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 people...so 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 baptism...so 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!!!