From: Ethan Cade Brimhall [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, November 28, 2016 1:58 PM
Hey everybody! Let’s just jump right in to this crazy week.
This day felt like it lasted an eternity and I’m not even sure why. I got some Christmas music from other elders at the cafe which I am super excited about. Now, some of my friends might be scratching their heads right now because they know I strongly dislike Christmas music for its repetitive nature. However, barely anything is like home here. I have to cling to what I have now and enjoy it.
I dragged my companion to Family Home Evening again. I’ve done a lot of dragging lately and I don’t like it. I feel bad for my parents and pretty much all parents everywhere. My companionship is a microcosm of parenting in general, I feel. Thankfully, the FHE program was enjoyable for my companion. That put him in a better mood instead of just the furrowed eyebrows and pouty face I saw on our walk there. We were fed rice and ground nut soup with fish, which is my favorite dish here. As we were eating, President Musa cut his finger pretty bad while treating himself for some sickness he had acquired recently. There was a lot of blood. Good thing I had my medical kit to help out! He’ll be okay.
Back at the apartment, Elder Adokou and I talked. We addressed problems we are facing in our companionship. He told me that he still does not like proselyting on Sundays and doing a lot of the things I ask him to do, but he also knows it is what’s best for him. He does it because I ask him to and he knows it’s right, but he still doesn’t like doing it. I’m hoping to be able to help him change that. He’s willing. I guess I’m lucky in that respect!
You know missions demand a lot of introspection, especially when your companion says something about your character. In this case, it was a good thing on my part. He said that I am not like the other Americans and that I love everyone around me, including Africans. He has nightly talks with all his African friends and they all love me because of that quality. I was honestly surprised at their feelings because I’m not the most social person. I’m positive it’s not because of my charm or good looks or teaching ability. They could feel my love for them despite the few words I speak.
I wondered why this was and I came to a number of conclusions. First, God has answered my prayers to help me fit in here. Second, I have matured a ton in just one year. I love them just the same as my white guys. We’re all spirit children of God, so what is there to discriminate? We all have our faults. Africans just have a different set of faults than whites and vice versa. Neither is better or worse than the other, just different. The sooner you learn that lesson and apply it in your life, missionary or not, the better off you’ll be. I’m happy because I genuinely love everyone here. It’s impossible to be happy without that quality. I thank God I learned that lesson early.
In between lessons, we went to a restaurant and ordered fish and chips. It was a good decision despite the hefty price tag of 30,000 Le. My first restaurant experience in Bo! So much peppe on my fish, but I lived.
We had so much success today! I attribute that to the higher level of unity between me and Adokou. We got three pre-interview/lessons done for the baptisms coming up and had a great lesson with Isha after a long period of absence.
President Musa came with us to the lesson since they live super close to one another. She hadn’t attended church for a couple weeks because she wanted to go to her church more. However, she has a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. We showed her that its truth means that Joseph Smith was a prophet and did see God the Father and Jesus Christ. We then gave her Matthew 8:19-22 and tied it all together. I love that scripture. We’ve become a lot better at having our investigators figure stuff out rather than just outright telling them the answer. It takes a really good teacher to do that, as I have come to learn.
My companion was so happy at the end of the day because of our success. He knew that working together helped us to plan and teach better. We taught with power and unity and our investigators could feel that. I love this work.
Wednesday and Thursday
These two days were just a bunch of running around frantically trying to get basic information from people (which is extremely hard in a country where many kids don’t even live with their parents) so that they can be interviewed for baptism. I won’t bore you with the details. It was stressful, yes, but we made it fun! I love seeing people get all excited to make this change in their lives. It makes me excited too no matter how much it makes me sweat.
The only difference between the two days was district meeting on Thursday. Elder Grant asked me to instruct and gave me free reign on the material. It wasn’t hard to pick a topic at all. I felt that discussing relying on the Spirit was in tune with the direction our mission was trying to go considering the past zone training. This was my fourth time leading a discussion like this, and I have almost finished training my companion, so I felt a little more confident than in times past. It also helped that I actually prepared for a couple days beforehand. Anyways, instruction went great! Good participation from the other missionaries really helped. Things were said that I know really pricked people’s hearts and made them want to change. I’m glad I could help people think about how to improve. It was a good learning opportunity for everyone, especially me as the instructor. My preparation and leading taught me a lot.
After district meeting, all of us scheduled interview days with Elder Grant. Collectively, we have like 30 people to be baptized on the tenth, so we’re thinking of having one giant district baptismal service. How cool would that be?
We ate lunch at the Njai Town and Dvubu apartment. Somehow, we got on the topic of crossfit. Elder Cluff is a certified instructor, so he told us all about it. The way he talked about it got me really interested. I’m not one to bulk up and deadlift 600 lbs, but I do want to get in shape! This sounds like the best way to do it. He said he would hook me up after our time here. I’m making connections already!
p.s. if the senior couple missionaries hadn’t come to our district meeting to wish us a happy thanksgiving, I definitely would have forgotten about it. I hope you all had a good one! I know my awesome family did with the Harris reunion! I’ll be there for the next one in a couple years 🙂
Elder Grant and I tried today. We really tried. But we only got two baptismal interviews done 🙁 and one of my investigators failed to qualify :(( I had hoped that all would go well today, but it really didn’t. Hannah is good to go. Kettor did not pass, which really surprised me because he was so attentive and asked valuable questions. He didn’t pass for lack of understanding. That baffled me (I didn’t have time to do a pre-interview). He really seemed to get it! We were not able to catch at home the two others we had scheduled for today. I guess we can get them next week. With the others.
In order to console myself, I had to buy some chocolate at the supermarket. We also picked up some stuff for the apartment. My chocolate was so fancy that it had butterscotch inside. I got over our struggles pretty quickly with its help.
I woke up heavy this morning. I didn’t figure out why until later in the evening as I was washing (always a good time to think). We went to visit Isha to bring her to district conference. My companion was not happy about that because for some reason he can’t quite explain to me, he doesn’t like her at all. It didn’t help that when we got there she was just getting ready to bath. He got in a really sour mood after that. After listening to him go on about what he would do if that happened again, I gave him a scripture. 1 Corinthians 13:11.
“11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
I have loved, reasoned, and effectively given sermons to him about controlling his passions. He needed chastisement.
We went to Njagboima after our unsuccessful visit, hoping she would come when she was done. We were quite late to the priesthood session because of our visit to Isha. Nonetheless, I decided to open my heart and mind to promptings while listening to my inspired mission president. I got some really good stuff despite the angling towards branch leaders. I absolutely love the feeling of receiving inspiration. It’s the coolest thing ever!
After the priesthood and general sessions, I talked with President Clawson alone about my companion’s anger issues. I love him. I really do. That’s why I’m trying to help him solve his problems. We found some solutions that we would try to implement. Elder Adokou was called in after me so they could talk that out.
Sister Clawson talked with me for a while as I waited for my companion. That woman brings an immediate and encompassing positive influence anywhere she goes. She’s so thoughtful and loving and spiritual beyond measure. I cherish every time we get to have a gospel-centered conversation. She asked me and other missionaries about what we learned in our personal studies. Her comments showed how widely knowledgeable yet deeply personal she is about the gospel. Once my companion came in, she asked us if we have companionship inventory. Only every night! She then related us some things that made me feel as if she knew exactly the feelings of my heart and problems we were facing. Sister Clawson amazed me again with her spiritual perception. I talked with her later and she didn’t know about our issues but just said things she thought would help based on our responses. I firmly believe she acted as a ministering angel to the two of us today.
The Sherwoods gave me stuff sent from home after the conference including a memory foam pillow, O Holy Night sheet music for Christmas (I want to play it for the program), a cool Cambodian tie, and a Man City jersey (the fc of my choice b/c Brimhall family roots). Thank you Mom and Dad!
We got back to the apartment later that afternoon and I decided to do some washing. I thought about why I was so cheerful because it kinda freaked me out. I realized that it was because I applied something Sister Clawson said today in the conference. It was so important to me that I wrote it down. She said that sometimes she feels as if she’s the only one who is working on something and it really drags her down. Then she remembers that she always has a companion: her Heavenly Father. She has access to unlimited resources to aid her in her work. I felt as if I was the only one trying to help Elder Adokou, and I was failing. It was really stressing me out! That situation interfered with our effectiveness as missionaries with my high stress and his bad attitude. However, once I talked it over with the Lord’s authorized servants, aka mission parents, then I physically felt a load lifted from my back. I was so much happier and excited for the future. President and Sister Clawson were the Lord’s tender mercies for me today.
We all knew this was coming. President Clawson announced in district conference today that Bo gained a new district! Bo West split to create Bo North. As such, new district positions had to be filled. I was anxious to hear who my new district president was. President Clawson said “Brother Koba Musa has been called as the district president.” I had mixed feelings about that. My first thought was “Yes! I couldn’t think of anyone more qualified than my super awesome branch first counselor.” Then I thought “Wait. Who could possibly replace him in Bo Branch?” Those thoughts kept running through my head as half of my branch was called to some district position. I’m proud that Bo could give so much. President Hindowa is going to have a tough time rebuilding Bo (he’s not to excited about that).
Isha came to the conference and met the Sisters! She really wanted to meet women doing the Lord’s work here.
Elder Samche leaves home to Ghana on Thursday. He’s throwing a party tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll be able to go!
Elder Cluff and Elder Mpofu (a super chill guy from Zimbabwe) came over to our apartment. Us three Americans talked about our American stuff in an American way. It was refreshing having all three of those elements present at the same time. Usually at least one is gone. I felt at home 🙂 We all talked late into the night. Oh yeah, and I pretty much buzzed my head. I finally gave in to Elder Grant’s incessant pleading that he cut my hair to make me look like a respectable missionary. He did a pretty good job. Elder Cluff and the DL himself cut each other’s as well. If you want to know how big of a change it is, I feel like I lost ten lbs.
I want you all to know that I am still a child in my understanding of the scriptures, so don’t laugh at this very recent revelation of mine. I was reading Nephi’s account of building the ship his family used to cross the ocean and it hit me. Change a couple words around and it becomes bizarrely applicable.
1 And it came to pass that they did worship the Lord, and did go forth with me; and we did work timbers (actions) of curious workmanship. And the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the timbers of the ship (aspects of life).
2 Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers (” “) after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship (a life) after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men.
3 And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things.
See? Just a few words changed and it immediately hits you that this is a perfect pattern for gospel living. Don’t work your life after the manner of men, but after the manner which the Lord shows you through personal revelation gained through prayer. We should all make prayer a central part of our decision making process. I never start or end a day without a prayer, often more than one. Consequently, I am guided in all that I should do. This same blessing is available to everyone, not just missionaries! Alma says so in chapter 37!
36 Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.
What a comfort it is to have a heavenly being direct you every day. Now that I have this help, I can’t imagine life without it! I love the Lord and all that He has done for me. I know Jesus Christ lives. I know God the Father created me and gave me the potential to become like Him if I just counsel with Him! This Gospel is a beautiful thing.