From: Ethan Cade Brimhall [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday, December 9, 2017 10:19 AM
Kushe padi dem an fambul dem!
The 3,333rd stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was created as the Freetown Sierra Leone Stake was split in two resulting in the creation of the new Freetown Sierra Leone East Stake. And guess who is the new stake president? BISHOP MARKUS JOHNSON WALLACE, MY BISHOP AND PFD! I raised up every appendage of my body in the sustaining vote. President Markus. It just sounds nice. Right after the conference, I ran up to the stand as fast as I could through the immense foot traffic in my way to give him a huge hug and express my condolences to his personal life that just jumped out the window and died. That’s all I have to report on the conference since I was standing in the back with other missionaries and the microphones were not loud enough to reach us back there so I couldn’t hear any of the speakers.
I ran into Steven, my branch missionary from Bo Branch, after the conference. More accurately, he ran into me and about toppled me over because he was going so fast! It was a joyous reunion. He will submit his mission papers in January. I am so excited to hear where he will be going!
To celebrate, Mama Rose, the wife of now-President Markus, invited all the missionaries in the zone over to their house for lunch. It was wonderful to associate with the family and see all their smiles. They have a beautiful family. The East Stake will flourish with his and his family’s dedication and service.
After all of that, President Clawson called the AP’s, Training Specialists, and my companion and me into what he called the “Missionary Executive Council” where we brought forward our various concerns and tried to see how best to go about it with our varying perspectives, kind of like how they do it in the general management of the church with the MEC made up of apostles and other leaders. We feel a lot more sure about what we’re doing after that three-hour meeting.
[fun fact: the 3,000th stake in the Church and first in Sierra Leone was organized in 2012. See this article here. ]
I had the epiphany today as we were dropping off supplies to apartments that my calling as office elder would be entirely obsolete if this was a first world country. Deliveries and apartment maintenance take up the bulk of my time and energy, both of which could be managed by infrastructure that does not presently exist here. We left at 9am and didn’t return until around 1:30pm, at which point we met with President Markus to coordinate our efforts. We talked for about an hour as we brought forward things we need each other’s help on.
Freetown Zone had a meeting today! We talked about the need to work with stake and ward leaders in order to move the work of the Lord forward effectively. It was timely with the exciting stake split just a couple days previous. This zone got wrecked this past transfer, so half of it was new, and each new missionary got up to bear their testimony as is custom. Elder Patrick, my last companion while in Kenema, has come to the zone and we talked afterwards about Hangha Road. Lots of laughs at some crazy stuff that went on and is still going on there.
Elder Chitedze took his driving test today when Sister Clawson had us take her to run some errands with her daughter, Amber. One of our suppliers that we stopped at actually gave us each Christmas presents. Ours was a matching set of nice crystal glasses. Super generous! For lunch, I ate probably the spiciest shawarma of my life and cried because I had no more money left to buy some water to stop the fire (kinda like California right now). My companion passed the test as I expected since his job before coming on his mission was as a driver for a construction company. He has actually operated backhoes and excavators and stuff like that.
We showcased to president a couple of projects we just finished, one of which I have attached. It represents quite a bit of work between Elder Nyoka and myself. [Ethan’s parents decided not to post the document as it appears to now be an official document belonging to the mission. But they would be happy to share it with anyone who asks to see it via email. It is interesting, well organized, inspired and very professional looking.]
From wake up until 3pm, Elder Curriden and I went on exchange to the Waterloo zone meeting. First things first, we picked up the zone leaders at their apartment at the edge of civilization. We then went to the chapel I would always have district meetings in back in my Waterloo days. It was my first time being there in over a year! Pretty crazy. There we had the zone meeting that lasted about three hours. A lot of the instruction was beneficial though. I really enjoyed our conversation on what qualifies someone as a “recent convert”. Basically, it is someone who has been baptized and not yet entered the temple. President Clawson has said that we are to work with all of those people, which is quite a huge portion of the members here in Sierra Leone. Baptism without temple attendance is, as an apostle once said, basically worthless. If we look at why we were sent here, it is to become like God, right? That requires that we enter into the Celestial Kingdom after death, which is impossible without all temple ordinances being done. Basically, we cannot fulfill the purpose of our mortal life without going to the temple. It changed my perspective a little bit.
Proselyting day! We went out with Elder Mbuva and Elder Maeva, the other missionaries attached to our ward, and started the process of swapping contacts. We give them our investigators and they give us recent converts and less-actives. We did some of the latter goal today, meeting some wonderful people. I will use what I learned yesterday in the zone meeting to sharpen my focus on what I need to teach these people.
Overall, this was a pretty solid week full of productivity. I miss the spiritual nature of full-time proselyting, but the work I am doing in the office is also incredibly satisfying. Working with these great leaders and missionaries to move the mission forward in a more temporal way is so fun.
Excerpts from other letters…
My release date is still tentative, and President Clawson just changed it to May 15th, so I’ll arrive May 16th sometime in the afternoon or evening. I would like to speak on the 27th. I want to put some serious thought into my homecoming talk.
You know, a special friend of mine said that the only thing harder than serving a mission is serving it uncommitted. I’ve served it both ways and know that that is true.
Mission organizational plans are moving ahead at the pace of a snail because I keep running into roadblocks. But I feel like I’ve been able to do a lot to improve my own assignment as an office elder. In order to keep people being baptized, I am swapping investigators for recent converts and less-actives with other missionaries in our ward. We just started that on Friday, but so far it seems to be a good plan.
I don’t know if I have anything specific I want to accomplish before the end of my mission, but I do want to have my last area be Makeni. I’ve figured out what it means to be a good missionary now and I just want to do that.