Dear Friends and Family, December 13, 2010
Well, first full week in Abomosu. I'm away from my journal, but I'll try my best.
This week, we had training in Koforidua. I finally met the whole North Zone. It's really quite an ordeal. We have 17 branches, and only 16 missionaries, so we are really spread out. Elder Do. and I are all by ourselves, and we are about 2 hours from the nearest companionship. It was nice to see, and in many cases, meet all of them. The Bush is a select group. Many missionaries disappear out there, and stay there for a long time.
I had done this exact training and instruction before, but it is proof that repetition is the heart of learning. I gained a lot of insight into something that seems relatively monotonous. Really, the Gospel has no small doctrines, for "by small and simple means are great things brought to pass". Something as simple as getting to know our investigators became a bit of a journey into the concept of divine identity.
After this, I had a split into Konongo. Konongo is the far-flung reach of our mission, but it's a relatively big town. They are over three branches. Elder Bo. has been there for 7 months. Elder Be. is being trained there. He's a cool kid, and he's the first missionary of his generation, so his parents send him a lot of candy. We binged a little. It was great. I saw someone with a Portland Marathon 2005 finisher shirt. As someone who ACTUALLY finished that race, I was slightly miffed that anyone would donate that shirt. Plus, it'd be a bit hot here... anyway, not to sound proud, but it really struck me how much I've changed and grown on mission. The elder I was with was just over a month old, and a lot of the things he really had to struggle to remember, I did naturally. This is not to say I am better, but rather it shows what Elder Scott was saying. I was worried that I really hadn't changed too much on my mission, (like a frog in boiling water, right?) but as I saw a sharp contrast, I saw that I was doing better than I realized. It was a wonderful feeling.
We saw a lot of really great people, and extended a lot of dates. I know that Heavenly Father has put some of His greatest children in Africa to ready for those coming later. At the same time, it takes a lot of work. Elder Bi. has a branch in Oda that, upon being reminded that they are to speak English in their services instead of Twi, some members threw their temple recommends on the ground, and stormed out. When looking at Church History, this is Kirtland. People come in droves. People leave in droves. Leaders are refined in this crucible, and, not to be rude, but those who do not have deep roots, are scorched and offended.
This Sunday, we worshipped in Asuom. I was invited to speak. "On what?" "You choose." This is the worse thing a missionary could hear. What on earth does that mean? However, I knew that the Spirit was there to direct the meeting, so I tried my best to listen for it. Ideas about Peter and the story of "Lovest thou me more than these?", and the unity that comes from the covenants we have all made, whether we are white or black, Nigerian or Ghanaian, tribes, creed, gender, it doesn't matter. I was the second speaker. The first speak spoke on the Gospel and baptism. I spoke on making covenants and being united by a love for the Lord, that we would sacrifice anything for, and the third speaker spoke on the Law of Consecration. I was so happy that I had picked up, at least a little, of what needed to be taught.
The other thing that struck me was rooted in the principle that the study of doctrine changes behavior faster then the study of behavior changes behavior. Every branch we go to is discussing home teaching in their elder's quorum. Doesn't matter what we start with, it ends with everyone complaining that no one is doing it. Well, the answer is, we are studying behavior, and not doctrine. A few scriptures we read about diligence, and answering for the people we didn't teach, and the room got really quiet. Another scripture about the blessings of fulfilling our priesthood duties (The Oath and Covenant), and no one said anything again... until someone managed to make it about behavior again. People can argue with how YOU think a scripture should be applied, but NO ONE can argue with the doctrine itself.
I love you. I'm excited for Christmas. I'm a little stressed out about just how difficult everything is going to be here in the bush, but I'm going to do all I can, and then leaving it to the Lord. I love the people of Africa, and will not give them anything less.
Elder W. Farnbach