad, living conditions are rough, bugs are atrocious, new illnesses catch hold, and initially..... We grin and bear it. We bite the bullet and get to work.

 But slowly, things begin to change.

 For many, exact obedience is the first thing to go. Missionary life is tough, and in order to cope with such demanding expectations, some Elders and Sisters drop their standards.

 "Eh... I'll just sleep in a little bit. No big deal."


 "So we don't leave for the area until 2 or 3. Worse things could happen."

 As the months drag on, and things don't seem to improve, other things start to slip on the list of priorities.

 Eventually, some of these Elders or Sisters will obtain one of two titles.

 1. Tired Missionary
2. Dead Missionary

 Tired usually refers to someone that wasted all of their energy in the initial 6-12 month sprint, and now runs the race in a pitiful half effort stupor.

 Dead missionaries.... They've just laid down on the track and have no motivation to get back up again. They're a barrier and a burden to those who are still putting in their best effort.

 In this church (especially in Utah) there is a certain level of unnecessary judgement, ridicule, and shame directed at those who, for one reason or another, are forced to return home early from their missions. The reasons behind the return are diverse, and range in anything from depression, to unworthiness, to homesickness, to disease, to same sex attraction. Regardless of the circumstances behind the return, a destructive mindset is often found lurking within the walls of the local ward. A mindset that peeks its ugly head out of its hiding place with comments like:

 "Oh... they didn't have enough faith to stay out on their mission." "Hmmm... "MEDICAL REASONS." RIIIIIGHT." or the more self righteous, "I stayed on my mission, and my sickness was WAAAY worse. I don't know what he's complaining about."

 The tragic thing about these comments is the sources from which they stem. These aren't apostate non-believers or peanut gallery outsiders we're talking about, rather, we refer to tithe paying, covenant keeping, temple attending members of a church which professes to follow Jesus Christ. I have witnessed bishops, stake presidents, young men and young women leaders, parents, siblings, and friends react, in this moment of needed love and support, not with love or understanding, but with judgement and disdain. There are many young women that have dreams of marrying a, *airquotes* Return Missionary *airquotes*.

 When they learn a young man returned home early from his mission, honorable release notwithstanding, the responses I've heard aren't much better.

 "Sorry, I'm looking to marry someone with a little more faith..." Elder Cazier is coming home early for medical reasons. For the last 2 months I have watched him fight and work and struggle through debilitating stomach pain. He has borne his trial with patience and humility, doing his best never to complain or let the pain impact his work. He has "endured to the end" and I have watched him struggle and wrestle and pray and fast about the decision to return home early. He hasn't looked for an easy way out of a hard thing, he's looked for the Lord's will and has prayed for the strength to accept it. He has worked his hardest, and is returning home with no wasted effort, having had neither of the afore mentioned titles defile his name. If you're doubtful... take my word for it. It's for serious medical problems, and that's it.

 He has served honorably. The Lord just has different plans for him right now.

 In short... If you're judging a missionary that has returned home early (I've done it too... I know it's hard not to)

 Just stop it.

 I'm grateful for the chance I've had to get to know this awesome Elder. He's changed my mission more than he knows. I wish him the best...
 -Elder Condie

From Amy:
Thank you everyone for your constant love and support.  We have not received a travel itinerary yet but have been told he will return later this week. We are now being asked "What can we do to help?" Our answer is this... Support Cayden and know that he is one of the toughest, hard working kids around, that he didn't quit, not for one second. Love him, support him and help him grow as he enters the next stage of his life.  Thank you all so much, Amy

Monday, June 5, 2017

Candlelight Dinners and Beanies in "Winter"

What a week, officially hit 8 months on mission today and I feel as though it is flying by.

It was a very successful week. We had 7 baptisms on Sunday, and I accomplished one of my mission goals, to baptize a family! We have been teaching them for about a month, it was very nice to see them all get baptized!
Mama Shiela,  Baba (*See story below), their youngest son Roderick, their Grandson Bradley, their oldest daughter Tunia Tunia's son- Thabo (Tah-boh) and a girl down the street named Isabel.
The Baba (father) of the family we baptized is named Meeting. We asked why he was named that, and he said because when he was born, the family had a meeting for his birth, so they named him meeting. This is how they name their children in Zimbabwe. 

We were at the families house, the ones we just baptized, and the mama was holding a baby and the baby just started puffing (farting). Elder Condie and I just started busting up, and the mama goes "this baby is so naughty! Naughty naughty naughty!"

All the success we are having is from the area that we weren't baptizing from originally. It's pretty sweet. Proof that even "bad" areas just need someone to not think they are bad and they will baptize.

A mini Combi.

 Jefrey, one of our recent converts, has been reading the Book of Mormon. Well he got to the part that talks about the "whore of the earth" (1st Nephi 22). And he asks, "So is it talking about a b****?" in the most innocent way ever. People here swear like that but don't understand that they are swear words. Hahah So me and Elder Condie both laughed and explained to him what it was! 

Our recent convert, Jefrey! He loves us missionaries and says that he wants us to never leave hahaha. Says he prays that me and Condie will stay in Kadoma our whole mission.

Got my new tie, my bead Zimbabwe tie! 

Rimuka. The poorest place I have been. No kids wear underwear cause they can't afford it. 

 A child pooping in a bucket, cause that is all they have.

A typical house in Rimuka.

Had a dinner at a nice restaurant, it was super good! I got a steak for 7 bucks and potato mash (mashed potatoes). An older white guy owns it. 

 Wayne, the boy in pink, is wearing a girl's shirt cause that is all they have.

 We were going to see a family, and a random lady stopped us in the road. She begged and begged for us to go teach her. I kind of said we had to go see a family, and she kept saying please right now see me. So I finally gave in and said sure we will teach you. Well, while we were walking to her house, the lady opened up to me about all these problems in her life. My companion was about 20 feet behind me playing with children, and the lady just started going off about her life and problems. She said she had gone to many other churches and they all rejected her, so she prayed and found us. But she started telling me about her 2 children and how they were starving, and then went into some very very deep issues she was having in her life. I didn't know what to do, I haven't had anyone open up like this to me on mission before. So i just listened to her vent for 20 minutes. I felt very bad for her, she was going through tough things and I didn't know how to help. So I just told her to try her best to help her children, and to pray like crazy and have faith and it would work out! I'm not sure what will happen with her, but we will see!

(Lots of photos of this little one but they are just too cute not to share!)

Babies often ride on the backs of the women. 

A random bed by the side of the road.

The people wear beanies cause when it isn't burning outside, they think it is super cold and everyone wears thick coats and beanies. When the temperature drops a few degrees everyone freaks out. 

In Rimuka too, all the kids are sick, it's so poor, they all have runny noses and are coughing. I saw a kid who's eyes had puss coming out and were completely swollen shut and he was just playing normally. If a kid had that in America he would be taken to the hospital immediately.  

A HUGE roach.

   I am starting the 3rd book of Nephi, I am almost done with the Book of Mormon for the second time on my mission. It's really good and I love reading from it so much. Also started the books about Christ in the Bible; Matthew, Mark, Luke, John etc. I love reading about the Savior so much! Things with Elder Condie are good, we are making good progress. There will always be  frustrations on a mission, but you learn to improve and get better!

Last thing, is The Church shut down pouch, the mailing system, so now I can't send letters :(

Love you all, Elder Cazier