Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dec. 9, 2013 31 Lessons

Dear family,


     After reading through the e-mail that I just sent you, I realize that I left out some experiences that I had during the week. They aren't many, but they show the character of the people here. On Tuesday we went out of our apartment and proselyted around our area trying to find new people to teach. As we were passing a compound, we saw a lady pounding fufuo and decided to go and offer her our assistance. We walked over and offered to help, but she declined the offer and instead told us to sit down (in Twi: tenase). We sat down and were going to introduce ourselves to her, but she just brought out a stew that she had recently prepared and gave us the fufuo that she had just been pounding. We wanted to refuse, but people here get really offended if you don't accept their offers, so we ate everything that she gave us. We were then able to have a lesson with her about the gospel, and she was very pleased to hear the message. We found out that her name is A..., and that she was interested in meeting with us more. We contacted some more families within the compound and then went on our way. The next day we went by the same area with the intention of meeting with Amelia again, but instead we met up with her sister who's name is E.... E...doesn't speak much English, but she is very friendly to us and I try to communicate with her as much as I can in both Twi and English. She told us where her house was and told us to come by later in the evening, so after we had left and taught 7 lessons, we decided to drop by her actual house. Upon arriving, we were met with the scent of banku coming from the kitchen (she actually has a nice house with a kitchen, very abnormal) and we had a good stew to go with it that had steak and pork for meat. She told us that she wanted to feed us every evening and told us to come by everyday, so we told her we would. True to our word and her word, we have visited her every day and she has always had a meal ready for us. In addition to the food, she also has a baby that she has me care for when she is preparing the food. I have helped in the cooking and preparing process of the meals, but she mostly wants me to become familiar with her child. Her love for us really astounds me because she hasn't known us for long, and yet she trusts us enough to look after her baby and to feed us dinner every day.

     Anyways, after our dinner with Sister E...on the first day, we walked outside into the courtyard and saw an older white man sticking his head over the top of the wall. E... told us that he was her adamfou (friend), and she called him over. We found out that his name was C..., and it became readily apparent to us that he was not completely there mentally. As we talked with him, he described sad experiences from his life (mostly about the death of relatives) and the pain that he feels every night before going to bed. We could tell that he had gone through many pains in his life and that his family had just sent him to Ghana to stay for a while (he didn't even know he would be here for a month. He was expecting them to pick him up the first week after he was dropped here), so we told him that we would visit him everyday so that he would have some company and wouldn't feel so lonely. We don't teach him much each time we visit because he is the type of spirit that won't be required to accept the message here on earth, but we have been comforting him as much as we can. He is supposed to be gone as of this morning, but we will drop by to see if he has made it home safely.

     Now I think I am completely finished. I always have more stories to tell, but I will just send them to you next week.



Elder Twede

Dear Family,


     Each week we find ourselves working harder than the last. Over the course of 5 days (I was sick in bed on Friday), we were able to have 31 total lessons, 12 new investigators, and 3 people with set baptismal dates. Under the new standard we are expected to have 38 total lessons and 14 new investigators, but the one missing day knocked our numbers down. I know that this week we will be able to accomplish our goal as we are willing to do the work. I really can not believe how well this work is progressing and how my potential is far more than what I thought it was initially. I still feel that I can do even better, so I will be excited to push myself and to see how much work I can actually do in the short course of a week. If there is one lesson that I am learning at this time, it is that I can do far more than I think I can, and I won't know what my potential is until I push myself. It really has been a growing experience for me, and I know that if I was not called to be in Ghana, I would not be learning the lessons that I need to learn.

     Is the ward really that big now? That sounds amazing to me, especially because I had not been seeing too many baptisms happening there before I left. Just yesterday my companion and I attended the end of the year ward council meeting and they discussed the numbers for the year and how they planned to improve this year. Apparently, there have been 52 baptisms in this ward alone for the past year, and they plan to have 70 baptisms in the ward for this upcoming year. The work that is done here is staggering, and it just is proof to me that this is truly the Lord's church on the earth today. I want to bring as many people as I can to the truth here in Ghana, and I know that I will be blessed by the Lord as I keep His commandments. Sometimes I sit down and refocus on my purpose as a missionary because it is easy to be caught up with everything during the week, so Monday is a day where I gather myself again and make sure that I am going on the right path. I want to be able to meet the expectations of the mission president and the expectations of the Lord, and the only way for me to do that is to commit myself more fully each week to the work. It isn't easy at times, but I am constantly learning how to become a better person and how to fulfill my purpose here.

     Apparently, my companion likes to sleepwalk and he talks in his sleep. These past two nights I have been a little freaked out because he just sits up in his bed and stares at where I am sleeping for 5 or 6 minutes, and then he lays back down and is totally asleep. I have had my camera by my bed so that I can record what he does, and when I showed him the footage in the morning, he couldn't remember doing anything like it at all. Two nights ago, he even got out of bed and walked out of the room, only to return 1 minute later and to sleep on the floor. He says that he has always been a sleepwalker, so I just need to get used to it. I'm sure that it will eventually become ordinary to me, but for now it puts me on edge because I know his mind isn't completely there when he sleepwalks.

     This past week I just completed the quad, meaning that I have read the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price (as well as the Articles of Faith) in 6 months. I had no idea that I would complete it so soon, but now I am going to be focusing even more on the Book of Mormon. We have a plan that our mission president gave to us so that we can read the Book of Mormon in three months (he just recently made it for us), so by the end of my mission I will have read it 7 times (just on mission) which will make it 11 times total for me. Three months is really just a short time, and I have a feeling that if I can stick to the Book of Mormon plan everyday, then I will be able to stick with the P90X plan ever day at home. Speaking of which, I forgot to say what I have been using for weights to exercise in the morning. Here in Ghana, it is almost impossible to find a set of metal weights that are made specifically for the purpose of lifting. Instead of using weights, we use car parts that resemble the shapes of dumbbells and a bench press. We don't have a bench press in our apartment right now, but we see people using the axles of cars all the time since there are so many of them lying around on the side of the road. Some places we pass are just piled high to the sky with car parts that aren't being used anymore, so the people here try to find use for them. I will have to take a picture of it sometime so you can have a better vision of what I am talking about.

     One thing that I miss about M... is the opportunity to teach in church. Here in K..., there are plenty of members to teach the classes and everything is organized well, so there is no need for the missionaries to teach any class. That was probably my favorite part about the church services in M... because I delighted in seeing the people in the class grow in knowledge. Here, I sit with the members but I can't participate too well because all they speak is Twi, and I haven't learned it completely in order to communicate fluently. Sometimes I get bored because I can't do anything, but I do my best to stay there in mind. If I start to float off, I just refocus and try to make out what the people are saying. I can pick out many of the words and get a general idea of what they are talking about, but many of the finer details slip past me. I think that these exercises will help me to understand Twi even more, but at the moment I wish they would just talk in English, because that is the language of the mission (and it is declared to be the official language of Ghana, although the people here either don't know it or don't want it).

     Truthfully, I took everything at home for granted, and it has only been here in Ghana that I have realized how blessed we are. Sometimes I look at the labor that people perform here and imagine how life would be like if it was a part of my own. I know that I am living here for two years, and yet I still feel like an outsider because I know that there will be a time when I will leave here to go back home. I am not looking to that time right now because I am still too young on my mission, but it is always there in the future. I just hope that I can do everything I can here to enjoy my time as a missionary and to do my best to help the people who will stay here. I want to help in the work of building the stakes of Zion, and the only way to do this is to build up the people here in Ghana. I will also do my best to continue the work when I get back home because I know that I will be expected to be as a light to all those around me.

     Well, I didn't see any questions that you wanted me to answer, so I will just leave you with a scripture reference. As I was reading the New Testament, I came across a scripture that I had to read twice before I could understand what was being said. In John 3:12-13, it reads "12) If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13) And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." Now, this was Christ speaking to Nicodemus, and he was telling Nicodemus that he could not understand things of the spirit because he could not even understand things of the earth. To prove his point, Christ taught a principle in verse 13 that is only easy to understand if you have the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Imagine the picture: Christ is on the earth in this passage, and he is talking about the Son of man which came down from heaven, who is now in heaven. As I was reading this, my understanding was opened and I realized that Christ was talking about His Father, or our Heavenly Father. I couldn't believe that it was right there before my eyes, especially in the New Testament. Obviously, Nicodemus didn't understand what Christ was teaching him at this point, but it is our duty to search the scriptures and understand them fully. I just wanted to share this passage with you, even if you have already come across it before. There are other things that I am learning as I go, so I will send more of my insights to you in the upcoming week.

     I love all of you and I pray for you every day. Sometimes I feel like I am repeating myself when I say this in my e-mail, but it is truth and I want you to know it. I am glad to hear that the ward is swiftly expanding, and I know that the work will continue to go forward with much power as everybody does their part. I wish you all a good week, and I want to remind you that there are only 16 more days until I call home. From what I know at this point, I will be calling home on Christmas day, so be expecting a call on the 25. We will have time to plan the time to call next week or even the week after, so let me know when you think everybody will be in the house. As for charges, don't worry about the computer thing because the mission reimburses each missionary for the time that they call home. I am looking forward to the time that I will actually be able to hear all of your voices.


Much love to you all,

Elder Twede


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