Monday, October 19, 2015

E-mail dated 10/19/15

Family and Friends,
Akwaabo! I know this might get old, but GO UTES! As long as they keep winning, I will begin my email by mentioning them! I was so excited to hear about the game from everyone. I forget about football during the week, but for 2 hours on Mondays I get to celebrate! Even better than that though, was hearing about how everyone is doing. I was glad to know that everyone is safe and sound and that things went well with UEA weekend. It was fun to hear about.

My week was indescribable. I wish I could put adequately into words the feelings that are with me right now, but I can't. I just want to let everyone know the love that the Lord has for His children here in Liberia. I have seen firsthand the miracles that have been happening in this country and the blessings of God. Let me explain.

Liberia was hit with Ebola last year, and it shook the entire country. Thousands of people died because of it, but tens of thousands more died because of the civil unrest that followed. Those with simple diseases like colds and fevers died because there was no medical care brave enough to treat them. Members of the Church were left without missionaries, and without much contact from their leaders. I've heard people describe their struggles during the Ebola crisis and I feel the deepest kind of sorrow in me. These people suffered for a long time without the necessities in life. Many of those who were not actively religious started to depend upon God again for their needs. 

 The branches and districts in Liberia did their best to continue to kingdom of God, and they succeeded mightily because they were continually depending upon the Lord. There were hundreds baptized in a span of 13 months following the missionary evacuation. But that was just the beginning. I firmly believe that God has heard these great people's cries and is answering them right this very moment. Because of these people's faith, this has been the result:

At nearly every branch in Liberia, there are not enough seats to fit the people that are attending Church. People are standing outside in lines to partake of the sacrament. The Church has been here in these areas longer than 10 years and there are 40-100 investigators at sacrament meeting in some areas every week. Every single Sunday, Elder Carlson and I get around 10 people that come up to us devastated because they couldn't be baptized in the previous week. We have had over 200 referrals in the past month, all begging to join the Church because they have found what they are looking for. They cannot build chapels and create units fast enough. The Church is growing so fast here that I sometimes feel like it's a scriptural account in the Book of Mormon. I have been overwhelmed with emotions as I have begun to realize the significance of these things. These are answers to prayers and I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father that I get to be the means to answer someone's cries for help. It's the greatest responsibility that I can ever undertake.

Sorry to go off on a tangent for a minute, but I just had to share the Spirit that I have felt this past week. My eyes have been opened. Let me answer some questions now!

1.  I have sent a couple of regular sized envelopes through the mail.  Have you received either of them?
No, not yet! I've heard of quite a few things that have been sent to me since I've come to Liberia, but I haven't received anything yet! I do have a zone conference on Thursday, so I hope that they will arrive safely by then.

2.  What kind of camera were you able to find and did you have plenty of money?  
Sadly I lost about 500 pictures when I lost my camera, but I was able to find a decent Samsung camera for an okay price! It has wifi, so hopefully I will be able to send pictures easier!

3.  Do the people in Monrovia have access to television and internet in their homes?  If I remember right, it was uncommon when Eric was there.  Are American television shown there?
Television in homes isn't unheard of, it's just uncommon. Computers in homes are rare. But, most everyone has a cell phone with internet capabilities here! I have seen quite a few America DVD's here for really cheap, but many of the Africans don't like them.

4.  Is the food in Monrovia similar to what you ate in Cape Coast?  Do you generally have electricity and running water in your apartment?  
The food is completely different!! In Ghana I would have Fufu, ampesi, banku, rice, caconte, jollof, etc. But here its all RICE. Which is good because rice is delicious, but I just wish they would mix it up once in awhile! And the mission does a great job of giving it's missionaries the necessities like water and power. Every apartment has a generator and a big tank for water. 

5.  According to Sister Hezseltine, the rainy season was supposed to end on October 17th.  Did it finally stop raining?  
It has certainly rained less this week than in the past! I'm still wearing rain boots though on some days. I hope that it's almost over. Of course, I say that now, but in four weeks from now I probably will want the rainy season back!

6.  Is it getting easier to understand the people?  Do they speak with an accent like in Ghana?
I can now mostly understand the people, but there are still some times when they speak deep pigeon that it's impossible for anyone to understand them without a Urim and Thummim. They speak much differently here! In Ghana you had to speak slowly and clearly. Here, you have to speak fast and drop off the last half of the word. They also speak in a higher tone. It's interesting! 

Thank you all so much for your emails and support this week, they mean a lot to me! I'm doing so well and I'm happy. The work is greater than anything I've experienced before and I think it's only beginning. I love you all and hope that you have a great and safe week!
Elder Degen

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