Tuesday, April 7, 2015

E-mail dated 4/7/15

Mom and Family,
Akwaabo! I am sorry that this email is reaching you on Tuesday instead of Monday, but the lights went off about a half hour into emailing yesterday! So you'll have to forgive me. Thankfully the internet is good today and I have a little bit of time! It sounds like it was an eventful week at home. I am very relieved and glad that Josh's surgery went well and that the surgeons were able to accomplish it successfully. When I read how they did the surgery I cringed at what I read! I definitely have a new wave of appreciation for the healthcare that we have back home, because I know that surgery wouldn't be available for a child in Africa. Our family is very lucky. I'm glad that Heavenly Father answered not only my prayers, but I'm sure yours as well!

Sadly, I was not able to listen to general conference at all, and the only thing I heard about it was from your emails. It sounds like it was an inspiring conference though and that the spirit was felt strongly. I am very jealous! I will have to wait about a month or so until it is translated to Twi (very roughly, I might add..) and put on a DVD to be shipped to Ghana. A copy of the Ensign when it comes out would be greatly appreciated, as that is what I studied last October's conference in and I have been amazed at how great the talks are. Who knew that general conference was actually interesting when you listen closely? ;)

My week was very eventful as well, as you probably know! On Tuesday I said goodbye to Elder Bannerman and dropped him off at the Tro station, after which I went to be with Elder Moffitt (who dropped off his companion as well) for the evening. On Wednesday morning, while we waited for the two incoming elders, we all went to work on our chapel. We helped paint, weld, clean and build. Our building is coming along very well and it looks so beautiful now. In a few short weeks everything will be complete from a computer, to multiple toilets. We are very lucky the Church has provided us so much help in getting the Church started here! When we finished helping, we all met at the station to meet our new district members, Elder Loader and Elder Jones. I took Loader back to my apartment and Elder Moffitt took Jones back to his. We had the whole rest of the day just getting to know each other and to show Elder Loader the area. He is a great guy from Redding, California and we have a ton in common. A scary and coincidental amount actually. We have been able the last few days to be around each other and I'm really excited to serve with him. We always have something to talk about!
I'll tell you more about it in my answer to your questions, but for right now I want to tell you how grateful I am for this time of the year. On Saturday was the beginning of general conference, a time that every one in the world gets to be instructed by a living prophet of God. On Sunday we celebrated not only the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but also His atonement. Yesterday was the 6th of April, which is the birth of the Savior as well as the anniversary of organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (not to mention the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, in which thousands of people have enjoyed the blessings of exaltation including members of our family). This time of the year is very sacred and should not pass us by unnoticed! Something I love that President Uchtdorf has taught is that we can celebrate Easter every Sunday by partaking of the sacrament. We can remember the Savior's sacrifice and the blessings of the atonement every time we partake of the bread and water. I hope that we can all keep this spirit that we have felt this week with us for the rest of the year.

Now, to answer your questions! I was once again able to copy and paste them so I will try and answer them as best as I can so that everyone can understand what was asked. Here we go!
1) My week with my new companion was great! Elder Loader and I get along very well and we are both excited to be here in Dunkwa together. I have heard a few things about him before he came and I was excited to finally meet him. Elder Bannerman was transferred to Abura Dunkwa (kind of a funny pun actually... it's close to Cape Coast!). I'm glad we had the opportunity to be companions and I am very appreciative of all that I have learned from him. He is a great missionary and I will miss him!

2) Hmmm.. we didn't do anything too crazy for Easter, but it was so great to hear the testimonies of the branch members in Fast and Testimony meeting! We were fed an Easter meal (rice and stew!) by one of our recent converts and it was delicious. Mostly we celebrated Easter in our thoughts, which made it much more meaningful for me.

3) Yes, all of our baptisms are still on for this Saturday! We are planning for 5 candidates and they are all being interviewed tomorrow by Elder Riehle. I am so excited for Evans, Seth and Comfort, Theophilus, and Amina! They all were able to make it to church yesterday thankfully. It was Elder Bannerman and I who found all of them and I have a very strong connection with them. Prayers are greatly appreciated as they prepare to make this big step in their lives!

4) The recent converts are AMAZING! They are so strong in the Church. Matilda is now the adult Sunday school teacher (a convert of a month!!) and she is giving a talk this week! Sarfo has been proselyting with us and contributes to each lesson very powerfully. He has been given the Aaronic priesthood and he is patiently waiting to be ordained an Elder and receive the Melchizedek priesthood! I am so proud of their efforts and I am hoping that I will be able to hear of them receiving their endowments before I go home!

5) Sadly the envelope did not come yet.. I am hoping that it arrived safely and that it is at the mission home waiting to come to Dunkwa! I will email you as soon as I get it. Thank you so much for doing that for me.
6) Ah, my biggest challenge this week was change. For me, I am not a big fan of change and sometimes I dread getting out of a routine. Thankfully Heavenly Father answered many of my prayers this week and I was able to adjust quickly and develop a new routine. My sweetest success on the other hand was seeing the progress of not only my recent converts, but also my baptismal candidates. It was a great joy to see all of them at church on Sunday partaking of the sacrament. There's nothing quite like the joy of seeing people truly repent and find the truth. There is no greater success!
Thank you all for you emails this week and for your prayers. I greatly appreciate your love and I pray for you all everyday. I hope that everyone can have an enjoyable week and that everyone will be safe. Remember the Easter holiday and keep that spirit with you!
Elder Gavin Degen

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