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.
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.
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