Growing Pains 08-21

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Hey everyone!

This week was absolutely filled. I am glad I keep a journal. There is no way I would remember everything. Sometimes I look back in my journal and relive past weeks. I have almost finished my first one! At this rate, I will have eight by mission’s end.

Monday

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESElder Grant cut my hair, as well as Elder Bloomfield’s, at the stake center. It turned out pretty decent in my opinion. Then I cut Elder Grant’s hair. Man, that was stressful. My first time cutting ended well, but I did screw up his sideburns a little. Some African elders got into a loud argument about the value of Rolex watches while that went on. That was the least intelligent “conversation” I have heard in a while. It’s seriously the least important thing they could be yelling about. On our way back to Waterloo, Elder Ebohon felt cold from the wind. Seriously? It’s like 70 degrees here. He wants to go to BYU, and if he does, he will suffer like he has never suffered before. I miss cold! Hot cocoa and snowball fights and thick jackets. Good times. I downloaded “The Balm of Gilead” by Elder Packer at the recommendation of Elder Grant. He knew I was struggling recently, and that talk helped him. I listened to it back at the apartment and felt so much better. It helps especially if you’re a worry-wart. I wasn’t the type to worry much before my mission, but since being here, I have become a whole lot more worrying about everything.

Tuesday

We were supposed to go on exchanges today in preparation for transfers the next week. That didn’t happen. Instead, my companion found this new energy and we slayed Lumpa [slightly east of Waterloo]. I think the realization of our very short time left together inspired him to teach me something more before he left. We taught a few really good lessons with Bro Tamba accompanying us. One in particular was with Bro Daniel. Today I saw in him something that I don’t usually see and didn’t see before – a real desire to do what is right. We helped him with a concern about his intolerant Muslim uncle. He only meets with us when the uncle is not home because of his fear of him. We shared with him some inspiring scriptures about fear of God versus fear of man, and the power of God being greater than the power of man. We promised him that if he continues on the right path, he will face challenges, but we are here to help him, and God will always support him if he prays for help. One girl called us over as we were walking to an appointment and asked us “men of God” to teach her. I love this place. You can walk out the door with zero plans and teach the whole day. I am not excusing lack of planning, however, because effective planning leads to effective teaching.

Wednesday

We restocked on food this morning since we were totally out. I studied Christ’s suffering in Gethsemane, which put me in a really spiritual mood today. First, we taught Sis Isatu, who was that girl who was having problems coming to church a couple weeks ago. For some reason she does not talk. Reading scriptures, answering questions, even a polite hello doesn’t happen. Her member brother’s friend Bro Samuel D. came after the lesson and asked us many questions about the Book of Mormon. That surprised us because people here don’t normally ask us questions at all, let alone about the Book of Mormon. We helped him to understand its usefulness and divinity. Bro Joseph (the member brother) asked us a few questions, including some scriptural backup for the way we do things in this church. Then, we visited the not-new Bro Samuel. Some guy came up to us before we started the lesson and started blabbering on about absolute nonsense. I kept nodding like I understood him hoping that he would leave, but he kept on going. My companion was quietly laughing next to me and eventually I broke too. We both exploded into laughter in front of this probable madman. He looked unfazed and kept on talking. He eventually left. It took a while for us to compose ourselves and bring the spirit back into our lives. We had tried to take the counsel of D&C 88: 121 and not laugh, but our human nature over came us. I felt bad afterwards, but really, I couldn’t help it. Anyways, Bro Samuel was concerned about a few things. First, he brought up the fact that Muslims criticized him for his faith in Christ and asked him peripheral questions. We shared Titus 3:9 and 2 Tim 2:23 that address foolish questions. We helped him understand that Muslims now are a lot like the Jews in Christ’s day. Sharia law is like the Rabbis’ superimposing of detail over the Mosaic law. We then shared with him Matt 11: 29-30 and told him that Christ’s yoke is easy and his burden is light. Jews in those days faced an immense burden of law just as traditional Muslims today face. He, as a converted Muslim, understood very well what I related to him. He was also concerned about the fact that it is hard for him to understand the New Testament when he reads, even in the New American Version that has simplified language. We told him of the role of the Holy Ghost in that respect and that he can have the power to make sense of scripture. We bore our testimonies of the power of the Holy Ghost in our lives and asked him to be baptized to receive the Holy Ghost. He accepted! I love moments like this where I can clearly see the Lord’s hand in people’s lives. Then, we visited Bro Tamba who wasn’t feeling well. He left us early the previous day to rest. We gave him a priesthood blessing and talked for a little while. I am so thankful for the priesthood! The opportunities it gives me to serve and the blessings it affords me personally are too immense to list. Truly, the power of God is great. We caught Elder and Sister Carley [a senior couple in the mission] on the way back from the provinces and they gave us a free ride to our apartment. They also gave us some advice to get Isatu to trust us by just being a friend to her. Maybe we will start with friendly conversation and then move on to doctrinal discussion. I had the idea back at the apartment to start a scripture study class with members and investigators. I called Pres Kamara and we will get that idea from paper to reality. This branch desperately needs gospel understanding. Matt 15:14 comes to mind.

Thursday

This was Elder Anku’s and Elder Ashby’s last district meeting before they go home. We took pictures and went to Grafton together. We pounded Ghana foufou and ate it with ground nut soup. I love foufou! I so desperately wish I knew about it before my mission. It takes quite a bit of preparation, but it is so worth it. I ate three balls, which is a ton. I could have eaten more provided there was more. It’s probably good for my health that there wasn’t. Elder Carley came by and wanted to try it. He pounded his own ball and ate with us. He said the soup was really spicy. I didn’t think so. That seriously shocked me. I guess I have gotten used to spice already. Elder Carley talked with me, Elder Carlson, and Elder Ashby about his humanitarian projects, the beaten-out emotionless state of Africans, his love of sharing the gospel, and the lack of hope in Sierra Leone. Us Waterloo elders left when it was dark outside.

Friday

First, we taught Bro Daniel in depth about the Sabbath day and introduced the Plan of Salvation (a lesson I have not had very much experience with). We gave him Alma 40-42 to read until we come back. He is the first person who has honestly kept up with our reading assignments. Next, we visited Bro Samuel D. and taught all of the Restoration and he committed to come to church and to pray about our message. This morning went really well. Then, we went to Hill Station to do baptism interviews for Elders Bloomfield and Ochiogu. We went up, down, and all around the appropriately-named Hill Station. First place, the lady wasn’t there and we waited for some time until we decided to leave. Just as we were about to leave, the hostess brought food for us. A stupid chicken stole some crane-crane off of my rice. Is it un-Christlike to hold a grudge against an animal? Next place, we taught the Word of Wisdom with them and ate couscous. Finally, we got to an interview where we waited for like an hour and a half for her to show up. Mosquitoes shredded my feet (I wore sandals because of the rain). My lower body hurt from walking and itched from mosquitoes.

Saturday

Transfers were announced. Elder Okpara is going to Grafton to finish Elder Bosomtwe’s training in Kossoh Town. Elder Afful is coming to be my senior companion. Elder Ebohon is the new district leader and will be training. Elder Hayford is coming to Waterloo from the mission home to train in Ibo town.

We had the all-Africa Day of Service where every district/stake in Africa does a service project on the same day. We reduced a forest of grass to a puddle of muddy water near a field with shovels and machetes. It rained pretty much the whole time. We wore yellow “Mormon Helping Hands” jerseys. We returned to the apartment muddy and rain-soaked. I took a much-needed warm bath and cracked open The Blueprint that I received in my birthday package. I finished that and then studied Lessons 1 and 2 and made potential outlines. Suddenly it was 8:30 pm. Something about that transfer really got to me.

Sunday

We got to church pretty early. That gave us time to do some studying. Elder Okpara gave me some Proverbial wisdom. I marked a few of those scriptures. Then, President Kamara asked me to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting next Sunday. How can a missionary say no to teaching a bunch of people? I led an in-depth discussion on the Restoration in second hour [Sunday School] to our investigators. Third hour was interesting. Elder’s quorum (EQ) has been pretty discordant lately and some RM’s [local returned missionaries] in the branch put an end to that. They had the branch president come and preside like he is supposed to. They also reminded Bro James (the EQ president) that he should assign people to teach, and when he teaches, he should review the lesson material before class instead of just making it up on the spot. It was pretty embarrassing for a few people, but it was necessary. They kept dropping mad hints at what he was doing wrong throughout the lesson on commitment. Bro James took us to his brother’s house so we could start teaching him. He is half-Muslim half-Christian, meaning sometimes he goes to mosque and sometimes he goes to church. Sis Jeneba was absent from church today, as were many other people, so we visited her. She was preparing food for the funeral of a branch member’s mother. She and most of the branch were going to the funeral. We tried to visit Bro Samuel, but he was not home. We left our last BoM (Book of Mormon) on top of his door. Then, we left back to the apartment to see Elder Anku leave for the mission home and return home to Ghana the next day. I’ll kinda miss him, kinda won’t. It’s a weird feeling.

Well, that’s my week. Sorry for putting you through reading it. It’s incredibly long. I commend any of you who made it through the whole thing. I have done a lot of thinking recently as you can tell. Scriptures are coming to my mind faster as I teach, investigators are progressing, and baptisms will be coming. Missionary work is sweet once you get into it. I love this work, I love this Gospel, I love this Church, I love my God, and I l love you all. Have a great week!

Love

Elder Brimhall

 

Excerpts from other letters:

One of my favorite parts in the war section of the Book of Mormon is chapter 60 about Pahoran and Moroni. It really shows their respective characters. Moroni seriously misunderstood Pahoran and criticized him, but Pahoran responded nicely despite serious problems on his side. Moroni immediately apologized and asked what he could do. If only all arguments happened that way! The world would be a much better place. If people would just let go of pride, life would be better for everyone. I suppose that is why prophets have said that pride is the mother of all sin