Today is my first Pday in the field and I finally have an email account. The following was written on October 21, 2009:
I am now on a bus watching Indiana Jones of all things. I am on my way to Kumasi where I will be serving in my first area. I just found the Dear Elder letters in my big envelope containing all my orientation info. It was a happy surprise! I had woken up to Elder Jeppesen trying to get this three inch, black, furry moth as close to my wide open mouth as possible for a picture. I need a pick me up.
I am literally in the jungle right now. The area is so lush and the trees are amazing. Our bus driver is insane. He keeps whipping around people on the two lane high with his horn blaring. We are not on a small bus. Right now I am with Elder Jeppesen, Elder Vancherie, Sister Isidore, Elder Moiwo, and one of the Office Elders. After 19 days in the MTC we are finally getting out into the real world. We are the 5 chosen from the 20 from our MT group chosen to go straight to Kumasi. We don't even get to see the mission home. I'm a little scared but I know everything is going to be all right. I've been out proselyting twice now and I had mixed experiences. I did see this one woman's face light up as we told her about the restored gospel. I hope to see a lot of that around here. This is one of the most productive missions in the world.
So, everything is good at the MTC. The food, the sleep, the learning. It was comfortable and clean with hot showers and air conditioning. NOW I'm going out into the real world where you wake up to giant moths and disease causes every white missionary to crap his pants at least once on his mission. The office Elder here said he once came home to a black scorpion about a foot long with its tail stretched out! They scrambled around trying to kill it with a box, one of them screaming, "It won't DIE! It won't DIE!" Funny how I never really thought about bugs.
Well anyways, my new companion's name is Elder Akoki from the Ivory Coast. He speaks French, but I'm sure he's a great guy;) I can't wait to meet him.
Great things are about to happen in this mission. One of the area presidency said this: "The missionaries of the Ghana Cape Coast Mission have great faith. With that kind of faith, they can accomplish many miracles. They have the kind of faith it takes to baptize thousands." President Sabey considers this to be prophesy. According to him great miracles are happening everyday. Lots of new missionaries are being brought in. By December, about half the mission will have been out less than three months. That has never happened before. I'm very happy to be here.
You won't get this before my first email but it feels more real writing on the bus. I love you all, and I miss you. I'll be all right as long as I put my faith and trust in the Lord (Alma 57:21). Goodbye for now! I've got to finish watching Indy for the last time in 23 months! :)
Now, this is my fifth day in the field! The bus ride was so long we had time to watch both Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade. My companion is awesome and is a great teacher despite the fact that he's only been out for four months. I love it here in Asokwa! The work is slower than I thought but its all good since I'm still getting used to teaching. My apartment is pretty cool too. Because of this lovely fan, I sleep better than I ever did at the MTC. The food is also good since I cook it all and we aren't allowed to eat at members houses at the moment.
Kumasi is the second biggest city in Ghana. Our area is HUGE. Too big, and there is only one church building so it is hard for many of the members to come every week. There are some dangers. At home I thought I would be killed by some disease or wild animal. But now I know that if I suffer death on my mission it will be DEATH BY TRO TRO. The traffic here is intense and there really is no speed limit. They just kind of honk at you as they speed by three inches from your leg.
Beside that, I really do love it here. There is a lot of poverty, but nothing I can't handle. The people really are nice. Little kids love to run around us yelling things like. "GIVE ME MY MONEY!" There is a language barrier though. Because Kumasi is in the Ashanti region, everyone speaks Twi. And they are proud of their language. Neither my companion or I speaks Twi so we have some problems talking to people in the streets.
So I really do miss you all! I get homesick every once and a while but it's nothing too serious. I'm on a long long camping trip that's all, and I plan on enjoying my self. I feel the spirit everyday and as my faith grows I can feel him guiding me. That's all I really need.
Friday, October 23, 2009
My first week is now coming to a close. My companion and I are improving a lot at teaching. When we first had to teach, we got stuck teaching our teacher Brother Tei, who I believe is slightly psychotic. I froze up when my companion started teaching something that was totally different from what we planned. This was the first moment I had home sickness set in. At that moment, I really wanted to be home. Now we are improving drastically. Elder NKruma no longer rants for minutes straight while I'm itching to jump in and I no longer freeze at the unexpected.
I can't begin to write about all of my experiences here. It's a nice life in the MTC where everything is done for us (including most of our laundry.) We also do not have to deal with real people. The real world will be much harder. The poverty here is horrendous. The worst I have ever seen. The food in the MTC is weird, but good. I have heard horror stories about something called a "Bush Cutter" which is a four foot long rat. We are all a little nervous about leaving.
Every day we wake up at 6:30 and get ready for personal study at 7:00. Breakfast is at 8:00 and class runs from 8:30 to 12:30. Lunch is from 12:30 to 1:00. Then we have companion study till 2:00. Class till 3:15, gym time till 4:20 (I don't have enough shirts,) then dinner time at 5:00. Then we have class from 5:45 till 9:00. I then try to write in my journal and get ready for bed at 10:00. We also have to plan with our companion.
The Spirit is strong here and for the first time I feel it everyday, all day. It's the only thing that gets me going and will be the only thing keeping me in the mission field.
One great experience I had was when we watched a devotional by Elder Bednar about the Spirit. He said the number one questions he gets is how do you know if its really the Spirit. He said "Don't worry about it!" Just be a good boy, keep your covenants, obey the commandments. You will be led by the Spirit and you won't even know it! It has changed my whole perspective on my mission and I am a lot more excited to serve.
All right, I love and miss you. Letters go out Fridays, so expect more before you can get one to me :) Good bye for now!!
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
October 10, 2009
I was happy to receive your email today at breakfast. It really made my day. It's a pity that I won't have email until I am out in the field. For now, I will just rely on the pouch service.
I am happy to say I have all my luggage with me. It was scary because they forced me to check my carry on because they ran out of room on the second plane. The weather here is not that bad. The humidity is always high, but the breeze is nice. It has only rained once since I got here. We are now entering the dry cooler part of the year. As for animals, my companion says he has never seen anything like you see on TV. This part of the county is too developed. Perhaps if I go to the northern part of Ghana I will get to see something, but if not, I'll have to rely on the zoo's.
Time here in the MTC moves extremely slow. The teaching is good but it is hard to focus in the morning. It's hard to imagine that while it is 10:00 am here it is 2:00 am back at home. Brother Tei is an amazing teacher. He's hot headed and unpredictable, but he makes up for it with a great spirit and excellent teaching ability. We are improving a lot. We practice everyday teaching three or four lessons. They don't teach us what to teach, only the methods we should use to teach. We have to study everything else from Preach My Gospel. My weakness is remember scriptures during the lesson. I already sent Brother Greenhalgh my scripture, but just in case, it is Alma 26:16.
I'm glad to hear everything is going good at home. Every night my pill (malaria pills) give me vivid dreams of home. Last night I dreamed that I escaped the MTC and found a portal from here to the basement of the Burbank mall. I don't allow myself to dwell on it too much during the day except when I'm talking with my fellow Americans. I do miss you all though and love you very much. I find that as long as I can feel the spirit, I will be fine : )
Oh! And speaking about animals, yesterday they caught a four foot iguana in the yard! Also, they told us there are poisonous snakes that they don't have medicine for. So if we are bitten we have to rely on the D&C scripture that says serpent venom will have no effect on us! Have fun with that thought : )
P.S. Send me Anissa's address and stamps (they were sent a couple of days ago.)
Saturday, October 17, 2009
I have finally made it to the Ghana MTC. The plane fight was terrible, but I was able to bond with eleven of my fellow missionaries. It was a ten hour flight to Accra. the second we got off the plane, our shirts stuck to us in the humid Accra air. Outside of the airport we were scammed by a huge group of "baggage handlers" looking for tips. They kept saying they were going with us. A few of us dropped twenties to these con men. Lesson learned :) The bus ride was funny because eleven white guys in suits and ties is not a common sight! More than a few heads turned in their cars.
I love it here in the MTC! There are fifty one of us here. A few from America, a few from Ghana, The Congo, and Nigeria. Half are French speaking. there is a love that is indescribable. We greet each other several times a day and there is a certain connection between all of us. All of the Americans have African companions. My companion's name is Elder Nkruma. He is an awesome guy from Ghana. He lives within sight of the Accra Temple. He speaks Twi and his English can be hard to understand, but I'm getting more used to it everyday. I even hear it in my head whenever I read anything. The food for the most part isn't that bad. I can force myself to eat most of it. The hardest part was eating beans mixed with tuna. Some of it I actually really like. I haven't had Fu Fu yet. I just finished a delicious yam dish called Mportor Mportor. Otherwise called mashed yam. It was actually pretty good. If I were to stay here, I would truly get fat!
I'm still dealing with jet lag. Yesterday, I caught myself leaning out of my chair at a 45 degree angle fast asleep during conference. It's getting better though. I have about six more days till I'm fully adjusted. I've slept like a rock the past two nights and I will again tonight. The mornings are annoying because the Africans shake me awake at 5:45a.m. wondering why I'm not up yet. They don't sleep in!
Sorry I'm all over the place, I have a lot I could write about. My letter writing isn't good, but I'll get better. I haven't dealt with too much home sickness yet thankfully, but I'm sure it will come. Soon I have to go down for Conference. The second session begins at eight. It's pure torture cause I can't stay awake in the afternoons. Otherwise I am doing fine. I am safe and healthy and I miss you all. The MTC is great, but I am already excited to get the heck out of here and into the field. I love you and miss you. Hope you are taking care of yourselves.
P.S. Please save my letters.
Send me stamps!!
The Anamon District:
District Leader: Elder Russel
Saturday, October 10, 2009
We're happy to report that your son has arrived and is adjusting well at the Ghana MTC. He will be finished with MTC training on October 21 and will be contacting you by e-mail shortly thereafter.
We're grateful for the wonderful missionaries in this group--they are prepared to have spiritual experiences and an accelerated learning of the gospel. We know the Lord will bless them individually according to their needs. We also dedicate ourselves to their comfort and well-being.
Feel free to contact us at this address if you have concerns or questions.
President and Sister Harmon