Monday, September 15, 2014

E-mail dated 9/15/14

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.


Elder Degen

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