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?
>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 :)
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 www.dearelder.com . 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!