Monday, July 26, 2010

# 47 - Hit By A Car - barely

Dear Friends and Family, July 26th, 2010

     This week was awesome! Sunday was a bit of a downer, but it didn't manage to sink my week. We were in such a rut last week that LAST Sunday, we decided our attitudes just weren't where they should be for people with Christ's name on their tags. We spent the whole week studying and practicing the Christ-like attributes in Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel. Worked like a charm! Even on our "bad" days, I was filled with the Hope, Faith, Charity and Love that we'd studied and prayed so hard to achieve. Heavenly Father definitely helped in SPADES this week, too.
     FIRST, I received a package from a dear friend in Utah! Oh. My. Gosh. Don't worry, REAL thank you note to follow, but it definitely played a huge role in making this week one of the best of my mission.
     THEN I was able to go on splits with Elder Tu. in Kasoa again to do interviews and jam on his ukulele. Don't worry, we worked really hard. Dad always talks about how there has to be a reason that I keep getting sent back to McCarthy Hills Zone. I think I found it. As we went and taught and interviewed people, we ran into a LOT of people that I had taught! Beatrice O., who has been faithfully attending church for about 6 months, is being baptized on Thursday: her birthday! She'll be 18, so she FINALLY can be. I was so happy to see her, and that she had stuck it out. ALSO, we ran into Benjamin A., a kid I contacted in Kasoa... when I was being TRAINED A YEAR AGO! I was like "Ben! Long time-o!" It didn't occur to me that Elder Tu. seemed to know him too... so I set an appointment with him for Elder Tu. and Elder Ber. to come to teach him again. Elder Tu. looked at me and said "What about the interview?" "That's why I scheduled it for after the un-split. We'll still do your interviews." "No... I mean HIS interview" *head whips around to Ben* "Are you finally getting BAPTIZED?!" (big smile on his face) then I smacked him. "It only took a YEAR!" Then, I was able to go check on one of my recent covert families in Kasoa. They weren't there, but they called me on Sunday. "Yeah, we're still going to church. We're there right now!" YES! So the answer is, there were definitely some people I was meant to see through to the end. President would send me away, and then the Lord said "Missed a few. Put him back!" So I went back to Buduburam. I had 6 months there, so President must've thought "Well, he's done his part there..." "NO NO NO! PUT. HIM. BACK." This stake has really become my home, and I'm doing my best to look after it.
     THEN on Sunday, Collins, who didn't have a phone or a house we could find, and who stopped coming to Church, walked into Sacrament Meeting... On time! Believe me, that's just unheard of. But now we have Collins back too, and he's just the coolest guy ever. He totally understands the importance of family, and he's doing his darndest to be a good father for his little daughter. He doesn't live with them because his mother hasn't approved the marriage yet, but he goes and visits at least once a month "so I can hold me little girl" he says. (Hi-fives!)
     Felix and his family didn't come to church, but they told us ahead of time. We were sad, but because we've been exercising our faith, it didn't get us down at all. Elder Ho. and I have also resolved to teach 40 lessons per week for the next 5 weeks. It's going to be awesome.
     Also... I got hit by a car this week! Don't worry, it only hit my elbow, with his mirror. It still caught me off-guard. The way they drive here... tseh!
     The weather is starting to get back to that place where I am perpetually sunburned. And I swelter. It's okay, it only lasts for about 9 months... Then it'll cool down, and get hot JUST before I come home.
     We had bratwursts for Dad's/America's birthday. Once I figure out a trustworthy way to do it, pictures to follow. Also, like I said, I made a CD of pictures a long time ago, but no post-office to send it from. I'll send it from Kasoa next time we go.
     I love you dearly. You have no idea how much four lines jotted down from a dear friend mean to me, and I love to hear from you! Try to spend a little extra time being like Christ. I've have the feeling that Zion is waking up every morning, running to your window and yelling "I FREAKIN' LOVE EVERYBODY!"
     Elder W. Farnbach


Sorry, I wanted to discuss some trends I've noticed. Has anyone else noticed that the last three Liahonas/ Ensigns have contained the same quote about praying for the the Lord to open up the places we currently aren't allowed to go? Pretty tell-tale, if you ask me... I hope we are all doing our part to move this work forward. It really is the most important thing we can do.
     In Kasoa, we went back to teach David, the man from Brooklyn who is just a book fanatic. The guy knows his stuff, especially when it comes to religious history. Unfortunately, it's only served to make him miserable and disillusioned. It's led me to this conclusion. The difference between fact and Truth is fact gives you knowledge, but real Truth brings happiness.
     Elder Ho. and I have also been striving to curb this mentality some missionaries get (which is a little too prevalent in our mission) that they are too good for some rules. This doesn't manifest as disobedience, but rather as doing something just for sake of saying you've done it. Area books, progress reports, contacts and companionship studies all fall under this category. We've come to call this the "Lower Law". As I was studying the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25:24 struck me.

And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled.

The Lower Law had two effects on different people. The Bible is riddled with talk of the ceremonial exactness with which some people viewed the Law. They did it for the sake of doing it, but never fully grasped the purpose, intent, and principles of the Law. The Nephites, on the other hand, fully understood the Law. They didn't bother to include the ceremonies or specifics of the rituals, but only taught the principles they learned from it. They kept the Law out of obedience, but looked forward to it's fulfillment. As such, they received Christ with open arms when He came, and lived nearly Zionistic for a good 200 years. They ditched the rigidity the moment they could (again, because of obedience).
     Which are we? All of us have to live the commandments, but are we receiving the greater benefits of them? Are we learning and internalizing this principles? Are we perfecting ourselves inwardly, besides just outwardly changing our behaviors?
     Luckily, we are in a Zone of Heroes. The average companionship in our zone teaches 30 lessons per week and has over 140 contacts. I would say almost all of them love what they do, and always strive to go the extra mile. How blessed am I to be here my entire mission?

Monday, July 19, 2010


Dear Friends and Family, July 19, 2010

     This week was not the greatest. My companion had to leave on two separate occasions. I totally understand Elder (Kyle) Jones pain when he was put in triples for so long. You just feel kinda useless. And then, on Sunday, Elder Ho. and I were both just feeling a little down. Really, though, looking out how we worked and how things are going, nothing huge has changed, we just both have pretty negative attitudes right now. Working with the "emerging Church" is really quite frustrating.
     Alex D. was baptized yesterday. That guy is the MAN! We were teaching about "Our Life on Earth" in investigators class, and he pointed out: "It's impossible to be perfect by ourselves. We need to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Can you teach us how to recognize the Holy Spirit? I think that would be better." Aaron, the best non-member in the world (long story short, he knows everything, and is waiting to be baptized with his family in the States) was just nodding and Elder Ho. and I were fist-pumping.
     We haven't had to do that week-long leadership training yet, but I'm really excited for it. I love meetings. I know that's probably weird, but I find that, with the Church, meetings are just excuses to sit around and feel the Spirit guide you in your specific office and calling, which feels great.
     You know what else feels great? Mail. Man, it felt great to hear from many people. The Brames wrote, Charlie Steele, Brendan Abbott (who is the man! Congrats on making it home in one piece!) Kat wrote, and thank you for the package, Mommy! Salami is the greatest thing man has invented. The End... of that paragraph.
     I can't say I have a huge spiritual insight this week. Really, the difference between good and great is humility. Elder Talmage points out in his AWESOME book, Jesus the Christ, that humility may well be akin to rank in the kingdom of heaven. He who understands he is least is probably greatest - which is why this week's personal study is only going to be on Christ-like attributes.
     Other point: One thing I've noticed among some of \the churches here... A lot of Ghanaians will tell you they were started just for money. Just like the Book of Mormon says, many in our days will build up Churches for the sake of getting gain. To be honest, that is where most of Ghana's poverty comes from - hard-working, honest people giving all they have because their pastor promised he would pray for them, and then he uses it to buy nice cars and a fancy home. Man. Alma talks about the horrible things priestcraft can do to a nation. I can bear testimony to it.
I saw Elder Be. at Zone Conference. The man is training! I'm going to be a grandpa! He's one of the most legit missionaries I've ever had a chance to be around. In a lot of ways, I could learn to be a lot more like him.
     A bunch of missionaries are going home. President saw this MTC group was just too huge, and decided to break up when he's sending them home by sending a bunch home a transfer early. Elder Ba., the former AP, is going home on Wednesday. That's just strange to me. He went out with a bang, though, teaching 56 lessons this week... twice as much as anyone else! That just gives me something to shoot for my last week... 60.
     Well, I can't really think of anything else... I love you dearly. Like Joseph in Liberty (not that I'm anywhere near that!), the Lord takes my darkest moments to remind me "Thy friends do stand by thee" and it is the most wonderful feeling.
Elder W. Farnbach

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

Another week in Odorkor - #45

Dear Friends and Family, July 12, 2010

This past week wasn't particularly eventful. We had some pretty cool lessons, and all, but nothing jumps out at me. Other then Zone Leaders' Council. That is officially the coolest meeting ever. I saw a lot of missionaries that I'd known for a long time as hard-working, solid missionaries, and many of them instructed. I felt like part of some dream team. We talked a lot about getting our mission back on-course obedience-wise. To be honest, this mission isn't the most obedient. So, we as Zone Leaders are tasked with cleaning all this up, and Elder Ho. and I are mega-committed to steering our zone back on course. Mind you, the McCarthy Hills Zone was never really the problem, but better safe then sorry, right?

We also were told that the Church has shaken up how mission administration work is going to be done a little. Instead of every 6 weeks, zone interviews and conferences are going to be every 12. We also will no longer report goals on a 6 week cycle, but monthly. Given the tremendous inertia we've built up on the other system, this is going to be a bit of a pain. The other thing is that Zone Leaders council will be monthly, not every 6 weeks. The idea behind this is that mission leadership, not just the Mission President, is now more responsible for the teaching and training of missionaries,. They've changed the MTC curriculum too, effective May, 2011... but I have a copy of the curriculum right now. It's so much better then what we learned and I'm excited to put it into practice. It's not a complete overhaul, like when it went from discussions to the use of Preach My Gospel, but we are changing the focus of our teaching. This one is far more centered on revelation and helping our investigators seek and receive personal divine guidance. Elder Ho. and I have tested it the past 3 days and it's amazing. Clearly, we are still governed by inspiration, because this is exactly what we've needed. I'll talk more about this principle later. We'll also have to have a week long leadership training on the subject, which I am also excited for. I'll be sending Hans a copy of this curriculum, BTW.
Completely by happenstance, Elder Golden, of the 70, and President Smith, and two members of the Stake Presidency, all attended our ward. It was amazing seeing all those priesthood keys in one place! I was teaching Gospel Essentials that day. It was nerve racking to be teaching about the ATONEMENT with your super-critical, teaching-skills-centered mission president in the class with you.

Anyway, on to the principle I've come to appreciate most this week. One of the most frustrating things I've experienced on my mission comes from when I ask which Church is true. Most Ghanaians at first answer "Oh, church is church." After a little teaching, most will generally accept that there is only one true Church, but they will say, "Only God can know which." This frightens me a little bit. When we take tests, we like to know the results as soon as possible. Yet when the stakes are as high as ETERNAL SALVATION, most people live their life in a state of guessing. This is where the ever important principle of revelation comes in. I don't mean the book in the Bible but I mean the certainty that comes from Divine communication. Elder... Whitney? I think so. His talk in the Liahona ("Built Upon the Rock", Gospel Classics section) illustrates this point perfectly. Nothing in this church, he points out, is done because the Jews did it. Nothing is done or left undone because the Nephites did it. Rather, things are the way they are because Christ, standing at the head of this Church, has revealed through our current prophet, seer and revelator, that WE must do them. An all-powerful God can surely confirm the truth of any principle to YOU. He doesn't require you to GUESS your standing before Him.

See the example of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Abraham was given a marvelous promise, and it was revealed to him that these promises would extend to his son Isaac. This old revelation to another did not satisfy Isaac, and he sought to know for certain for himself. The Lord revealed to him, just a few pages later, that these promises were for him as well. Years later, Jacob had the same concern, and pursued the same course. Again, the Lord revealed these same promises to him. If these Patriarchs, righteous as they were, were not comfortable leaving their salvation up to chance, why are we?

Peter talks of "the more sure word of prophecy", which we understand to be "a man's knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of Promise". This is what the Book of Mormon means when it says it teaches what "man must do to gain peace in this life..." It is this certainty that gives peace! It is this certainty that allowed Paul, Stephen, and Peter to give their lives for something they hadn't seen. Yes, faith is important, but faith doesn't mean that you have to walk in the dark! The scriptures repeat over and over, "ask", "seek", "knock". The Lord even promises in Jeremiah 29 "I will be found of you". We really can know, for sure, if we are pleasing the Lord. We can know if we are on the right course. We can know if, at the end of the day, everything will be alright. (Enos and Joseph Smith are both great examples of this. The prayer that prompted Moroni's visit was driven by a desire to know "[Joseph's] standing before God")

The Lord has given us the TOOLS to seek Him, through the scriptures, through His Church, and through our personal prayers. As we strive diligently to know, we can. Let us not accept doubt where we can have certainty, my friends! I invite you, especially, to pray to ask God concerning your life. Are you on the right path? The rewards for such knowledge are worth the effort! For those who don't believe in God, this is a perfect way to see if He is there! Just like walking into a dark, seemingly abandoned house, we can shout "Hello?" and listen for a response.

I love you all! I'm so grateful that we have the gospel to bind us together for time and all eternity, as I should not hope for anything less. Thank you for your love, your prayers, and your support. Not long until 1 year!

Elder W. Farnbach

Monday, July 5, 2010


Dear Friends and Family, July 5th, 2010

Well, like I said last week, I'm back in McCarthy Hills Zone. Even funnier, we had to do a ZL-DL split with...... Kasoa. [ His old area ] Because I don't know my new area that well, I had to go there. I served with Elder T. He's a big humble Samoan who is going to do wonders for the mission. I loved teaching with him. His greatest strength is one I've been trying to learn my whole mission: the gift of being quick to observe. He sees Elder B. (his trainer and former AP) and adopts every strength the guy has in minutes. Anything I did well one lesson, he could do flawlessly the next lesson.

I've gained new appreciation for my companion, Elder Ho. We sat down one night and just kinda looked at our mission. This mission has a problem with obedience. Man, just talking about it was like a punch in the gut. It put a huge hole in my stomach, for sure. Elder Ho paid me a huge compliment, saying I'm obedient, and obedient for the right reasons. He's really put a lot of work in himself. He's a clean-freak, which I'm trying to copy, and we're both setting a new standard for Obedient, hoping our Zone will follow suit. The Lord is really rewarding us, too. We've found some of the greatest people in my mission this last week. One guy, named F., was "just" a street contact. We gave him a Joseph Smith Pamphlet... which he read... and took notes. He said over and over how this just makes him happy, how it feels true. As we taught about Christ's church, and the Apostasy, he cut us off. "So what your saying is, God used Joseph Smith for a purpose..." ...Elder Ho. and I were both praying in our hearts... "say the right thing!!"... "...which was to re-build Christ's Church." YES!!! YES YES YES YES! Then he nodded his head. "I know what you'll teach me is true, so I'll believe anything you tell me." Hello, King Lamoni! [ a king in the Book of Mormon ] To top it off, he brought his daughter to church with him on Sunday! We never want our lessons with him to end.

We've also had a lot of success this week as we've taught the Plan of Salvation. This is the part of my letter on which I want everyone to focus. I'm going to attempt to answer some big questions.

"Where did religion come from?" Religion started before the world did. Heavenly Father sat down with all His spirit children in Heaven and devised a plan by which they could learn, grow, and become like him. That, at its most basic, is religion. As part of this plan, Adam and Eve came to this earth. After being given their freedom, Adam and Eve broke the commandment, not to partake of the forbidden fruit. Now, this wasn't all bad, as it gave us the chance to be born and come into this life, but more on that later. Because of transgression, Adam and Eve fell, being separated physically and spiritually from God. This continues, but also answers the next question.

"How does 'church' figure in to Christianity?" As they exercised faith, repented, and called upon God, He again gave them commandments, obedience to which would allow them to return to live with God. This is where the Church, our Church, first started on earth. Men were chosen and foreordained, according to their faith and good works, to be priests and teachers in this life, teaching others these commandments. The purpose of THE Church (singular) is to preach these correct doctrines and principles, and administer in the ordinances of salvation, through proper priesthood power.

"Then what does Christ have to do with it?" Now, as men had fallen, they were incapable of "earning" salvation through obedience only. In their weakness, no one would be perfectly obedient. Jesus Christ had been prepared from the foundation of the world to overcome the negative affects of the Fall. Any separation from God we will experience stems only from our own sins. He also opened the way to repentance for all, so that if we will repent, and come unto him, our sins may be forgiven, placing nothing between us and God.

"Why doesn't God just forgive our sins regardless? Isn't He a merciful God?" Absolutely, but He is also a just god. Every infraction has to have a punishment. These punishments don't stem from God, but are the natural consequence of poor choices. He didn't put them there, they were always there. Imagine a large canyon. A kind, wise, benevolent person would naturally put a guard-rail there. Now, you have every right to jump over that guard-rail, and break through it... but you will fall down the cliff. The man who put the guard-rail there is not the one who punished you, any more than God is the one who punishes you when you sin. Repentance, however, overpowers justice with mercy.

"How does it do that?" The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the most important event to happen in the history of the world. In the garden of Gethsemane, Christ took upon himself all our pains and afflictions, but most important, all the punishments of our sins. If a particular sin you committed required ten stripes, he instead took your ten stripes. Through his Atonement, justice was wholly satisfied and he could extend mercy to those who would accept him.

"Then why bother not to sin at all? Why not sin and repent indefinitely?" Trust me, we do that without even trying. However, to willfully sin means that you are perfectly fine with the idea of your Eldest Brother taking all your punishments, and will gladly heap it on him. Does this demonstrate a love for your fellow man? No, it does not. This means whatever you called "repentance" was insufficient, as it didn't really change you at all.

Whew! This has been the subject of our teaching for the past week. This is the Plan of Salvation, the way by which man becomes like Father in Heaven. This is the central message of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a doctrine unique to our Church, and taught in the Book of Mormon. As D&C 20:17 states, "by these things [the Restoration and the Book of Mormon] we know" God's plan for His Children, and what we must do to gain peace in this life, and happiness in the life to come.

Elder W. Farnbach

PS That's the other thing! World Cup! Ghana was robbed out of advancing, with BELLIGERENT play by the Uruguayans... At the same time, whenever Ghana beats a team with one or more whites on it, I hear "Obruny! We score you!" incessantly. Plus, every time they play, we missionaries have to go in our apartments, so I'm not broken up about the loss. When Ghana beat the US, it was horrible... except the fact that my name and complexion makes everyone think I'm from Germany. So I correct them. "Obruny, we score you!" --- "False. We score you. And England. And Argentina." GO GERMANY!