Monday, August 31, 2009

August 31, 2009 #2

You are very right unfortunately. In terms of internet, Kasoa is about 1995. is great alternative. I'm a pouch-service
missionary, so the letters are free, but you can type them like an
e-mail and I can read them at my leisure, instead of when I could be

We had a baptism last week. I'm working hard to avoid pride, so I
won't be reporting total numbers, but I got to do them, and it was
awesome. This last time around, Elder Fi. and I realized that many people here
can't/don't swim, and being in the water terrifies them. That's fine
when the person you are baptizing is a tiny 9 year old who comes up to
your waist, but when it's a slightly-large house Mommy... it can be a
challenge. I have to keep whispering "You're okay... You're okay..."

We have a baptism every 3 weeks, so no individual dates. We just
commit them to the nearest baptism, really. The ward is working really
hard to step up referrals, but the English only practice is really a
pain, though it helps me quite a bit. It's really simple to challenge
though. Most people ask around lesson 2. We teach lesson 1, lesson 3,
and then that's about when they ask to be baptized. Our interviews
have gotten more thorough though, so it's also slowing us down a bit,
but I like it, because you need to know what you are signing up for,

I had an exchange with the ZL, and have come to the conclusion that
Kasoa is the GHETTO. We stayed in his area, and it might as well have
been Disneyland. 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and a balcony. I don't need
to be a leader for pride, the perks alone are reward enough, it seems.
I had fufu finally. IT's alright, but I Thought it would be sweeter.
As for cooking, I'm leading an Apollo 13 style group of Obrunies in my
apartment and my whole MTC group. "We've got to make this, out of
this...." it's hilarious. We made pancakes, for example, by smashing
up plantains and mixing in eggs and cinnamon sugar, then frying it. IT
was pretty good, though flour would give it some structure. Side note,
Mom, the cinnamon was the greatest idea ever. I literally teared up a
little bit when I found that. We are now using oats and nestle-esque
mix to make no-bakes, and ground paste as peanut butter for peanut
butter and banana sandwiches. A granola recipe would be nice too. We
are also working out a bush-Taco-salad idea. I feel like Robinson
Crusoe a little bit. Actually a lot.

As for day-to-day... wake up 6:30, eat stew for breakfast (though we
are working out french toast now, which would be awesome. Yeah
Obrunies!) then personal study. We don't companion study, and anytime
I suggest something my companion takes offense. Anyway, he got a little upset, because we have to report our companionship studies as part of our numbers. He said "4" but he was on speaker phone, so the ZL heard me say "Wait, when?"

We usually teach for an hour at a time, which really hurts our
contacting, but is great for total lessons. We don't stop for lunch,
it's just teach teach teach. Our district averages 15 baptisms a
transfer, so we right on schedule, and a family of 4 came to church
even before we really could teach them. Then at night, it's planning,
more stew, and then the Obrunies try something new to cook. The
Obibanies are invited, of course, but it doesn't mean anything to
them, if that makes sense.\
The usual investigator here always says something like "All churches
are the same, so it's all good!" Most of the time, we handle this
well. Yesterday, though, one lady complained that we were too young to
be Elders. We usually teach 25 lessons a week, plus 7 with a
member present. We are supposed to keep up to 140 contacts a week.

It's a very interesting situation down here. We are in a phase where
the first crop of RMs from Ghana are getting home, and the Church is
putting them into leadership rolls. I've met a 25 year old bishop, a
28 year old stake president, and the High Priest Group Leader is about
30. I know, right? They also have a really skeletal auxiliary staff.
We don't have a young mens' leader, and neither the Quorum nor Relief
Society has counselors, even though our ward is about 160 people on
the average Sunday.

As for memorable investigators, we have one women named Janet. Her
best friend, Rebekah, and the T. family are like our adopted
family. They always have us over for dinner and stuff, and complain
when they don't see us. Janet is a leader in her church, but has us
over from time to time because she loves the change she has seen in
the T.'s. She doesn't let us teach, though. Just feeds us and talks,
but we manage to weasel stuff in. It was when we started talking about
the Temple that she told us "I believe everything you Elders say. Your
teachings are of God. It's just, if I leave, no one will respect my
Church." She is always in our prayers, as she is such a good women.
She just loves Church more then God, which is sad. We also have on
lady, Belinda, whose husband is on separation with her (marriage is
REALLY screwy down here) for the last two years. She still has hope,
though. In our first lesson, she told us about she's lost two
children, 2 and 4 months. Out went the Restoration, in came the Plan
of Salvation. Man, if anything gets you stoked about the Gospel, it
should be the Plan of Salvation. Clearly, clearly God loves us.

HOLY HECK! That reminds me. We had a 70 come last mission conference,
and give us a talk about how we teach the Plan of Salvation. He said "I've noticed
that the Creation has half a paragraph in Preach My Gospel... this is only for you,
but just so you have the proper spirit as you teach it..." He then
went into a slide show, comparing the size of our earth to the other
planets, and then the sun. Then our sun to other stars. Then the
largest star to how far it is from another star. Then that distance to
the size of our galaxy. Then the fact that our galaxy is like, a baby
galaxy. We saw nebulas, and talked about their size. It was like I
could see God's hands, forming worlds without number. He then said, "If
you were to take a grain of sand, and hold it at arm's length at the
blackest part of the night sky you could find, do you know what that
contains?" He showed us, using the Hubble Telescope. In the DARKEST
part of space, there are over 10,000 galaxies. Even as I write this, I
remember echoing the words of Moses. Man is truly nothing. And yet He
loves us SO much.
We have one investigator/convert (not sure yet) who reminded me of
that. She was baptized 5 years ago, but her father burned her
certificate. Records being what they are down here, they haven't
been able to find it yet. She thought about tracking down the
missionary and bishop who presided, even though it was 5 years ago on
the other side of Ghana. She worries constantly about whether she can
take the sacrament or not. She always wants to give us a soda or
some kind of treat when we go teach her. She wants SO BADLY to do the
right thing, and I just felt an overwhelming love for her, even in our
first lesson. It wasn't me, I could tell. It was Heavenly Father,
reminding me how precious His daughter is to him. Her husband isn't a
member, and it makes her so sad, so we're working on it. The other
great investigators we have are Peter Akade and his family. We invited
them to church. Then we got a call that our other appointment fell
through, so we decided to teach them. They came that next Sunday, and
said they loved it. We hope to see them again on Sunday, of course,
but we promised to visit Tuesday. The best part about families
(besides the easy goal-reaching :P) is the fact that they fall away
less often. They support each other. How anyone can NOT join the
church just reading The Family, A Proclamation To The World, I'm not sure. It made me realize
also how blessed I am with my family, and made me realize I want to
work harder with my own. I had a dream, where I was getting married,
and I saw our whole family there. Everyone.
The Spirit is so strong on a mission. I never really appreciated it
until it was gone, though. I was wondering if I was really succeeding
in this "by the Spirit" business. Then we had a lesson where halfway
though, the mom caned her 3 year old. Numerous times. I didn't even
know what to do, but even as I write this, I'm getting really angry. I
just wanted to end the lesson and go. All I could think about is how
Christ feels about little children, and the giant millstone I wanted
this woman to wear. Then, our very next lesson, we were teaching a
young boy who reminds me of Xander SOO MUCH. He just got baptized on
Saturday. Anyway, at his house, a woman came over and started shouting
at his mom. This lasted 20 minutes, and then it almost came to blows.
The husband and the neighbor were holding them apart, and they were
kicking and scratching to have at each other. I swear, I got home that
night and just felt completely drained. The spirit also helps our
bodies, and without it, missionary work is SO demanding.

As for running and fitness, I'm really working at maintaining my
health with the diet here, but I'm really really worried. There isn't
much in the way of protein, so I eat a lot of eggs and chicken. Bread
is helpful, and Garri is filling, but it's just mashed potatoes that
were made a little too thick. Try it, and eat it with your hands.

Sadly, even 3 hours of e-mail time wouldn't be enough, but mine is
getting short. I hope everyone is doing well! I love you very much,
but as I'm starting to realize, not nearly as much as God loves you.
I'm working on it, though.

Elder Farnbach

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

August 25, 2009 #1

Hi Family and Friends!!!

I just wanted to take this first opportunity to give you the low down on everything. I'm in Kasoa, Ghana. I'm not sure what region that is, because the system here doesn't make sense to me yet. It's seems like a bigger town, but it's not particularly organized. All I see is rundown everything everywhere, so it is hard for me to distinguish where we are. Magically, we end up at the apartment every night, so that's nice. I haven't seen any mosquitoes, and I've had only one bite out in the field. I thank heavens for my net. My companion is Elder M. He's been training for a while, and in Kasoa for almost 7 months.

As I walk down the street, little kids always yell "Obruni (sic?) Ko-ko!" (this will ALL be phonetically, here) which literally means something like "White man, red-red", which I find hilariously ironic, but really means "White man you are too light!" to which I respond "Obibini tum-tum!" "Black man, you are too dark!". The parents usually get a kick out of that, and it makes contacting easy. "I'm fine" and "I'm not fine" is like, a super subtle dip-thong apart, so I got chewed out by my companion when he thought I told someone I was not fine.

We teach quite a bit, and even now we have a few baptisms coming up. Under President Smith, we've stopped teaching in the bush and in other languages, because it's very hard to gain a testimony/stay active if you can't read or understand in church.We do not proselyte more then 30 minutes from the chapel, under the same policy. We aren't allowed to baptize until the person comes to church 4 times, can read, and can speak "small-small" English.

First split with the zone leaders is on Thursday. Both are Obrunis. In our apartment, all the senior companions are Obibinis, and all the juniors are Americans. Elder Fischer is a Mission Training Center mate of mine, which is nice. I have to talk so slow, it hurts.

Food-wise, I do all right, but the African Elders don't eat anything....small breakfast and then dinner. I've only seen my companion drink about 1.5L a day. We drink from 500 liter plastic bags called sachets. The apartment is in the bottom 3rd in the field, so I can really only move up :P Elder Fisher has peanut butter and jelly, which is nice. There is little to no milk, and only cream and soft cheeses... hint hint. *Cough* powdered milk and cereal and cheese *Cough* ;)

In Africa, saints means someone who calls bad spirits, so we are having a problem with that. That, and we call everyone mommy and daddy. If they are within 8 years of our age, we call them sister or brother.

We get snail mail every three weeks, because we alternate transfers, zone conferences, and mission president interviews.

We deal entirely in cedis and pesuaes. Unfortunately, everyone still deals in the old currency. 5000 means 50 pesuaes, and there are 100 pesuaes in a cedi. I went to the store, and the lady said this bag of rice was 11000. I was given 80 cedis to last 3 weeks... I thought I was going to die of starvation. Rice is about a cedi a pound, eggs are 5 cedis for a crate of 30, and a loaf of bread is a cedi. Eba and banqu and kenke are all doughy masses they eat with their hands, and are dirt cheap. Eba is cassava powder and water. Banqu is like fermented corn dough, and kenke is old banqu. The Americans hate banqu at first, but to me, it's like sour-dough bread. I will be eating lots of Eba, though. No fu-fu yet, but everyone like, reverences it. There is no ice cream per-se. It's called Fan Ice, after the brand, and it's like a creamy popsicle. They do have real potatoes here too, but they are more expensive then cassava. I see plenty of cows running around, but no beef... Roosters wake me up in the morning, and crow throughout the day. I will never miss that, I swear.

It does smell super bad. Open gutters everywhere. I never feel like I really get clean. Traffic is crazy, and everyone leans on the horn. The bike is killing my rear thus far, and the sun goes down at about 7, which scares the heck out of me on the bad roads. I haven't seen a cockroach yet, but those are in the Nungua apartment, which I have heard is the WORST.

Anyone who has read the bible marginally well and can string a few nouns together can start a Church down here. "Jesus Power Pentecostal Ministry" or "Christ Fire Prayer Circle" are a few good examples. People go to church almost 5 days a week here.

The phone calls... everyone phone in Ghana is pay as you go, so each missionary is given a card at Christmas and Mothers day with about 45 minutes worth of credit on it. That's how we call.

I look forward to telling you more, but I only a few minutes left on this computer.

I love you all very very much. I miss you, too. As for now, though, I've work to do.

Elder Farnbach

PS From Elder Farnbach's mom.... Elder Farnbach only receives his mail every three weeks. When mail time comes, it is HUGE to receive a letter. We have heard that the first four months are a hard transition time. Consider using to send him a letter without even having to use paper or any postage. He is serving in the Ghana, Accra mission.