Dear Friends and Family,
First and foremost, I'm in the Celestial Kingdom. I can hear you asking now "Did Elder Farnbach get Translated? Hit by a Tro-Tro?" Well, in both cases, you'd be horribly wrong. It's MANGO SEASON!!! Man, that is seriously the best feeling. Everywhere I look...mangoes. Makes me wish I had a blender... [he used to make smoothies for a living]
Now, on to more spiritual matters. This past week we had another baptism. 3 baptism Saturdays in as many weeks. Needless to say, it was incredibly stressful. Every baptism is stressful, because we worry if they going to show up on time. At all? Is the record done? Who will conduct? Anyway, it's easy to get caught up in the stress and forget we are saving people. Our last two have been really great. This last one was for 2 part-member families. It was only the baptizees, the missionaries, and the spouses, and it was wonderful. One had been who had been a member since back in 2004, and was endowed. Her children are all members, and now we've put a priesthood holder at the head of that family (John G.). They were holding hands, and Ma was leaning on Dad in his baptismal picture, which is a wonderful example/sad rarity in a culture that really doesn't promote much affection outside of sex :/
The other was actually someone I was teaching in Kasoa, and then I was transfered. The Buduburam elders found out this person actually lived in their boundaries (whoops!) and baptized him, so I started teaching his wife, S. Sarah is wonderful. She doesn't speak a LICK of English, so the bishop's wife would translate for us. We took Elder Bo., the only Ghanaian in our district, to teach the more sensitive matters, and he said "Why am I here? She already knows everything!" She would drop anything to allow for her full membership in the Church. At the sacrament meeting when she was confirmed, we realized that we didn't have her son's birthday on her record. We asked her, and she said she'd find out. At the end of sacrament meeting, she SPRINTED over to me, and grabbed me by the shoulders, (as I had forgotten, and was about to leave). In a thick accent, between pants, I heard "February 26th, 1984". It was a little ridiculous thing, but I felt how important it was to her that everything was done according to God's directions. I conducted the baptism, and then was asked to give the closing remarks. I spoke entirely about the temple, and about how there is only so far we can progress in the gospel alone. We need to be sealed to a worthy spouse.
Elder Dickson, of the Area Presidency came and spoke to our mission. To be honest, I'd heard he was "kinda dull", especially after having had mind-blowing doctrinal discussions with Elder Cardon, the Area President. But Elder Dickson's instruction was AWESOME! I was asked to speak there as well. To be honest, I hadn't REALLY prepared... but I am realizing (not to toot my own horn) that I have a wonderful deposit of the "Words of Life", especially from these past few weeks. As I was assigned the topic of the Atonement, I was drawn to speak on Alma 7:11-12. I remembered when Elder Jones first showed me this scripture, but it became perfectly clear to me. Christ, suffered all our pains and sorrow, our challenges and sins. There is nowhere the sheep can get lost where Christ cannot rescue them. My favorite line (this whole talk was not from me, it just came as I spoke. It was a wonderful feeling) was "This applies to our investigators, because they need to know there is no where the they can stray that Christ does not know. More importantly, though, we need to remember this as missionaries. As we seek the lost sheep, we need to be led by the Shepherd who knows where they are." Elder Dickson then gave a wonderful discourse on "Becoming the Sons and Daughters of God" through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I wish I brought all my notes to the internet cafe, as it took up almost 3 pages in the Large Plates of Farnbach, but it helped me to realize so many things I can do to improve myself, my teaching, my companionship, and my stewardship. I bought another notebook so I can make notes about each investigator, so our Area Book can be immaculate. Our companionship studies have new meaning. We need to become the Sons of God, and for missionaries, that means becoming master teachers.
We've already seen incredible improvement. To be honest, I know my way around the Bible. Not perfectly, but enough. I always loved that the Church had answers for everything, and loved to rely on huge piles of scriptural evidence that this could really be the only true Church. But this past few days, I've been doing my best to point people towards the Spirit. To let the Spirit speak for itself. I mean, if the biblical evidence were enough, these people would already be members. They already have the Bible. They know it. But as I read just a few passages from the Book of Mormon, and stopped relying on what I know, and more on the Spirit to do it's part, He never failed to impress.
We've been trying to do that as a companionship as well. We went out to Awutu, and were led to contact a few homes in the hinterlands. There was actually nothing there, but we were led up into a high mountain. As we got there, we looked over the entire area of Awutu and Buduburam, and I remembered Ensign Peak, and how apostles would dedicate land for missionary work. Elder B. and I decided to get on our knees and offer up a prayer for the people of our area. We prayed that the Spirit would prepare the hearts of those we taught, and that we would be led to find those who needed us. It was a few days prior to the mission conference, and were it not for Elder Dickson's awesome talk, it WOULD have been the best day on mission. But seriously, Elder Dickson's talk blew my mind. It made me realize how much is done to strengthen us, and opened my mind as to how I need to organize our companionship efforts, and efforts with the ward members. I know the organization in this letter is suffering, but that's because I have SO MUCH I want to share!
I've fallen in love with the Vision of the Tree of Life. It is a road map for believers, and a warning to those who reject the truth. I love the Book of Mormon for the same reason! Read it! Tons!
As I look at all the changes in the Church, I cannot help but feel that something big is coming. This back-to-basics approach to so much, improved literacy programs, a new virtue for young women, and a fourth-fold mission... the Church is preparing for another crazy growth spurt. What are you doing to help the work along? To prepare? Do everything you can! Beg your Heavenly Father for inspiration daily!
Last and not least, I heard from Elder Jones, Tyler Walker and Ion... sorry Ion, I just can't spell it from memory yet... it was wonderful to hear from my brothers like that! I also got that last letter from Oma and Grandpa Bill and the Farnbach Christmas team :P
Love you all, very dearly. Things are going WONDERFULLY in Africa, and in Zion. I look forward to returning and taking up stewardship in my part of the vineyard, and working together with all of you. I'm becoming as effective as I can here to help there. God bless!
Love, Elder Farnbach