Monday, June 27, 2016

E-mail dated 6/27/16

Family and Friends,

Akwaabo! Thank you everyone for your emails this week. It feels weird to actually be emailing on a Monday for a change... I'm sorry for all the Tuesday emails since I came to Caldwell! The cafe here isn't too reliable. Thankfully it's alright today!

My week was eventful, of course, because I finally received my new companion! His name is Elder Tayie (pronounced tie+yee) and he's from Abidjan, Ivory Coast! He arrived Tuesday evening after spending six weeks in the Ghana MTC learning English. He is amazing! All the Ivorians I've ever met have been so humble, and he is no different. His English is still very broken, but he's so willing to learn and ready to work. I had a lot of fun this week getting to know him! He's a convert of about three years, and he's the only member in his family. He played professional football(!) in Ivory Coast for a living and he does NOT like rice. We'll see if that changes in the next two years in Liberia...

I spent much of my week showing Elder Tayie around the area and introducing him to our investigators. Although he struggled to communicate the thoughts of his heart to them, he did really well this week. We have two investigators that will be baptized this Saturday, James Dezon and Lawrence Massaquoi, and Elder Tayie will be the one to baptize them! I think I'm more excited than he is though haha, James and Lawrence have been so awesome as they have changed their lives to prepare for their baptism. 

My week was also eventful because we had a mission tour this week with the Vinson's! Elder Vinson is a member of the Seventy and is soon to become the Area President when President Curtis gets released in August. He's from Australia, and he is a very straightforward man! He taught the mission about the importance of maintaining our mantle as a missionary even when we're in our apartments, which helped a lot of people (including myself) change some things we do in the evenings after proselyting. He also warned us that because we're so successful here he's afraid that some of us are relying more upon our own knowledge to teach, instead of relying upon the direction of the Spirit. That reminded me exactly of what Elder Bednar taught to all the missionaries in the Wordwide Missionary Broadcast, which was to present the gospel unto the hearts of our investigators by the power of the Holy Ghost, instead of into the hearts of our investigators by our own knowledge (which is impossible). It was a really memorable instruction from Elder Vinson!

Anyways, now to answer your questions... I just realized this email is really long...

1.  If you haven't already, tell us about the all-mission Zone Conference.  Where was it held, what did you do, etc.

It was held last Thursday at the Sinkor Chapel in downtown Monrovia! We just had one 4 hour meeting with the whole mission gathered together and we were first instructed by our Assistants, then Sister and President Carlson, and then Sister and Elder Vinson. It was amazing!

2.  Tell us about your new companion.

Well... I can't think of too much else to say about him! I told you he played professional football, right? Well he gave that up completely to go on his mission. Before he put in his papers, his coach said it's either his mission or his football career, and he chose his mission! Like I said, he is so incredibly humble, I love him.

3.  The pictures I have seen of your apartment look nice and I know you have shared a few things about it, but does it have A/C, power all the time, a washer and dryer?

HAHAHAHA. No A/C. 2 amps of power in the evening time. The only American amenity that we do have is a washer! I gave my washer to Elder Eguko before I left New Georgia, but I was able to somehow inherit one from an Elder who had to go home for personal reasons. So yes, we do have a small washer! But no dryer.

4.  About how many YM and YW do you have attending your Branch?  Do they hold weekly activities during the week?  If so, what type of activities do they do?  

Hmmm... That's a good question. I actually have no idea how many YM/YW are in my branch! From what I've seen though, I would say around 10 YM and 10 YW! I don't think they do weekly activities though. The biggest Church auxiliary in Liberia is the YSA from what I've seen.

5.  Is it hard to stay focused and engaged in the work the last few months of your mission? 

Sometimes, but for the most part, no! I mean, Elder Verdoni and I always joke about how little time we have left, but it just doesn't feel real to us yet. It just kind of feels like we'll be missionaries forever! We still work just as hard as we have all throughout our missions, but I'm certainly more prone lately to just imagine what it will be like at home.

Anyways, thank you all again for your support and love that you have shown unto me this week in your emails and in your prayers! I can hear them loud and clear. I pray that everyone will have an enjoyable week and that I can hear from everyone next week! I love you all.

Elder Gavin Degen

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