Monday, January 19, 2015

E-mail dated 1/19/15

Mom and Family,
Wow, this week has been absolutely crazy and I don't even know where to start! Thank you all for the emails, support and prayers. I'm lucky that I have an amazing family that I get to hear from every week (and amazing girlfriend...), I know I am so blessed. It sounds like it was an eventful week at home, and I agree it's hard to believe that January is almost over! Time has gone by so fast, and by the end of this transfer I will hit my six month mark. It's crazy!
To begin my adventures for the week, I think I need to go back to what I was doing at the beginning of my mission and tell you what happened day by day! After our preparation day last week, we had a service project on Tuesday morning instead of having district meeting. At the service project, we began to get our new building of worship ready for Sunday. The large home (Yes, it's somebody's house they are finishing, we rented the building for 3 years I think and the owner used the money to finish the house and get it ready for us) is still under construction, so we tried our hardest to move large beams, tiles and concrete and make it look presentable for Sunday. We were there for hours until we all realized it was 2 in the afternoon and we should probably get at least some proselyting in that day. Wednesday and Thursday were both semi-normal days, as we were able to visit with our baptismal candidates everyday and prepare them for the 24th! Friday, as Elder Bannerman and I were doing our studies, the area office called us and told us that we were receiving a large shipment of things for our chapel and that we had to go and unload them. We directed them to the building and unloaded 200 metal chairs, a pulpit, whiteboards, a desk, a sacrament table, hymn boards and manuals. Sadly, this time it was only my companion and I so it took quite a while and we were exhausted when we finished! The building was still covered with an inch of dirt and nothing was ready so we knew we would have to come back the next day. So, Saturday morning we met as a district again to mop (to no avail), put up the chairs, nail the hymn boards, put signs on classrooms (we wrote things likeRelief Society and Gospel Principles on cardboard and nailed them to the top of each room to direct people) and create temporary bathrooms because the building doesn't have water or lights yet. As we were doing all of this, a huge machine came to drill the bore hole for the building, right in front of the entrance. It was another exhausting day. We weren't able to proselyte a whole lot! Finally, the long awaited day had come on Sunday. President and Sister Stevenson came along with the assistants to witness how Dunkwa is. Well, it was a crazy day. After bringing all the sacrament trays, hymn books and fans from our apartment, we attempted to start our service. There was about 70 people or so in attendance (We have a lot of people investigating), but right at 9:00 the construction workers began to work again on the bore hole. Of course. We had to delay sacrament meeting for awhile until they stopped. We finally started and things went smoothly until halfway through President Stevenson's talk when they started the drill again. For the second and third hours, it was equally as interesting. I taught the youth class in the second hour and then relief society the third hour (Yes, I taught relief society). When church finally concluded at 1, President wanted us to do a district meeting while he interviewed all of us. So, we listened to instructions for a few hours from the assistants and Sister Stevenson before we all came back to our apartment and ate lunch. They fed us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with juice pouches and cookies!! It was absolutely amazing. President Stevenson posted pictures on his blog of the experience of the day, so check it out! I should be in there. Needless to say, it was an exhausting week!
Sorry that was so long, I should answer your questions now!
      1. Do you have a store close to your apartment to buy your food? 
 We have a market in our area and there are small provisional stores near our apartment, so we are usually pretty fortunate on food! By some miracle, there is a butcher here in Dunkwa and I was able to eat fresh beef for the first time in 5 months!
 2.I know you don’t meeting in a church building now, but did your buildings in Eishem and Nketsiakrom have pianos or keyboards in them?  Someone asked me today if you played the piano at all on your mission.  I told them “probably not”
 All the buildings have keyboards, but the power is rarely on so they aren't used very often. I have been to multiple meetings though where we have had great music played! Dunkwa has a battery powered one, so I hope we can start to use it next week. 
  1. Are you getting fed by any members in your new area?  About how many square miles would you say your area is? 
 We get multiple FM's every single day, it's hard to leave an appointment without being offered food in this area. I have zero idea how big our area is as I have never seen a map and it's the missionaries who divided the area. 
  1. Do you think one of the Elders will be called as a Branch President eventually or do you think there is a member there that could fulfill that responsibility?
 Right now, we have powerful members that we have recommended to President to become the branch president. That shouldn't be a problem. But, as of right now we don't have an endowed male member that is married, which means we can't have a bishop. A missionary will most likely not be called to lead here! Which is exactly what we want. 
  1. Our home teachers today gave a lesson on Patriarchal Blessings.  Did you take a copy with you?  If not, do you want me to send you one?
 I love patriarchal blessings. I really enjoyed the talk given this past general conference about living up to the promised blessings at all times. I asked you for a copy of mine in October, and I received it from you. Thank you again! I read it often. 
  1. How far is it to another area where missionaries are serving from where you live?  I am just wondering how far you would have to travel for say a Zone Conference or Zone Activity.  Do you have either coming up soon? 
Dunkwa is pretty much cut off from the rest of the mission. We are a near 3 hour ride from our zone leaders in Twifo Praso and if we take a car ten minutes north of our area we are in the Kumasi Mission. We have our own impress as a district and we don't go down for activities because we wouldn't be able to come back until the next day. Dunkwa is in it's own world!
  1. How many investigators are you working with?
 As many as we want. We have to find different routes and shortcuts just to avoid seeing people so we can get to our set appointments on time. Absolutely everyone here wants to be taught by us and it can be a hard task to keep up with everything! We do have a baptism of 7 as a district this Saturday, with two of our investigators being baptized. 
  1. Anything you need?  It’s probably about time to get a small package sent off isn’t it? 
Hmm... I don't think I need anything! To be honest, what would be helpful instead of packages is just a little bit of money every so often! I know how expensive packages are and the time and effort they take to get here. Even a small amount of money can go a long way here and it's always a great blessing to not worry about running out of sub. Anything at all is always greatly appreciated :)
Also, a random thing, there is a wealthy Utah man who lives next door who owns his own gold mining company and he comes to Ghana every few months or so to check on his company and acquire new land. His name is Eric Maglebee and he was a bishop at BYU and he currently lives in Alpine with his family. How crazy is that?? We were able to speak with him a few times this week and he is an interesting guy. I was wondering if anybody knows him?
Anyways, I should probably be going now, but i want to thank everyone for their emails this week. I love you all so very much and I hope that everyone is safe. 
Elder Degen

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