[Fawn’s Disclaimer: I’m sure I misspelled names and places and probably a few other things while transcribing. His speaking definitely has a different feel than his writing. It was fun to hear his voice!]
Tuesday: Yesterday I went to Freetown for the first time with my new companion, Elder Afful. We emailed and then he ate fou fou. I was still stuffed from eating a huge amount of curry and ground nut stew from the morning. Then Elder Curriden and Elder Bloomfield and I went to the Stake Center. Elder Curriden is a new missionary as of the past week. He also went to BYU at lived in the dorms at the same time that I did. He lived in B-9? and I was in Merrill Hall. We never talked or anything but I do remember seeing his face a couple of times and he remembers seeing me. So at the Stake Center, we talked a lot with each other and with Elder Carlson. And I talked with my previous companion, Elder Okpara about how things have been going in this area. I asked him how his area is going. It’s really slow opening a new area, which is what he is doing, pretty much. The previous missionaries there did not have much success. One of them was due to go home soon and he was not motivated to work hard. After leaving the Stake Center, we stopped at one of the supermarkets and I got Oreos and Coke. My companion, Elder Afful and I along with Elders Hayford and Wolters (a new missionary) all left to go back. Elder Walters and I talked the whole hour-long drive. He’s a pretty cool guy. He just got out of high school and had a great high school experience. He played a lot of sports but he doesn’t look like a total jock. I really enjoyed talking to him. He’ll become one of my good friends on this mission. He got into BYU and deferred for his mission. He’ll return for the same semester that I do so we’ll be going to school together. When we got back, we ate some small rice (aka a little bit of rice) and I show my Ghanaian companion some card games.
Today was a tiring day! The sun came out for the first time in a while and really burned me. Elder Ebohon and I went on exchanges (trade companions for part of a day) and I took him around to do baptism interviews for us. That was a problem, though. First off, it took us forever to get a ride to 5-5 (Junction) so we just took bike because it was taking way too long for—like a half hour to get taxi or poda poda (motorbike taxi). Eventually, we walked up to Brother Daniel’s house. I wasn’t able to reach him all morning and when we walked up to his house, he wasn’t there. We walked back down and walked a long ways to Sister Rosa’s house. She wasn’t there, so we checked her mom’s house. She wasn’t there either because she was off selling at the market. So we went back to 5-5 Junction to leave and after waiting for about 20 minutes for, again, no ride, Bro. Daniel had gone back to his house and heard that we were looking for him so he came looking for us and he found us just before grabbing a ride. So we had his interview at the chapel. It went okay; he did fine. It was Elder Ebohon’s first time conducting an interview. He messed up a little bit on the paper, but that’s fine. While I was waiting for the interview, I asked Joseph, one of Jeneba’s children who is about 5 or 6 years old, to go get me and Elder Ebohon some Apple Cedar. I gave him about 8,000 L ($2) – 6,000 L ($1.50) for the drink and 2,000 L ($.50) for the kid.
We headed back to the apartment and I went with Elder Afful back to 5-5 for proselyting. I called Bro. Timba (sp?) to set up times for us to go out together this week. Then me and Elder Afful ate some couscous at a restaurant. He checked out some shirts and bought one across the street. Then we waited at Bro. Joseph’s house – a nice member. I think he is priest in the Aaronic Priesthood and he LOVES the Gospel, but he doesn’t know much about it. Whenever we go out, he asks me a lot of questions. I try to answer all of them and usually can. I’m hoping that spending time with the missionaries will help prepare him to serve a mission. He has a good desire to learn which is something I don’t find in many people here.
We met up with Bro. Tamba (sp?) at his house and we went out to visit some people. First was Sis. Amishayku. We walked quite a ways to her house and she wasn’t there. So we talked with her kids for a little bit and then we went to Bro. Boway’s (sp?) place. We conversed a little bit and made sure that his sister is coming to church on Sunday and said hi to everyone. What we’re hoping is that getting her to come to church will also motivate Bro. Boway to come to church because every time we invite him, he says, “Okay, I’ll come”, and then he never does. So maybe this way will get him into it. When we left, we walked for about 5 or 6 minutes when Sis. Amishayku (sp?) called and told us she was home now, so we walked all the way back and taught her about baptism and asked her to be baptized on Saturday along with the kids. One of her kids is baptism age (8), so we’ll be doing their interviews tomorrow when it is Sis. Rosa’s interview that we missed today, early in the morning—10 o’clock. We walked from her house to Sis. Ana’s house. We’ve taught Sis. Ana all the lessons and were about to baptize her but then we found out she was co-habitating without being married. So we had to stop her baptism plans. We talked with her and Sis. Amishayku who only spoke Krio so it was hard for me to understand that lesson. Sis. Ana only speaks Krio as well but she can understand some English so it’s easier to communicate. I only speak English but I can understand some Krio, so it worked out. She’s having some troubles. Her husband told her she can’t go to church anymore. She has to go to Mosque. If she doesn’t want to go to Mosque, that’s fine but she can’t go to church. Her sister and cousin just died and she’s been sick, so her life is kind of a mess right now. She really appreciated our visit and we told her that we would come back every week to make sure that she is doing well and to help her through whatever challenges we can. So, we will be praying for her a lot.
We went back to the apartment after leaving Bro. Timba. I’m a little bit unsatisfied with how much proselyting we did today. My legs were done and I was out of energy from all the sun and walking. Elder Afful and I got three bags of bread from the bakery quite a ways down the street. I showed him and Elder Matuii (sp?) how to play Rook. Elder Afful is the one who initiated playing cards I decided to teach them both a new game which was pretty fun. Of course I won since I’m the only one who actually knows how to play the game but they had a lot of fun doing it and they got pretty competitive. Elder Afful kept making references to his phone battery not being charged because he wasn’t getting very many points. Every time he got 5 or 10 points, he’d say, “Oh that’s another 10 percent, only [whatever] percent to go.” Elder Matuii would go all out in the beginning and get all these points and then have nothing at the end which is when you get the most points. One of the times, he really blew us away in the beginning and thought he had all these points and I came in at the very end and took 40 points. As he was looking through at the end, he was like, “What? I thought I had so many points!” Rook was fun.
Wednesday: I’ve been studying the Pearl of Great Price recently. I studied Moses chapters 5 and 6 this morning. I really enjoy studying it because it gives you a lot of information on the Plan of Salvation. While most of the stuff in there is not something we teach investigators, I can use it to strengthen my own knowledge and it helps me teach better because it gives a better overview.
Brother Jonny, who we met with on Saturday, made plans to meet with us at 6:00 every Tuesday and Thursday at the chapel. He will take off work a little bit early both of those days for us to teach him. Today, we totally forgot and we were right in the middle of teaching someone else when he called. I felt Sooooo bad because he inconvenienced his boss and took time off which means less money made. I pray that we will remember on Thursday. That was not good of me as a missionary.
Today we went to the market because we were out of food. Since Elder Ebohon has no money, he is going to starve. The rest of us have little compassion on him because he spent his money a couple of days after subsistence (monthly allowance) came in. Elder Afful said Ebohon is acting like an old missionary with his spending habits when he is only a few months into his mission. Ebohon and I went out this morning to conduct baptism interviews for Sis. Amishayku, her kid Hassan who is 10 years old, and Sis. Rose. First we went to Sis. Amishayku’s but there was a bit of a problem getting there because Ebohon and I were on different bikes. I told both our bike drivers to stop at Yamo Mosque, but his bike did not stop there and mine did. Ebohon didn’t know the area but for some reason wanted to be in front; consequently he got lost. I told my driver to go catch up with them so we could tell them to come back. Eventually we had a nice interview with Sis. . Amishayku. She passed and so did her kid, no problem. Then we went off to find Sis. Rose. We took a route I hadn’t yet taken before and came across some church members and we talked for a little bit. I reminded Bro. Sam of our plans to go out teaching together on Friday. I baptized one of his kids, Tambu Richard Sam. Once we got going again, we got a little lost after following the power lines and then found Sis. Rose’s house. She wasn’t there so we asked around. We went to her mother’s house and asked around and found out she went to the market to sell. We went to the market and looked all around and couldn’t find her. I said, “You know what, I give up on this one. I’ve tried so many times with her. She is always gone. Goodbye. We’re done with this one.” Then immediately after saying that, she showed up right in front of our faces and humbled me. She didn’t hear any of what I had said, it was just a humbling experience. So we did her interview at the chapel. Then we parted ways and went back to our apartment. Then Afful and I went to the market. We came back and cooked up some ground nut soup, a lot of ground nut soup. We got Elder ???? to chip in 20,000 L so we had 60,000 L for all the ingredients and then Elder Afful made it with ginger, beef, agi, peppe, ground dried pepper, onion, and of course ground nut. It turned out pretty good. The ground nut got burned while we were warming that so it had a bunch of little flecks of burned nut in it but tasted fine. I enjoyed it – a little bit too much ginger though. We put it on some rice and enjoyed it for our lunch. Then we went out with President Kumara (branch president). We met him at the chapel and cleaned out the baptismal font that we’ll be using on Saturday. Then we went around visiting people and invited them to Saturday’s baptism, including a couple of less active members who said they would come to that and to church, but I doubt they will. Pres. Kumara bought us dinner that we came back to the apartment to eat. Then we just hung out for the rest of the night.
Thursday: Today we had District meeting. We split up this time so it was just my companionship, Elders Ebohan, Nachili, Wolters, and Hayford who are serving in a neighboring town. It was pretty good. We had a Preach My Gospel (PMG) discussion by Elder Afful who covered 3 Nephi chapter 17 to improving teaching skills which is covered in chapter 10 of PMG. It was pretty interesting. I gave the spiritual thought. Then we came back to our apartment where Elder Wolters and I talked for some time. We ate some of our leftover ground nut soup with rice. There’s not much left of it now. We hung out for a little while before they left. Then Afful decided to take a nap, so I studied more out of the Pearl of Great Price. Then we went out for our appointment for the day which was Bro. Sumara (?) and his family. It started to rain pretty hard so we had to take shelter. Once it let up, we continued heading over there. The branch president called us and wanted to meet with us so we met him at the chapel and had him communicate with Bro. Sumara on how exactly we were supposed to get there because we had no idea where he lived. We had his address, but that means nothing here. There are no street signs or anything. So we walked while asking people for directions for about half hour to 45 minutes and then finally got to the place. He had said it wasn’t far from the chapel but it felt like it was pretty far. So, we had a discussion with his family. His granddaughter is baptized but his wife and rest of the family are not. His daughter’s husband is Bishop Marcos, which is pretty cool. We discussed with them the first few points of the plan of salvation and then talked a lot about baptism and the process. We asked them all to come to church on Sunday, which of course they will (just kidding). I do hope they come. It would be nice to see more faces in Sacrament Meeting when we only have 15 who are on time. Anyway, we took bike back down to 5-5 to cut down the walking because it was getting dark. When we got back to the apartment, I studied Pearl of Great Price for a long time and I just barely finished. I don’t even know what time it is. My companion is asleep and so is everyone else. I studied a lot about the Abrahamic Covenant which is really quite interesting—about posterity blessings and priesthood blessings and sealing and eternity blessings and temporal blessings. I learned a lot. It cleared up a lot of my questions about the gospel. I’m feeling pretty good…and tired.
Friday: Yesterday I learned a lot about the creation of the world when studying Abraham. I also learned a lot about the end of the world studying Matthew. A lot of good stuff in there. I have absolutely destroyed my scriptures with notes and underlines and highlights. I want to keep these scriptures forever ‘cause they’re thick. Also yesterday, there was some meeting that started at 5:00 which means it really got started at 6:00 about using MLS which makes things a whole lot more complicated for us. I remember in a meeting with President Clawson (Mission President) last Tuesday he talked about how he’s moving this mission to MLS and it’s the first mission in west Africa to do it. So the District President outlined everything the missionaries are supposed to do with MLS. He made it sound super complicated. The meeting lasted over an hour and a half (at least we got food!). At this early point, I am not really excited about MLS because it just seems like it’s making things unnecessarily complicated and strict. The previous way was just fine so I’m not sure why we are changing it. It doesn’t make anything any easier. In fact, it does the opposite. Anyway, we met with all the Waterloo missionaries there and joked around and chatted at the end of the day pretty much. We got back pretty late.
Saturday: We had a good day today. We got up and went to the chapel for our four baptisms! The first person who came was Sis. Amishayku and her son, Hasan. Hasan had malaria unfortunately so he wasn’t feeling too well but he still went along with the baptism. I asked him if he wanted to wait and he said, “No, I want to get baptized,” which I thought was fun. Then Bro. Daniel, we couldn’t reach him, so we went to his house get him and he had forgotten about baptism. So we reminded him and he got dressed and ready and walked back with us. We had called Sis. Rose earlier but she still didn’t come, so Pres. Kumara and I went on splits. We went to check out where she was. We walked across 5-5 to the market area and Bro. Tambu waved us over ‘cause he found her. I guess she was on her and and he ran into her. So we walked back and got everything started. Before we gathered everyone in, Bro. Nathaniel and Pres. Kumara were arguing about some stupid thing that caused them to disagree earlier that day. It was loud and included some swearing and it wasn’t setting a good atmosphere the saving ordinance of baptism to be performed. Eventually they calmed down. I didn’t want to intervene because it felt like I would just make it a whole lot worse by asking them to calm down. They were really into it. I set everything up. It’s very different here with baptism. It’s very disorganized. We don’t have speakers and a nice family setting in air conditioned rooms and a font with warm water. No, we have none of that. We have members that I plead with to come; I make plans for the meeting; half the people don’t show up and you have to go gather people; they go into the cold font of well water that was just pumped the night before. Yeah, American missionaries have it nice! Trust me, it’s not done in such a nice way in a lot of other countries. I was the Baptist after Elder Afful and I discussed it. We asked Bro. Tamba if he would like to do it but he said it was our job as missionaries, so I went ahead and baptized them. My white clothes were inside out which Sis.
Jeneba pointed out in the middle of the meeting. Great. We took some pictures. I look very thin – it scares me. I need to start eating more chicken and maybe the bones. Anyway, after the baptism, we cleaned the chapel and did some weeding. It was literally back-breaking work. My back was sore after for some time. Then we went back to the apartment and found Elder Walters and Elder Hafer eating our food because they have no food in their apartment. Somehow that became our problem so we need to provide for their needs because they are too lazy to cook or buy food. But whatever. It was a nice opportunity to talk with Elder Walters. He’s a really fun guy as I’ve said before. We talked about how we’re never going to eat rice again after this mission and all the wonderful American foods that we miss and also football season that has started. I need to know how BYU does in it’s first game against Arizona (I think—it’s been several months since I looked at that). Then we played card games and I showed them how to play Scum, so we had some fun with that. It was scalding hot today—like June level hot. It’s not supposed to be that hot yet. I’m scared for when it comes to November through March because I’ve heard a lot of people say that’s the hardest part of the season. Ugh! I’m gonna die. I need to do laundry soon because I’m almost out of underwear. I’ll probably get some kid to wash my clothes because I am SICK of it. Absolutely sick and tired of scrubbing clothes in between my wrists or rubbing it on a washboard, seriously. Peace out.
Sunday: We had a ton of people in church! We got there on time and there were about 25 on time which is more than usual. We were able to confirm Sis. Amishayku and her son but Bro. Daniel came late so he was not able to be confirmed. And Sis. Rose did not come to church because she was sick. After Sacrament Meeting, Elder Afful and I split up and started setting appointments for Tuesday. This one guy, Bro. James, came—apparently he saw us cleaning the chapel on Saturday. He went home and got this feeling or prompting that he should come to church the next day. That was awesome! This guy is serious. He is so excited that that happened. After church we told Tamba that we’d go out Tuesday from noon to 6:00 with him, so that’s what we’re doing. My companion is not really up for that but we’ll work on it. During church, I bore my testimony (it was Fast and Testimony meeting). I’m going to try and make a habit of doing that every month on my mission – and maybe for the rest of my life, I don’t know. We didn’t have any meetings after church which was a small disappointment, but I think the fact that we’re really getting into high gear in this area…making sure the branch is doing everything right, God is blessing us with people like Bro. James who just shows up to church and asks all these questions. We went out and visited a few people after church. Bro. Samuel got a job in Freetown so we’ll only be able to see him on the weekends when he comes back home. So we’ll have to finish teaching him everything on Sunday and also have his interview next Sunday as well. We used to be able to do baptismal interviews like 4 days beforehand, no problem, but with this whole MLS thing, I have to do it a whole week before and not later than that. When we got back to the apartment, we met up with Elder Ebohon who needs my companion, who is a Zone Leader, to go out and do baptism interviews for him. Then we just studied for the rest of the day.