Monday, September 29, 2014

Good morning! Thanks for the virtual hug haha! Well, I have some big news, so you are right, it is transfers. I am leaving Akonfudi also! But guess what? I am going to Cape Coast to be a zone leader! I got called on Saturday. I did not expect that at all! When I saw it was President calling I thought I was going to be called to be a district leader, but nope I am a zone leader. The Cape Coast zone leaders do a ton of work on transfer days coordinating all the movements so I will be extra busy I guess! I am pretty excited and also humbled to be called to be a zone leader. It’s going to be a great opportunity to learn and grow and serve! I will be with Elder Ntsie, he is from South Africa. He was in the same district as me about 8 months ago and is a great guy so it will be sweet! I hope I can do all the Lord asks me to do! So transfers are on Wednesday so I gotta get all packed and stuff today and tomorrow. Should be an adventure haha! Also, Elder Assibey will be training a new elder here in Akonfudi, so that will be cool for him! He is a good missionary. It is true that next transfer will be an 8 week transfer also. That is the big new exciting news of the week! I don’t know really what it will be like, but it will be humbling and exciting to serve as zone leader and be on the mission leadership council. Every month the zone leaders have a council meeting with President so that will be cool!

This week we went on splits twice, once on Thursday and next on Friday. I went to Foso with Elder Collette from New Mexico while Elder Larsen went to Akonfudi to do G’s baptismal interview. I had a good day in Foso, but it was kind of crazy too. Elder Collette accidentally lost the phone in a taxi so we spent the day without a phone hah. We had a good day though despite that! The next morning Elder Larsen and Assibey came to Foso because E. Assibey needed to go to Cape for the trainers meeting so we took him to the station and I spent the day with Elder Doggett and Elder Nakedi. They are sweet guys! We spent the morning doing zone leader chores, like buying those other guys a new phone and buying the sister missionaries a flashlight, so that was fun. We went and taught a lesson and it was cool to learn from them! Elder Doggett left this morning for Cape so he will be back in those good old Rocky Mountains in a few days! Sorry the weather is cooling down there, that’s no fun for you haha! It’s been raining a ton here recently though. We keep getting stranded under roofs while the rain pounds for 30 mins or so haha! But yeah, the other highlight of the week was G's baptism! I was so happy to see her baptized before I left, we have been working with her for so long so I was so glad she has done what is needed to prepare for baptism. Elder Larsen said she bore a strong testimony in the interview so that was awesome! But we took her to Akonfudi in a taxi and did the baptism. Sadly not many people came, but she was there and that’s all that mattered. She has a very difficult time walking so I was kind of nervous having her walk the steps into the water, but the man baptizing her did an awesome job helping her! Yesterday she was confirmed in church in Bereku as well so that was good! We missed it as we blessed the sacrament in Akonfudi and I gave departing testimony. Then we went to Bereku for the rest of the day. Man it’s going to be kind of strange to leave this area. I have been here for a long time. It will be weird to teach people that speak English! I have seriously been teaching through E. Assibey this whole time. He just translates. Now it’s going to be back to normal! Weird...not to mention all the new responsibilities as a zone leader.  I really pray that I can do all the Lord will ask of me! I want to do all I can to please Him. It will be sweet!

Glad that all is well on the home front though! Adam is killin it it sounds like. Props to him for getting that 4.0 at midterm. If he gets it at the end of the term does he get a Camaro haha?! Yeah as for the pie, I don’t think that will really be possible haha! Nope, no pumpkins here. I suppose the gourd family does not fare too well here in the tropics. I have not seen any pumpkins or any of those maraca looking things. Nope, the old squash family would seem to be a cool region family. Just cassava and plantain here! As for the meat on the BK burger, it looked like ground beef. Fun little story. One of the ones I bought had mold on the beef. I just ate around it. That’s life in Ghana. Did I get sick? Of course not! You develop the immune system of a water buffalo here. Remember that dog we cooked? They made us some stew with it and do you know what water they used? It was water from the port-a-potty river we walked through! Good thing they cooked it hahahahah! (I don’t eat like that usually I swear.) But yeah, that’s the type of week it’s been. It will be a pretty crazy week this week I suspect. Gotta adjust to a lot of new things I suppose haha! But I love you sooo much! You guys are the BEST!!! Thank you for all you do for me! Keep up the good work!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

This little girl is always so excited to see "Elda Hackmeista" 
(even though you can't tell by this picture).  He gave her this 
giraffe that we had put in his hump day package.

Happy Tuesday! Sorry, yesterday was Kwame Nkrumah's birthday so Ghana kind of just shut down haha. But we are live now! I am sad to report we did not attempt the banana bread experiment.  We just didn’t have time or the needed ingredients on hand, so it will have to wait for a future date I suppose haha... Wow it sounds like Adam is doing just awesome in football!!! That is really cool! Tell him congrats for me! That is cool you got to see all the Cape Coast parents. Thanks for the pics, and that roller coaster looks so big! Man it will be awesome when it is finished! Keep me posted on future progress! Sounds like sleepy little Kaysville and area is really starting to flourish. We’ve got Station Park, Smith's Market Place is coming, and this giant roller coaster. Not to mention the new Ogden Temple! I am glad you got to go to the dedication! Did you go to the open house? I hope so!

This has been a pretty good week, had an unexpected trip to Takoradi on Thursday! On Wednesday around 12 we were proselyting and I got a call from Elder Doggett. He told me the assistants had called and I was going to be emergency transferred. What the heck?! He was joking it turned out, but I DID need to go to Takoradi the next day to renew my non-citizenship card ... Sweet!!! So yeah, on Thursday me and a few other elders from Foso got on a tro, sailed on down to Cape Coast where the Assistants picked us up in the mission van and drove us to Takoradi! It was kind of fun to get to go on a road trip haha! It was raining all day so it was nice and cool. We got to Takoradi and went to the classic chop bar which we affectionately refer to as McDonalds. We saw the Julanders in there as well so that was a fun reunion! That fufu is soooo good there too so I was happy! Then we went to a bank where we waited forever to get our things renewed. There were a lot of other missionaries there from Western Region doing the same, so it was fun to see some people I hadn’t seen in a while! Also, I found out there is a Best Western right on the beach in Takoradi and it is REALLY nice! But after we got our cards we drove into town and we got 3 cedi hamburgers from some stand. They left a lot to be desired since there really are not hamburgers in Ghana, but they were pretty good for 3 cedis! They were wrapped in real Burger King wrappers haha! We drove back to Cape where the AP's left us to get a tro back to Foso. Well, we got on the wrong one it turned out...This one had a problem and had to stop every 5 miles to fill up the radiator! We must have stopped like 7 times! They had to scurry into the bush to find water each time, so that was great! I had to use the bathroom sooooo bad too! I was tucked away in the back corner so there was no getting out for me either, just held it for 3 hours. The situation turned even better too when a preacher started preaching from within the tro. We had two Nigerian missionaries that started trying to argue with the guy and then everyone in the tro got really angry with them and it turned into a whole big deal...Oh and we hit a dog too ... When we got back to Foso it was like 8:30 at night. E. Assibey spent the day in Foso with those who didn’t go so when we got back we grouped back together. There were no cars going to Akonfudi so we ended up getting stuck in Foso. We went to E. Larsen’s apt to spend the night. We put two mattress' on the floor and laid like sardines on them hahaha...not the best way to sleep at all. It was me, E. Assibey, E. Brown, and E. Wightman...I got about 2 hours of sleep that night, not really a comfortable way to sleep at all haha. So yeah, it was a really good day but had its downs as well! Good memories for a lifetime though eh? Oh and another thing that happened is there is a  missionary FROM Liberia named Elder Freeman whose sister died of Ebola this week and his family is now in quarantine so we did a mission-wide fast for him on Sunday. That must be so difficult to deal with, can’t even imagine. Also, the missionaries serving from those two countries cannot get back into their countries as of now when their missions end, so their mission just gets extended until the gov't allows them back. Sooo difficult I imagine. Akonfudi is doing fine though, we are planning for hopefully 2 baptisms this Saturday and one is  G! We called President about her and he said to baptize her and make sure she gets the sacrament taken to her like 1 time per month. I am happy to see she will finally be baptized; it has been a long time and a lot of work to get her to this point. She is finally ready! She will be interviewed on Thursday and we will do the baptism at 4 on Saturday! Also on the program is a boy named D who I think I told you about. If not, he was never baptized when he was 8 and has always been coming to church. He is now 16. Somehow they overlooked him I guess ... But we are not sure if he will be ready by then since we need to teach him a lot still.  We spent a lot of time this week as well in the next village over called Endwa(en-jwa) contacting people there. We really have never spent time there, but former missionaries had. It’s pretty dang small and it’s a ghost town kind of, but we contacted a lot of people this past week so who knows, maybe we will spend more time there! I spent a lot of time pounding people's fufu as well, always a good way to start talking to people! That’s what’s going on in my neck of the woods! I have been thinking about how blessed I have been in my life, I am so thankful for all that I have been given! I have an amazing family! Thank you for all you do for me! You are the absolute BEST!!! I am very very blessed! I am so blessed to get to serve here in Ghana among such good people! I am so happy that conference is coming as well! Can’t wait to listen to and read it! It will be awesome I am sure!!!! But yeah, I love you sooo much! Thank you for all you do! Hope you have a GREAT WEEK!!!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

This is the picture I borrowed from the mission blog. can see the side of his face!  Look closely and you can see he is smiling, probably because he's getting to catch up with Elder Cardon!  It's been a while since Elder Hack has been captured on film.  
Hi!!  Thanks for the banana bread recipe, we'll give it a shot and see what happens haha! Yeah I made tortillas a few times, they turned out quite well! Not like the good old Taco shack, but not too bad! Hopefully the banana bread works out the same way! Glad you got to see the side of my head in a picture, that’s always exciting! (The mission blog had a picture of him but only the side of his face is visible)  The mission tour went AWESOME!!!! I just LOVE hearing from general authorities. I really reallly love it! Elder Curtis is an awesome leader and I learned a lot from him. He talked to us about Alma 5. I suggest you go read it. It is, in his words, a 'spiritual questionnaire.’ “ He gave us lots of good advice and insights on it! We need to always be able to answer those questions affirmatively. One of the greatest things I learned from him though was not really in what he said, but rather how he said it. He is such a Christlike individual! That is what really stuck out to me from the meeting. I was pondering over it the next day and thinking about some of the most Christlike people I know and they all share similar characteristics. They are kind, supportive, friendly, warm, encouraging, lighthearted, and patient. I really made it a goal to be more Christlike! I want so badly to be like Him. I need to. We all do! The meeting was great though, we were encouraged to really work with the members and be effective in planning, so we will be working harder to do those things! It was also great to see everyone that I have not seen for a while. I got to talk to E. Cardon for a long time, which was just awesome! I also got to see E. Larsen as well and it was great to see him again. Also, E. Moleme, my good old friend from South Africa!  I loved seeing all these people! Elder Curtis also came to Assin Foso on Saturday and did a stake leadership training meeting and it was AWESOME as well! President Stevenson was there and instructed the stake leaders on the importance of working with missionaries, Elder Davies, a local 70 instructed too and it was hilarious! He is a Ghanaian and is just full of energy and was just running all over, calling on random people from a sheet of names to answer questions, speaking random french haha. He was writing on a board and I’m pretty sure he is a doctor because it was unreadable haha! He did a really good job though! Told a story about how he is afraid of water and heights and was sent to Sierra Leonne and had to cross the sea and a mountain and so he burst into singing, "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go." Elder Curtis also spoke and gave us some pretty crazy numbers. So far this year, 16,000 people have been baptized in West Africa. If they stopped today, it would be the 2nd biggest year! We still have 3 1/2 months to go! Also, 5 stakes have been created this year with 2 more in the works! The Lord is hastening His work for sure! What a blessing to be a part of it! I get to have my hands right in the dirt! Bereku finally is in a new building. They rented a house and turned it into classrooms and built a sacrament hall in front of it, so we worshiped there with them on Sunday! The stake didn’t send any high councilor to preside, so I did.  The meeting went well though, there were 60 or so people there! Granted, half were kids, but still not bad at all! On Saturday after our meeting with Elder Curtis we went and helped them set all the chairs up and stuff. All the chairs were wrapped in bubble wrap and on Sunday it was still laying on the ground. EVERYONE had a roll of bubble wrap popping it after church haha. Old people, kids, everyone loves bubble wrap! It was funny to see people leaving church with giant armfulls of bubble wrap haha! That made the cleanup pretty simple though!

The work is moving though! We now have 8 people with baptismal dates, so yeah! We had to push back all those we were already planning though because they all have things stopping them as of now. I don’t know if G will be able to be baptized because now she can’t come to church because of how far it is. The church can’t pay for a car for her and she can’t pay herself, so I’m not sure what we will do. We will talk to the bishop and see if they can figure anything out. We were teaching A. about tithing and he doesn’t believe tithing should exist. He is cool with collections, but tithing doesn’t make sense to him. His problem is in the Old Testament tithing is used only for like animals and crops, so why should we pay with money today? We explained that it was given to us by the Lord through Joseph Smith. It is really a matter of knowing if Joseph Smith is a prophet. If we know that is true, everything else kind of just falls into place! If we receive that witness then our questions are not as halting because we have that testimony this IS the Lords work! So very important! We also taught another of our investigators with a baptismal date about the word of wisdom. The doctor gave her green tea to help with her aching foot, but after we taught her she committed to keep it! Hopefully she does and her foot is healed from her faithfulness! I know the Lord will bless us if we are  faithful!

Last night it was pouring like crazy as we were trying to go home.  We finally decided to make a run for it after 30 mins of hiding under a roof and we got SOAKED! Everything was soaked, but luckily my scriptures were dry! The rainy season ain’t over yet!  Man we were soaked from head to toe. It was kind of fun, but having scriptures and a phone made it a bit dicey. We were just running through it trying to get home! I have not run in a long time, I was dead haha! It felt really really good to run, but running in the dark in the rain is not the best way to do it haha! It was raining SO hard it was crazy!  We got home and just wrung out our clothes. It’s crazy it’s already almost time for conference! The time goes fast!  Again, thanks for the pics of hiking, they looked awesome!!! I love you so much! Thanks for all you do for me! I hope you are all doing great! I LOVE YOU!!!!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Morning there Kaysville City! Why yes, I am healthy, I am happy! Glad that everything is going good on the home front! We are doing well here as well!!! We here in Akonfudi are feeling a bit daring, we think we can make some banana bread, but we need a recipe! Can you please send me one? Thank you!!! We will Macgyver an oven on the stove using some pots so that shouldn’t be a problem! We will see if we are successful or humbled. We had a pretty busy week this week, taught a lot of people and had 9 investigators come to church! We were pretty happy about that! We have 5 people with baptismal dates, though those with their dates on the 27th are a bit shaky right now. One is G. She is still saying she is keeping the Word of Wisdom along with her family, so we are taking her word for it. We are praying for her that she is keeping it and so we will keep working with her. One problem with that is next week the church in Bereku is changing locations to one a lot farther from her house, so we don’t know if she will continue coming since she has some leg problems. We are praying though! We also will be baptizing a young man on that date who is 16 and was supposed to be baptized as a child but somehow that got skipped over. Another man is set for the 4th of October. He is probably about 30 and we met him a few weeks ago and taught him about the Restoration. He accepted it well and committed to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. We called him Sunday morning to remind him about church and he said he would try to come. Well, he came and bore his testimony in church. He said on Saturday he decided he wanted to come, but felt something telling him not to. Sunday morning he woke up early and prayed to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet and felt the same way that he should come, but something was telling him not to. Right as he felt that is when we called him to come. He knew right there he HAD to come. We taught him after and he told us more about it and some desires he has to follow God and reconcile with his father who is a part of some traditional Ghana faith. We read through a lot of scriptures in the Book of Mormon with him and ended with 2 Nephi 31:13(I think, don’t have my scriptures handy right now...) talking about following Christ into the waters of baptism after we have repented. We committed him to the 4th and he agreed! It was a pretty cool experience to see how the Spirit worked to answer his prayers and that we were able to help him recognize that! The work is going well but we need to go to Bereku and make a couple things clear. Some girls wrote a letter to Bishop demanding the church pays for their school books and pens and so forth. Sadly this is a common misconception about the Church here. There are a lot of people who only want to come to church because they think the church will just throw a ton of money at them and pay for everything. I remember when President Shulz came to lay down the law in Axim, he quoted an account from the book of John, after Christ fed the thousands. They were following him and wanted more food. He told them He didn’t come to feed them or give them anything, except the Gospel. After that, many turned away. He told everyone not to expect anything from the Church except the Gospel. It’s not here to buy your things or give you money, it’s here to teach you the ways of the Lord. We need to do something similar in Bereku, especially because it appears that some people in the church are telling others that in hopes to get more members in Bereku. Lots of members think it’s about having a ton of members and they don’t consider the importance of conversion. So we gotta make that clear haha.. Also, thank you so much for the DVD's! We watched "17 Miracles" with the Bishop’s family on Saturday night and it was sweet! About 30 minutes in though the power went out so that was frustrating, but after a little prayer it came back! That usually doesn’t happen fast like that so it was a tender mercy and answer to prayers! But the film was so powerful! What our ancestors gave is unbelievable! They gave absolutely EVERYTHING for the gospel! They lived so faithfully, if I can live even half as faithfully as them I will be forever grateful! They are an inspiration to me. I felt their presence as we watched. If you or Grandma West could mail me some of our family's pioneer stories that would be sweet! I know mail takes a bit longer, but I would be fine to wait. IDK if there are any in the 1st place, but I assume there are) I have really been enjoying the music as well, thank you sooooooo much for sending it. I LOVE the Mormon Tabernacle Choir so much. I think that the Spirit talks to me a lot through music. It brings words that cannot be spoken. One song that strikes me particularly that is on the flash drive is their rendition of "How Firm A Foundation." That has always been one of my favorite hymns. The final verse is quite poignant: The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose I will not, I cannot, desert to His foes That soul, though all Hell should endeavor to shake, I'll never, no never, I'll never, no never, I'll never, no never, no never forsake. Quite a powerful message in words alone, but when sung it becomes even more so. That is how we need to always live. We can turn to Christ for rest, He is our Firm Foundation. Though Hell and demons and devils may try to sway us from our course, ours is the unfailing chorus, "I'll never forsake." How great will be our joy when we stand before our Maker and can look upon His face and say, "I never forsook Thee. I stood true. I lived as my ancestors did." That is a great desire that I have. 

I’m one step ahead of you on handing out the giraffes haha! I gave one to a little girl and got a nice picture that I will send to you at some point! I will take pics as well in the future!  As for favorites from the package, the cookies are always a hit! Along with the Hershey's things haha! Those were really good! Bacon is always a plus as well! No wrongs were done! The shoes are awesome so thanks a ton for them! Glad that Frank is still holding on, he must be made of titanium or something! Thanks for the missionary emails as well, always fun to see what everyone else is up to! Sounds like all is well everywhere! Thanks for everything, you are the absolute BEST!!!! I love you, good luck with EVERYTHING!!!! LOVE YOU!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Happy Labor Day! Sounds like a good time in Midway, though I don’t think I really can picture Midway in my mind haha! Well I suppose you want to know where I will be for the next 6 weeks, eh? I am.........STAYING!! Yep, gonna be here for another transfer. I was not really expecting that, but I know that this is what the Lord wants, so here I will remain and here will I work! It will be good though, I will still be with Elder Assibey so that is good. Oh and good news the package is here! Got it this morning and cracked it open....THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH!!! Wow, you are awesome!!! Those shoes look awesome; they will be troopers I hope! Thank you for the dvd's, we will watch 17 Miracles for FHE tonight with the Bishops family most likely, and I will sit ALL day listening to the music and getting fat!!! Thanks for the advice on journal keeping, that is very true. (I told him it’s very important to be very detailed in his journaling with all the things going on in this part of the world, and all the growth and changes. It will be priceless to have throughout his life! )  I usually am not too specific in people or details, so I will need to work on that! I will take as many pictures as possible, maybe around Christmas I will need a new mini SD card.

For farming in Akonfudi most people grow cocoa mainly and then have their own personal farms for cassava and plantains and other things for food. Corn included.  Yeah its cold at night!!! I always wake up and have to turn the fan down, I wake up in the mornings and just sit wrapped in my blanket for a few minutes before getting out. I will enjoy the cold though when I come back; it just stinks when you have no choice but to go take an arctic shower in the cold morning.  I will expect a gallon of milk and an In N Out burger to meet me at the airport when I return, then we're gonna go right to Red Iguana. I am priming myself for junk foods haha! I made the BEST fried chicken two nights ago, it tasted EXACTLY like Maddox. I could have shed tears haha. And it was really easy and cheap to cook, so that is a bonus. I will treat myself to that every now and then. This has been a slower week in Akonfudi. We were not able to proselyte on Tuesday. We came back from district meeting around 2 and it was pouring just massive amounts of rain. They are hooking up a water tank to our house as well and they needed into our place so we couldn’t just leave the workers in our house so we had to wait for the rain to stop and for them to finish. By the time both happened it was late in the evening, so that was dumb. I hate not going out! I feel like a waste of flesh and it’s just boring... But no problem! Our investigator Asiedu is still doing really good! That guy is still reading the Book of Mormon like a champion and learning and understanding really really well! That makes me so happy when people want to learn and put commitment into it! We were only able to teach him one time this week because of his rice farm. Thursday was another slow day, we went on emergency splits with Elder Cowan and Elder Brown because E. Cowan had to interview some of the sister missionary’s investigators for baptism and only one spoke English and they didn’t arrange for a translator, so E. Assibey had to translate for them. Not a problem, but we planned the day already for all Twi speakers and didn’t have a translator available. So me and Elder Brown went and tried our best just to talk to people and visit members, but yeah another slow day haha. Other than those days every day we had went really well. We are working to get Asiedu and some other of our investigators ready for baptism on the 27th, but they are progressing slowly. Asiedu can’t really come to church because of his farm right now, so we are trying to get the ward to really fellowship him and encourage him to come. Hopefully it will work out well and he will be able to find some way to start coming. We started teaching a new guy named Nash. We talked to him one day and left him with a Restoration pamphlet to read and he saw us passing one day after and got us chairs ready so we sat down and taught him and he seems interested. We will see how it goes! Probably the most noteworthy thing this week happened yesterday at church. It was raining hard from the moment we woke up. We knew it meant one thing: nobody would be coming to church. When it starts raining Ghana just kind of shuts down and goes to sleep. Such was the case. We worshiped in Akonfudi and had only one investigator come. Who was that investigator you ask? Not even one of our investigators but somebody new! A white lady from the Peace Corps who is teaching in a school in the next town! One of her students is a member and told her she should come and she did. We walk in and there were like 5 people in the chapel and she was one. She was like 28 or something from San Diego and has been in Ghana for the last year. After sacrament we taught her and it was one of the most simple, powerful lessons I have ever taught. We talked to her for a while and she is Catholic and had a few misconceptions about the church that we were able to correct for her. After talking about her life and stuff for like 30 minutes, we prayed and begun the lesson. She immediately told us she had heard of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith but really didn’t know anything about them. So it was our great pleasure to teach her about the Restoration of the Gospel. Oh man, the Spirit was so incredibly strong as we described the First Vision. There was a tangible feeling of Holiness and we were edified. We further explained that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ and that it stands side by side to the Bible in showing us His gospel. After we explained she had a big smile and said she had goosebumps the entire time we described it. We told her it was the Holy Ghost confirming what we said was true. I was so happy that she noticed the Holy Ghost and told us about it, that is not something I have had people tell us often. We testified that what we said was true and left her with a Restoration pamphlet and an invitation to come back. She was very thankful and I know that she noticed something different about the Church. I don’t know if she will come back next week, if she does we will really start teaching her. If not, then we have planted a seed. That is the great key of missionary work. That was an awesome experience. It energized me. It filled me with the Spirit so much. I am so thankful we had that wonderful opportunity.

Thank you again for the package though, the kids will love the glow sticks and rings I am sure! They always do!!! You guys are the absolute best people in the world!!!! Thanks for the pics too, I was not able to open the "sports shots." They are sized way too big to open here, I waited for like 5 mins and they were not even close to loading haha! But Adam looked sharp for his 1st day of school!!!  Thank you again for everything! I am healthy, happy and loving the work! I am so blessed to get to serve the Lord each and every day! I will for my whole life, but full time is a privilege and blessing! I know with all my heart this is His church. That is my humble witness. This is His work and I am so very blessed to be here. I love you so very much!!!! Have a good week and a great Labor Day!!!!