Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Here are the Last Three Letters of 
Elder Hack's Mission!  It has been 
a SWEET journey!!  

This is one of my favorite pictures from his mission. 
I think it really shows the pure love of a missionary!  
Kia Kaha
Forever Strong!!

August 3, 2015

Well, for the last time, Hello! Oh what a strange thought it is indeed...It’s a very odd thing to think about, that I will be leaving. I feel like it’s a dream and I'm gonna wake up and still have like a year left. But it will come nonetheless. Yeah definitely mixed feelings, it’s a sad time but also a very exciting and happy time!

Well as for our week here it’s been pretty good! We did get chastised in behalf of all the missionaries at Stake PEC on Thursday, that was a good time. Oh my...there are a few wards that don’t get along with the missionaries and are giving them a hard time so they nit picked at us for like 45 minutes and when we tried to explain from the missionaries perspective they didn’t care. So that was frustrating. But other than that it’s all been good! We did some baptismal interviews the next day in Winneba and they all went well so it was good! It’s been a nice experience to get to do baptismal interviews.  Oh church was nice, got to say goodbye and take pics with people! So it was fun. Some of our investigators thankfully did come as well so it was a good day! We got fed by one of the cool members here who is the assistant ward mission leader. His mom made some of the best fufu and palm nut soup I have had! So it was sweet. I got most everything packed last night as well. One bag is really full; the other is basically empty haha!

I encourage you to keep a journal by the way. I have sadly been a little less than perfect here in Swedru, I have sadly not been writing each and every day...but I have done my best to keep a good record at least every other day. I will get back on track haha! But it’s true, writing things down is a very important thing so get on it! Thank you for that quote by President Packer, it describe exactly how I feel!  [“I’m not ashamed to say that I want to be good. And I’ve found in my life that it has been critically important to establish this intention between me and the Lord so that I knew that HE knew which way I committed my agency. I went before Him and said, ‘I’m not neutral, and you can do with me what you want. If you need my vote—it’s there. I don’t care what you do with me and you don’t have to take anything from me because I give it to you—everything. All I own. All I am.’ And THAT has made all the difference.” Elder Boyd K. Packer. I don’t know why people act like it’s bad to try and be a good person, but people do. Pretty dumb to be honest. I just want to do what is right.

As for special requests for the airport, just bring yourselves hahaha! No food necessary or animals hahaha! Well, what time do I get home?! I don’t even know. But that sounds nice, a home cooked meal! El Matador can wait. Thanks!!!! Is that on Friday then? As for the rest of the week, well tomorrow IDK, but Wednesday we are going to Cape and we will spend the day in the mission home then on Thursday we leave early for Accra. We go to the mall, KFC and then the temple. After that we go to the airport. Pretty sweet! We made our own fufu as a district today and it was awesome! We watched the Saratov Approach too. Hope I don’t get kidnapped!
 But yeah, not too much being requested. I will just be happy to see everyone. I would say buy a 24 pack of Dr. Pepper, haha that’s a good thing to have on hand. Hmm well, I can’t really think of many specifics, anything will be good from the smorgasbord of America haha! I will look forward to watching some movies and eating some good food. 

Honestly I don’t have too much to say haha, I will see you guys in a few days. Just know that I have served for the last two years with all I have. I don’t regret it. How grateful I am for all that has transpired. I have learned so much. I have not been perfect, nor will I ever be in this life, but I have done what I could and have loved the people I have served, the people I served with, and most importantly the Lord. I will always. That is a promise I make to Him and to myself. Well, I feel peace about what I have done and calm with where I am going. My life is in His hands, I go where He directs. Thank you so much for everything. I cannot wait to see you! You are the best!!!!! :) Love you more than anything! See ya later (Literally)!

July 27, 2015

Hey there! I am doing good on this fine day! It was a subsistence p day so we were able to get our $ today, always a plus! It has been increased to 350 cedis now, but since my time is about up, I was only to pull 120 cedis, pretty crazy! That’s a lot of money for a week haha! We had a zone activity at the beach today, it was sweet! We went and played football and stuff then after we ate fried rice, so it was a success! Haha I just took my fabric to a tailor to have him make some shirts and a pair of pants, so I will be styling soon haha! I am trying to take pics, this week I will just take pics of random things I guess haha! Anything and everything! 

Cool to hear that Adam has just killed it in ball this year, they earned their victory it sounds like! And thanks for the idea about the shirt, I will do it! That is just an awesome idea, never would have thought of that! Well for me over here we have had a pretty good week. I have indeed been feeling better; it is just odd to think that I will be gone next week. It really doesn’t seem real so it has not been too big of a challenge. I just feel like I will still be here doing the same old thing forever! But yeah, it is a very bittersweet thought. Anyways, we had some good experiences this week. One of which happened Tuesday. Our investigator David has a friend who is a fisherman in the river and catches tilapia, which are very popular and expensive in Ghana. Usually 1 is like 8 cedis. Well, he got us like 20 for 15 cedis! So that is pretty awesome. Tuesday we went to his house and he grilled them all for us. He worked at that crazy hotel so he knows how to do it properly! He baked them first with a nice ginger sauce and then smoked them! The other elders in our apartment joined us and we each ate 5! Oh they were AWESOME! We ate it with a food called kenke and basically salsa. It was a good time for sure, but he took a while to do it....he told us it would only take like 45 mins but took a lot longer than that. So that was the downside. But it was a good experience and hopefully helped him feel closer to us. Elder Tu Akoi is from Tonga and there raw fish is a delicacy so he ate one raw with some sauce only. I was challenged to do the same by the others and did, and it was actually really good! Haha that is something Kartchner should be proud of ;) I could taste it in my mouth all the rest of the day though hahaha, but it tasted something like shrimp so that’s not all a bad thing right?

On Wednesday we had to go to Odoben to do a baptismal interview for them out there. We took the 45 minute tro tro ride and got there and we did a small exchange. I went with Elder Ubani and my companion went with Elder Larsen. We went to do the interview. It was in a village rather far from the main town, so we rode bikes to it. What? Yeah I have not ridden a bike in FOREVER! And the mission doesn’t have bikes. We rented them from a guy haha. I was on some tiny mountain bike, E. Ubani was on a 10 year old girls bike and a member going with us was on a little BMX bike. The ride took 30 minutes and was going up and down some serious hills. The best part was that my bikes gears didn’t work and it was stuck in the lowest gear so I was peddling a million miles per hour and not going anywhere. Then came the hills...oh man it was difficult haha! And it’s all on dirt roads. Yeah when we got to the village I was dead haha! The place was really small though, kind of cool. I did the interview and it went well, she passed. So then we rode back and it was not as bad the second time but it still was not fun. That night we came home and my legs just hurt. I got up at 12 to go to the bathroom and felt like my legs were going to fall off haha! When I got back in bed I felt like my legs did fall off haha! Oh but it was all for the Lords work! So it’s no problem. Gotta love those memories though eh? Haha man I was just glad she passed the interview so it wasn’t all for naught! Oh and also, the previous day the Odoben elders cooked a dog and they had some extra so I might have eaten some....I hope Tiki doesn’t detect it! It was delicious by the way....
Another fun experience in the zone was on Saturday. The 3rd ward elders had a woman in their ward that needed to be rebaptized because after 20 years of membership they discovered they had lost her record...oops! So they talked to President about it and everything was worked out for us to do an interview for her after they reviewed the missionary lessons. Well they did and the bishop there insisted that the baptism be that Saturday. They were concerned because they had not emptied the water in the baptismal font for over a month...the water was literally black and yet the bishop still wanted to do the interview. I guess the drain was broken or something. Haha baptism is supposed to be a cleansing experience not a typhoid extracting experience. But after they voiced their concerns he called us on the phone and told us that the missionaries were not serious and how they were doing a terrible that is awkward for them! All they did was voice a legit concern. But nonetheless we did the interview and luckily they did end up draining and refilling the font with clean water, so she is still alive as we speak. And now a legit member of the church! After that the Swedru wards had a big sports day at the Aboso branch. They invited the local Presbyterian church over for some volleyball and soccer. It was pretty cool! Nothing builds relationships like church vs church sporting events I guess! Haha but it went really well, we went and watched for a bit and it was cool. They even fed us kenke as well. We have a fake rubber snake, which if anyone ever comes as a missionary to Ghana I highly suggest they bring one because Ghanaians are just terrified of snakes haha. We have had some serious fun scaring people with it. People just lose their minds and then laugh about it after they find out its fake. In the tro tro to Winneba today I scared Elder Tyson with it. We were sitting there and I put my hand behind the seat with it then slid it across his shoulder and he freaked out in front of the whole car hahaha! Oh good times! Gotta love it.

Oh and I have done a bit more of item purchasing. I bought a bunch of traditional bead bracelets and a few necklaces, they are really cool! So I hope that you and a lot of other people will like them! The chiefs and kings usually wear them, but they are also just something people like to wear. They look nice, so that is sweet! I will try and find some more things in the week, IDK though haha! 

But yeah, this should be a good week, we have a number of interviews to do, and I am also instructing at district meeting tomorrow so it should be sweet! As I wind down here, I am so incredibly grateful to the Lord for all that has transpired over the last two years. He knows I have given all I am to this work. I have, in the words of Paul, fought a good fight. I have done all I can to do the Lords work in the way He would do it, though I have not been perfect. I have tried. I have improved and what more can I do? I know that it is also not the end, the work is eternal. Oh how important is this work! It is a lifelong duty and the blessings are eternal. I will forever remember these people and I pray that I will get to meet them again in mortality. Today I met at the station a member from Cape Coast and it was just awesome! So random and so cool to talk to people that I have not seen in so long. I look forward to the day when we will ALL stand together with the Lord. That is our purpose in this life, to prepare for that day so we might stand worthy. Well, I love you more than anything, I hope you are all well and continue to be. I love you!!! See you later!!!!

July 20, 2015

Happy Monday to you all! Well thanks for all those awesome pics! Everyone looks great haha especially Grizzly Adams!!! Haha oh man that killed me! But yes his girlfriend is very attractive so good for him ;) You know, I am planning on getting me some "Ghanaian PJs"made myself. They are just the traditional clothes! Pretty sweet eh? I bought some nice fabric last Monday so I want to make a shirt and some pants at least.  But yeah it was fun being with the assistants last week. They got a flat tire on the way so they had to do a wheel swap at 8 pm on a two lane road in Ghana, sounded fun! But they got it all taken care of! The interviews were good, pretty short really! I just asked President if I could take a p day to go to Cape and buy some things and he said no (understandably so as he doesn’t really allow that ever), so I will wait until I am going home to do some last minute Christmas shopping haha! But after the interviews Elder Larson proselyted with us for a few hours and it was fun! He is a good guy, I like him a lot. Nope, did not get the wifi fixed although they have sent people to look at it like twice now! But again, glad you enjoyed seeing the Julander’s homecoming, they are just awesome people indeed! Always fun to see them. And all the other people you saw!

You know it’s been a very nice week for us here. We have been finding a lot of promising people lately! I do believe that next month there will be a lot of baptisms here! So that is pretty awesome! I was able to go on exchanges with Elder Baldwin from Idaho Falls and we had a good day. We taught some really good lessons. We had a 3 hour lesson with this guy who is super prepared. He was taught by missionaries 3 years ago but was not baptized because he got a job at a hotel. Well, we have been reviewing and he has pretty plainly told us before that he has struggled with the law of chastity, so we reviewed it with him. He opened up to us A LOT about his life. Turns out he has 2 kids in Accra which is not too unusual, but more unusual was that he told us about how he was a big time scammer. Swedru is notorious in the mission for this. A lot of young men do online scamming. They go on dating websites and pretend to be girls and get creepy old men to send them money. Well, he was one of the big boys of that and was telling us all about how he actually owned an internet cafe and was getting serious money from people. When the missionaries started teaching him he decided he needed to change, so that’s why he took that job at the hotel, to get away from his bad friends and make an honest living. But he was just telling us all about how most of the guys who do the scamming also do "sakawa" which is juju to get the old men to send you money. It involves worse things by the way, so yeah he was just telling us how he knows all the guys who have entered into satanic covenants with juju. Pretty crazy stuff ! Luckily he never did any of that, if he did that would be a problem! But he just talked for 2 hours straight; we couldn’t even attempt to get back on course. It was probably good for him to talk about it though, confession eases burdens a lot! And the moral of the story is don’t do online dating haha!

Saturday we had a nice ward missionary activity. About 10 people showed up and we divided into three groups and went to different parts of our area to contact less actives and visit recent converts. The bishop and I went to a village in our area called Brofoyedur, which is twi for "english is heavy" haha. We were able to teach two less active members and also met a young man and taught him about the restoration. So it was very successful for us! We got a few referrals as well! After a few hours of that we all met back up at the chapel and ate banku! So we had a good time! It was fun for everyone, so now they want to do it every Saturday which would be awesome and help SO much! Glad they are feeling the zeal of missionary work!

Thanks for the quotes, to be honest this week I have just felt a bit on the depressed side for some reason, IDK why really. But it is so very true that only you can determine your own happiness. That is something I guess I have kind of just forgotten. So thanks :)  And you and dad should serve a mission one day! It all begins now with simple diligence in doing small things such as daily prayer and scripture study. Those things are so amazing. A man moves a mountain by chiseling at it one day at a time until it is gone. The blessings are eternal and amazing. I am so glad that one day I will be able to literally be with all of my loved ones, with a perfect recollection of all the good memories. Oh how encompassing and deep the gospel is. I can’t even write words to describe how wonderful it is! Jesus Christ is life, He is salvation. Nothing, no nothing, can ever be of more importance than living and sharing His Gospel. It is not just words, it is life. Oh how great is my joy that I have the opportunity to know AND share it. I don’t ever want to stop doing either. I love you so very much, you are the greatest and we can all be together forever because of the Savior of the world. What great cause we have to rejoice! Love you so much!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Heeeelllllloooooo(said in a George Costanza voice...I can’t remember Mrs. Doubtfire!) I am doing just fantastic, all is well here in Swedru! That is pretty cool you saw a pic of me on Facebook, good old E. Moleme haha! You gotta steal people’s pics! I am banking on that when I get home for a lot of pictures haha....probably fine! You know it’s true that you do have to take a walk down memory lane every now and then! It just makes life good!  I am indeed planning on leaving most of my things here. The sad thing about finishing in Swedru is I can’t buy like anything around! Oh how I wish I finished in Cape! But E. Assibey being a good guy did order me like 5 kente ties and they should be getting my way soon. I am also getting a kente scripture bag pretty soon. Sadly when we went to Cape we got there late so I was not able to buy anything. I wanted to so bad! But I know for sure on my last day they let us walk around Cape for a few hours so I plan on buying some things that day. I will try and get as much as I can! But it’s not easy...Tell grandma and grandpa thanks for the money for me though!!

Well as for this side of the world, not too much really transpired this week. It’s been a nice week though, we have been able to work hard and things are getting better in our area. It’s been a bit slow so far this transfer but the Lord is blessing us to find some really cool and prepared people. But first let me just go through the week chronologically or I will get confused haha. So we tried to go and visit one of our recent converts this week. I think I have told you how she was avoiding us in the past? Well we thought she got over it but when we went to see her this week she did the same thing! Oh we couldn’t even get her to look us in the eye. We asked her why she was hiding and she wouldn’t say anything. We finally asked if she wanted us to stop coming and she finally answered that she did. It’s a long story, but she has no reason that we know for doing this. She said she is gonna stop coming to church and yeah she didn’t come on we will have to have the ward help us. Maybe she did something and feels guilty, IDK? It’s just sad though. We have begun teaching an older man, he has been coming to church off and on for about a month now. We have come to find that something is not quite right upstairs for him. We teach him and then ask him what he has learned and he doesn’t remember, so teaching him requires a lot of patience. He does remember the general message usually, but it’s still pretty fuzzy even then. He doesn’t speak English either. But we are doing our best with him! As we were teaching him the first vision he kept telling us that God went to pray and saw two angels.  So you can see he kind of vaguely is getting the message. Oh it’s a patience game! I was able to do a baptism interview this week in Odoben and it went well! It was for a 16 year old kid and he was really powerful! He really understood the gospel very well; it was cool being able to interview him. I also did go on exchanges this week with an elder named E. Tyson. He is a Ghanaian and he is a really awesome guy. We had a good time. He served close to E. Assibey for a long time and they are good friends so we had fun getting to know each other as well. He is a funny guy, kept the day fun. We went to institute in the evening and the power went out for like 20 minutes as it rained. Then after the rain the power came back and we were leaving the chapel. There is a power line that goes right across the main gate and it was sparking like crazy! Man we were afraid to leave. Elder Tyson kept saying it wasn’t in his patriarchal blessing to be electrocuted, but finally we did get out ok haha. The bishop called the power company and they came to fix it later. But it was pretty intense haha. Oh and earlier in the day we were walking down the street and a guy walked up to us and asked, "When is your next baptism?" I thought it was somebody from E. Tyson’s ward and he thought it was somebody from mine. We told him and he looked at his phone for a little, asked when the next was and then we asked if he wanted to be among haha. He said yeah, he was being taught by former missionaries and then he went to Accra and when he came back they had been transferred. His name is David and we started teaching him this week and man he is powerful! He knows everything already, just has to be converted! So that was a pretty powerful experience. He was telling us he worked at some super awesome "secret" hotel called Blue Diamond. He showed us a pic or two and it looks really really awesome. He said they only advertise online. He also said the lowest price for a room is $204 a night, yeah USD> So sounds pretty interesting. You should google it and tell me if it looks cool for real. He kept telling us stories about all the rich people that were there so my interest was piqued haha. I can’t imagine such a place here!  But yeah we did have a really boring day after that because we got called to go unlock the chapel because there were some people trying to do some work there. So we went and let them in and had to wait 2 hours for them to finish...meanwhile I had to talk to tech support because the wifi in the chapel is broken and the bishop gave the tech people our phone number so I was on the phone with Kweku in Accra and he was talking me through how to fix the modem. It didn’t work btw so they sent a squad to fix it....I guess me and Kweku didn’t make a very good team haha. So that was awesome. We have been getting more referrals this week though which is always SO appreciated! I think things will pick up a bit for us now.

And that is the week for us here! Today we will have FHE with the Acheampong family and then the Assistants are coming to spend the night so I guess we will party. I am broke from the pig roast, so I will be pulling some cash from the bank today as well haha! Tomorrow we have interviews with President Stevenson, so that should be good! Always a good time.  I am glad to hear everyone is doing good back home though, good luck with the camp planning, you can do it! You will look back and enjoy the memories!!! OH and my favorite dinner items? Well I do love chicken roll ups, chicken enchiladas, London broil and mashed potatoes, tomato soup, chicken and broccoli, etc. Most anything homemade is good! To be honest I have forgotten a lot of home foods, but those are the ones that are just delicious and come to mind! You are a great cook! Well, have a great week, keep being awesome! Love you sooo much, talk to you later!!!!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Happy and Working Hard!
Mission Leadership Council
President and Sister Stevenson and Sister and 
Elder Keetch on the front row

Hey there travelers! Man sounds like it’s been a fun and busy week for you guys! Hitting up all these cool places I have never been to! I don’t think I have ever been to Reno, though I am probably not missing much! But Lake Tahoe sounds really cool, looks beautiful too! Too bad I have never been there haha! Glad that Pres had some pics of me on there. Sorry, I have been trying to send pics home, but the church Wifi is not working at the moment so it is kind of impossible...but no fear, one day you will see the pics haha! 

Well as for us here in Swedru, we have had a pretty good week. You already know about the pig roast, but on Tuesday we went for a bit of a road trip. The assistants gave us permission to go spend the night in Cape Coast so we didn’t have to travel in the morning for MLC. So yeah on Tuesday we left for Cape to stay in good old 54 step!!!! Also, we went to one member in Cape and got fed awesome jollof rice! Oh it was awesome! But to tell you the truth, going there made me really a little homesick. Not for Kaysville (sorry) but for Cape Coast. Climbing those steps, looking out over the city at night, sleeping in the exact same bed I slept in for 6 good months, even our board was exactly the same! They use a different one now so it still had my handwriting on it! Creepy! It was like I never left! Oh I loved that place so so so much! So yeah, that is my experience of returning to old 54 step. Sweet, but sad. I don’t recommend doing that to anyone haha. But yeah, anyways MLC was awesome as well! One of the best parts is now Elder Assibey is a zone leader so I got to see him again!!! Oh man I miss that guy! We talked like the whole time before MLC and the whole time after. He has by far been one of my favorite companions. I have a few who tie for 1st and he is one of them. We had fun together and worked our butts off. One other guy named Elder Tyson, also a Ghanaian was in his last district. Elder Assibey would apparently always tell everyone during district meetings that we were the most obedient and hardworking missionaries in the mission. So I am glad that in his mind we were powerful like that. We truly were. It was such a great time. So yeah, it was fun to catch up with him and get to talk. It’s funny because he is the zone leader in Takoradi and his mom and sister live in Takoradi! He could totally go and visit them, but he won’t because he is a good guy. MLC was special because Elder Von G. Keetch of the Seventy was there! Pretty cool! Their son just finished his mission and they came to pick him up. I have served around him a bit and know he is an awesome guy, so it was cool to get to meet his parents. But for MLC we talked a lot on teaching methods. It was interesting; we had a long long council on how we should all teach. After that Elder Keetch talked to us about the importance of following the Spirit in the work and it was great, I really enjoyed it! On Thursday we had exchanges and I went with Elder Larsen again! Elder Iwuchukwu went with E. Larsen’s companion, who he happened to train so it was a reunion! Pretty cool! We had a good day though, last time we went on exchanges we didn’t teach a single person sadly. But we had a good day. It was pretty cool teaching with E. Larsen because he is such a good  missionary. It’s cool to see how we have both become better. This week has just been a bit slow as well; we really are now trying to just find new people to teach. It’s not easy haha! But that’s what we need to do! So we have been trying our best. One thing I have learned in the past from situations like this is that when you go out and work your hardest and do your best, the Lord will provide people for you. 9/10 times it’s not in the way you thought. The Lord will bring people out of nowhere to give to you. So we are doing our best!

But yeah, that is how our week has been. This week will be odd because Elder Collete, who has been in our apartment is getting transferred this Wednesday to go to the office. All due to some french missionaries coming and the timing is weird, so yeah Elder Tu'Akoi will be getting an elder named Elder Biney who is a Ghanaian. So we will have a Ghanaian in the apartment now! Always fun, I love Ghanaians. This week will be pretty normal I believe. Not too much going on, we will have a combined district meeting tomorrow with the zone, so that will be fun! Then also on Tuesday I believe we will have Stake PEC, so we will see how that goes! But yeah, I am healthy and happy. Just trying to do all I can! I hope you guys have a safe drive home though and that they get the kitchen put back in one piece haha! Should look really nice though! But I love you soooo much! You are the best! Have a great week!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Having a great time, loving life!

Yeah good evening-o! I am doing great today, it’s been a really good day, albeit a stressful day haha! I will explain, but first everything is good here in Swedru! Yeah so transfers went really well. On Wednesday we were able to ship our people off safely and we welcomed the new ones on time and everything! My companion has been a zone leader for like 6 months now in Takoradi so it is no big deal for him to be a zone leader! We are having a great time though, he is a super cool guy, I am really enjoying having him around.  He has been out for 18 months now. But some of the other cool people are an elder named Elder Treadway who is a really funny guy and a good missionary. I have known him for a while now. And also the new sister trainer leader in the zone is named Sister Nakafeero. She was in my zone and district in Cape and she is cool. We also have two people being trained in the zone so that’s always kind of fun to have some fresh people. But oh heavens when I talk to them I dread the thought that I was probably just like them. Just so young haha! One graduated on the 5th and now is here! Holy Cow! I guess I was kind of the same. But yeah we do indeed have a sweet zone, I really love it!
Well this week has been incredibly slow for us haha...I think we taught like 4 lessons...ouch! Not a good feeling. But it’s not really our fault, so I don’t feel too bad about it. Mine and Elder Iwuchukwu's first full day together we went and did baptismal interviews in Winneba followed by Stake PEC in the evening, so that day was just gone. Then the next day we planned out a nice long day and literally EVERYONE fell through. Our backups fell through, our backups to our backups and all the members fell through! We walked A LOT that day haha! Just one of those days I guess! There have been a lot of funerals this week and when there are funerals you can kiss lessons goodbye. Saturday morning I was just exhausted from all the walking we did. The other elders were using our chapel for a baptism in the morning and we went. As we were singing the opening hymn the bishop called us and told us we needed to join them for a funeral for an endowed member that I didn’t even know was going on. So we left the baptism, went to the funeral and carried the casket. Yeah that was a first for me. We carried it from the viewing place into a car and then into the chapel. So then we attended the funeral, which was all in Twi. I might have fallen asleep for a minute or two haha! But yeah, it was interesting to watch and participate in.

So this week we were trying to figure out what we could do for a zone activity for today. Came to the conclusion that since we have 3 Tongans in the zone it would be a crime if we didn’t roast more pigs. So on Saturday after the funeral we went to buy some. The guy wanted waaaay too much, 200 cedis for one. So we said forget about that and asked around to see if anyone knew where else we could buy one. We found a place in a town about 30 minutes away and we went there. It was a big farm and they had a lot of pigs! After a bit of sweet talking, we got 2 pigs, bigger than the ones the other guy was selling, for 200 cedis! So that’s awesome! I feel like such a master bargainer now! We got those bad boys in a taxi and took them home and tied them up behind the house. When we came back in the evening we found one had gotten loose, so we retied them both. The next morning before we went to church we checked on them and they were doing good. Then we went to church. Came home and looked and woah!!!! They were gone!!!! They weren’t in our compound! We found a hole in the wall of our compound and their tracks, Wilbur and Hamilton made a prison break! So we asked if our neighbor saw them and he had not, but he spent the next 2 hours looking for them. We went and tried to help find them and finally we did find them! We dragged two unhappy pigs back and TIED them very well!! Oh but they were not happy to be tied up...they put up a good fight haha. But this morning we killed them so that’s the end of those unpleasant house guests. The other missionaries got one of their investigators to cook a stew, we got some of the others to get us yam, cassava and plantain and we prepared a nice spread. We got a coke for everyone in the zone and went to our church and had a good time. We played soccer and feasted like kings! It was awesome! A good time for sure!

So on Sunday it was an interesting day at church. We asked President Stevenson to come speak in our ward as a close of our missionary month and he came. He got there and there were only like 10 people when church started so I was a bit stressed haha. But you know what, by the end of sacrament meeting the place was PACKED! They brought chairs in. The reason? The funeral. People came! We had 60 investigators at church, what the heck!!! We had investigators class in the sacrament hall to fit them all haha. Our clerk taught on the post mortal existence and lots of discussion was had and President was asked some odd questions haha. But it went well, we tried to contact as many of those people as we possibly could. Sadly most of them live out of town. But we were successful in sharing the gospel, so mission accomplished! Pretty exciting though to say the least!

This week we have MLC, so that will come on Wednesday. I think we are going to spend Tuesday night in Cape Coast so we don’t have to wake up so early on Wednesday. So we are going to have more proselyting time killed sadly...but hopefully the rest of the week we can work hard. After baptizing all those people our area has been a bit slow! But we have lots of recent converts we need to work with so that is good! All the things you learn as a missionary are amazing, I cannot imagine going through life without it. It is like steroids for your Spirit and just life in general. But I am glad dad has had a good bday week! Thanks so much for all you do for me here, IDK what I would do without you! You are the greatest parents in the world. I hope you enjoy Reno, hahahahaha! Sorry had to laugh. But seriously, have a great week! Love you sooo very much, you are the greatest!! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Hello! I am doing great! All is well indeed on this rainy day! Yes transfer news did come! And the news is that E. Kaiser is leaving and I am staying! My new companion will be Elder Iwuchukwu(E-woo-choo-koo) from Nigeria. I have met him once or twice and everyone says he is a really great guy, so I am excited. I am pretty excited for this coming transfer because we have a lot of cool people coming into the zone, so it will be nice! The other elders in the apartment are staying the same, so just a small change there. But it will be nice to have a bit of a change. I look forward to this transfer, just want to work hard and have fun with my new companion. So we will see! As for E. LeBaron IDK when his homecoming is, sorry! This has been a crazy week though. So on Monday in the evening we went to the church because we needed to use the computer to make a chart on excel and when we got there we found the door open and the gate unlocked. We walked inside and both Elder Kaiser and I had a bad feeling, but we didn’t really take it too seriously. So we unlocked the Family History door to use the computer and found the keys to the church doors inside on the table. They are usually in the bishop’s desk so we picked them up intending to give them back later. After about 10 mins, we heard somebody come into the chapel. It was the family history consultant and 3 of his nonmember friends. We were kind of confused about why they were there, but he tidied up the room, then he and his friends sat in front of the library door on their phones until we finished. Then we all left and locked the doors behind us. Kind of weird. Well, the next day we had a meeting with the zone, reporting on MLC. After the meeting the facilities guy from Accra showed up saying they were coming to change the locks because somebody stole the tv from the library. Woah! So we went to the hallway and found somebody had indeed stolen the tv. The keys to the library are only on the keys that are regularly in the Bishops office desk! The ones we found! So what happened we found was that somebody went into the ceiling from the room next to the bishops office, went into his office and took the keys from the desk, then went back and into the library, stole the tv, then went into the family history room to probably try and steal the computers, saw they couldn’t and left the keys. It must have happened right before we got there! The funny thing is that whoever did it cut themselves and left blood in the bishops office and fingerprints everywhere! The sad thing? In Ghana they don’t use that in police work...they just cleaned it up...soooo yeah haha! Pretty crazy though! They made us fill out a police report, so that’s what we did all day Tuesday...ah that was fun. It may remain a mystery forever who took it. But somebody broke into the stake center Saturday and did the exact same thing, so it must be an insider! They are pretty sick to steal from the church...

In brighter news we did a lot of baptism interviews and had our open house festivities this week!!!  On Thursday we interviewed 4 people in Winneba for baptism and they all passed! One lady had an abortion when she was 14 and told the missionaries. Sadly for me, the missionaries did not tell President Stevenson or myself, so I had to call him after to tell him what happened. The situation was not really her fault, so it was ok. She was a really cool lady though, really humble and kind. Then Friday we went back and had another interview for a man named Steven and he passed as well and I enjoyed interviewing him. After, we hurried back to Swedru because we had our parade to do! All 3 wards met up in Swedru town along with a brass band and we paraded around town for literally 3-4 hours telling everyone about the open house the next day. Ghanaians love dancing, so the whole time everyone danced. Even I got so into it that I danced the whole time. I have never, and probably won’t ever again, danced that much! Haha just walking and dancing. People really liked it though. And yeah, it was a lot of fun. By the time we finished all us missionaries were dead. We ended at our chapel and had a drink made from ginger and pepper and a fruit. It’s called beesap. It’s a spicy drink, so weird but is one of my favorites now. The next day was the open house! It started around 11 and was a HUGE success! 400 people came! It was great, we did a tour of the chapel and in all the rooms were different members explaining different points, like family and the first vision. The Accra people gave us some really cool 6 foot tall pictures that we had in the different rooms and they all had different things on them such as family and the first vision. We had a time in the chapel where all the people were gathered and allowed to ask questions and it was awesome. We handed out a ton of pamphlets and 20 Books of Mormon. They went like hot pockets at a weight watchers meeting! One cool thing was a guy walked in and told me that he was in town for a wedding and walked past the chapel. As he passed he felt prompted he needed to go in, but he did not. As he walked past later he felt prompted still so he entered. He told me and said, "so yeah I am here." I invited him to join one of the tour groups but he was on his way back to Accra and didn’t have time. So I gave him some pamphlets, quickly explained the Restoration and took his number and sent it to the Accra missionaries. It was really cool! I hope the missionaries there meet him, he is going to be a Seventy someday haha! But after that we ate! The ward prepared a TON of food, so everybody got to eat! There was a lot of fufu, banku, rice and all sorts of things! It was awesome. We will be working to get in contact with all those people now! A lot of good was done, probably more than we can ever measure. But overall understanding was achieved. A lot of people in Ghana think we are a cult as well and we steal hearts and worship other gods and stuff, so it was good that people could come and see the church and ask questions. A lot of good will come from it. Sunday we had “Missionary Sunday" where we spoke in sacrament meeting. A whopping 50 people were in sacrament meeting due to the rain, so it wasn’t quite what we wanted, but no problem haha! I spoke on the Plan of Salvation and the importance of making the right choices now so we can receive all of God’s blessings one day. After church though we had the baptism for Joe and it went well! Lots of people stayed to watch and so he was well supported. He was baptized by our assistant ward mission leader and it did take 3 tries, but he was baptized! So it was a success! Glad to see another member put into the church. Especially him as we just baptized his mom and siblings! Good stuff!

This week will be just full of changes as transfers always are. But it will be good. I want a nice good last transfer, don’t want to think about going home too much, just want to do good. But that is the plan always I guess! Thanks for everything! As for souvenirs, I got another nativity set and I asked E. Assibey to buy me some more kente ties. Not a lot to buy here in Swedru. I wish I was still in Cape for souvenirs! But one day I will be in Cape before I go I guess so I will buy some stuff. But yeah I don’t think I really need anything sent, I am doing good! Thanks though! Love you soooo much!!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Good Mornin to you over there! I am doing great! It’s been a pretty good week here, just moving forward! I am doing great today, we have had a nice p-day thus far, it involved 2 hour nap so that is always a plus! Glad to hear you are all doing well.  Wow I didn’t know you didn’t even bring the boat out of storage last year! That prisoner needs to get out on the lake and fulfill its purpose! That’s a fine machine to be sitting captive! It really is so crazy that we are already halfway through June...oh how time flies by eh? Sounds like you have had a good week going to Park City and stuff. The new Jurassic Park sounds like a good movie too, I will have to watch it when I get back! Good old Jurassic Park! It’s a timeless classic eh? Oh for your info I was able to hand out a whole bag of those bracelets this week! There is a stake youth gospel quiz coming up and so the youth practiced this week and the YW won so I gave them the bracelets as a prize. The only problem was that we had PEC when they won so I actually didn’t get to take any pictures of them with the bracelets...I have been trying to track them down one by one and take pics haha so I will send them to you as I get them! Kind of funny. But this week we had our zone conference and it was great! President instructed us on being a "full purpose missionary" and working with recent converts, less actives and members just as we do with nonmembers. So it was really good. It reminded me of a lot of things I have previously done with other companions that for one reason or another I have kind of stopped doing, like really teaching them how to do family history. So we have started doing that again and it’s awesome to see how people react to family history. We taught our recent convert Selina on it the other day and right after we finished she went to her grandpa’s house to start. So cool! It’s not easy here in Ghana to get that info, but people try! But yeah we instructed in using the Book of Mormon to teach everyone and how it is so critical in building a firm testimony of the Gospel. The Book of Mormon was written to guide us in this day and it is priceless! The instruction went well, it was an uplifting meeting. Afterwards we had Stake PEC and President joined us for that. It went well. We went on exchanges this week with the Winneba elders. I was with E. Obia from Uganda. I went with him to his area last transfer and this time he came with me. He was not feeling well so I did most of the teaching that day. We ended up having a pretty good day, but one sad thing happened. We have a recent convert named F. that we baptized when I first got here. She has been doing good, but for the past few weeks she has been avoiding us we felt like. Whenever we went to the house we would not find her. We tried to see her another day that week and found her in the outside kitchen hiding from us. We asked her what was wrong and she said nothing and we should come back another day. So when we did come back she was in the house and refused to come out to see us. Her family had no idea what was wrong with her either so we are confused. I wonder if she did something bad and is now afraid to see us. A lot of times that is what happens when people break a commandment. So we will have to see what we can do to sit with her. But it was pretty sad because she was always so friendly to us. Saturday there was a wedding at the church for the clerk and we were asked to come at 11 for some food, which we gladly agreed to do. When we got there at 11 though, the wedding had just started so we joined the audience in the sacrament hall. Ghanaians like clapping and yelling at events so that is what accompanied most of the ceremony. Kind of a bit irreverent for the sacrament hall, but most of the people were not members so they didn’t know any better I guess. They did the wedding and moved outside for a reception type thing. The happy new couple awkwardly danced without smiling or looking each other in the eye while people came and put money under their feet for them to dance on. I got some pics of the attendees and we even got to take pics with the two newlyweds so I will send those to you! It was a good time, lots of dancing. I just sat and filmed it all haha. Man Ghanaians love dancing a lot and are actually really good at it. If you can’t dance to a song there is no point in listening to it. But finally we got fed some rice and drinks. My companion got bubble gum flavored soda served to him...delicious! Afterwards though Bishop Fossou took us to go meet some less active people who live around his soon to be finished house. So that was nice. We have been preparing our investigator Joe for his baptism this coming Sunday and he is ready! He is related to Ruth and her family who just got baptized. Oh and Sunday we were finally able to sit down and teach her husband and he was really interested and asked good questions. So hopefully soon the whole family will be baptized! They are all doing very good though.

It has been raining a lot this week. Yesterday it just poured during church then in the evening we got stuck in our member’s house for like 2 hours before we just decided to brave the rain and run home. It is rainy season indeed.  Ah and for the eating competition. Yeah we blindfolded one and had all the assorted ingredients in bags in front of them all spread around. It is a competition to see which companionship can prepare and eat the food in the shortest period of time. So the person not blindfolded has to tell the person where everything is and direct them in preparing it and then the blindfolded person has to feed the not blindfolded person. We didn’t do this but it would probably be more fun this way: Make it so the ingredients have to be put in the bowl in a specific order. There was no real lesson we taught, just for fun but I am sure you could come up with one. It’s a funny game to play and everyone enjoyed watching the videos we took after. IDK what you would have them prepare back home...Lunchables pizza would be delicious haha! JK I will leave that up to you. And no, mosquitoes have not been bad my whole mission really. Some people have problems with them, but I have not. I never have used spray. I came with 4 big bottles of repellent and we used it as ant killer in Axim because the ants were really bad there, always getting into our food! As for the bush, no there isn’t too much in our area. Even in the more village parts it’s not too terribly remote. I have not seen a snake since Akonfudi, so I count myself lucky haha!

This week we find out transfer news. I don’t expect to be going anywhere but will more than likely get a new companion so we will see what happens! I am happy, healthy and doing great! I love this work. I was just thinking this morning how fortunate the Burningham kid is that he gets to come to this mission. He will have an awesome experience! I kind of wish I was him haha! GCCM is the best mission there is, that is not a lie. I love this place! I have indeed found that quote by Elder Richards to be true. [I sent him this quote this week, "There is no greater work than that of missionary work. There is nothing so wonderful, nothing as tasting the joy and success of missionary labors." -LeGrand Richards]  I will always be a part of this work. It is the only work that has meaning. I love how the Gospel is about bringing families together. It is about strengthening the family and the individual so all can receive the glorious joy of being with our Father in Heaven eternally. I love you all so much. I am so blessed to have such a great family. I think of my great grandparents, my grandparents, my parents, my siblings and realize that I am so fortunate. I have a name to honor and to strive to represent. I will do my best to especially always represent the Savior’s name. Love you sooo much, you are the BEST! Have a great week!

PS - Have fun in Cedar City at the Summer Games! If you don’t come home with gold don’t come home at all!

Friday, June 12, 2015

June 8, 2015
"I really love the people here, a lot!"

Happy Summer to you!!!!! So odd to think that school is out back home and everyone is getting ready to go boating and swimming and whatnot :) I am also especially glad you got the pics I sent! We did indeed have plenty of fun this week, I will explain! First of all we had a YSA [Young Single Adult] movie night on Tuesday. We told everyone to bring their nonmember friends and we would watch Meet the Mormons and have snacks. So we did it in the evening around 6:30 and a good number of people came! Not as many as we were planning for, but just about what I was expecting would realistically come. It went well though. Usually people don’t really pay much attention to movies when we watch them but everyone was very interested in Meet the Mormons. Just goes to show what an awesome movie it is! We had popcorn and a drink called sobollo, which looks like grape juice but is made from ginger, pepper and some flower. It’s an acquired taste, but is one of my favorites now haha! It was cool though because the different YSA's all prepared it which was helpful. Also, a treat I learned here in Swedru is popcorn with milk powder instead of salt...who woulda thought. Then Wednesday we did indeed go to Cape. Yeah MLC is always in Cape. We left a bit earlier than we usually do because I needed to buy some more shaving cream and Old Spice body wash, gotta love Cape! We got there around 8:30 only to find that none of the stores were open! So sad! So we had a lot of spare time and so I took the opportunity to go visit a few members in Cape that I have missed. It was so nice to be able to see them again. Cape Coast has definitely been my favorite area for sure; the people there were just awesome. So that is the nice thing about having the meetings there is I am able to go back every now and then and it seems I always see somebody I know. But at MLC we talked a lot about what the mission needs to be better instructed on as a whole. The big thing we talked about was actually teaching from Preach My Gospel. There is not really a set way in the mission to teach the lessons, everyone kind of has their own unique way to teach and President wants it a little more standardized. Not to the point everyone is reciting, but so everyone can teach in unity. It’s hard to have people taking two weeks after transfers to become used to their new companions style of teaching. PMG clearly talks about what needs to be taught and expresses how you don’t have to teach every little gritty detail. I liked E. Mckeon because when I was with him we got really good at teaching as PMG tells us to teach. Very effective. We also talked about the importance of the garment and how the garment is sacred but not secret. Thursday we had a zone council meeting with the district leaders and sister leaders and just talked about what’s going on in the zone and then after I went on exchanges with E. Larsen, the one I trained! It was pretty cool, except it rained all day and so we were not able to teach a single lesson! Everyone, literally everyone, was sleeping! We just walked all day Thursday and Friday! Pretty annoying haha! We did have a sweet Ward Council meeting to plan for the open house though and the stake public affairs guy was there giving us pointers and info. It was cool. No we have not gone on the radio, IDK if that will actually happen haha. It doesn’t look like it. But on Saturday we did have the big YSA activity. We kind of modeled it off the one we did in Cape for the stake back in November. We played games as you can see. The food one was a gari eating competition. Gari is made of ground cassava. It is used for a variety of things, but if added to milk, sugar and peanuts it makes a breakfast food called "soakings." They are pretty gross, but people like them haha. So one side of the table was blindfolded and had all the ingredients in front of them and had to prepare and feed the people on the other side. The kid with the pile did not vomit haha, just couldn’t do it all hahaha. It was pretty funny, I took a video of it so you got that to look forward to one day. It was pretty stressful regulating the whole thing, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. Sadly, the YSA's did a terrible job of bringing it was just them and no investigators. But also on that same day, just before the activity we had the baptism for Ruth, Vera and Precious! They were 40 mins late, and then bishop was another 2 mins after them, but we did indeed baptize them! I baptized Ruth and E. Kaiser baptized the other two. It went well and was great! Sadly due to the time, we were not able to take pics of them before the that’s too bad!!! 

Some big things happened on Sunday, namely Bishop Acheampong got released! We found out earlier from him in the week. He has been called to be the 2nd counselor in the Stake Presidency. So that’s pretty cool but also pretty sad. The new bishop is Bishop Fossou who was previously a High Counselor. We were pretty happy, he is a great guy, he was the branch president here for 7 years so this isn’t his first rodeo. It will be good with him and so I am excited to see what happens. But that’s been the week! I am doing good, just had kind of a bitter night last night. One of the missionaries is hard on Ghanaians a lot of the time, which is sad to me. I really love the people here, a lot. Sometimes he will say things to them or do things and it just feels personal to me because I really do love them. So I had to talk to him about it. He took it fine, but it was just kind of stressful for me. But yeah, today we had a zone activity at our chapel. We did a potluck and it went well! We made no bake cookies for everyone and lots of good things were brought! Tomorrow we have zone conference and it will be sweet! You asked about the beach; it’s about a 40 minute drive away from us, so not too close, but it’s in Winneba which is part of the zone. We are kind of inland a bit. I will be sure to take a pic with some kids for you as well! I took over 100 pics at the activity haha! Thanks for all you do, you do so much!! I love you! Have a great week!!!