Monday, December 28, 2009

Hanging Out With Some Children

Thanks for lending him a Christmas tie. Elder B. Elder Farnbach said it played music.

Elder Farnbach's 17th Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

I confess, talking on the phone was wonderful, but it sure made proselyting the next day difficult. The Zone Leaders came over, though, and that helped. They are, as we would say here, "tired". One was just released as AP because President only has missionaries serve 6 months at a time. The other is kinda the golden boy who we all assume will be AP one day, because he fast-tracked from DL to ZL in a single transfer. President always has one white, and one black AP. Anyway, they are both starting to get worn out from working all the time, so they watch a movie here, take an hour off there. Still some of the best teachers in the mission, but like I said... TIRED! This helped me to set my goal, though. I want to finish without ever getting "tired". That's the goal.
I had somewhere I was going with that... oh. I used my cheese and tortillas to make the ZLs breakfast burritos. I always try and teach that it's our job to help those above us, especially in the Church, where they don't receive much physical recompense. The ZLs usually miss a meal to do interviews or instruct us, so I always try and have something ready for them.
Being Senior has strained that slightly. Sunday was really discouraging, though. Most of those people that we ALWAYS count on to come... didn't. We have 3 baptismal dates right now, and only one showed up. We literally had a conversation like this.
Us: "This is the only true church"
Inv: "Oh, I know!"
Us: "That means that no other Church is true"
Inv: "Yes"
Us: "So if you want to be baptized, you shouldn't go to your old Church" [ instead of coming to this, your new church ]
Inv: "Oh, why?"
Anyway, we are really working our tails off to fix this transfers worth of baptisms, and the ZLs pointed out that we can plan one or two transfers out. We have names and people for 7 next transfer, and then, we are praying for 7 the transfer after that. Goals reflect the desires of our hearts, and frankly, we just want to help everybody. I've been having real moments where I would just love to see everybody be righteous, and it feels great... except when they are NOT!
We were invited to dinner at one of my recent converts house, and he's just got the coolest testimony. I am happy to report I've only had one person I've baptized go inactive so far :)
I really DON'T like the Camp [the Liberian refuge camp where he is serving ], though. It frustrates me how much people are willing to sit and let life be done to them, instead of doing something with life. I'll probably be here forever, though. Elder B. is almost finished training, and President doesn't like to leave people in their training areas. He also LOVES training new missionaries in the Camp, so Elder H. thinks I'll be here another 3-4 transfers. That's what we guessed about Abomosu, though, so hopefully...
Not really much else to say... I'm sorry to hear about Great-grandma Rose :( I know that it's a long shot, but I've always secretly been thinking about how cool it would be to introduce the girl I'm going to marry to Great-grandma Rose :P
What else... Sorry I am not writing more about my investigators, but I haven't grown really attached to any of them in my few weeks here, yet, especially with Christmas. We committed our entire investigator class to baptism, though, and that was like, 20 people. We need to follow up, of course, but we taught all about the baptismal covenant, and asked if they were willing to live up to their end, which they responded with a resounding "YES!" so here is hoping!
Also, we had a great lesson with a woman who can't speak English. We got approval, because her husband is a member. Anyway, I was teaching, but I'll be honest, sometimes you just don't think the Spirit will be there. Elder Holland said, though, that you are definitely teaching by the Spirit when you teach and learn something. I was talking about why God does what He does, and said "All of God's energy is focused on making us truly happy"... then paused for a second and thought "Wow! Why didn't I know that?!" I mean, He who is greatest among you, let him be your servant...? Never put two and two together like that before that day.

Love you all! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Go and serve somebody. There is no greater happiness.
Elder Farnbach

P.S Mom, does Elder Sullivan shoot home any updates? I haven't heard anything about him. Also, if possible, I'd love to here from Elder Sullivan, Elder Jones, Ex-Elder Winder, and Elder Mineer about any advice they have, especially when it comes to taking care of a junior elder.

Monday, December 21, 2009

December 21, 2009 #15

Dear Friends and Family,

So, I don't know how much my parents publicized the news, but I've been transferred again... back to Kasoa. Well, Kasoa Apartment. I'm now the senior companion in Buduburam, the Liberian Refugee camp. The area is sweet, and the apartment, missionary-wise is Zion. Elder H. and I are still pals, Elder B. and I get along well, and Elder H. trainee, Elder O. is seriously one of the most amazing missionaries in the field. I woke up this morning to freshly shined shoes... as did Elder H., Elder N. and Elder B.... Seriously, I just wanted to tackle the kid. He's the man. We just found out Elder N. will be transferred, though, so we have two new missionaries coming in... duh-duh-dun! Elder H. made the mistake of telling our converts I was back so we had about 10 FMs [ free meals ] to go to... that was awesome.

Elder B. is from Vancouver, and he knows the Gassaways. Brandon, this means you. His second day with me, he turned 20, so we went and dropped 30 cedis on 2 big pizzas and soda. I think it really loosened him up, plus "beef pizza" was nice. It's fun to see Elder Fi's converts, and be in my old zone with my old zone leaders. Every time we call our numbers in, the Zone Leaders give the phone to Elder F. and we chat about people he knew, and places we should go. That's actually been really helpful. Plus, I drop his name a few times, and the ward loves me.

Kasoa has changed a little since I got here. They completely got rid of the old market, which was CRAZY. Cops EVERYWHERE. [ Internet ] Cafe's still here, though, so what else matters? Don't know how much I'll be cooking, but President has specifically said I need to get Elder B. comfortable with the local food. He really is a good kid. Seven elders from his MTC have already gone home, 2 from this mission, 5 from Nigeria... and those 5 are all Africans. Where are they going home to? Anyway, so President said he wants me to spend a little extra time "Africanizing" him.

Being Senior Companion is weird. We are the youngest companionship on mission, and I've definitely felt the Spirit come in and make up for my deficiencies. We had our first companion study (which is extra hard since I've never had good companionship study training), and I just started saying things. I learned a lot right then. Personally, as a companionship, and as a mission we are working a lot on teaching by the Spirit. It was perfect. Back in Abomosu, I realized I needed to work on it... suddenly our Mission President decides we all need to listen to "The Divine Companionship" by Elder Holland. Every missionary needs to read it. Elder B. and I, even though we've only been together a few days, have already had spirit driven moments. As we went over our people, I started getting little feelings about people I've not even taught. "I think we can give Vincent and Esther a date." Elder B.: "I was JUST going to say that!" Plus, we had an awesome experience teaching Sister B., the ETERNAL progressing investigator of Buduburam. She had a serious concern about sealing, at least that was her question, so we started talking about it a little. I started teaching about how the gospel will bless her potential husband, even if he isn't accepting right now. Then, Elder B. comes in with a powerful testimony on her ability to share the gospel with them, and you could just see the change in her. What she asked wasn't what she needed to hear, but Elder B., by the Spirit, answered her secret question. There are many stories like this, and I'm sure we'll have more, but it's been wonderful.

Christmas will be interesting, thats for sure. Not sure how it will look in a refugee camp, and the missionaries aren't really expected to proselyte on that day. Many of my Kasoa families have told Elder H. they want Elder B. and me to come for Christmas. I'm just looking forward to calling home!

Love you all very much, and have a wonderful Christmas season. You do not know how much I think of and pray for all of you, and I look forward to coming home and spending the holidays with you. Right now, though, I have something very important to do. So important, that I'll let it take me away from the family and friends that I love.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!
Elder Farnbach

PS Elder Farnbach asked me to remind everyone of this. When you write him a letter, please please please make sure you put your address in the body of the letter. That is the only way he has it so that he can write back to you.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Elder B's Birthday Pizza

Elder B is Elder Farnbach's current companion. They celebrated Elder B's 20th Birthday at a pizza restaurant.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December 2, 2009 #14

Okay, I'll try and sum up everything as best as possible.
The work is crazy, and as follows. We have been assigned to the Abomosu district, the oldest district in the Church. This is not a good thing. Activity hovers around 30%. We have 5 branches: Abomosu, Asunafo, Asuom, Kwabeng and Senkubanse. Kwabeng and Asuom are on two hour schedules, but the zeal for missionary work is refreshing. President Amu was not able to serve a mission, so I think that really bothers him. He is trying to make up for lost time. We've been spending one day in each area, and on Sundays, we rotate. We spend about 1 to 1.5 hours training the branch missionaries and having correlation meeting. We have a meeting EVERY day.

We just found out at President interviews today that we've been doing the work all wrong. We've been having them find, and we teach. We are instead supposed to be training all the branch missionaries to teach. This means splits, every day. My current companion is, as president says, "The Best in the Mission." The goal is to make this district a stake by the end of 2010. The only thing in our way is 300 baptisms... Active baptisms. Each branch has been charged to do 5 at least, but Abomosu is about 4 times as big as Asuom, so we'll be adjusting our goals accordingly. This means every month we need to be doing 25 baptisms.

This has been a dream come true, to be honest. It has nothing to do with baptisms, but rather that I have the chance to work so much with Church leadership, and building a stake of Zion, just like the pioneers. The Spirit, where people are willing to work, is SO strong. I'm going to be honest. The goal is not too huge. Never mind that these people haven't had A baptism since the missionaries left a year ago. The past is past. I just feel as though the Lord has a special purpose for this place. Every branch missionary, every branch president, leader, investigator, and missionary has been prepared and placed for what will be a perfect storm of missionary work. The wilderness will blossom like a rose, just as was promised, and Zion will be firmly established. I only pray that the Lord will suffer me to stay for a long time (Also, Asuom should be getting internet before the end of the month, so the only con will melt away.)

I've been working to seek the Lord's guidance in everything. I've just finished Jesus the Christ and Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and for a few moments, I caught a glimpse of the entirety of the Plan. Elder LaGrand Richards talk "Missionaries Experiences" helped to. The Bible is not a blue print for a church. It is not the complete plan, by any stretch, but it is more then a patchwork of lives and stories. The Scriptures, the Priesthoods, the Principles, the Prophets, the Commandments... everything is encompassed as part of one grand whole. A single piece of fabric, with no loose ends. How blessed are we, to be living in this, the Fullness of Times, when all things are gathered into One in Christ?! And what a Fullness!! A Fullness of Peace! A Fullness of Joy! Of Happiness and Love! Oh, the mercy of the Father towards the human family!! Remembering this makes my part seem so small, but I want to do all I can to take this Fullness to others.

What else again? I feel like I should end with that. It is a spiritual high like I've never felt. I've noticed that, like Elder Jones, even when I can't understand, I can recognize when Truth, real Gospel Truth is being taught.

The house we are in is wonderful, except the spiders are about as big as my stretched-out palm. We've killed 15 so far, and chased about a dozen lizards out of our kitchen. We also killed a rat.

Elder Abu is Hyrum Smith. The horrible things he had to go through to earn his testimony makes me feel honored to work along side him. We also have a wonderful couple next to us, Elder and Sister Terry, from LA. They have been such blessings. They've served 3 missions in Africa so far -- Tanzania, South Africa, and here. Sister Terry memorizes EVERY leaders name, and picks up Twi fast. Elder Terry does not. They promised, for Christmas we'll be having tacos. I wanted to cry.

I received mail this last transfer. There can never bee too many, but it was a LOT! Thank you so much! Being cut off out here in the Bush has really taken its toll on me, and getting such a wonderful outpouring of love and support is just what the doctor ordered.

What else... I haven't learned MUCH more Twi, but I received an audio CD from the Mission Home to teach me. The Office Elders find all sorts of cool stuff from forever ago, and if you know when and what to ask, you can get a lot of cool stuff.

Love you all! Please, as part of New Year's Resolutions, remember missionary work. Everyone needs to know what you know.

Elder Farnbach