I am way excited.
On the way to eat, Elder Carlson and I got a free ride from a couple military dudes. We went to a Ghanaian restaurant and met up with the other missionaries. I got two balls of foufou in palm nut soup with fish and cow meat. It was 29,000 Le (about $7.25 US), but it was so worth it. I left stuffed and happy.
We got up early this morning to get to the mission home at 9:00. We had to charter a taxi from Jui to Belliar Park, the mission address. It cost 30,000 Le (about $7.50 US). The nice thing is that he brought us straight to the steps of the mission home. The meeting was split into two parts: one for trainers and one for trainees who recently completed training. Both discussed what should/should not be done in future training. I was blessed to hear from many of my TC’s and they all had good ideas. I was impressed with what they had to say. We had egg salad sandwiches afterwards, which I really enjoyed. I enjoy any kind of sandwich since I rarely get to eat something like that around here. I learned that transfers wouldn’t be as bad as I thought since only four will be in my apartment, instead of the six I was told, and people seem more capable than I previously understood. Elder Okpara, Elder Ebohon, and I had been in a triple since Elder Anku left, and now that would all change. I helped Elder Okpara pack (not that I was eager to see him go). We found my wallet with 35,000 at the bottom of one of his bags! I hadn’t seen it for over a month. I had to wash it because it was covered in mold. My old companion left and we cleaned up a bit for the arrival of Elder Afful. We sat down to talk and we immediately clicked. Blew away my expectations. I am excited to be working with him. He is a Ghanaian from some village close to Kumasi. His English is not stellar, but we understand each other fine. My 3 months of experience here has helped me with the way Africans speak. He was used to a much nicer apartment in Goderich, so Waterloo will take some getting used to for him. Elder Okpara and I worked great together, but I think it will pale in comparison to how Elder Afful and I will work.
Elder Afful brought sweeping changes to the apartment. We really fixed up the place. Light sockets and bulbs, rice, and apartment supplies were purchased. I worked on my talk and studied as Elder Afful did a bunch of laundry. We had a really solid talk as we retired. He could easily become one of my best friends on mission.
District meeting today reminded me of my first district meeting a bit. I gave handbook review. Then, we discussed PMG chapter 2 on how to study effectively, appropriate for new missionaries. The new missionaries bore their testimonies just like I did three months ago. We have three greenies (brand new missionaries) and three new transfers. Afterwards, Elder Afful and I went with Elder Okpara and Elder Bosomtwe to the Hastings apartment for lunch and to check out the new apartment. We took bike from the road to the apartment. The first bike I got on was jacked up and crashed. I hurt my leg a little (scrapes and a welt) but nothing major. It just revved and launched into a wall. I simply got on another bike and let that guy sort out his failed machine. After visiting with the Hastings missionaries, my comp and I went to 55. We explored our proselyting area and set up some appointments for the next day. I introduced him to a few of our investigators and solid members. He is quite a bit more personable than my last companion, which makes the day more fun. I studied and worked more on my talk for church on Sunday back at the apartment.
First, we tried to visit Sis Jeneba, but she was asleep even though we had set an appointment for her. I don’t blame her though – she’s a busy woman. We then taught Bro Daniel. We opened up the Plan of Salvation and gave him Mosiah 3 and 4 to read until next time. My companion explained what I consider the hardest lesson in a way that can only be described as “perfect.” I can learn a lot from this guy. We then went to teach Bro Samuel D and gave him a Book of Mormon. He asks so many questions. I love it! Sis Jeneba came by (we were across the street) to apologize. We went over there, taught a lesson, and had small small rice w/sardines. Then, Bro Joseph took us out to see Sis Rose and to explore small country. We re-prepared her for baptism and scheduled her for Sept. fourth. She will be interviewed on Tuesday, as will Bro Daniel. We walked around for a long time with Joseph visiting less-active and prominent members. He loves asking me doctrinal questions, which I have no problem with. I have been giving him BoM (Book of Mormon) reading assignments. I want to get him ready to serve a mission. He loves the gospel like few I have met. The only thing keeping him back is knowledge, but that is way easier to grow than desire, of which he has a ton.
We met with Bro Johnny today. It was our first lesson. It went pretty well. He asked a lot of questions and seems to grasp all the concepts well. We went through all of Lesson 3! Adjusting to a new companion’s teaching style is hard, but we are doing okay. After that, we went to go see Bro Boway, but he was not home. Instead, we taught his wife and sister a bit about Lesson 1. We invited them to church (they didn’t come). Then, we finally caught Sis Amieshaku at home, but she was just leaving. We set a time for Tuesday and got her contact info after having lost it. She only speaks Krio. She was one of the first people I taught, so that aspect was rough. Now, I understood almost everything she said. I thank the Lord for blessing me with that experience. It really motivated me and helped me realize that I have progressed at least a little bit in the past few months. We went to visit Esther’s father. He was on his way out to work, so we just gave an overview of Lesson 1. Esther and like six of her small friends followed us on the way out. They love talking to us. They held our hands and walked with us to the junction. I told her to buy me Apple Cedar (my favorite drink). She and another friend went to buy it. I love using children to do my bidding, and they love doing it. It’s a win-win. We returned to the apartment and I worked on my talk for the rest of the night.
Church was solid today, a nice welcome to my new companion. My talk went well, but I spoke for a bit too long (18 minutes). Sorry! I spoke on exampleship and following the Savior. Of course, I touched a bit on missionary work. I could tell some people really liked listening to it. Others didn’t really pay attention, probably because it wasn’t in Krio. I tried to keep the language simple and to speak slow for them, but nervousness got the better of me for a lot of it. Bro Tamba, who was just at a YSA (Young Single Adult) summit, gave us elders a break and taught Gospel Principles class. He taught repentance in rapid Krio. That made it hard for me to understand, but it’s not for me. The investigators understood it fine and that’s what matters. He will make a great missionary next year. Elder’s Quorum went from a talk from a Liahona magazine article about facing the right way toward God, then deviated to women holding the priesthood and homosexuality. Interesting hour. One of our investigators, Bro Joseph, contributed a lot. I was proud of him. After church, we had branch council meeting for the first time ever. I’m sure Bro Charles (an RM and really proactive guy) had something to do with that. We made plans for fellowshipping less-active members and branch missionary work. We scheduled times to work with members. This week is going to feel like real missionary work. After that, we went to Sis Jeneba’s place to catch her husband. He skillfully avoided us. We’ll try again and again until he gives us a straight yes or no answer to taking discussions. Persistence always wins. Then, we taught Bro Daniel the rest of PoS and the laws (Word of Wisdom, Chastity, and Tithing). He is ready. We hit up Bro Samuel who only had a few minutes for us and then he had to return to work. We started Lesson 2 with him. I studied the Pearl of Great Price to help me understand the Plan of Salvation better.
The new transfer has helped me in ways I never imagined. It has been humbling, teaching, and inspiring all at once. I feel way more confident about my abilities as a missionary. I am way more excited to go out each day with a companion who could easily become one of my best friends. Lumpa feels just a little bit brighter. It is no doubt due in part to your thoughts and prayers on my behalf that I feel this way. Thank you for your continued support as I do the Lord’s work in Sierra Leone. I love what I do and I do what I love.
Excerpts from other letters…
That wreck news here in Sierra Leone came as an absolute shock to all of us. All of the missionaries involved were new missionaries, fresh from the MTC. I really feel bad for them that their first experience here was a terrible car accident. We had a training meeting last Tuesday and I came to understand the tireless work of Pres. and Sis. Clawson and the love they have for us. I can’t imagine what it must be like to welcome new missionaries and then a day later you are making calls to get them medical care. I can’t imagine what it must be like for those parents who sent their child on a mission and right when they hit the field, they get badly injured. I am not able to share any more information about the missionaries other than what the church has released. Mission president said so.
That’s another shock to hear about Linda Jacobson. I always saw her as a strong spirit and a good example. I am confident that she was ready to meet her maker, as was Jan Fisher. They both were true followers of Christ. That’s still hard to hear though. It’s hard seeing someone as great as her leave this world just a little bit darker. A bunch of the branch members here attended a funeral for a member’s mother last week. Two branch presidents in areas close to me died about a month ago. I have heard a lot about death recently. It has really put things in perspective for me.
Being on a mission changes your mind. It changes the way you think about things. You gain a much more eternal perspective. I am glimpsing what it is like to think like God does. Every story I hear or event I see, I draw out a principle of the gospel. This, more than any other thing, has built my testimony from just a foundation to a solid fortress. I have felt heavenly support. There is a clear difference between having the Spirit with me and not having it with me. I can actually see it!
My branch is only a couple years old and most of the members here are very young, membership wise. We’re still trying to get the first three items down with them and that’s hard enough.
I am working hard, having fun in the process, and obeying rules that give me power and strength to do it all. I am forever grateful for the tools that Heavenly Father gives us to gain understanding.
…Mission has taken its toll on me, mostly in a good way. I think differently. I see gospel principles in just about everything that happens, even when I’m not teaching a lesson. Transfers have been interesting. I had a hard time accepting some of the changes, but my new companion is super great. His name is Elder Afful from Ghana. Solid guy with a solid testimony. We already work super well together. Having a blast in Lumpa.