Monday, July 18, 2011

#97 Serving the Lord

Dear Family and Friends,                              July 18, 2011

     What a wonderful week. I received some complaints over the brevity of last week's letter, and therefore remembered to bring my journal to supplement. The key thing that stuck out to me this week is the peace that comes from the Gospel. Joseph Smith said once that the major differences between our religion and any others could be summarized in the mode of baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. As my companion and I have tried to listen for the promptings of the Spirit, we have felt great happiness. It usually isn't something you notice, until you sit down at 9:00pm, look over the day, and get the feeling you saw everyone who needed to be seen, said what needed to be said, and heard a subtle whisper telling you "Well done, my good and faithful servant." It is an honor to serve the Lord. It is no secret that Elder Farnbach enjoys the idea of popularity and notoriety. But I would gladly trade being a king, a president, a rock star to be introduced by the Savior only as "My servant, Elder Farnbach"
     Funny stories: District meeting was the start of it this week. Elder Ba. raised his hand as we were discussing our investigators "What ever happened to America?" ... ... ... "What an inspired question!" Actually, it turns out there was an investigator named Amedika, and I just heard it wrong. It was a riot, though. I have such respect for the Senior couples. There is nothing LESS obligatory then serving a senior mission, and in GHANA? Wow. Then, we were fetching water for someone, and I was just joking around about how no one has gone down there to check the well in a long time. "You go first" said our new friend. "Don't worry, Bible says angels will catch you." Elder Ni. "No, DEVIL says angels will catch you!"
    We also had many opportunities to go by some recent converts. We have really focused on teaching those who have the potential to remain active (and avoid people with a lot of dependencies. The stuff about the Church in Ghana is pretty vicious, so SOME family member is going to be against it. If they happen to be paying your investigator's school fees, there is nothing you can do.) We have two 65+ year old guys who have just wonderful testimony. It really wasn't so much about teaching as just being there for them. One was a soldier who toured the Holy Land. He was just so happy to have someone listen, I think. Service doesn't have to be big, but it sure feels rewarding. With President Judd really emphasizing "Every interaction with a missionary should build faith," it helps focus your mind on opportunities to serve and bear testimony. Something simple like "Can I carry that water for you? We are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Jesus went about doing good, and we are His servants."
     As we were out finding, we had two really great experiences. We walked into a compound to be greeted with "Good! You are here!" It was a wonderful Catholic family that Elder Ni. had contacted and made an appointment with that he forgot while we were on splits. But we happen to arrive when they were expecting us... We read from the Book of Mormon with them. People in Ghana do not particularly enjoy reading, but they do love the Savior. Once we share that the Book of Mormon is scripture, that it does not fight the Bible, and that it teaches about Jesus Christ, most of them are pretty accepting. I love that about Ghana. Back home, people get uncomfortable talking about these things. Here, in big letters, shops are named "By His Grace!" or "God is Good". Faith. The other great one was a man who is struggling with alcoholism. As we knocked on his door, and talked a little, we shared about Joseph Smith and the Restoration, he said "I have been praying about finding the true Church for three days... and here you are." He will need a lot of help. Alcohol is a strong addiction, and so easy to get in Ghana. But I know the Lord heals hearts and bodies as we repent.
     Maybe it is just the warm fuzzies I've been feeling all week, but Sunday, I realized our branch is really doing a great job. It is easy, coming from well-established Stakes of Zion, where you father's father's have all held callings, and you just kinda know what is going on, to be critical. But many of these people are new to the Church. They are anxious to serve, but there is just so much you don't think to teach! I was just soaking in the moment as I looked around at the clerk, busily taking roll, and the family history consultant passing out sheets, and the Branch Council meeting and discussing brothers and sisters who were struggling spiritually. The Church will always succeed as long as we are righteous and diligent. Our abilities may not be great, but they will be used, and by small and simple means are great things brought to pass.
     I will not fail these next two weeks. It does not yet feel like I am going home. I am doing everything in my power to live like a missionary to the last minute. I still worry about our people in August, just like Elder Hi. used to say "I don't know why I still care so much! I'm leaving!" But it is because when we serve, we truly love what we do. The world has us believe we have to go out and seek our self to find our self. In Ghana, they have a phrase I used to love, "God helps those who help themselves." I used to parrot this to try and get people off the idea of waiting for God to do something before they joined the Church. Instead, I have realized it is, "God helps those who help others." We serve to discover our abilities, our character, and our relationship to the Lord.
Elder W. Farnbach

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