Just in case you didn't get my long email I just sent, I'll send this!
Monday, September 29, 2014
Monday, September 22, 2014
Mom and family,
Go Utes!! Haha I'm so happy to hear about the game. I don't even think one bit about football on Saturday's but it's nice to see them doing well. Thank you to everyone who emailed me, I love hearing all the different views and details. It sounds like everyone is doing well back home, which is very comforting to hear! I love all of you so much. Please forgive me for my shortcomings on emailing everyone back, trust me, I read every single one. Keep them coming please :)
I am very jealous that everyone got to attend or view the Ogden rededication yesterday. The peace and spirit that I felt in the Accra temple is something that I will never forget. That celestial room is breathtaking and I couldn't help but pray when I got in there. I was in there for at least an hour, I completely lost track of time. I would do anything to go back, but sadly it won't be for another year and 11 months (They take us on the way home). I know that you all appreciate the temple, and I hope that the proximity is not something we all take for granted in Utah! I know I did. If you could, I would go every day on my mission!
Okay, I can't tell you too many things about my week, except that things are going well! The teaching is becoming more natural, the language is coming along (kind of), and the people are even more amazing than last week. I feel like I am adjusted to the culture to an extent and am not overwhelmed as often as I was the first week. It seems so weird that I have so many unnecessary things back home! I can't believe that a month ago I was holding a smartphone in my hand, had dependable running water and the power was always on. The way we live was definitely something to get used to! But I really do love it. It has shown me that it doesn't matter of the material things in life, it's about your relationships with others and Heavenly Father. That's what makes people happy!
The only story that I really want to go in depth to this week is something awesome... I killed and roasted a pig today. Elder Mocke and I were in charge of this combined zone activity today because the guy to buy pigs from lives in our area. We bought the pigs (3 for 130 Cedis) and put them, while they were still alive, into big rice bags. We caught a trotro to the Sofokrom chapel with the pigs on our laps and then waited for a few other elders to show up. Elders Ma'afu and Kano'ngata, because they actually knew what they were doing. We took the pigs down near the sister's apartment in the area and then killed them with a knife. Elder Mocke and I held them down while the Tongan elders... wait, I won't explain too much! I'll skip ahead.. We cleaned the pigs, chopped down some trees to roast them on, and then made our way back to a members yard near the chapel. We made a huge fire, and started the roast. All the other missionaries started showing up when we were roasting, and since the roasting took awhile, we all played football at a nearby field. Ah, it was so fun! I scored twice on the African elders and earned their respect. These elders are so good at soccer, but the Americans were able to keep up! After a few hours of playing, we went back to the chapel to eat our pigs. My goodness, it was the best meal of my life!! I'll send pictures of this crazy day, hopefully you get them this week!
Thank you so much for the package as well! I cannot wait, you have no idea! I want to answer your questions now;
1. Do you get to spend much time with the other Elders who live in your apartment? Any of them from Utah?
I spend quite a bit of time with them! I love all of them, but only one, Elder Day (my MTC Companion) is from Utah! The other's are from Idaho and two from Nigeria!
2. Do you know if you will get to view General Conference on conference weekend or will you have to wait?
I have to wait until november sadly... I wish!
3. How often do you have a zone conference?
Hmm.. hardly ever! District meeting every tuesday, and occasionally we combine with other zones for activities like Elder Curtis' fireside last week! Sorry for not mentioning that in my last email.
4. Are you able to sleep well at night? I am assuming you sleep under a net. Is that crazy?
I sleep so well!! I'm so tired that it doesn't matter about anything else. The net doesn't bother me one bit, and when we have power I have a fan on me at night. It's very nice!
5. About how many lessons do you teach a week and do you have to do any proselyting (knocking on doors)?
We teach about 20 lessons or so a week. I laughed when you asked me about knocking on doors... Most don't have doors! Haha we only teach when we have an appointment, but we do Gospel Conversations everyday, which is tracting.
Thank you all for everything you do for me. The influence you all have had and the prayers that I have heard have been incredible from all of you. I hope everyone has a safe and happy week!
Monday, September 15, 2014
I'm doing great! My week had it's ups and downs but my goodness, the field is awesome. Before I start into my week, I want to address your email! I'm sad that I couldn't be at Josh's setting apart as a Priest this week, I'm sure it was awesome. I remember being set apart for that like it was yesterday. Mom, Congrats on your Half Marathon!!!! That sounds awesome. I'm sure you did amazing and I would have been there cheering you on. I really can't believe that it's been nine years since Dad has been in the stake presidency! I'm very jealous that you get to listen to two general authorities! That is an amazing opportunity that I took for granted big time when I was home. It will definitely be weird seeing Dad in the pews with us! Ah... Thank goodness that both of our football teams are doing well! What the heck Murray? The year after I graduate is the first year they're doing well?? Haha oh well, I give all the credit to the cheer team ;) And the Utes are undefeated, which is always good to hear! Hopefully we can keep it going against Michigan on saturday. Please keep me updated!
Anyways, my second week in the field has been a whirlwind of events. After I emailed last monday we went to a Family Home Evening with a family in our ward. We played that game where you put a cookie on your forehead and try to get it into your mouth without using your hands! It was so fun and we tied that into working together and that families can be together forever. It was a testimony building experience that made me realize that families of all different races, languages, and backgrounds are going to be together for all eternity. They had so much fun with just a small package of cookies and it truly spoke to me that it doesn't take expensive things to be happy. Their living room floor dirt and their house is about the size of a garden shed. But they were still so happy. I loved every minute of that FHE and I can't wait to go to another one tonight.
Let me run you through a typical day here... We wake up at 6:30, take a cold shower, and make pancakes every morning (Elder Mocke has tried to feed me some other stuff, but pancakes are definitely the best). We eat, and then begin our personal study at 8. Thank goodness we have the biggest room in our apartment! Then at 9 we have our companionship study for an hour. After that we do training for a little bit and then make lunch. The absolute greatest food in Ghana is Indo Mie. It's top ramen pretty much and that's what we make for lunch or dinner everyday! After lunch we go out into the field and begin proselyting.Elder Mocke and I have two areas that we have been assigned. We have the Nketsiakrom area, which is a very densely populated town near Takoradi (google it if you can!) and then we have Eshiem, which is about an hours walk away into a small village. We go to Eshiem on Wednesdays and Fridays and then for church on Sunday at 9. It's hard walking that far and back, but my goodness the walk is beautiful! There's a stretch of road that you can see Tucans flying around. I'm definitely in Africa! So the days we're not in Eshiem, we're in Nketsiakrom, which is where our apartment is. Speaking of our apartment, it is very nice. There's running water most of the time and power about half the time. There are six elders living there and compared to the other buildings in our area, we live like kings. The little kids call it The Palace! Oh man, I love these kids.
I can't tell you everything about my week, so I'll tell you bits and pieces from each day. On wednesday we went farming (weeding) for a family in Eshiem. It was hard work, but it was awesome to draw closer to the members. After farming with a machete, I went and bought one from a member. I tried to say that casually, but I can't do it.... I BOUGHT A MACHETE! A lot of Elders have them and I thought it was freaking sweet. It was really cheap as well, about 14 Cedis. Oh, let me explain the money here! So the national currency is the Cedi, and it is about 3 Cedis to one American Dollar. We are given 280 Cedis every subsistence, or about 10 Cedis a day. I live off of 3 or 4 American dollars a day! That doesn't sound like much, but here its actually a decent amount. So, I bought a machete for about 5 dollars back home. Prices are going up every day though, because the economy here is going to crap, which is good and bad. That means that our personal money will be worth more when we exchange it, but our subsistence money will be stretched. Oh well!
Thursday and Friday were good days, even though I was exhausted both days. My companion is an extremely hard worker and doesn't allow much time for anything accept lessons, which is a good thing! I had some frustrating moments on both days, but they were bearable. Saturday was an amazing day. I felt like I was finally able to teach large portions of the lessons and even speak a considerable amount of Fanti! Man, the gift of tongues is real. Elder Mocke (who is from Johannesburg, but never met CJ) has only been here for six months and is fairly fluent in Fanti. Of course he can't understand everything, but he can pick up most words! It's crazy. I'm able to greet people and make small conversation with them and I've only been here for 2 weeks. The people go absolutely crazy when white people can speak Fanti! It really breaks the Ice and is neccesary to learn in my area. These people know english for the most part, but speak to everyone in Fanti, which is why Sundays are so hard for us. At least for me, I cant understand what theyre saying for three hours! They conduct all their Sunday meetings in their language and all the missionaries have given up trying to understand. After church, we visited a few members and started a few Gospel Conversations with people.
P-days are the best! We wake up, eat, do chores and then relax for awhile. After we rest for a little bit, we go to the market and buy our food for the week, and pick up a few treats along the way. There's no american candy here, and if there is any, it's insanely expensive, like 20 cedis for a pack of skittles. After shopping we go email for about 2 to 3 hours! It goes by way too fast. Then we go back to the apartment, cook dinner and then hopefully go to a FHE. Alright... now to your questions!
1 How is the food and do you get feed very often from the members?
It's actually pretty good! I love fufu, but I can't eat a whole lot of it. Thankfully Elder Mocke has a big stomach!
2. How many wards/branches are there in your assigned area?
Nketsiakrom Ward and Eshiem Branch.
3. How are you getting along with your companion? Is he teaching you a lot? What part of South Africa is he from?
I love my companion. He's extremely outgoing and he knows a lot of the gospel and culture. I learn so much from him.
4. How is your apartment? Do you have power all the time? What about air conditioning?
I already talked about the power, and I literally laughed when you said air conditioning. I wish! we have ceiling fans though, which help a lot.
5. Do you have to hand wash your clothes?
Ahhhh, no I do not!! Many missionaries buy washing machines for about 300 Cedis and I'm lucky enough that Elder Mocke has one. We just put or clothes in, turn it on, and then hang dry them. It's so nice!
I'm sorry this was so long, I hope I was able to answer all the questions you had! I'll try to send pictures now, I promise! My time did get cut short last week, but that won't happen too often. You're all in my prayers, and I love to get emails from you all every week! God be with you.
Monday, September 8, 2014
Ete Den? (How are you?)Wow. What an incredible first week in the field. Thank you so much for telling me all about the things back home, they make me so happy. I can't believe how fast these 3 weeks have gone. I can remember so clearly my farewell and setting apart, and it doesn't feel like 3 weeks ago. I have so so so much to say and there's no way in the world I can say it all! So I will try and start from where I left off last time we talked...
I have to go now sadly, but I will definitely try to upload those pictures now.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Monday, September 1, 2014
I'm finally done with the MTC! I can't believe its almost been two weeks since I left home, it seems like yesterday somedays and an eternity others. The MTC has gotten progressively better as the week has gone on though! I have made great friends here that I will never forget. I was struggling and praying constantly, and my prayers were answered. Elders Wight (from Oregon), Wightman (Arizona), Kochevar (Las Vegas), and Brown (Idaho), have been my refuge here! We have actually started to enjoy the MTC finally! My best friend here has been Kochevar, who reminds me of Jordan Erekson. We all meet every night in one of our rooms and share all of our precious american candy, which we can never get enough of (hint, hint). Sometimes it feels like we are all at a two week long summer camp or EFY, which makes things so much easier and faster. In all honesty, this week has flown by! Don't get me wrong, it had it's ups and downs, but I am in much better spirits than my last email home. To answer your question though, yes, I am excited to leave here at 1 tomorrow and head to cape coast! Oh, before I forget, if you want to see pictures and a slide show of my group at the MTC, go to GhanaMTC.blogspot.com !
It's so good to hear that you are all doing well and having fun in St. George! It sounds like a blast. I miss all of you so much! This week has taught me a lot and I truly do feel like I am ready to go out into the mission field. I knew the gospel before I came, but I had no idea how to teach it. Through hard work, study, prayer and practice I have been able to become a much more effective teacher than I ever thought I could become in 2 short weeks. The Lord works miracles on those who diligently seek him, I can testify to that! I just keep praying that my first trainer will be a great example and will learn even more as I am out in the field.
So as I said, I am leaving tomorrow at 1 in the afternoon. President Stevenson is leaving the mission home at 6:00 a.m. to come pick up the 15 missionaries serving in Cape Coast. It's about a 3 hour car ride to our mission. The elders and sisters who are in the MTC going to Nigeria on their missions (about 60 or so) leave tomorrow morning at 4 a.m. because of their flight. There are 8 others who are going to the Accra West Mission (including Kochevar) whom I am going to miss. I have come to love nearly every one here, and I'll admit, it may be a little sad to see them all go.
Thank you mom for all that you do for me. I look forward to you email every week. I think that I will consistenly be able to email on mondays from now on, so plan on that! I love hearing from all of you that email me and I'm so sorry if I am not able to respond to all of you now. The MTC has no order and they kick us out of the computer room whenever they want, so I have at most a half an hour to read and email everyone back. Please understand if I'm not able to get to you! I still love all of you!
(I'm still working on my catch phrase)