I cannot believe that I have almost been out for three months already. Before my mission, the clock stayed at a steady 2 years, but now the time is actually ticking down. I won't even start to count how much time I have left, but I can say that my training will be over by this next Monday. I have heard that having a trainer is much different from having a regular companion, but I will just have to experience it for myself.
We extended a baptismal date to one of our investigators last week, but he said that he will have to think on it. He has attended church 2 times so far and has been showing great interest in it, but baptism is a big step for him right now. He knows that the teachings of the church are true, but I am not sure if he wants to make the commitment. Only time will tell. As we continue to teach him, I hope that he will feel the Spirit strongly and recognize that this is a choice that he needs to pray about. People always have a hard time deciding if they want to be baptized or not, but after they take the necessary steps, then everything moves forward from then on. The gate to the kingdom of Heaven truly is narrow, but that is why missionaries are all around the world helping people to find their way.
We had a special training meeting with the mission president last Thursday (Yawada), and we went through how to use members to find people to teach. From what you have been telling me, this is exactly what the Sister missionaries are practicing in our ward back home. As missionaries, we are supposed to go to the members and have them make a list of anyone that they know in the area. Then, we have them study the names and then pray to know who to have a gospel conversation with. Then, the members are the ones who will extend the invitation to their friend to hear from the missionaries, and then the missionaries come and teach. The people that we then teach are quality referrals, or people who are ready to hear the message of the gospel and are expecting the missionaries to teach them. The mission president showed us some mathematics, and we learned that 1/10 of the people that missionaries contact through their own efforts are baptized, while 1/3 people who are referred to us by the members are baptized. The difference is pretty staggering, especially in the number of lessons that have to be taught. In M--- however (as I said in my last e-mail), the members are scattered about and most of them live outside of our proselyting area. It is hard to work with them, but we are doing our best. Our investigator class was full again today, so I know that the members are trying harder to care for other people. Missionaries really can not do this work alone.
This last week was difficult towards the very end because of how much walking we had to do. To add to the walking, I have had a wracking cough since two weeks ago, so my throat has been pretty dry and sore. We tried to call people to teach them on Friday and Saturday, but all of our appointments fell through so we had to rely on our own contacting efforts. My calves are killing me at the moment even while I sit here typing to you, but nevertheless, the work still moves forward. I believe that we walk at least 5 miles each day on average, but I feel that we walked even more than that on Friday and Saturday. If I were to revise the song, "I Hope They Call Me on a Mission", I would replace the last line with "To walk and walk and teach as missionaries do." The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matt. 26:41).
I never know when I will e-mail each week because everything is always so unstable. Thankfully, we didn't have any trouble this morning traveling to Kumasi to withdraw our subsistence, so now we are here in Vodafone (it has both phone and internet services) e-mailing. Tonight we will be going to a Family Home Evening at a member's home because Elder Orianel is leaving for home next Monday. It is very bizarre to see Elders leaving for home every 6 weeks, especially because my time is still so far away, but everything comes and goes in its own season. I don't think about home when I involve myself in the work and I feel that Ghana is becoming home to me more and more each day. I am still learning the local language gradually here, and I feel that everything is moving along really smoothly. This is already the last week of my second transfer, so we will receive transfer news this Saturday. I have a feeling that I will be staying in M--- since Elder Ag--- has been here for 8 months, but then again, everything is based on continuing revelation. We will just have to wait and see.
The Ghana election petition is concluding this Thursday, so we might not proselyte. Street situations usually become pretty dangerous during these times, so we have to be careful. Already, locals have been telling me to stay in the apartment on that day, so we will keep our ears out for any news from the mission president or zone leaders.
As for other news, my hair was growing back to its normal state last week so I went to the barber again to buzz it (I didn't want to cut my own hair this time). My hair actually looks decent now, especially because the skin underneath isn't so white anymore. The sun doesn't bother me now, so I can tell that I am steadily adapting to the weather here. At the moment, we have overcast skies and light rainfall, but I have heard that it might change this Friday. As missionaries, we never listen to the radio or watch the news (or read it), but people tell us everything we need to know and we are always hearing it in the taxis or trow-trows. Truly though, my main focus is only on the people who we teach, so news isn't important to me at the moment.
I can't believe that people would turn down the opportunity to serve in Africa. I know that it can look like a daunting task at first glance, but it really isn't our own strength that we are supposed to rely on. If I was relying on my own strength and wasn't praying to the Lord every minute of the day, I know that this assignment would be impossible for me. Africa would definitely be a huge load for any person, but this is really the Lord's work. If I had turned down this chance to serve, I would not be progressing forward as I am now. I wish that more people would realize that the blessings they will receive are far more than the trials that they will have to face. We are meant to pass through the refining fire so that at the end of the day, we can be made into pure gold without impurities. I don't want to be a boy anymore. I want to be a man. I encourage everyone to pray about any mission calls they receive and then ask for strength to accept their assignment. The call to serve is truly a pearl of great price, but we should be willing to sell everything we have to obtain it.
With kind regards,