Dear Friends and Family, January 3rd, 2011
Well, another week has flown by. Oh thank Heaven, it's 2011! New Year's is a HUGE deal in Ghana, and by huge deal, I mean that whole villages shut down to celebrate. Really, it takes two days. First, they call it 31st December, so they can party. Then the 1st is New Year's... so they can party. Did I mention I had never smelled alcohol before my mission? Now I know what it smells like. Vividly.
This week was special, because we had to have ZLC [ zone leader conference ]early. It was also special because Elder Sitati of the 70/area presidency was there. What a great experience. I asked him, what was the secret to his conversion? He laid it out pretty easily. He referred us all to Alma 32, talking about a faith experiment. The answer to conversion is merely doing what the Lord has asked. If you will pray morning and night, read your scriptures, attend your meetings, redeem your dead, fulfill your calling, and pay your tithing, you WILL be converted. No doubts, no questions, just fact.
Unfortunately, whenever we have ZLC, we basically lose two days of work, because we so far out into the bush. It really cuts into having much to say.
We have been finding a lot of families lately, and it's been a real blessing. We have the Dziadzorwos (figure that out, I dare you. Ewes have the hardest names.), the Y.s, the Do.s, and the Fr.s. One of the families was supposed to be baptized in October, but the dad disappeared into the western region to harvest cocoa. He turned up in December, so we pre-interviewed him and figured that he was still ready to baptize. "I'll be here until the 10th," he said. So we put his baptism on the 1st. On Wednesday we called and he repeated, "I'm here until the 10th." On Friday, he was to be interviewed for real... but was nowhere to be found. "He's gone to harvest cocoa in the Western Region!" GAH! But, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as now that he's gone, his wife has turned up, and we've started teaching her as well. She doesn't speak English, but her children and husband do, so they can all be baptized together. The father of another of the families is an elder in the Church of Pentecost, but he was the only one of his family who came to church this past week. I'm hopeful.
We also have been trying to do our part to serve the members. We talked to the branch president in Asuom, and Elder Do. was prompted to ask if anyone needed our help. That was not what we were there for, mind you. The President had a friend whom we wanted him to pick up for church on Sunday. But, in answer to the question, he led us to the former branch president, who led us to Daniel O.. Daniel had been to church twice. "What is the book of Moses? I can't find that in my Bible." We read the section in the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 8, about the role of a seer. Joseph Smith revealed certain things that have been written, and hidden... like the Book of Moses. It's proof that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by one holding the Priesthood authority of God? "Yes!" Seriously, it goes just like that. When the Spirit is there, you find those people who are prepared, and missionary work is just a miracle. That's all.
In the long walk between these houses, I was pondering the concept of "treasures in Heaven". I've always wondered what that really meant. As I pondered on it, I was looking over my mission and all the wonderful people I have met and have been privileged to serve. It occurred to me that the phrase "treasures in heaven" could not possibly mean anything physical. Joseph Smith points out that the same society that we enjoy here, exists there. A life-time of good deeds, selfless service, and sacrifice will yield billions of cherished friendships and wonderful shared memories. These are as eternal as the beings who wrought them, and are, in my opinion, what MUST be meant by "treasures in Heaven". So, no fast cars, piles of gold coins and jewels, or anything like that. Who needs them, anyway?
The other thing is, we met Ebenezar, a less-active member who left the Church over the doctrines of Eternal Marriage and baptism for the dead. So, basically, everything that distinguishes our Church from everyone else's. It was sad, but I felt my testimony grow as I bore it to him. He's a good man, and the Lord needs all His Priesthood bearers to work. – By the way, welcome to the team, Hans. Thank you for living worthy of the Melchizedek Priesthood. You are such a blessing to our family.
Love you all. Transfers are soon, but I'm not going anywhere....for a long time. Have a wonderful New Year. 2011 has so many possibilities and blessings for all of us. Especially you!
Elder W. Farnbach
(A spider bit me and gave me a nasty little red welt under my arm. I think he got the worst of it, though, as I was disgustingly sweaty that day.)