Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Internet Thing...Phew

Hey Everyone,
     You weren't able to catch me because our Internet services were down so we couldn't e-mail.  We are in Kumasi right now though, so the Internet cafe is a lot better.  With a bigger city comes better service.  The streets are crowded in Kumasi; I have no problem believing that there are 15,000 people per square mile.  Like I said in my last e-mail, there are taxis everywhere, and if I ever live in New York I'll have no problem traveling around.  I think that this is as crazy as it can get, but I may be wrong.
...We don't have any cars to drive here, but we get to ride bikes.
About the bikes: we try to avoid using them.  We had to go out to our lessons last week on our bikes because we had a lesson every hour and the investigators were kind of spread apart, but I wish we could have walked because now my backside is sore.  My bike has two flat tires, it is missing a pedal, and everything squeaks so people can hear us coming from a mile away.  Admittedly, it is a lot faster than biking, but it takes a lot more effort on our part to reach the houses.
     Our golden investigator is progressing really quickly.  We committed him to read the Book of Mormon, and he's been reading it ever since.  I don't think that there has ever been a day where he hasn't followed through.  Last week, we had set up an appointment with him and upon reaching his house, we found out that he wasn't there.  We called him, and he said that he was on his way.  5 minutes later, we hear his motorbike pull up with his two boys on the back, and he invited us inside.  He said that he was on his way to farm, but that the food could wait because the Lord's message is more important to him.  He really wants to be a good investigator, and I'm sure that he will be a wonderful member when he gets baptized.  I just hope that we can help him along and see him progress towards baptism with his family.  His son is really smart, and he is able to explain everything to the dad if some points aren't totally clear in his head, so it's also nice to have (in a way) a third missionary teaching him (or at least making everything clear).  We aren't perfect teachers, but the Lord provides a way for his message to be heard by everyone who is willing to hear.
     I found some familiar food at the market yesterday.  The brand name here is Indo Mei, but it is exactly like Top Ramen.  It's cheap and easy to make, so I usually have 2 meals of it for the week.  My main staple food is rice and spaghetti though, as well as some Good Morning Oats for breakfast.  All of the brand names are either absurd or names that I don't understand.  One of the restaurants here is called "Lick the Pot."  All I can imagine is the chef licking the pot while preparing the food, so I don't think that I ever want to eat there.  I have an experience with local Ghanaian food though.  I think I mentioned a food called Fufu in my last e-mail.  It's basically pounded cassava mixed with water, and it looks like dough.  However, you aren't supposed to chew it (you just take a piece and swallow, because if you chew it, it just expands), and it has the same consistency as chewing gum (although not as sticky).  It's served in a bowl of soup, and the way that you eat it is with your right hand (left hand is offensive), which gets really messy because you are dipping your fingers in cassava and soup at the same time.  I had it outside of an investigator's house last week, and I have to say that I enjoyed it (for the most part).  It was served with a fish stew, which means that they cut up the whole fish and dropped everything into the stew, including the bones and the head of the fish.  It's impolite to leave anything in the bowl, so you just eat the whole thing.  You eat the bones as well, so that takes a long time but I'm sure that it will become easier with time.  The soup smelled a little wild because of the water it was prepared with (don't worry, they boil it), so every time I lifted it to my mouth to eat, I would inhale a little of it and gag.  I just prayed that I could eat it all, and sure enough, the whole meal was in my stomach in no time. I just had to learn to not breathe while I was eating it.  I'm sure there will be more to come.
     As you said, we have been having a lot of rain here.  It will come and go in bursts, but one time we were stuck at an investigators place for two hours because it was pouring so heavily.  The streets seem to always be filled with mud or dust, and my clothing is always sticking to me because it is pretty muggy here.  Thankfully, it has been pretty cool in temperature, so that hasn't really been a problem for me.  I can fall asleep pretty well at night, but I wake up every morning at around 5 A.M. because we have a rooster that lives right outside of our apartment.  There are always cat fights going on, and dogs are barking at all hours of the day (and night).  There is also one kid who never fails to cry each morning at about 6:30, so I use that as my alarm.  I have been able to keep a regular workout schedule because we have exercise bands left over from a missionary who recently left for home, so I have been able to stay fit.  I have 30 minutes every morning to work out, and I make sure that I do pushups as well.  I have been increasing the amount by 1 each day, so I am able to do 52 consecutive ones at the moment.  Tomorrow it will be 53, and so on and so on.  It's kind of following my schedule with learning Twi as well.  I just learn one new word each day, so by the end of each week, I have 7 new words to practice.  I can't type them because they don't have the right characters on the keyboard, but I am amassing them in my journal.
     I really love the people here.  It's easy to find people to teach because they are all so nice and friendly, and it is never hard to find a free meal.  I had my first baptism on Sunday, and it felt so wonderful to be able to perform that ordinance.  I have to say, I almost drowned the woman, but all of the other missionaries who were witnesses says that they haven't seen a good one yet.  A lot of it has to do with the fact that the woman was scared of the water, so when the back of her head touched the water, she started to freak out.  She was already on her way under though, so I made sure that she was fully immersed and raised her out immediately because I didn't want her to take in any water through her nose or mouth.  It was too late though and she was coughing for at least 2 minutes after the fact, but other than that, everything went smoothly.  The water looked like the water that we have in our swimming pool during the winter, so that gives you an idea of what I was thinking when I was entering the font.  It was definitely a good experience though, and I am looking forward to having more this next month.  The goal is to have 2 baptisms for each companionship each month, and I think that we'll be having 3 or 4.  That's just a conjecture right now, but if Elder A--- and I can teach with the Spirit, then we will have no problem reaching that goal.
     I talked to other missionaries to see what the mailing system is like here, and they said that letters from home take about a month to arrive here because they have to go through so many people before they get to us.  I would suggest not sending any if you want an immediate reply, so just continue to e-mail.
     I wasn't going to include this in my e-mail because I didn't want you to worry, but the local immigration people in M--- want to arrest Elder R--- and me because we don't have copies of our Visa stamps.  We are sent into the field with a copy of our passports, but we don't have proof of Visa so the people have no idea of knowing if we came in legally or not.  They have been pestering us a lot, so we contacted the mission president and the copy of the visa should be on its way, but we have no idea when it will arrive.  I'm just praying that everything will work out, and I don't have any bad feelings about it so I think that it will be fine.  You told me to tell you everything that was going on, so I want to keep true to my promise.
     We have an investigator here who is suffering from a broken leg and from Malaria, but he is really faithful and just wants us to keep on visiting him.  We try to visit every day, and it breaks my heart to see him in bed all of the time, but he just keeps on reading the scriptures and praying to be healed.  We will tell him about Priesthood blessings next time we visit, and hopefully we can give him one if he agrees.  His faith is astounding, and you can hear his gratitude that he has for the Lord in the prayers that he gives.  I love teaching him, and I hope that he will be able to get better soon so he can start coming to church.  I am grateful to be able to teach him.
     The people here love Jesus Christ, and there are pictures of Him everywhere.  He is on stickers on the back of the taxis, He is on blankets hanging in doorways, and His name is practically everywhere you go.  It is so great to be in an area where everyone accepts Him as their Savior, and it is just a matter of convincing them that this is truly His restored gospel.  I love the work that I have to do each week, and I am looking forward to the rest of my mission with eagerness.  I wish that you all could be here to have some of the same experiences that I have been having, but I'll be able to talk about them in great length in due time.  I love all of you, and I am grateful for the support.  I'll talk to you guys next week, so be looking for an e-mail.  I can't guarantee that you'll receive it on Monday, but you'll receive one nonetheless.
With love,
Elder Twede
P.S. The only animals (creatures) I have been able to see have been dogs, cats, spiders, ants, and lots and lots of lizards.  It just has to do with the area I am in (I am in the mountains), but I'll let you know if I see anything crazy.  I wish I could send pictures of this place, but I can't at the moment.  I'll be sending some next week for sure though.
(--- denotes edited names, ... denotes edited personal information)

Monday, June 24, 2013


No word from Elder Twede this week. Hope it's just an Internet thing and not a malaria thing...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Pictures from the MTC

Above: New arrivals at the MTC
Left: Elder Twede with the Mission President and his wife
Right: Elder Twede with his trainer

Monday, June 17, 2013

Second Correspondence

Hey Everyone,
I made it out of the MTC last Tuesday, so I've been on the field since Wednesday. After going out of the MTC, we (10 people all going on the Kumasi Mission) took an airplane over to Tama (tema? I don't remember) and then we got to meet the mission president and his wife.  They took us over to the mission home, where we had a delicious dinner of chicken burgers.  We spent the night there and had training in the morning the next day, where I got to meet my trainer.  His name is Elder A---, and he is from Nigeria.  I wish I could send you pictures, but I am in a local internet cafe and the computers are from the 1800's, so there's no USB port to plug into. When the two years are up, we'll have time to look through them all.
     So where do I start? I have a piece of paper next to me with a list of everything that I want to say, but that might take more than 5 hours. There's no way to write that.  I will be able to e-mail every week, but there's no guarantee because most of the time, the internet cafes don't even have service running to their computers.  Everything runs so differently here, and the keyboards are different so it's a lot harder to type.
     I appreciate all of the e-mails that have been sent, and I haven't been able to read them until just now.  It is fun to be across the world and still be able to hear from you.  To address your culture comment, I haven't felt too much, although the breastfeeding in the open still puts me into shock, and naked children running everywhere.  The weather really isn't too hot here (oh, did I mention? My first transfer is here in M---).  The town as a whole is pretty big area wise, but the buildings are all just one story.  The sewage is all open and runs beside the streets in ditches. I've heard of horror stories where missionaries have fallen in at night, so I'm watching my every step.
     There are cars EVERYWHERE, and they are all taxis. When you walk into the market, people all crowd around you saying "Obroni, obroni, taxi??" (White man, white man, taxi?) I just tell them Kajali (go take a bath) and they all laugh.  I'm learning Twi cacracacra (small small, or bit by bit), so hopefully I'll be fluent by the time I get back.
     My apartment is pretty small, but big enough to fit 4 people.  The two other elders in my apartment are Elder R--- (American) and Elder O... I can't remember how you spell or say it, so I call him Elder O.  The place is set apart from the rest of the town, so it is about a 20 minute walk to our proselyting area.  The dirt piles onto my shoes so fast.  I polish theme every morning, but by the end of the day, it looks like they're 20 years old.  I feel like I've served my mission 10 times over.  Back to the apartment: The doors all creak, the windows barely work, the power goes out almost every night, and that means that the water doesn't work.  We do have filtered water and I haven't had any trouble getting it, although I'm also buying water off of the street from the water vendors. I know that it's probably sketchy, but I haven't had any problems so far. I am not skipping on my malaria medicine though; I'm not messing with malaria.  Thankfully, I've only been bitten 3 times, and the mosquitos don't seem to like me as much here.  There are plenty of spiders in our apartment, some scorpions (about 5 inches long each) and plenty of ants, but you know, this is Africa. You tough it out. 
     As for recipes, don't worry about sending them.  We have plenty of vegetables over here, and the staple food is rice.  I haven't even come across black beans yet, even when we were going through the market today.  I have enough rice and spaghetti to feed me for two years though, and there's no way that I'll be going hungry.
     Everyone here loves white people.  I pass by kids every day, and no matter how far away you are, they'll say "Obroni coco mashieur!" and chant that over and over. It means White man fair skinned greetings! There is more to the chant, but I haven't figured it out yet.  The kids (about 3 years old usually) will run up and hug my leg, and they'll hold out their hands to shake.  Most of them are really grimy, but you shake them because they'll keep on following you. Either that, I say "Kojali!" to them, and they run away laughing.  Some don't though, and just say "Obroni, kojali!” The best experience I've had though is when we were teaching an investigator yesterday.  4 houses are usually built around a main courtyard, so there are different families that gather there.  While we were teaching him, two toddlers (boy and girl) came up to me as I was sitting and rested their elbows on both of my arms (which I was resting on my knees) and just looked at me.  They kept on fluttering their eyes and were saying "Obroni" in small whispers.  I had to shoo them away because we were trying to teach, but I wanted them to stay. You have to make sacrifices on the mission field.

     We had a storm come through two days ago.  The wind was super strong and we were in our apartment, so the wind blew through one side of the main room to the other (we have windows on both sides, and they don't shut) and the rain was pounding so hard outside.  When Elder A--- and I went outside to go to a lesson, I felt like I had gained 400 pounds from all of the mud that accumulated to the bottom of my shoes.  I felt like Frankenstein.
     In my next e-mail, I'll talk about the area some more, but now I want to talk about my spiritual experiences.
     We have had 20 lessons so far.  In this area, the average is about 3 lessons per day, but my companion and I have been contacting and teaching like crazy.  The days have gone by so fast.  We have two investigators who are being baptized next week, and I was actually able to extend the invitation to the last one who accepted.  We have about 10 different investigators right now, and they are all progressing really well. It's just keeping them committed that raises a problem usually.
     We have one golden investigator.  His name is A---, and we just met with him last Saturday for the first time.  He was outside of his house pounding out some Fufu (a traditional food here) but he invited us into his "common room" as soon as we introduced ourselves.  We started off with a prayer and started to talk about the nature of God, but he stopped us and said "I know God. I love God. I already know. My question is, why so many different churches? So many, but from same Bible?" We explained to him that we had to teach him about God before we moved on, so he agreed to listen.  He called his son in, so we were able to talk to both of them about the Godhead and how God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings, and after giving a couple analogies, he told us "That make sense. That what I needed to hear. Thank you." Then, we went on to talk about how we are all his children, but he stopped us again and said "No, I know we his children. He loves us. But I want to know about prayer. How you pray if you a sinner? How you pray without making God mad?" We expounded upon prayer and how we could talk to God, and that he just wants to hear from us.  I could feel the Spirit so strongly, and I could tell that he wanted to say something.  Sure enough, when we invited him to church, he said "I will, but I have a feeling that you should know that I drink alcohol every day. Can you help?" I bore my testimony that through prayer and a steady desire to get rid of the habit, that he would be able to stop.  He was crying when I told him, and he said "Thank you.  I needed you two weeks ago, but you here now.  This is God's time and blessing. Thank you." We set up another appointment with him, and I hope that he just keeps on progressing.  He didn't show up to church, but they never do on the first time.  It's just steady work.
     There have been so many people who have cried when I bear my testimony.  When people start to argue over a menial topic or just try to back away, I feel the Spirit strongly and I just bear my testimony to them.  Whenever I have been prompted to do this, they just quiet down, start crying, nod their head, and allow us to continue teaching them.  I have never felt the Spirit so strongly here than I ever have in my life.  I mean, there is no way I can describe in words to you how it feels to teach these people.  I am so glad that I decided to go on this mission.  It is the best thing for me.
     There have been so many wonderful experiences, but my time is almost up.  I just want to close by saying that I appreciate the support from home.  I haven't really been sad because I pray so often and am constantly feeling the comfort of the Spirit, and I know that this is where I am supposed to be.  It was interesting at the mission home, because a new area had just opened so I was hoping that I would be called to it.  However, I heard a voice in my head saying "This place is not for you. I have prepared a different people for you."  Sure enough, I got called to M---, not the new place.  Four other elders who I was with in the MTC got to go to the new area and are living in the same apartment with their trainers, but I know that this is the place where I should be.  Personal revelation is powerful, especially when it is used for comfort.  Yesterday, I was missing Matthew, but we went to a residence to pick up two boys (one age 10 and one age 6) so that we could bring them to church with us.  I expected them to follow behind, but the 10 year old (his name is Fr---) immediately came up to me and held my hand.  At that moment, I felt as if I had a brother again with me.  I mean, I know that we're all brothers and sisters, but really, that was a special experience.  Well, until next week. I love you guys.
Elder Twede
(--- denotes edited names)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

In the Field

We did not receive an email from Elder Twede this week, but we did receive one concerning him. He left the MTC Wednesday and is out in the field.

Sister Twede,
We are blessed to have a piano here in the mission home and it was so nice to hear Elder Twede playing the hymns. I minored in piano at the U of Ariz. and just love to play. There are fewer missionaries coming out who have the ability so I’m sure he will be used at any meeting where there’s a keyboard or a piano. We are blessed to have him here.
Have a great day,
Office Secretary
Ghana Kumasi Mission

How to Send Mail to Elder Twede

Pouch Mail for the U.S.:
The Church provides pouch mail service to countries where other mail service may not be reliable. Each country regulates this service differently, and the Church must comply with these regulations in order to avoid fines and cessation of the pouch service. If you are not in the U.S., you may check with Church Headquarters and find out if the POUCH is available in your country.    
Only the following items may be sent through the pouch
·    Post Cards
·    Letters that are single sheet, folded into three panels, and taped at the top.
Note: Letters sent in any other manner will be returned to the sender. 
Address for the letter to your missionary and attach a standard US postage stamp:
                          GHANA KUMASI MISSION
Elder/Sister (Missionary’s Name)
P.O. BOX 30150
SALT LAKE CITY UT 84130-0150         
      Include your return address in the upper left corner of the envelope.

Regular Mail:
Letters and packages can be sent to the missionary through the Postal Service using the following address: 
             Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Elder/Sister  (Missionary’s Name)
P.O. Box PMB KS 16333
Kumasi, GHANA

Please, when mailing items, use the medium USPS FLAT RATE or PADDED/BUBBLE ENVELOPES.  They mail for $23.95 from the USA and usually get through with NO DUTY. It would be a good idea to reinforce the envelopes with lots of clear tape as they usually arrive torn. Other countries, other than the U.S. should find something similar to the U.S. flat rate envelope such as the medium padded or bubble envelopes to mail goods in
We are unable to pick up boxes from the post office here in Kumasi – NO BOXES.  Too much duty is charged which is passed on to the missionary, and the postal service here goes through them and removes items at will. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Hey Everyone,
…I am really enjoying my experience so far, but my first thought when I got off the plane was "Wow. Hot and humid."  … The ride over from the airport was crazy.  The driver… had to rock back and forth to make sure that the van didn't stall when we were going 5 mph.  We passed by people who were carrying things on their head to sell, and they kept on coming up to the van when we were stopped, just staring into the window and pointing to their goods.  Apparently, they only get $5 a day by doing it, but I've been told that everyone is just happy to have a job.  I told the Elder… [from Ghana] that in America, the government pays people if they don't work.  He replied with "They lazy. That not good." 
     That's one of the things here that I need to get used to, the language.  When dad gave me the father's blessing and said "I bless you that you may understand their language," I thought to myself, "What the heck does that mean?" But now I know.  Everyone calls me "Elder Tveedee" because they can't pronounce the W at all, so I guess it's back to the roots.  … It seems as if they talk mostly with their lips …, so it's harder to understand because the words just mush together.  I'm already pretty used to it, although I still have a hard time understand the Elders from Sierra Leon.  I don't even think they're speaking English.
     I have really had a wonderful time so far, although they have rice for every meal. As the Africans say it, "Rice rice rice! That's all we get is rice!"  I hope that when I go to Kumasi, I'll be able to choose from a wider variety of food.  If not, I guess it's just rice rice rice for me. 
     We were able to go to the temple today, and I was overwhelmed by how beautiful it is with the fan trees and plants leading up to it.  The baptismal font is made out of black stone, and paintings on the walls showed the African landscape.  It really was a wonderful place, and I felt the Spirit so strongly there.
     The people here love to sing.  When we were in the van, people were singing.  When bedtime comes around, people are singing.  When we're eating, people are singing. Singing singing singing.  And they don't care what they sound like.  If we have a hymn to sing before lessons, everyone sings from their hearts, and the room fills up with music.  … They make me play the piano for the services, because that skill isn't very common here.  Many Elders have come up to me to say "Elder Tveedee, teach me. Teach me the organ." They really love their music.
     My time is running out to write, so I want to close with this. I know that this is where I'm supposed to be, and I can feel the Spirit so strongly here.  I am grateful to be called to the Ghana Kumasi mission, and I can already tell that I will love the people.  Two years will not be enough time.
…I appreciate all of the support and love that you all have shown me.  I hope to be a great missionary (I am praying at least 20 times a day, whether it be with a companion, by myself, or with a larger group).  I'll e-mail you in about a week.  I'm leaving the MTC next Wednesday!
Elder Twede

("..." denotes editing)

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Elder Twede arrived in Ghana this morning with all limbs intact, at least we're assuming that by safely he meant in one piece; however, we haven't heard word on his suitcases yet...

"Hello Everyone,
I made it safely to the MTC and can't wait to tell you about it all. I'm just e-mailing home to let you know that I made it safely...I love you all, and I hope that I can be the best missionary I can be. I'll talk to you later when given the opportunity.
Elder Twede"
("..." indicates editing)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Second Times a Charm?

So Elder Twede finally flew out 48 hours later than scheduled after his first plane experienced "mechanical " problems and never left the ground.