Monday, November 23, 2015

E-mail dated 11/23/15

Family and Friends,
Akwaabo! Happy early Thanksgiving everyone! It sounds like the holiday season is upon you back home, and everyone is excited. I hope that everyone can enjoy their week off and that everyone stays safe for Thursday! I've forgotten what the holiday season is like back home, but I can admit that I might like the holiday season here in Africa a little bit more because I get to be around some of the most thankful people in the world for the little that they have. Don't take anything for granted this week, and really think about how much the Lord has blessed you in your lives!

Thank you for everyone who emailed me this week and gave me all the updates about back home. It was nice to see how everyone is doing. I am doing great this week as well, and I have a lot to say this week, but I think that I could do all of that while answering your questions, so let's just dive right into them!

1.  Tell us about the baptism.
Elder Carlson and I spent the whole week focusing on our baptismal candidates and the Lord blessed us enough to teach them all the lessons and have them interviewed on Friday. Rachel was even interviewed by President Carlson, which was a cool experience for her! All of them passed and their service on Saturday was amazing. There weren't too many people there, but I felt the spirit so strongly, especially as they all bore their testimonies after. The three people are: Adolphus Cornormia, Oscar Gono, and Rachel Roberts. Your prayers are much appreciated as they are now recent converts and new to the Church! I was glad to hear that you received the picture of the baptism.

2.  Do they celebrate Thanksgiving in Liberia?
They do, but it was in the first week of November! It wasn't very memorable because I can't even recall what I did that day and I forgot to mention it to you a few weeks ago... But to celebrate American Thanksgiving, today my district and a few other elders went to a supermarket and got a few pizzas! They were so good. Not quite like turkey and mashed potatoes, but it was more than anything I could have asked for!

3.  I heard this past week that a couple of new cases of ebola were found in Paynesville this past week.  Do you know anything about it and have you been told to take any precautions?
Yes, there were a few cases in Paynesville this week, but they were far from my proselyting area. The government has quickly contained them, and it's not a big deal, seeing as this happened in July and September as well! The area presidency is taking precautions though, as they moved the other Paynesville Elders out and moved them into our apartment because it's a little bit farther away from the outbreak. So now we have 2 new Elders living with Elder Carlson and I! We are also no longer allowed to shake hands, get free meals, or eat food off the street. Everything is perfectly fine, but the Church is just making sure that everyone is safe. My guess is that this was an isolated incidence and that it will blow over in a few weeks time! There's no need to worry about me :)

4.  Do they have large shopping centers close by, like a mall?  Where do the people there buy clothes and gifts?  
Hahaha no, there are no malls in Liberia. There were a few in Accra, but I only went inside one when I was leaving to come to Liberia in September. We do have supermarkets though, which were not available anywhere in Cape Coast! It's a blessing to have the option to eat nice American food occasionally. Most everyone buys their clothes from the markets, and almost all the clothes are second hand from America that they sell for cheap. As for gifts, I'll update you more on that when it gets closer to Christmas!

5.  The pictures of you and the little children are adorable.  Are these kids members of the Church (well, I guess are their parents members since not many of them look old enough to be baptized).  They look like they absolutely adore you. 
I think three of those kids are my recent converts (Mama, Cecelia and Morris) and the rest are just little children that live around their house! They are so funny though, and I love taking pictures every time I go there. My WiFi camera was the best investment that I have made in a long time, I'm so glad that I can send pictures home more consistently now!

6.  How are your clothes holding up?  
Well, my first pair of Ecco's fell apart last week! I was walking and the heel just kind of exploded. They lasted me a long time, and I'm proud of those shoes for lasting over a year. My shirts are noticeably more yellow now, but I didn't even notice it until I compared them to Elder Carlson's shirts. I have 6 left though, so I'm still fine! I'm down to 2 pairs of pants, but they are still serving me well. They are a little bit faded from the sun, but it's all part of the fun of missionary work! 

7.  I could tell from some of the posts on the Liberia Mission FB Page that Sister Carlson came home for a time.  Do you know why she came home?  Sister Verdoni was lucky enough to send Elder Verdoni's Christmas box with her when she went back.
She came home for a few weeks for her son's wedding! We all missed her while she was gone, so it was nice to have her back. We had interviews with President Carlson this past week, and we also got to do an interview with her and she is awesome! Her and President have lived in so many different countries and they have the greatest stories.

8.  Are you still healthy and happy?  
Yes, I'm doing great! I'm perfectly happy and healthy and everything is going well here in Paynesville. We are planning on another baptism of around 4 on the 5th of December and your prayers would be much appreciated for Anthony, Mercy, Terry, Oretha and Benita! Thank you all so much.

Well, I wish I could continue talking for awhile but my time is almost up for this week! I hope that everyone enjoys their thanksgiving and that I can get a lot of pictures next Monday! I love you all.
Elder Degen

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