Monday, January 24, 2011

#73 Pie!

Dear Family and Friends, January 24, 2011

First and foremost, a HUGE congratulations to Hans Farnbach, for his
call to the Argentina Resistencia Mission. Way to go, Hans.
We know you'll make us proud. I am also glad you'll be
home for Mother's Day, as that is the only time we'll get to talk
for 4 years (2 for me, 2 for him).

Alright, now that that's aside, let's talk about this past week.

    Wednesday, we had to go down early with the Terry's to Accra,
because we had a mission conference with Elder Sitati the following
day, and there is just no way we could get there in the morning if we
left Thursday. It's always a little strange having a day on your
mission where you don't really have any missionary work to do. In
fact, it felt just a little off. We were crammed in the back of their
car with the Konongo Elders, and Elder He. (a greenie) and I
talked about food the whole time. Then, the Terry's had some shopping
to do, so we were inside an honest-to-goodness MALL for about an hour
and a half! That was the most surreal experience in my life. That
night, we stayed up late with our zone members and the other missionaries
I hadn't seen in a while, as Elder Bi. had arranged for us to buy a
ton of pie at said mall and we binged a little. Reminded me of
wrestling in High School... or immediately after, rather.
    Thursday was a great conference with Elder Sitati. That man is
just a legend to us here in Africa. He and his wife are just so
wonderful to be around. And he interviewed me after the conference! I
forgot about that. Having been in Abomosu the week prior, he was
interested to get my thoughts on "The Bush", and gave me a lot of
great counsel and things to think about. I told him Hans was going on
a mission, and he asked what sort of advice would I give him. Hans, be
sure to read this.
    The greatest missionary prep you can be doing has very little to
do with the scriptures or the missionary lessons. Frankly, they are
rather easy to learn, as you've been learning them for 19 years. The
most difficult and worthwhile thing to learn before your mission can
be found in Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel. The more Christlike you can
be, the better. The amount of time you can spend learning to be like
Christ, practicing His attributes, especially charity and love, is most important. It is
much much harder when you are crammed in the back of some dusty, beat-up, tro-tro,
where the driver insists on going over EVERY hole in the road, and
when people are selling you food with maggots in it. Much much better
would it be to already be like the Savior BEFORE you come out.
    Oh, and then after the interview, I got to sit and talk with
President while Elder Do. also had his interview. Elder Terry
joked that missionaries always talk about food. Well, talking to
President Smith, I was telling about Elder Ho., the picture he sent
of him with his girlfriend, and how I couldn't tell which he
talked about more, the girlfriend or chocolate milk. President
confessed that the thing he's looking forward to most is a "nice,
huge steak". I laughed at the idea that President might be just a
little trunky himself! (He's been in Ghana for 4 years now! 2 as a
senior missionary couple and then immediately as Mission President)
    Saturday, we had organized a branch missionary training for all
the missionaries in the district. It was awesome. We made it a point
of making it as hands-off as possible. One branch mission leader
instructed on "Our Missionary Purpose" and the other spoke on "How My
Calling Affects the Work of the Lord in My Branch" We rounded off the
whole thing by inviting these missionaries to share their own
conversion stories and share what blessings the Gospel has given
them. It was a powerful experience. I know these young men were saved
by the Lord to come to Africa at this time, to prepare this great land
for the Restored Gospel, and the coming of Christ.
    Sunday was a branch conference in Asuom. Afterwards, the District Presidency sat
down with all the branch missionaries (and us) and gave them another
great pep talk. 8 were there, from a small branch of 40. We're hoping
for big things, that's for sure. Sunday also, Daniel O. and Kwesi
A. didn't come to Church, so we have to delay their
baptisms. :( On the bright side, though, we started teaching his
father. I'm not sure why the idea of another book of scripture is so
hard to take, but after about 30 minutes of every metaphor we could
think of ("God gave you two hands, right? Does that mean the right
isn't good? NO! But thank goodness we have two, and not just one!"), I
think he finally started to understand. Friends, the Book of Mormon is
true. Read it. Allow for even the possibility that it might be real,
and then carefully observe how you feel while reading it.
    As Sunday numbers came around, I became a little discouraged. As
I thought back on the scriptures I realized something. Relying solely
upon the merits of Christ is the only way not to go insane in the
Church. We have an attitude of "Everything is My Fault". I think
that's healthy and stems from our understanding of agency. No matter
how bad something is, you can do something to make it better. When
someone else is mostly at fault, it is still your job to apologize.
Agency. Anyway, this has an interesting side-note, which means that
whenever things are still bad, one could easily blame himself. But if
we rely on the merits of Christ, we give our best effort, but realize
at the end of the day, He could do it better, and that God knows that,
and will cut us a little slack, so we can too. This also demonstrates
the tremendously fine balance the Gospel has. You can't NOT try due to
this doctrine without being in the wrong, but you shouldn't kick
yourself TOO MUCH either. There are about a thousand examples of this
(Everyone should work hard and take care of themself. Also, we have an
amazing humanitarian program. Balance), but at the end of the day, it
just proves the Church is true. Christ built it. He leads it today,
and therefore the doctrine is just as perfect as He is.

Anyway, love you! Next time we talk, I'll have just 6 months left! I
intend to finish on a sprint!

Elder W. Farnbach

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