Monday, April 20, 2015

E-mail dated 4/20/15

Family and friends,
Akwaabo! Thank you everyone for your great news that you sent me this week and the emails that I received! I was happy to see everyone's smiling faces in the pictures I got this week and I laughed at how much snow Utah received! In Ghana it is now moving into our "cold" season where it rains everyday but doesn't seem to get any cooler.. it's weird how that works! It just seems to get more humid!! It's okay though, I will take this over the snow :) It was a really great week for me here in Dunkwa and it was all because of the work that Elder Loader and I were able to accomplish these last seven days.

So this past week Elder Loader and I have really been focusing on a girl named Abigail. She is around 24 and has a one year old daughter. She was married to an Italian guy and had her baby girl with him, and then he left her for some other girl in Ghana. She suddenly had no money and a child to care for. She's a very slim and tall girl, so she resorted to very bad things to make money. If I could tell you all the things she's done, you wouldn't think very highly of her. When I met her 6 weeks ago, she was desperate to change, but didn't know how. We invited her to come to church, and surprisingly she came that week. She had many questions at church and we told her we would come buy and discuss them with her. My goodness, this woman can talk!! Each of her lessons take around 2 hours because she can't keep quiet. We began seeing her more often and this week on Sunday marked her 6th straight week of coming to church. In the past 6 weeks, she has committed to living the word of wisdom, paying tithing and reading the Book of Mormon (Even though she can barely read). Slowly she has begun to change every aspect of her life and she is begging us to be baptized. She is scheduled to be baptized on May 9th and I have never been more excited for a baptism before. She has a long way to go, but I have faith she can make it by that date. There is absolutely no greater feeling than seeing the change in someone because of the gospel. I know I have said it before, but I can't say it enough. Missionary work is amazing!

On Saturday the branch combined with another branch in Praso (3 hours away) and had a combined YSA activity that somehow the missionaries got roped into helping with! The new branch really depends on the Elders though, so we were happy to go. There was actually a really good turnout, including Abigail, and it was a fun activity that lasted most of the day! Oh, and guess who is the YSA president and planned the whole event? My recent convert Matilda! Saturday continued to be amazing as brother Essien, the chef of the white man from Utah, fed Elder Loader and I fries, fried chicken, pizza, and banana bread! He is an amazing chef and his family is the most powerful family in the gospel. 

On Tuesday I had the opportunity to instruct my district and I spent a lot of time preparing for it as it was my first time instructing. I talking about Ministering and Administering and how we as missionaries need to both in order to be successful. To administer means to bring peace or order to something, or to present something officially. We can administer the gospel and especially the Priesthood to the many people that we serve. I used an example that Dad told me last week about how our Father in Heaven will not be disappointed that we overused the Priesthood, but that we underused it. Then, I focused on the meaning of the verb Minister, which means to attend to the needs of someone. Jesus came not to to be ministered unto, but to minister (Matt. 20) and we are called to do the same thing. I explained how we need to attend to the needs of our investigators in both service and the lessons that we teach. I closed the instruction by sharing Alma 22: 23-25. It explains that administering leads to peace, but ministering leads to conversion and I challenged everyone to attend to the needs of others this week. Elder Loader and I took the challenge and tried to do acts of service for our investigators and teach them the messages that they needed to hear, instead of teaching them in the set order of PMG. We saw amazing results.

To answer your questions!

1) Elder Moffitt is going home on May 15th or something like that and I will give you his contact information before he goes! I have a few other friends that go home in August that I will let you know more about when it gets closer.

2) The Julander's go home in June and they were my first mission couple in Western Region! I love them so much and I'm sad to see them go home. They live in Hooper Utah but I'm sure you could get their contact information from the mission site or something like that. I don't think I will see them again before they leave because Dunkwa is so far away from the rest of the mission.

3) We get an FM every single night without fail. We usually spend around 20 to 30 cedis on our groceries each week, which is only possible because we never eat dinner in the apartment. Only breakfast and lunch. We receive 280 cedis every 4th Monday (around $70). 

4) There are some areas in the mission that use bikes (I think like 2) and only the assistants and office elders use cars. Everyone walks every single day! The reason President Stevenson wanted everyone to get one is because he's sick of having the same office elders and assistants for long periods of time because no one else has an international driving permit. 

5) No sign of an envelope yet, but we are going down to Praso for a district conference this weekend so I should receive it there! I'm sure it's just waiting for me at the mission home.

6) Hmm... I think I told you we ate cat two weeks ago! I have snails often this time of the year in Palm nut soup, which is delicious. We are often fed disgusting meet, but they're not from crazy animals, just crazy parts of normal animals. Cow tongue and knee, pork fat, coat (the skin of any animal that they killed) and parts of grass cutters, which are just massive sized rats the size of small dogs. 

Thank you again to everyone who has emailed me this week and for your prayers and support. If anyone ever has questions, always feel free to ask! I love you all and I'm grateful I have the opportunity to be here in Africa serving the Lord. God bless everyone!

Elder Gavin Degen

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