Monday, December 30, 2013

Post Christmas

Dear Family,

     First, I will answer your question: "OK so if you could have a magic horn that could give you only one food or drink item but it could be unlimited what would it be?" 

     Answer: I would have to choose cold Root Beer, because I am always thirsty here in Ghana and they DO NOT HAVE ROOT BEER ANYWHERE. I can survive without having special foods from home (although I do miss it), but a magic horn with unlimited cold Root Beer would be really nice to have.

     It was really wonderful to talk with all of you back home. I am surprised at how much Adalie and Matthew have grown! I wonder how it will be 5 months from now.. I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and I am glad that you had a fun time at the football game. If you think that San Francisco is crowded and smelly, just fly over here and tell me what you think again. Last Monday (I think I told this to you but I will retell it) I was in Kejetia and was going through the central market place, but there came a point where I was sandwiched between people from the front, back, and sides. I lifted my feet and traveled about 4 feet, just from them shuffling forward. Halfway through the crowd, I felt a large surge from the back and turned my head backwards to see a lot of people pushing. I felt another surge from the front and turned again to see a huge crowd coming at us as well. There were people with crates of live chickens on their heads and lots of pottery, and the next second everything was tumbling to the ground and people were shouting. I heard people behind me blaming the problem on the "Oburoni" (which now I know means foreigner, not just white man), and I couldn't do anything but shake my head. That same day coming home, we saw many trotros and trucks being piled onto by the people from town. One bus was being swarmed by more than 50 people, and one truck was loaded down so far the the back was touching the ground (there were at least 30 people scrunched together in the back alone). Christmastime here is crazy, and it even seems worse than Black Friday. People are just ruthless wherever you go, whether on the streets or in the shops, going to town or going home. I was glad that I made it home in one piece.

     After I called you and Skyped, I went to sleep and was awoken by my companion who was barking like a seal. It sounded like he had caught bronchitis in his sleep, and he also said he had a runny stomach and couldn't proselyte. From Thursday onward he was in bed, coughing and taking medicine and sleeping. To spend my time wisely, I read the scriptures, my PMG, and exercised when I became restless. I tried to take small naps here and there, but I eventually just became bored from all of the sitting around. We didn't proselyte for the whole week after Christmas Day, and I wanted to be doing something but couldn't because my companion was out of commission. During the few days that I spent in the apartment, I had a lot of time to think about my mission and what I expected to come from it. These are some of the thoughts I had.

     1) I want to be a good example to the companions that I have so that I will not be blamed for any negligence on their part if there is any, and for the sole sake of being a good companion

     2) I want to be patient with the people I meet and with the companions I receive so that I can learn tolerance and long-suffering

     3) I want to find people to teach and baptize so that the work of the Lord can progress ever onward

     4) I want to perfect myself everyday so that I will be worthy and ready for a wife when I come back home

     I had more thoughts on my mind than these few thoughts, but I want to share these ones with you. I wish I had more to talk about, but I think I related everything I wanted to over the phone. Thank you Dad for sending all of those pictures through e-mail, and I look forward to e-mailing you all next week after New Year's has passed. 2014 is right around the corner. Afehyapa, and afe nkometo ye. (Basically, Merry Christmas and a happy new year! : Literal translation: This year is over, and the new year is to come)



Elder Twede

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dec. 9, 2013 31 Lessons

Dear family,


     After reading through the e-mail that I just sent you, I realize that I left out some experiences that I had during the week. They aren't many, but they show the character of the people here. On Tuesday we went out of our apartment and proselyted around our area trying to find new people to teach. As we were passing a compound, we saw a lady pounding fufuo and decided to go and offer her our assistance. We walked over and offered to help, but she declined the offer and instead told us to sit down (in Twi: tenase). We sat down and were going to introduce ourselves to her, but she just brought out a stew that she had recently prepared and gave us the fufuo that she had just been pounding. We wanted to refuse, but people here get really offended if you don't accept their offers, so we ate everything that she gave us. We were then able to have a lesson with her about the gospel, and she was very pleased to hear the message. We found out that her name is A..., and that she was interested in meeting with us more. We contacted some more families within the compound and then went on our way. The next day we went by the same area with the intention of meeting with Amelia again, but instead we met up with her sister who's name is E.... E...doesn't speak much English, but she is very friendly to us and I try to communicate with her as much as I can in both Twi and English. She told us where her house was and told us to come by later in the evening, so after we had left and taught 7 lessons, we decided to drop by her actual house. Upon arriving, we were met with the scent of banku coming from the kitchen (she actually has a nice house with a kitchen, very abnormal) and we had a good stew to go with it that had steak and pork for meat. She told us that she wanted to feed us every evening and told us to come by everyday, so we told her we would. True to our word and her word, we have visited her every day and she has always had a meal ready for us. In addition to the food, she also has a baby that she has me care for when she is preparing the food. I have helped in the cooking and preparing process of the meals, but she mostly wants me to become familiar with her child. Her love for us really astounds me because she hasn't known us for long, and yet she trusts us enough to look after her baby and to feed us dinner every day.

     Anyways, after our dinner with Sister E...on the first day, we walked outside into the courtyard and saw an older white man sticking his head over the top of the wall. E... told us that he was her adamfou (friend), and she called him over. We found out that his name was C..., and it became readily apparent to us that he was not completely there mentally. As we talked with him, he described sad experiences from his life (mostly about the death of relatives) and the pain that he feels every night before going to bed. We could tell that he had gone through many pains in his life and that his family had just sent him to Ghana to stay for a while (he didn't even know he would be here for a month. He was expecting them to pick him up the first week after he was dropped here), so we told him that we would visit him everyday so that he would have some company and wouldn't feel so lonely. We don't teach him much each time we visit because he is the type of spirit that won't be required to accept the message here on earth, but we have been comforting him as much as we can. He is supposed to be gone as of this morning, but we will drop by to see if he has made it home safely.

     Now I think I am completely finished. I always have more stories to tell, but I will just send them to you next week.



Elder Twede

Dear Family,


     Each week we find ourselves working harder than the last. Over the course of 5 days (I was sick in bed on Friday), we were able to have 31 total lessons, 12 new investigators, and 3 people with set baptismal dates. Under the new standard we are expected to have 38 total lessons and 14 new investigators, but the one missing day knocked our numbers down. I know that this week we will be able to accomplish our goal as we are willing to do the work. I really can not believe how well this work is progressing and how my potential is far more than what I thought it was initially. I still feel that I can do even better, so I will be excited to push myself and to see how much work I can actually do in the short course of a week. If there is one lesson that I am learning at this time, it is that I can do far more than I think I can, and I won't know what my potential is until I push myself. It really has been a growing experience for me, and I know that if I was not called to be in Ghana, I would not be learning the lessons that I need to learn.

     Is the ward really that big now? That sounds amazing to me, especially because I had not been seeing too many baptisms happening there before I left. Just yesterday my companion and I attended the end of the year ward council meeting and they discussed the numbers for the year and how they planned to improve this year. Apparently, there have been 52 baptisms in this ward alone for the past year, and they plan to have 70 baptisms in the ward for this upcoming year. The work that is done here is staggering, and it just is proof to me that this is truly the Lord's church on the earth today. I want to bring as many people as I can to the truth here in Ghana, and I know that I will be blessed by the Lord as I keep His commandments. Sometimes I sit down and refocus on my purpose as a missionary because it is easy to be caught up with everything during the week, so Monday is a day where I gather myself again and make sure that I am going on the right path. I want to be able to meet the expectations of the mission president and the expectations of the Lord, and the only way for me to do that is to commit myself more fully each week to the work. It isn't easy at times, but I am constantly learning how to become a better person and how to fulfill my purpose here.

     Apparently, my companion likes to sleepwalk and he talks in his sleep. These past two nights I have been a little freaked out because he just sits up in his bed and stares at where I am sleeping for 5 or 6 minutes, and then he lays back down and is totally asleep. I have had my camera by my bed so that I can record what he does, and when I showed him the footage in the morning, he couldn't remember doing anything like it at all. Two nights ago, he even got out of bed and walked out of the room, only to return 1 minute later and to sleep on the floor. He says that he has always been a sleepwalker, so I just need to get used to it. I'm sure that it will eventually become ordinary to me, but for now it puts me on edge because I know his mind isn't completely there when he sleepwalks.

     This past week I just completed the quad, meaning that I have read the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price (as well as the Articles of Faith) in 6 months. I had no idea that I would complete it so soon, but now I am going to be focusing even more on the Book of Mormon. We have a plan that our mission president gave to us so that we can read the Book of Mormon in three months (he just recently made it for us), so by the end of my mission I will have read it 7 times (just on mission) which will make it 11 times total for me. Three months is really just a short time, and I have a feeling that if I can stick to the Book of Mormon plan everyday, then I will be able to stick with the P90X plan ever day at home. Speaking of which, I forgot to say what I have been using for weights to exercise in the morning. Here in Ghana, it is almost impossible to find a set of metal weights that are made specifically for the purpose of lifting. Instead of using weights, we use car parts that resemble the shapes of dumbbells and a bench press. We don't have a bench press in our apartment right now, but we see people using the axles of cars all the time since there are so many of them lying around on the side of the road. Some places we pass are just piled high to the sky with car parts that aren't being used anymore, so the people here try to find use for them. I will have to take a picture of it sometime so you can have a better vision of what I am talking about.

     One thing that I miss about M... is the opportunity to teach in church. Here in K..., there are plenty of members to teach the classes and everything is organized well, so there is no need for the missionaries to teach any class. That was probably my favorite part about the church services in M... because I delighted in seeing the people in the class grow in knowledge. Here, I sit with the members but I can't participate too well because all they speak is Twi, and I haven't learned it completely in order to communicate fluently. Sometimes I get bored because I can't do anything, but I do my best to stay there in mind. If I start to float off, I just refocus and try to make out what the people are saying. I can pick out many of the words and get a general idea of what they are talking about, but many of the finer details slip past me. I think that these exercises will help me to understand Twi even more, but at the moment I wish they would just talk in English, because that is the language of the mission (and it is declared to be the official language of Ghana, although the people here either don't know it or don't want it).

     Truthfully, I took everything at home for granted, and it has only been here in Ghana that I have realized how blessed we are. Sometimes I look at the labor that people perform here and imagine how life would be like if it was a part of my own. I know that I am living here for two years, and yet I still feel like an outsider because I know that there will be a time when I will leave here to go back home. I am not looking to that time right now because I am still too young on my mission, but it is always there in the future. I just hope that I can do everything I can here to enjoy my time as a missionary and to do my best to help the people who will stay here. I want to help in the work of building the stakes of Zion, and the only way to do this is to build up the people here in Ghana. I will also do my best to continue the work when I get back home because I know that I will be expected to be as a light to all those around me.

     Well, I didn't see any questions that you wanted me to answer, so I will just leave you with a scripture reference. As I was reading the New Testament, I came across a scripture that I had to read twice before I could understand what was being said. In John 3:12-13, it reads "12) If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13) And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." Now, this was Christ speaking to Nicodemus, and he was telling Nicodemus that he could not understand things of the spirit because he could not even understand things of the earth. To prove his point, Christ taught a principle in verse 13 that is only easy to understand if you have the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Imagine the picture: Christ is on the earth in this passage, and he is talking about the Son of man which came down from heaven, who is now in heaven. As I was reading this, my understanding was opened and I realized that Christ was talking about His Father, or our Heavenly Father. I couldn't believe that it was right there before my eyes, especially in the New Testament. Obviously, Nicodemus didn't understand what Christ was teaching him at this point, but it is our duty to search the scriptures and understand them fully. I just wanted to share this passage with you, even if you have already come across it before. There are other things that I am learning as I go, so I will send more of my insights to you in the upcoming week.

     I love all of you and I pray for you every day. Sometimes I feel like I am repeating myself when I say this in my e-mail, but it is truth and I want you to know it. I am glad to hear that the ward is swiftly expanding, and I know that the work will continue to go forward with much power as everybody does their part. I wish you all a good week, and I want to remind you that there are only 16 more days until I call home. From what I know at this point, I will be calling home on Christmas day, so be expecting a call on the 25. We will have time to plan the time to call next week or even the week after, so let me know when you think everybody will be in the house. As for charges, don't worry about the computer thing because the mission reimburses each missionary for the time that they call home. I am looking forward to the time that I will actually be able to hear all of your voices.


Much love to you all,

Elder Twede


Nov. 25, 2013 6 Months

Dear family,


     ...It has already been 6 months since the time that I left home, which means that I am 1/4 of the way through my mission. Look at how fast time goes by. I have served with two companions, and now I am serving with my third (who just finished his training). So many things have happened in just a short amount of time, and I can tell that my personality is slowly changing (as well as my speech.. that's just what happens). Did you know that even though this mission is an "English speaking mission," the people here in Ghana Kumasi don't want to speak it, even if they know it well? There are plenty of people who we come across who understand English perfectly and can speak it well, but they choose to speak in Twi instead. This is a problem throughout the whole mission, and the missionaries suffer because of it. Thankfully, I was able to learn a moderate amount of Twi in Mampong (where the problem is REALLY prevalent) and I am doing well in breaking down my English into forms that they can understand. For example, if you say "How has your day been?" they will just look at you blankly. If you change it and say "How has been your day?" they will answer you without hesitation. It is really screwing with my grammar, but it is the only way to communicate with the people. Language really is a barrier here, but we just do our best with what we have.

     By the way, I received my package on Friday, which was also the day that I had to visit the hospital, or "FirstCare." My experience there was an interesting one, and I have a feeling that everything I go through here will just be another story to tell to my kids. On Thursday, I sent the pictures of my eye to Sister Holmes and I received a call Friday morning telling me to contact the AP's so that they could take me straight to FirstCare. I called the AP's, and then my companion and I drove in a trotro to D... where they picked us up in their van. (they are the only missionaries with a car in Kumasi). When we arrived at the hospital, I went up to the desk and gave them the information they needed (which they keep in many folders of paper, not computers) and then I sat down for 2 hours waiting for a doctor to actually show up (there wasn't even a line of people waiting, the doctor just wasn't there). When she arrived, I went into her office and she gave me a diagnosis of herpes at first. I couldn't believe it, so I told her that I was allergic to spider bites and she said it must be a hyper-allergic reaction. She told me what drugs to take and directed me to the chemist who gave me the drugs and told me to go to another doctor who would give me an injection. As you know, I hate needles so I wasn't enthusiastic about getting an injection, especially if it's in a different country other than my own. When I went to the doctor, I found him flirting with one of the nurses, and he didn't even stop when I gave him the try of needles and drugs that had been prepared by the chemist. He told me to take a seat, and then he got out a plastic tube and told me to hold out my right arm. He told me to clench my hand into a fist, and then he tied the tube around my wrist so that the blood veins would pop up. He then gave the girl the needle, and instructed her on how to do the injection. The first time she put the needle in, she didn't even put it in the right direction. She had to take it out and re-position the needle, and she failed the second time. She tried again for a third time, and then when she tried to give me the injection, the skin just started to swell up because the fluid wasn't going into my bloodstream. The male doctor decided to take it from her at that point, and he took out the needle and went to my left hand instead. Thankfully, he only had to take two tries with my left hand before he put the needle in correctly, and the medication went through me with no problem. I really can't stand needles, and this experience didn't help me at all.

     As you said, the area that I am in is bigger than M..., and it is a part of Kumasi. Instead of 4 or 2 elders in the apartment, there are 6 missionaries total. That means that the supplies in the package you sent were a little short, but I just gave the presents secretly to the first elders who arrived at the apartment on Friday night. Thank you for everything that was included in the package; we have really been enjoying everything and we will soon be decorating for Christmas. Anyways, this area is far bigger than M..., and I am not sure if I like it better or if I like M... more. You see, the weather is a lot hotter here, and there is never any wind that comes through. As for people to teach, there are many people that we can contact and teach lessons to, but the hard part is finding people who are seriously interested or people who will progress. Elder Adams and I were able to teach 20 lessons in 3 days (since Friday was taken up by my trip to the hospital), but I still miss the people who I was teaching in M.... Even though they speak more English here and there are more lessons to teach, it doesn't feel the same as where I just came from. I know that it will just take a little time for me to adjust, so in the meantime, I am doing my best to enjoy the area. 

     There are a couple families here who I contacted with Elder A-- on Saturday, and they both fed us to large meals of fufuo and banku, after which we couldn't eat anything else because our stomachs were so full. They are both wonderful families (with many children in each), so I hope that they will also progress in the gospel. There might be 1 baptism this week and another next week, so we will see what happens as we meet with the potential members and see if they feel prepared and ready for baptism. 

     I am now serving in a ward, which feels very different from the branch I just came from. I don't have the responsibility of teaching the investigator's class (gospel principles) anymore, I don't have to worry about giving a talk in church, and all of the ward activities are handled by the members. It gives me the time to focus more on the people we teach and the families within the ward, and I am grateful for the change of pace in the work. I know that every area I go to will be different from the last, so I just have to learn how to enjoy the new places that I am set in. As an afterthought, there was a lady in church who heard me singing and told the choir director that I could help him with the ward choir because "[I have] a wonderful voice." I don't think that there will ever be a time when my talent is not being used. I wish I could put the sheet music that you sent into good use, but we don't have a keyboard in the apartment anymore and they already have someone who plays the keyboard well in the ward. I will see what I can do about it though.

     As usual, this is the part where I answer your questions. Here we go:

1) As stated in the above text, there are six elders in the apartment (six total in the area)

2) Basically, we have every single faith known to man here in Ghana. If I was to give one religion that I see everywhere here though, it would have to be MOGPA (Moments of Glory Prayer Army). It is a religion that was formed here in Ghana, so of course it is the most popular among the people. They preach that there is no power in the priesthood, which makes our work as missionaries even more difficult. We have even had a few people tell us that they won't go to any church unless they see miracles happen, like they see in MOGPA meetings. It is a little frustrating at times, but we do our best to explain what we know to be true. As the Prophet Joseph Smith said, we give them the correct principles and then they are left to govern themselves.

3) As for holidays, I haven't noticed too many at all. The only thing that comes close to holidays are the funerals that are held every single day. The funerals here are like parties, where every member of the extended family comes and gathers to remember the recently deceased. Sometimes, there are more than 300 people present (all extended family) and there can be more than 10 funerals going on in one day. They blast music as loud as they can, and they just dance and talk about the times they spent with the person who died. This lasts for more than 4 hours, so the city is never quiet.

     By the way, I am slowly becoming a good cook, and I am learning more recipes every day. I have made crepes already, and now I am going to try to make a pan-baked pizza. Wish me luck.

     As always, I send my love to you all and hope that you have a good week. It looks like you are all having fun. Matthew, stop growing! You're almost as tall as dad! Adalie, keep doing your best in school. This is the time to get everything ready for college/university. I love everyone of you.



Elder Twede


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Repenting. It's True Even I Have to Repent

So this is Elder Twede's mom again and I was just working in my yard thinking it was hard and I wish my husband was home helping cuz he is better at hard things than me. Then I started thinking about the elder who didn't want to do his chore. I wasn't too compassionate. I mean the guy is in Africa giving up two years of his life so that others can have eternity with theirs. That is the definition of being a man not a child. So, when he has a breaking point I hope others will help him along. Who wants to be known as the Elder who wouldn't do his chores? He probably has done many heroic things in his life and I judged him on one bad day. Boo on me. It's like Sariah in 1 Nephi Ch 5 complaining because she thinks her sons are dead and now there is a record of it for everyone to read! If that is all we had to judge her on I still think she would come out looking pretty good. She is after all morning her older sons too, who can be hard to love. But anyone who has done hard things or ever tried to imagine leaving your home and having kids in the wilderness and watching your family suffer knows Sariah was truly amazing. And that is my point. Anyone willing to sacrifice so much for the Lord deserves our respect.

Wow, I feel better. Repentance is good. Repentance and shopping? Even better. I'm off to send the 3 Elders with Elder Twede a Christmas envelope.

This is fun. Why haven't I ever blogged before?

Nov. 14, 2013 You know I'm Going to Comment

OK, another mom commentary. My advice in getting children (or grown men acting like children) to do chores is to just take the worst job yourself and tell them they can trade jobs with you if they are unhappy about their assignment. My children usually stopped complaining when they saw the good deal they had.

As far as the shaking goes, my theory is Elder Twede was bitten by a wolf spider and was going to phase into a werewolf but kept his cool and didn't phase. Way to go Elder Twede. You kept your human form. If you don't understand this post don't worry. Come up with your own theory.

Nov. 11, 2013 Some Times Missions Are Just Hard

Hey Dad (and family),
There are dogs everywhere here, but we really see more goats and chickens than anything else. The dogs all shy away from people here because they will usually be killed and eaten (as well as the cats in the area), so I haven't become attached to any of them at all.
     You know, I wish I could say that I am having more and more fun on my mission, but it just seems to get harder and harder some days. Last Wednesday I woke up to find a nasty bite on my neck. I didn't take much notice it and decided that it would eventually go away as long as I applied oils to it, so I treated it and went to sleep. I woke up in the morning with a swollen neck, and I showed my companion the bite. It was on the back of my neck so I couldn't see it, so all I heard from him was "Oh, geez." He took my camera and took a picture of the bite, after which time I called Sister Holmes (mission president's wife) to see what to do about it. I explained the problem to her and she gave me a doctor's number which I called and was able to receive a diagnosis of what was happening. Apparently, I was bitten by a spider and the bite became infected, so it started to spread. He told me that if I didn't do something about it immediately, it would spread to the rest of my body. He prescribed some Amoxicyllin for me and I have been taking it ever since. Now, the infection has stopped spreading and it is now just peeling from my neck. I feel like a snake (for the second time on my mission). I couldn't turn my neck for the longest time, but now it is getting much better. I wish that it was the only problem I had.
     Four weeks ago, our district leader gave us different assignments within our apartment and I was given the responsibility of making sure that everything in the apartment got cleaned every Monday. To fulfill this task, I made a rotational schedule of different areas that each missionary would clean for every P-day until the end of the transfer, and everyone was okay with it. Things worked smoothly until this morning, when one missionary got an assignment that he didn't want. I talked and reasoned with him and explained that everyone has a responsibility to do each week, and that sometimes the tasks won't be pleasant. However, everyone should do their part, and their assignment for the next week will be something better than the last. He just told me to shut up and started to clean my area that I was supposed to clean for the day. I went into the kitchen because I just wanted to get away from the problem and I had been boiling some sausages, and then my head started to buzz. I didn't know what was happening and I got out some bread to cut, but I couldn't even pick up the knife because my hands were shaking and my vision was blurry. I then got some water and two Amoxicyllin pills for the infection, and I put them in my mouth and swallowed them down, only to start laughing at the absurdity of the situation. I was laughing and laughing, and I had to sit down so that I could just calm down. I was viewing it as if I was in a movie. Imagine: The main character tries to carry out his duties but fails to do so because the other people around him have different plans. Then, he goes into the kitchen shaking and tries to pick up a knife but fails to do so. In frustration, he takes two pills in his hand and puts them into his mouth while his body is shaking. He gulps them down. -- It felt as if I was taking anti-depressants or something. Thankfully, everything passed and I was able to laugh everything away, but I just wish the situation never happened in the first place.
     On a better note, Sister Comfort will be getting baptized this upcoming Sunday. Mom, you are correct in counting the number of baptisms I have had. I have had two (only one was confirmed), and Sister Comfort will be my third. The investigator who wasn't confirmed is now being taught by the other companionship, so they are doing what they can to help her. My companion and I have a couple of people who are steadily progressing, but we have yet to see them in the church service. I know that some weeks will be up and some weeks will be down, but in the end all of it will be for my gain. These experiences that I have help me to grow, and the best place to have them are on my mission.
     Wow, Matthew has grown so much since last time I saw him. I think I am a little taller myself, but not by that much at all. He can use my vest as much as he wants, I'll just get something different when I get back. I can't believe that Adalie is almost 17 already. Happy early birthday! I am so glad to see that everyone is doing well. I have to go now, but I leave my best wishes with all of you. Christmas is swiftly coming and before you know it, I will be calling home. I love you all, and I pray for you every day.
Your son and brother,
Elder Twede

Nov. 14, 2013 Mom commentary

OK, so as a mom I am conflicted about the food. When Elder A. Twede was younger he was a very picky eater. I used to tell him, "He may not like the way it looks but he may like how it tastes." (talking about the food I had served). So, I would have him close his eyes and just eat it. Other times I would tell him "Just eat it even if you don't like it. It is good for you and it may be good training for your mission. You never know what you will have to eat." And finally, I started buying cheese from all over the world to have the kids eat and just get used to trying new foods. Now I am thinking this little exercise just paid off or just backfired. Like I said, I am conflicted.  I think Elder Twede will be getting breath mints for Christmas, and deworming when he gets home. Should I warn you when a post will turn your stomach? I am still feeling guilty every time I eat good food.

Nov. 5, 2013 FuFou and PooPoo (I wish I was kidding)

Dear Family,

     Each week comes and goes with hardly a whisper when it passes by. When you are in the midst of the week, it seems as if a storm is raging, but then time moves and you find that what is past is past and you only have the present day to live through. Over the small time that I have been here, I have begun to learn from the past, to treasure up the present, and to have hopes for the future. Truly, being a missionary has changed my perspective and overall view of life, and my character is being shaped and molded day by day by the master potter.

     I guess the reason why I mentioned this is because I am already more than 5 months into my mission time, and it hardly seems as if any time has passed at all. When I just focus on one day at a time and forget about the time that has passed, everything flies by leaving me wondering if two years is really any time at all. I have been e-mailing with other missionaries who are in the field (some who were my previous roommates at BYU) and it is crazy to me to think that some are still coming on their missions. It really is a unique experience and something that is still somewhat new to me, but I am quickly realizing how missionary work is truly a divine work. People come and go every week, but still the work of God moves forward as a stone, rolling forth unto all nations. This is truly the Church of the Firstborn.

     Here in Ghana, people are very handy when it comes to crafts. I have a scripture bag that I bought from the mission home and it is very plain, but I heard from another missionary about a return missionary in Kumasi who makes scripture bags from beads. I was able to see an example of one and decided to call the return missionary (P---) to order one. Now, I have finally received the scripture bag and it looks really neat. I took a couple of pictures with my camera but forgot to bring the memory card with me, but I can give a small description of it. It has the Ghana flag on one side and the American flag on the opposite side, with a black banner going across the top on which is written "BYU." Like I said, I took pictures of it, so I will send them next week. I probably won't be proselyting with it, but it will be a nice souvenir for home.

     We have been inviting many people to church, but only one person has been coming every single time. Sister C--- has really been progressing in the Church, so Elder P--- and I were very concerned when she didn't come by this week. After church was over, we went to Sister C---t's house to visit her, and when we arrived she told us that she had fallen against a low stone and had damaged her leg. Part of her leg was patched bandages and she couldn't walk very far without having to sit down, so we sat down and had a lesson with her. During the lesson, a member from the branch came by to visit her to see how everything was going, so it was nice to see him reaching out to her. Brother A--- is doing his best to fellowship those whom we teach, and it has been a great help to us in our missionary efforts.

     On Sunday there was a solar eclipse, and hardly anyone was at church because of it. Apparently, just seeing the moon cross over the sun is enough of an excuse to stay home and watch. People don't have special glasses here to view it from, but they use the film tape that is found in VHS tapes and hold them up to their eyes to watch the eclipse. It was funny to hear people exclaiming in Twi that Judgement was almost at hand, especially because I have seen so many at home that it doesn't seem like too big of an event. People just view things differently in different parts of the world.

     The Zone Leaders have been planning an activity for the zone for a while now, and news is that we will be visiting the Coca-cola factory in Kumasi this upcoming Monday. From what I have heard, it is a very enjoyable experience, and it will just be fun to get out with other fellow missionaries. Sometimes I have to remind myself that this is not my time, but it is the Lord's time, but at the same time I can look forward to every Monday for a little break. P-day is truly an inspired day because it allows us to relax and refocus on the upcoming week, as well as getting everything prepared and in order so that you don't have to worry about cleaning or buying food for the rest of the week. I don't know if I could do the work completely if I didn't have some time to wind down and refocus.

     Really, there wasn't much that happened this week. Just a lot of walking, talking, and teaching. I wish I had a special experience to share, but the only experience that sticks in my head is one that was just indecent. I won't talk about in detail. (OK so this part was PG 13 and in real life it may have been rated R so as a mom I just left it out) Oh well, I am at least grateful that we were able to complete the lesson after this event without too much trouble.

     Oh! I almost forgot! I had the craziest food this last week. I wrote in my planner to remind myself to tell everyone about it, but all the same it almost passed my mind. So, this last week we went to an investigator's house to teach a lesson. Upon arriving, we saw the investigator making fufou along with two other women. When we started to talk, the younger woman (Mary) asked if I would marry her, and the other woman (her mother) just looked at her. I pretended to be serious and asked Mary if she had a passport, to which she said she didn't. I told her that it would be impossible then. The conversation went on and at one point she said that she would put my head in the mortar that the fufou is pounded in. At another point, she asked if I was a joker. I don't remember how everything was brought up in the conversation, but I'm not sure what she thought of me at all. Anyways, on to the important part. We were about to leave and come back on a later time, but the investigator invited us to stay and set aside two bowls for us to eat from. She put fufou in each bowl and then put in a soup that had a nasty green appearance with brown flecks mixed in. We didn't want to ask any questions about what it was, so we just put our fingers in the fufou and soup hesitantly and started to eat. There was a slight taste of something in it that I didn't like, so I started to throw it down as quickly as possible. After finishing, I was afraid to ask the investigator what was in the soup but decided to anyways. Apparently, one of the main ingredients of it was fresh cow dung. Imagine! People can say that they have had cow tongue before, but how many can say that they have had cow dung? I felt a little like Bear Grills, but I have a feeling that the food he eats is actually fake. Africa... what a place.

     Well, I don't know what else to say besides I wish that everyone could be a missionary so that this work could progress forward very quickly. The Lord is relying on us to send forth the gospel to all nations, so we must be doing our part to bring his words to pass. Thank you for all of the prayers and I am praying for everyone back home. Much love to all of you.


Elder Twede


Oct. 28, 2013 62 Gospel Conversations

Dear Family,

We have a statistic that the mission president tracks which is called "Gospel Conversations." Gospel conversations are basically conversations that you have with people around you about the gospel of Jesus Christ and introduce yourselves as missionaries and share a short 5 minute message with them. When I was with Elder ---, we didn't have too many GC's and talked to relatively few people because he always wanted to rush straight to the next lesson. I always felt uncomfortable because the Lord chastised a company of missionaries who were traveling on a river to their destination, and they were told that while they were passing by homes on the wayside, people were dwindling in unbelief. The missionaries were told to slow down and preach the gospel to anyone they passed by, so when my trainer and I were always running to our appointments, I saw so many people who I wanted to talk to but my companion would never stop. Now, with Elder P---, we have been making efforts to talk to anyone we can so that we can just get the missionary message out to the world. This past week, we had 62 gospel conversations, but we also had 21 lessons to teach. This week we are setting a goal for 25 lessons (which is the standard for this area), and we hope to have 35 GC's (which is the mission standard). Elder K---, who was transferred to here from Techiman (the new area that opened when I entered the mission), says that the standard for his area was 30 lessons per week, and sometimes they saw 50-67 investigators in church and taught 35-50 lessons in one week. They even had 5 baptisms per week on average, and the baptisms are still happening every week. It blows my mind how well the work is doing in Techiman, but we work with what we have. Every area is unique.

     Well, our one hopeful investigator finally has a baptismal date for the 17th of this month! We have been teaching her regularly and Sister C--- has never missed a day of church since the time we invited her, and she told us that she never wants to leave the church. She is excited to be baptized, but there are still more things we have to discuss with her before it can be possible. We are very excited to see her progressing and for now I can see nothing that stands in the way. Situations might change as time moves on, but I have a strong conviction that she won't stray from the path in the few weeks that we have. We have also found another investigator who is showing interest in the church, but he travels a lot so he has never hand the chance to come to church yet. It's a little disappointing, but changing from one lifestyle to another is always hard, so we just do our best to teach him and encourage him to do better. His name is M--- and he comes from an Islamic background, so we have to tread carefully.

     As we have been teaching more and more people, I have only just begun to realize how many of the churches are branches of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We teach people from the Community of Christ, the Church of Christ, Seventh Day Adventist, Jehovah's Witness, and many other churches that actually split from our church in the beginning. It is interesting to teach people who have the Book of Commandments and to hear their similar views. The difficulty is in showing them that the priesthood authority is only found in this church, but it is always fun to discuss the backgrounds of the gospel. Before I left, I had no idea that so many churches have their roots in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It has really opened my eyes to the impact that Joseph Smith had on religion in general.

     We had 4 investigators show up to church yesterday (3 from the other companionship) and they all had an enjoyable experience. I taught the investigators class, which I have always been teaching but they just now made it my official calling, and they were responding to the questions with great interest and zeal. Elder R--- and Elder K--- were able to have a lesson with them a couple of hours after church, and the investigators told the companionship that they had talked about the service and how different it was from all other church services and they were excited to continue to come. One of them is a Moslem, but he has expressed a desire to learn more about the church and promised that he would continue to come. Their hearts were really touched by the Spirit on Sunday, and I can see that they are being guided in the way to go. It is always wonderful to see missionaries being successful.

     We had a great meal last night at a members' house. We had a lot of Fufou (FooFoo) which was prepared with a delicious fish soup, and our stomachs became very very full. Our branch makes its own soap (not soup), so we washed our hands with LDS soap (which is surprisingly better than the soap that you can find in the common markets around here). The people in our branch have had hard times finding jobs, but now they know how to make soap and can use the knowledge to make enough money to sustain themselves. They really know how to be self-dependent.

     After the meal, Elder P--- and I trekked our way to an investigator to ask him why he wasn't able to attend church, but then some dark clouds rolled in. We weren't anywhere near his house and we had to find some shelter, so we decided to start running to the church building. As we ran, we could hear the rain chasing us from the back and the wind was blowing at 20mph at least, and we started to feel small drops falling from the sky. We weren't the only ones running, as many people were rushing outside to take off their clothes from drying lines and others were just trying to run home. Trees were tilting and we could hear the sound of rushing waters, and the rain started to get heavier and heavier. Finally, as we ran out of breath, we took shelter underneath the roof of a barbershop (more of a barbershack, just a cargo box that people cut hair in), and then the rain came down in torrents. My companion and I took the opportunity to have gospel conversations with those around us, and then the power went out in the middle of someone's haircut. How bad would that be?? Thankfully it has never happened to me, but it is always a nagging fear whenever I go for a haircut. The power has never gone out when I shower either, but it has happened to other missionaries in the apartment before. Power can seriously be a problem. Anyways, after 1 hour the rain became lighter and we decided to make our way home. When we arrived at the entrance to our compound, we discovered that a river of mud and water had formed that we had to cross. We tried to find steady footing, but both of my shoes just sunk in and the bottom of my trousers became super muddy. I have a picture of my shoes, but I threw my trousers in a bucket of water so that I could wash them. I will be sending the picture along.

     Well, I only have a couple more minutes to write, so I want to send my love to everyone at home. Matthew, I am glad that you had fun at Tall Ships, and Adalie, I am happy that you had fun at the dance. Sorry about you getting sick though. Best of wishes to all.

Elder Twede

P.S. Mom, about your question.. I'm not even thinking about Christmas yet! That is way too far away right now. This week is enough for me to worry about, but I will let you know when the time draws near. :)

Oct. 21, 2013 A Great Week

Dear Family,

     This last week proved to be a good week for clear weather and lessons, as well as finding new investigators. We were able to tract in many new places within our area and the boundaries have been changed a little, so we have more people to contact now. The area is getting better, but the only work is being done by the missionaries and no one else. We have been without a branch mission leader for the past two months, but he finally came back into town this week so we can start to meet with him and coordinate our efforts to find more people who are interested in the gospel. It has been tough having to work through our own efforts without members, but I think that the work will progress better when we talk to the branch mission leader.

     As of last week, I had never been to a branch activity here because frankly, they have never been scheduled. However, the branch president finally decided to schedule one for Saturday, so we went to the church hoping that people would show up. As usual, the attendance was pretty low in respect to the amount of adults present, but there were plenty of kids who showed up. Due to habits here, the opening speaker had not been determined beforehand, so my companion was told that he would be giving the talk right before he had to deliver it. There is no planning when it comes to talks or teaching lessons, so you always have to be ready for anything at anytime. It gets frustrating at times, but whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger (supposedly). For the activities, they had musical chairs, a dance competition, and scripture trivia, after which we were treated to a meal of kenke, dried fish, and a combination of shito (shee-toe), pepe, and something that looks like green mucus called okre (almost like occur). The meal was good but spicy due to the shito and pepe, and I found out afterwards that if you eat too much kenke, you might become drunk. All of the food they eat here is fermented (fufu, banku, kenke, tizzard, and others), but the kenke is even more fermented than anything else. Apparently, all of the food is approved for us to eat, but I think I will avoid kenke whenever it is possible. I felt a little off after I had eaten just one, so I don't want to try it again. At any rate, the activities were enjoyable and it was wonderful to see the branch getting together. It is a rare sight, so it is one that I will treasure.

     As I said, our boundary has been changed to accommodate more area now, so we had the opportunity of contacting many people. We talked to 36 people last week, and 10 of them became new investigators. This means that we have already taught 10 lessons to new people, and our teaching pool is growing more and more. The standard set by the mission president is 18 people in the teaching pool, so we have 17 now, which is really good. It is nice to have so many people to teach because it is almost impossible to have a day without lessons. Sure, it's hard work and we come home exhausted every day, but it's the duty of our calling. We reap what we sow.

     I mentioned last week that we had met a new investigator through a small act of service, and now she has come to church a second time. We have been having lessons with her and she has expressed an interest in being baptized, so all we have to do now is set a date and keep on answering her questions. She used to be a member of the Presbyterian church and had worshiped for most of her life, so we are working with her to build her faith in the Book of Mormon. She accepts it at face value right now, but I know that as she reads and prays to know if it is true, then she will gain a testimony of it. I am thankful to the Lord for this wonderful person that we have been given to teach, and I pray that we can do our part as missionaries to teach her the true principles of the gospel and to preach repentance by the power of the Spirit.

     Your Question: "What was your favorite thing about scouts, or what do you think was the most important thing you got out of the scouting program?"

     My Answer: My favorite thing about scouts was learning many different skills and being introduced to many different activities. I enjoyed the high adventure trips and the work that was required of us before we could have fun. The most import thing I got out of the scouting program was learning how to work peaceably with other people as a team and learning how to rely on my own efforts as well to make something work. Here in Africa, there have been many times where I have had to solve a problem with only the help of my companion, and I feel that without the experiences I had in the scout program, I would not be fit to serve here. So, in summary, the best lesson I learned was to be prepared and to work as a team.

     Another Question: "What is the best thing to do to prepare for a mission?"

     My Answer: I think that it will depend on the mission that you are called to, but I would think that the best thing to do in general would be to read the scriptures and understand the doctrines and principles of the church. Ask yourself questions that even you have a hard time answering, and then search out the answer in prayer. Here in Ghana, we teach many pastors, deacons, bishops, reverends, and prophets, so we always have to be prepared to answer questions and have our minds and spirit ready to help them. It really has been fun teaching people who make me think about my religion, because through my diligent searching, I have realized more and more that this church is truly the Lord's church on the earth today. So, as I said in my last answer, the best thing to do is essentially be prepared. Know the scripture that mentions baptism for the dead in the new testament, memorize where every important event happens in the Book of Mormon, know the process of repentance and faith by heart, and then learn to listen to the Spirit to guide you in your life. Be willing to stand as a true worshiper of Christ, and learn to be true to the faith.

     I want everyone to know that I love them and that I am enjoying my time here serving the Lord. I am impressed with the efforts that are being made back home in the field of missionary work, and I extend my gratitude to those who include me in their prayers. I couldn't do this work without your help and support.


Best of wishes,

Elder Twede


Oct. 8, 2013 Meetings and Insights

Hello Everyone,

     This last week was filled to the brim with meetings and spiritual insights. I know that there will be more weeks that will be like unto it, but I will just live one day at a time. If we don't enjoy the experiences that we face today, how can we be sure that we will enjoy the experiences of tomorrow?

     On Monday last week, we had a wonderful FHE at Sister B--- residence and had the opportunity to give her our encouragement before she left for a different town. She works for the government in agriculture, so she is always being transferred to different towns where she is needed. She has always been nice to the missionaries and was willing to feed us whenever she had the time, so I know that her life will be blessed wherever she goes. I was the one conducting during the Family Home Evening, so I made sure that we learned about the importance of families and how we can have enjoyable experiences wherever we go as long as our families are strongly knit together. As we were discussing, I had an overwhelming feeling of love for everyone back home, whether nuclear family or friends who are close enough to be family, and I had to hold back tears. I know that without family and without my close friends pushing me, I would not be here on my mission serving the Lord. Thank you for all of the encouragement and the support, for it was part of the guiding light that I needed to follow the right path.

     I want you to know that I was protected by the Lord's hand on the way home from Family Home Evening. Sister B--- always provides us with a car and a driver to make our way back to our apartment (since we live close to 20 minutes away by car), but this time something was wrong with the driver. As soon as we all entered the car and the driver started the engine, I smelled alcohol in the air and immediately started to pray. Sure enough, as we went along, it became readily apparent that the driver was drunk and that we would be in danger as long as he was driving. I didn't know what to do besides to ask for protection, so that is exactly what I did. On the main road, he sped along in the lane and swerved into oncoming traffic a countless number of times. At one point, I thought that we would be crushed by a semi-truck that was less that 2 meters in front of us, but our driver swerved away just in time. By the time we arrived at our apartment, I knew that the only reason why we were alive was because the Lord saw it fit for us to live and continue on with this work. It was a nerve-wracking experience, but one that I will never forget.
     On Wednesday, we went to Bantama to receive Non-Citizen Identity cards so that we will not have problems later with immigration, so now I feel confident whenever I walk around because I have something to prove that I am legally here. To mom: the immigration officer here has a copy of the visa now, so he is satisfied that we came to the country legally as well. After receiving the card and conversing with other missionaries there, my apartment mates and I left with the Zone Leaders to stay in their apartment because we also had a meeting to attend on Thursday and did not want to go back to M--- (approx. 2.5 hours away). We had fun playing basketball and taught a lesson with the Zone Leaders to a powerful investigator that they had, and then we enjoyed a good meal back at the apartment. I fall asleep pretty quickly, and then we had to go to Zone Conference in the morning.

     Zone Conference was a good experience this time around, especially because the mission president addressed many problems that have been going on in the mission. At one point, he impressed upon us the responsibility that we have as missionaries to be independently righteous. He told us that it is really hard to be obedient when our companion is not being obedient, and I have to agree with this wholeheartedly. After listening to his counsel though, I know that the Lord will give us strength to do what is right as long as we are willing to humble ourselves and do whatever is in our power. Then, after we have done all that we can, we are then commanded to stand still, and know that He is God. If we find ourselves straying from our purpose or our focus is delineating from the right point, then we should have a prayer and rededicate our efforts so that we may be reminded of our true purpose. I know that missionary work will never be easy, but if we humble ourselves and allow God to guide us, then we will be lifted up until the last day.

     Well, I guess that two meetings may not seem like much (really 3 if you include the regular district meeting), but they filled a lot of our time during the week. We did not have the opportunity to see General Conference this week, but I am currently trying to download the sessions so that we can watch (or at least listen) to them in our apartment later. I was going to say that my picture was in the New Era, but I see that you already saw it. Mud soccer was really, really fun, but it required a lot of washing as well. The Elder kicking the ball is Elder A--, the Elder at his back is Elder N---, the Elder in the black shirt is Elder W---, the Elder in the blue shirt is Elder A---, and I'm having a hard time remembering the other names at the moment. Oh well. Only 4 of them are in the Kumasi mission, and the others are now in Sierra Leone and Liberia.  We will all come back together at the end of our missions, and it will be fun to share our experiences together.

     Now your question was "If you had to convince young women that being a home maker is a worthy carrier what examples from your childhood or teen years stuck out to you about the importance of having a mom available in the home?" First of all, I think that it was most important for me to have my mom available in the home because I was able to explain the problems that I had faced at school as soon as I got into the car, and then I received comfort as soon as I needed it. I remember a countless number of occasions where I needed the comfort of my mother, and I don't know how things would have worked out if my mom was away all of the time. For a teenager, the love of a mom is the most important thing for them to have and experience. To the young women: If you want your children to grow up and stay strong in the gospel, then be willing to give your time freely as a stay-at-home mom so that you can train them in the ways of righteousness. The most valuable hours are those which are spent in conversing with your children after they have just finished their day at school, so you should do everything you can to have free time to talk with them during these hours. I will be forever grateful for my mom and for her willingness to sacrifice her time, even if it was just to have the chance to know me better. Thank you mom. I love you.

With much love,

Elder Twede


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Changing Hands

Hi Everyone,

We are behind in our posts due to too much school for our student blogger. So, now we have a new plan. The teenager taught the not so teenager how to blog. This may get ugly but it will help everyone caught up. Wish me luck. I am a blogging rookie. I will be catching the blog up all this week so visit daily for updates. Unless you have a life. Then just visit when you are bored.
Colleen (Elder A. Twede's mom)

Sept. 30, 2013 Almost 20


     It is seriously hard to believe that I have already been on my mission for 4 months now. My birthday is already coming up (two days after this transfer ends), and then the end of next transfer will mark my first 6 months in Ghana. Then I will feel like a new sister missionary with only 1.5 years to go. It is amazing how time flies when you are not worrying about yourself. In the beginning, 2 years looked like a long time especially when I was still in the MTC, but now it hardly looks like any time at all. It just shows that full-time missionaries really have a short time to preach the gospel to all nations and baptize, so we need to treasure what little time we have.

     As you said, I am almost 20 years old now which means that I will no longer be a teenager. I remember when I thought that turning 10 was a big change because I was in double digits, but this is an even bigger change now. In answer to your question, I won't be getting any cake (and I haven't seen any cakes at all here), but I will get a call from the mission president's wife giving me happy birthday wishes. If I were to make a wish, I would wish for health, enthusiasm, and a bigger heart for everyone around me.

     This last week was an interesting one because of the awful weather that we have been experiencing. There were plenty of times where we were about to go outside, but then the clouds would roll in and rain would pour down to the point where everything was flooded. I have already tried to proselyte in the rain twice here, and there is no way that I will do it again, even with an umbrella and rain jacket. It is really just too much, and no one can hear you when you try to teach them while it is raining. It really hinders the work here.

     When the rain was pouring down, I had a lot of time to study the scriptures. I have found that reading them every day and pondering on the words which are written helps to clear my mind and enlighten my understanding of why I am here on this earth. Before I came on this mission, I thought that I knew a lot. Now, I stand humbled because I have realized how little my knowledge really is. All I can do is search the scriptures and ponder them in my heart, and then the Lord will help my mind to grow even more. As of now, D&C 93 fascinates me the most because of the knowledge it gives of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father, and the understanding that it gives of truth, knowledge, and light. All of these things are very important to have.

     I wish I had more to say, but due to the fact that we didn't make it out of the apartment as much as usual, these are the few things that have been on my mind. We have a lot of activities to do this week, so the next e-mail should be full of the experiences I have at Zone Conference and other meetings. I wish I could see General Conference on Saturday and Sunday, but the only way we can hear or watch it is by downloading the files from after everything is done with. Next Sunday will be a regular fast Sunday for me, but I look forward to the time when I will have the opportunity to read and hear everything that is said in this next conference.

     Well, that's all for now. I wish everyone a good week and a happy heart.


Elder Twede

Sept. 23, 2013 Chops and Cops

Hello Everyone,

     This last week has been a little crazy. We had some run-ins with the immigration office here in M--- again, the other companionship only had one lesson taught for the whole week and were visited personally by the zone leaders, and I had my first experiences in chop bars (local food bars). Today it has been raining like crazy and I barely had the chance to run out of the apartment to make it to the internet cafe, but here I am. Hopefully there will be an opportunity to shop for food as well, but I can't be too sure about it. I might just have to buy food to go in a small stand on the side of the road and then head back to the apartment.

     Last Wednesday we were contacted in the morning by an immigration officer who told us that we should arrive at the immigration office by 9:00 A.M. promptly, or they would send officers to our apartment to arrest us with handcuffs. Obviously, we all got dressed, ate as quickly as possible, and then left for the office. When we arrived, the head officer invited us into his office and just stared at us before he started interrogating us with questions. "Do you know why you are in my office right now? Do you understand that you don't have visas with you and what that means? Do you know what will happen to you if you don't bring the proper papers?" etc etc. We just looked back calmly at him and answered his question, stating simply that we know what he is saying and understand the problem, but that there is nothing we can do about it but call the mission president. The officer called the mission president and chastised him for not sending the proper papers in even though he even requested for them 3 months ago, and then said that he wanted the papers in by Friday, or else we would all be sent to Kumasi to be dealt with there. After hanging up, the officer started to chastise us for not obeying the law of the land and gave us plenty of scriptures to think about. The funniest thing he said though was this: "I will never put you into jail, because I am a God fearing man. I know that if I put you into any sort of jail, the walls will shake and everything will collapse, but you will stay alive. You might even run." He told us that even if he couldn't put us in jail, the best he could do was to just send us away from his area of jurisdiction. After a few more words, he sent us out and let us know that he would expect us at 10:00 AM each morning until Friday until he received the proper papers. Basically, we were put under parole. Thankfully, he received everything on Thursday, and now he wants us to visit his office so that we can teach him about the message which we have. It was interesting how everything worked out.

      The zone leaders came to M--- on Friday in order to proselyte with the other companionship in the apartment because they taught one lesson for the whole last week (now two weeks ago). Everything went well during the day, but at night everyone was hungry. Since it was apostasy week (meaning, the last week before our next subsistence), no one had any money besides myself. I paid for 6 plates of rice, equaling 18 cedi ($9), but that meant that all of my money was now gone. I have survived these past few days off of what little I had left in the cupboard, but it was a definite relief to withdraw money today. When other people don't manage their money well, it becomes difficult for the people who are prepared. I don't have reason to complain though, because I lived through it all and now everything is back to normal. It just felt like a big sacrifice at the time.

     Chop bars here are basically little shacks that the locals eat in, and I had never been in one until last week. The basic foods that any chop bar will have are banku and fufu, and they both look the same. The chop bars will never have utensils for you to eat with, and everything is eaten out of clay bowls that are placed in front of you (don't worry, they aren't communal). There aren't any big chairs to sit on, so you sit down on small stools that don't even reach the knee. I didn't enjoy my first experience in one, but the second place I went to was better. Everything is really different here in Ghana, but I am doing my best to get used to it.

     One thing I love about my mission is that I get to be in an environment that is so new, so different, so challenging, and yet so worthwhile. The challenges I have faced (and am still facing) have really forced me to change, grow, and reach higher. If I could give the people here one spiritual gift, it would be the gift of obedience. If I were to give them one temporal gift, it would be enough money to drive to church on Sundays.

     Thank you for all of the love that is sent my way, and I give my best of wishes to those who are preparing to leave for their mission. It will be a challenging experience, but invaluable all the same. Always have your eyes set on the prize, and then everything else will seem trivial to you, whether they are trials or tribulations that come your way. Have faith in Christ, and have a prayer continually in your heart.

Much love,

Elder Twede