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!

Friday, September 4, 2009