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
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!