A mission is like cooking rice: either there is too much salt or not enough. There is no in-between

From: Ethan Cade Brimhall [mailto:ethan.brimhall@myldsmail.net]
Sent: Monday, August 14, 2017 6:07 AM

At least for me. This week, there was too much salt.

A cord the sparked and nearly burned my shirt
Missionaries waiting for everyone else to show up
My competition
Please don’t kick the ball into my camera again.
Clean sweep for the missionaries!
Waka buffet. YES!

Hey everyone!

I hope your week was great! Mine was sort of jacked up but I got through it without too many scars. This email is equally crazy and disorganized.

Update on choir! People are actually enjoying it now. Like, before, it was hard to get people to come, but now it’s a party. We sing the intermediary hymn every week as a recruiting strategy haha. Each time it’s a new hymn that the branch doesn’t know. Hangha Road will be musically literate whether they like it or not! I think I’ll also start teaching music theory classes. It’s a little late but a few weeks can do a lot.

For only the third time in my whole mission thus far, I saw my MTC companion Elder Badoo who is now an AP. They came to go on splits with the zone leaders and attend to some other logistical stuff as they usually do including dropping off (most of) the apartment supplies I requested like three transfers ago. Elder Badoo was wearing the very shirt I gave him as we left the MTC! It’s just like all of mine — Exofficio. The shirt is still as white as the day I gave it to him, but he is quite a bit bigger, wiser, and darker. He still says “classic” like I say “sweet.” We were literally made to be companions. I’m just sad it had to be in the MTC where we could only have 3 weeks together.

Elder Patrick and I get along well enough except for when it comes to work. He’s a bit discouraged by the progress of the branch, so he doesn’t have that much motivation. To be honest, I would probably be the same way if I were coming from the comparative organizational heaven that is Freetown, so I don’t blame him. Having been here for more than six months means that I’m also pretty tired. We’re not exactly totally inclined to give our all. It got to a point this week where I asked the zone leaders for help I said, “I am literally feeling motivation drain out of me.” Yeah, contrary to what many people may believe, I’m not an immortal workhorse with unlimited spiritual stamina. They organized a split where I went with those two Americans to Burma and Elder Patrick went with Kpayama for a day. I got an injection of spiritual adrenaline as we proselyted and talked that day. They gave me some clear-cut, procedural suggestions (the only good kind) to get some of that “desire” back. How grateful I am for inspired leaders to get me back on track!

I’ve been out here for a while and I still don’t know how to respond when people say (in Krio) “You’re from America? You’ll take me with you when you go home right? Just stick me in your luggage or something.” It happens so often and yet I still feel suuuuper awkward every time.

One day I decided to cook tomato stew to eat with rice for the week. It turned out to be good enough that Elder Seri gave me money to cook some again for him. Elder Cayetano was late on the train but said the same for next time. I am actually African. On the topic of food, one of the two restaurants here that have something like American food on the menu, Waka Fast, started selling juiced fruit (is there a specific word for that?) and it’s super good. 25,000 Le for something smaller than the small size soft drink at McDonald’s, but it’s a bit of home. Safe to say I’m going to run out of money real quick.

Elder McCracken, the greenie other American in this apartment, was counting transfers in the mission like nearly everyone does when they first come and I did some stats work too. Saturday was my 15-month mark, leaving 9 left. I only have 6 transfers or less left when this one ends. That probably means 2 or 3 more companions and about the same for areas. It’s both exciting and foreboding.

So many people I know see me at the market and greet me there or tell me later. At least twice a week a member or investigator remarks to me, “I don see you na makit Monday!” That’s a good way to tell if you’ve been in one place for a while.

I’m fairly certain the concept of sending a spiritual thought home in a weekly letter was born from humble beginnings. Likely, a missionary wondered, “You know, I’m a missionary even when I’m writing home, so I should probably put something spiritual in my report of this mess of a week to make it seem like I know what I’m doing so my family doesn’t worry about me.” Just an observation. It’s never happened to me. I’m a perfect missionary. I have a great week every week and I receive spiritual promptings every second of the day.

Spiritual thought time! Doctrine & Covenants 90:24 reads, “Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant…” This passage impressed me for two reasons. First, it has language very similar to a warning in my patriarchal blessing. Second, I have been trying to find a way to make things work out in my branch. It’s not really in a good place right now (never has been) and I don’t know what to do to catalyze improvement. Ultimately, I think, I’ll just have to accept that a lot of things are out of my control. I am promised in this scripture and my blessing, however, that as long as I study, pray, and have faith, everything will work out. This is truly a marvelous promise that I think we all need a little (or a lot) more in our lives. It brings to mind the inspired words of a most beloved hymn  (Come, Come Ye Saints):

Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?

‘Tis not so; all is right.

Why should we think to earn a great reward

If we now shun the fight?

Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.

Our God will never us forsake.

And soon we’ll have this tale to tell–

All is well! All is well!

We are never forsaken and never forgotten. We can take up fresh courage knowing that we are unconditionally and eternally loved by the Creator of the Universe. He is intimately concerned with the details of our lives. There is no problem too small, no person so unassuming that they are beyond the reach of our Heavenly Father. As I renew my commitment to do the work of the Lord despite opposition, I know that He will sustain and guide me. The promise is the same for you. Why wouldn’t He also care about a mother struggling to rear her children in righteousness? or a father working to set food on the table and keep a roof over their heads? or a student fighting the passions of youth to stay focused in his all-important schoolwork? He could, and He does. That’s a fact if I ever knew one. Have a wonderful week!

Love,

Elder Brimhall

[Note: Ethan is a 4-6 hour drive from where the mudslides happened. Here is a news clip regarding flooding and mudslides in Sierra Leone:  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-40926187

Photo taken by an elder serving in the mudslide area.