Monday, August 10, 2015

E-mail dated 8/3/15

Family and Friends,
Akwaabo! Thank you to everyone this week for the emails I received, they were amazing! I appreciate all of the unspoken prayers and support as I well, I can promise you they are being answered everyday. It sounds like things are exciting at home.  I was also glad that everyone in the family was safe and had a great week. It sounds like Josh was kept busy and that the Lord is blessing our family for the temple worship that you are doing back home. You're right, we are extremely lucky in Utah to have the opportunity to go to the temple so often! It's been nearly a year since I last went (and first went) and I would do anything to go back. I can positively say that the temple is the most beautiful, peaceful and clean place on this earth. I wish I could spend this whole email baring my testimony about the temple, but I have a lot of news this week!

This was an eventful week to say the least! On Tuesday the Axim district went to Agona (45 minutes away) and had our interviews with President Stevenson! It was a fun time, I'm glad you were able to see the picture on his blog! We returned home and made it home in the late afternoon, but in the evening I was surprised to see an incoming call from President Stevenson! He was calling to inform me that I have been called to be a trainer! I was so excited. I remember how lost and confused I was when I first came to Ghana, but Elder Mocke helped me so much. I can't wait to have that kind of influence on a new missionary's mission! The next few days of the week were eventful as well, because even though my companion's hip is doing a little bit better, half of the apartment fell sick this week! Wednesday and Thursday was kind of like "Who feels well enough to proselyte? Okay, come with me today!" I spent those two days on split with anyone who felt okay! On Friday I traveled a total of 8 hours(!) on a trotro to Cape Coast and back for a meeting with all of the other Elders and Sisters who were called to train. There are 21 incoming missionaries this week and 28 going home! It's a massive transfer. On Saturday we all listened to transfer news and found out the changes in the apartment and the mission. Elder Gasolo has been transferred to the office to better help with his hip! The other noteworthy news is that Elder Mocke is the new Assistant to the President! Both were exciting news. It was fun week!

I have more to say, but I think I can do all of it in my answer to your questions, so let me try! 

1.  How is Elder Gasolo this past week?  
He has been doing better! Like I said, he got sick in the middle of the week, but he really picked it up the past few days as he has been saying goodbye to people in Axim. I will be sad to see him go, it was a short six weeks!

2.  I see on President Stevenson's blog that you had interviews this week and a zone conference.  I saw a picture of the Axim district.  I wish you could see it so you could identify who is who.  I also saw you in a picture with all the new trainers.  Does this mean you are getting a brand new elder?
Yes, I am getting a brand new missionary on Wednesday! I can't wait. 

3.  Are transfers this week?  Has it already been six weeks since you arrived in Axim?
Yes, it has already miraculously been six weeks since I arrived in Axim! I can't believe how fast the time has gone this past transfer. Even though a lot of it was spent in the apartment, I enjoyed getting to know Elder Gasolo, meeting the members and proselyting on the beach!

4.  What is the progress of your investigators?
We have two investigators that consistently come to church that we are preparing to baptize! The 9th doesn't look too realistic with it being a transfer week, but we are almost for certain for the 23rd! Their names are Hannah and Josephine. Hannah is a woman in her early 30's and when her friend, Marian, invited her to the Church, she loved it immediately. She has now come to church over 5 times and she's so excited to be baptized soon! Josephine is a 16 year old girl, who is related to Victoria (another investigator) and Matilda (She's apparently the grandmother of almost the whole village in my area!). The only hard thing is that neither of them speak good English and we rely heavily on members to come and teach with us! 
5.  Has it rained this past week?  
Yes! It's raining right now for the first time in forever!! 

6.  Does the branch have strong members?  About how long have most of the members there been members of the Church?  I am assuming you don't see many who are middle age who have been members their whole life.  
The branch is growing, that's the best way to accurately describe it. Growing in size, yes, but mainly growing in their knowledge of the Church. The leaders are inexperienced, but the branch is functional, which is saying more than a year ago! The branch relies heavily on the missionaries, from blessing the sacrament, to cleaning the chapel, to teaching the classes. I think President Stevenson likes sending me to these types of areas! It's a lot of work, but it's all worth it to see the branch learn and grow together. We do have some long-time members (The branch has been here for around 20 years), but only 5 or 6 endowed members! You are correct, there is no one over the age of 10 who is a child of record. 

7.  Tell me anything else you think I might find interesting.  I always think about questions for you during the week and then when I sit down to type, I can't remember any of them.
Hmmm... Because of the sickness in the apartment, President Stevenson ordered all of us to deep clean our apartment today! We did, and it took forever. All six of us were cleaning for 4 hours straight and the apartment still looks almost the same. It's so hard to clean things in Africa!
I hope that I answered all of your questions! I want to thank you so much for sending me the package this week. I know that a lot of thought goes into every one and I can't tell you how appreciative I am of it! I have the greatest family. Thank you as well for the prayers offered (and fasts) on my behalf and I want everyone to know that I pray for you as well. I love you all so much! I will email you next week and tell who my son is (father-son is the slang in this mission for trainer-trainee). Be safe everyone!
Elder Gavin Degen
Fufu makes me poopoo (This is my new signature. Just kidding.)

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