Dear Family and Friends,
So this week has been another wonderful week in Buduburam. Or Budumburum. How people say is 50/50 in the town. Anyway... First and foremost, I made it back out to the bush again. We have one investigator who has been coming to church for about 2 months. We knew he lived far out, so we'd only taught him at the church. His baptism is this week, though, so we tried to go out to visit him at his home. Answer: Village. Seriously, it's like identical to Abomosu. Elder B. gets really excited every time I say we have to go out there. The man's name is Samuel T. He's pretty cool, and he understands remarkably fast. I think we've taught him 6 times and he knows EVERYTHING. He always insists on paying for our transport, which I really appreciate, too. It's little acts of kindness like that that make you love the people. We've gotten 3 free Tro-Tro rides back just from speaking some Twi with the Tro-Tro mates. They just laugh and laugh, and Elder B. and I can't help but smile. I think they've started to catch on though. One guy REFUSED to speak to us until we paid. Also, we had a member come to give us a ride... He also happened to be a member of PARLIAMENT. Yeah, we made sure to get his business card. Because he dropped us off in the bush, he said we may need to spend a little more to get a taxi to take us back home, and handed us 20 cedis! It's been wonderful. And people keep feeding us! Elder Fi. got NO FMs [ free meals ] in Buduburum, and we've had 5 so far.
President Smith looked over our Area Books last interviews, and said we were doing pretty well, especially for such a young companionship. It was helpful though. He said, "Elders, you don't know enough about these people for the Spirit to prompt you." He then pointed out we reported 34 new investigators for the last 3 weeks, and only had records for 9 of them. As is the nature of a mission, we can lose people as fast as we find others, but we still need to have records. That way, should one of us dislocate our jaw vomiting violently or something, the other can pray, and look over our former investigators, feeling out who we should see. President's new rule is, until they are baptized, we don't destroy ANY teaching records. "For as long as we've been in Buduburam, it should be a stack about waist high,"he said. We've been working really hard on learning more about our investigators. We've had two lessons where we just sit and talk, which was really awesome.
We had some really cool lessons this week, too. Last Monday night, I taught one investigator everything. Literally. Elder Hi. was doing an interview, and Charles was there. He always has a ton of questions, and to be honest, it's easy to lose control of the lessons if we aren't careful. He asked, "What is the doctrine of your Church?" What kind of organization can you possibly some up all it's beliefs in 45 minutes? I ended up reading the Articles of Faith with him, and then going through the 4 Gospel Principle lessons: The Restoration of the Gospel, the Plan of Salvation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Commandments.... every principle of every lesson. It gave me a wonderful appreciation for the wholeness or fullness of the Restored Gospel. In 45 minutes, we could talk a little about EVERYTHING we need to know to succeed in this life. We gave him a Book of Mormon, and he was so happy, he kissed it.
The interview was a success by the way. Matilda A., 19, is the newest member of the church as of yesterday. She's awesome. Her testimony is powerful, and she's the only member in her family. She feeds us every time we go over there, and it's never good :P One time we were walking that way, and Elder B. said, "She's going to feed us again, isn't she?" "I hope it's not Fanti Kenke," I said. "I hope it's not Banku," he said. Answer: It was both. Seriously though, we love Matilda, but we make a point of spending just enough time to teach a lesson and get out of there before she starts cooking.
We have two more baptisms coming up this weekend, Samuel and Othello. Samuel, we worry about, because we just found out he might not be in any ward or branch boundaries. Last time that happened, President said they couldn't be baptized. Priesthood Keys are THAT important. Othello, we also worry about, because his wife is constantly trying to cut him off at the knees. Seriously. Supportive families make ALL the difference.
Then, the week after, we set to baptize a man named John G., whose family have all been members since 2004. He's the father and he figured it's time he gets seriously. It's wonderful when his wife always sits in and testifies for us. Her understanding isn't great, but she knows truth when she hears it. Every time we come, we find them reading the Book of Mormon together to prepare for our lesson. The Spirit is automatically there. Last time, we taught about repentance, and it was so cool. I learned a ton, and I was the one "teaching". Repentance IS Mosiah 3:19. I'd never thought of it before, but it all clicked there. Elder B. has been reading the Teachings of Joseph, and he hits great nuggets from time to time, too. If we want to be where God is, we need to be like God is. That is, by definition, repentance. It does not mean saying sorry every time you do something wrong. It means turning your heart and mind to the ways and mind of God. It means giving your Celestial Spirit full mastery over your Telestial body. When we do this, then we can truly say we've repented. We also taught about the Restoration in Investigators class, and had some pretty profound realizations there. What is a Church, really? It is the GOVERNMENT or KINGDOM of Heaven. The priesthood authority is how God designates who can do what in His Kingdom, and Baptism is how we become full citizens. Which means Elder B. and I, as humbly as I can put it, admit people into the Kingdom of Heaven. That is a HUGE responsibility, and that is why President has stressed stewardship lately. "You are responsible for EVERY PERSON in your geographical area." I've been way better at my Area Book since, and I keep multiple records. I have one book for just meetings and instruction and interviews, one for personal study, a journal, 17 planners, and an Area Book. I meticulously organize and date all my mail now. If God is going to read from the Book of Life, I want to be the one deciding what stays in and what goes out.
As to what you said last week, Dad, I really try and talk about our investigators, but I realized something, reading about other missions. We just have too many people! President HATES when we have more than 5 or 6 recent convert lessons, and we are NEVER supposed to go teach inactives. We see a person maybe 12-15 times, baptize them, and then trust our ward to take them from there. We can't visit too much, because as soon as someone is baptized, we have another 4 or 5 coming down the pipe.
Buduburam itself is kinda a ghetto. Well, it's a refugee camp, to be honest. There are HUGE rivers of just FILTH from all the shanties, and it can reek horribly. Liberian English is also the MOST difficult to understand. Imagine French meets Ebonics. It's kinda strange, though. You'll see a family, living in just one tiny room, unable to find water to wash with, playing X-box together. A lot of things just don't quite fit. President is considering putting an apartment out in the town part of it, but I'm praying I'm long gone before that happens. There is no food or market there, and power is hard to come by. We'll see...
The Chapel is rented, but the Ward is really mixed. We have some POWERFUL members there, and some who look at it like "their Church" with no understanding as to what that means. Last week, the Elders' Quorum got together to start doing better to look after each other. "When you get a contract to build something, call members to help you! We all need to be working together to build Utah here!" Then they chewed out their High Councilor for allowing the Area to send someone from Accra and paying him to clean the building, when plenty of Buduburumians(sp?) don't have jobs. I loved it. Utah isn't Zion, but it's really a miracle to think of how the Church functions when it's in full force. Always remember how blessed you are to have home teachers, even if they don't come all the time, and to have all your young men given the priesthood, all your youth baptized etc. etc. A lot of that just isn't here yet.
Anyway, I've written a lot, and it's probably starting to bore a lot of you. Thanks for putting up with it ;)
I love you all very much. As I've come to realize, it is only the will and power of God that I'll allow to come between us. But, as Joseph Smith said, at some point in our lives, we all must make a sacrifice as great as Abraham's. Whether that is now or later, I don't know, but my heart longs to be home with those I love and care about. I have work to do here, though, and will not come home until it is finished.