Monday, November 16, 2015

E-mail dated 11/16/15

Family and Friends,
Akwaabo! Lots of news to digest this week! Thank you (as always) to every one for your emails this week, I love reading all of them. I was sad to hear about the Utes, Paris and the public outrage about the Church's new policy. But, I was happy to know that every one is safe and happy! That's all that really matters. 

So it was cold in Utah this week? I've said this before, but I've forgotten what cold feels like. Some of you may think that's a blessing, but I actually miss feeling cold and sleeping under a nice thick blanket! If I did that now, I would probably burst into flames.

My week was exciting in a lot of ways, but not in a way that I can accurately put into words! The reason why is because we have began proselyting with our recent converts, and they have blown us away. We tried proselyting with quite a few of them this week and they improved our lessons so much. There's nothing quite like hearing a new convert bear their testimony about the Church to another person! I've often described new converts' testimonies as a fire, and it's amazing to see the light they give off to other people. I've been blessed, all of my converts in Liberia so far are active and none have fallen through the cracks. I pray that the Lord will bless them to keep their fire burning for a long time. 
I wish I had more to say, but I'll try and answer your questions now!

1.  I would like to know what blessings you have received because of your service.
Wow, that is probably the hardest question you have ever asked me. The greatest blessing 'I've received has been seeing the blessings that others have received. I know that's kind of a cop-out answer, but it's probably the most true! I don't think I really believed my call letter when it said "more happiness than you have ever experienced awaits you as you serve the Lord faithfully" but it has been so true on my mission. I thought it was absurd before I left that anything could make me as happy as basketball, or Missy, or my family, but I have seen how the Lord has blessed me in my life with a happiness and a joy that's hard to describe. It's not the adrenaline joy that I feel when I play sports. It's not the social joy of being with my friends. It's not even the deep joy I had when I was with my family! It's an eternal joy. Knowing that I have been an instrument in the Lord's hands to bring happiness to other people has been my greatest source of happiness and my greatest blessing.

2.  Have you been able to view Conference with your Branch yet?
Yes, we were able to watch some of it yesterday! I had already watched most of it when I was at the mission office last month, but it was so great to see it again. I think it had a greater effect on our investigators though. James Dorbor, one of our favorite investigators, called us soon after the meeting and said one of the talks had a profound influence on him. We've been teaching him all week about the Atonement and after the conference, he said he now understands it in a way he never did before. He said all of him questions were answered. Elder Carslon and I were so happy!! I know it was with a lot of help from all of those at home who prayed with us for him. He is still working on getting out of his current situation, but this has helped him so much.

3.  I have been thinking about what you told us last week about the people there not being able to get baptized because they are not legally married.  It seems like such a small thing, the $50.  Are the missionaries allowed to give them the money?  I was wondering if I periodically put in $50 in your account if you could help them out.  
I wish that could happen, but as missionaries we are strictly not allowed to give money to anyone. If we gave money to one person, then everyone's entire perception of us would change. Everyone thinks that because we are white, we have a lot of money so we get a lot of beggars everyday. It's hard to say no a lot of times, especially cause I'm living in a house with running water and they only eat one meal a day. The hardest is saying no to members and investigators. I've also been periodically given children to take back to America (that's always entertaining) and I've been given girls to marry. Don't worry, I've said no to (most of) those offers. 

4.  How is Elder Carlson and his training coming along?  Will he immediately become a trainer after his training is complete in December and will you get another brand new missionary?  I enjoy reading Elder Carlson's blog each week as well.
I'll be honest, I have no idea what is going to happen after this transfer! Elder Carlson and I could stay together for another six weeks, he could train, or I could be transferred! He's doing really well though, he's a powerful missionary. Him and I get along really well, although sometimes we get lonely because we're in a two man apartment. We're on week 10 of training, so I'm sure he's getting excited to finish!

5.  We are praying for your investigators.  How are they progressing?  Still planning on the baptism on Saturday?  
They are progressing great! We had quite a few investigators attend the conference yesterday, but nothing can beat the experience James Dorbor had. We are still planning to baptize 3 people on Saturday though! We have Adolphus, Oscar, and Rachel. We are really excited for this baptism, because these are converts who could one day be leaders here in Liberia. They have strong testimonies, and Adolphus is of mission age! I will let you know more about them next week.

6.  Did the rain finally slow down?  I check my weather app often on my phone and it always says in that Monrovia it is raining and 84 degrees.
Yes, it doesn't rain too much here anymore! Only sometimes at night does it pour. It's been a welcome change, but of course it's gotten hotter. I'm excited for the beginning of January, that's the coldest time of the year here (it can get in the 70's in the mornings!).

7.  What was your greatest challenge of the week and your sweetest success?
My greatest challenge was a humbling one. It happened yesterday, when one of our favorite recent converts, Esther Parker and her family, fed us dinner. She had admitted to us earlier this week that she no longer had money to run her shop, but she never asked us for any money. Then, on Sunday, she was so so excited to give us and our branch missionary a bowl of dry rice. I watched her take half of a pot of plain white rice, and give it away to us, as her and her 2 children ate the other half. That was a challenging moment for me as I considered that this was what her family was having for dinner (possibly their only meal of the day). It was hard.

My greatest success though, came from my recent converts, including Sister Esther! Proselyting with them and hearing them all gush about conference was amazing. I love them all so much.
Well, thank you all again for your emails and prayers this week! Please continue to pray for my investigators. I love you all and I hope that I can hear from everyone again next week!
Elder Degen

No comments:

Post a Comment