Monday, January 25, 2016

E-mail dated 1/25/16

Family and Friends,
Akwaabo! 'Ow-da-body? (Colloquial for How are you?) I hope that everybody is doing well back home. From the sounds of it though, you all sound pretty cold at the moment! I don't envy you... But I am glad that everyone is safe and sound and that I was able to hear from a lot of you today. Thank you for that.

To update everyone a little bit about what happened this past week for me, I received my new companion! His name is Elder Eguko and he is from Nigeria. He actually reminds me a lot of Elder Ibe in terms of mannerisms and accent! He's an amazing missionary though and he's so excited to do the work. I don't even feel like I'm training a West African. His favorite food is french fries, he's never washed by hand, and he hates all the Liberian dishes! He's also very knowledgeable in the gospel. His father is the mission president of the Nigeria Calabar mission, which makes for some fun stories from him. I can't wait for the next few months with him!

I don't have very much other news than that this week, but I do feel prompted to share something with everyone today. In our emails to each other every week, Missy and I share with each other a spiritual story that happened with us during the previous week and I would like to share mine today. So on Wednesday morning Elder Cichsoki and I were teaching a few lessons, but we were about to go back to the apartment to meet our new companions. As we were heading home, a man begged us to come and talk with him for a minute. To be honest, we didn't pay too much attention to him at first because we hear crazy people tell us that every day, but something told us to listen to this guy. As we walked over to him, he invited us over to his house and sat us down on his porch. 

He thanked us immensely for stopping, and then he began to pour out his heart to us. He explained how he has been addicted to drugs for over 10 years, how his parents are ready to disown him and about how badly he wants to change. He began shedding tears as he was explaining this horrible mess that his life is right now. I was really taken aback because nothing like this has ever happened to me before, but I somehow felt really calm as I was sitting there listening to him. Elder Cichoski and I began to teach him about the healing power of the Atonement and about how Christ is the source to whom he can look for the change that he desperately needs. We opened Alma 7:11-13 with him and explained that the Savior has experienced everything, including what he is feeling right now. At the end of the lesson, this man (his name is Seafus) was so hopeful of the future and he promised us he would pray for the first time in years. It was such an amazing lesson, and I'm so glad that the Lord guided my companion in I in knowing what to say.

To answer your questions now...

1.  Tell us about your companion.  Where is he from, etc.
Elder Eguko!! I think I told you everything I could about him already...

2.  Are any of your investigators right now children or teens?  I am curious as to how old Anita and Precious are.  I would think that if you can teach the younger ones, sometimes their parents will follow.
Anita is 14, and Precious is 16! Anita's guardian was baptized in November and now she has followed. Precious lives in the swamp right next to the Paynesville district president, and we are currently trying to convert her mother! The problem is that her English is very poor and she feels that Latter Day Saints is only for educated people who can read, which is not true. That's actually a very common problem here. People would love to join, but they feel ashamed that they are illiterate. We are teaching a few other teenagers, but we generally only do if they are a part-member family! 

3.  I don't think I have asked this before, if I have, then forgive me.  Tell me about the apartment in which you now live.  How many rooms, bathrooms, etc.  Does it have a washing machine or are you washing your clothes by hand?
It has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and some large open spaces. It's supposed to be a 6-man apartment but because of the lack of missionaries it's now only a 4-man! Elder Cichoski and I have definitely made our mark on it though. We made a hammock out of empty rice bags and a few weeks ago we bought a washing machine! It was actually the exact same model that I had in Ghana. So to explain again, it's not a real washing machine, it is just a large plastic box that has a motor at the bottom that spins the clothes. It's works well enough for me, I love it! 

4.  Any new investigators we could be praying for?
Jones and his family. He randomly walked up to us while we were teaching one of our less active members and wanted to know more about the Church. Even though he spoke to us on Saturday evening, he made it to church the following morning! We are going to teach him for the first time on Wednesday this week. Your prayers are much appreciated.

5.  How was the Kickball activity?  What else did you do?  Are you and your companion in charge of planning your activities?
It was awesome! I hope that you were able to see some of the pictures that I sent you today. After the activity a lot of the Elders went in town and we all ate at Monroe Chicken (an amazing American restaurant)! Thankfully Elder Cichoski and I weren't in charge of this activity though because it was a combined district activity. We are in charge of zone activities!  

6.  How is President Carlson doing?  Is he back to 100% yet?  Have the Hezseltine's left to come home yet?  I would love to meet them when they do.  
President Carlson is doing great now! He's still in the bush right now, but he should be coming back sometime this week! The Hezseltine's will also come home this week on Thursday. I do not know when their homecoming is though, but I know that they would love to meet you there!

Well, thank you again to every one who wrote me today and for your prayers. They are being heard every day. I love you all, I hope that you have a great week! 

Elder Gavin Degen

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