Monday, September 14, 2015

E-mail dated 9/14/15

Family and Friends,
Akwaabo! This may be the last week that I begin my email like that, because I am no longer in the beautiful country of Ghana. I made it safely to Liberia everyone!! I want to thank you all for your wonderful emails and your prayers this week, they were much needed. As you can guess, I received lots of questions and I don't have time to personally reply to all of you so I'm going to try and be as detailed as possible in this email! I hope that you can all forgive me for the next few weeks if I don't reply to your emails, just know that I am trying :) 

Well, I don't even know where to begin. I think I can take it day by day so that I can be able to explain everything. So, on Tuesday, it was an insanely busy day. We had an MLC report in Agona (45 minutes away from Axim) in the morning where I said goodbye to all of the missionaries that I have served around the past 2 transfers. After it was finished, Elder Adu-Gyamfi and I continued onward to Takoradi to go to the Stake Patriarch for an interview for my companion. While I was in Takoradi, I got a few last minute souvenirs and then we traveled the hour and a half back to Axim! We got home around 7:30 and then I began packing, writing in people's journals, taking pictures and so on. I was up much later than I should have been!

On Wednesday morning, I took my bags to the station and said goodbye to Elder Adu-Gyamfi. It was a hard goodbye! Even though we had only spent 6 weeks together, it's hard to describe the relationship a new missionary has with his trainer. You know how I feel about Elder Mocke! After 3 and a half hours and 2 trotros later, I arrived in Cape Coast. The office elders came and picked up my bags from the station and then Elder Wight and I explored Cape for a few hours! We got some awesome things at the castle and we met back at the mission home at 5. After waiting for our other outgoing Liberia missionary (Elder Treadway), we had our last fufu!! Oh my gosh it was so good. President Stevenson then gave us a small orientation/farewell and we had a departing testimony meeting. It was emotional for all of us! After talking and having fun in the mission home for awhile, we went to the Assistant's (Elder Mocke and Larsen) and slept the night.

We all woke up the following morning at 4 and began our journey to the airport in Accra! We arrived around 8 with some time to spare, so Elder Mocke showed us what civilization looks like. He showed us the mall, and the KFC there! I haven't seen things so developed in a long time. The bathrooms even had those hand-dryer things. After arriving at the airport, we took all of our bags inside and met up with a few of the other reassigned missionaries from Ghana! After a few long lines and filling out forms, we were to the terminal and I had to say goodbye to Elder Mocke. Another hard goodbye! At 12:45 p.m. our plane took off with 8 missionaries inside. Our flight first went to Freetown (we were in Sierra Leone for about an hour) and then we flew into Monrovia. We arrived around 3 and we were met immediately by our new mission president, President Carlson! I also met the Hezseltine's at the airport! We all loaded our luggage into the cars and drove an hour and a half to the mission office. After an amazing meal (deli subs), we all were so tired. We quickly showered and got ready before they shut the generator off!

Friday morning, we got our new assignments! We were all pulled into President Carlson's office one by one and were told our news. I am assigned to the Paynesville first branch, and I will be training a new missionary! I didn't really know what to expect because I am brand new to the mission/country, so I was eager to get out and work. The new missionaries will arrive on Wednesday, so I was assigned Elder Sirleaf, a native Liberian, as a temporary companion. We were taken to our apartments around 4 and we realized we had a lot of work to do. These apartments haven't been occupied in a year, so we had to do some cleaning! We were also in charge of buying a lot of the things for the apartment. I never knew how much work it was to run a mission until this week. The rest of the day was spent trying to get things settled down in our new home.

On Saturday, after a morning of confusion and more cleaning, we headed out to proselyte for the first time. As we were walking down the street, one of our branch missionaries spotted us and introduced himself! It was a miracle, because we were just wandering around looking for the chapel. We honestly did not receive any information about the area, the Church here, or anything like that. We were completely in the dark. The branch missionary then began to show us to some of the members, and all of them greeted us with so much excitement! They had heard that missionaries would be coming back, but they didn't know when. We proselyted until 7 and then we came back in exhausted and still really confused! 

Sunday was a day that I will never forget. When we arrived at church at 9, we were able to see just how amazingly strong this branch is. They were many people at sacrament meeting, even though it was pouring rain. During the second hour, our branch president pulled us into his office and handed us a list of 15 names and numbers, all of whom have been coming to church for weeks and desiring to be baptized. To our even greater surprise, he handed us 15 filled out baptismal records. Our shock didn't end there though, because after church, we had a missionary meeting with the 13(!!!) branch missionaries that have been proselyting for the past year. All of them are mission age and most of them have their calls. After setting appointments and days to proselyte with each of them, we had a few of them continue to show us the areas! When we returned home in the evening and we were counting our key indicators, we realized that we had received 32 referrals in one day, all of which want to be baptized. I have a lot of work to do!!

There's so much more to my story, but I don't have nearly enough time to tell all of it! I am so excited to work here in Liberia and I know that I have a lot of challenges, excitement and joy ahead of me. I know the Lord will lift me up as I labor to do His great work.

I want to thank all of you again for your prayers this week, they were all answered. I am very happy here in my new assignment and I'm so glad I have been called to do this! I love you all so much and you are all in my prayers. I will try to answer more people individually next week.

Elder Degen

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