Monday, September 8, 2014

Elder Degen's e-mail dated 9/8/14

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...
So President Stevenson and his assistants came to pick us up at the MTC last wednesday at about noon or so and we left around 1 oclock. We took a three hour ride to the mission home in Cape Coast, which is extremely nice (Well compared to everything else here). On the van ride there, we passed through Accra and other cities. We were all so taken aback at the change of culture. There are thousands of people on the streets and they all have wooden stands trying to sell things. There are SOOO many people here, it is so congested. All the new Elders and sisters were having a hard time adjusting to everything and we hadn't even gotten out of the car yet. We had to stop halfway along to the mission home because our van had a flat tire, which the assistants fixed and then we were on our way again. As soon as we started to go again, we were immersed in a green landscape and they informed us that this was now part of our mission. Ahh we were so relieved!
We made it to the mission home after a little while and put our bags and things inside. They then fed us the best dinner we've had in weeks (chicken and rice, but it was way better than the MTC). We had a small orientation and interviewed by President Stevenson. I like him a lot, he has such an amazing spirit about him. The 15 of us (12 elders, 3 sisters) then went to our rooms and enjoyed our last night together. I really am going to miss all of the friends I've made in the MTC, those guys are so fun. When we woke up in the morning we then got ready and ate breakfast, pancakes and pineapple, which was again the best meal we've had in weeks. 
We all sat down and then were given our first assignments and companions, who we would meet at the trotro station (trotro's are big vans that are the taxis of Ghana. You can fit up to 14 people in one, and not very comfortably I might add). My first assignment is the Nketsiakrom/Eishem area (about an hour or so away from cape coast) and my first companion is Elder Mocke!! I was so excited and scared at the same time. I didn't know what to expect. Elder Nielson, who was at the SLC airport, actually knows Elder Mocke and has met him before. Nielson's dad converted Mocke's dad some years ago. All that elder Nielson told me was that this guy was from South Africa and that he was a biiiiig guy. I didn't know anything else.
So I went to the trotro station with all the other Elders going to the western region where we met all the other missionaries being transferred. They told us all about the crazy things they had done in their past areas and how sad they were to be leaving. One of them even gave us a piece of pizza to share! Ahhh it was so good. The trotro ride to the Takoradi station wasn't too long, and it was there that I finally met my trainer, Elder Mocke. My first surprise was unexpected; he's white!! and the next thing I noticed wasn't too unexpected; this guy is huge. He immediately helped me with bags and gave me a big hug. He is one of the nicest people I've ever met.
He took me back to our apartment and made me some spaghetti, which was delicious. I started to unpack my bags but he told me we have work to do. So I dropped everything and headed out for the first time into the mission field. Wow. This is so different than anything I've ever seen. We definitely have the nicest apartment in our neighborhood, but it's not much. The houses around us are maybe the size of a garage and that's even pushing it. I have seen poverty before, but nothing like this. There are thousands of people in such a small place, and they all have shacks and tin roofs. They literally have next to nothing. The culture shock was at an all time high when I walked out of my apartment for the first time.
Elder Mocke started to take me to a recent converts house and told me one of his favorite views in the area is just up this hill. We got to the top and it was breathtaking. It really is beautiful here. We turned the corner to continue on our way, but were stopped by one of our ward missionaries. He realized that I was new and asked me my name. I told him, and he said he knew an Elder Degen in Sierra Leone. He served with Eric! His name is Michael Intefful. What are the odds? the first person I talk to and he knows Eric! He told me how fun he was and said he would contact him on Facebook. Eric, check your Facebook!
Dang, I am writing so much. By the way, we have at least 2 hours every Monday to email, which is very nice. We are normally able to upload pictures pretty easily, so I will try and send some every week! To summarize how the rest of my week went after the first day, it can be done in one sentence... Missionary work is hard, but very rewarding. I don't know anything about being a full-time missionary yet. I cannot teach very well, I can speak very little Fante (the language in my area, which almost everyone speaks), and I can't do the things that I want. But it is all so worth it. I have said a few words in our lessons and I actually invited a new investigator to be baptized. Since wednesday, we have had 3 investigators commit to be baptized on the 21st of September. Elder Mocke said I get the first baptism, and I am so excited to have that experience!! It truly was the best feeling to see our investigators follow up on these commitments we give them and are following the gospel. Lastly, I love the kids here. They are so amazing. They all run up to me and yell "Obroni, obroni" which means white-man. I they cannot wait to touch me and jump into my arms. They are the cutest kids I have ever seen!
I have to go now sadly, but I will definitely try to upload those pictures now.
Elder Degen

No comments:

Post a Comment