Monday, August 25, 2014

Good morning there! Happy 1st day of school!!!! I am sure there are definitely some mixed feelings in the house about this day haha! It is really strange that Adam is in the big 7th grade now, seems like he should still be in elementary! Let me know how the 1st week was, it should be good! Good old school...glad I am not starting right now haha! For your info, transfer news will come on Saturday and transfer day is on Wednesday. The mini transfer did happen here though because the missionaries going home went two weeks early in order to fix some inconsistency with our transfers in relation to the other missions in the region, IDK.  But yeah, this transfer is gonna be GIANT I heard. Like 90% are going to move, so it will be really interesting to see what happens!

So you asked if I eat a lot of fruit and to be honest, I bet you eat more than I do haha. It’s hard to buy fruit here since I am in a village, everyone just has their farms so nobody sells any...But I do eat a LOT of coconuts! Fresh coconuts are awesome, I will miss drinking coconut juice when I leave! It’s always fun to watch somebody send their 7 year old kid to scurry up a 70 foot coconut tree and throw us down some coconuts then fireman slide down. Maybe when I move I will be able to eat fruit more, but for now not really.... Thanks for emailing me about your nice Sunday dinner; I hope everyone enjoyed a nice big cold glass of milk as well. I had some fufu with palmnut soup and fish and beefskin. Yeah! We went to the hospital on Tuesday because Elder Assibey got tested for a hernia, well kind of, and they had a poster up for avoiding ebola. Basically what you said, along with avoiding eating bats and monkeys. Guess I won’t get to try those guys anytime soon haha. Yeah Elder Assibey has lower abdominal pain and so Sis. Stevenson told him to go get a physical. He has never had one so I enjoyed explaining the procedure to him haha. But I was very disappointed because we went into the doctor’s office where the dr. was playing on his iPad with a couple of nurses sitting around. Elder Assibey sat across from him and the dr asked, "What’s wrong with you." He told him and he just pushed on his stomach a few times, said there was nothing wrong, and prescribed him some ulcer medicine and antacid. We were in there for about 5 minutes haha, The guy said more to me about being from America than he did to E. Assibey about his issue. Nice doctor haha. So I think we probably need to call Sis Stevenson and tell her about that...

My washer is being a champ. I figured the leak problem is part of the function, it’s just getting rid of dirty water, so I learned how to work around it. I have a whole routine for this machine haha.  And on the bright side we get more money to spend!!!! When I got here we were receiving 180 cedis for the month and it has steadily increased every few months. It was at 230 until today, we get 280!!! The cedi is just dying. Did I tell you I went and exchanged money a few weeks ago? I had $40 in my wallet that I just had sitting from home for the past year and I decided to change it. I got 136 cedis in exchange, so I was happy! But yeah, today we will get to do a little shopping, not gonna buy much since I might go this week, but we will see!  I have not seen too many crazy animals/bugs to be honest; the coolest are probably just the fireflies that are everywhere.  Luckily no scorpions or anything, that would be pretty crazy. There are lots of colorful grasshopppers, but they are not too cool haha.  Yeah I have heard about Billy Johnson, they have a short video about him, you could probably find it on YouTube! It’s really a miraculous story! Oh and there is a book all about the church starting in Ghana, I think it’s called "Walking in the Sands" or something like that. Maybe you could find it on Amazon, IDK. Over in Hemang there is a big grave for him and Steve Young built a school right by it! Never been there though, just heard about it. The woman who we blessed still has not had her baby, she is really stressed about it. I think that’s normal though right? But yeah I feel bad that she is so worried about it, she always has a big frown on her face, hopefully the baby will come soon so she can stop worrying! 

Well, August is coming to an end soon. We do trimester goals for each area for baptisms so the tri is ending. We had a goal of 5 and we have achieved 8 so I am very happy about that! The area has really come a long way, I remember setting that goal and really not being sure if we would be able to accomplish it, but we have done so and exceeded it! The people are solid and doing well also, so I am happy! The Lord blesses us so much each day! It is His work and He allows us to help. I marvel all the time at how the Lord really does this work and kind of just places us to do things. Each day we receive so many blessings. Yesterday we were out of food in the evening and expecting to go to bed hungry, (does not happen often I promise haha!) but we got a call from some members and they fed us fufu! The Lord is mindful of us, that is sure! Things like that happen all the time, I am so thankful for the Lords hand in our lives!

Well, I have a weird story from the week haha. Remember Bro. N? The guy with the giant hernia who is also the high priest group leader and is also an alcoholic? Well, we went and visited him and checked to see how he was doing on Wednesday. His reason for drinking has always been that it is in his hernia medicine so he has no choice. Well, he was telling us how he made his own and it worked better than the alcohol medicine so Elder Assibey told him to give us the alcoholic ones so we could get rid of them. He brought 4 bottles out of his house and was not wanting to give them to us. He handed three over and I pointed at the other and asked for it. He tried to change the subject but I just held my hand out smiling. He got mad about us wanting them all and told us we were treating him like a child. Elder Assibey calmed him down pretty well. Oh keep in mind he was drunk during this. Well, we took all the bottles and began to leave and he escorted us down the trail. Elder Assibey began to smell all the liquids, and none of them had alcohol. We asked him what was going on? If your medicine has no alcohol, where is the alcohol smell coming from? He got mad and left us there and went home without saying a word. So we dumped the bottles in some bushes haha. Friday we went back to talk to him and apologize for making him mad and he was saying there was no problem. He was drunk again. I kind of gave him a little heat, because he refuses to meet with the bishop because he is older than the bishop and just wants to continue drinking and going to the temple. It was interesting haha. Thursday we went to the bishop’s farm though, we trekked miles into the jungle and went to his corn farm this time! Still had to cross the port-a-potty river sadly... We planted corn like old-time farmers ALL day. Somebody pokes a hole in the ground, somebody else puts corn kernels in and covers it. There was no order or anything in planting, no lines to follow. They just randomly poke holes in the ground and put corn in. And it’s not like a field, it’s like a jungle haha. We met with all our recent converts and Bro. Kofi, they are all doing good! The group in Bereku is strong and the ward is still doing the same old same old. No complaints from Akonfudi, we are just working! 

No sign of the package yet, hopefully soon though!!! At some point in the future I am going to need a new scripture bag, this trooper is getting a bit worn! Also a belt, a pair of black pants, and some black socks. Not urgent, but at some future time those would be an A+!!! I am glad you guys are doing great though!!! Have you guys taken the boat out at all? That poor boat must be lonely haha!!! Thanks for all you do for me though; you guys really are the best!!! I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family!!! Hope everyone is doing good!!! LOVE YOU!!!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hi!!!! Looks like you know some Twi hahaha!  Nyame Adom-O!!! (By God's Grace-O! Ghanaians like to add O to everything)  I am glad everything is going well! I was gonna ask about Festival, but looks like you answered it for me! That’s good you are taking a break, since it’s a hectic ordeal I know! Will you guys do delivery night or setup? That’s the best part!!! 

Well, Georgina is still struggling with smoking, and her daughter says she is dying, so that is very sad, but this woman is constantly suffering so maybe that is the best thing to happen. We went and saw her the other day and she was just sobbing the whole time, which Ghanaians never do. I felt really bad! That was before her daughter told us she was dying.  Not an easy life for her at all. But let’s talk about happy things eh? So LAST Saturday the ward went to the temple and Kofi Elijah went, remember? Yeah well on Tuesday we went to see how he liked it and we got there and he had a TON of books laid out that he bought at the temple, a bible, a Triple Combination, Book of Mormon stories, Old Testament stories, etc. He LOVED the temple! He bore a powerful, humble testimony that left me speechless. He said that being in there he felt the Spirit so strong and knew the church was different than any other church. It was AWESOME to hear him say that! I was so happy!!! Oh and guess what, yesterday he was set apart as the group leader in Bereku! He has been baptized for just a month, but he is powerful and will do a great job as group leader! I was so happy to hear that!!!! He is so dedicated to the gospel and church! In other news, the Liberian and Sierra Leone missionaries are here safe and sound. Two are in our zone and one I came with, Elder Cooper from Atlanta! He is a cool guy and we saw him on Tuesday and talked, he said it was quite the experience!  But they are here safe and sound! The Ebola has allegedly spread to Nigeria, let me know if you hear any news on this Ebola thing. I pray it doesn’t come here, I really don’t want to get transferred to another mission, that would be too sad!!!

Had a nice spiritual experience on Wednesday. We watched the film "To this End was I Born" with one of our members who wanted a blessing because she has not delivered her baby that is due. That film is about the life and death of Christ and oh man it is the most powerful film in the world I think!!! I could have wept the whole time if I wouldn’t be mocked here for doing so! I was seriously straining back tears the whole 30 minutes!!! When it ended the room was just silent, nobody wanted to talk to break that sweet Spirit that was testifying to all of us. Elder Assibey and I bore our testimonies and I gave her a blessing. It was an incredibly moving experience! I know that the Savior lives. I feel His love everyday and know this is His work. I am so incredibly blessed to be here serving Him. I will never stop serving Him. We have been teaching an older man named Asiedu lately. He is a former elder in his church and has a rice farm for his family. Rice farm is another word for prison, those guys work all day every day in the farm, just to make sure birds don’t eat the rice. But at nights we have been going to see him. He didn’t go to school but can speak English and read which is impressive. We have given him Twi Book of Mormon and to our great astonishment, he has read almost all of 1 Nephi and understands it VERY well! It was powerful! We taught him a great lesson on the premortal life and purpose of life and gave him 2 Nephi 2 to read about the Fall of Adam so we are excited to go and see him and see how he understood it! I love it SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much when people actually try for themselves! Saturday was a good, busy day. We woke up and had our service day, we all wore our yellow Mormon Helping Hands shirts and weeded a road near the church and the church grounds AKA our front yard. We had a good turnout of ward members and I took a ton of pics. After we were done we had the baptism, it went very well! I got to baptize Afia and a child of record and Theresa's husband baptized her so that was great!! It went very well though and got lots of pics again!!! Saturday baptism days are the best days for sure!!!! I saw pics on of the new Ogden temple and WOW!!! It looks AWESOME!!! Have you gone to the open house?

I heard from Bear a few weeks ago and his email was just the one he sent to his family, but a few aspects made me laugh. His apt has a gym and he told his family he is eating "pretty well, but usually we just eat chicken burritos or something." I wanted to kill him. I would die for some chicken burritos hahahaha. We made banku and groundnut soup two nights ago, so that was good! It’s a close match between banku and chicken burritos...not. Haha but I guess I can’t complain too much since you saw my homemade KFC hahah!  Today for Pday we will be shopping and cooking, and it’s deep cleaning day so we will do that! We don’t get a lot of fun p-days in the bush haha...

Thanks for the good quotes, I love Elder Holland. [here are the quotes I sent:  "Life is like a camera.  Focus on what's important.  Capture the good times.  Develop from the negatives.  And if things don't turn out, take another shot!"  And  “You only get one chance to serve a mission.  It is your responsibility, your duty to use it to its fullest, to give every last ounce of energy until you collapse in exhaustion at the end of it.  All the hardships, all the tests, all the hard work will be looked back upon as the best things you've ever done, not because you enjoyed it, not because you baptized everyone, but because you gave everything you had, even when you didn't think you could and especially when you didn't want to.....Come out of your mission proud of what you've done and this experience will guide and bless you the rest of your life.”] That is what I am striving to do! I know I am so blessed to be here, I love serving the Lord, even though there are always challenges, I am so happy to serve!!! Thank you for all you do, for all your prayers and EVERYTHING!!!! You are the BEST!!! I love you so much!!!!!!

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's Been One Amazing Year!!!

Celebrating One Year in Ghana with Elder Cowan!  We Feasted!!

At the farm! I promise that is a raindrop by my nose falling in between me and the 
camera and not something coming out of my nose haha!
Good morning! I’m doing just great, it’s been a great week! Yeah it’s pretty crazy to think it’s been a whole entire year out here in Ghana! Man the time really goes fast! Weird to think this time next year I will be home, better make the absolute best of this time! It’s been such an amazing year. Definitely been the most difficult and the most rewarding. I have learned so much and grown so much this year, for that I am forever grateful to my Father in Heaven. We will see what year #2 brings with it! 

Thanks for sending the package; I thought you sent it a few weeks ago when you were leaving? But nonetheless I will be happy happy to get it soon! You are the best!!! I am glad you enjoyed the pics, the network here has been surprisingly good, you might even get more today! I enjoyed that story about the cocoa farmers, that is sad never to see the fruits of your labors, but you do it cuz that’s how your family will survive. They sell Ghana made  chocolate here, everyone has had chocolate I think but not "real" chocolate hahaha.  Man that is crazy how they got those missionaries out of the country! The Church doesn’t mess around with its boys! The Lord heard our prayers and quickly got them out though, that is amazing. They are here safe and sound, two are in our zone and I came here with one of them, so it will be cool to see him again. That would be so hard to leave like that while everyone is just suffering, but the Lord has a plan at all times. Yeah this has been a good week though, a bit slower than in the past, but still a very good week! We went to farm again this week with the drunk high priest group leader with the giant hernia (remember him?). We trekked through the same port a potty water and this time went through deep mud as well on the trail to his farm. I like to imagine I am Indiana Jones or something while traveling into the deep dark bush. We went and weeded for a few hours at his farm, not nearly as difficult as the last week, didn’t get any blisters either so that is a plus! But we did a lot of work, got lots of weeds cleared! It’s always good when the portion of land looks completely different after you are finished! It was a nice, cool rainy day too so it wasn’t too bad at all! Friday we went on splits, I went to Foso with Elder Cowan and we had a good day of celebrating one year in Ghana haha! There is a store in Foso called Melcom. They are a chain in Ghana and its basically Ghanaian Wal-Mart. There are good things there usually. We went there and bought boneless chicken breasts, a bag of frozen fries, and Dr. Pepper. It was pretty dang expensive, but hey, a year in Ghana deserves it haha! We breaded the chicken and deep fried it along with the fries and we just feasted! Then we went out and proselyted in his area. It was a good day really!!  I was glad to get back to my area though; we have some work going on. There are 5 people with a baptismal date. Two will be this Saturday. Afia and Theresa will be baptized, so that will be sweet! The others we are hoping for the 6 of September. Then another one we have been working with, well she still has not quit smoking and is still lying to us about it. We were hoping giving her a baptismal date would motivate her, but man it’s still not helping. The grandchildren tell us she still is smoking and yesterday she smelled like smoke, but she won’t tell us when we ask her...It’s really  very sad. I wish I could just force her to stop haha, but that’s not a possibility. Another is a woman named E. who has diabetes and I think it also effects her memory, we have been teaching her for months but if you ask her who Joseph Smith is she won’t be able to tell you. She comes to church each week, but she just can’t remember. Yesterday we asked her if she knew the name of the church and she did not. We told her 10+ times and asked her and she could not say it. We called President about her because she really wants to be baptized along with the members, but we can’t baptize someone who doesn’t know anything about the gospel. That’s what President said as well, she has to have at least the comprehension of an 8 year old. We are trying to help her, but well, it’s not easy. On the happy side the ward went to the temple on Saturday and Kofi Elijah went as well!!!  That made me so happy to see him go! We have not had the opportunity to see him since then, but tomorrow we will go see him! It’s so important for the recent converts to go so they can feel the Spirit in the temple and have the experience, so I was excited to hear he was going! I have another nice Bro. Amuadu quote from the week. We were teaching him about prayer and somehow this gem came out as we were talking about prayer, "I won’t pray for my enemies." We read in Matthew about when Christ said we should do so and he was still vehemently against it haha! That guy cracks me up! Elder Assibey supports the opposite political party from him and when he found out he told Elder Assibey he wouldn’t talk to him anymore haha. He is always so happy to see us though and for us to teach him! He is awesome! Oh and IDK if you have the August Ensign, but there is a great Ghana pic in it! Open the cover and the pic inside is definitely Ghana, that’s where I am every day. The bench that the two are sitting on is the "Ghana bench." The stool the other missionary is sitting on is the "Ghana stool." There is a cocoa tree in the background! It’s Ghana! IDK who the elders are or where they are, probably Kumasi if I had to guess, but it’s a cool picture!

 I am glad Adam had a great time at camp, those are awesome memories for me!  I am thankful I had such great leaders who always made it fun. Ask Kartchner about when he and Bro. Higgs faked a bear attack in our camp. There is no way they could do that now it sounds like hahahaha. Good times, good times. Thank you for everything you do, I am grateful for all your support and prayers! I miss you guys, but I know this is where the  Lord needs me! He is teaching me so much here, I am amazed at how He loves us so much! I know He does and that He is preparing me for things to come! I am so thankful for my patriarchal blessing; it gives me such guidance and direction! It is from the Lord! This is His Church. This is His Gospel. That is my knowledge, not belief. I know this, for He has told me and shown me. That is knowledge. By living the teachings of Christ and following Him we WILL be happy. By doing the things He has told us we WILL be protected. It is so sad when people reject this message. It is the only message. I love you soooo much!!! You are the best!!! Thank you for all you do, thank you for all you guys are! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Happy Day :)

Elder Assibey and myself with Bro Kofi Elijah 
at his baptism!!!

I saw this guy and nearly knocked him down running over to get a picture with him!

Here is our house! Home sweet home!

Mmmmm, sweet Pee Cola! Show this to Cody, he will really love it haha. He sent me a pic of a bottle when I first came out and I finally found one! It was empty though, so "sadly" IDK what Pee Cola tastes like!

 Group of people watching me grate cassava

Pounding fufu a few weeks ago with Rich Boy. We are gonna do it again today! He makes really good fufu and soup!!!

Look a giraffe!!! This was at the slave museum me and Elder Ouma went to!

This is the church in Bereku. No, seriously.

This is the church in Akonfudi. This picture is taken from my front door.  We live 15' away from the church.

I'm really adjusting to the climate!  The face is not tanning as well as the arms! (note: he has his own head but E. Quaisie's body) haha!!

Kind of a blurry pic, but this is a cute member girl in Bereku named Berlinda. She is like 6, every time we go to their house she yells "Elda Hackmeista!"

Hello USA!!!! I am glad to hear you guys are doing good and are finally back in the home front haha!!! I enjoyed your bat story, in Axim there were ALWAYS bats, but they really don’t belong in our attic, so that’s good they were eliminated. Oh I ate grasscutter last transfer, it was really good! Tasted like roast beef really, so maybe rats and bats are the same? Go ahead and give it a try! I hope you enjoy the pictures, I am getting some out today!!!!YESSSS!!!!!!  Glad everyone is doing good though, I hope Adam has some fun at scout camp with Kartchner, it’s hard to have a bad time with that guy there haha!!!

Instructing went well, President ended up not coming but I was really not too upset about that haha.  But it went well, everyone said I did a great job so that’s always a good sign eh? I instructed on why we need the Book of Mormon, specifically why it is so important to the Lord for the gathering of Israel. I had handouts and everything! But we read a lot of scriptures in the Book of Mormon about why it is so important to the Lord. Go read 3 Nephi 20-21, they really explain really well why we need it for the work to move forward. I talked about the Abrahamic Covenant and why it is so crucial for us as missionaries to understand it. Go read about it in Abraham 2! Long story short, without the Book of Mormon there would be no gathering of Israel. I had been studying that for a while in personal study and it is so interesting to see that today the Lord is gathering in His people from all over! Think, 2,000 years ago the only place the truth was was in Jerusalem and among the Nephites.  Apostasy was so easy because if those societies decided to go  wayward the truth was gone. Think about today, the truth is EVERYWHERE. There will never be another general apostasy, the Lord has promised that. Think about how crazy that must have sounded during Joseph Smith's time. Look at today though, the evidence this work is true is all around us! But yeah, the instruction went smooth, so that was a good experience! 

We have had a good week, a bit slow but not too bad really. We went to farm, something we have not done in a LONG time. We went with the Bishop on Thursday with his family. Man the second the alarm went off that morning they were at our door telling us it was time to go. We literally got out of bed, put clothes on, and left hahaha. We went and weeded their cocoa farm. Imagine mowing the lawn with tweezers, that’s basically what the experience of weeding at farm is. Man I was EXHAUSTED. We got home in the evening and just fell asleep haha. I am still sore. My thighs are killing me hahaha!!!  It was fun though, they fed us banku and really good stew in the farm, we ate it on a log. It was awesome, when we got there first thing, the bishop just cut down a papaya tree and made benches for us. I was so confused I was like, "Why are you cutting down this papaya tree just to make us a bench?!?! You can get fruit from it!" But yeah, he chopped it down in 0.23 seconds with his machete hahaha. Also, Elder Assibey killed a baby black snake too, I have no idea how he saw it but I’m glad he did. That’s the 2nd snake he has killed with me and the 5th on his mission haha. Oh and the road to farm was awesome, just walking for an hour into the jungle. Part of the trail was flooded with water that looked like it came out of a tipped over port-a-potty so we forded the river. I was pretty sure I was gonna get tetanus or something from it, but so far so good! Man we went and taught Brother A this week and he was awesome as usual. We were talking about why it’s so important to share the gospel with those we love and he told us it’s "every man for himself." I was dying haha. We tried to explain it again and he said, "look. I’m old. I walk with a cane. It's every man for himself." He told us the same thing a month ago when we were teaching him about  baptisms for the dead hahaha. I guess he won’t be giving us any referrals. Brother Kofi Elijah is doing awesome though! He got a calling as family history consultant for the group in Bereku. They have no leader, but they done got themselves a family history consultant haha! But seriously, he is dedicated!!! He has been helping EVERYONE do their family history. Every evening he goes and helps people! It makes me so happy to see him engaged in his calling and really magnifying it. It really is inspiring to me, it might seem small, but nobody does their callings. To see him so dutifully and willfully doing it makes me so happy! He is helping sooo many people on both sides of the veil. As for the ebola, yeah we got alerted about that. We will be having 1 senior couple, 1 sister, and 17 elders coming to join us. But as I am typing this we got a text saying the countries have halted the airways so we are not sure when they will be able to come. We will pray for them. Please pray for them as well! I can’t imagine how hard that is for everyone! Oh and when does Lee Connors go home, do you know? I thought he was already home! Hopefully he is ok along with everyone else. I know for a fact that the Lord protects His servants though, so they will be ok.

I am doing great though, we are working hard and having fun, it’s crazy that this week will be my 1 year mark, my oh my how the time flies by. I have had so many amazing experiences the last year. I have grown in a lot of ways. My testimony is so much deeper and vivid than it was when I came out. I can say that I truly know with all of my heart and soul that this is God's church. I know that. The Spirit has confirmed it in such a way that I can never deny or change from that course. I love this Gospel, it brings joy and peace. I am so happy! I am so thankful you are my mom! I miss you so much, thank you for all you do for me each and every day!!! You are the best!!!! *Insert a Seinfeld quote here*