Monday, November 24, 2014

E-mail dated 11/24/14

Mom and Family,

Akwaabo! I can't believe it's been 12 weeks in this area already! My training officially ended yesterday as my 2nd transfer came to a close. It's weird not being a new missionary any more, it feels like I just barely got here! Thank you for keeping me updated about things at home this week, I'm really glad I get to read them on a Monday for a change! I can tell that the Utes disappointed everyone last week, that wasn't fun to hear... Stupid Utes! I probably would have been the one in the pouring rain at the stadium, waiting for the final buzzer to sound before I leave. Mainly because it sounds really nice to be somewhere that's below 80 degrees right now!! Haha I haven't been cold in over 3 months, that's for sure. 

I once again have a lot to say, but most of them can be answered in your questions! I would like to share with you a spiritual experience that Elder Mocke and I had this week. So our long awaited baptism was scheduled for Friday and we were beginning to get quite excited to see these candidates take this step. We ended up only preparing 3 people in Eshiem for baptism and postponing the rest until December. The three we prepared were Derrick Otoo (12 year old boy), Vida Asare (21 year old mother), and Prudence Afful (45 year old Fante woman). Eshiem is quite a different place than anywhere in the world, and we struggled mightily in teaching them because of the language barrier and village culture in Eshiem. We didn't give up though, and they all three passed their baptismal interviews. When Friday finally came, Mocke and I walked to Eshiem ready to baptize them! We didn't know the day of work that awaited us there. When we arrived in the afternoon, they had all forgotten about their own baptism that we told them about the day before. None of them were preparing themselves for the service and Mocke and I were getting quite nervous. We didn't know what to do, so we did the only thing we could; we gave service to every single one of them. We washed Prudence's clothes in a bucket for an hour until our hands were blistered, we fetched water from a well for Vida and we cooked dinner and cleaned for Derrick. The water wasn't running in Eshiem when we got there as well, and we were scared the font wouldn't have water. It was a difficult time, but the Lord answered our prayers. The water ended up turning on a few hours before the service, all of our candidates showed up on time and we had an amazing turn out at the baptism. I was able to see the fruits of our efforts as I sat there and watched the branch pour into their tiny chapel to support the soon-to-be members. I was able to baptize Derrick and Prudence myself and the joy that I could see in their faces when they came up out of the water was unforgettable. I love this gospel and have the strongest testimony of the joy it brings to individuals in families. I'm lucky to have this opportunity to be here serving the Lord!

As for the rest of my news....

1.  I know transfers are this week.  Tell me all about them!

So transfer news came out on Saturday... My trainer, Elder Mocke is being transferred across the mission to Winneba! I have loved the past three months I have been able to spend with him and will really miss him a lot. We have had a lot of good times and he has taught me how to be a good missionary. My new companion is from Botswana and I can't pronounce his name to tell you the truth! I will definitely let you know more about him when I meet him on Wednesday! I also found out that I will no longer be proselyting in Eshiem anymore, the small village that I was in. I was devastated at this news. I have told you how much I love it there and I am terribly sad to leave. We said our farewells today and we had kids cry as we walked away from there for the last time this morning. It wasn't easy...

2.  Do you miss not having any seasons (besides the wet and dry)?  I honestly don't think I would mind if it was 85 degrees all year round.  

I do miss having 4 seasons, but not being cold! Because the weather has hardly changed at all since I've gotten here, it's sometimes hard to judge the time! That sounds weird, but I hope you understand what I mean. 85 degrees sounds great all year round in Utah, but with high humidity it's not as fun! But it's way better than being in snow though...

3. So you said President Stevenson brought you a generator.  Does this mean you have power all the time now?  Even at night when you are sleeping so you can run your fan?

We can use the generator in the evenings from 7-10 p.m. so that we can close our days and cook dinner. We sadly can't use it to power our fans, but we will gladly take any electricity we can get!

4.  Are you still healthy?  Anything ailing you?  

Yes, completely healthy!! I have had no problems since I got here, and I know that's from the obedience I have had to taking my Doxycicline everyday.

5.  Do you have to speak in Church often?  Are the priesthood leaders well trained or do they rely on the missionaries a lot for guidance and direction?

The branches and wards rely on the missionaries for everything. In Eshiem we bless and pass the sacrament every week. We give talks in Nketsiakrom at least every other week. We planned the whole program and conducted the baptismal service on Friday. It's extremely frustrating at times to deal with such inexperienced leaders, but I know I am here for a reason. My patience is being tested, that's for sure! 

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving this week, and that everyone is safe. I wish I could tell you more about my week but I'm running out of time! I do want to tell you that this P-day has been amazing today as we went to a really nice restaurant in Takoradi and had American food for the first time in months. Ah, it was so good. I love all of you back home, you're all in my prayers.

Elder Degen

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