Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mishaps and More

Dear Everyone,
     I'll give you the sad news... The cockroach died this morning! It was hiding underneath the laces of my shoe, so when I slipped my foot in it ran from the laces to the floor and I stepped on it.  Now it's dead, and I didn't even have a chance to name it.  We will probably see another one eventually, so I'll be sure to name that one Peri (Periplaneta americana being the scientific name).  We still have the shower spider though, so I named it Creeper. 
     Time passed by irregularly last week.  Monday was quick because we were shopping, e-mailing, and mostly traveling the whole day (it takes around 2.5 hours to ride from M--- to Kumasi where we receive our money for the month), so 5 hours of our day is already taken up by that.  Thankfully, the e-mail services are working here in M--- so the travel is only about 25 minutes by foot.  My companion needs to go to market today, so I can hopefully buy the ingredients needed for the tortillas.  We have been eating pretty well in the apartment, having meals such as spaghetti and rice, and we have also been able to make "stew" here.  Chicken is only $2.50 for 5 breasts, so we get as much meat as we can and cook it with the stew.  We don't like our rice plain, so we mix everything together and have a full course meal.  My companion eats Indomei (Top-Ramen) often, but first he cooks it in a pot, cracks an egg into a frying pan, and then he fries the noodles with the egg.  I haven't tried this yet, but it smells delicious.
That is one thing that I have noticed around here.  Everything has a smell.  Walking down the street, you can smell everything whether it be sewage, fish, bread, spices, the grass and trees, sickness, or anything else.  Thankfully, my clothing smells like washing powder so I always smell fresh.  I don't have any cologne and I haven't seen any in the shops, but frankly, I don't need any for this mission.  The people would probably care less.
     Tuesday was a pretty fast day as well because we had people to teach, and Wednesday passed by REALLY quickly because the whole day was taken up by Zone Conference, but we struggled to find people to teach for the rest of it.  When we made appointments with people, they would agree to a specific time, but they were never actually at home when we trekked over to give a lesson.  The most common reason is that they "traveled," or they developed a sickness and had to visit the hospital.  I'm sure that this will be happening pretty often.  It is pretty hard convincing people to come to church as well because they usually have their own church already that they attend, or they have to work.  We have one investigator who claims that they are sick on every single Sunday, but they claim that they wish they could be there.  It is hard to get people to make commitments, but we work with it.
     We are currently teaching someone who actually contacted us last week on the street.  She said that she had seen us pass by but didn't know who we were or what we do, so she invited us to start teaching her.  The lessons are very different than the lessons we teach to our other investigators, because she only wants to speak in Twi to us.  She understands English ("Brofo") perfectly well and can speak it also, but she will never talk to us through English.  We just have to discern what she is talking to us about, repeat it back to her to confirm what we thought we understood from it, and then answer any questions and then move on. It has been a really interesting experience.
     I received the package and letters last week on Wednesday, and my roommates all said "Wow! It only took 2 weeks to arrive!" I laughed at all of the religious phrases and references on the outside of it, but everything was still inside so it looks like it worked.  I think the duct tape probably deterred them as well if it was opened.  The Propel powder that you included must have been inspired, because I haven't seen anything similar in the markets yet (but I'm probably just not looking hard enough).  It's getting easier and easier to shop each week because I'm starting to know what to look for, so by the end I will be an expert at small market shopping.  It really is a different experience than anything we have at home.
     Guess what? I'm practically bald!  Here's the story: Last week, I noticed that my hair was growing over my ears so I decided to cut it with the clippers.  I did a pretty decent job for my whole head and had it at the normal length that I usually have it at after a haircut, but I still needed to clean up the back by making a straight cut along the bottom.  I didn't trust myself to do it without being able to see, so I asked Elder R--- (the other American) to clean it up for me.  However, he wasn't anywhere me, so Elder A--- came over instead.  I told him what I wanted him to do, so he started to cut along the collar, but then I felt his hand pull all the way to the top of my head.  He said "Why don't you do it like this? It makes more sense!"  I probably should have known that I should not have trusted him to clean it up for me, but I decided that all I had to do was make the rest of my hair look the same.  I made all of the sides the same length (the smallest length you can get with no attachments) and then I went to a local barber here to cut the top so that it would blend well.  I have a couple of pictures that will be sent eventually, but I have to get to a better computer before that happens.  Next time I go to Kumasi to e-mail I will send them out. 
     It is really weird when I see another white person across the street.  You never seen them in M---, as this is a relatively small village, but you can get a glimpse of them in Kumasi if you are looking out for them.  Other than that, the missionaries are the only whites that you will see here in Ghana, but even then they already have a super dark tan.  It really is bizarre.
     In your written letter, you asked me how I was feeling.  I guess I haven't really said anything about how I feel yet because I have had so much to say about what is going around me.  I'll take time here to write about how I feel.  I am excited to serve, and each time I read about missionary service, either in D&C, study manuals, the Bible, or the Book of Mormon, I realize how much of a blessing it is to be able to bring people unto Christ through the power of the Spirit.  I think that if I had ever decided to skip out on my mission, then I truly would regret it for the rest of my life.  It would be mental hell.  I am growing so much spiritually and socially, and I am learning things of great importance every day.  Sometimes it feels as if I am moving from "grace to grace," just as Christ did, but of course there are times where this isn't the case.  Nonetheless, I keep pressing forward and can feel myself growing closer to Heavenly Father and the prophets in the scriptures.  I feel that I will be able to stand proudly in front of Moroni at the judgment bar to tell him that I used the Book of Mormon as much as possible, and that I spread its message to those who needed it.  I feel a great peace whenever I'm reading the scriptures or praying, and I feel at peace when we teach our investigators as well.  I haven't really thought about home too often, but I always look forwarded to being able to e-mail and hear from everyone.  I still feel strong and ready to teach, and I hope that I can feel this way for the rest of my mission.  I don't ever want to get tired of this work.  It will be a bittersweet experience for me when I have to go home in two years (well, 22.75 months), but I know that I don't have to think about that yet.  I just think about the people here in M--- and how I can be of help to them, and move ever onward.  There is always something to do.  You are all in my prayers, and I hope to hear from you again. 
I love you all,
Elder Twede

P.S. We will be having 2 more baptisms next week, and maybe even two more after that by the end of this month.  We have a lot of people now who are steadily progressing, so it is easy to see the fruits of our labors.  In a new area that opened up this month, there are already 25 people being baptized for the district, so they are seeing a lot of progress as well. As general authorities have stated, this is the fastest growing mission in the world right now.  It is wonderful to be a part of it.
(--- denotes edited names, ... denotes edited personal information)

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