Monday, August 24, 2015

E-mail dated 8/24/15

Akwaabo! Mepa wo kyew mo ho ye? (Please, how are all of you?). I hope all of you are doing fine, sadly I didn't get to hear too much about yourselves because all of you only wanted to talk about me for some reason! I really hope that everything is going well back home and that everyone is safe and happy! Thank you everyone so much for the emails that I received this week. I was somehow hoping that it would remain a surprise, but I guess everyone already knows, so I'll jump right into my week!

After I finished emailing last Monday, Elder Adu-Gyamfi and I left Tarkwa and rode two hours back to Axim so that we could take Hannah to her baptismal interview the following day in Takoradi. Sadly, when we went to her house in the morning to pick her, we were told she was at the hospital. We went to the hospital, and someone told us she was at the hair salon. We went to the hair salon and no one had seen her. Thus began a massive Axim-wide search for our investigator! After walking around for 4 hours, we finally found her but it was too late to go to the interview, so the baptism will have to be postponed until this coming Sunday. I was sad, but I'm glad she'll still get the chance to be baptized soon! The following few days were pretty normal, and then Friday was my 1 Year Mark! All of those who came last August met up in Takoradi to renew our non-citizen cards and it was so fun to see all of my MT's! I have missed those guys so much. Elder Mocke was there helping us as well because he is the new Assistant, so it was a big reunion for everyone! On Saturday, Elder Mocke and one of the office elders came to Axim and slept the night, so we all threw a small party. As I was finishing my food talking to everyone, I heard my phone ring in my room so I ran to go pick it up. I was surprised to see President Stevenson calling at 8:15 in the evening, but I answered it simply thinking he wanted me to relay a message to Elder Mocke or something. It wasn't for Elder Mocke, it was for me. What happened next changed my life.

"Good evening Elder Degen, This is President Stevenson. I have some interesting and exciting news for you. The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is modifying your mission call and you are being reassigned to finish your mission in the Liberia Monrovia mission." This was followed by a few moments of silence and then a lot of excitement from me! "You will leave sometime between September 1 and 15. The Quorum gave me criteria for missionaries to open the country, and you meet all of them. Congratulations!"

I was speechless. I really didn't know what to say or do. The only thing I can say now, is that I am extremely excited!! The news quickly spread throughout the mission. President Stevenson told me many more things, but I think I can answer them as part of your questions, so let me try and do that!

1.  Tell us about how you came to find out about missionaries returning to Liberia.  How many from your mission are going?  Do you know many that are? etc., etc., etc., etc.
I know I've explained a little bit, but let me explain more! President Stevenson told me that I will leave soon, but he doesn't know when. Someone new will come to finish Elder Adu-Gyamfi's training with him. He explained that all the Liberians serving in West Africa right now are returning to their home country (I think around 5 Elders, 2 from this mission) and that there will be a total of 14 Elders called to re-open the country being transferred from other missions. I was one of 3 from this mission to be called (out of 200 in the mission). He said that the 14 reassigned missionaries ( 5 Liberians + 9 others, including me) will make up the core leadership. There are 11 missionaries coming to the MTC soon, which brings the final total to the newly opened mission of 25 Elders. An extremely small mission, but a lot of room for growth! He also told me that Liberia in the past year has baptized more people than our mission. And they didn't even have missionaries! To calm some fears that you might have Mom, President said that there are still a few cases of Ebola there, but the Church will take great care of it's missionaries. They wouldn't send us there if it wasn't safe! I don't know quite what else to say. I wish I could remember more of what he said, but I was so shocked and excited that I can't remember everything. I soon started receiving tons of calls from other missionaries asking me to confirm if it's true that I was leaving! I'll be honest, I'll be so sad to leave Ghana, especially the people, but I'm so excited to go to Liberia. I know it's where the Lord needs me. 

2.  How was the baptism on Sunday?
Sadly it didn't happen!! This Sunday, though. 

3.  Did you receive the birthday package? 
Yes, Elder Mocke brought it to me on Friday!! After we heard the news on Saturday, I ripped that thing open and we all ate the candy together! I want to thank everyone so much for contributing. I know how much thought and time and money went into it. Thank the ward members as well, I loved all the cards and messages that I received! You guys spoiled me too much. I love you all!

4.  Were you able to buy a camera?  I am guessing by the decrease of money in your bank account that you able to find one or spent the money on something else (which would be totally fine as well).
Yes, I did! Thank you everyone so much for chipping in that money as well. I now have a nice new camera to take my last pictures in Ghana! I will be sure to take plenty.

5.  I haven't asked this for awhile.  What was your biggest challenge this week and your greatest success? 
Training a new missionary can always be a challenge, but most of the time Elder Adu-Gyamfi makes it very easy on me. He's very humble and willing to learn. My greatest success this week would be how hard him and I worked and the improvement that we have been able to see in our area in the past 3 weeks. We had 5 investigators attend church yesterday and 9 with a baptismal date! I was so happy to see this success after a few transfers of this area being very slow. That is my greatest success this week!

Well, I'm not sure what else there is to say! Thank you again to everyone for the prayers and support. The Lord has blessed me beyond anything I could imagine and I'm so grateful for the wonderful family and friends that I have back home. I love you all so much and pray for you everyday!
Elder Gavin Stewart Degen

1 comment:

  1. wow!!! So exciting! I have enjoyed reading every week, but this is the most exciting news. He is so worthy and you guys must be so pleased.