Monday, May 31, 2010

Elder Golden!!!

Dear Friends and Family, May 31, 2010

I am glad to report another wonderful week. This past week felt a lot like spinning our wheels, at first. We've been struggling to remember how to find people to teach, to be honest. We've been so focused on working with the people in our teaching pool for the last two transfers, and we've not been doing much to expand it. I mean, we are required to find a certain number of new investigators every week, but unless they volunteer to jump in the font, we didn't really have much of a chance to spend any time with them. All our leadership is worried about how we will fare next transfer, (mostly because they know their expectations have been strenuous), and it's really bothered me too. To be honest, we didn't really find anyone this week that is too interested in hearing our message. This added to my mental stress. Presidents always emphasizes continued, diligent service for the Lord. "We're trying to gradually increase the work, not shoot a rocket to the moon,"- a statement every Ghana, Accra missionary has pounded into them. So as it was time to set goals (as the transfer ended), I was really worried. I've never stepped my goal down before. On Sunday, a ton of past investigators whom we thought had given up decided to show up to Church. It was amazing. Again, I felt the Spirit reassuring me of what we were doing. I had put in the work this past week, but the agency of the people needed to be respected. God rewarded the work, just not the way I'd expected. I felt the Lord reassure me, there will be plenty of work to be done next transfer, too. Diligence would be rewarded, despite my weaknesses.
     This being said, I smell a transfer brewing. The Assistants constantly remind me to update my area book, to make sure Elder Q. knows the Camp very well, to coordinate with the Ward Mission Leaders in Kasoa (now TWO wards, by the way), to have a list of investigators for the soon-to-be Kasoa missionaries (don't tell anyone!) and to make sure Elder Q. can show them around Kasoa, too... all things that I could do if I was still going to be here. I've been in the camp for 6 months, so it wouldn't be surprising. Then again, Elder Q. and I joke frequently about President spending a great deal of his time attempting to thwart my information-gathering skills. Misinformation HAS been employed before. But it would make sense that I'll be moving next Wednesday (the 9th).
     Anyway, back to the week... we had a rare privilege this last week. Elder Q. spoke on Sunday... so did Elder Golden. Elder Christoffel Golder Jr., 1st counselor in the Area Presidency, and of the 70. You may remember him as the GUY WHO GAVE THE OPENING PRAYER AT THE CLOSING SESSION OF CONFERENCE. It was amazing. I really love Elder Golden. The man knows the Doctrine and Covenants like the back of his hand. This past time, he spoke a lot on the culture of the Gospel. It was amazing to see him boldly talk of the changes that need to occur. He spoke against the marriage traditions and funerals that, as he says, are "the reason Africa is poorer then it should be." First, he established to the people that he too is an African. "I was born in South Africa. My family has been there for 300 years. This is the only continent I've ever known." Then he continued to discuss that we are Latter-Day Saints first, everything else second. He also talked a lot about the blessings that come with that knowledge. "Imagine Ghana played Brazil in the World Cup in a few weeks -- we hope, right?" he joked. "Imagine the Lord said to Ghana 'Don't worry, you'll win that game, and Brazil can't do anything about it. They can put 50 men on the pitch.' ... This is the promise given to the Latter-Day Saints... Let us be cheerful! We've not lost the battle, we've won it!" Then we sang a hymn, #48 Glorious Things Are Said of Zion (Go read that after you finish!). I cannot believe I've never sung it before. He stopped us, as we sang, and said "Brothers and Sisters, this isn't a funeral! This song should be sung twice as fast as you are singing it. Let's try again." and then the congregation exploded. It was an amazing feeling as I stopped thinking about these people as Africans and more as fellow citizens with the Saints, and of the Household of God. This is as much Zion as my beloved Happy Valley. It also focused my mind on what Elder Q. and I were really doing here. Building Zion is the duty of EVERY latter-day saint. That will erode the barriers that exist in our minds between all aspects of the work of the Church. Missionary work isn't the duty of one group of people, nor is perfecting the saints, nor is redeeming the dead, nor is caring for the poor and needy. We tend to niche ourselves into one of those 4, I think. That is wrong. All of those are duties of citizens in Zion. Who doesn't want to be there, right? So do your part!
     The last thing I wanted to discuss is the Book of Mormon. This past week, the people we've been contacting have been much better versed in the anti-LDS material that is going around. Throughout the mission, Elders are complaining of this. The Office Elders were given a copy of an ancient book "The Kingdom of the Cults" of which Latter-Day Saints are supposedly included. (We looked over it to get a sense of the investigators mind-set. It was funny, the books biggest complaint is that the LDS lifestyle is enticing because it makes people family oriented, happy, and hard working. The author complains how hard it is to bash a Saint because "they can quote you into silence.") The hardest thing for Elder Q. and me is getting people just to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. For those of my friends who are not LDS, I wish to plead... a simple thing is simple to do! There is nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain from a certainty of the Book of Mormon's divinity. If the book is true, life becomes remarkably straight-forward. Everything is explained with a level of simplicity that is IMPOSSIBLE to misunderstand. The very plan of our loving Heavenly Father is unfolded to you in a way that brings purpose and comfort to "all men everywhere". The Savior's Spirit and presence can be felt as you turn its pages. I testify that it is the pure word of God, devoid of the ideas or interpretations of men, and invite you to find out the same.
I love you all very much. I've felt a growing mushiness as I think about each one of you. The most simple things bring to mind a lifetime of happy memories, and fill me with the faith of many, many more. Pray always, and remember the love of your Savior, Jesus Christ.
  Elder W. Farnbach

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