Tuesday, October 21, 2014

E-mail dated 10/21/14

Mom and Family,
Wow, I am so so so so so sorry about the emailing these past couple weeks!!! We have gone to Takoradi to email and the cafe that we have gone to has been terrible. We've been able to get on to our accounts, but not send any emails. It has been so frustrating, so we've decided to stay and email in our area from now on! I have tried writing you back a few times, but the computer deletes it before I could send it... I'm sorry, I know how badly you must have been worried! Please know that I am safe and sound and nothing is wrong :)
I have so much to tell you, but I can't fit two weeks of information into one email... But I will do my best! These past few weeks have been sweet, I learn more and more about my area everyday. I am learning to love these people and have really developed a connection with some families. I have enjoyed the work so far and my companion and I work hard everyday. Elder Mocke is 7 1/2 months into his mission and he has spent his entire mission in this area. He knows a ton of people and a lot of things about our areas, and he has helped me out a ton. He knows quite a bit of Fante and he is the best teacher for the language. I need to send more pictures of me and him! He is an insanely hard working missionary. We are always the first ones to leave the apartment and the last ones in. He has definitely showed me the guideline for the rest of my mission. We are over two areas, like I have said, Nketsiakrom and Eshiem. Nketsiakrom is a large area and we share it with 2 other elders. It has one ward and it is a high baptizing area. Eshiem is the small village that I have told you about and most of the dang people there are already members. There is a branch that is there (church is held in someone's old home) but there are maybe 25 people there on a good day. Eshiem is a hard area to work with, but it's teaching me a lot of patience! It's hard to balance our work between the two areas, especially because we can only see our investigators twice a week when we really should be seeing them every day. Everything is given to us for a reason though, and I know the Lord wants me to be here, doing this very thing, at this very time.

Even though I didn't get to email yesterday, I still had an amazing P-day! We had a zone activity and went to Vienna beach, which isn't too far from our zone. We all got there in the morning and it was pouring rain, but we still played rugby (Mocke is a huge rugby fan and is going to play for BYU when he gets home). Man, rugby is fun! We all played on the beach for a few hours next to a nice resort (okay, nice for Ghana... I'll try to send pictures today) and we ate fried rice for our lunch. It was a really fun activity and I think that's the first time I've been to the beach in a long long time!
I don't want to go over anything that you have asked me in your questions, so I'll answer those now!

1. Do you hear much about ebola where you are? It is all over the news here. Do you have to take any precautions?

I have heard absolutely nothing about ebola. Maybe a few seconds on a members tv, but nothing that made any sense. What are they saying back home?? Is it spreading? One of the Elders in the mission from Liberia lost his sister to the disease, but thankfully nothing else has affected our mission too badly. The Elder's name is Elder Freeman, by the way. I know Eric might want to know.

2. How is the language coming? Do you speak it all the time?

It's coming along! I speak it everyday, all the time. It mainly greetings that I can say and small things about the gospel, but I can understand what most people are saying to me. It's really strange how I can understand them, I really have no idea how. I have a strong testimony of the gift of tongues, I know the Lord blesses his missionaries.

3. On the Stevenson's blog, they have what is called a "creature of the week". Lately, they haven't posted anything, but I have seen some pretty interesting reptiles/insects. What crazy things have you seen?
Man, I have seen some weird things... Rats the size of small cats, spiders as big as your palm, cockroaches, huge millipedes, all sorts of things. Last week on P-day our trotro broke down on the side of the road and we saw a monkey on the side of someone's fence. Naturally, all the missionaries shook its hand and got pictures with it! Don't worry though, we were reassured it didn't have ebola or anything...

4. What is the best way to find people to teach? Referrals? Street contacts? How many people are you teaching now?
Referrals, referrals, referrals. Street contacting is easy because everyone believes in God and wants to listen, but all of them think that it doesn't matter what religion you are, just as long as you believe in God. The best way to get someone to join the church is through members and recent converts. 90% of the baptisms in this mission come from referrals. We have a strong emphasis on Gordon B. Hinckley's advice, that all new members need 3 things: Nourishment by the good word of god, a calling, and most importantly a friend in the church. I know this is the absolute best way of bringing souls unto Christ and I deeply regret not trying harder to give referrals back home. We are teaching around 10 to 15 different people or families, but not all of them are investigators. We usually get around 20 to 25 lessons a week, and they all vary of who we teach them to.

5. When do you write your weekly letter/e-mail President Stevenson? Do you have to do it during your e-mail time?
During our email time... It's not too bad though!

6. What do you want/need for Christmas? I will be sending off your Christmas box the end of November/first of December. Please tell me what you need.
Hmm.. Anything is much appreciated! Candy, peanut butter, deodorant... Something that actually would be amazing is something I probably should have gotten before I came on my mission: New scriptures. If at all possible could I please get a black quad in the smallest size? with the tabs please!! I would really love that :) Thank you!
Thank you so so much for everything you do for me. I'm sorry I can't email everyone back today, hopefully next week will be better! I got your letter by the way, thank you so much for the blessing and the clippings. I love you Mom!

Elder Degen

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