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.
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.