Finally, a baptism!

From: Ethan Cade Brimhall [mailto:ethan.brimhall@myldsmail.net]
Sent: Monday, June 12, 2017 8:53 AM

Literally everyone we know that we saw this week has asked Elder Kabosha what happened to his face. Most of the time I say we fought ūüĎä.

Monday

You know, I really don’t like p-days very much. Too much business to take care of. Clean the apartment (which takes a while in a 6-man), buy food at the insane market, send emails to friends and family where I try to sound like I know what I’m doing, and continue to teach repentance and baptize converts.

That woman we met last Friday that I described as amazing in all caps is still amazing in all caps. We talked about the nature of God and eternal families and she had SO many questions. She loved hearing about how families can be sealed together forever by the power of the priesthood in temples. As we showed her a picture of the temple in SLC, she said, “By God’s grace I will enter there one day.” She’s so prepared!

We returned to our apartment after that and endeavored to cook potato leaf plasas ourselves We cut the leaves, pounded the pepper and onion, boiled the pork; and threw it all together with palm oil, ogree (local seasoning), tap-tap, and some salt. At first, I was hesitant to try it, but after spending two-and-a-half hours cooking, sweating, and, yes, bleeding, I wasn’t about to put it all to waste. It tasted fantastic! Experiment successful!

Tuesday

Esther passed her baptismal interview this morning with flying colors. She dressed up extra nice just for the occasion!

The zone leaders were supposed to come at 10 for inspections, which they told me about just this morning. We had a teaching appt with Isata, the girl without a phone who is incredibly elusive, so we didn’t want to miss her. At 10:30, the ZL’s told me they would come at 1. So we went in hopes she would be there, but she wasn’t ūüė≥.

Our next stop was a new investigator we met at church. This would be our first appointment with him. Unfortunately, he also was not around. When we were feeling sorta bad after two botched meetings in a row, one former investigator passed by coming from morning class! We called him over to the porch we “borrowed” and had a pretty deep discussion. He’s a Muslim who comes from a fully Christian home and converted just because he wanted to be unique. We testified strongly of Jesus Christ in a manner not entirely different from the way Book of Mormon prophets confounded antichrists. Around this time, that new investigator John showed up. I broke off and talked with him a little, gave him a Book of Mormon, and let him run to afternoon class. We were still discussing with Kandeh, the Muslim guy, when a sheikh-in-training blew in out of nowhere and started blabbering repetitious Arabic wagging his index finger in the air. I’m pretty sure he’s the same guy who wakes me up at five in the morning. I could tell by his annoying voice. He wouldn’t leave! I read the Book of Mormon to him, mimicked him, reasoned with him, all to no avail. Eventually, Bro Moses started videoing him on my camera, as did a recent convert who was passing by. The mini-sheikh covered his face with his hat and retreated, still saying the same things, still with his finger in the air.

We met with another new investigator who is cohabitating with a member who has even another woman. So much law of chastity wahala there, but we won’t stop until there is peace in that house. Coming from that lesson, we felt inspired to go talk to a family in the same courtyard. Visiting was a man who, with great enthusiasm, and more than once, declared that he is a retired colonel in the Sierra Leone armed forces. This man is great. He and his wife both come from entirely Muslim households, but back when he was in active duty, his wife got really sick. She was told to go to church for prayers and she did. Over time, she was healed and stuck around. She started bringing the kids too. This whole time, this man was bringing them there and just waiting in the car listening to music. Eventually, he went inside too, and over time was converted. The pastor had him declare that he accepted Jesus as his Savior and he’s gone to church ever since. By the way, he spoke perfect¬†English and his name was Benjamin (shout out to my dad). He took our names and line and we took his. He said he would call tomorrow so we could meet and he could give us money, which of course we refused, and of course he persisted, so we just left it for tomorrow to see what happens. Too bad he lives in Freetown so we don’t get to really teach him. He’s on temporary assignment here being in upper management for a security contractor. But he did promise to visit the Church wherever he goes. His story sounds pretty fantastic, but he is so genuine that I have to believe him.

It rained out our last two appointments of the day. Rain really sucks, you know that? We did slip over to Esther to fill her baptismal record and see how the interview went.

To finish the day, I bought dish washing liquid for the apartment and detergent for my clothes at Abba.

Wednesday

I went on exchange with Elder Tarpeh to my area today. I love how he teaches. He is so genuine and completely unafraid of the gospel. He can be a bit abrasive sometimes, but that’s when I come in with the love. We taught some powerful lessons together. We exhorted Mamie to be more honest in her search for truth by studying and praying over what we have said. We’ve done this several times, but I think this time it stuck. Our other great lesson was with James and his wife, Hawa, whom we were meeting for the first time. They are co-habitating unmarried and are concerned about attending church because they feel the members will judge them for breaking the law of chastity. James has a strong testimony of the restored gospel. Hawa had attended church as a child for many years with her member uncle and wants to come back. It’s just a matter of time before the pieces settle in and they’re a strong family in the gospel.

I went to interview for baptism the wife and children of a recent convert for the Kpayama elders. The wife only understood Krio, so I thank God for the gift of tongues that allowed that interview to go fairly smoothly. The two girls knew English and gave me a break. I’m just waiting for the family that only speaks Mendi. That’ll be fun.

Thursday

NO BOUNCED APPOINTMENTS TODAY!!!!!! I can’t express the level of satisfaction that comes from having everyone stay true to a simple obligation just for one day, especially after several days of record bouncing.

Zainab isn’t doing so hot. She has a bad¬†case of Malaria. She’s been suffering for three days. The worst part is, she never even called us to let us know! We went to visit her and try to cheer her up. For about half an hour, we joked and laughed to make her life not seem like it sucks so much because honestly, nothing sucks more than staring at the ceiling all day with a drip attached to your arm feeling totally useless and weak. We left her with some great stuff to read in the Book of Mormon. I chose to give her 3 Nephi 9:14-22 because it talks about healing¬†and¬†true conversion, both things she really needs.

The elusive Isata was caught today. Two weeks, one lesson. Patience is a virtue, that’s all I can say.

We taught Grace super in-depth about prophets. She asked a lot of questions, particularly about how to identify true prophets. Now, as there are hundreds of false prophets in Freetown alone, not to mention the rest of Salone, this was a very important question. We shared with her from the book of Micah verse eleven from chapters two and three as well as chapter seven verse fifteen to twenty-three of the book of Matthew. She ate up most of what we said, but the big punchline of a total and complete apostasy was a little harder to swallow. However, I am sure that as she prays and reads the scriptures, the truth will be laid bare to her by revelation from her Father in Heaven.

After teaching Sondema again, we lovingly chastised Daniel a little. Short history on Daniel. We taught him every lesson and scheduled a baptism interview that he did not come to. Then he disappeared for three weeks. When he returned, he had relapsed into semi-apostasy being influenced by his Pentecostal junior pastor brother. Midway through our lesson with Sondema, Daniel helped teach him the doctrine we had taught all those weeks ago. The revival we were looking for had finally come! So, as I was saying, we talked to Daniel about his inconsistency. In response, he promised to come support Esther at her baptism on Saturday and then join us in church on Sunday. We hope that he stays true to his word.

Last, but absolutely not least, we taught Esther about her privileges and responsibilities as a member of the Church. She was a little hesitant about accepting a future calling because she feels she knows nothing. I want everyone who is concerned about accepting a stewardship from the Lord that He will magnify your talents and abilities like you never imagined He would or even could. Before I was a missionary, talking to people was not my thing, especially if they were new to me. I wasn’t even one to take great interest in other people’s well-being. As I have humbled myself before and pled with that Almighty Being who is also my literal Father in Heaven, His infinite grace and mercy have enabled me to become what, previously, I had never even considered, but presently, with pressing conditions, I now demanded. I think my prayers were answered so rapidly due to the acute nature of missionary work, but nonetheless, He will answer the faithful prayers of all in His own wise course. God is intimately concerned with all aspects of your welfare because you are, as I said before, a literal child of God, so why should He not concern Himself most especially with things that effect the welfare of many of His children? Good logic says He should, and the testimonies of millions of Saints past and present say He does.

Friday

The Kenema missionaries boarded a bus at 9 am to get to Bo. It only took us an hour, and our amazing mission tour conference started at 12, so we had some time. Some fellow elders and I went to find food because we are literally always starving. Having not traversed Bo for about four months, it was a little hard for me to remember where things are, but eventually we found a nice little restaurant and got some bomb ice cream and pretty good shawarma.

We got back in good time and everything started perfectly smoothly….except the van carrying the AP’s, ZL’s, and STL’s broke down on its way from Freetown. They didn’t arrive until around 2:30. Other than that, it was one of the best zone conferences I’ve been to, possibly because I prepared extra well for it. Elder Vinson, the area president, asked us to study and ponder a few things in anticipation of his visit with his wife. We talked a lot about true conversion and peace despite adversity. I’ll put a *list of the materials at the bottom of this day’s summary. Here are some good doctrinal one-liners and other insights I got from the conference:

  • You don’t break the commandments. You break yourself against the commandments.
  • Every day, you should ask the Lord: “What lack I yet?” and then resolve to obtain what you do lack. Seek personal revelation on what to change.
  • Feed your spirit like you feed your body.
  • The only reason to pray is to align your will with God’s will. As you state what you desire, you can understand His will by revelation.
  • The ultimate commandment is to become like Christ. You can act the ten commandments, but you must be Christlike.
  • You may be willing to die for your beliefs, but are you willing to live for them?
  • John 1:47-48 – would Christ identify you by your integrity or by your guile?
  • We are not mortal beings looking towards eternity. We are eternal beings having a mortal experience.
  • The scriptures are basically the FAQ for life.
  • A testimony is something you share. Conversion is something you show.
  • You’re not teaching new material. You’re helping people to *recognize truth.
  • If there is a problem, teach the doctrine. Don’t just talk about the behavior, because that will likely solve nothing. Go for the roots, not the branches. This applies to parenting as well as missionary work.

I honestly loved listening to Elder Vinson. He has a great marriage and subsequent conversion story. He is a powerful yet humble man with deep and abiding conversion to the Lord that is clear whenever he speaks.

I will summarize a long and frustrating story in a few points:

  • Elder Tarpeh found out his baptismal font doesn’t have water, which is bad for us because we were going there for our own baptism.
  • Wouldn’t be a problem if we didn’t have to ask the clerk to send several days in advance for a water truck to come and fill the font.
  • Wouldn’t be a problem if every member of every branch presidency were going to Bo the next day.
  • That former point makes having a presiding officer a bit difficult.
  • I called President Clawson about that and he told me to preside. Welp, okay. This is Africa.
  • We frantically called missionaries to see if we could slide in last-minute to their baptism. Kenema Central let us in.
  • They also got their branch president to stay and preside. I’m off the hook.
  • We ran around telling everyone we had invited to the baptism that it’s at Nyandeyama instead of Kpayama.
  • I sweat a lot for about three hours during this whole ordeal.

*Moroni 6; Mosiah 25:18-24; PMG Ch 6 & 11; David A. Bednar, Converted Unto the Lord, October 2012 General Conference; Russell M. Nelson, Joy and Spiritual Survival, October 2016 General Conference.

*Recognize: to know and remember (someone or something) because of previous knowledge or experience

Saturday

The noteworthy part of this day would be the baptism. I am super excited for Esther! We missionaries got there early and found that, yes, you guessed it, there was no water. We turned on the tap and collectively said a desperate prayer that all would work out okay. Esther came with her mother, Esther, and sister, Nancy. I was so, so happy to see them all there. I was keyboardist and one of the witnesses, so I didn’t get to sit by them like I wanted. People had to go under several times because the water level was so low or people didn’t know the prayer, but eventually everyone was fully immersed with the proper words said. Elder Kabosha was the one to baptize Esther. That was his first time here! He used my white tie and belt.

Oh yeah, today was also transfer news day. Nothing changes for me except Elder Tarpeh is leaving my district for Waterloo and one of my TC’s is coming, Elder Eduok. That guy spoke zero English in the MTC and I haven’t seen him since then, so it will be interesting to see what has changed.

Sunday

Missionary Sunday! We had worked all week preparing for this one wonderful day where missionaries, full-time and branch, run the show. I was the chorister and Sister Monica, Brother Moses, and Elder Kabosha gave talks. A few things went wrong like the keyboard losing power, the meeting conductor didn’t show up, and Elder Kabosha had like no time to speak, but we survived sacrament meeting and learned a few things. Esther was confirmed no problem. Actually, I acted as voice. Generally, missionaries don’t do that in order for there not to be too much attachment and have confirmation be a sort of “hand-over” to the branch, but President Domawah told me to.

Elder Kabosha taught Gospel Principles and Relief Society and did a great job, so I hear. I taught the combined priesthood class. I chose to instruct on the topic of “sin” because in my teaching over the past year, I’ve felt that it’s somewhat misunderstood. If we don’t know what sin is, how can we properly repent and make necessary changes in our lives? It went along with the sacrament meeting talk topics of Obedience and The Atonement.

WE HAD BRANCH COUNCIL. I can’t properly express in an email how intensely excited that made me today. We met for two hours discussing everything from creating a branch mission plan to Young Single Adult home evening to extending callings. It was fantastic. Although I was starving and sweating, I couldn’t keep a smile off my face as my dying branch rushed itself to the hospital that is known as the branch council.

We pretty much went straight home to find something to eat, which was pretty hard since we have like no food. We managed. However, soon after we went out again, I suddenly got weak and tired. I just felt like lying down anywhere and sleeping for a month. It was strange, I’ve never been so suddenly drained of energy. Even now, I feel pretty dead.

Well, we tried this week. We did okay. We had more than a few setbacks, but we’re still going. I have at least another transfer here to do some good, and I’m thankful that God has given me so many opportunities to share the Gospel. His Plan is the only thing that can bring you joy. Please don’t seek for that which you cannot obtain, that is happiness in doing iniquity. You’ll be wasting your precious time. Look instead for something higher than that carnal pleasure — look for joy.

Love,

Elder Brimhall

Photos…

  1. My number two favorite activity.
  2. My comp looks funny when he eats.
  3. Favorite activity number one. I probably also look funny.