Rainy Season and Spiritual Sensitivity
Elder Ebohon Baptizing in a River
Smashing hot peppers for dinner
From: Ethan Cade Brimhall [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, June 27, 2016 6:57 AM
On our way back from Freetown last Monday, our ride broke down. The sweet old guy who was driving us tried waving down another ride for us and told us we didn’t have to pay him. We gave him some money for repairs and told him to be on his way and that we would be fine. It took a while to find a driver that demanded a reasonable price and had enough seats for us four (the other apartment companionship was with us).
Tuesday, we went down to conduct baptismal interviews for Elders Ashby and Patrick in Grafton (our neighboring area). Elder Ashby wasn’t feeling well, so I stayed at their apartment with him while Elder Patrick went with my companion to do the interview. It was a nice change to speak with an American elder for some time. My apartment mates speak Nigerian pidgin to each other a lot, so I can’t understand much of what they say. at this point, I can understand probably more than they think I can since I’ve had so much exposure to it. I got a package from home with some stuff that will help me here. Thank goodness for loving parents with the means to do so. You rock Mom and Dad. Still no regular or pouch mail has arrived yet.
Wednesday was SUPER rainy, as was pretty much all of this week. We stayed in that day because we had no appointments and no one would be out to contact. We played a lot of Rook and studied. They thought my shuffling was weird, but I just do the bridge thing that most other people I know do. They pull a bunch from the middle and smack it on the rest of the deck in their hand, repeated to satisfaction. I think my way is much more elegant.
Thursday we had district meeting. We discussed the importance of members in missionary work. I, for one did not understand how truly important members are in missionary work until I became a missionary. We survive off of referrals. Members breathe life into discussions if they are present. Seriously. If you are slacking in your own member missionary work, you hate missionaries. Okay, maybe being that harsh is uncalled for, but really though. Help out your missionaries. I don’t mean to chastise, just call to action. Your efforts are needed and appreciated here and in heaven. We taught a new investigator named Mohammed Kalone. He is a Muslim who is considering converting to Christianity. We are teaching him the Plan of Salvation. He is very receptive and understanding and asks a lot of questions. I needed him to give me a boost after some difficult investigators. It started raining during our lesson and continued to do so for the rest of the day.
Friday was an interesting day. We taught a family who is mostly Christian, but the parents are Muslim. They loved hearing our message, but seem unwilling to make commitments. That makes teaching hard. You can’t really learn something unless you apply it (a lesson I am only now actually learning for myself). We taught through a really heavy storm. Sister Jeneba offered us shelter post-lesson during the storm. She had us prepare the food this time. I made ground nut stew. I fried fish in one pot and ground peppers in another pot with a long stick. A picture attached shows that. It was pretty spicy. My face sweat quite a bit. The cool storm weather was appreciated at that point. After the storm calmed down, we went to the church grounds and helped weed the dirt.
You’ll never guess what happened on Saturday! It rained! Again! How exciting! I hope you can feel my sarcasm from here. We conducted a few baptism interviews for Elder Anku and Elder Ebohon. We also attended a baptism service they were holding in a river. Yes, we saw people get baptized in a river. It was quite a trek from the chapel to the river with a big hill to descend towards the river. A couple of the girls at the service like talking to me maybe a little too much. I’ve noticed that girls really like talking to me here. My companion says that it’s because of my white skin. I tell him that’s ridiculous. Look at my face! Just kidding! This might be an issue for the remainder of my mission. My apartment mates think it’s hilarious. I find it frustrating. I can’t tell who is genuinely interested in my message, and who is interested just in me. Good problem to have if I’m not on a mission (unless I am in a relationship, which I am. Don’t worry Kiyah). Really bad problem while on a mission. After the service, we went to that Branch’s President’s house and had a FM (free meal). We visited that family we saw yesterday and taught them more. That’s when it rained. It didn’t stop for the rest of the day. Tin roofs are very loud during a storm, so you really can’t have a spiritual lesson if you scream Jesus loves you at your investigators for an hour. I got stomach pain soon after the lesson ended. Intense stomach pain. It came in waves. I’m guessing it was minor food poisoning because my companion had a less intense version of the same problem. It only lasted for about an hour, so we stayed out. We met with our Branch President who took us out to eat at a restaurant. The storm didn’t let up at all the whole day, so we got soaked on our five minute brisk walk over there. The food was as close to American as I will find anywhere in Waterloo. Fried chicken, salad, couscous, and potato wedges. My companion split his pants down the side. Huge, huge hole. Reminds me of the time I did the same thing on the inside back at BYU. My college friends know what I am talking about.
Sunday, we went to church (duh). It rained again. Only one of our investigators came to church, which was a huge disappointment. We basically taught her a lesson for Gospel Principles since it was just her there. Elders quorum was interesting because the teacher had obviously not prepared at all. He went off on tangents all the time and asked his own personal doctrinal questions to the quorum. We tried to steer him back, but it was rough. Our branch is quite unlike anything I had ever experienced back in America. You know what they say, TIA (this is Africa).
This week has prompted a lot of introspection. I see a lot of myself in those that I meet or teach, and as I teach them, I teach myself. Teaching others is really the best way to learn something. I am coming so much closer to my Heavenly Father by telling people about what He wants them to know because that is what He wants me to know. I have done a lot of praying to overcome my weaknesses, and I have noticed the very real and direct correlation between obedience and spiritual sensitivity. The more obedient I am with the small things, the better I do with the big things, like teaching an investigator. I can’t expect God to help me when I don’t even help myself. I am privileged to be doing this work. I know that I have been called of God to live a Nazarite-esque life in order to help His children in Sierra Leone come to know the restored truth. I have experiences every day that reconfirm this testimony to me. I hope all of you have a great week!
P.S. Dear Mom, I’m proud of Alex for remaining worthy to be ordained to the office of a priest. It makes me feel old, so I’m sure it makes you feel older (not that you’re old, Mom. You still have quite a bit of life about you). Sis Clawson is a hard worker and reminds me somewhat of you. She is a great “mission mom” to me. I’m glad you had a great trek experience and that you would want to do it again. I’m proud to call you and Dad my parents. I love you bunches Mom!
P.P.S. Other excerpts…
I feel so unprepared for everything all the time. Literally the only thing keeping me above water is the help of God. I am a terrible teacher, but that doesn’t matter because I have a testimony that God has gifted me with. I know that this gospel is love, but I’m trying to understand what it means to me. Not until I experience the gospel will I be able to teach it. I pray for occasions or situations that will help me experience the gospel for myself. Giving myself to service has enabled me to be a trillion times more introspective because I am learning so much about human nature. I see little bits of myself in other people, and as I teach them, I learn things for myself. It’s interesting how much more you learn and come to understand about yourself as you “forget yourself and go to work.”
My family is amazing. I am coming to appreciate them more and more as I am out here in the field. One thing I have learned while out here: regardless of your own perceived ability, if you are doing what is asked of you, God will magnify your abilities to help you accomplish whatever assignment He gives you.
I have laughed a lot since being here. I took Elder Bednar’s three recommendations to heart, especially with laughing. I laugh at everything (sometimes a little too much). I just find things here so funny. Not in a demeaning way, but people, situations, everything is just funny. I am genuinely happy 🙂 I wish I could just unload everything I know onto investigators in one lesson. They would be baptized that very day. I have talked a lot with my companion Elder Okpara recently about my own weaknesses and fallacies and nature. I have an intense fear of man that often takes the place of fear of God. That is my ultimate downfall in a lot of situations. We have not yet street contacted because of my own fear and unwillingness to motivate my aged companion to do it. I need to have experience in that during training but I don’t want to. It’s hard to motivate my companion when I don’t want to do that thing myself. I pray daily that I will have the strength to overcome this deeply-rooted fault. I have to fight the urge to chastise in almost every lesson. These people can’t get it through their thick heads that this gospel is going to save their immortal souls if they just freaking listen and apply what I am saying. If I get this frustrated with a few people, imagine how frustrated God gets with billions and billions of people? You can’t truly understand God until you teach the gospel. It’s really amazing that He doesn’t rain fire down upon cities on a daily basis. Skip lunch and eat only rice. That’s how I do it. Not by choice, though. We don’t come back for lunch and there are no restaurants in existence except at junctions. Yay me! I feel very inadequate talking to some of the old missionaries (like leaving next month old). I know nothing compared to them. The only thing that assured me was that they told me I know about as much as they did at my stage. I have the capacity to be as great as them if I study hard and obey mission rules. Simple to understand, hard to implement. I love my companion, and it’s almost time for me to leave him. I’m gonna miss him tons, but I now that I’ll see him on the other side.
We walk or take taxis (which are super sketch. The cars are at the most updated level from the nineties and are so beat up it’s scary). No bikes. My companion is okay now. It was the worst Malaria outbreak he has ever had, but he got over it with a good spirit. I am so excited for the baptism! Sister Rose is so prepared. I didn’t even have to work very hard to help her.