Wednesday, March 11, 2015

E-mail dated 3/11/15

Mom and Family,
Well, let me first apologize that this email is 2 days late, you will have to forgive me! I hope no one has been too worried about me, because I have been safe and sound. Just crazy busy!! I will explain in a minute... But thank you all for you emails this week. It sounds like your weather was crazy and unpredictable! I'll be honest I can't even remember the sensation of being cold right now, let alone the feeling of snow. I'm actually not sad about that at all though... :)
To explain my busy week that I have had I will have to break it down for you almost day by day! So last week was normal on Tuesday through Thursday, but Friday (March 6) was Ghana's Independence Day and it's celebrated just as widely as the 4th of July in America. All 8 of the Dunkwa elders went and observed the huge festival at the football pitch and then went to an amazing family in our branch (man, it feels weird to say branch now instead of group). We had a "boyz boyz fufu" which meant all the elders and the boys of the branch all got together and pounded a massive fufu!! It was so much food and a lot of fun bonding with the members. I love them so much. By the time we finished the fufu, it was already 5 and we were invited to another Free Meal from another member. So all 8 of us rode in the back of a truck and went to top off our stomachs! It was so much food! I could barely walk back to the apartment, but it was a fun holiday. On Saturday all 8 of us continued to work on the Takyi's house and we picked and shoveled dirt from about 8 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon before we all went home to change and then proselyte til the end of the evening. Sunday was interesting as well as the branch is still getting everything together and I taught the young women's class for the 4th week in a row! I hope that President Eshun will soon call leaders to take over the teaching positions instead of the missionaries. The rest of our Sunday was spent visiting our recent converts and other members.
Monday is when things got crazy. Early in the morning, all 8 of the Dunkwa elders went to the station and traveled down to our zone leaders apartment in Twifo Praso. I know I've told you about the ride down there before, but let me remind you; It's 2 1/2 hours on a terrible dirt road. When we finally got there, we were dead. But we dropped our stuff off at their apartment and then got in another trotro for an hour for all of us to go to an amazing place called Kakum National Park. This is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Ghana and it's easy to see why. There's a breathtaking rope bridge thousands of feet above the ground on top of the trees that you can walk across. If you google it, I'm sure some great pictures will pop up. Thankfully all of us got to walk across the bridges and I can tell you it was one of the coolest things I've ever done. I'll include a picture! When we finished there we traveled another hour back to the zone leaders apartment and then spent the night there on Monday, all of us sleeping on bamboo mats.
We woke up at 5 on Tuesday morning and the entire Twifo Praso zone traveled 2 hours to Cape Coast! We were all going for combined zone conference with one of the quorum of the 70, Elder Dube. There was tons of missionaries there and I was reunited with Elder Mocke!! It was so great to see him. We were then instructed by Elder Dube and President Stevenson, both of their wives, and ate lunch. It was a really cool conference and we all left with renewed spirits. I even was chosen to be interviewed by Elder Dube, so I got to speak with a general authority one on one! Now I know how you feel, Dad. When we finished, our zone traveled back to Praso and the Dunkwa elders grabbed our stuff to catch a tro back home. But, their were no tros left, so we spent another night in the zone leaders apartment! 12 elders in a 4 man apartment! Needless to say, it was crazy. Thankfully we caught a tro back to Dunkwa this morning and after a short rest, we're out again! So once again, I apologize for the delay of this email!!
To answer your questions...

1.  Do you (or did you) leave the baptismal font assembled or is it something you have to disassemble and then reassemble every time there is a baptism?
We assemble and disassemble it after every baptism because before the branch was organized, we could only have a baptism once a month. We are currently looking for a place we can permanently put the font, but for now we set it up and take it down!

2.  What is your favorite fruit over there?  Do you eat/drink any coconuts?
Mangoes, bananas, guavas and especially the white pineapple. They are all delicious! Yes, I have eaten and drunk plenty of coconuts and they are so good when they are fresh! Sadly, that coconut juice stains white shirts so insanely bad.. But its okay, all it well!

3.  How was the first Sunday with the new branch presidency?  The picture of you all was awesome.  President Stevenson also put some on his blog.  There was one of you and another missionary at a table and then of course you were in the group picture.  
The branch is amazing. I couldn't have asked for better leaders to be called, I know that it was the Lord's doing. In the coming weeks we will be able to really see how it operates as the responsibilities slowly shift from the missionaries to the members! I will keep you updated.

4.  How are the shoes/clothes holding up? 
All the clothes are great so far, nothing has happened that a tailor can't fix. My shoes are holding up great, so I hope they can last me til the end of my mission! I've put plenty miles on them though... 

5.  Any new serious investigators?  Names are always nice so we can include them in our prayers.
YES! We found an amazing new family to teach and they are what some missionaries call "Golden Investigators." Seth, Comfort and their small boy Cyrus are a young family who lives in our area and we were able to meet with them in the past weeks. We taught them the message of the restoration and they both agreed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. At first Comfort wasn't interested at all, but as the lesson went on it was amazing to see how the spirit worked upon her and she was able to feel of the truthfulness of our message. She cried the entire time as we spoke of the joys of repentance and the weight that can be lifted off of her shoulders. The next time we went there, they both bore their testimonies of the Book of Mormon after praying about it. Seth now tells all of his friends that he attends Latter-Day Saints and he has given us 5 referrals since we first met with him. They are a powerful family! Please include them in your prayers.

6.  President Stevenson mentioned in his blog that he and his wife went to Sizzler for dinner.  Do you know if this is the same Sizzler that we have here in Utah.  That would be sweet!
Haha Sizzler is a French restaurant somewhere near Cape Coast and it's not close to the Sizzler back at home! I have never been there, as this week was my first time going to Cape, but I've heard it's really good. I wish it was the real Sizzler!!

7.  What is the craziest thing that happened to you this week?
Hmm.. From walking above a forest, to celebrating a holiday, to having an interview with a general authority... That's a good question! As you can tell, it was a crazy week!!
Well, I hope that everyone has a wonderful week at home and that everyone is safe. I can't wait to hear from everyone again next week! I love you all. God be with you.
Elder Gavin Degen

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