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.
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. :)