Monday, December 28, 2009

Hanging Out With Some Children

Thanks for lending him a Christmas tie. Elder B. Elder Farnbach said it played music.

Elder Farnbach's 17th Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

I confess, talking on the phone was wonderful, but it sure made proselyting the next day difficult. The Zone Leaders came over, though, and that helped. They are, as we would say here, "tired". One was just released as AP because President only has missionaries serve 6 months at a time. The other is kinda the golden boy who we all assume will be AP one day, because he fast-tracked from DL to ZL in a single transfer. President always has one white, and one black AP. Anyway, they are both starting to get worn out from working all the time, so they watch a movie here, take an hour off there. Still some of the best teachers in the mission, but like I said... TIRED! This helped me to set my goal, though. I want to finish without ever getting "tired". That's the goal.
I had somewhere I was going with that... oh. I used my cheese and tortillas to make the ZLs breakfast burritos. I always try and teach that it's our job to help those above us, especially in the Church, where they don't receive much physical recompense. The ZLs usually miss a meal to do interviews or instruct us, so I always try and have something ready for them.
Being Senior has strained that slightly. Sunday was really discouraging, though. Most of those people that we ALWAYS count on to come... didn't. We have 3 baptismal dates right now, and only one showed up. We literally had a conversation like this.
Us: "This is the only true church"
Inv: "Oh, I know!"
Us: "That means that no other Church is true"
Inv: "Yes"
Us: "So if you want to be baptized, you shouldn't go to your old Church" [ instead of coming to this, your new church ]
Inv: "Oh, why?"
Anyway, we are really working our tails off to fix this transfers worth of baptisms, and the ZLs pointed out that we can plan one or two transfers out. We have names and people for 7 next transfer, and then, we are praying for 7 the transfer after that. Goals reflect the desires of our hearts, and frankly, we just want to help everybody. I've been having real moments where I would just love to see everybody be righteous, and it feels great... except when they are NOT!
We were invited to dinner at one of my recent converts house, and he's just got the coolest testimony. I am happy to report I've only had one person I've baptized go inactive so far :)
I really DON'T like the Camp [the Liberian refuge camp where he is serving ], though. It frustrates me how much people are willing to sit and let life be done to them, instead of doing something with life. I'll probably be here forever, though. Elder B. is almost finished training, and President doesn't like to leave people in their training areas. He also LOVES training new missionaries in the Camp, so Elder H. thinks I'll be here another 3-4 transfers. That's what we guessed about Abomosu, though, so hopefully...
Not really much else to say... I'm sorry to hear about Great-grandma Rose :( I know that it's a long shot, but I've always secretly been thinking about how cool it would be to introduce the girl I'm going to marry to Great-grandma Rose :P
What else... Sorry I am not writing more about my investigators, but I haven't grown really attached to any of them in my few weeks here, yet, especially with Christmas. We committed our entire investigator class to baptism, though, and that was like, 20 people. We need to follow up, of course, but we taught all about the baptismal covenant, and asked if they were willing to live up to their end, which they responded with a resounding "YES!" so here is hoping!
Also, we had a great lesson with a woman who can't speak English. We got approval, because her husband is a member. Anyway, I was teaching, but I'll be honest, sometimes you just don't think the Spirit will be there. Elder Holland said, though, that you are definitely teaching by the Spirit when you teach and learn something. I was talking about why God does what He does, and said "All of God's energy is focused on making us truly happy"... then paused for a second and thought "Wow! Why didn't I know that?!" I mean, He who is greatest among you, let him be your servant...? Never put two and two together like that before that day.

Love you all! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Go and serve somebody. There is no greater happiness.
Elder Farnbach

P.S Mom, does Elder Sullivan shoot home any updates? I haven't heard anything about him. Also, if possible, I'd love to here from Elder Sullivan, Elder Jones, Ex-Elder Winder, and Elder Mineer about any advice they have, especially when it comes to taking care of a junior elder.

Monday, December 21, 2009

December 21, 2009 #15

Dear Friends and Family,

So, I don't know how much my parents publicized the news, but I've been transferred again... back to Kasoa. Well, Kasoa Apartment. I'm now the senior companion in Buduburam, the Liberian Refugee camp. The area is sweet, and the apartment, missionary-wise is Zion. Elder H. and I are still pals, Elder B. and I get along well, and Elder H. trainee, Elder O. is seriously one of the most amazing missionaries in the field. I woke up this morning to freshly shined shoes... as did Elder H., Elder N. and Elder B.... Seriously, I just wanted to tackle the kid. He's the man. We just found out Elder N. will be transferred, though, so we have two new missionaries coming in... duh-duh-dun! Elder H. made the mistake of telling our converts I was back so we had about 10 FMs [ free meals ] to go to... that was awesome.

Elder B. is from Vancouver, and he knows the Gassaways. Brandon, this means you. His second day with me, he turned 20, so we went and dropped 30 cedis on 2 big pizzas and soda. I think it really loosened him up, plus "beef pizza" was nice. It's fun to see Elder Fi's converts, and be in my old zone with my old zone leaders. Every time we call our numbers in, the Zone Leaders give the phone to Elder F. and we chat about people he knew, and places we should go. That's actually been really helpful. Plus, I drop his name a few times, and the ward loves me.

Kasoa has changed a little since I got here. They completely got rid of the old market, which was CRAZY. Cops EVERYWHERE. [ Internet ] Cafe's still here, though, so what else matters? Don't know how much I'll be cooking, but President has specifically said I need to get Elder B. comfortable with the local food. He really is a good kid. Seven elders from his MTC have already gone home, 2 from this mission, 5 from Nigeria... and those 5 are all Africans. Where are they going home to? Anyway, so President said he wants me to spend a little extra time "Africanizing" him.

Being Senior Companion is weird. We are the youngest companionship on mission, and I've definitely felt the Spirit come in and make up for my deficiencies. We had our first companion study (which is extra hard since I've never had good companionship study training), and I just started saying things. I learned a lot right then. Personally, as a companionship, and as a mission we are working a lot on teaching by the Spirit. It was perfect. Back in Abomosu, I realized I needed to work on it... suddenly our Mission President decides we all need to listen to "The Divine Companionship" by Elder Holland. Every missionary needs to read it. Elder B. and I, even though we've only been together a few days, have already had spirit driven moments. As we went over our people, I started getting little feelings about people I've not even taught. "I think we can give Vincent and Esther a date." Elder B.: "I was JUST going to say that!" Plus, we had an awesome experience teaching Sister B., the ETERNAL progressing investigator of Buduburam. She had a serious concern about sealing, at least that was her question, so we started talking about it a little. I started teaching about how the gospel will bless her potential husband, even if he isn't accepting right now. Then, Elder B. comes in with a powerful testimony on her ability to share the gospel with them, and you could just see the change in her. What she asked wasn't what she needed to hear, but Elder B., by the Spirit, answered her secret question. There are many stories like this, and I'm sure we'll have more, but it's been wonderful.

Christmas will be interesting, thats for sure. Not sure how it will look in a refugee camp, and the missionaries aren't really expected to proselyte on that day. Many of my Kasoa families have told Elder H. they want Elder B. and me to come for Christmas. I'm just looking forward to calling home!

Love you all very much, and have a wonderful Christmas season. You do not know how much I think of and pray for all of you, and I look forward to coming home and spending the holidays with you. Right now, though, I have something very important to do. So important, that I'll let it take me away from the family and friends that I love.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!
Elder Farnbach

PS Elder Farnbach asked me to remind everyone of this. When you write him a letter, please please please make sure you put your address in the body of the letter. That is the only way he has it so that he can write back to you.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Elder B's Birthday Pizza

Elder B is Elder Farnbach's current companion. They celebrated Elder B's 20th Birthday at a pizza restaurant.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December 2, 2009 #14

Okay, I'll try and sum up everything as best as possible.
The work is crazy, and as follows. We have been assigned to the Abomosu district, the oldest district in the Church. This is not a good thing. Activity hovers around 30%. We have 5 branches: Abomosu, Asunafo, Asuom, Kwabeng and Senkubanse. Kwabeng and Asuom are on two hour schedules, but the zeal for missionary work is refreshing. President Amu was not able to serve a mission, so I think that really bothers him. He is trying to make up for lost time. We've been spending one day in each area, and on Sundays, we rotate. We spend about 1 to 1.5 hours training the branch missionaries and having correlation meeting. We have a meeting EVERY day.

We just found out at President interviews today that we've been doing the work all wrong. We've been having them find, and we teach. We are instead supposed to be training all the branch missionaries to teach. This means splits, every day. My current companion is, as president says, "The Best in the Mission." The goal is to make this district a stake by the end of 2010. The only thing in our way is 300 baptisms... Active baptisms. Each branch has been charged to do 5 at least, but Abomosu is about 4 times as big as Asuom, so we'll be adjusting our goals accordingly. This means every month we need to be doing 25 baptisms.

This has been a dream come true, to be honest. It has nothing to do with baptisms, but rather that I have the chance to work so much with Church leadership, and building a stake of Zion, just like the pioneers. The Spirit, where people are willing to work, is SO strong. I'm going to be honest. The goal is not too huge. Never mind that these people haven't had A baptism since the missionaries left a year ago. The past is past. I just feel as though the Lord has a special purpose for this place. Every branch missionary, every branch president, leader, investigator, and missionary has been prepared and placed for what will be a perfect storm of missionary work. The wilderness will blossom like a rose, just as was promised, and Zion will be firmly established. I only pray that the Lord will suffer me to stay for a long time (Also, Asuom should be getting internet before the end of the month, so the only con will melt away.)

I've been working to seek the Lord's guidance in everything. I've just finished Jesus the Christ and Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and for a few moments, I caught a glimpse of the entirety of the Plan. Elder LaGrand Richards talk "Missionaries Experiences" helped to. The Bible is not a blue print for a church. It is not the complete plan, by any stretch, but it is more then a patchwork of lives and stories. The Scriptures, the Priesthoods, the Principles, the Prophets, the Commandments... everything is encompassed as part of one grand whole. A single piece of fabric, with no loose ends. How blessed are we, to be living in this, the Fullness of Times, when all things are gathered into One in Christ?! And what a Fullness!! A Fullness of Peace! A Fullness of Joy! Of Happiness and Love! Oh, the mercy of the Father towards the human family!! Remembering this makes my part seem so small, but I want to do all I can to take this Fullness to others.

What else again? I feel like I should end with that. It is a spiritual high like I've never felt. I've noticed that, like Elder Jones, even when I can't understand, I can recognize when Truth, real Gospel Truth is being taught.

The house we are in is wonderful, except the spiders are about as big as my stretched-out palm. We've killed 15 so far, and chased about a dozen lizards out of our kitchen. We also killed a rat.

Elder Abu is Hyrum Smith. The horrible things he had to go through to earn his testimony makes me feel honored to work along side him. We also have a wonderful couple next to us, Elder and Sister Terry, from LA. They have been such blessings. They've served 3 missions in Africa so far -- Tanzania, South Africa, and here. Sister Terry memorizes EVERY leaders name, and picks up Twi fast. Elder Terry does not. They promised, for Christmas we'll be having tacos. I wanted to cry.

I received mail this last transfer. There can never bee too many, but it was a LOT! Thank you so much! Being cut off out here in the Bush has really taken its toll on me, and getting such a wonderful outpouring of love and support is just what the doctor ordered.

What else... I haven't learned MUCH more Twi, but I received an audio CD from the Mission Home to teach me. The Office Elders find all sorts of cool stuff from forever ago, and if you know when and what to ask, you can get a lot of cool stuff.

Love you all! Please, as part of New Year's Resolutions, remember missionary work. Everyone needs to know what you know.

Elder Farnbach

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Eating w/ Senior Missionaries in Abomosu

Elder Farnbach was in heaven because he was able to eat cheese for the first time in 4 months.

Monday, November 16, 2009

November 16, 2009 #13

Dear Friends and Family,

Okay, so we may be able to come to the cafe 2 out of every 3 weeks. Every three weeks we HAVE to go to Koforidua for interviews/conference. We'll be able to do that, and it's only a 2 hour, 3 stop, 5 cedi trip to the cafe, so we'll do that one other week, I think. Abomosu is pretty awesome, lack of internet aside. We live in a HOUSE provided by Elder and Sister Abu, two pioneers of the Church.

It turns out Abomosu is one of the oldest places for the Church in Ghana. Elder Abu organized all the district himself a few decades ago, and it was basically as bad for him as it was Joseph Smith. Several times, militias armed with AK-47s harrassed him. He was falsely accused of selling Ghanaian gold and diamonds to the American missionaries that were here, and he was jailed, threatened, and extorted on numerous occasions. This is the same man who came down on our first day, told us we could eat anything on his farm, wanted to make sure we had mosquito nets, and sends dinner to us every night, because he is worried we'd be uncomfortable in the Bush.

I'm incredibly humbled to work with this man and his wife. They both have been through so much, and I get to help build the Church with them. As for our mission up here... more details are available. Elder Mensah and I have been assigned to the District, so we are in charge of orchestrating the missionary efforts of 5 branches. The District President is an RM, as are his counselors, and has been begging for missionaries for the last year, year and a half. They are incredibly willing to help. They've set us up with a meeting with ALL the Branch Presidents, Mission Leaders, and missionaries on Saturday.

If all goes well, the Bush will be open for missionary work, and not just one companionship, but many. This area will be a stake next year. That is the goal President Snith has set. He explained to us that we were sent because President Cardon, of the 70, has been pressuring him to send missionaries to work with the Branches. He was uncomfortable with neglecting what is supposed to be under President's direct guidance. The missionaries were originally pulled because, despite all the baptisms here, attendance did NOT grow. At all. We've been directed that the people we are baptizing are supposed to be fluent English speakers and readers. They are to be the core of new Stake Leadership up here.

I'm trying to be as humble about this as I can, but basically, Elder Mensah and I are setting up a whole Stake of Zion. If this fails, it will be closed for a long time. President has told us on more then one occasion that his choice of missionaries to send here took a LOT of prayer and fasting. Transfers normally are called for around 8, but we didn't hear until 9:30 because President wanted to be SURE. The most interesting aspect of this to me is that there is a Greenie among us. We all could have been sent a transfer earlier, if it was just our gifts that were needed. What part will Elder Withers play? I am anxious to see.

Elder Mensah and I have basically come up with the idea that the branch missionaries are going to be part of the Abomosu District Mission, under Elder Mensah. We are going to get them Preach My Gospel ready, because we can only spend one workday in each branch. When we come, we need a list of people to teach, times, and Branch Missionaries to work with us. When we are gone, they are to visit once or twice, and get them to Church. This is a mind-boggling level of work, and I'm incredibly excited for it.

As for Pposelyting, the towns shut down at 6, and no one gets home (from their farms) until like, 12:00 or 1. This will either be the greatest period of spiritual growth or stagnation on my mission. I study a LOT, but until we get the organization up, we really can't do much in the way of teaching. Going around Abomosu has been pretty ineffective, as no one speaks English. We focus mostly on the teachers.

Our house is nice, but the tap water is horrible, and the power goes out every time it rains, which is every day. I am happy to have dodged the Harmattan, though. Spiders about the size of my hand and fireflies are every where. And we have those ants I saw on National Geographic that form huge road-ways with big soldiers ants on either side that just devour anything that happens to fall in them. This is the coolest place on the mission, by far, and if the new couple (Elder and Sister Terry) have a washing machine and internet in their house (which is actually REALLY possible) then it will be PERFECT.

Oh, really quick last thing. Elder Mensah was trained by Elder Frei, whose little brother was Elder Jones' last companion, as far as I can tell from his letters. Crazy, huh?

I'll write some actual letters to make up the difference, but I love you all! Take care, and have a wonderful holiday season!

Elder Farnbach

P.S. don't forget to write!!! (Especially AAAAA and BBBBB, who STILL have not written me!! Alma 60:6, you two!)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Isn't she adorable?!?

November 9, 2009 #12

Dear Family and Friends,
So this week has been pretty crazy. On Monday, because of problems with the power, we were not able to watch conference like we'd hoped, but we managed to see Elder Holland's AWESOME talk. I taught nothing but the Book of Mormon for a whole week. We also had some amazing instruction by our ZLs, APs and President at Zone Conference. Elder Southwick (ZL) gave an awesome instruction on simplifying the Plan of Salvation into the two laws of judgment: Justice and Mercy. It was mind-opening. Elder McGrath, the senior AP, also gave a great instruction on the same topic, but with regards to the use of Agency. God wants us to be free. Satan wants us to be in bondage, but tempts us to "prove" our freedom, ultimately leading us into captivity. It was very similar to Elder Oaks "Love of God, Law of God" idea. (the ONE talk we saw at Church.) President also gave another powerful instruction on the Book of Mormon. "Anyone who is intellectually and morally honest CANNOT overlook the Book of Mormon until they've read it."

President actually asked the zone to lower their goals because we did so well. We got 97% of our baptism goal as a mission, which is 25% more then usual... and as a zone we did 42 baptisms. Our goal went up to 52, and I still think we could have done it. Kasoa 1 is going for another strong 8.

Our ward is moving towards getting a Ward Mission Plan together. If anyone wants to send me a letter what those are supposed to look/be like, that would be great. I've never seen one, and unfortunately, neither has our bishop.

We had an awesome lesson with Peter A. Our District Instruction was all about just listening, and not worrying about what you will teach. As we talked to him, we saw the real depth of his financial problems, and how it's affecting his family. He's been missing Church to take small jobs to make a few cedis to feed them. As I listened though, I had the distinct, specific impression that if Peter would just show his faith, come to Church the next two weeks, and be baptized, this would go away. I don't just mean the general "Do the right thing and God will bless you", I mean "Elder Farnbach, Peter needs to come to church, so I can take care of this problem."

The Q. family has also been doing fantastic. We had to push their baptism back, to beyond when I would be here, sadly, but it's because the father wants to be baptized with his children, who were always at school during our lessons.

Frank A., was just baptized him on Saturday. He's the coolest kid (he's 26, actually...). Also, he gave us President Mill's (the president of Ghana) cell-phone number. We'll be placing a Book of Mormon shortly. I am not even kidding.

We also have one family that I really love. Mary A. It's so sad. She's been coming to church for 4 months and desperately working on her English and reading so she can be baptized... except we just found out her abusive husband has a second wife. She CANNOT be baptized until he splits with one.

All right, now for the big news. I've been transferred. I'm opening a new area in the BUSH. It's a place called Abomosu. Most of my ward right now doesn't know where that is. I have been told by the APs that I will have to become fluent in Twi, and that my companion and I will be the only ones out there. Also, my Senior Companion will also be the Zone Leader. The advantages... it's out in the mountains, so the Harmattan* won't hit me. Downsides: No internet for the next 4.5-6 months. I'll really need the letters, everyone :/

This whole transfer will be crazy. All but 13 of the 60 companionships are being changed. 7 new areas are being opened. The missionary work here is exploding! Elder Hicks, Elder Fisher, Elder Bills and I celebrated by going to a LEGIT restaurant out in Liberia Camp called TripleX. I had a cheeseburger and fries. It was awesome!! Then, we went down and played on one of those merry-go-rounds the BYU engineers built to generate electricity for the schools and orphanages. I'll have some pictures and videos of that soon. (on his facebook page)

OH! Mail Day! I finally got Marta's letter, and with any luck, I'll shoot off a response on Transfer day.

Love you all very much! Wish me luck!

Elder Farnbach

* Harmattan

The Harmattan is a dry and dusty West African trade wind. It blows south from the Sahara into the Gulf of Guinea between the end of November and the middle of March (winter).

On its passage over the desert it picks up fine dust particles (between 0.5 and 10 micrometers)

In some countries in West Africa, the heavy amount of dust in the air can severely limit visibility and block the sun for several days, comparable to a heavy fog. The effect caused by the dust and sand stirred by these winds is known as the Harmattan haze, and costs airlines millions of dollars in canceled and diverted flights each year. The interaction of the Harmattan with monsoon winds can cause tornadoes.

Monday, November 2, 2009

November 2, 2009 #11

Dear Family and Friends,
So this last week has been kind of interesting. Last week, we were not able to visit everyone we wanted to. We were crammed for time, even teaching 30 lessons. This week, appointment after appointment failed. We had to stop visiting a huge number of investigators. Time after time, people have begged us to come to their house, but refuse to even visit the church. Everyone seems to think that our sole purpose as missionaries is to hold Bible studies. One woman asked how she could get really good at "Quotations", and then seemed really disappointed when I said "Have you READ the Bible before?" There are no short-cuts to the gospel, plain and simple. I invited her to read, even just 5 minutes every day, and she would understand what was all those street preachers were yelling over their megaphones. No dice. We told her we would not be able to come back until she started coming to church. She then asked when we would be coming back... Oi...

Sadly we did not get to watch General Conference, and frankly, I'm kinda steamed about it. For whatever reason, they announced no power from 10-5 in Kasoa over the radio for the day we were supposed to watch. We had a day's notice, so we called the 2nd counselor, and told him. He assured us he would take care of it. We still managed to contact a recent covert, and they said if we needed, we could use their generator. That night, we called the 2nd counselor "We already have one." "Are you sure? We've got someone willing to help" "It's okay, we've got it."
Sunday: No generator. The power goes off at 10, like we said, and they scrambled and rented a generator that was too small. Then they tried to power the TV alone (no one got a projector either), and blew it out. Great.... So we got the DVDs, and we'll be chipping away at it with our investigators over the week. We may even get to see Priesthood session. Here is hoping anyway. (PS, Elder H. has been here for two General Conference weekends and has yet to see either.)

Transfers are coming up. On Saturday we find out. With any luck, I'll have one more transfer here in Kasoa. Elder H. and I have been solid companions, and we've another 8-14 baptisms, especially the Q. family (Teacher). The man has already started paying tithing and fast offerings. We've given each of the children a Book of Mormon, and his sister-in-law came to church with her fast offering all set in an envelope, and THEN asked us to explain what it was. What faith!
On the other side, the A. family is within the danger-drop zone. They've not come to church for almost 4 weeks, even though we go every Saturday night to remind them. I'm starting to understand how the Lord of the Vineyard felt in Jacob 5:41. What more could we have done? The only way we'll find relief is if the answer is "Nothing."

Zone conference is coming up soon, and we'll be getting mail that day! Always always my favorite part of the month. Hopefully I'll be getting that letter from Elder Jones. I'd hate to be chastised again :P

As for the Atacks, I can't even imagine how that must feel. I'm praying constantly for her. Yes, a brain tumor is horrible, but how blessed are we that it isn't inherently inoperable? This could be taken care of in a way that it may be completely forgotten and unnoticed. I'll tell you, that's not how it would be down here. Tell the Atacks that they are in my prayers.

Handwritten letters [I asked if he wished I wrote more of them.]... on the one hand, I would love to get a ton of handwritten letters, but I understand how difficult it may be to find time. If possible, I would love them. If not, Dear Elders are nice. You may check with other elders, but I think our mission homes all print them, and ours for whatever reason uses paper that is too large, and so it prints a small paragraph on the back.

I've also been reading the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. It helps so much, because a lot of the questions he was asking and answering were products of his time and the situation in which he was in, which as Dad and I talk about, is really similar to the religious atmosphere here in Ghana. I can also tell the difference between my studies when I DO and when I don't have the Spirit with me.

OH! Speaking of, we are teaching someone from another religion. It's fascinating to watch the gospel click and make sense to him, and then his past beliefs have to fight it. "This makes perfect sense... and is completely contrary to everything I believed!!" He assuaged his conscience by giving us literally 7 copies of his religious materials, which we read, and read back to him. Seriously, Hans, try to find the Day of Defense. It is handy, but more so, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

So I've written a fair amount of letters, and I will have a few more I'll be writing before Wednesday. I'll probably send off about 8 this week. I hope to be able to write back to everyone when I have more time.

Love you all!

Elder Farnbach

PS You should really try to find that “Joseph, a Nashville Tribute” album. There are a few songs I REALLY love on it. My favorite is called American Dreams. The line that strikes me "Somewhere there's a prophet, in a place they call Kirtland, and he's building a temple to worship my God."
As you listen, you can hear the almost exhausting sense of joy the person is feeling. I wish everyone had that zeal. The heavens really ARE open again, and the phrase "My God" has such an awesome meaning to it. He is. Simply put, the Lord is not just God. I chose him. Many people worship money, or the Bible, their jobs, their cars, what have you. The Lord is My God. I want everyone to say that to themselves as they think about prayer, faith, repentance, worship and church. Why are you at church? I go to worship MY God.

Monday, October 26, 2009

October 26, 2009 #10

Dear Family and Friends,
So, this week has been a good one. Of the 11 potential baptisms we could have had, we managed to get 8. This means we exceeded our goal by 1 for the transfer. 8 itself was pretty high, but Kasoa district managed to exceed as a whole, even though ours was the only district to INCREASE our goal this transfer. Two of the daughters of Robert, the man we baptized last time, were baptized, as well as Isaac A. and 3 of his children. The youngest, Gladys, was in tears, she was so afraid of the water. No one here swims, so it's a frequent problem. The water was up to her neck as it was.

Wait, did I say this week was good? Only because of the end. Tuesday, our PolyTank broke, and all our water started spilling out. So Elder H. and I, and our Muslim neighbors started drawing water from the slowly draining tank and filling everything that could hold water in the apartment. We managed to get enough to get us through a few days. The tank was fixed and filled again the next day, thank goodness. Elder H. took a sweet picture of me balancing a good 10 gallons on my head.

THEN on Friday night, our bishop called at about 5:30 to say that there was no water for the baptism. The water guy he called said the RIVER IN KASOA DRIED UP. Yeah... so we spent a good hour or so tracking down water. We found a guy who would do it at just under double the usual price, because he had to go out to Malam junction, which is at least a good hour away, 3 with traffic. The mission president gave us the go-ahead to pay the difference if the ward couldn't, but only after he called the stake president and GAVE IT to him. Man, I do not want to be on the receiving end of THAT.

At 9:00 the night before (when Ghana is completely asleep) we got a call saying the water still wasn't there. President then told us to call the Kaneshie elders and arrange to Tro-Tro all our people there (another 50 minutes, hour and a half at it's worst) and baptize there. We do not mess around with baptism on this mission. Bishop even used that in the talk afterwards. I will say this. Our ward may not help much on referrals or member present lessons, but they LOVE the missionaries. Then, at about 6, we were told "the water is in the font." I could finally relax that day... until I realized people still had to show up. One family was there two hours early. This was a nice change from the father's usual hour late. Everyone BUT the A. family was baptized... and the following day, confirmed, again with no shortage or nerves on our part. It was saddening, a bit, when I realized my first thought was "we got our goal" and not "salvation for 8 people." Numbers are really hard to look at properly, but we try.

Elder Fi. and I went on splits on Thursday. That was awesome! We taught a respectable 6 lessons that day, and found 5 new investigators. We'll see if any bear fruit though. That week, we managed to teach a total of 29 lessons, not including recent convert lessons.

On Sunday, we had some awesome instruction by the Stake President as to what our ward can do to prepare for Stake Conference coming up, and why we have them. It really further strengthened my testimony of the organization of the Church, the importance of fulfilling our callings, and recognizing who has been given authority to do what. The Prep lesson was not just “fast and pray”, which was handy. He asked people to estimate the cost for travel, and save it up. He reminded them there would be no water provided, and people with young children would probably want to bring snacks.

It was hilarious to watch him fend off attacks by the ward. People first complained that General Conference was transcribed, why not Stake Conference? Why was the whole thing going to be done in English? Was the place going to be air conditioned? It was frustrating. In Ghana, people look at Churches the way liberals look at Governments, especially ours, because everyone thinks the Church is LOADED (which it is...) Every answer he gave, though, required the members to do things themselves. Take your own notes. Sit next to someone who can speak your language AND English. If you get hot easy, you should come early, and to obtain a seat under a fan. Can you do that if you come late? NO! The real lesson I learned from this was the Church is not there to ensure the exaltation of each of its members. Most Church policies, rules, and procedures constitute a minimum standard! The Church gives its members the opportunity to lift where they stand, if you will. Rise up, magnify your callings, and exercise your agency in a way to earn your own salvation.

Elder Golden, of the area presidency, will be speaking. Hopefully, and from what all the missionaries are saying, I'll only have one more transfer here in Kasoa.

Next mail day is the 4th of November.

Sunday night, we celebrated Elder B.'s 20th birthday. He is the greeny, and older then everyone in the District except his own companion. We had a double batch of no-bakes, and splurged on a 2 liter Fan-Gold ice cream (it was chocolate chip). It cost something like 10 cedis, but hey, the boy was fresh, and you only get 2 birthdays on mission. The ice cream itself was a little weak... it was like it had been melted and refrozen a thousand times, but we all enjoyed as a district.

Then, for breakfast, Elder Fi. and I managed to make strawberry syrup (thanks for the idea, Dad!) and banana pancakes again. This is probably why I gain weight on an African mission...

Elder B. sadly woke up really really sick today. Sister Smith doesn't want us to tell him, but she doesn't think it's malaria. That's right. In Africa, Malaria is the BEST case scenario.

Things you should try if you were going to eat Ghanaian food (ask Sister Phillips to show you, maybe... in order of what would be easiest to adjust to first.)
1.) Red Red
2.) Omotuo and Palmnut soup (palmnut is hard to make, though)
3.) Banku and Groundnut soup
4.) Fufu and light soup
5.) Awkbilly (spelling?) and Okra stew.
6.) Kenke (ask for the Ga kind, and not the Fante kind) and fish
7.) Eba

Most American elders hate the banku, but it's not bad. Eba is the first native food obrunies usually eat, but I'm already sick of it.

As for meat... the big problem is no one distinguishes meats here. There is “fish”, and “meat”. The fish is all right, the beef is pretty good, the chicken is bland, the crab is really good, but you have to chew through the shell... and I've yet to see any pork that isn't SPAM (MAN! that was a good idea, Mom!)

In two weeks, we'll be on transfers again. Two down, 14-15 to go (depending on if they send us home with President or not).

As for really spiritual stuff, we've been continuing on the President's Challenge to reread the Book of Mormon and color code the scriptures. 2nd Nephi makes me hate life as I try and mark it, but some of it is really good. The scattering and gathering of Israel feels more like a personal history, now that I understand it, and reading the Joseph Smith Translation ties all the prophets together well. We've also been trying to apply it to our teaching, by emphasizing the BoM as a separate lesson to our investigators. It needs to be READ! I can't remember who said it, now, but one General Authority our president quotes often points out that whenever we ask someone to read the Book of Mormon, we are doing them a favor. Elder Holland also points out anyone who wants to dismiss 500 some pages of clearly historically, culturally accurate, and doctrinally consistent material clearly has to swallow an elephant.

We had a missionary from another religion interrupt a lesson, and read Luke 16:16 to us to “prove” there are no more prophets. We took the high road and suggested prayer to confirm the answer.

Oh, that is one more thing. As I've read Jesus the Christ, Talmage points out that part of Christ's skill as a teacher was using his surroundings to illustrate his points. We've been working really hard as an obruny-obruny companionship to do just that. Matthew 16:19 helps illustrate the importance of the priesthood and from whom the priesthood came. We point out "Can people hire themselves?" because of the job crisis here. I would say it's the only tool we have because so many people here can't understand our English at ALL!

Love you all very much!

Elder Farnbach

Monday, October 19, 2009

October 19, 2009 #9

Dear Family and Friends,
So, I've decided putting a subject will give you a sense of what exactly is going on. This was the first time we were allowed to go to the temple since the MTC. As we learned in Mission Prep, the Temple is like Mission Interviews, except with the Savior. The night before, I was pondering over my work so far. We left Kasoa at 4:30 to try to arrive at the mission home at 7:30. We made it in RECORD time, and got there an hour early, so we had a nice opportunity to chill with some other missionaries.

We first had our district interview. It was a wonderful lesson in Humility for Elder Farnbach. I was coming to report some serious bumper crops. We've always managed to get our contacting goal (President DEMANDS 140 contacts each week) and our New Investigator Goal (9) each week. We quite literally have more investigators then we can handle. We were not able to see everyone this week, which is mentally frustrating. I was coming to talk about our wonderful families who are getting ready to be baptized, and how well we were working as a companionship to manage each aspect of the "Bucket-to-Bucket" mentality President always teaches. But, as we were receiving instruction, and as I was preparing to go in for my personal interview with President, I got the most horrible sinking feeling in my stomach. The Spirit was very clear with me; I am not where I should be. In the interview, President was very direct with me on how I can improve. After some small questions, and looking over my planner and study (the President's challenge I mentioned earlier), he was able to discern a lot of weaknesses in my work. As I sat in the temple afterwards, I came to an important realization. I am not here to be better than the others have been. I'm not held up to a "Mission Average" standard. When push comes to shove, if I could be doing better, and am not, the Lord is not pleased. It is not enough to say "I'm doing everything well EXCEPT this, which is still a cut above everyone else.". It is those pet sins that will be read at Judgment Day. President was very good at saying " This is not to say you are doing poorly by any stretch. But we must do better. I'm very disappointed, Elder, but I don't want you to get down. I want it to drive you to improve." And to be honest, it did. In my prayers, I constantly ask the Lord to drag me to the depths of my humility. I expect rebukes time and again on this mission. As I read the stories of Nephi and the Brother of Jared, I'm struck by how low their opinions of themselves are. "Oh what a wretched man am I." And what about the 3 HOUR tongue-lashing the Lord gives the Brother of Jared? Didn't this guy move a mountain because of his faith? And SEE the Lord?

That's really interesting about the Church in Ghana. [ I told him that we learned from a Ghanaian man of another faith that our church was granted permission to be in Ghana because the first man to join our church was the brother of the then current President of Ghana. ] We just met with some members who joined before the Freeze, and they explained the whole situation. Because of the priesthood, even after the Church was allowed, Ghana was always leery of the Church. When the Church sent a ton of books over for the Church Libraries, the Ghanaian Government accused the Church of sending ammunition for a coup. For a few years, the Church was not allowed to meet or anything. The chapels were patrolled by soldiers and everything. There are plenty of stories of these men, walking into the chapel and lighting a cigarette, only to hear a voice shout, "People in this room do not smoke!" A lot of people stayed strong, but the persecution got really bad. One LDS surgeon was photographed walking out of surgery with blood on his face-mask, and the national newspapers printed that Mormons drink blood. Even though it was 20 years ago, we still have that problem.

One of our investigators boys got caned at school because the headmaster asked what religion all the students were, and he said, “LDS.” As the Headmaster assaulted the Church, the little 11 year old valiantly stated it wasn't true, and was whipped for it. He had told the boy previously that he would challenge the missionaries anytime. We initially were going to do our best to stay away, but Elder Hicks and I both agreed to give this boy a Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlet with our number on it. If this were to come up again, he should just direct him to the pamphlet, and have the headmaster call us. I'm not here to contend, but if you, masquerading as a man of God (the man is also a pastor) will indoctrinate your students at school, and beat those who dare oppose you, you're going to stand judgment for it. Whether by stern rebuke from Elders Farnbach and H., or at the Last Day, when the boy stands before the Savior and bears witness against you.

What else happened this week... oh, of course, I got the package and mail! I dearly love you, Mommy, and everyone who has been writing! Unfortunately, we tried a new internet cafe today that won't let me send pictures. I will next week. They include a few of me, running my fingers through power bars, spam, drink mixes and candy. It was all perfect, Mom. The drink mixes and Spam were especially awesome. Cinnamon is ALWAYS appreciated, too :) My district all thinks I'm a health-nut, though. Everyone else gets packages full of candy. Elder Farnbach gets protein bars and South-Beach diet drink mixes? Hahaha BTW, what is the Garlic for? Anyway, the earliest letter from this set was sent Sept 13th. I still didn't get Marta's letter :/ and there are references in one “Dear Elder” from Kat Bennet to a letter I've not received yet, either. (I got two addendum's to a letter I've not received... haha). I would say, if Dear Elder is the only way you can really get time/afford letters to me, keep doing it, but if you can manage, hand written letters sent to the pouch via the PO Box in Salt Lake City may be more reliable.

As for Papa, I wrote him and Grammy a letter, and in it I've asked him to ask Dad for a blessing. I also sent a letter to Uncle Tracy and April. Claire still has a letter sitting in my bag, because I don't have her address [he has it as of today].

I'm going to send this, and look over the e-mails I've gotten to make sure I answer any other questions...

Other interesting things I've just remembered. I finally managed to check my weight on mission. I've gained 15 lbs. Yeah... I blame the fact that even though I bike everywhere, it is really a step down from the physical activity I had pre-mission...

This last week they had the Under 20 World Cup for Soccer, and Ghana won, beating Brazil. We made the mistake of attempting to teach a lesson during the game. EVERY time Ghana scored, the whole country erupted. We were in a sleepy little neighborhood, and yet you literally couldn't hear yourself talk for a good 3 minutes at a time when they scored. They would poke their heads out every time and say "Obruny! We score you!" Finally my companion stood up and said "Do we look Brazilian to you? " It was hilarious.

I just thought of something. For the Missionary Moms' list, I figured you'd want to know how different gears were holding up. First of all, of the three brands of shirts I have, the Tommy Travellers [ from Nordstrom's Rack ] hold up best. They get dirty a little easier then those Joseph and Feiss [ from Men's Warehouse ] ones, but they wash out better. The Nordstrom's shirt [ again from The Rack ] is probably the worst. It gets dirty easily, and does not wash out well at all. Elder Fisher's shirts, Stafford's High Performance wear, seam to holding up wonderfully, though Liberia camp is not nearly as dusty as Kasoa. [ We learned that Elder Farnbach's bishop commented to the missionaries that they aren't keeping their white shirts very white. He asked if they would like someone to show them how. I am not sure how white I could keep a shirt that I wear frequently, only wash on Mondays, and wash in a bucket, too boot. :) ]

The Zipper Belt from the Missionary Mall, even though it is 100% leather, is already experiencing some bad wear-and-tear. Elder Hicks is falling apart, badly, and will probably be unusable in a transfer. Mine is starting to show the same signs.
As Missionaries get more experienced here, they use smaller and smaller bags. Messenger bags are a clear favorite among those who have been in Ghana longer, and if they can carry your own scriptures, an extra BoM, and a few pamphlets, it is big enough.
The washboard I have is handy, but the wood is eroding slightly. Plastic or metal may handle better.

I miss you tons but always remember, I am doing important work, and will be home when it is done -
not one minute sooner, or later.


Elder Farnbach

Monday, October 12, 2009

October 12, 2009 #8

What do you want Seth ( a friend visiting Ghana) to bring?

I'm thinking cheese thus far, but let me ponder one more week.
Is there anything you are running low on?
Not yet. Cinnamon is always a good idea, though.
Did you receive your package?
I pick it up on Friday.
Do they have a nursery in your ward and do they have the relatively new spectacular nursery manual?
They DON'T have a nursery, actually. Part of this basic stake program, I guess. We just lost our first counselor in the bishopric, too.
How is your highlighter lead lasting you?
It's alright. Some just started breaking, though. Probably around my birthday next year, I'll need some.
Do you need the sunglasses that we bought in Provo? I can't remember which pair was for you and which for Hans.
I could use a pair.

Alright, as for actual updates...

This was the worst week in the mission, by far. Saturday, we were supposed to have a baptism of 17 people between three companionships. 1 from Kasoa 2 didn't show. All from Buduburam showed and... 7 of the 8 from Kasoa 1 (us) didn't show. I was SO angry, and then the APs came to the baptism. I wanted to die a little bit. They told me, flat out, President has been suspicious of our numbers, and frankly, they have good reason. I looked over all our dates. Some, we've only taught once, maybe twice. Isaac A., father of 3 of our candidates, sprung an abortion problem on us the Sunday before we were slated to baptize him, but we managed to get the interview the DAY before. We visited each of our families, the Ak. AND the Ai. the night before, and they were all set to be there. The next morning... Neither family showed up. Oi, I felt so useless as a missionary. What else could we have done?! I don't know!!! So we visited them both that day. Peter had to go to a funeral it seems, and Isaac got called to work. We rescheduled both for the baptism we were already planning to have on the 24th, so here is hoping. Then, the next day, 2/3s of our usual investigators at church didn't show. I had NO will power to go out that day, but go out we did. Then, at Church, we had a TON of referrals. At the end of the week planning, we noticed, we managed to meet all our goals that we were in control of, and that last Sunday, we found another family to start teaching. We are really hoping to see this bear fruit, but I feel very confident that this was our reward for doing our part. It was incredibly frustrating, but I think this is why my blessing said "remember, though, that they have their agency."

The new elders have been just fine so far in the district. Elder Bi. has lost 5 inches in his waste in the last two weeks. Elder H.... well, we get along awesome. I'm seeing among the white elders that the longer they stay in Ghana, the more racist they get... I'm really hoping that doesn't happen to me. Elder Fi. and I have found baking powder, and can now make legitimate banana/plantain pancakes. Elder Bi. got some Ketchup (what a GREENIE! Hahaha) and we made this rice and egg dish that was awesome. I'm eating just fine.

I also really got to strut my stuff at the market today. My Twi is not great, but I can bargain prices down a bit now. I'll try and include my how-to video today, but no promises.

Elder A. (a local) just monkeyed around with our power-meter, because he had some small schooling in "electricals"... now, we have no power, and he's potentially facing a huge fine... Seriously, that kid... anyway.

I'm supposed to be studying more in the Book of Mormon, but I find Jesus the Christ absolutely fascinating. I'm going to see if I can find the quotes I loved so much. "Why did Saul allow Samuel to beard him in the very presence of his army?... why did Ahab not dare to arrest Elijah at the doors of Naboth's vineyard? Because sin is weakness. Because there is in this world nothing so abject as a guilty conscience, nothing so invincible as the sweeping tide of a Godlike indignation against all that is base and wrong. How could these paltry sacrilegious buyers and sellers, conscious of wrongdoing, oppose that scathing rebuke, or face the lightning of those eyes that were enkindle by an outraged holiness?... Vice cannot stand a moment before Virtue's uplifted arm."

That and "He, who often wept with compassion, at other times evinced in word and action the righteous anger of a God. But of all His passions, no matter how gently they rippled or strongly surged, He was ever master."

And think of the temptations He faced! It is easy to forget, because He was perfect, but consider this. If Satan can get you to fall, he gets a few souls. If he could get Christ to sin, even ONCE, we were all doomed. The whole plan would collapse. The reward for it was infinitely worth the effort.

What else to write... Oh, we haven't watched conference yet. It's recorded, and passed around the wards. We will be watching one session from Saturday and one from Sunday. We should be getting it in a few weeks. I REALLY miss it.

I've been recently facing a question a lot that I'm not sure how to explain. "Is the Church why America is so blessed?" I try and play this down, but the questioner continued. "In your place, they build skyscrapers that we can only dream of. I imagine, when you go home, you will drive. Is it because our fathers were pagans? We are we so cursed?"
What do I say to that? Yes, as we read the Book of Mormon, we see that righteousness can lead to temporal blessings, and America has a special place in the Lord's plan. But can I say that we are truly so righteous as to deserve our place as a world power?
At the same time, however, can I say that Ghana is entirely UNDESERVING of some of it's afflictions? The marriage custom here drives almost EVERY person over the age of 18 to fornication and adultery. The "traditions of their fathers" validate the beating of children, and resist the slightest change that could improve their lives. I remember my last (Ghanaian) companion ridiculing someone for having an answering machine on his phone. The average person on the street cannot afford FOOD, but will scape together a few measly Cedis to buy a few minutes on his old cellphone. At times, I feel like I'm teaching Lamanites, which is why I think the success is so great. It's funny though. To the average Ghanaian, thus far, the land itself is cursed, due to their father's beliefs. It is so hard for Patriotic me to handle this question, and it breaks my heart to see these people feel as though the Lord may have forgotten them.

Yah, other then that, I don't know what else to say...
I love you all, very much. Please continue to pray and read your scriptures daily. Fulfill your callings.

Love one another, and give freely. I think that's really all it will take to find happiness in this life, and the next.

Onyame Shrowww, (not sure of the spelling, but it means God Bless in Twi)

Elder Farnbach

Monday, October 5, 2009

October 5, 2009 #7

Dear Family and Friends, 10/5/09

It's been another great week in the vineyard here. TRANSFERS!! That is probably the most important thing. Elder H., as apparently Mom already knows is from Utah, just outside Richfield. He attended a semester at the U before he came out here, and is seriously hoping for redemption by serving a good, hard mission here in Africa. He's served in 4 areas in that time, which is kinda crazy. He's been in Koforidua, which is the closest area we have in the bush thus far. He got kicked out 2 weeks before a transfer, though, because the land-lady wouldn't extend the lease, so he spent two works opening an area in Nungua (sic?). Apparently, opening an area is a pain, but the kid really knows how to work, so that's good. We've also been able to clean out, and keep a legitimate area book, and start getting our people home-teachers because we both agree, working with the ward is super-important. For all of you IN a ward, ask your missionaries/ward mission leader what you can do to help. I promise, they will ALWAYS be understaffed, and the blessings are just huge.

I've just found out that about 90% of the mission doesn't bother proselyting on Monday, and 85% don't bother on Sunday. And we wonder why baptisms are down. Kasoa, as I'm finding out, is really the hard-core area of the work. All our companionships go out on Sunday AND Monday, I'm proud to say. And, we are the ONLY district to increase our baptismal and new investigator goals in the whole McCarthy Hills Zone. The work really goes forward splendidly here, and it sounds like this is the beginning of an explosion of missionary work. The Missionary Complement (or total number of missionaries to be assigned to Ghana, Accra) was raised from 47 white and 47 black elders to 57 white and 57 black elders. My MTC group was the first wave of reinforcements from the States. It's really cool to think that we are the Vanguard, and all. This represents a HUGE reallocation of resources by the Church. More and more missionaries are being sent to Africa and less and less are being sent to Europe and the States. President says to listen for more and more Africa-going missionaries in the next 10 years. Hans AND Xander, this means you.

One of my MTC mates has already gone home, sadly. He didn't last a transfer :/ He looked kind of... prone to sickness... on the plane ride over, even, and we all really worried about his ability to make it. It was cool to see, though, the inherent support group in our MTC. I even got a letter from Elder Massey, who is serving in Sierra-Leone. Elder Fi., Elder W. and I trade letters and words of support, making sure we all know why we are here, and to hold fast. If nothing else, the fresh pineapple and banana pancakes make this worth it. And when we go home and say "Oh, yeah... I served in Ghana. Where did your boyfriend serve again? _________? Oh, that's cool too." It makes me wonder if anyone in other missions say "Oh yeah, that kid's my MTC." or if it's just us who have 30 or smaller MTCs.

Yesterday, we were really blessed to have on of our investigators bear her testimony. She's seriously a powerhouse. She bore her testimony to Elder Hicks when he was first meeting her. He was trying to ask some small questions to see where she was, spiritually, and she just hammered one out of the park. I was beaming the whole time. We then invited her to bear it at Fast and Testimony meeting the day after, and it seriously floored me. I've always tried to be a generous person, but I have such a firm testimony now of casting your bread on the water. The Lord blesses you for being a blessing in the lives of other people. Please please please make sure you are paying your fast offerings. Have a friend over for dinner tomorrow night! You'd be surprised at what comes back your way. "Teacher", Eric A. has insisted he start paying tithing, even though he isn't slated to be baptized until the 7th of November. His family and the investigators attached to him constitute 11 people, but only 8 have expressed a desire to be baptized. I'm really hoping that, because of his faith, his eldest 3 children will follow his example. (SIDE NOTE! I JUST got a call. I have a package waiting for me next zone interviews!! That's a week or so away... but still! THANKS MOM!) This next wave of people we are baptizing are all as we would say down here, are serious. It is my hope that, in a year, these people will be called to serve in leadership positions in the Church here. This is not because I want to boast, but rather because I feel like each of these families will be serious when making their Endowment Covenants. It seems like endowed members are few and far between, and it makes calling people for leadership TRULY difficult. It's why President is so cavalier about dropping people. In Ghana, we are not just baptizing future members of the Church, we are baptizing pillars of Zion. We teach 2 lessons, then we follow up. If an investigator isn't serious, President wants us to let them go. "We aren't here to convert Ghana," he says, "We are here to gather those who are ready." It also makes me realize I got exactly what I wanted in a mission. I get to be a Valley Boy. Many of these people are the Noble and Great ones, I firmly believe that. They are looking for the truth, and know not where to find it. As Elders in Ghana, we get to show them. These are paths we have walked before. This is a trail we know, and we can guide them on.
This is true of both the non-members AND the members. The obruni elders here are not just servants of Christ. Sometimes we have to be representatives of Church Headquarters too. Our ward has not been able to get a home teaching program up in over a year. The last six months have been 0% home teaching. ZERO! Many people, through no fault of there own, just don't know what to do. How do I hold Family Home Evening? Is it bad to do it more then once a week? We try very hard to show them how the Church functions, and I realize more and more, it really is a miracle. That being said, I have a word of caution for my brethren reading this message. We had one brother in Elders' Quorum on Sunday basically say "WE will never get a home teaching program to work." The answer is, “Can a ward have 100% home teaching if each member doesn't have 100% home teaching?” You cannot force someone to do his, but are you doing yours? As I recall from David O. McKay, the first thing the Savior will ask us on judgment day is "How was your relationship with your wife?". Then, "How about your children?" Third will be, "What did you do with the gifts I gave you?" A close fourth will start "Did you do your home-teaching?" Brethren, if you do not do your home teaching, you will not be in the celestial kingdom. I firmly believe that.

Already, done sermonizing for a little bit. Sorry, it's just REALLY important. It can make or break a ward. Peter A. +family -wife :/ are getting baptized this Saturday. He's promised a HUGE fufu after his baptism. I'm always so happy to see how he wants to celebrate his baptism. He's been telling us that he wants to take us up to the Black Volta, which is the REAL bush between the Upper East and Upper West regions of Ghana. There, they have monkeys, he says, that will purposely get in traps, just so they can trick humans into getting close, hoping they have bananas and groundnuts (like peanuts). If you don't, he says, they grab you, and hold you firm while they tear a branch off a nearby tree and cane you. I'm not entirely sure how accurate this is, but I really want to go and see!

OH! That was a really interesting lesson we had on Sunday. The lesson in Gospel Essentials was "The Family" and we had a long discussion on whether children should be caned or not. I kept my mouth shut, but the consensus seemed to be that it was an old and out-dated way of doing things. Peter A. was leading that charge. I LOVE that guy!

Anyway, I'm really running out of things to write.

Contacting with two Obrunies is CAKE, because it's just so weird to see, I guess.

I love you all, very very much, just not as much as the Lord.

Elder Farnbach

P.S Dear Elder, by the way, has been funky this last time 'round. Tell anyone who wrote me that if I don't write back, it's only because I haven't received their letter. I will do my VERY best to write everyone back.

P.P.S. so I still need addresses for April, Claire, Rachel Mildenstein and Dylan Maltby (now a unit), and a BYU-I address for Jenny Farley. Please remind everyone to put an address in the body of the letter, especially if they Dear Elder me, so I can actually write back.

Monday, September 28, 2009

September 28, 2009 #6

Dear Friends and Family,

I don't know which to say first. HOLY STAMPS, BATMAN!! I got letters last week, and almost cried a little bit. Also, mom and dad... I need WAY more stamps. Also, if you send me a letter through Dear Elder, make sure you include your addresses in the body of the letter. I intend to write back, I swear. I love the pictures I get, too, FYI...

Second, I hear congratulations are in order for Dylan and Rachel. I'm SO EXCITED!!! I'm only a little more excited than I am UPSET!!!! WHY AM I HEARING ABOUT THIS FROM CLAIRE?!! I expect a letter soon, you two, because I need your address(es hahahahahaha) to really tell you two exactly how excited I am.

In other news TRANSFERS. I've been put with an Obruni named Elder H.. Needless to say, I'm stoked, but I already see the trap President has laid. He's looking to see if the Obrunies, now having the majority, will be jerks. I intend to show otherwise. One of our MTC mates just went home, sadly. Depression. We have a new trainee coming in Wednesday too.

Before I forget, someone tell Elder Jones that the 70 that visited him, Elder Gay, was the mission president in Accra about 3-4 years ago. He seems like the standard everyone measures current presidents against.

This week, I'm sorry to say, we experienced the "resting" President always talks about. He accuses the missionaries of taking it easy on week 6-1 of Transfers. Under the "Don't Rock the Boat" strategy directed to me by the APs, I didn't say too much, but we had WAY too many social visits during this week. I wrote a fair amount of letters during this time, though, so that was nice.

Many people made Fufu for us, too. It's really good, but I can only eat so much of it. Plus, how we eat it is you pinch it off of a huge wad between your index and middle finger. I'm currently suffering a small case of fufu-related arthritis.

With our key indicators, we use what is called a bucket-to-bucket system. As we fill up the Investigators with a date bucket from Progressing Investigators, we re-fill Progressing from New and Other, etc. Well, knowing now of his transfer, Elder M. dumped "Progessing" into "With a Date". We now have about 20 with a date in the next 6 weeks. Our DISTRICT goal is 16, so... that will be fun to explain to the incoming Elder Hi.... I'm also really worried about remembering how to get to everyone's homes. Needless to say, the street system in Kasoa is shaky at best.

As for our individual investigators, we have 3 families we are baptizing on the 10th, but I'm really worried. None of them are complete families. We are always missing at least one parent, which is REALLY going to be tough, I think. The A family's enthusiasm seems to be dwindling, too :/ Hopefully we'll be able to keep that going long enough for the home teachers to pick up on them. “Teacher” is still going strong. We just set a date for him and his family OF 7!! on the 7th of November.

We also received some interesting instructions based on the "English Only" teaching rules. President pointed out those who only attend Church have a weak testimony. You can build it one of two ways. 1.) Read and study by yourself and 2.) Home teachers. We were told that the only reason we are limited in who we can baptize is because the home teaching down here is so lax. We are reporting MAYBE 15% home teaching. It was really nice, though, because the people who were the loudest opponents of the English rule were forced to admit that it isn't because of White missionaries, but because the home teaching is not being done.

I sadly did not bring my letters with me, so I can't remember all the questions that were asked. I'll try my best to answer as I remember though.

Our Apartment, until Wednesday, is split between Obrunies and Obibanies equally. Elder Ho. is a cowboy from Montana. He is a cool guy, and I don't doubt his testimony. I'll be sad to see him go, though. Elder N. is his senior, and he's the most chill guy i know. He is studying humanitarian law in Uganda, and he taught institute for two years before his mission. Elder Mends you already know. Elder A. is the other senior working out in the Liberian Refugee camp. He gets sick a lot, but he's a real straight-edge, so I know he isn't faking. His junior is my best-bud and MTC mate, Elder Fisher, from Long Beach. He's got a good balance, I think, of the rules, and personal responsibility. I wouldn't mind being his companion or even serving under him.

We recently won cleanest apartment! Our secret? Battery acid to clean the toilet. I'm not kidding in the slightest. Our mission is also growing a ton. 9 coming in, only 3 leaving on Wednesday. Then, 19 coming in, 10 leaving next time. Some new areas, including the bush, will be opening soon. I'm not sure I want to go there, but at least I can make sure we keep a legitimate area book out there.

We recently learned that 28% of Ghana lives in poverty. 28.5% of Children also suffer in there mental and physical development due to malnutrition. Pay your fast offerings is all I can really say.

As for our personal studies lately, we've been asked by President to start the Book of Mormon over for the next 90 days. We read 6 pages every day. Every time they mention the Lord's name (or pronoun or anything) we mark it in red. Anything he says personally or "thus saith the Lord" through a prophet, we make orange. Blue is gospel doctrines, and green is Christlike Attributes, or the attributes ascribed to God. It's been a great challenge so far.

We recently had a lesson with one sister asking about Baptism for the Dead. How anyone could NOT believe in that is beyond me. How can we claim God is a just God without just such a way to take care of those who couldn't hear the Gospel?

I feel like I'm forgetting so much... I'll try and remember more and write it next time.

Love you all, dearly dearly dearly. Not as much as the Lord does, as I realize more and more every day, but I'm working on it. Enjoy conference, as we won't be able to watch it until it comes on DVD.


Elder Farnbach

P.S. I sadly did not get your package yet, Mom, and I didn't get the letter from Marta either. I wonder if other letters were lost, too.

Make sure you tell everyone that as they write me letters, they REALLY need to include the address where I can reach them in the body of the letter. I feel HORRIBLE not writing back.

Also, are you sending my letters to Delynne?

Go ahead and tell me as people get engaged. I can take it :P

Monday, September 21, 2009

September 21, 2009 #5

Words in [ ] are additions by me, William's mom.

Dear Family and Friends,

This is the week we get mail. Zone conference is on Wednesday, and that is when we get it. The next time will be three weeks from now. Should the office elders fail to get the mail THIS time (like last time), I will be very upset!

As for the questions, sadly, I've not received any mail since the Mission Home. Hopefully this week.

How did I run into Grammy's friend? Miracle. I was on a split [went with another companion whose companion was then with William's companion] with Elder Ho., as his companionship had someone they needed Elder M. [William's companion] to interview. We went and did 3 appointments, some contacting, and then ended up at the Church. No joke, we got there, I called Elder M. to ask where he wanted to unsplit, and Seth's car pulls up. He gets out of the car, and asks Elder Ho. "Please, I'm looking for (looks at a piece of paper in his hand)... William". I figure, there is no way he is talking about me. Elder Ho. says "This man is named William." and Seth says "Farnbach?"... I LOST it. It was crazy. We had no reason to be where we were. He pulled up just as we got there. MIRACLE!!

As for BYU... oh well. They can win it all when I get home. [ I told him about last week's game. ]

This week, we had one really interesting lesson. Not lone that we taught, but that we noticed. Any time we would talk about Joseph Smith and the Restoration, people suddenly would become very busy. Customers would show up at stores that were ghost-towns 20 seconds ago. Phones would ring. Satan is doing everything he can to stop this message. Look at the Joseph Smith Translation for a HUGE example. The prophecy given in Genesis 50 is threatening to anyone save him. No one would look at that and say "This needs to be pitched" except the devil. One time, I said "I just said someone saw GOD, and you need to take this call?" They didn't hear me, but still, it was kind of upsetting.

We have one man, about 85 years old, we teach who is surprisingly full of vim. He was telling us that the reason there is no progress in Ghana is because there is no poverty. I had a good internal laugh about that.

It's really interesting, too, that I have to be the opposite of the spectrum here. In high school, at least, I was looked at as a Patriarchal Authoritarian. Rules are rules, and as the Proclamation on the Family States, fathers preside in the home. Here, though, I'm considered a crazy liberal. I teach about the direction of the Relief Society and the fact that the highest orders of the priesthood are accessible only to those who are married. Also, because I don't like beating children. Still can't stand that.

Still having great lessons with Teacher (Eric A.) and his family. He keeps bringing a new person every time we teach him. We had 14 new investigators at church. Our current investigators have prompted a new title. They are not just Golden, but Cancerous. Like a tumor, they grow, and we spend a lot of time with them. Teacher and Peter A. both seem to really appreciate how the Gospel has an answer for EVERYTHING. Was Adam Baptized? Yes. Who ordained John the Baptist? An Angel. What happened to Judas? He is a Son of Perdition. (I remember asking that last one when I was young.) Teacher and his Brother-in-Law have both just bought quads [scriptures], and Peter bought a triple [scriptures].

Today was a muslim holiday. The traffic hasn't moved in about an hour. It's Mohammed's Birthday. It has closed the banks and stores, so this P-day, we are living off the extra money we had from last time.

FMs... Free Meals. Well, yesterday was CRAZY! Peter A. insisted we come for fufu... he brought out the bowl, and I put it between me and Elder Mends, thinking it was for the two of us. Elder M. looked at me and said "... um... I think that's just yours!" Needless to say, it was awesome. THEN, right afterwards, our family in the ward called us for dinner. THEN, an investigator who loves us, but won't let us teach her, fed us again. I hurt all night. Tonight, we have another dinner with the A., tomorrow, lunch with a recent convert we baptized, and Saturday, another huge fufu appointment. Sometimes, I feel all Elijah-y and sometimes, I feel like kind of a Nehor, glutting myself on the labors of the people. However, I just go where Elder Mends goes, in accordance with the new "Humble" policy.

I can't think of anything else to say. I won't ask for letters specifically this time, in case you sent me one, and I just haven't got it yet ;)

Love you all, dearly dearly dearly. Not as much as the Lord, but I'm working on it.


Elder Farnbach

P.S Jesus the Christ by Talmage. Holy Heck! That book is amazing.

P.P.S No sunburns yet.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

September 15, 2009 #4

(I asked him questions)

What kind of cooking oil do you use?
Do you have popcorn?
no, but I've seen it popped. I'll ask around
What is this nestle-esque stuff you wrote about?
It's called Milo. It's made by Nestle'.
When is the next transfer date?
The system is weird. The actual transfer occurs the 30th, even though the 6 weeks ends this week. We find out next Saturday (the 26th) who is getting transfered.

(Dad asked him some questions)

1) You haven't mentioned anything about eating spicy foods. Not an issue, or since you do your own cooking do you avoid it?

Mostly, yes. I've since figured out that they make food spicy because then you can't taste it. After watching the chickens crawl around in the gutters, and then end up on my plate, I can understand why.

2) Is everything OK with your companion? You didn't mention him at all in your last letter which I don't think is like you.

We are alright.

Now, as for an actual letter.

This last week, we went to the BUSH! Straight up village, 10 mud houses, thatched roofs, middle of nowhere. An investigator's dad died, so we seized the opportunity to contact and support her. We played "How much banku can the Obruni eats before he pukes?" Answer, 3 balls, and a barely-soda later, I was victorious. With the charismatic preacher yelling "Amen" into a group of speakers full of feedback for 3 hours, and the horrible heat, and everyone staring at me and speaking a language I couldn't understand, I had a panic attack. Legitimately, my heart rate took off and my mind raced... I had to stand up and walk around for about 20 minutes to get sane again. It was terribly frightening.

My diet is improving slightly. I eat a ridiculous amounts of bananas, and God in his ultimate irony has put me in a place where I live almost entirely on peanut butter and oatmeal, which as we all know, I couldn't stand. I also eat frozen yogurt. Mango season is soon. I'm budgeting fantastically. Elder Fisher and I just work together in a Zion sense, and we've come up about 60 under budget. I spent 60 cedis for 3 weeks, instead of the 90 I was given. Mom would be proud, and I'm loving it. The stew we make is tomatoes, bell peppers and cabbage, with some chicken to flavor it up. We put this all over eba, which is cassava powder.

We were read a letter from the first presidency about missionary work in the country. They prophesied that in 10 years, those villages up north, where we don't even have missionaries, will each contain a stake. And I'm going to be honest, I've found the man who's going to do it. His name is Peter A. So help me, if he's not a Seventy (an elder in our church) in 20 years, I'll eat my washboard (a very precious item to him while in Ghana). He's absorbing the gospel with his family so fast, and he's already referred more people to us than the whole ward thus far. He is being baptized on the 10th of October with his family. Seriously, I just beam the whole time we teach him. As we tell him about Joseph Smith, he just keeps saying "God bless him!!!" until we came to the part when we said he was murdered. Daddy A. looked as though Brother Joseph had just been shot yesterday. It tore him apart, as it did me. I love Joseph Smith. One person to whom I handed the pamphlet of his testimony said, "Is this you?" I could not stop smiling that whole day.

I now get to see church leadership at its finest. I attend meetings with all the various organizations and it made me realize one thing. Church leadership is a miracle. How it works so well is mind blowing. Fulfill your callings, I beg you. The difficulty it causes when you don't is very real. Blessings are actually lost, and even the bishop suffers, especially the bishop. I have been put in charge of counting church attendance. Last week it was 201, about 17 of which were our investigators. My new favorite is a man we call "Teacher", Eric A. Anyway, he is a teacher, so his English is fantastic. He loves the learning approach the Church takes. Life is about learning. Be educated. He came to us after church with a check-off list of questions, which we answered. My favorite was "What books should I read to thrive in the Church?" I pointed out that we are all about personal study. I showed him the 5 different pamphlets we missionaries use, and all 4 books in the Quad, as well as the topical guide, index, and dictionary. It was as though I showed him the holy grail. I have a testimony of the quad. Look at all the tools we have to learn with!! The references are right there! The dictionary allows us quick summaries, and the topical guide, in-depth research. It really is a miracle, how much we can know. We also have one man whose name is Robert. He was going to the church, but when they switched buildings, he lost track of it. We are getting ready to baptize him, but when we brought up the law of chastity and abortions, we have to ask "Have you suggested or aided an abortion?" He looked at us and said "Plenty"... it was a long lesson...

As for Kasoa. All the shoping we do is done in the markets. No stores. Anyone who wants to live in a locally-grown based economy... I say unto you, nay. Kasoa... well, if there's a bright center of Ghana, it's the town that it is farthest from. It's 30 km west of Accra, I'm told (Ladies, please take note of how well traveled and globally conscious I am. I used km). The ward is wonderful, though. They are so grateful for us missionaries. We are looked at as authorities on the Gospel. Even the bishop asks us for the final word. I love it, but I know what I know because of the grace of God. I realize it even more as I go over my Patriarchal Blessing. I love it. It is the most precious thing I brought with me, truly. Hans and Katia and even Xander, you need to start thinking of getting yours.

As for mail... we get mail every 3 weeks, at zone conference, and then again at zone interviews. The office elders didn't even bring it last time. I was sad. This next mail day is the 24th... I don't want to sound needy, but a fat stack of letters would be the most welcome sight right now.

I hope to be able to write personal letters soon, especially to Hans. Hans, I know college may be tough, and I know you are getting ready for a mission. I remember my excitement and fear and everything as I started at BYU. I hope to hear from you a ton. We have a guy in our apartment who has an album about Joseph Smith (a Nashville tribute...?). It has one song about Hyrum called "Brother, I'll Follow You". As I listened to it, it occurred to me how much faith Hyrum had in Joseph. I often forget that Joseph was the younger brother. I marveled as I listened to how humble Hyrum was, to follow his junior brother. I want to say though, as I thought about it, if you came to me when I was 16 and you were 14, saying you'd seen God, it would take me some time. But Brother, I would follow you. You truly are a great young man. Don't you forget it.

As for milk. I haven't seen much, and I try to stay away for the expensive stuff right now. Elder Fisher and I are really going to mark everything this next sub (How long a jar of peanut butter lasts, how many sandwiches, how many days the oats last, how long a stew lasts) so we can calculate out how much we can spend. I'm saving up, though, so I can eat like a king my final 6 months here. I want to come back built like a tank for Folk Dance. Seriously, it occurred to me that all my friends were just at auditions, and now they are getting on to teams, and having a blast together. I just want to say, I miss you guys, dearly. A young man could not feel a greater sense of friendship and belonging, save his own family.

I'm still praying for opportunities to share the Gospel with our extended family. I want everyone there in the temple with me when I get married. I feel like I'll be coming home soon, very soon. I only have 16 transfers total. I have already finished one.

Anyway, I love you all. The Lord loves you more. Study hard. As you learn and appreciate the gospel, realize how much has been done for you, yes, *you*. God is truly wonderful.
Elder Farnbach

P.S Carrie Van Dusen, I want to hear from you. And Dylan Maltby, Tyler Walker (plus, his family... I need their address. I owe them many thanks), Rachel Mildenstein and April Lindgren. I also want Dave Fuhriman's address, and the Walhood's, please. And the Lectures On Faith... I'm not really demanding, I swear! :)

Also, GO BYU!

Monday, September 7, 2009

September 7th, 2009 #3

Dear Family and Friends,

I'm going to try as hard as I can to answer these questions. As for food, I'm rocking it. Have you ever had a fried triple decker peanut butter banana chocolate sandwich? answer: delicious. I'm really working at a balanced diet. Oats for breakfast with eggs and peppers, banana peanut butter sandwich for lunch, stew for dinner, with frozen yogurt for snacks during the day. Look over that, advise as necessary. There is NO dairy to speak of down here, and it's killing me. I miss cheese and milk and butter so much right now.

HOLY BYU! I'm stoked about that. (We told him about the win over #3 Sooners)

>Do they compost any of their trash?
They burn everything. EVERYTHING. Talk about carbon emissions...
>How do they get clean water for the Sacrament?
They pipe it in. You pay though, for a days worth of pipe water.
>Do they have any pictures like the gospel art ones at church?
Not really.
>Do you need sunglasses?
>Does anyone plant a garden?
Kind of. The wealthier people and small-time farmers.

This last Sunday was pretty big for us. Even the not-serious investigators decided to show up. The A. family, that golden family we have, came up and said "So, we need to be baptized. We can't wait another hour"... SWEET! And then Frank said "I prayed about which church to join, and God led me here. What is it you believe?"
The one lady that is a special case is named Belinda. She's made some pretty bad decisions in her life, and she feels forsaken. She has diabetes, and all her friends are telling her God has forgotten her because of her sins. Job, much? We showed her the verse in James 5 about blessing with oil, and forgiveness of sins, and she asked for a blessing. That was a great experience too. We also have a family that is very well educated. The father teaches, so I can teach unbridled, which is a great feeling. He just started with "My friend is always saying 'you have to come to my church'... what makes it so different?" WHAT?! That is a golden question, my friend.

As for writing down the names of baptisms... our district averages 15 baptisms every 6 weeks. This next time around, with this group of our investigators, we'll probably baptize a good chunk, just Elder Mends and I.

Our ward is still really hurting for leadership. I talked to my mission president about this "basic stake" principle, and he said "In the emerging church, we often try and force all these programs that distract from the message of the church. The Church is family centered, priesthood directed, not Chapel centered, organization directed." That's why we don't have counselors, young mens, or a host of other programs. It's killing the Bishop, though. He has to do everything because the Elders' Quorum and Relief Society presidents don't even show up to our meetings. President Smith again made that clear. "In Ghana, they are just learning the Church's idea of leadership. Here, a leader means a chief. The higher a leader you are, the less you are expected to do." We all know this is the opposite of the Church, so it's really hard to see the Bishop struggle so. If I find out any of you has a calling you are just slacking off in... well, as they say in Africa "I'll beat you!"

I haven't been getting many letters, but we only get them at zone conference, transfers, or interviews. (every three weeks) I won't say I'm a home body by any stretch, but a fat stack of letters every 3 weeks would be a joy to see.

That talk you sent, Mom, was awesome. It has really shaped how I pitch member support to the ward. There will come a day when they can teach and have church in their native language. There will be a day when they won't need to import Obrunies to preach. But until that day comes, give us referrals! Help us speed the work along!! It really makes me wish I did more member-missionary work.

It just occurred to me that BYU has really started going. SPACers, I miss you dearly. This week, especially, I've been thinking about my dear married friends. So, team Brame, team Stuart, team Bills and team Watson, I would love to hear from you! And tell Tyler Keith Alan Walker (Tyler Folk) I want to hear from him too.

----2nd email, same day

Sorry. I sent that in case the computer crashed. I'm really trying to think of what else to write though... Oh! Elder Fisher reminds me of GhanaSlurpees. It's like pomegranate and cloves. It's delicious. The best part is, for whatever reason, the Ghanaians HATE sweet food, so when we Obrunis make no-bakes, they don't want them.

Let's talk more about lessons. It surprises me just how bold being away from my friends, and being a missionary has made me. We had one lady tell us she believes everything we say, and that Joseph Smith saw God, but she was born, baptized, and confirmed a Presbyterian. Her family would disown her. I taught her about proper authority, baptism by the spirit, and reminded her Lucy Mack was a Presbyterian.
The other investigator we are really praying for is named Robert Botchway. He used to come to the Church, was never a member, but believed everything. Then, the building was moved, and he couldn't find them again. We found him, and he desperately wants to be baptized, but he sells alcohol. That's his livelihood. All of our lessons end up being about faith. I told him, with 100% confidence, that while the Lord could provide a way for him to support his family without alcohol, it would NOT happen until AFTER he stopped selling it. In reflecting, I was so worried that I was commanding the Lord, but even now, I know that that is the case. You will receive no witness until AFTER the trial of your faith. He says he'll stop, but we'll see.

Last Sunday, we had an epic Elder's Quorum battle over priesthood ordinances. It seems that when people bless a child here, it has become the custom to add a name to the name they are given a week after birth, because the handbook says "Give the child a name" and whether that was the purpose or the ordinance is even valid at that point. It got CRAZY heated, and the Elder's Quorum President lost control of the class. The other issue is that it's making record keeping a pain. Africans don't have middle names, they just have different names, so they don't mark all three. This means if you are not careful, Phillip Kofi Mends could have many different records in the Church. Phillip Mends, Kofi Mends, or Philip Kofi could all have records here, even though it's just one person.

I also realized looking at the pictures in our pamphlets and listening to all the Church music, I want to contribute to that in some way. I want to write a book like "Our Search for Happiness" or paint pictures of the Savior or write an EFY tune or two. The distinct impression I got was in typical God->Elder Farnbach-edged fashion. I remembered the story of Moses, and how limited he felt, and with the same force, I heard the phrase "Who made Man's mouth?". I knew He is capable of using me in whatever way He deems necessary. So I asked again "Then how about this way? What about the arts?" to which I felt distinctly "Have a testimony so powerful that *I* want it expressed, and it shall be done."
Constantly seek to be an instrument in the Lord's hands, my friends, and remember the key part of that... who truly remembers the Instrument? Do we have the brush with which DaVinci painted the Mona Lisa? Did we hold on to the chisel that made the David? The answer is no. The key part to being an instrument is desiring to see the finished product, not to be remembered when others see it.

I love you all, very very much, though not nearly as much as the Lord loves you :)
Elder Farnbach

P.S Delynne gets these, right? I'm pretty sure she'd kill me if not.


Of course, this is where William's mom puts a plug in for . It makes writing a letter to him almost as easy as sending an email. It is even free like email. (He is serving in the Ghana Accra mission when you are asked to type that in.) THANKS!