From: Ethan Cade Brimhall [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, June 21, 2017 9:42 AM
Elder Kabosha and I rearranged our room since a fourth transfer with nothing changed in our living space would drive us a little crazy. It took a while deep cleaning and moving everything, so our day was cut somewhat short. If I didn’t get back to you last week, that’s why. We bought some clothes and our food for the week after sending our emails. Not much else to say about boring old p-days. Let’s get to the fun stuff.
One thing you do a lot on your mission is experiment with food. I took a risk and made a giant pot of tomato chicken soup for rice. If it went south, well, we would starve. But it was a success!
I studied Zenos’s allegory of the olive tree in Jacob 5 for my personal study. So many things jumped out at me that I hadn’t noticed before! I understood more deeply the love our Father in Heaven has for us as I pondered verses 40-41:
40 And the wild fruit of the last had overcome that part of the tree which brought forth good fruit, even that the branch had withered away and died.
41 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard wept, and said unto the servant: What could I have done more for my vineyard?
The Lord of the vineyard repeatedly said: “it grieveth me” when He realized the unprofitability of his vineyard and resultant destruction upon all He had labored so diligently for. This allegory is centered around the House of Israel, but involves the whole world. He really does love every one of His children In a very real sense, God weeps when we suffer for our foolishness or the foolishness of others and rejoices when we prosper from righteousness.
We visited Esther, now a recent convert, to see how she has been doing with an assignment we gave her in Doctrine and Covenants regarding eternal marriage answering one of her questions. She was pretty discouraged because it was very difficult for her to read and understand it. Elder Kabosha and I didn’t do a very good job at giving her an assignment because we pretty much just said, “Here’s this giant section in a strange book you don’t understand. Read it, it’ll answer all your questions. We’ll come back on Wednesday.” Definitely the wrong way to go about it. So this time we gave her four questions to answer with references to verses, made a mini dictionary for big words in the section, and assigned a smaller portion. She felt a whole lot more confident after that. She also fed us three plates of food: potato leaf and pap.
Bruno, Esther’s extremely playful dog, followed us of his own accord to our next appointment 15 minutes away. All the way he was chased after by other dogs trying to get him out of their territory. We got to Hawa, James’s wife, and he sat down with us. We talked with her to see how she is doing and set a time for us and a high councilman to meet with the family to see how we can help them. Bruno continued with us to Mamie, but five dogs (including Freedom and Unity) pounced on Bruno and started biting and scratching him! We broke up the fight and took this crazy dog home. Freedom was upset with us when we came back. He was whimpering like he was trying to say “you betrayed me!” A little scratching took care of that.
Our lesson with Mamie went really well. She has struggled for a long time to come to church with us. Elder Kabosha and I had the epiphany some days ago that maybe it’s because she doesn’t really understand why she needs to come to church! We talked about truth, revelation, and priesthood and the Spirit, the most important part, was so present. Discussions like these are what make missionary work sweet.
Kadie was gone all week last week traveling like every other investigator we have, but we met her at home today. The first thing that happened is we saw a chicken attacking his reflection in a mirror, so that really set the tone for a gospel message. I think Kadie is one of the first investigators we met here. Her parents are members in Kailohon, and she comes to church every week, but her progression has been pretty slow. She broke a huge barrier I think when her cousin attacked her for her beliefs on the Adam and Eve story and she stood up for what she believed to be true — what we had taught her. I can say she had now “received His image in her countenance.” We changed our plans and immediately did a pre-interview for
We can skip Wednesday and Thursday since nothing of unusual interest happened. We did
First thing we did was go to a child of record baptism (born into the church and baptized at age 8)! A lot of the time here, the parents just wait for their children to reach 9 and throw them off to the missionaries, but this time it was done right. My companion and I were happy to speak at the baptism instead of try and teach a nine-year-old with a five-minute attention span. I haven’t mastered teaching children yet.
We went to a spelling and debate competition for Fatmata’s school. This was the intellectual half of the house activities. I emailed before about the physical aspect involving track events. She got up to spell her word for pink house and did great. I was impressed with many of the children and saw a lot of hope for the future of Salone in them. Immediately when we left, this man called us over and led us to his house. I had a bad feeling about him by the way he called us over. He gave off warning signs of an anti-Mormon. I had never met one here and honestly didn’t expect to, but I was proven wrong. He asked for my Book of Mormon and flipped open to a place I already knew he was gonna turn to since he asked me, the white man, instead of my companion, the African. He then asked me hostile questions in a very sweet way. Though my heart was beating fast and I wanted to destroy this guy with evidence, we did it the Lord’s way. My companion and I had prepared for this possibility a couple weeks ago in companionship study, so we opened to modern revelation and bore our heartfelt testimonies. No battle of evidence. No heated debate. When he realized he couldn’t shake us, and the Sierra Leonian he was trying to confuse lost confidence in him, he asked if he could give us some grapefruit to send us on our way. The end. That’s how you win a doctrinal fight. You sincerely and lovingly back someone up to the wall of faith, and if they refuse to humble themselves and proceed to mock you, their words will condemn themselves at the last day.
After chapel cleaning, we restarted the branch choir that died out a couple months ago. We helped all who came practice for the hymns we would sing in church the next day. It helped a ton.
Sister Monica asked us to help her patch up and paint her room. Magically, I didn’t get any cement or paint on my shirt or pants. Just my shoes!
We checked up on James and Hawa and clarified a few things. They promised to work out the last details with family and report back on Sunday.
Our branch has improved a lot! We are holding regular branch council. Home and visiting teaching lists are being created. Many investigators are coming to church (18 this Sunday). YSA Home Evening has begun. Institute is back. Auxiliary presidencies are meeting regularly. The Elder’s Quorum presidency was organized. We are seeing miracles happen because the machine of the branch council has been oiled. I can’t really express in words how satisfying it is to witness all of this. We are doing our best to keep the progress going.
James and Hawa came to church and resolved to separate until they are married after baptism. Esther gave incredible contributions in gospel principles and Relief Society. The first counselor in the Relief Society presidency was so impressed that she asked Esther to instruct next week and she’s only been baptized for a week!
I think I am now the de facto keyboardist for our branch. We started holding unofficial branch choir practices after chapel cleaning on Saturdays. As Elder Kabosha conducts and I play, we are slowly but surely teaching some members of our branch how to sing the hymns.
One sad thing that happened is that Bruno disappeared on Thursday. He stopped going home, I mean. People have seen him around, but he got beat pretty bad and I think he’s scared now to go home.
Yeah, so I pretty much died Monday and Tuesday. That’s why I didn’t email on Monday. Fever. Weakness. Chills. Headache. Dizziness. The whole shebang. And that phrase makes more sense than my illness because I have no idea how I got it. I’m still recovering, but my fever is gone, so I decided to try and do some good again.
Elder Spaulding, who went home from an injury incurred from an accident days after he arrived here, has returned to serve again. Elder Smith and Elder Saunders returned home after honorably serving their two years.
Kissy, an area just outside of Freetown, has just become a stake.
Our mission just got bigger with Conakry, the capital of Guinea, being opened for missionary work and added to our mission! A branch was just created there. Good thing we have many French speakers here and our mission president speaks French! I pray I am not sent to serve there. It has taken me long enough to learn a mangled form of English. French is a whole new ballgame.
See ya next week!