Monday, October 11, 2010

#58 - Bad Weather - 95 Year Old Convert

Dear Friends and Family, October 11, 2010

     Sorry the letter is late. We had a horrible storm last night, and it knocked out power on our whole side of the Greater Accra Region. Dansoman, Odorkor, McCarthy Hills, and Kasoa were all dark for about a day. Right now, I'm on a split in Dansoman with Elder Ki., a Ugandan who's just finishing his first transfer on his mission. This means I'm away from my notes, though, so I can't promise it will be as thorough as I'd planned.

     This past week, we've been killing ourselves in all the best ways. I had to instruct on the Doctrine of Christ: Our Missionary Purpose, and it's really has me fired up about missionary work. It showed the whole week. Wednesday, we received a referral from the Stake President. It was an old pioneer member family who left the Church before the June Revelation (That's what they call the Official Proclamation #2 here. I love that name!), so they were never baptized. Now, at 95, Emmanuel A. and his wife want to come back and be baptized. With this wonderful family, I felt a lot like the prodigal son's father. "Oh, come back! Thank goodness you are back! We've missed you so much!" I'm going to do everything we can so that these two can receive the full blessings of the Gospel and the Priesthood before they pass away. As they told their story, I was shocked by how much the early Ghana Church sounded like the early Church in America. William Johnson was organizing unofficial branches all over, and was viewed as the head of the Church while he was trying to get Salt Lake to send missionaries. He went to Cape Coast to start things up there, and another man came in and diverted about 70% of the members and formed a different church, slowly phasing out the Book of Mormon and anything about Joseph Smith. Emmanuel followed this group. As the Area Presidency was interviewing early members of the Church, this man's name kept coming up, so they found him. Elder Golden invited this man to a Stake Conference, and there, he decided he wanted to join the Church again. And I am to help!!

     We've also been doing our best to work with the members. We have a recent convert named Frank S., and we've started teaching his wife. She had some very good questions about Eternal Marriage, so we decided to bring Bro. and Sis. M., who are just preparing to get sealed in the temple. Sis. M. converted her husband, and he's a brilliant guy, who knew Frank's brother at school. It still turned out awesome. President said member involvement, or the lack thereof, is Ghana's greatest missionary challenge and any improvement is big improvement. So we'll keep trying. The Elder's Quorum 1st counselor, Dr. Ki.'s son, is giving an investigator a ride, so that is progress!

     I learned a lot from my instruction, but the biggest ideas I gained were about repentance and our unique message. Repentance is not an event, it is an attitude. As Dad said once, there is no tit-for-tat in the Atonement. One sin does not require one repentance. As Alma showed in Alma 36, repentance is how we can be made free from guilt and pain in the past. When we repent, we gain light and understanding about God's plan, which fills us with a desire to sin no more, and to help others experience these same blessings. Our repentance can be measured in part by our attitude towards the Sacrament. The bread and water represent Christ, and if we are lax in our participation of this ordinance, chances are we don't really care enough to repent. The other thing to remember is that part of repentance is enduring to the end. As Nephi tells us, this requires a love of God and of all mankind. If we are not doing all that we can to help others to receive the same blessings we have, we are not pressing forward, we are moving backward!

    Transfers are Wednesday. Tomorrow, we find out who leaves and where they are going. I am praying that I stay. I never want to leave Odorkor. Sis. A., our RS president, just had her baby. She drove herself to the hospital, and home... 3 days later. That woman is awesome.

     I'm not sure what else to say. Like I said, I'm away from my notes. I want you all to know that I love what I've been called here to do. Sometimes, my letters may seem preachy, but that's because I know that this is true. Everything I've been sent to teach, I know firmly is true. I would be selfish not to share this with everyone. Repentance is real. Jesus Christ made everything possible in His infinite Atonement, through much blood, sweat, and tears. Surely, we can all do our part in this great Latter-Day work!

Elder W. Farnbach

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