From: Ethan Cade Brimhall [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 4:19 AM
I try to feel the Spirit when I am studying, teaching, and in church. It’s hard. But I’m not stressing. Seriously. You could look in my eyes right now and see that I am as calm as the sea of Galilee after Christ said “Peace, be still.” I have had that kind of calming sensation over the past few days that has forced me to chill out a little. The mission field is pretty much nothing like the MTC. Different rules. Different teaching. Different everything. But I love it! I have two people in specific, Sis Rose and Sis Salimatu, that I want to baptize. Both in their early twenties probably. The first one was taught before Ebola and was ready for baptism, but fell away after the missionaries left. We are reteaching and will probably baptize her. Sis Salimatu is really engaged in the lessons and asks questions often. I can’t see her wanting anything but baptism. We will extend those commitments to both of them in our next meetings.
I have a tough investigator also. She does not pay attention at all, rarely keeps commitments, and often fails to understand our message. I have been praying for her a lot, but don’t feel like they are being answered. I am trying my hardest to study for her personally and communicate with my companion. I am at a loss with her.
One phrase that people here say a lot is “by the grace of God” especially when we extend commitments. They use it as a cop-out to shift blame from not keeping commitments from them to God. It’s really annoying sometimes. I’ve tried to help them understand the true meaning of that phrase. Grace works after works have been graced, or in other words, God isn’t going to bless you with grace until you make a sincere and full effort to do what is asked of you. Same thing with prayer, as I have been learning. God won’t help us until we help ourselves. He will make up the difference, however big it is.
I was pretty discouraged about a week and a half ago. I wanted to quit, but God didn’t. He really pushed me to keep going. Prayer has saved my life out here. I survive only by the miracles that happen to me every day. I didn’t know how much I needed a mission until I got here.
I think I am losing weight because all I am eating is rice. Serious. Rice and some stew that is full of oil and tomato sauce. It doesn’t taste bad, but it’s really unfulfilling. I stopped getting bites at the ridiculous pace I was a few days ago. Now it’s just every once in a while. And I have only gotten a little burned. I don’t think I have gotten any darker though.
I pray daily that you will begin to feel more comfortable in your new job. Elder Okpara is from Nigeria and served in Nigeria. He leaves in October. The apartment is in Waterloo. The other two are Elders Anku and Ebohon. Elder Ebohon was in my district in the MTC and is from Nigeria. Elder Anku is from Ghana and previously served in Ghana. We just use a bucket for showers. I have not yet used the shower bag I brought because it’s just inconvenient right now. No running water at all. My toe is fine. It looked like that for a long while after the procedure last time. It looks normal now. I did not bring any antibiotics for that. My toe is fine. Mosquito bites have relented. I only get one every two days or so. I am assuming what you have guessed concerning the ineffective mosquito net [due to the sagging bed frame his first two nights and the net would not stay tucked in under the mattress]. The bed is okay now. For laundry, I have a bucket for washing, a bucket for rinsing, and a bucket for the rinsed stuff. Wash-rinse-plop-hang. Whites first, darks last. We hang them up on the balconies in our apartment or outside on the line, which is still inside the compound protected by a high wall with barbed wire and shards of glass.
I have learned how to barter, and there are established prices here, just not written ones. We go to the mission home every two weeks to get money, at least that is what we did yesterday. I did put my money in a safe, along with the official documents and booklets I brought. Drinking the water is really okay here. I never even touch non-filtered water. I just carry my water bottle with me everywhere. I sent what is at the market in a physical letter I mailed yesterday. We can get beans here. We can also get seasonings. We can make pancakes. Really, I am fine as far as food goes for now. I will let you know otherwise. The exchange rate is around 6000 Le for 1 USD. It is a little higher or lower depending on where I go. I have never heard of ‘black soap’. I am fine with the climate right now. No rashes or infections yet.
I got the news about the Orlando shooting the day it happened. The US Embassy here still has its flag at half-mast. Terrible thing.