Dear Friends and Family,
Well, this last week has been up and down. Inheriting an area is a world of frustration, because the previous Senior sets the goals, and then coasts the last week, knowing he is going to be leaving, so I get to pick up the pieces. We've discovered a critical flaw in our current system. Our goal is 5 baptisms. People need to come to Church 4 times before they can be baptized. Meaning, I'm stuck with the crop of progressing investigators I'm handed to accomplish a goal I didn't set. We've been battling to get these people ready, but two have already stopped, and we don't have many options to replace them. I know these are people, not numbers, and that is one bane I'm discovering being "responsible"... I worry so much about numbers and not enough about the people.
In a related note, I've been awed by the power of the priesthood. Elder B and I were teaching this girl who is completely ready to be baptized, except for a concern or two. As we were teaching, I realized she needed a blessing of comfort. I don't think this even occurred to me... Priesthood power can bless non-members too, beyond just sickness! I know that SEEMS obvious, but how many times have we thought about giving a blessing to a non-member? But it helped me to realize the importance of always staying worthy, which is really what I want to stress to all my priesthood brethren. What kind of base and selfish scuz-of-a-man can recognize this gift, and actively ignore it? "I know I have the blessing of calling down the VERY POWERS OF HEAVEN on the heads of those I care about, but right now, I'd like to watch this pornographic movie..." We don't always realize what our actions say, but that is exactly what it means when a Melchizedek Priesthood holder decides to sin. He forfeits the ability to aid his friends and family with Divine authority.
This was never made more obvious then when Elder O. was struck by a car last week. I say car, but in all honesty, it was a truck. Like, a TRUCK! Anyway, he was thrown about 30 feet, and was knocked completely unconcious. Elder H. gave him a blessing, and then rushed him to the hospital. BTW the "hospitals" here are absolute JOKES. The doctors and nurses put him on a bed, hooked him up to a glucose/saline drip, and left him there... Anyway, he experienced some serious memory problems. He remembered most of the elders, and that he was on a mission, but he couldn't remember where he was, or when he was born. He asked every two minutes what happened, and sincerely thought he was in Nigeria. The VERY NEXT DAY, he was up and proselyting again. Yeah, if you are looking for miracles, it doesn't get much more obvious then that. President came to take him to an actual hospital, but he pointed out that in his 3 years in Ghana, NO missionary had been hit by a car. Side note, the driver was drunk, and when we took him to the police, the cop literally took him outside, and open-palmed SLAPPED him. It echoed. It was odd to see this.
This week-end, if all goes well, the girl mentioned above will be baptized, and I can begin stressing less about this area... for 3 weeks. Then I get to stress again :)
New Year's Day was nothing special. Just another excuse for people to get drunk. I'll be honest, I've never smelled alcohol before my mission. Now, I'm VERY familiar with it. For fun, when a drunk contacts US, we teach him a principle or two, and then give them the other missionaries phone number... ha! good times, good times. We also discovered Mighty bars, also known as cheap knock-off Milky Way bars. Half as good, twice as expensive, and still TOTALLY worth it.
Elder B. is doing alright. He's moving past any thoughts of going home. He has an MTC mate from his home stake, just like me, and now he is focused on keeping that guy here. Elder L. is having a tough time. Anyway, what else...? Oh, Elder B. still struggles with the local food. Seriously, I wanted to give him an academy award for his performance eating Banku. ;) BTW, the story about Elder A. you heard, Mom, is true. He frequently talks other missionaries out of their belongings. The mission reimburses us for bike lights, and everyone was told they could buy lights that cost 6 cedis. Elder A. hadn't bought his yet, but he told the office he needed 6 cedis. He then went and bought a 2 cedi light, and pocketed the difference. Frustrating in the extreme. To be fair, many African elders, though, save as much of their allowance money as possible, and send it home...
Last week, the letters that came in were wonderful. My friends, you have no idea the pure joy a letter brings this missionary! The next mail day is this Friday, which will be nice, because it is also my first interview with President as a senior... which frightens me. Don't get me wrong, I work hard, but President is all business. ALL business.
To my SPAC friends, I heard Chicago's "Fight for Your Honor" and was immediately reminded of Van-dances. My companion thought I was a little crazy... Anyway... OH! The Ghana Accra stakes are coming together to do a Dance Festival soon!!! I hope the missionaries get to be there, like they did when our region put on a dance festival.
I love you all very dearly. Remember, nothing but the will of God could separate me from you, my dear friends and family. But, the Lord has spoken, and I'll do everything in my power to obey.